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Benjamin Wildfire PCP repeater: Part 2

Čt, 02/23/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Benjamin Wildfire.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • First test
  • Loading the clip
  • Air management
  • String two
  • Is this okay?
  • String three
  • Refilling the rifle after 36 shots
  • What’s the verdict?
  • RWS Hobby pellets
  • Lead-free lightweight pellets
  • Discharge sound
  • Trigger pull
  • Evaluation so far

Today we go right into shooting the Benjamin Wildfire for velocity. I’m excited, so let’s begin.

First test

I know there are many things people want to know about the Wildfire, so I am going to test it a little differently. You will still get the same results I always give, but I will add a few extra things I don’t usually do. The incredible interest in this gun justifies this special approach. We will begin with Crosman Premier lite pellets.

I filled the rifle to 2000 psi and began shooting. Since the clip holds 12 pellets I tested it with strings of 12 shots instead of 10. I will give you the standard data in a moment, but I first want to show you the velocity of each shot.

10………… 686
11………… 683
12………… 680

The average velocity for this string was 699 f.p.s. The spread is from a low of 680 f.p.s. to a high of 721 f.p.s. That’s a range of 41 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 8.57 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.

If you do the math for the average velocity and your answer doesn’t agree with mine, know that I always round off the numbers when I report them, but I usually allow the chronograph to calculate the average. Since my Shooting Chrony Alpha Master records in tenths of an f.p.s., its average can disagree slightly with the average for this list.

Loading the clip

I noticed with each different pellet that you have to forcibly push the pellets into the clip. Their skirts don’t want to go in without an extra push. You feel each of them pop into place. I remember that from my days with a 1077.

Air management

When the test started the gauge onboard the rifle indicated 2000 psi. It agrees with outside gauges very closely. At the end of shooting it registered 1,600 psi. That’s 400 psi for 12 shots. It also indicates there are more shots on the charge. So I reloaded the clip with Premier lites and went again. This time the string looked like this.

String two

10………… 651
11………… 641
12………… 628

The average velocity for this string was 653 f.p.s. The spread goes from 628 to 678 — a range of 50 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet generated 7.48 foot pounds at the muzzle.

Is this okay?

Obviously the velocity is different for the second string. The average is 46 f.p.s. slower and the velocity spread is larger. Is this okay? Well, it is safe and causes no damage to the gun, so from the standpoint of operability — it works. But you wouldn’t want to shoot field target with a velocity variance this large. And now it’s time to remember exactly what the Wildfire is — a Crosman 1077 that runs on air. Free air.

It happens that I also tested a 1077 back in 2014 and the average on CO2 with the same Premier lite pellet was 611 f.p.s. So, even this second string from the Wildfire is shooting faster than the 1077 I tested. I think that is how we must look at this air rifle — not how it stacks up against a Benjamin Marauder. At issue here is how it performs against a 1077.

At the end of this string the onboard pressure gauge read 1400 psi. That means from start to finish the rifle used just 200 psi. I think there is probably some slop in the gauge, because there is no reason for the gun to suddenly use half the air it did before for the same 12 shots.

String three

Yes, I loaded the clip for a third string. Why not? The rifle is still shooting faster than it does on CO2. Let’s see what it can do. Same pellet as before.

10………… 597
11………… 585
12………… 595

The average velocity for this string was 607 f.p.s., which is only a little slower than the average on CO2. The spread ranges from a low of 585 to a high of 630. That’s a span of 45 f.p.s. across 12 shots. At the average velocity this pellet now generates 6.46 foot pounds at the muzzle.

The air pressure at the end of this string registers 1100 psi. That’s as low as I want to go.

Refilling the rifle after 36 shots

Now I attached the Air Venturi G6 hand pump and filled the Wildfire with air. It took 4 strokes to pressurize the line to 1100 psi and 60 strokes to bring the rifle back up to 2000 psi. That works out to 1.67 pump strokes per shot.

What’s the verdict?

So — are there 36 good shots on one fill? Well, that’s up to you. If you shoot the Wildfire like a 1077 — fast at action targets — then, yes, there are at least 36 good shots per fill, if not more. However, if you want to shoot half-inch groups at 50 yards then I don’t think a velocity spread of 136 f.p.s. will support that. But I don’t think that the Wildfire is a 50-yard airgun to begin with. What I am saying is, the Wildfire operates well on air. It will do everything a 1077 will, and you don’t have to buy CO2.

RWS Hobby pellets

Let’s look at a couple different pellets, starting with the RWS Hobby. I will show you every shot in the string again, because with the Hobby the performance curve was a little different.

10………… 695
11………… 698
12………… 699

The average for this string was 710 f.p.s. the velocity spread went from 694 to 729 — a span of 35 f.p.s. Notice how much flatter the velocity curve is with the Hobby. It isn’t that much faster than the Premier lite, but it retains velocity throughout the first 12 shots better.

At the average velocity, Hobbys generated 7.84 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. The pressure at the end of the string was 1500 psi, which is a 500 psi drop. I don’t think I would place a lot of trust on these pressure figures. I think they are more approximate than they appear.

Lead-free lightweight pellets

The final pellet I tried was the Crosman Silver Eagle wadcutter that is no longer made. I weighed several to get an average wright for you and noted that they were all over the place. They range from 4.7 grains to 5.0 grains, so some of the velocity numbers are probably affected by that.

Silver Eagles averaged 788 f.p.s. with a spread from 760 f.p.s. to 825 f.p.s. So there is the 800 f.p.s. velocity that Crosman claims.

Discharge sound

I note that the Wildfire is louder than a 1077 for the first two clips. By clip 3 the discharge sounds about the same as a 1077. In the beginning, though, it’s very close to a 4 on the Pyramyd Air sound scale.

Trigger pull

The trigger breaks right at 12 lbs. Sometimes it’s a little less, sometimes a little more. But it doesn’t feel that heavy when you are shooting. I guess that’s because 12 lbs is light for a double action revolver.

Evaluation so far

The Wildfire is turning out exactly like I expected. That’s because I was expecting to see a 1077 running on air, which is what this is. The trigger is still that long double action pull that we have talked about, and it will always remain so. But a 1077 has good accuracy that I hope we will see next.

Diana 240 Classic:Part 2

St, 02/22/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 240 Classic.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • BB’s eye
  • You liked it
  • JSB Exact RS
  • RWS Hobby
  • Crosman Premier lite
  • The trigger
  • Trigger
  • Cocking effort
  • Evaluation so far
BB’s eye

Just an update on my eye that had the cataract removed. It is now more acute at distance than the other eye. I see the doctor who did the surgery this Friday and am expecting that she will pronounce it fixed. I can now aim with open sights once more. Now, on to today’s report.

You liked it

Just an observation from the comments to Part 1 of this report. Many of you like this Diana 240 Classic air rifle for the same reasons I do. You like the small size, easy cocking and the general classic styling. Today we begin discovering how it performs, and I have to admit that I have high hopes. There aren’t enough airguns like this one in the market anymore, and I think that’s a shame. Because this is where the heart of airgunning lies — not in .22 rimfire power and accuracy, but with guns that are fun and easy to shoot.

JSB Exact RS

Let’s get started. The first pellet I tested was the JSB Exact RS dome. In .177 caliber these pellets weigh 7.33 grains, making them lightweights. Let me show you the string I fired before I explain what happened.

2……………..481 DS
12……………523 DS

The DS after the velocity means I deep-seated those pellets. I thought I might get lucky and be able to get two bits of data from a single test, but all I got was an indication that the 240 Classic doesn’t like deep-seating. At least not with JSB Exact RS pellets.

The average of the other 10 shots that were seated flush was 528 f.p.s. The spread of just those shots went from a low of 511 f.p.s. to a high of 541 f.p.s. That’s 30 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet is putting out 4.54 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

RWS Hobby

The next pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby. At just 7 grains, the Hobby is one of the lightest lead pellets around, and is usually used in velocity tests by manufacturers. In the 240 Classic I’m testing Hobbys averaged 548 f.p.s. with a spread from 544 to 551 f.p.s. That’s just 7 f.p.s., which is remarkable in a brand new spring-piston airgun! At the average velocity, Hobbys generate 4.67 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Just to be consistent I did deep-seat two Hobbys after the string was shot. They went 540 and 525 f.p.s., respectively. No advantage there.

Crosman Premier lite

The last pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain dome. This pellet is made from lead that’s been hardened with antimony, so it might perform differently than pure lead pellets in a lower-powered rifle like the 240 Classic. Ten of them averaged 524 f.p.s. with a low of 511 and a high of 533 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 22 f.p.s. At the average velocity, Premier lites are generating 4.82 foot-pounds at the muzzle. That makes them the most efficient of the three pellets tested.

I did seat two Premier lites deep. Their velocities were 518 and 513 f.p.s., respectively. What that tells me is deep-seating isn’t beneficial with the 240 Classis. Maybe there is one pellet that will do better when seated deep, but it doesn’t look like it’s worth the effort to find out. We now have a pretty good handle on the power and consistency of the 240 Classic. It’s in the same category as the vintage Diana 25. But what about the trigger?

The trigger

There is no denying that the old ball-bearing trigger that’s found in the vintage Diana 27 and some Diana 25s can be adjusted to a razor’s edge. The question is — how good is the T05 trigger that’s in the 240 Classic? I happen to think that it’s very good. The second stage breaks cleanly, and the straight trigger blade only enhances the feel.

The trigger on the test rifle is set to release at 2 pounds on the nose. While I was testing it I noticed a tiny bit of vibration in the shot cycle. If Tune in a Tube did not exist I wouldn’t pay this slight vibration any attention, but it does and I think I’m going to treat the mainspring. Accuracy testing will then be a delight.

Cocking effort

The 240 Classic has a ball bearing detent that is a trademark of Diana breakbarrels. It’s stiff, but not so much that you need to slap the muzzle to break it open. The rifle cocks with 13 pounds of effort, which makes it very easy to cock.

Evaluation so far

The 240 Classic is stacking up to be the classic Diana I had hoped for. All that remains is the accuracy test, and I’m betting that will go very well. We shall see.

If this rifle tests out as I hope, it’s going to be a world-beater in my book! Remember what I said about this being a more affordable alternative to the HW 30S? If it is accurate, it will be just that, in my book.

Dan Wesson M512 4-inch pellet revolver: Part 2

Út, 02/21/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

New 4-inch Dan Wesson pellet revolver from ASG is very realistic!

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Loading the CO2
  • Loading the cartridges
  • The tests
  • RWS Basic
  • Crosman Premier lite
  • Qiang Yuan training pellets
  • Shot count
  • Trigger pull
  • Analysis
  • 2017 Pyramyd Air Cup
  • 2017 Texas Airgun Show

Today I test the velocity of the Dan Wesson 4-inch pellet revolver. This should be an interesting test.

Loading the CO2

I installed a fresh CO2 cartridge in the grip, after putting a couple drops of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of the cartridge before piercing. The oil gets blown into the valve and coats every seal inside, ensuring the gun remains gas-tight.

Loading the cartridges

The cartridges load from the rear, which is easy to do. The pellets slip into the plastic liners of each cartridge easily and stay there securely until the gas blows they into the barrel.
The loaded cartridges also load easily into the cylinder. When you’re done shooting, all you have to do is open the cylinder and tip the muzzle up and the cartridges fall right out. There is no expansion from gas the way there is with a firearm cartridge.

The tests

I will test the revolver in both single action and double action fire. We want to know how consistent the action is in either mode, as well as whether there is a big difference in velocity.
I waited a minimum of 10 seconds between each shot, and sometimes longer. CO2 cools the airgun as it is discharged and cooling leads to lower pressure, which means less velocity. CO2 guns are just not well-suited for rapid fire, unless certain special things are done to them.

RWS Basic

First up was the 7-grain RWS Basic pellet. This pellet weighs the same as an RWS Hobby, but sells for less. Basics averaged 376 f.p.s. on single action and had a spread of 31 f.p.s., from 362 to 393 f.p.s. When shot double action the average was 380 f.p.s. and the spread tightened to 8 f.p.s., ranging from 376 to 384 f.p.s.

Crosman Premier lite

Crosman Premier lites weigh 7.9 grains and averaged 359 f.p.s. from the Dan Wesson revolver when fired single action. The spread was 22 f.p.s. and went from 345 to 367 f.p.s. When fired double action, Premier lites averaged 358 f.p.s. and had a spread of 10 f.p.s. The range was from 354 to 364 f.p.s.

Qiang Yuan training pellets

The last pellet I tested was the 8.2-grain Qiang Yuan training pellet. This was the heaviest pellet I tested, but I think the results are going to surprise you. They loaded into the cartridges easier than the other two pellets and in single action they averaged 376 f.p.s. — the same as the lightweight RWS Basics. The velocity spread went from a low of 367 f.p.s to a high of 383 f.p.s. That’s a range of 16 f.p.s.
In double action this pellet averaged 363 f.p.s.and the spread went from 360 to 368 f.p.s., a range of just 8 f.p.s. This pellet is very efficient in the revolver.

Shot count

At this point in the test there were a total of 39 shots on this CO2 cartridge. Now I returned to the RWS Basics that had averaged 376 f.p.s. in single action, and I started seeing how many good shots there were on the cartridge. Shot number 51 went out the muzzle at 350 f.p.s. You might be tempted to think the gun was slowing down, but then shot 62 went out at 365 f.p.s. Don’t count it out yet. Shot 71 was 308 f.p.s., so the gun is definitely slowing, though the shots are still powerful. Shot 81 was 245 f.p.s. which is getting low enough to stop shooting. Given that the cylinder holds 6 rounds I think it’s safe to say there are 12 good cylinders or 72 shots in one CO2 cartridge.

Trigger pull

In the single action mode, where the hammer is cocked manually, the trigger breaks at 5 lbs. even. When the trigger is pulled to fire the gun in the double action mode the pull is just over 9 lbs. It ranges between 9 lbs. 2 oz and 9 lbs. 4 oz. That’s very light for a double action trigger pull


I learned several things from this test. First, the average velocity with lead pellets seems to be around 376 f.p.s. Sure, I could have loaded lead-free alloy pellets and probably would have gotten velocities above the 410 f.p.s. rating, but these are the velocities you will see with the kind of pellets you will most likely use.

I also discovered the revolver is more stable when shooting in the double action mode. With each pellet the velocity spread was about half as large as it was in single action.

The average velocity was close to the same in both modes, with a very slight bias toward single action. When I shoot it for accuracy I will be shooting single action only, because I am not that good in the double action mode. That takes training and practice.

2017 Pyramyd Air Cup

The 2017 Pyramyd Air Cup will be held August 25 – 27, 2017 at the Tusco Rifle Club in New Philadelphia, Ohio. There will be more information on this event very soon.

2017 Texas Airgun Show

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the Pyramyd Air Cup this year, because the 2017 Texas Airgun Show is being help on Saturday August 26 at the Arlington Sportsman’s Club in Mansfield, Texas. I do plan on attending the 2017 Flag City Toys That Shoot airgun show in Findlay, Ohio on Saturday, April 8, so if you want to see me, look for me there. I will share two tables with Dennis Quackenbush.

El Gamo 68-XP .22 caliber: Part 2

Po, 02/20/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The El Gamo XP-68.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Preparing to shoot
  • Petroleum oil or silicone?
  • Velocity determines which oil you need
  • Velocity
  • Deep-seating
  • JSB Exact RS
  • H&N Baracuda Match 5.51mm head
  • RWS Meisterkugeln
  • Trigger pull
  • Cocking effort
  • Evaluation so far

I said I would return to this report after I repaired the plastic clamshell halves of the buttstock. That job is now finished. I was able to epoxy the pieces of the broken post that receives the stock screw together and, although it wasn’t completely straight, it was straight enough for me to drill a new pilot hole for the wood screw that holds the two halves together. The butt is now complete, so today I will test the velocity.

Preparing to shoot

In preparation to shoot I oiled the piston seal with a lot of silicone chamber oil and let the rifle stand on its butt for a day. If it has a leather piston seal, and I am almost certain it does, the oil will be absorbed and make the leather pliable again. That should give the highest velocity.

Petroleum oil or silicone?

Before I get to the velocity test, I have some words about oiling the piston seals of older air rifles. First, the age of the airgun usually determines whether the piston seal is leather or synthetic — but not always. I would say that most spring-piston guns from the 1950s and earlier have leather seals, but one exception to that is the Hakim military trainer that Anschütz built for the Egyptians in 1954/55. Anschütz was also making the same action into a sporting rifle for sale in Germany at the time, and I have to believe that one used the same black synthetic parachute seal that was in the military trainer. It’s too expensive and confusing to do otherwise.

Why do I tell you this? Because leather piston seals need more oil to keep them pliant. Synthetic seals will operate on far less oil, because they always hold their shape. If you know you have a leather seal, you know it needs a lot of oil. But which type — petroleum or synthetic?

Velocity determines which oil you need

It isn’t the seal material, it’s the velocity the rifle generates that determines the type of oil that should be used. That’s because when the velocity gets up over a certain level, the heat generated by the compression is very high. You want an oil that will not burn easily, so there is no explosion.

The velocity thresholds are caliber-specific. Once the velocity of a .177 spring-piston rifle gets up over 800 f.p.s. it’s time to oil the seal with silicone regardless of what it is made of. But usually it would be synthetic, because that level of velocity only came about in the late 1970s, when synthetic seals came into popular use. For .22 caliber the threshold is around 700 f.p.s., and so on. Nothing is exact or precise, these are just general guidelines.

Given that information, it is a sure bet this El Gamo can use petroleum-based oil on the piston seal with no worries. Not that silicone won’t work, because it works fine. But it costs more and isn’t really needed.

To generalize, spring piston airguns made in the 1950s and earlier are lubricated with petroleum-based oil. Those made after that time may use silicone, unless you know for certain that the velocity is very low. Then petroleum oil works best, because it is cheapest. This air rifle I am testing is low velocity for sure, so petroleum oil will work. I used silicone, however, because the applicator needle was easier to get inside the air transfer port.


Now let’s see what the velocity is. I will start with a lightweight lead pellet that is widely used to determine the velocity of airguns, because it often shoots the fastest. Of the practical lead pellets you might use — the .22-caliber RWS Hobby is one of the best. In .22 caliber Hobbys weigh 11.9 grains, nominally.

Hobbys averaged 454 f.p.s. from the rifle, which tells me the powerplant is in fine condition and doesn’t require attention. Shooting is smooth and crisp, without much vibration. The spread ranged from a low of 447 f.p.s. to a high of 461 f.p.s., which is a total of 14 f.p.s. That’s pretty good for an older spring-piston gun and a leather seal.


I did try deep-seating the pellets with a pellet seater, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. So I seated most of them flush with the breech.

JSB Exact RS

Next to be tested was the JSB Exact dome. At 13.43 grains these are a little heavier than Hobbys, so we expect they will go slower, but not that much. They averaged 437 f.p.s. in the 68-XP and ranged from a low of 433 f.p.s. to a high of 443 f.p.s. That’s just 10 f.p.s., which is very consistent. And I must observe that the powerplant was the calmest with this pellet. This will be one to try for accuracy.

H&N Baracuda Match 5.51mm head

Next I tried the H&N Baracuda Match with a 5.51mm head. The first shot was loud and the gun vibrated a lot. When I saw that the velocity was only 170 f.p.s. I resolved to try one more shot and if it wasn’t better, to give up. Shot two went out at 192 f.p.s. and I was finished. This pellet is just too heavy for this powerplant.

RWS Meisterkugeln

The last pellet I tried was the RWS Meisterkugeln wadcutter. At 14 grains it’s about the heaviest pellet I think I will try, though it might be fun to try a Superdome in the accuracy test. I got a bimodal (two differing averages) distribution with this pellet, depending on how it was loaded. Seated flush the Meisterkugeln averaged 370 f.p.s. with a low of 362 f.p.s. and a high of 377 f.p.s. Seated deep this pellet averaged 400 f.p.s., with a low of 394 f.p.s. and a high of 408 f.p.s.

I noticed when I seated the Meisters there was a lot of resistance entering the bore. If I test this pellet for accuracy it needs to be seated deep.

Trigger pull

The 68-XP has a heavy two-stage trigger pull. It breaks at 7 lbs. 7 oz. at present. The shape of the pistol grip enables me to pull it without affecting the hold on target, so it won’t affect accuracy, but I may try to lighten it a bit. We learned from the other 68-XP that the trigger does respond to adjusting.

Cocking effort

This rifle cocks with just 13 lbs. of effort. That makes it one of the lightest-cocking air rifles I have ever tested! There is an anti-beartrap mechanism that prevents the gun from firing, once cocked, until the breech is closed, so you have to fire it when you cock it. The detent is light enough to not need the muzzle to be slapped to open the barrel, which is quite pleasant.

Evaluation so far

This surprise buy in a pawn shop is turning out to be a very nice air rifle. Now that the butt is fixed and I know the power is where it needs to be, all that remains is to see how accurate it is.

BB’s Christmas gift: Part 4

Pá, 02/17/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Like all Supergrades, my new rifle is graceful and attractive.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • No front sight
  • The test
  • Beeman Silver Jets
  • Sheridan Cylindricals
  • Crosman Premiers
  • About the same
  • Velocity
  • Variable pumps with Crosman Premier pellets
  • Stability
  • Conclusion

Well, after the last session when the pump mechanism and valve seemed to be fixed I was all set to start testing the Sheridan Supergrade for accuracy. The first thing I did was hoist the rifle to my shoulder, to see whether I could see the front sight through the rear peep. Oh no! I couldn’t see it! So I switched shoulders and looked with my left eye. Oh no! I couldn’t even see it with that eye — the eye I have been calling my good eye. Was there even a front sight on the gun?

No front sight

No, there wasn’t! How had this happened? Had I bought a Sheridan Supergrade without a front sight and just never noticed it until now? What a dope!

Later that same evening, as I was drifting off the sleep while wondering what I could put into the open slot where a front sight blade was supposed to go I suddenly wondered — had the sight blade somehow fallen out? One way to find out. Look at the pictures I took of the rifle on December 30, 2016 and enlarge them to see if there was a front sight blade.

I did that the next day and yes, the sight was there. So I grabbed a flashlight, turned around in my desk chair and looked on the carpeted floor where I stack the rifles being tested, looking for something that resembled a Sheridan Supergrade front sight blade. I found it in about 5 seconds! Five minutes later I had bonded it back in position and now I could verify that I can, in fact, see the it with my right eye. Yes, I can!

The test

I shot the rifle off a sandbag at 10 meters. I shot 5 shots per target because the pumping is tiring. I had a velocity test to run after this one. This accuracy test was run with 4 pumps per shot.

I don’t have many different .20 caliber pellets, so I selected some Sheridan Cylindricals, some Beeman Silver Jets and some Crosman Premiers — all vintage pellets that are no longer available. I imagine JSB domes would be better, but I don’t have any. I will order some with my next Pyramyd Air order.

I had never shot this rifle for accuracy, plus I just remounted the front sight blade, so I had no idea where the pellets would go. Fortunately the first shot was in the bull I aimed at. I accepted that and never adjusted the sights for the rest of the test.

Beeman Silver Jets

First up were some Silver Jets. As I mentioned the first shot was in the black. That was the last time I looked at the target through the spotting scope until the test was completed.

Five Silver Jets went into 0.419-inches at 10 meters. The group looks tighter than it is because of paper tearing.

This 0.419-inch group of 5 Beeman Silver Jets at 10 meters looks smaller than it really is.

I will note that my right eye was seeing the front sight very clearly and of course the bull was a little fuzzy, as it is supposed to be.

Sheridan Cylindricals

Next up were the Sheridan Cylindrical pellets that were made for this rifle. They didn’t so as well today. Five of them went into 2 different holes at 10 meters, making a group that measures 0.64-inches between centers.

Not quite as good as the Silver Jets. Sheridan Cylindricals gave me a 0.64-inch group at 10 meters.

Crosman Premiers

The last pellet I tested was the .20-caliber Crosman Premier that was one of the finest .20 caliber pellets ever produced. Five of them went into 0.54-inches at 10 meters, which is in the middle of the other two pellets.

Five Crosman Premiers in 0.54-inches at 10 meters. Okay, but not the best.

About the same

It turns out that my Supergrade is just about as accurate as the other Supergrade I tested last year, though with that one I did shoot one phenomenal group. I expected these results, because I’ve never seen a Supergrade that would out-shoot a standard Blue Streak. But this test is not finished.


Remember my “fix” with the ATF sealant? I apparently get a lot of criticism on the forums for touting that stuff, but each time I test it, it works. So, who cares what the naysayers say? If my Supergrade has held up in velocity for the past week, I would say this stuff has fixed it.

Variable pumps with Crosman Premier pellets


Before ATF sealant…….After ATF sealant…….One week later

I would call that result a success. I think the ATF sealant has done its job. I may need to use it again from time to time, but this is so much better than having to find someone to repair a Sheridan Supergrade valve!


This test is also with Premier pellets on 4 pumps per shot. Again I show the results before ATF sealant was applied, just after and today’s results.

Before ATF sealant…….After ATF sealant…….One week later

It appears the rifle is more stable today than just after the ATF sealant was first applied, but remember that I did the accuracy testing first today. So the pump parts were already warmed up. I will take this result!


It seems I now own a stable Sheridan Supergrade. Maybe it isn’t quite what it once was, but I can live with that. At least is is stable and performing pretty well.

As I have now shown in several tests, the Sheridan Supergrade is no more powerful nor more accurate than a standard Blue Streak. That doesn’t take anything away from its cachet as a rare and desirable airgun, but it tells those who can’t ever own one exactly what they are missing.

Finally, my “fix” of oiling the pump with ATF sealant seems to be a wonderful cure for an old pneumatic valve. That, alone, is reason for celebrating this series.

Benjamin Wildfire PCP repeater: Part 1

Čt, 02/16/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Benjamin Wildfire.

This report covers:

  • Let’s get it straight
  • Different desires
  • PCPs
  • Actually
  • The rifle
  • Sights
  • Trigger
  • How difficult is it to fill with a hand pump?
  • A good way to enter the world of PCP
  • Yes, but a hand pump costs more than the rifle!!!
  • Today was not planned
Let’s get it straight

This is the season of the tax refund, here in the U.S. tax refunds come in all shapes and sizes. If you work for an employer, your options of controlling the size of your refund are few — just whatever choices the payroll service allows. Usually they can adjust it so the refund is as low as possible, but always a positive number, so you owe no additional money when your taxes are computed. Or if you prefer, more can be deducted each pay period so the refund is larger.

For those who are self-employed, the options are greater. You either pay your estimated taxes quarterly, or you wait until the end of the year and have a very large bill due. Or you hire a payroll service and they help you sculpt your withholding to whatever suits you.

Different desires

Every person is different. Some want to owe as little as possible, knowing they had the greatest use of their money during the year. Others want a large refund that they can treat as free money at tax time.


The term precharged pneumatic (PCP) is a lot like a tax refund. It can be large or small — the term doesn’t define what it is. But people who are new to our hobby treat it like it means something. They hear PCP and they start constructing new universes in their minds. If it’s a PCP is must be accurate. If it’s a PCP it must be powerful. A PCP must have a perfect trigger, and so on. So, when the new Benjamin Wildfire comes along, these people have already whipped up a fantasy world for it to inhabit. It’s a PCP, so it must be a great hunter. It’s a PCP repeater, so move over, Benjamin Marauder!


What the new Benjamin Wildfire actually is, is a Crosman 1077 that runs on air, rather than CO2. Instead of feeding 50-cent 12-gram CO2 cartridges every 60 shots, you pump it back up to 2000 psi every —?? — well, I guess that will be one of the things we will discover in this test. But you don’t pay for the air you use.

And, because it runs on thin air rather than thick CO2, you can expect higher velocity. The package says up to 800 f.p.s., and that is another of those things we will discover together.

The rifle

The Wildfire is a 12-shot repeating .177 air rifle that operates on stored air — a pneumatic that is pre-charged. The reservoir is a tube beneath the barrel that is pressurized to 2000 psi by whatever means you have, but a hand pump is ideal. That’s because pumping to 2000 psi is quite easy. I have more to say about that in a moment.

The reservoir is one small place where the Wildfire differs in appearance from the 1077. The air reservoir on the Wildfire runs almost to the end of the barrel, while the CO2 tube on a 1077 stops at the end of the firearm, many inches from the muzzle. Also, the Wildfire has a pressure gauge onboard, while the 1077 has no need of one.

The Wildfire has an integral pressure gauge. And — NO — just because you see CO2 written on the gauge face does not mean the Wildfire is a dual fuel airgun. Use air only.

Additionally, the Wildfire has an air degassing screw that allows you to bleed down excess air. You could just shoot it out like you have to with CO2, but the 2mm degassing screw that’s located next to the pressure gauge gives you a faster way of doing it.

The rifle is just shy of 37 inches long and weighs 3 lbs. 10-3/8 oz.  A better definition of a plinker I cannot imagine.

The stock and outer receiver are black plastic. The barrel, reservoir and rear sight are the only parts that are metal on the outside of the rifle.

This is a 12-shot repeater. It fires every time you pull the trigger through a long heavy stroke. The action of pulling the trigger both cocks and releases the striker to fire the gun and also advances the 12-shot plastic clip to the next round. The pellet fires from the clip (is not pushed into the barrel before firing) and the gun does not stop functioning when it is empty. You keep track of the shots yourself.

As far as accuracy goes, the 1077 is reasonably accurate and I expect the Wildfire to be similar. Expect to hit a one-inch target at 25 yards most of the time.


The sights are open — a post with green fiberoptic dot in front and a plain adjustable notch in the rear. The rear sight adjusts up and down via a stepped elevator and left-right via a screw in an oval hole. They are not precise, but are adequate for the accuracy and distance the Wildfire is expected to shoot, which is plinking to 25 yards, or so.

An 11mm dovetail atop the plastic receiver will accept scope rings or the base of a dot sight. I would keep the scope or dot sight small and lightweight because it is clamping onto plastic. I have scoped my 1077s for years and they have worked just fine.


I have covered this before but some people have not taken it to heart. The Wildfire (and 1077) action is a double-action only revolver. The trigger has to pull back the striker and advance the circular clip at the same time. The pull is going to always be long and, when the gun (or replacement clip box that most will call the magazine) is new, it is also heavy. That heaviness lightens as both the rifle and the clip box/magazine wears in. I have older 1077s whose trigger pulls are smooth and relatively light, but that relates to the trigger pull of a new 1077.

Clip box and circular clip that many will call the magazine. This mechanism drives a large part of the Wildfire’s trigger pull.

The good news is the clip box from a 1077 will fit this rifle, so if you have a 1077 that’s already broken-in you can improve the trigger right away by using the old clip box. I own 2 1077s and have had many others over the years, so I have several replacement 12-shot plastic clips, but they are available new because they are identical to the ones from 1077s. That’s not a guess. I have tried it and it works. The new rifle action still needs some breaking-in and it will also smooth out, but the older clip box that contains the broken-in double action mechanism does improve the trigger pull.

How difficult is it to fill with a hand pump?

The Wildfire is easy to fill with a hand pump! I know because back when we developed the Benjamin Discovery, I had Crosman’s attorney fill one with a hand pump, right there in the office. She was a young woman who stood less than 5 feet tall, and she had little difficulty filling to 2000 psi. I could fill the rifle with one hand while seated. Now, if you have severe arthritis or angina all bets are off; but if you can clean out the kitty litter boxes every day or mow the lawn, you can fill the Wildfire with a hand pump.

When the test rifle was unboxed it contained a maintenance fill of about 500 psi. It took 96 strokes of a G6 hand pump to fill it up to 2000 psi. I pumped slowly and deliberately, allowing the air to flow between all three stages of the pump. If you want to horse the pump like a madman, expect to pump it 140 strokes to achieve the same fill. I will report in Part 2 how many strokes it takes to fill from where you stop shooting (around 1000 psi), but I expect it to be around half what I did today.

Yes, but a hand pump costs more than the rifle!!!

Guess what? The gasoline you put into your car costs thousands of dollars, over the lifetime of the car. Each CO2 cartridge you install in a 1077 costs about 50 cents, so a hand pump stops costing you after 400 cartridges. That time comes sooner for some folks than for others, but it will come. Take care of the rifle and it will come. You’re just buying all the pressurized gas you’ll ever need (and a lot more) up front. And, because you are only filling the rifle to 2000 psi, that hand pump can be passed down to your kids, if you take care of it.

A good way to enter the world of PCP

Some people have said the Benjamin Wildfire is a great entry point to the world of precharged airguns. I agree — as long as your expectations are properly aligned. Remember what this rifle is and what you can expect from it and it will be the perfect way to get into PCPs.

The Wildfire will teach you how to fill a PCP with a hand pump. Also you’ll learn how to watch the pressure gauge at the start and finish of shooting. If you own a chronograph you will learn to determine the ideal pressure curve and number of shots per fill.

But, like the man who asked if he would be able to play the piano after having his carpel tunnel syndrome fixed, the answer is still, “Only if you could play it before the operation!” Just because it’s a PCP does not turn the Wildfire into something it is not.

Today was not planned

When I woke up this morning I had no intention of starting the Wildfire report. The box arrived from Crosman yesterday and I knew what it was, but I had planned to finish this week by doing a velocity test of the ASG Dan Wesson pellet revolver.

But I needed a way to explain what sort of gun the Wildfire is, and the idea of the tax return analogy came to me. So, I wrote it down and, when I looked up again, today’s report was finished. Oops!

Diana K98 pellet rifle: Part 5

St, 02/15/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana’s K98 Mauser pellet rifle is very realistic.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • First scope
  • First scope failed!
  • 10X fixed power UTG scope
  • The test
  • JSB RS
  • My eye
  • JSB Exact 15.89-grain
  • RWS Superdomes
  • Conclusion

I last tested the Diana Mauser K98 air rifle on December 20 of last year. On that day my right eye was so bad that I couldn’t even see the sights when wearing my glasses, so I had to shoot that test left-handed. Even so, I managed to shoot a 10-shot group that was almost one-inch at 25 yards. And I did it with the rifle rested directly on a sandbag!

First scope

Today I mounted an old Leapers 3-12 SWAT mil dot scope that happened to be attached to high rings that were sitting on a prototype Leapers drooper base. This base will fit the new Diana scope bases on the rifles. The scope was so old it was from the pre-UTG days. It just says Leapers on the tube.

I used the drooper base for its downward slant, because the Mauser 98K is a Diana, and most of them have some droop. As the test unfolded I discovered this rifle doesn’t have any droop and I could have left that base out of the scope mounting solution. That would have been better,
because the combination of the base and high rings put the scope too high for the rifle to fit me comfortably. If this wasn’t just a test I would select a different set of rings and no drooper base.

First scope failed!

It took about 10 shots to sight in and then I shot a first group. It wasn’t shot as well (not as uniformly) as I hoped, so I tried shooting a second group with the same pellet. But, after three more shots, the parallax failed. The scope focus became fuzzy no matter where the sidewheel parallax was set. That’s the first Leapers scope ever to fail on me like that. The scope is probably close to 10 years old and has been mounted on dozens of different air rifles for testing, so I got a lot of use out of it. But no more!

10X fixed power UTG scope

I dismounted the scope and mounted a 110X50 fixed power UTG SWAT scope in its place. The reticle on this one is very thin, so aiming is as precise as it can be. I felt that offset the slightly lower magnification this scope offered. You will note that this scope is compact.

The scope is way too high the way it’s mounted here. The drooper base proved unnecessary, so the scope can be lowered quite a bit.

The test

If you read Part 4 you’ll discover that I was able to shoot this rifle rested directly on the sandbag. That is a testimony to the smoothness of the shot cycle. So, that is how I shot it for today’s test.


First to be tested were 13.43-grain JSB Exact RS domes. They did well in Part 4 and I wanted to see how much better I could do with a scope. However, allow me to tell you about my new eye before I describe the test.

My eye

I can see through the scope very clearly, and the reticle lines that used to be very crooked have straightened out quite a bit. There is still some crookedness to them, but it’s far less than before. My cataract was really degrading my ability to see clearly!

Back to the test. The rifle shot pellet after pellet to the same place. It was wonderful to watch. In the end I had shot 10 pellets into a group that measures 0.584-inches between centers. I would say the Mauser 98K is accurate!

Ten JSB RS pellets went into 0.584-inches at 25 yards.

JSB Exact 15.89-grain

Next I tried 10 JSB Exact 15.89-grain pellets. They went into as group that measures 1.07 inches between centers. For 25-yard shooting it’s not too bad, but the RS is still the pellet to beat,

Ten JSB Exact 15.89-grain pellets went into 1.07-inches at 25 yards. While acceptable, in light of what the RS pellets did I wouldn’t choose this one.

RWS Superdomes

In Part 4 I got a phenomenal result from RWS Superdome pellets. So naturally I thought they would be the best pellet today. I shot two groups of 10 and I’m showing you the best one, though the other one is only slightly larger. The best I was able to do with Superdomes was 10 in 1.382-inches at 25 yards. As you can see, most of the pellets grouped together, but there were 4 outliers that opened things up. In the other group that was larger I had similar results, with three pellets opening the group. Perhaps sorting pellets by head size with the Pelletgage would improve things, but I don’t care about that.

Ten RWS Superdome pellets went into 1.382-inches at 25 yards. For some reason, these pellets were not as good as the 10 Superdomes I shot from this rifle with open sights in December.


It seems the Mauser K98 is a little picky about the pellets it likes. No doubt if I were to continue testing with other pellets I would find one or more that also work well. But I have zero desire to shoot this rifle with a scope. It was made to shoot with open sights and that’s how I would shoot it. I’m still deciding whether I want to buy this one or return it to Pyramyd Air

Diana 240 Classic:Part 1

Út, 02/14/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 240 Classic.

This report covers:

  • Classic airgun alert!
  • Diana model 27
  • Where has the 240 been?
  • A youth airgun
  • Finish
  • Sights
  • Trigger
  • Shooting impression
  • HW30 substitute?
Classic airgun alert!

What a timely test! I received the Diana 240 Classic when the Diana Mauser K98 rifle arrived, many weeks ago. Naturally I was drawn to the larger, more military-looking airgun first. But as it turns out, the Diana 240 Classic is also a classic that I think many of you are going to enjoy. I say that because I believe I am going to enjoy testing it for you.

Diana model 27

If you have read this blog very long, you know that I cannot help from referring to the Diana model 27 rifle as often as I can. That’s because of all the airguns I have ever shot, it is the one I like the best. To me it embodies the essence of the reason I am an airgunner. It’s lightweight, easy to cock, quiet, accurate and has an adjustable trigger that can be set very fine.

Where has the 240 been?

Like most Americans, I remained ignorant of the Diana model 24 that turned into the 240. It wasn’t imported by large U.S. dealers for many years and, despite our European readers touting its virtues and advising me to try one, I never did. Well, that has changed. Pyramyd Air now brings in the Diana 240 Classic and for $200 you can buy a lot of airgun.

A youth airgun

On the surface, the Diana 240 Classic is a breakbarrel rifle that’s made for older youth. I say on the surface, because, like most other guns made for this market (Daisy 853 etc.), it also appeals to experienced airgunners who just want to shoot and aren’t concerned with velocity. The Diana 27 was also such a gun.

The 240 Classic is small but not petite. It’s 40 inches long, with a pull of 13.5 inches. That puts it into the comfortable range for many adults. The rifle weighs 5 lbs. according to the specs. The one I am testing for you, serial number 20074860, weighs 6 lbs. 2 oz.


The stock is a classic beechwood stock with no embellishments. It looks very similar to a model 27 stock, except this one has a black plastic buttplate, where the 27 butt is plain wood with a rubber button to prevent slippage when the rifle is leaned in the corner.

All the metal parts are deeply blackened and polished smooth. They have a luster but not a deep polish. There are some plastic parts like the trigger, triggerguard and the front sight assembly. But the rifle is made mostly the same as they made them in the 1970s.


The rifle comes with open sights. The rear has a fiberoptic tube (a green dot on either side of the rear notch) and is adjustable both ways. The front sight is a hooded fiberoptic tube atop a plastic ramp. My eyes are almost at the point where I can see the sights well enough to shoot. Hopefully they will be where they need to be in another week or so.

There are also two parallel dovetail grooves cut into the top of the spring tube, 11 millimeters apart. Unlike the more expensive Diana spring rifles, there is no scope base mounted — just those grooves. I don’t think Diana anticipates people mounting a scope on this one. There is also no hole for a vertical scope stop pin, so if you plan to scope the 240 Classic, I would think about using a BKL clamp-on mount of some sort. The recoil is so light that there should be no problem with scope movement.


Diana lumped several rifles into the one owner’s manual and the written instructions for the adjustable trigger in the manual don’t apply to the 240 Classic. The two-stage trigger has one screw in front of the blade that adjusts the length of the first stage travel and that’s it.

The trigger has one adjustment screw that controls the first stage travel length.

I will test the trigger more thoroughly for you in part 2, but for now know that it is reasonably light with some creep in stage two. It is not equivalent to the model 27 trigger.

Shooting impression

I had to shoot it, even though today is not a test of any kind. It cocks easy (specs. say 20 lbs. and that sounds about right) but the ball bearing detent is stiff and requires a muzzle slap to break the barrel open. The stroke is short because the rifle doesn’t develop a lot of power. Specs. say 580 f.p.s. in .177, which is the only caliber it comes in.

The rifle shoots smooth with a very light recoil. I was ready with my Tune in a Tube grease, but it looks like it won’t be necessary. I must say the new owners of the Diana brand seem to be doing a fine job of maintaining the quality of their rifles.

HW30 substitute?

Okay, I will say it. The 240 Classic could be seen as a less expensive substitute for the HW 30. Not the higher-end 30S that has the Rekord trigger; just the standard HW 30. Of course you give up about 100 f.p.s., but you also save over $50. I’m sure that will start an argument, but that’s the way I see it.

At any rate, I get to test this rifle and it looks like it’s going to be fun. At the end we will all know how close it comes to being a modern Diana model 27.

Is it okay to pay more?

Po, 02/13/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Dan Wesson
  • Guns as investments
  • FWB 124
  • Condition matters
  • It’s worth what someone will pay
  • Guns as safe investments
  • Non-pristine, yet solid investments
  • Sheridan Supergrade
  • BSA Airsporter Mark I
  • Bottom line

Of all the reports I have written, this one might just get me in trouble with some of you readers. I’m going to talk about money today. Politics and religion are two topics that are guaranteed to start a conversation, but when the topic is money the talk gets very personal for some people. What I am about to say may hit people the wrong way. But it is what I believe and I am going to defend my position.

Dan Wesson

When I researched material for the first report on the Dan Wesson 4-inch pellet revolver last week, I happened to look up Dan Wesson pistol pacs on the Gun Broker website. There was a very complete one that was selling for around $1,585, the time I first saw it. I checked the expired auctions and discovered that pristine examples had brought over $2,100 in the recent past, so this one seemed undervalued. Of course the auction was still live, so it could still go up.

Dan Wesson pistol pacs don’t usually have the belt buckle or the cloth patch with them, but this one did. They may have all the other tools and parts and even all the literature, but those two items are often missing. When they are present, I know I’m looking at a complete set. Complete pistol pacs are rare.

I thought this might be a good investment — a $2,100+ item that maybe will sell for $1,800. Three years ago the same complete pistol pac would only bring $1,500 or so, so they are on the rise and a solid investment. And that is what I want to discuss today. Before I do, though, let me tell you the problem with this particular gun. The cylinder has a small scratch and the finish on the 8-inch barrel is slightly worn at the muzzle edge. It’s probably in 99 percent condition. With those two issues, this is not a good investment. For a Dan Wesson pistol pac to sell well it must be complete and 100 percent.

Guns as investments

I was talking with John McCaslin, the owner of AirForce Airguns, several weeks ago and he mentioned that his gun collection is earning him money faster and more steadily than any other investment he can think of. Those two words — faster and more steadily — are both important. Because there are investments that make money faster than guns or airguns. But those investments can also lose money faster, and that is called risk.

“More steadily” is the other thing about gun investments. Guns do rise in value over time. But not all of them are good risks. A few years back when the administration was attacking firearms ownership by limiting AR-15 magazine sales, the price for AR-15s shot up out of sight. But the increase wasn’t real — it was driven by panic. As a result, when things relaxed, some guns lost a thousand dollars in value in just a few months! That’s similar to the value given to office buildings in Tokyo in the 1980s. They were each valued at billions of dollars, and loans had been made based on those values. Reality set in and everyone realized the buildings were grossly over-valued, and the result was a collapse of the Japanese stock market. A close relative of mine lost 8 million dollars in a couple months because she had invested in the Japanese stock market on the advice of someone she trusted, just before this happened.

So — guns can be good investments, but not always. You have to know what you are doing. Let’s now get specific.

FWB 124

An FWB 124 can be a good investment, but it can also be a loss from the start, if you buy wrong. Look for guns in original condition with all their original parts. A custom stock may look good and fit the shooter better than the factory stock, but it does nothing but devalue the worth of the rifle, unless the original factory stock is also with it. That’s because people don’t all have the same tastes, nor are they all the same size.

FWB 124 Deluxe is an all-time classic that retains its value when unfooled with.

If the gun’s powerplant has been refreshed with a new piston seal and even a new factory mainspring it is still a good value collectible. If it has been worked on extensively by a top tuner, it looses most of its value to collectors. It may still be a great shooter and worth a lot for that reason, but the collector value goes away when the gun is modified. People don’t care what that custom stock or tuneup cost you — it only detracts from the collector value of the gun.

Condition matters

This is a lesson a wannabe investor needs to learn quickly. A Winchester model 61 slide-action .22 rimfire rifle is perhaps worth $600-800 when it is in very good condition. I mean NRA Very Good condition — not what the owner happens to think very good means! A gun like that is a good shooter, but it’s not collectible.


Winchester model 61 slide-action .22 repeater is a desirable firearm.

The same rifle in NRA Excellent condition is worth $1,200-1,400, and is collectible. The difference between NRA Very Good and NRA Excellent is perhaps 10 percent more finish or just one buggered screw slot. The same rifle in Like New condition and still with the original box — serial-numbered to the rifle — is a $2,600-3,000 gun! And there are a few that exist in boxes that have never been opened. No one has ever seen them since they were packaged at Winchester over a half-century ago. Prices for such guns start around $4,000, for rifles that nobody will every see. Ridiculous? Perhaps. But that’s the way the Winchester model 61 market goes. If you intend buying Winchester model 61 rifles as investments, you have to learn what drives their value.

Now, let’s go back to that FWB 124 for a moment. A very good one with all the factory parts (sights, black plastic trigger blade and sling swivels if it is the deluxe model) is worth $375-450. An excellent one goes for $425-500. Excellent in the original box might add $75.

But what about one that has an FWB peep sight on the rear and a globe front sight that accepts interchangeable inserts? Neither of these is original to the rifle. Well, if the original sights are missing, subtract $150. Then add back about $100 for the sights that are with it. So those fancy sights represent about a $50 decrease in value, compared to a complete gun in the same condition.

What if I have one of the Air Rifle Headquarters 124s (called the F12) that has the custom stock ARH used to put on them? The forearm on that one is super deep, so the cocking slot can be filled-in for less vibration. That rifle falls into a separate category, being both a 124 and a vintage ARH collectible. It is actually worth a lot more than a standard 124 because of that ARH custom stock — maybe $550 in very good condition. In this case the original box from ARH adds a little extra value — perhaps $50 — but the rifle is the thing that carries most of the worth. The box isn’t actually original to the rifle. It had to be repackaged, because the overly large stock wouldn’t fit into the factory box. I have only seen one of these in all my years in this game.

It’s worth what someone will pay

Be very careful with this category! I once owned a 124 that was custom made for Mrs. Beeman. A customer talked her out of the rifle and I then bought it directly from her. I checked with Mrs. Beeman and indeed, the story was true. So the provenance was established. I called that rifle the “Queen B.”

When I needed cash a couple years later I sold it back to the lady I bought it from for the same price I paid ($600) — having given her first right of refusal. She promptly resold it for nearly twice that much. The current owner has put a price of more than $3,000 on the rifle. Is it really worth that much? Probably not, but who can say? If I were you I would avoid guns like this one, as their “value” is often tied to stories rather than to solid facts.

Guns as safe investments

Back to the discussion I had with John McCaslin — are guns and airguns good investments? Yes, if you stick to what you know and if you avoid market anomalies like politically-driven or personality-driven values, guns and airguns can be excellent investments. However, they are not liquid assents. Gold can be sold instantly for its fair market value. With property like guns you have to wait for a buyer to come along. That’s true for anything that isn’t actual liquid cash.

Non-pristine, yet solid investments

Okay — this is what you came to read today. Most of us don’t have any use for a gun that is so perfect we dare not shoot it or even handle it much. What about the guns we can shoot? Are there still solid investment opportunities there? Yes!

Sheridan Supergrade

I’ll start with the Sheridan Model A or Supergrade. That is one of the all-time solidest investments that exist in airguns. Avoid those that have obvious modifications like extra holes drilled in the receiver or additions/modifications to the stock, but a Supergrade is almost like cash. So many airgunners want them that they are very close to liquid. If you don’t pay too much you’ll never loose money. If you do pay a little too much, just wait a few years and things will take care of themselves.

A Sheridan Supergrade is money in the bank.

Having said that. let me tell you a small secret. The Supergrade I just bought has a flaw. It has an extra hole drilled and tapped into the right side of the receiver. Am I worried? Not really. The hole doesn’t detract and I doubt it takes much away from the value of the airgun.

That threaded hole wasn’t put there by the factory. It detracts, but on a nice Supergrade, not that much.

BSA Airsporter Mark I

I will use a BSA Airsporter Mark I (only the Mark I for this) for my next example. You could just as easily substitute a Webley Mark III, a Mark II Service, a Crosman 600 pistol or a Diana 27. What I’m saying is any real classic airgun will have good value, despite not being pristine. These are airguns whose values lie in what they are more than how nice they are. As long as they are very good or better these are guns you can even overpay for and be safe, because the market will always catch up.

Bottom line

If you are looking for some solid long-term investments, airguns can be a great way to go. They are smaller and more portable than real estate and a lot safer than most hard goods. Shop carefully and you will have something you can enjoy as it earns money for you!

BB’s Christmas gift: Part 3

Pá, 02/10/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Like all Supergrades, my new rifle is graceful and attractive.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Wise council
  • A special technique for old multi-pumps
  • Is it holding?
  • Test one
  • How is the pump lever?
  • Test 2 — stability
  • Conclusion

Today I’m recovering from the cataract surgery, but I wrote this on Wednesday, so I was still functional. What I thought I would do is try a little experiment that could work. If it does, I will have found a new technique for restoring an old Sheridan Supergrade. Read Part 2 to learn why this multi-pump is so different from all the others.

Wise council

Before I begin, following Part 2 of this report I heard from airgunsmith Tony McDaniel of TMac’s Airgun Service in North Carolina. Tony is the guy who hosts the North Carolina Airgun Show each year (it’s on Oct. 20 & 21, 2017), and the registration form plus show info is on his website.

Tony told me he has worked on a couple Supergrades in the past and one thing he has noticed is the pump arm sometimes comes up after pumping if the inlet valve has a small leak. That would lett compressed air flow back to in front of the pump head, no matter what the head clearance is.

In Part 2 I said it was the pump piston head clearance was causing the pump handle to rise after the first few pumps, and it can be that, but if the inlet valve leaks you will get the same result. One way to test it is to fire a pellet immediately after 5 pumps and then pump the gun 5 more times and wait 10 minutes to fire again. Some velocity is lost through the dissipation of heat from compression, but my testing has shown that that velocity loss is small — perhaps less than 20 f.p.s. If you have a larger loss the inlet valve may be leaking.

One additional thing. Sometimes the inlet valve may leak down to a certain pressure and then seal completely again. The loss of velocity will then be consistent from test to test. Figuring out which it is — the pump head clearance or a leaky inlet valve — can be tricky, but if what I’m showing you today works you may not need to worry about it.

A special technique for old multi-pumps

A reader suggested I try this. He said since I was having such success with Automatic Transmission Sealant repairing leaky CO2 guns, I should try it on the Supergrade. I have tested this stuff over many years and it does not turn o-rings to mush like some people fear, so I believe the risk to the rifle is very small. Therefore, what is there to loose? So, at the beginning of this week (three days ago) I put about 20 drops of ATF sealant into the Supergrade pump tube, ahead of the pump head, and worked it through the valve by pumping and shooting the rifle several times. Then I let the rifle sit with 2 pumps of air in it until today. This will either work or it won’t, but if it does, there are a lot of Supergrades in the same shape as mine that can use it!

Is it holding?

The first test is to find out if the rifle still holds those two pumps I stored it with three days ago. And the answer is, yes, it was still holding. There’s no way to determine if it held all the air that was pumped into it, so this is not a conclusive test. The rifle also held air before I added the ATF sealant, so this also isn’t confirmation of anything. It just makes me feel better. The next test will be far more telling.

Test one

I will run the same first velocity test that I did in Part 2 and compare the numbers. That is testing the velocity with differing numbers of pump strokes, up to the maximum of 8 pumps. This test is performed with 14.3-grain .20-caliber Crosman Premier pellets that are no longer available.

Pump…….Vel. before……Vel. today
5……………..383/353……   .475

I would call this test a positive result! The velocity increased with almost every shot and with each shot I could see excess ATF sealant blowing out the muzzle. So I know all the seals are coated with it.

I tested the rifle by cocking and firing a second time after 6 through 8 pumps and there was no air remaining in the reservoir. So the exhaust valve is performing as it should.

Shots 6 and 7 are a small puzzle. Considering the velocity of shot number 5, shot 6 shouldn’t be as fast as it is and shots 6 and 7 should not be the same velocity, but I’ll take it.

How is the pump lever?

Now I wondered how the pump lever was doing after each pump. Was it still climbing up when I opened it, or was it sitting relatively low and stable? If it sits low and stable, the former problem of it climbing was more than likely a leak at the inlet valve, as Tony described. If it still climbs as it did before, the pump head probably needs some adjustment.

It still climbs. Starting after the third pump stroke, the handle climbs just a little more each time it is opened. I therefore think the problem is with the adjustment of the pump head and not with a leaky inlet valve. At least now I know.

Test 2 — stability

This is where I learn how stable the rifle is. I’ll shoot 5 shots on 4 pumps each with the same Premier pellets.

Four pumps


The velocity dropped in this test with 4 pumps from what was seen in the first test, but I’ll tell you why I think that is. Notice how the velocity climbs with every shot in this test? I think the pump head is warming up as I pump. The rifle had sat dormant for 15 minutes since the previous test. In other words, it does best with use.

I also continued to see ATF stabilizer being blown out with each shot. I think the seals inside both valves are well saturated with it and that they will continue to be conditioned for some time to come.


I had planned to have this old girl resealed, but after this test I don’t believe that is necessary. However, this is just two tests on one day. My plan now is to proceed on to the accuracy test, once my eye has been fixed.

Do you see why owning a chronograph is so important? Today’s report backs up yesterday’s report.

I think I will retest the velocity again, just before I shoot the rifle for accuracy. That will determine whether the “fix” is holding. If it is I think Sheridan Supergrade owners everywhere have a new trick to put in in their toolkits!

Why own a chronograph?

Čt, 02/09/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • No preaching
  • Evaluate an old airgun
  • Test pellets
  • Evaluate a tuneup
  • For detailed tuning and product development
  • What it isn’t

Today is my cataract surgery. I don’t know how well I will be able to function online for the next several days, so will you veteran readers please help the new guys? I know you always do, but I’m just telling you what’s happening.

If you have read this blog for very long you can answer the title question for yourself, because I write about chronographs all the time. I use them for big things like testing the health of a new acquisition (the Sharp Ace Target and the Sheridan Supergrade), and things more subtle (testing the Air Arms Galahad).

No preaching

I used to preach about when to use a chrono and when not to, but I’m not going to do that today. Use it whenever you like and for whatever reason suits you.

I was disturbed by the airgunners who buy an airgun and then chrono it to find out whether it is a “good” gun or not. Yes, that does happen, and a lot more frequently than you might imagine. So what? If that pleases them it certainly doesn’t hurt me. No preaching today!

But that’s just one reason to own a chronograph. What are the others?

Evaluate an old airgun

When you acquire an old airgun, you can tell the state of its health with a chronograph. You have read where I did this with several old airguns, but how about one as an example? Do you remember back in 2016 I tested my Sheridan Blue Streak for you? I started the test as a memorial to my late wife, Edith, but when I got to test the velocity I saw how tired that old rifle was. With Crosman .20 caliber Premier pellets the best I could get was 486 f.p.s. from 7 pumps. The gun was 38 years old at the time and it was clear the seals had hardened with age. If anyone asks you how long a multi-pump pneumatic will last between rebuilds, the answer is 38 years.

I had the rifle rebuilt by Jeff Cloud, who I work with for the Texas Airgun Show. Jeff and I were talking as the 2016 show was getting close and I learned that he had taken up rebuilding older Blue Streaks, so I gave him my rifle to overhaul. When I got it back it would shoot the same Premier pellets at 582 f.p.s. on 8 pumps and 609 f.p.s. on 9 pumps. That’s a gain of more than 100 f.p.s. from the overhaul. And it took a chronograph to show it. I certainly would never have known all of that without one.

Test pellets

I would not rely on just a chronograph to test pellets, but chrono results can be useful. Think back to the tests you’re read where I got a 300 f.p.s. velocity spread with a particular pellet. That would be a pretty good indicator of a pellet that isn’t going to do well.

Evaluate a tuneup

You want to know what a tuneup has done for your airgun. I do this a lot. Sometimes it is an entire tuneup, but other times it is something small, like the replacement of a breech seal in a breakbarrel. I have probably done over a hundred such reports for this blog over the past 12 years, but the one I liked best was the 10-parter I did for the RWS 45, whose piston I buttoned. If you recall, that rifle was tuned for Johnny Hill, the owner of Tin Starr Bullets. He liked the rifle a lot, but I told him I thought I could make it shoot a lot quieter, and that entire series documented me doing that.

The part I liked best about that series was the fact that I wasn’t satisfied with the results of the tune and I disassembled the rifle to lube it one more time afterward. It was still more powerful than it had been when I got it, plus it shot as smooth as any air rifle I’ve tested. I was proud of my work, which is a job well done. And a chronograph told me what my work had accomplished.

A second favorite of mine was that tired old BSA Super Meteor Mark IV  I had to completely rebuild. That rifle put me through the wringer, but my chronograph kept track of where things were at all times.

The point is, without a chronograph I would never have known where I was starting from or where I arrived when it was over. But there is one more thing to say about this. A chronograph is just one tool you use to evaluate an airgun. If the gun isn’t shooting smooth or accurately when you are finished I don’t care what the numbers say; you are not finished!

For detailed tuning and product development

This one is for tinkerers and for the airgun companies. A chronograph can tell you when things work and, more importantly, when they don’t. I have a couple stories here. The first comes from a conversation I had with Ben Taylor — the Ben in Theoben — at the SHOT Show many years ago. We were discussing his Theoben Eliminator/Beeman Crow Magnum. He told me one of the worst decisions he ever made was to put a valve on his guns so users could adjust the air pressure in the gas spring. He said so many guys just pumped it up until they could barely cock the rifle, which is somewhere around 75-100 lbs. of effort. They thought they were getting maximum power then, but Taylor told me what they were doing was playing with a slide hammer and beating their airgun apart. After that Davis Schwesinger of Air Rifle Specialists sent me a piston seal that he removed from an Eliminator someone had destroyed that way.

This piston seal was vaporized by over-pressurizing the gas spring of a Theoben rifle. There is a deep hole in the seal where it was vaporized over time.

I also have a happy story for this one. In 2005 I had approached the Crosman Corporation about building a unique new PCP that only had to be filled to 2000 psi. When I met with them in early 2006 their head engineer, Ed Schultz, told me he had initially thought I was crazy when I made my proposal. So he prototyped a Crosman 2260 CO2 rifle  (they are called Sheridans now) to see what would happen. To his surprise the rifle was shooting nearly 900 f.p.s, without any modifications to the CO2 valve. When he adjusted the valve he got it up to 1,000 f.p.s. with Crosman Premier lite pellets. He did this in three days, once my airplane reservations were made for the meeting.

If you have ever watched an infant soil his diapers to his great relief you have an image of the faces I confronted in East Bloomfield on that historic day when the Benjamin Discovery was born! They were beside themselves with joy and forced themselves not to smile too much. Ed (I know he reads this blog every day), I will never forget your expression! Obviously a chronograph was involved.

What it isn’t

A chronograph isn’t a substitute for joy. Joy comes from shooting an airgun that’s right in all ways. What the chronograph tells you is where that is, in terms of velocity. If you are hitting the target every time, stop worrying about the numbers. Annie Oakley never knew how fast her bullets were going, but that didn’t seem to matter.

Dan Wesson M715 4-inch pellet revolver: Part 1

St, 02/08/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

New 4-inch Dan Wesson pellet revolver from ASG is very realistic!

This report covers:

  • Before we begin
  • Begin
  • Heavy
  • Very realistic!
  • Finish
  • Sights
  • Action
  • Why no pistol pacs?
  • Performance
  • Evaluation
  • Texas Airgun Show
Before we begin

Just a word about the reports. A lot of them are backed up right now. The SHOT Show, the weather and then my eye operation tomorrow have combined to set me back on the schedule. I promise to attend to them when I can, but my sight has degraded to the point that it is challenging to just do all that I have to do. Shooting for accuracy takes me much longer than it ever did, and the weather hasn’t cooperated that much. But I have plans for this, and hopefully they will bear fruit.


One nice thing about the SHOT Show is it sometimes gives us immediate looks at new airguns. Today is such a time.

Today I start looking at the new Dan Wesson 4-inch pellet revolver from ASG. Many of you have been waiting for this after hearing of the success of the 8-inch pellet revolver. I wrote a three-part report on that one back in 2014. But today we begin looking at the 4-inch model of that same air pistol. And that is significant, because 4 inches is perhaps the most popular length for a magnum firearm revolver like the Dan Wesson. That’s because it’s easy to carry, yet accurate enough for those 100-yard-plus shots.


This is a heavy air pistol! It weighs 40 oz. with the shells in the cylinder but no CO2 cartridge installed. That’s very close to the weight of the .357 model. It feels substantial in the hand, which I think is a big selling point.

Very realistic!

The realism of these pellet guns has to be experienced to be appreciated. The makers have gotten even the smallest details correct, so that now it will be difficult to pick the pellet revolver out of a pile of similar firearms. The Dan Wesson 715 firearm is back in production, by the way, and the image on their website looks exactly like the gun I am testing, except for the barrel length.

The grips are a pair of form-fitted rubberized scales. The left side removes to install the CO2 cartridge, and I found this one difficult to get off the first time, That’s a good thing, because it means the grips are tight on the gun! Inside the left grip panel is an Allen wrench for tightening the CO2 piercing screw. That detail is becoming common, but on this revolver the wrench is permanently attached and very convenient.

The rubber grips are over metal inserts that add weight to the gun. Sorry about the flash flare!


They call this a silver finish. It’s silvery, like chrome, which is very rare on a gun, rather than the more common nickel that has a gold cast to it. I normally don’t like silver handguns, but the sights on this one are black and have no reflection from the polished top of the silver barrel, so it will be easy to shoot. The finish is reasonably smooth and even over the entire surface of the gun, though in some places, like the exterior of the cylinder, you can see the machining marks.


The sights are a black ramp up front and an adjustable black rear notch. The sight picture is crisp and sharp, with both rear and front sights being very square. Target shooting should be a breeze with these sights.


The action is one of the main reasons to get a Dan Wesson revolver. The double action pull is light, short and crisp but it is the single action pull that made the gun! It rivals the best let-off that S&W ever produced, which is pretty remarkable for a factory pellet pistol. And, before I am asked, yes, this action does rival the S&W 586 pellet revolver. I always found Dan Wesson firearm revolvers to have a harder double action trigger pull than Smiths, but they were about equal single action. This pellet pistol, however, is just as good in both modes of fire.

The cylinder holds 6 brass cartridges that each contain one pellet. The pellet is loaded into the base of the cartridge where the primer would normally go. A plastic insert holds and guides the pellet forward into the barrel when the gun fires.

The rear of the barrel is spring-loaded and helps index the cylinder for alignment of the cartridge. This is a common feature with modern pellet revolvers, and from my testing it doesn’t seem to affect accuracy.

The barrel is spring-loaded to push into the front of the cylinder for indexing.

Barrel pushes in.

Why no pistol pacs?

When I reported on the 8-inch revolver several years ago I raised the idea of ASG making a pistol pac. Dan Wesson used to sell the 715 revolver in a case that came with 2, 4, 6 and 8-inch barrel lengths. The one different feature about the Dan Wesson revolver is it has interchangeable barrels that an owner can swap. Pristine examples of the pac now sell for in excess of $2,000. That’s up from about $1,500 about three years ago.

I asked Bob Li of Action Sport Games (ASG) at the SHOT Show why they don’t come out with a pistol pac and he said the fact the guns aren’t made of steel means they would eventually wear loose if their owners changed the barrels a lot of times. I can understand that, but I told him that maybe there was still something they could do — a take-off on the pistol pac theme. Maybe a case with the revolver and a belt buckle and cloth patch (the original pistol pac had them), a speedloader, 12 additional shells and a light or laser for the rail under the barrel? I think airgunners are just as conscious of the extras as firearms owners.


The velocity is listed as 344 f.p.s. That’s faster than the 8-inch gun I tested in 2014, but the 6-incher I tested last year was much faster — nearly 400 f.p.s. We shall have to see in Part 2. I do know I got better results from seating the pellets deep in each cartridge, so that may be the difference.


This is an exciting new pellet revolver. And there is also a test of the BB revolver, still to come.

Texas Airgun Show

Start planning for the 2017 Texas Airgun Show. It will be held on Saturday, August 26, at the Arlington Sportsman’s Club in Mansfield, Texas. Last year was the first year at the new venue, and the third year for the show. We are expecting a much larger show this year, as those who adopted a wait-and-see posture were disappointed that they missed it last year.

They haven’t updated their website yet, but the basics of the show (times, location etc.) should remain the same. I will let you know as soon as they get the information sorted.

Firearm pellet adaptor: Part 3

Út, 02/07/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Must load from the front of the cartridge
  • Sizing pellets to fit into the mouth of the case
  • How deep is the pellet seated?
  • A lot of “stuff” to support the adaptor
  • The stuff
  • The test
  • Benchrest
  • Surprise!
  • Shot 4
  • Discussion

Today we look at the accuracy of the firearm pellet adaptor. This is what we have been interested in all along. In Part 2 we saw that the velocity was stable when the pellets were loaded deep inside the neck of the adaptor, but not when they sat proud. That generated several questions that I will address before I get to the test. Everything I do today was done with the .22-caliber JSB Exact Jumbo pellet.

Must load from the front of the cartridge

Several readers wondered what might happen if the pellet was pushed in from the rear of the cartridge, rather than loaded from the front. The dents at the base of the cartridge case shoulders prevent that from happening, though I expect you could push a pellet through if you used a lot of force.

Those dents are there to stop the pellet from falling into the case, but that engendered several more questions.

Sizing pellets to fit into the mouth of the case

I mentioned that I had to reduce the diameter of the pellet skirt before it would enter the case mouth. I did that by rolling the pellet between a steel plate and the hard top of my desk. That reduced the skirt diameter by several thousandths, which is all that was required. Chris USA asked to see a picture of that, so here it is.

The rolled (sized) pellet is on the right. You can see a flat spot around the base of the skirt where the diameter has been reduced, and also around the head..

How deep is the pellet seated?

A couple people asked me whether I pushed the pellet past the dents into the case. I said I did in the report, and they asked me to show them how deep the pellet actually was. Here is that picture.

This picture shows how deep the pellet is seated. Obviously the pellet’s skirt goes past the dents (there’s one on either side).

Then someone asked me to seat a pellet as deep as I normally would and then remove it, so they could see the skirt for themselves. So I did that next.

The pellet on the right was seated to the normal depth, then removed.

At this point I was thinking that there is no way this adaptor can work, with that amount of damage to the pellet. But this blog isn’t just about what I think. It’s about what actually is, and the only way to find that out is to test it.

A lot of “stuff” to support the adaptor

I set up my shooting bench at 10 meters and brought out all the stuff I need to reload the adaptor. It is a pile, I can tell you! Let’s look.

This is the stuff I used to load the adaptor.

The stuff

I needed pellets and primers, obviously. And something to push out the primers after I fired. I used one end of a cotton swab for that, and the other end I coated with Tune in a Tube grease to grease the o-ring in the base of the cartridge. That made the primers easy to install and remove. In the beginning I used my pocket knife to pry out the primer before greasing the o-ring. After I greased the o-ring the swab pressed it right out. I used the two coasters at the top of the picture to roll the pellet to size.

The test

I didn’t have much faith in this adaptor — perhaps I have mentioned that already. So my first shot was from 12 feet, and I just hoped to hit somewhere inside the pellet trap. My AR-15 has a Tasco 8-40 power scope mounted on it, so I dialed the power down to 8 and adjusted the sidewheel focus down to 10 yards. That gave me a fairly clear image of the target at 12 feet. Not knowing where the pellet would strike, I aimed at the center of the bull.

The first shot landed in line with the center of the bull and about 2.5-inches below the aim point. That was at 12 feet, so I knew the pellet would rise a little at 10 meters — if the adaptor and rifle proved to be accurate.


So I backed up to 10 meters and rested the rifle in a large sandbag. I drew an aim point on the target above the bull, figuring that if the adaptor was accurate that would put my shots into the black somewhere.

The first shot surprised me by going exactly where I thought it would — in line with the target center and at the bottom of the black. Maybe this thing really works?


The second shot went somewhere, but through the scope I could see no new holes in the target. Could it have gone to the same place as the first shot? If this was an accurate pellet rifle that is exactly where it would have gone, but through the scope I just could not see a second hole. So I walked down and looked closely — and there it was! The second pellet went to the same place as the first. I took a picture, in case the subsequent shots messed it up.

The second pellet didn’t want to seat, so I pushed the nose of the pellet down on the stone coaster to seat it. It went in the case much deeper than I had been loading, so I was ready to explain why it didn’t go to the same place — except it did!

There is the target. The cross above the bull is the aim point. The hole below the bull is the first shot — the sighter from 12 feet. And, in the black at 6 o-clock there are two pellet holes touching each other!

There are the two pellet holes.

When the second pellet refused to seat I pushed it down against the stone coaster and this is what happened. After seeing the results of the second shot, I decided to seat all pellets this way.

Well, after a result like that I was astounded! This was unlike anything I ever expected or have seen in testing. I loaded a third pellet and seated it the same way as shot two. The pellet went to the same hole in the target!

Shot 4

The fourth shot was different. I rolled the pellet a little harder than before and was able to seat it all the way in the adaptor with my thumb. When I shot, the pellet struck the target at 3 o’clock about an inch away from the previous 3 shots. Well, I thought, that was just due to the difference in the way the pellet was seated, so I decided to shoot 2 more shots and finish the group at the bottom.

The next shot went into the group at the bottom, but shot 6 (which would have been the fifth shot for the bottom group) went to the same place as shot 4. I ended up with 2 groups — one having 4 shots and the other having just 2.

The larger group measures 0.44-inches between centers. All 6 shots measure 1.265-inches between centers. That’s not too shabby!

The large group of 4 shots at the bottom measures 0.44-inches between centers at 10 meters. The entire group measures 1.265-inches between centers.


I think there is probably a knack to loading this adaptor to get the most accuracy out of it. But I am impressed by just whet we see here.

Is this for you? Well, if you don’t own an air rifle and do own a .22 centerfire that’s accurate, this might be worth a look. It gives you a pellet rifle of medium power and accuracy. But consider this, besides the cost of the pellet you are also using a shotgun primer that costs about 3-4 centsl, depending on how many you buy. It would cost no more to shoot .22 CB caps in a .22 rifle and you would have more power. Or buy a Walther Terrus in .22 and just shoot the pellets.

And finally there is the time it takes to do everything. I am a patient guy when I need to be, but this process bores me. It takes me a full 3 minutes or longer to get the next pellet ready. That’s why there is just one target today and only 6 shots fired for record. I doubt most people would want to do this. The adaptors are $15 each, so 5 of them will cost you $75. I don’t think this is the way people will want to go.

El Gamo 68-XP .22 caliber: Part 1

Po, 02/06/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This is my .177 XP-68 that you have already seen — not today’s rifle.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • El Gamo?
  • Back to the report
  • Just a-gonna
  • The time is now
  • Differences
  • Next

Some of you sharp-eyed veteran readers will remember that 4 years ago I reported on the El Gamo XP-68 breakbarrel carbine. Don’t worry. Except for a reference to that series now and then this will be an entirely new look at a different air rifle.

After writing that series, the shape of the futuristic XP-68 was fresh in my mind. One day not long after finishing that series I happened to see another one in a favorite local pawn shop. I already had one, so I knew I didn’t want another, but if the price was right, maybe I could buy it and sell it at an airgun show. So I asked to see it.

The .22 rifle is on top.

In many respects the new airgun was just like the one I tested and ultimately lube-tuned in the series, except for one small detail. This one was a .22! The XP-68 is already a rare airgun here in America, so I reckoned a .22 version was about as common as a Chevy Corvette with a 6-cylinder engine! Yes, they do exist, but find one.

El Gamo?

And, what’s with the El in front of the Gamo name? That used to be the name of the company. Through the 1970s and into the ’80s they used the El. It was a time when the Casas family still owned the company and was proudly making air rifles. Just by knowing that small fact you can buy their airguns (they will all say El Gamo on them) with confidence, knowing that in their day both the late Robert Law of the now-defunct Air Rifle Headquarters and Robert Beeman who founded Beeman Precision Airguns, thought they were a quality European brand at an affordable price. The El Gamo 300 breakbarrel was highly touted by both men.

Back to the report

So, I found this air rifle in a pawn shop, but it was priced too high, and as I examined it I found the buttstock plastic shells were not held on tightly. The rear screw was turning freely because it was not anchored inside the plastic shell. I pointed that out to the shop owner and negotiated a lower price that was more acceptable. Soon I owned a .22 version of the rifle to which I had devoted more than half a year and 6 blog reports.

Just a-gonna

For years the new rifle sat in my office, daring me to begin working on it. I examined the plastic shells and discovered that all the pieces that were needed were still present. I could just Epoxy them back into position and the gun would be fixed. Or I could glue in a wood block in place of the plastic post to receive the loose screw. I pondered and pondered as the months and then the years slipped by. My life changed dramatically while the old air rifle sat patiently, waiting for my loving touch.

The two plastic shells that attach to the butt. The post that receives the rear screw (bottom left) has snapped off.

The two screws that hold the plastic stock shells together on the gun and the pieces of the rear post that snapped off.

The time is now

Then one day recently I realized that the time had come to do something, and here we go. Before I repair the stock, however, let me talk about the airgun.

Originally I thought the two rifles were identical, but upon closer examination I can see small differences. My .177 that I reviewed for you four years ago is serial number 767959. The .22 rifle that I got at the pawn shop is serial number 790440, which would make it the newer rifle by over 22,000 numbers. The condition isn’t as nice as the older .177, but it’s not a beater, either. Just a little more rust freckling that I will address with Ballistol and a stainless steel pot scrubbing pad.

I shot the rifle and the power seems okay. Of course I will need to check it through a chronograph before I can know for sure, but if the rifle needs attention I know of a 6-part blog where a guy took one apart and gave detailed disassembly instructions, plus pictures. I’ll just follow that and there shouldn’t be any problem.

The .177 shot Crosman Premier lites at an average 551 f.p.s., so I’m guessing this rifle will launch a .22-caliber RWS Hobby at about 425-450, or thereabouts. That would put it approximately in the Diana 25/27 class, which is fine with me. If it’s only shooting 375 I will probably do something about it. But parts like a fresh mainspring will be hard to find. So, I hope I don’t have to do that.


The differences between the two rifles are subtle. The bottom front of the triggerguard is less pointy on the .22, and the .177 has “mod. el gamo 68” marked on the left side of the base block, along with the serial number and caliber, where the .22 only has the serial and caliber. That’s all the difference I can see at this point, other than the older barrel being slightly thicker. I checked the trigger and it has the same adjustment screws which somebody has done a good job of adjusting. My .177 came to me with a very heavy pull, but this one feels lighter.

The newer triggerguard on the .22 rifle (top) has been simplified from the older one below. I added the trigger shoe to the .177.

Also, the action of the .22 is dead-smooth. So was the .177 I tested, so El Gamo got the powerplant right for this model. I used to think their model 300 rifle was the same action in a more conventional wood stock, but if you read that report you’ll see that it isn’t. They are similar, but not quite the same.


The next step will be to repair the plastic stock shell, so it will accept the rear screw that holds it to the butt. I will do that before testing the velocity. If I’m successful, I will move on to velocity testing. If I’m unsuccessful, I will make a different type of repair, but since the stock shell doesn’t have to be on the gun to shoot it, I will still move on to velocity testing as my next report.

Why can’t “they” get it right?

Pá, 02/03/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • A great idea
  • The 160
  • Pellets were the key
  • What if…
  • The lesson
  • Not picking on Crosman
  • The point
  • QB78 is okay

I was set to report on another vintage air rifle today, when yesterday I got a superb comment that prompted today’s report. Reader reallead was responding to a comment from reader Halfstep, who was wondering about the accuracy of his QB78. Let’s look at it now.

Being the owner of a QB77 I’d like to add my comments. I bought my QB77 from MAC 1 in Calif. several years ago. According to the imprinted receiver, it was made (imported?) by Sportsman Airguns. Someone told me that QBs were actually made in Korea, but I don’t know for sure since I can’t find the country where it was made anywhere on the gun. [Editor — As far as I know, the QB air rifles were all made in The People’s Republic of China.]

My specimen has been a real shooter. On any of our hot summer Kansas afternoons when the temp. is anywhere between 90 and 100, it will shoot Crosman Premier Lights at 760-780 fps. (7.9 gr.). Advertised speed is 750. Of course, no complaints there.

Is it accurate? Well, from a sandbag rest and with a  fixed power 4x scope mounted and no wind, I have hit houseflies with it from a distance of 50-60 ft. Not when they’re flying of course, but when they land on my paper target downrange, they’re inviting targets. I missed most that I shot at, but did hit a few, and there is more of a thrill in that than hitting a paper bullseye.

I would suggest loading a pellet in the gun and then take a .177 cleaning rod (I’m assuming your gun is .177) and stick it in the muzzle and push the pellet back out, then check the pellet for gouges or deep marks that it picked up when it was pushed over the CO2 exhaust port during loading. If its gouged or marked, then the exhaust port probably has a burr, and thats probably the cause of the accuracy problem.

I think there are a couple large lessons in today’s report, and they are for the manufacturers as well as for individual airgunners. So, pay attention, because this really happened!

A great idea

Like many things, this tale starts with somebody getting a great idea. The timefame was the late 1990s and the idea was this — what if a manufacturer could replicate the famous Crosman 160 air rifle? At that time airgunners were talking about the 160 in the same tones they reserve for guns like the TX200 Mark III today. In fact, if you look around, a lot of folks still regard the 160 as a special air rifle.

The Crosman 160 is an all-time classic pellet rifle.

The 160 came out in 1955, when the 12-gram CO2 cartridge was brand new to airguns. It was made in .22 caliber, but there is a rarer model 167 that’s in .177. Back then, .22 caliber ruled the roost in the U.S.

The rifle existed in three variations, the last of which ran from 1960-1971, and was the best of all of them. That is the rifle I refer to when I mention the 160, because it has the upgraded crossbow trigger Crosman developed to their everlasting credit and the Williams S331 rear peep sight. To read more about the 160, read this three-part report.

The 160

The Crosman 160 was a single shot bolt action pellet rifle that used two CO2 cartridges. When it was launched, Crosman 12-gram cartridges were sealed with a bottlecap top that leaked badly. As many as 30-40 percent of them lost pressure after a year of sitting around. So imagine the public reaction to a rifle that needed two of these costly cartridges that were only partially reliable!

The first Crosman CO2 cartridges were capped with a “bottlecap” (arrow) that had a reputation for leaking.

The first 160 also had a simple and crude direct-sear trigger that was not so good. However, by the time they switched to the third variation in 1960, the rifle was so much better that the U.S. Air Force bought several hundred to use for marksmanship training. When the bottlecap went away and the CO2 cartridge was sealed properly, the 160 became a robust air rifle in all ways except one — pellets.

Pellets were the key

The 1960s were not a good time for airgun pellets. The choice for a U.S. shooter was either Benjamin or Crosman, and neither pellet was particularly good. That is what set us up for the discovery in the mid-1990s (with the introduction of the venerable Crosman Premier) that the 160 was really a red-hot target rifle. That is when it all came together for this model — about two decades after Crosman had ceased production!

Crosman “ashcan” pellets of the 1960s and ‘70s on the left; Crosman Premiers on the right. When the Premier hit the market, the 160 rifle came into its own!

What if…

And this is where the story gets interesting. Now, don’t hold me to the exact details because I am doing this from memory. But as I remember it, an airgunner by the name of Henry Harn thought it would be a good idea if the 160 could be manufactured again. He had contacts in China, so he approached Tim McMurray and had him build a 160 with the best of everything — a premium piece! Then Harn took that gun to China and found a manufacturer who agreed to manufacture it for him.

I remember seeing that first production gun, called the QB22, in Rick Willnecker’s shop that was located in Maryland at the time. I wanted one very much, but it wasn’t cheap! Harn was working with the Chinese to ensure the quality remained as high as possible. Before long there was also a .177 version of the rifle, called the QB77. We were publishing The Airgun Letter at the time and I wanted to report on this rifle, but money was very tight and I never got the chance. Before long the QB 22 and 77 were history, but were replaced by the QB78 — a version the Chinese factory made without Harn’s participation.

I was never privy to exactly what the business dealings were, but I knew right away that the QB78 was not made to the same standards as the QB22/77. It was far less expensive (one-third as much strikes a bell). They had several issues, the worst of which was a barrel that was all over the place in terms of quality. Get a good one and you had a good rifle. A poor one would ruin your day.

The lesson

And that is the lesson today. I know many people think that a company like Crosman has a long and rich corporate memory — that they “remember” all the things they did back in the 1970s. But, in fact, “they” don’t. Through personnel changes over the years, “they” only remember as much as they are able to remember. Crosman does have a small museum that contains their vintage airguns, going all the way back. They also have a back room filled with guns they have examined over the decades, but the engineers that did those examinations may no longer work there.

They also had a huge corporate purge of back-room guns, parts and literature in the late 1990s that gutted their “memory.” I now own one of the repair manuals that once belonged to Rene Van derVeld — a name that’s well known to Crosman collectors, but probably to very few others. I got it and a several rifles in the Great Purge. Rick Willnecker got hundreds of guns and parts guns when that happened.

Former top Crosman engineer, Ed Schultz, is now working elsewhere, so there goes much of the corporate memory of the development of the Benjamin Discovery, the Marauder and the Challenger PCP — just to name a few key airguns.

Not picking on Crosman

It probably sounds like I am picking on Crosman, but let me assure you, I’m not doing that. They are still one of the most innovative airgun companies in the world today. The new Benjamin Wildfire and the Mayhem breakbarrel are ample proof of that! I could just as easily have said similar things about Daisy, except Daisy hasn’t brought out any really new designs of their own in decades. They do have a great museum, but I don’t think they have that many engineers developing new airguns these days.

The point

The point is this — it doesn’t matter whether an airgun or anything else is made in China, Turkey, Korea or Burleson, Texas. What matters is who controls the quality of what’s being made. Cheap or expensive also doesn’t matter as much as some marketeers think. Yes, cheap sells in the box stores. You can work cheap into a formula that will always give you returns — until it doesn’t! Just ask Remington about eating millions of dollars worth of returned products that were so bad even the box store didn’t want them!

But the “cheap always sells” business plan also turns off millions of potential future customers, when the effects of cheap come home to roost. I am talking about the long game here. You risk the future of your entire product line for small gains today.

QB78 is okay

I’m also not saying that the QB78 is a bad air rifle. Far from it. In the early days the quality could be sketchy, but over the years the manufacturers have refined this product line and the manufacturing processes that produce it to the point that the air rifle is a solid buy today. And, it sells for about three times as much it sold for back then. Half of the increase is due to inflation, but the other half has gone into quality improvements.

“They “ can get it right, but “they” are not always who you think they are. Food for thought over the weekend!

They have the wrong twist rate!: Part 1

Čt, 02/02/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Then came big bores
  • What am I talking about?
  • Bullets don’t work like pellets
  • Bullet length
  • Why bullet diameters matter
  • Hard cast lead bullets
  • Putting all of this together
  • Last story

Before we begin I have some startling news from Umarex USA. Sales manager, Justin Biddle contacted me and told me the new Hammer big bore is regulated.! I certainly did not know that, because this is huge news. It means that those three shots it gets on a fill can all be at the same power level. I have adjusted the SHOT Show report (Part 6) to reflect this new information. And by a strange coincidence, this dovetails nicely with today’s report.

For many years I have written about black powder firearms in this blog, and I have included things like rifling twist rates in those articles. And for years people have written me comments that they appreciate a look at something different, but they would never consider shooting black powder arms or even modern firearms, themselves.

Then came big bores

A few years ago, big bore airguns began rising in popularity. First it was the exotic guns (I call them boutique guns, though Quackenbush, alone, has reached low-rate production levels) from makers like Dennis Quackenbush that a few lucky shooters were fortunate enough to acquire. Before long, though, the Koreans began making big bores airguns in volumes large enough that U.S. shooters were able to buy big bore airguns at will.

Dennis makes his rifles for shooters who understand the ballistics and needs of a big bore airgun. They either come from a background of black powder or they embraced it quickly after acquiring their airguns.

In sharp contrast, the Korean big bore makers fumbled the ball more than once — not understanding the subtleties of the variations in actual bore diameter among “common” calibers like .45 (there is .451/.452 for the .45 ACP cartridge, .454 for the modern .45 Colt caliber, .457 for the antique .45 Colt caliber — same cartridge, but the bore diameter changed in the early part of the 20th century, and .457/.458/.459 for the .45 rifle cartridges like the .45-70 and others. Each foreign manufacturer produced rifles with barrels having whatever bore diameter they wanted, and for a long while there was chaos in the world of big bore airgun.

They followed that with a slew of smaller rifles they insisted were 9mm, which is a bore diameter of .355/.356. I suppose they thought that the 9mm cartridge is so ubiquitous that shooters would be able to get bullets to shoot anywhere. That is true, but 9mm handgun cartridges almost always use jacketed bullets that don’t work in air rifles. Air rifles like soft lead bullets, and there are very few of those in 9mm. But there are a host of them in .357. Heck — that’s only one-thousandth of an inch larger, the reasoning probably went. Those should work in these guns, too, shouldn’t they?

What am I talking about?

You probably think I am ranting about bore diameters today, but I’m not. I’m just getting warmed up to talk about twist rates. However, until you understand the dynamics of everything involved, none of this bullet stuff will make sense. That is why I wrote all those articles about black powder firearms in an airgun blog.

Bullets don’t work like pellets

I am a real fuddy-duddy about calling a bullet a bullet! Bullets are not diabolo pellets, and calling them that on the package doesn’t change their dynamics. Bullets have to be stabilized by spin, because they don’t have the same high drag factors that diabolo pellets have to keep them pointed straight ahead while in flight.

Spin is induced by rifling, which are lands or ridges cut in a spiral inside the bore. These ridges or lands cut into the sides of the bullet (it’s called engraving) and make it turn to follow them. As the bullet travels down the barrel it rotates according to the rate at which the lands turn. And here is the first truth you need to grasp. Whether the barrel is 2 inches long or twenty inches long, if the twist rate is the same and the velocity remains identical, the bullet will always spin at the same rate. That’s right — a 2-inch barrel with a 1:10” twist spins a bullet just as fast as a 20-inch barrel with the same twist — as long as the bullet is driven through both barrels at the same velocity. Longer barrels don’t spin the bullet more.

And, here is the second truth you need to learn — regardless of the twist rate, the faster the bullet travels through a barrel, the faster it spins. It is the bullet’s velocity that determines how fast it spins, not the barrel’s twist rate. That said, a faster twist barrel will spin a bullet faster at a given velocity.

So, if the barrel has a twist rate of one turn for every 12 inches of travel (written as 1:12”) and the bullet is shot at 1,000 f.p.s. it exits the muzzle spinning 1,000 times per second. If it is shot through the same bore at 2000 f.p.s. it exits the muzzle spinning 2,000 times per second. The length of the barrel has no bearing on this.

The third truth about bullet spin is it does not slow down very fast after leaving the barrel. When a bullet finally falls to earth after hundreds or even thousands of yards of travel, it is still spinning nearly as fast as when it exited the muzzle.

Bullet length

The longer the bullet (in relation to its diameter), the faster it needs to spin to stabilize. Those who reload understand this very well, because their favorite bullets are only accurate within a narrow band of muzzle velocities.

The longer a lead bullet of a given diameter is, the heavier it is and the slower a big bore air rifle will drive it. Less muzzle velocity equals less spin, as we have learned. But longer bullets need more spin to stabilize. We have a dilemma. Firearm shooters resolve this by using gun powders with different burning rates that generate greater pressures for more push. Black powder shooters can only load more powder and shoot through longer barrels, both of which soon reach the point of diminishing returns. Big bore air rifle shooters can only use the longest barrels they can get, and sometimes they can increase the reservoir pressure, though that isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. In other words, big bore airguners need to shoot the right bullets to get the best performance. They don’t have the flexibility of bullet selection that a firearm shooter has.

Why bullet diameters matter

And this is where the bullet diameter matters. Let’s consider a .45 caliber bullet, for example. A .45 ACP bullet measures .451/.452-inches in diameter and it is very short. The weight range for this bullet in lead stretches from a low of around 160 grains to a high around 230 grains. The lighter bullet is shorter, so it needs to spin less fast to stabilize. That means you can shoot it slower from a gun with a given twist rate barrel, or you can shoot it through a barrel whose twist rate is slower than a heavier bullet would require.

A given big bore will drive this pistol bullet (.45 ACP) at a certain velocity. The shooter needs to find the weight and length bullet that stabilizes the best and is also the most accurate in his rifle. When he does — that’s it!!! You can’t make a 200 foot-pound Korean big bore shoot a 500-grain lead slug, even if you could find one in .451/.452, which you never will.

Some big bores have a limited range of power adjustment or they have two fixed power levels. Even with that flexibility they will still only shoot best with a narrow range of soft lead bullets (both diameter and length). As much as you may want to shoot something different, it “ain’t a’ gonna” happen. Shooters who are familiar with black powder arms understand this, because that’s been their experience. But a lot of airgunners are getting into big bores today and have missed all of this discussion about bullets, so they get surprised. I consider it my job to inform them, but I only reach the ones who will read and understand.

Hard cast lead bullets

As if the aforementioned discussion wasn’t confusing enough, there is another fly in the ointment — hard cast lead bullets. They exist for one purpose, and one purpose only — to allow heavy charges of powder to be used with lead bullets. In other words, to drive lead bullets faster than they are normally designed to be driven. Hard cast lead bullets are hardened through alloying antimony with oure lead that makes the lead much more resistant to deformation. Unfortunately, besides keeping the bullet from “skidding” in the rifling under extreme pressures, this process doesn’t add anything else that is desirable. It causes massive lead deposits to be left in the bore that soft lead bullets will not leave unless they are driven way too fast — far faster than any big bore airgun can drive them.

But many bullets on the market are hard cast. They look better, deform less through handling, fill out the mold better and they are much easier and quicker to cast. So bullet makers tend to make more of them and shooters tend to buy and shoot them without realizing what they are doing. They end up with lower velocities, bullets that don’t deform well in game (sometimes they break apart without mushrooming) and barrels that lead up with just 40-50 bullets shot through them instead of the hundreds of shots they could get with soft lead.

Putting all of this together

If you intend getting into big bore airguns, or if you are already there and things aren’t going as well as you had hoped, your bullets may be the reason. Nobody in their right mind would buy a Corvette automobile to tow a horse trailer, but big bore airgunners are doing the equivalent when they select bullets that are not compatible with their airguns.

If all of this discussion sounds real deep, consider this. If you and I were to have a conversation for one hour on the same subject I would probably tell you five times as much about bullets and still just scratch the surface. Don’t be that shooter who buys a big bore air rifle on a whim and then whines because it isn’t what you thought it should be. Learn about this part of the hobby and enjoy yourself! That is why I am making this report a Part 1.


Today’s title is taken from a lot of discussions on the airgun forums by shooters who have bought big bores but never invested the time to discover for what purpose they were designed. They are too ready to condem before understanding.

Last story

I remember talking to a guy years ago who owned a vintage Remington Rolling Block rifle in .43 Spanish caliber. That is the military designation for the .44-77 civilian caliber cartridge (.44 caliber and 77 grains of black powder in the cartridge0>. The guy went out and bought some reloads, then complained to me that his rifle couldn’t group 5 shots in less than two feet at 100 yards.

A couple years later I acquired a vintage Argentine rolling block in the same caliber, but I researched the gun, and the caliber. I found out what the proper loads were. I bought a bullet mold and cast bullets of the correct size and lead softness for it. Eventually I shot 5-shot groups of perhaps 5 inches at the same 100 yards with my rifle. My .43 Spanish rifle had a bore diameter of .4385-inches and favored a .439 soft lead bullet weighing 375 grains and traveling 1300 f.p.s. or more.

Isn’t that better than just buying an expensive gun, loading it with whatever ammo you can get and then whining because the gun isn’t accurate?

Air Arms Galahad: Part 5

St, 02/01/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Air Arms Galahad PCP in walnut is a striking looking air rifle!

UTG 8-32 SWAT Mil Dot
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • Scoped
  • Swapped rings
  • JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy
  • That scope level
  • Crosman Premiers
  • H&N Baracuda Match 5.53mm heads
  • Problem solved!
  • More on the scope
  • Evaluation

Today I started accuracy testing the Galahad-rifle from Air Arms. There were some surprises, so you’re in for an interesting read!


I mounted a UTG 8-32 SWAT Mil Dot scope, using the high mounts that came with it. When I started sighting in the pellet was low and way left. I adjusted it up but it would not come anu further to the right. At 12 feet the pellet was hitting two inches to the left.

Swapped rings

So I swapped the rings, thinking that if they were drilled off-center this would correct the problem. I also shimmed under the rear of the scope, to give me a little more vertical adjustment. Alas, the pellet did strike the target higher, but as for the left-right, nothing changed. That means the issue is with the Picatinny rail on the rifle. I needed to finish the test, so I calculated where I could aim at 25 yards and still have the pellet strike the pellet trap.

At 25 yards the impact was on line with the bull, but 8.5 inches to the left. That kept all the pellets in the trap so I could finish the test, but before I move to 50 yards I need to do something about the left-right adjustment. Obviously I will need an adjustable scope mount that has some serious left-right adjustment. But we can proceed with today’s test.

JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy

The first pellet I tried was the 18.13-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy dome that Tyler Patner recommended for this rifle. I had the scope dialed up to 32X and because of the eyepiece adjiustment I was able to use my rifght eye for the test. The bull and aim point were in sharp focus for every shot.

The point of impact was out of my field of view at 25 yards, so once I confirmed the pellets were all going to a safe place, I stopped checking the group after each shot. When I finished I looked over and saw that 10 shots had gone into 0.30-inches. That’s pretty darn good! In fact, it’s world class!

The Air Arms Galahad put 10 JSB 18.13-grain Jumbo Heavy domes went into 0.30-inches at 25 yards! I made it big so you could see it!

That scope level

Remember the Galahad has a scope level at the rear of the receiver? Well, I could not even see it when I was shooting. The scope stuck back over it and covered it up completely, plus it is in the wrong place when my eye is concentrating on the target through the scope. So — nice feature but it doesn’t help.

Crosman Premiers

Never forget that the Crosman Premier is also a top pellet that performs well in a great number of airguns. I used Premiers from the cardboard box that are unfortunately no longer available, but the pellets in the tins are still doing very well. I think Crosman had to make a business decision about the boxed .22 pellets, and since people don’t shoot field target or silhouette with .22s, there just weren’t enough buyers for the premium packaging.

The Galahad put 10 Premiers into 0.393-inches at 25 yards, which is another excellent result! The point of impact raised about an inch, but stayed 8.5 inches to the left.

The Galahad put 10 Crosman Premiers into a group that measured 0.393-inches between centers at 25 yards!

By this point in the test I was starting to become familiar with the Galahad. I would like to raise the scope some when I remount it because the bullpup shape has me scrunched up on the stock right now. Also that trigger I liked before could now be a little lighter for me. I found my finger scraping the bottom of the triggerguard, which added to the pull weight, so I had to be careful to hold my finger in the center of the blade.

It might sound like I am being critical of the Galahad, but in fact it’s exactly the opposite. This rifle is so accurate and repeatable that I am finding my self adapting to it, rather than treating it like a generic test rifle. I’m just telling you what I’m doing to adapt better.

H&N Baracuda Match 5.53mm heads

The last pellets I tried were H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 5.53mm heads. I hoped they would be the most accurate of all, but they weren’t. In fact they were the worst. I think at 50 yards I need to try the same pellet with a 5.50 mm head, instead. Worst, in the case of the Galahad, though, is a relative term. Ten Baracudas went into a 0.575-inch group. With most other air rifles we would call that fine!

The Galahad put 10 Baracuda March pellets with 5.53 mm heads into 0.575-inches at 25 yards!

Problem solved!

I called Gene Salvino of the Pyramyd Air technical department to ask him about the scope problem and he suggested I loosen the barrel clamp and see if the barrel is under sideways tension. Well, of course it was! I don’t know why I didn’t think of that myself — it’s such a common situation when there is a barrel clamp on a PCP or CO2 gun. The barrel is now centered, and Gene saved me the problem of finding an adjustable scope mount! I will leave today’s test as it stands, but now I am ready to go to 50 yards.

More on the scope

You may not remember it, but this is also a test of the UTG scope I mounted in the Galahad. This is a new scope I am testing for you, and I would like to mention that even with my bad eye, this scope adjusted perfectly so I could see the aim point sharply.  I notice that UTG scopes are getting clearer and sharper all the time. Now, the amount of improvement is very small because they don’t have much more to go, but they also all have etched glass reticles that enhances the sharpness. The reticle lines are very fine and crisp, and there is no longer any of the target being covered up by a heavy line. I’ll know more when we get to the 50-yard range.


Well, the scope adjustment problem threw me for a loop today, but thankfully I was able to complete the test and then I solved the problem by loosening two clamp screws and re-centering the barrel. I no longer need to remount the scope before I go out to 50 yards. And of course I am going to 50 yards. With accuracy like this I have to see what this rifle can do. Hopefully I will have better eyes when I run that test for you, though the UTG scope pulled me through today’s test just fine.

Given the consistency of the Galahad, I think it is a very serious choice for those looking for an accurate PCP. It has a great shot count and the most reliable and repeatable power adjustments I have ever seen.

Air Venturi air compressor: Part 2

Út, 01/31/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Air Venturi air compressor.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • The state of B.B.
  • AirForce Texan .357
  • Otho is drafted!
  • This compressor is fast!
  • Water-cooled
  • Oil lubricated
  • Performance
  • Bottom line?
The state of B.B.

Time for a status update on old B.B. I had an annual eye exam last week and it turns out the problem with my right eye isn’t so much the retina repair as a cataract that is growing rapidly. The good news is it has reached the point where is needs to come out, so tomorrow I go in for a measurement for the operation. I expect the cataract to be removed very soon.

The problem I have had recently with open sights isn’t because of my retina operation. My glasses corrected that. But the growing cataract has degraded my prescription over the past 6 months to the point that no amount of correction is enough. I can still see through a scope well enough, but open sights have to be shot with the left eye. So, I am looking forward to this operation. Why do I tell you this?

AirForce Texan .357

A month ago AirForce gave me a .357 Texan to test, and I have started that test. When I read the reports online of those who already had the rifle, though, I was dismayed. Several of them are reporting only mediocre accuracy. Not knowing the shooting history of those people in general, I called Johnny Hill of Tin Star Bullets, to see what his experience has been. He is an AirForce dealer and I knew he had received his .357 about a month before me. Johnny competes in Quigly matches with a Sharps rifle at 500 yards, so I know he knows how to shoot.

Johnny told me he had tested the .357 Texan and had identified a couple bullets that were deadly. He sent me pictures of his groups at 100 yards and they were remarkable. So I spent some time with him, talking about how he tested his rifle. I learned some things that I will share with you when we come to the test of that air rifle, but before we get there you need to know something.

I am starting to use a LOT of compressed air! Testing a powerful big bore air rifle runs even a large carbon fiber tank down very quickly. That’s why I’m reporting on the Air Venturi air compressor today. I have already done a baseline accuracy test with the .357 Texan, and now I want to do what Johnny Hill told me to do and then give you both the before and after results. But this time I want to do more than just that.

Otho is drafted!

My shooting buddy, Otho, has had the cataracts removed from both his eyes last year and now he no longer wears glasses. Once again, he is out-shooting me with a rifle, which is how it always was until his eyes got bad. So, I will give the .357 Texan to him for a month and let him shoot it all he wants. I have a 98-cubic foot carbon fiber tank that Pyramyd Air sent me to test last year, and this is the perfect chance to use it. Otho will have lots of air to shoot with, and when he brings the tank back for a refill I have a compressor that can top it off rapidly.

Otho lives on a large plot of land in the country, where he shoots all the time. And, he absolutely loves the Texan. So everybody wins. Now, let’s peek at the air compressor that makes all of this possible. I told Chris USA that I would give you guys a lot more pictures, so let’s get started.

This compressor is fast!

The problem with testing the Air Venturi compressor is it is so fast that it keeps up with any demand I place on it. That’s why I need both Otho and me using a lot of air. I don’t want to just fill a tank and then bleed it down again, just to test a compressor. That’s such a waste! Besides, this thing is so fast I am planning on buying it for myself, plus I want to also buy that 98-cubic-foot carbon fiber tank. If I’m going to test big bores — and given the number of new ones that are coming out this year I’m going to test a lot of them — then I need the equipment to do it with.


I told you in part 1 that the compressor is water cooled. That’s water — like the stuff you drink — although the compressor doesn’t mind using tap water. I did not say anti-freeze. I know if you store the compressor in an unheated shed the water in the cooling system will freeze, but like the doctor said, “If it hurts when you do that, do do that!” However, I am checking with Air Venturi, to see if there is any problem using anti-freeze.

Pour straight water into the white plastic reservoir. The water pipes that serve as the plumbing are also white plastic.


I told you that the pump was lubricated with either 5W40 motor oil or compressor oil, and there was some concern whether synthetic oil could and should be used. I did some research and petroleum oil uses viscosity indexers that are polymers that extend in length when they heat up. That holds the viscosity constant — to a point. When the viscosity spread is large (5 to 40 weight is extremely large!) the petroleum oil will contain up to 25 percent viscosity indexers, rather than lubricating oil. And I could not find a petroleum oil with that great a range. But synthetic motor oil has that range and it is also better at lubricating. I think they are saying to use it without specifically mentioning the fact. I will also check on this for you!

To fill the oil in the compressor, remove the black plastic oil breather tube (arrow) on top of the oil sump. It should be hand-tight.


I know you want to know how this compressor works, so I did fill my 88-cubic-foot tank for you. I plan to start the accuracy test of the Air Arms Galahad this week, so I topped it off today. Fortunately that rifle takes a 250-bar (3,626 psi) fill, so I was able to draw down the tank a lot more than a rifle that only uses 3000 psi would.

My starting pressure was 3800 psi. The compressor took exactly 12 minutes to fill it to 4500 psi. My Omega SuperCharger that is in need of a seal change would have taken about an hour. When resealed it would probably fill that much in 30 minutes.

Temperature before starting. Pressure gauge is more readable, now that the oil has settled off the glass.

Temperature one minute after starting the compressor.

Temperature eight minutes after starting the compressor. This was as hot as it got.

Temperature 45 seconds after compressor automatically shut off.

Water purged from line bleed after operation. For 12 minutes, that plenty of water from a 17 percent humidity day!

Bottom line?

The bottom line is — I like this compressor. I’m buying this one that’s already been used for many hours by several different groups. I can’t tell you how much use it’s had, but I imagine I couldn’t have used it as much in three years, myself.

There will me more reports to come, but you’ll also hear about the compressor in other related reports.

The eclectic collector

Po, 01/30/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • 10-meter airguns
  • Motivation
  • Sometimes things stick
  • Guns I’ve had my fill of
  • Guns I can live without
  • Airguns I have no desire to own
  • Do my tastes ever change?
  • I like funky!
  • Virtual collection

When I tell people what I do for a living they invariably say, “Oh, you collect airguns?”

I really don’t collect airguns in the traditional sense. A collector is someone who amasses a collection of some sort. It may be large or it may be quite small, but it has a definable theme that is foremost in the collector’s mind and heart. And the true collector never parts with a piece unless it gets replaced by a better one. I don’t do that. I own certain airguns for a while, then part with them to make room (in both the house and the budget) for others. Let me give you an example.

10-meter airguns

I have a friend who collects 10-meter air pistols. He is obsessed with owning one of each type of 10-meter air pistol that has ever been made — from the very first, which must be the Walther LP II to whatever is the most recent.

I am attracted to 10-meter air pistols, as well. I have owned 2 Walther LP IIIs and two FWB 65s. I have owned two Walther LP 53s that do not qualify as 10-meter target pistols, but are very close. I’ve owned a pair of Diana model 10s, a Daisy 777, and several others. I currently own an FWB Modell 2, a IZH 46 and an FWB P44. I didn’t own all these guns simultaneously, so in that sense they were not in a “collection.” I bought what I liked and sold it when my curiosity was satisfied. A true collector wouldn’t do that. They might sell something when a better one came along, as a means of upgrading their collection, but they would never get rid of a gun just because it didn’t fascinate them any longer. True collectors don’t lose their fascination.


The true collector needs to “own,” to possess. The eclectic collector needs only to discover. Once satisfied, he can move on.

Sometimes things stick

Although I move through a number of different airguns, some of them do stick with me. I have owned more than 15 Hakim trainers and the one I now have I believe I will keep. Every time I get rid of my last Hakim I get a longing to own one again. I now know that I must own at least one, even if I don’t think about it most of the time.

I have owned 8 or more FWB 124s over the years. I hold this breakbarrel model in very high regard, although I do not own one at the present time. If one does happen to come along again I’ll probably keep it this time, because it seems the 124 is a gun I can’t do without.

I’ve had 2 FWB 300s and I still own one. This is another gun I do not want to do without. Even though I seldom shoot it, there’s something in it that I need.

I had an original Walther LGV (not the modern gun but the target rifle of the 1970s) that I resealed. I loved that rifle and when it went away, I missed it too much. So a few years ago I acquired another one that I will never sell. Again I don’t shoot it that often, but it’s there for when I want to.

In the 1970s I bought a rusty old Hy Score 807 (Diana 27) that was not much to look at, but a pleasure to shoot. It came out of a pawn shop in Radcliff, Kentucky, for $18 I gave it away in 1981 and it left such a hole in my heart that I paid $110 for the next one in 1993. I still own that rifle today and it will be the absolute last to go.

Guns I’ve had my fill of

I suppose my first real collection was a small number of Daisy Number 25 pump BB guns. It was one I lost as a kid and just had to replace. At one point I owned 8 prime examples, including a first year (1913) nickel-plated gun, a model 325 kit that came with a scope, a target backstop and a cork-firing shot tube and a 1986 Centennial Commemorative in the box with everything.

Then one day I awoke to discover my need for the 25 was now gone and I sold off most of the collection. I still have a couple of them, but the desire has been quenched.

Guns I can live without

On the other hand, there are airguns I learn I can live without. I learn that through owning them and shooting them awhile. The Diana 72 target rifle, for instance. I bought it, tested it and kept it for several years before decided it did nothing for me. So I found it a good home and let it go. I have no desire to own another.

I’ve owned a couple British air canes and they are another type of airgun I really don’t need. I learned as much as I could from them before sending them on, and now I can just enjoy the canes that other people own.

Airguns I have no desire to own

Some airguns leave me cold. I never want to own them. The Paul air shotgun is one example. I can appreciate it for what it is (a .410 shotgun that’s a multi-pump), but I have no desire to ever own one.

The Brown pneumatic pistol is another that doesn’t interest me. I have seen them like new in the box at airgun shows (for several thousand dollars) but nothing grabs me.

Do my tastes ever change?

Like many people, my tastes change over time. When they do, my “collection” changes with them. I might be on a Weihrauch kick for a while and acquire many of their models, then I get interested in CO2 action pistols and I sell some of the Weihrauchs to make room (and money) for some Crosman 600s. A true collector would never do that.

When I look at the models that never depart I see where my deep-seated interests really lie. I have a Crosman Mark I Target Pistol that I will never get rid of.For many years I thought it was superbly accurate, but I’ve since tested it against other guns like the Crosman 2240 and it’s been beaten several times. Still, I won’t get rid of it. The combination of a superior grip, a light, adjustable trigger, adjustable sights and perfect balance resonate deeply witht me. I also will not part with my 9mm German Luger for similar reasons.

I like funky!

One more thing about eclectic people — we tend to like things that are funky! When it comes to airguns here is a list of funky attributes that catch our attention:

Loading taps

Complex mechanical mechanisms (like the pellet feed on the new Gamo Swarm)

Peep sights

Odd cocking systems (think Webley Tempest)

High precision — this is why non target shooters buy 10-meter target guns

Systems guns — guns with interchangeable barrels, calibers, etc.

Virtual collections

So, an eclectic collector like me owns a large collection in the 4th dimension. If you consider all the airguns I have ever owned, I’ve had a huge collection. Time is the one thing that separates me from a more conventional collector, because all my guns have not been with me at the same time.

Think about how you buy (and sell) airguns. Are you an eclectic collector like me?

2017 SHOT Show: Part 7

Pá, 01/27/2017 - 02:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

  • ASG
  • X9
  • Ingram M11
  • Dan Wesson revolvers
  • Xisico
  • Turkish PCP?
  • Orion from AirForce International
  • Beeman
  • Hatsan Riptor
  • Summary

This will be my final report on the 2017 SHOT Show. When I began I said 2017 is the biggest year for airguns that I’ve ever seen, and with seven reports to cover it, I think you must agree. It just seems that this year airguns have exploded! Some product announcements were perhaps a bit premature, but many of the guns and products I saw will be available early in the year. Let’s get to it.


I stopped at the ActionSportGames USA booth to see what new airguns they will bring out this year. The first one they showed me is a pistol they call the X9 that looks very much like our military M9 sidearm.


The X9 BB pistol looks like a Beretta model 92F, on which our military’s M9 is based. It has the blowback shooters want. It’s more than just a basic air pistol that fires using a 12-gram CO2 cartridge.

X9 from ASG is a great replica BB pistol.

One more nice feature about the X9 is it fully disassembles! If realism is what you’re after, this may be one to consider. One is on its way to me now for testing.

X9 disassembles like the firearm.

Ingram M11

Next up is the Ingram M11 BB SMG (submachine gun). This one is fully licensed from Ingram and is a close copy of the Ingram MAC M11 chambered for .380 ACP. It does not have blowback. The stock does fold and extend to give you a good shoulder stock.

The Ingram M11 is a full-auto BB machine pistol with extending stock.

Dan Wesson revolvers

Finally we come to the new Dan Wesson revolvers. They exist in both 2.5 and 4-inch barreled versions and two different finishes — steel gray and silver. They are exactly like the 6-inch barelled Dan Wesson revolvers I already tested for you last year, except for the barrel lengths.

The new Dan Wesson revolvers come with 2.5 and 4-inch barrels. They will be BB (steel gray at top) and pellet (silver) .

I held both guns and they do feel remarkably realistic. I talked to Bob Li of ASG about creating a Pistol Pac for these, and he knows that would be a wonderful idea, but these airguns cannot be made with interchangeable barrels because they aren’t made of steel. But I got him thinking about it! One of each type is on its way to me for testing now.


My next stop was the Xisico USA booth, where I met John Mooney, their vice president of sales and marketing. He showed me their new wood-stocked Xisico XS Sentry — an 8-shot repeating PCP available in .177. Their catalog says it also comes in .22 and .25 calibers, so perhaps they are in the works as well. Aside from the semi black rifle look the Sentry has a pistol grip stock and adjustable cheekpiece. It’s said to get 30 powerful shots per fill to 3,000 psi.

The XS Sentry from Xisico is an 8-shot repeater in .177 caliber.

Turkish PCP?

Sometimes I see things that may never be available in this country but are interesting all the same. Next to the ASG booth was a Turkish maker, Turqua, who was displaying a PCP that was gorgeous to look at. I show it to you now, but don’t expect to see one soon in the US.

I thought this PCP from Turqua is beautiful. We may never see it in the U.S.

Orion from AirForce International

AirForce International sells airguns that are imported from offshore manufactures. The Orion is a PCP that I have followed for some time. I’ve watched AirForce work with the manufacturer to improve the trigger, accuracy and to lower the cost until this year they have a competitive PCP repeater.

AirForce International brings out the Orion bullpup this year to augment the standard rifle (below).

The photo doesn’t show it, but the wood on the bullpup is so highly figured that I had to ask whether it was wood or plastic. It’s wood with a figure you won’t find on firearms costing less than 4 figures!

I have an Orion to test for you soon. It’s a .22 caliber standard rifle. If you look at the price you’ll see why I am so excited!


I always stop at the Beeman booth, but rarely do I find anything worth a look. A couple years ago I found that strange Double barreled rifle that I tested for you last year, but that was all. The Beeman booth sells the low-priced Beeman guns that are sold in discount stores, while Air Venturi continues to import the high-end Weihrauch brands airgunners identify with.

This year was different. On the display table this year was a precharged pneumatic! The lineage was obvious — it has a QB78 ancestor, but we know that airgunners have been converting that platform to high-pressure air for several years, and it does work. And the QB is itself a copy of Crosman’s highly successful model 160 rifle that has a very adjustable crossbow-style trigger. Accuracy can be fine, though the barrel is the biggest risk you take with these rifles.

The Beeman PCP was a surprise this year.

The QB 78 heritage is obvious when you see the receiver. Expect a good adjustable trigger, and we hope an accurate barrel to go with it.

But wait — there’s more! This rifle was built to operate on a fill to 2,000 psi, rather than 3,000. So a hand pump is all that’s needed to fill it! And the suggested MSRP will be just $200! That’s a huge win for those wanting to enter the precharged world at the lowest possible risk.

Hatsan Riptor

One new Hatsan airgun I haven’t shown yet is their new Riptor BB pistol. It’s not a copy of anything and features a a light rail under the front of the frame. The gun has what I will call a carbon fiber look to it, which intrigues me. It offers blowback and I hope to test one for you as soon as I can.

The Hatsan Riptor is a new look for a BB gun and sharp eyes will note a lighter plastic BB they plan to offer.

If you read the sign above the Riptor you’ll see that Hatsan has a new plastic BB that must be lighter. Given the problems Daisy had with aluminum BBs in the 1940s, I will be very curious about the performance of this one!


I think you now understand why I said 2017 is the biggest airgun year ever. We have innovative designs, prices dropping, new air compressors and new ammo. There is so much to take in! Make no mistake, this year is a banner year for airguns.