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Daily Airgun Blog by PyramydAir.com
Aktualizace: 4 hodiny 19 min zpět

Umarex Forge combo: Part 1

6 hodin 30 min zpět

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Umarex Forge.

This report covers:

  • Different
  • Ballbearing detent
  • Power
  • Stock
  • Size
  • Picatinny rail
  • Scope included
  • Open sights
  • Trigger
  • TNT
  • Synthetics
  • Where is it made?
  • Many good things

Today we begin looking at an air rifle I have been waiting to review since first seeing it at this year’s SHOT Show. Every SHOT Show has dramatic new products that all writers scramble to review. Then there are the quiet new products that don’t seem to attract as much attention. But some things I am always looking for fall into this quiet group, and the Forge from Umarex is one such gun.


The Forge is a different breakbarrel. For starters, although it develops an advertised 1,250 f.p.s. with lead-free pellets, it’s relatively easy to cock! Of course I will measure the effort in Part 2, but I’m estimating something around the specified 30 lbs. For a gas piston, that is remarkable! Easy cocking is one thing I am always looking for.

At present the Forge comes only in .177 caliber.

Ball bearing detent

The breech is held shut by a ball bearing. It’s got a powerful return spring, so you do have to slap the muzzle to open the breech, but it closes smooth and easy.

The breech is held shut by a ball bearing.


Pyramyd Air shows the Forge as a 1,050 f.p.s. rifle, while the box states 1,250 with lead-free pellets. I guess I will have to sort that out for you in the velocity test. Really, with this kind of power available, I’m more interested in what it will do with heavier lead pellets.


Then there is the all-wood stock. Yes, at a retail price of $150 the Forge has a wood stock, and it’s not what you typically see on a rifle at this price. Typically a wood stock on a $150 rifle is smooth and has an opaque finish over some nondescript hardwood. The Forge stock is dark beech with some grain showing, and the forearm is a semi-beavertail (flares out). There are panels of sharp checkering on both sides of the forearm and pistol grip. This stock has some shape to it, and it feels nice when shouldered.


The Forge weighs 7.8 lbs., according to the specs. The rifle I am testing weighs 7 lbs. 10 oz., which is close to the advertised weight. The overall length is 44-5/8-inches long. Those dimensions make the Forge a large air rifle, but not a heavy one.

Picatinny rail

A full-length Picatinny rail that runs along the top of the spring tube. Actually the spring tube sits inside what Umarex calls the Nucleus Rail System. This will make mounting a scope much easier because these days Weaver rings (that fit a Picatinny base) are very common.

Scope included

The rifle is sold as a combo, so a 4X32 scope is included with the package. It may not be the last word in optical sights, but it comes bundled with the rifle, so you have a head start on scoping your new airgun.

Open sights

The Forge also comes with adjustable open sights! That’s another thing I look for in an inexpensive air rifle. And these sights appear to adjust very precisely. They do have fiberoptics on both front and rear, but the profile of the front blade is square, so with the right lighting (to kill the glow from the fiberoptics) I think I will be able to do some good work. We will find out in the first accuracy test. Open sights are another thing I want on an inexpensive air rifle.

The rear sight is precisely adjustable.


The 2-stage trigger has an adjustment for the length of the first stage, but nothing for the pull weight. I will test the pull for you in part 2 and report on the trigger in greater detail in the accuracy tests.

The safety is automatic, unfortunately. But it is easy to release by pushing the lever forward, so it’s not a big distraction.


The gas piston in the Forge is something called Turbo Nitrogen Technology, or TNT for short. The name tells me they used nitrogen (instead of plain air) to pressurize the gas-spring piston unit and that’s what reduced the cocking effort.


There is a lot of synthetic material on the outside of the Forge. Besides the scope base rail that encloses the spring tube, the barrel ends in a huge synthetic muzzle brake that’s an easy grip for cocking. I looked inside the brake and I think I can see baffles. The sights are mostly synthetic and the triggerguard is, as well. The trigger blade is metal however.

I think the synthetics on the Forge are well done and suit the rifle very well. But I know there are some who will not tolerate any plastic on an airgun, so I’m telling you what’s there.

The buttpad is the strangest one I’ve ever seen. It is triangular in shape and occupies a significant portion of the rear of the stock. It’s covered with thin rubber that’s very grippy, so it accomplishes everything we want from a buttpad. And I think it looks sharp!

Where is it made?

To come in at this price the Forge has to be made in China. That used to be the kiss of death for an airgun, but in recent times airgun importers have learned that price doesn’t sell guns by itself. They have to work o0r they will tank. I won’t cut the Forge any slack in the test, but on first examination it appears someone who knows the market has had a hand with this development.

Many good things

The Forge has a lot going for it. The price is great; it has adjustable sights; the power is good; cocking is easy and the feel and aesthetics of the rifle are very stylish and nice. It looks and feels like a lot more than the retail price. There is just one more thing this rifle needs.

If it also turns out to be accurate, I think Umarex will have knocked it out of the park! I’m rooting for it!

Diana model 5V pellet pistol: Part 2

Po, 07/24/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana model 5V pellet pistol.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • RWS Hobbys
  • JSB Exact RS
  • What is dieseling?
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Next
  • Observations

Today we look at the power of my old Diana model 5V air pistol. I expected to see results in the same class as the BSF S20 and Webley Hurricane, but perhaps a little slower because of the age of this airgun. I reckoned somewhere in the high 300s, at least.

RWS Hobbys

The first pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby, which is often the standard for velocity in an airgun. In the 5V Hobbys averaged 397 f.p.s., which I think is a pretty healthy result. The low was 387 and the high was 408 f.p.s., so the spread was 21 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produced 2.45 foot pounds of energy. I will add the Hobby fit the bore pretty tight.

JSB Exact RS

Next up were JSB Exact RS pellets. This domed pellet fit the bore better and went in deeper. They averaged 420 f.p.s., despite being 0.33 grains heavier. The spread was from 396 to 431 f.p.s., which is 35 f.p.s.. At the average velocity this pellet produced 2.87 foot pounds of energy.

I want to note that of the three pellets I tested, this was the only one that caused the pistol to diesel. There was no noice, but the barrel filled with smoke with every shot. Whether that is important will have to wait for the accuracy test, I guess.

What is dieseling?

Dieseling is normal in spring-piston airguns. Thgose that shoot over 400 f.p.s. all do it to some extent. Dieseling is the rapid combustion of tiny oil droplets from the heat of compression. According to the Cardew team of father and son who wrote the book, The Airgun From Trigger to Target, dieseling is a normal function of spring-piston airguns, once they reach a certain power level. It adds a certain percentage to the muzzle velocity.

Don’t confuse dieseling with detonation, which is a loud explosion of rapidly burning oil. Dieseling produces smoke without any flash or loud explosions.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

The last pellet I tried was the lightweight lead-free Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellet. They turned the 5V pistol into a screamer, with an average velocity of 485 f.p.s. The spread went from a low of 469 to a high of 489 f.p.s., which is 20 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generated 2.74 foot pounds of muzzle energy.

Oddly enough, even though this pellet was much faster than the JSB Exact RS pellets, there was no indication of dieseling. The pistol must be right on the cusp of what it takes to diesel and the RS pellet must be right for the job.

Cocking effort

The 5V cocks easily for me. I measured the effort at 23 lbs. Those other powerful spring-piston air pistols I mentioned earlier all cock with over 30 lbs., so this one feels light.

Trigger pull

The trigger, on the other hand, is extremely heavy. My gauge goes up to 12 lbs. and this trigger is much heavier than that. I estimate 18 lbs. It’s like the trigger on the Swivel Machine Corp Stealth arrow launcher, which has the heaviest trigger I have ever tested.

However, as I was shooting the strings, several shots were lighter by about half. That gave me some hope that this trigger will respond to some moly grease in the right places.


Normally I would test accuracy next, but given how heavy this trigger is, I think I will take the action out of the stock instead, and see if I can do anything with the trigger. I don’t want to disassemble the action, so I’m hoping to find a way to grease the trigger and sear once the gun is out of the stock.


I wasn’t expecting this pistol to be as powerful as it is — especially not after reading Fred’s review of his .22. I guess this one is fresher than it appears. I hope it is accurate.

Collecting airguns: Condition 2

Pá, 07/21/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Numismatics
  • Coin grades
  • Back to guns
  • 1894 Swedish Mauser
  • Is refinishing bad?
  • Cleaned coins
  • Three types of collectors
  • Different finishes equal different wear patterns
  • Last story
  • Summary

Today’s subject is one of the big ones in collecting. However, it must be understood in light of the intentions of the collector. Are you collecting because you enjoy airguns? Are you collecting as an investment? Or are you collecting to make money? The answer to these three questions can sometimes drive the issue of condition.


I will start with coin collecting and then transition to firearms and airguns. There are thousands of times more coin collectors around the world than airgun collectors. And, in the world of collecting coins, condition is one of the most fundamental issues. Let’s get specific.

Coin grades

There are many grades of coins and even a numerical scale that’s more precise, but for this discussion we will just consider the following grades.

Very Good
Very Fine
Extremely Fine
Almost Uncirculated

Let’s look at two half-dollar coins. Both are 1858 Seated Liberty Halves that were minted at the New Orleans mint. One is in Very Good to almost Fine condition. In Very Good condition, this coin is worth $50 today. In Fine condition it’s worth $67.

This coin is in Very Good to almost Fine condition.

The reverse of the same coin in also Very Good to almost Fine.

This coin sold for $49.00 on Ebay. That’s a good price, though sharp hunting and bargaining could acquire the same coin for less.

The second coin is also an 1858 O half dollar, only the condition is Extremely Fine. In that condition this same coin is worth $133. First lesson —  two grades higher means almost three times the value (in this case). That ratio differs for each coin.

This coin sold for $29.00 on Ebay. Why so cheap? Because someone had drilled a hole in it, either to wear it on a chain or to sew it into their clothes for safekeeping — a very common thing in the 19th century. That hole cost this coin nearly all of its value! If you melted it down for the silver at today’s rate it is worth $6.33 (minus a little for the hole). The hole dropped the value of that coin to one-eighth that of the same coin with no damage.

This coin would be Extremely Fine if not for the hole. Look at the features on the head, hand and shield.

The reverse is just as nice.

These damaged coins are collected by newer collectors who haven’t got the resources to have nicer examples. And, when coins are extremely rare and cost tens of thousands of dollars and more, a holed coin is the only way for the average person to own one.

Back to guns

The condition of coins is a thousand times more exacting than the condition of airguns! Even firearms are much more exacting than airguns, because there are more firearm collectors. Let’s look at a firearm example.

1894 Swedish Mauser

The Swedes created the Swedish Mauser in 1894. It was an extremely short carbine by the standards of the day, and in 1896 they redesigned it into a longer battle rifle. The 1894 Swedish Mauser is scarce and desirable. An average battle-worn one that is unfooled-with will fetch at least $800 today. A nicer one brings $1,200 and up.

I have one with the serial number 389. That rifle was made in 1895! It was made by Mauser in Germany, in the first production run of the rifle. Fifty-two prototypes were made in 1894, and the first production run totaled 5,000 rifles. Condition-wise, it appears to be in NRA Good to Very Good condition. That would put it at around $1,800 to $2,200 (because of the low serial number). BUT…

Years ago somebody thought it would be nice to sand down the stock and give it a coat of Birchwood Casey’s Tru Oil, so it would shine like a new penny! And it does. That one thing cut the value of the gun in half! Why? Because it’s no longer in original condition.

The 1894 Swedish Mauser is a short carbine that survives in low numbers.

The rifle’s serial number is 389.

Is refinishing bad?

Refinishing isn’t necessarily bad, unless it’s done to a collector’s item and subtracts from the originality of the piece. Then it probably matters a lot. But even cleaning can, in certain circumstances, affect the value of something.

Cleaned coins

A silver coin that is worn down to Extremely Fine condition should have little or no original mint luster. All of it came off while the coin was in circulation. Yet many of the silver coins in that condition that you see for sale are shiny. Why? Because they have been cleaned. In coin collecting a cleaned coin is called a “whizzed” coin. An Extremely Fine 1858 O half dollar that is worth $133 in untouched condition drops to $65-90 if it’s been whizzed. And ALL of the shiny silver ones with that date and wear have been cleaned! Ponder that!

Did you notice that both the coins shown above are very dark? That’s the patina (tarnish) of age. American silver coins have traditionally been 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper, or very close to it, since this country began minting coins. If a coin has circulated it will become tarnished. Even if a silver coin is not circulated, but has been stored near certain other materials for some time, it will tarnish.

Three types of collectors

A coin collector who is in the hobby for the enjoyment will spend more to get the best condition coin he can afford. An investor will do the same, because he knows that coins in high condition hold their value best. But someone who is looking to make money may have a different agenda. For example, he may know that a newer collector isn’t as attuned to the issue of condition that you have just read. A newer collector may want the whizzed (bright) coin more than the one with original patina because it looks better to him. The money-maker can profit by buying something from a real collector at a devalued price, based on its having been cleaned, and then selling it to a new collector for more than it’s worth because it looks nice.

What about airguns?

Different finishes equal different wear patterns

Airguns have all sorts of different finishes. Some are blued steel. Others are steel that has been treated with black oxide. Those are the ones we most often call “blued,” but they aren’t. Black oxide wears differently than real bluing. There are even different types of bluing to consider, so it gets quite complex.

Usually I would just make a statement like, “…there are even different types of bluing to consider” and move on, but not this time. Let me talk about two types. Rust bluing is just what the name implies. This kind of bluing simply rusts the metal and then carefully removes the active red rust to reveal an even blueish appearance. It is applied over time, by numerous applications that are labor intensive. That makes it a very tough kind of bluing. Treat it well and rust bluing can last for centuries.

Fire bluing is a more vibrant and impressive kind of bluing that’s applied with — you guessed it — fire! Any blacksmith knows that as steel heats it turns from silver to light yellow, to dark yellow, to brown, to light blue, to dark blue to violet. If you stop heating when the steel is dark blue, you have a fire-blued piece. Unfortunately, this finish is extremely fragile and will rub away with just handling — or even by rubbing against the inside of a poorly-fitted gun case. It is so fragile that it is usually applied only to screw heads. But an entire gun can be finished this way and then it becomes a sight to see!

This Colt Dragoon has been fire-blued all over, then inlaid with gold figures and leafy vines. The finish is extremely delicate, but this gun will never be fired. It won’t even be cocked!

I could go on and discuss painted and plated airguns, but I will save that for a later installment. Just know that refinishing can decrease the value — again depending on the original finish.

Last story

Years ago I had a Haenel model III DRP. It was a blued gun in 95 percent condition, with just some bluing wear on the barrel from cocking. I gave $300 for it because of the fine and still shiny original finish. That was every penny the rifle was worth at the time (maybe even more), but I figured if I held onto it, the value would increase.

I then sent the rifle to a gunsmith friend, to extract the broken pivot bolt and make a new one. Since he was a friend, he also reblued the gun for me at no extra charge. He meant well, but by buffing and then black-oxiding a 1930s airgun that had been in fine original condition with a real blue finish, he turned my collectible rifle into a shooter worth perhaps $80-100. I never told him what he had done because what could he say? When the original finish is gone it can never return, and friends are worth more than money.


Condition is important to a collectible airgun. There is more to say, but it crowds over into a discussion of modification, so I will leave it here for now.

Revisiting the BSA GRT Lightning XL SE

Čt, 07/20/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This is a guest blog from reader Dennis. He may have a handle, but I don’t know what it is.

Today he presents an air rifle he really enjoys. If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me. Now over to you, Dennis.

Revisiting the BSA GRT Lightning XL SE

By Dennis

BSA GRT Lightning XL SE.

This report covers:

  • Introduction
  • The rifle
  • The optics
  • The shooter
  • Issues and solutions
  • Results
  • Conclusion

The BSA Lightning was reviewed a few times a few years ago [However, not on this blog — as far as I can tell, Ed.]. The results were mixed. One had no idea whether or not the gun was a keeper. Well, she is for me, and I want to tell you why.
I love this gun! It is beautiful and accurate. It is light and ergonomically designed. Yep, I love her, but getting to this point was difficult. The courtship was long and tortuous. Let me take you instead by the straight and narrow path directly to the end which is quite good.

The rifle

The BSA GRT Lightning XL SE is a gas-piston springer with a shrouded barrel and a beautiful ambidextrous beech stock. My model is the .22 caliber version, as I felt it would be best for poppin’ squirrels in the backyard.
The gun is short (37.5 inches) and light (7 pounds), so she comes to the shoulder and points easily. She is a joy to shoot. I ordered my rifle with the Pyramid Air ten-for-ten and she registered 767 f.p.s. with 11.9-grain pellets, for a muzzle energy of about 15.5 foot pounds.

The optics

The Lightning comes without sights, so one needs to mount optics. I mounted the 30 mm UTG 4-16X44 AO Accushot Swat scope.

UTG 4-16X44 AO scope.

It’s a fine scope, but perhaps a bit heavy for the gun. It seems to adjust consistently and to hold its settings. I don’t use the illumination feature on the reticle, and would be happy to find a scope of similar quality without this feature, but there it is!

The shooter

It might help you understand my odyssey with this little gun if you know a bit about me. I am a sixty-eight year-old, soon to be 69 (hold the jokes), who just started shooting about one year ago. I started with inexpensive, box-store guns, but soon became frustrated with the accuracy and ‘graduated’ to this mid-priced springer. I had a lot to learn! This little Lightning lead me by the hand along a learning curve that included most all of the issues one can encounter. These included dealing with loose bolts, finding Mister Right Pellet, developing shooting technique, and shooting around floaters in the eye. It’s been a journey!

Issues and solutions

In the course of shooting some three thousand rounds through this gun, the various issues have conspired to thwart my quest for accuracy. I couldn’t tell you which issues were most important, but I can assure you that they all contributed, and I can also tell you what seems to be working for me right now.

Trust me when I say that you will keep much more hair on your head and rest much easier at night if you loctite (blue Loctite) every bolt securing the stock and scope to the action. Do this as soon as you get everything properly mounted and tightened.

The lightness of this rifle is a double-edged sword. It makes for easy shouldering and shooting, but allows for significant recoil. The kick is not a hard smack, but it can be a very noticeable jump, and it is sufficient to repeatedly loosen every bolt on the gun.

Mister Right Pellet for my rifle has turned out (so far) to be the 14.66-grain H&N Field Target Trophy. I have not yet extended the range beyond 15 yards, but at 15 yards the accuracy is quite impressive, as you will see. The next best pellet to date is the 15.43 grain Gamo Match Diabolo. Several other pellets have been okay from time to time, but have fallen out of favor. Perhaps this is the result only of bolts loosening up. I’ll be going back to test a few of them in the future. For now, the H&N FTT is the best.

My shooting technique has varied as I have experimented with various holds. In the end, I find only that it seems best to hold as lightly as possible so that my unsteadiness creates the least disturbance during the shot preparation and execution. I find that the gun actually shoots quite well rested on a BOGgear BOG-POD Xtreme Shooting Rest. I shoot from a seated position. Here is my setup:

BogPod Xtreme Shooting Rest.


Accuracy! Accuracy! Accuracy! In the end what we all want is accuracy and here are the results. I have settled on shooting three shot groups so that I can discern most shots. (Sometimes the shots are through the same exact hole and are indistinguishable.) Based on 27 shots taken at 1-inch targets at 15 yards, I calculate an average center-to-center displacement for the nearest two shots in each group to be about 0.04 in. The average extreme c-t-c spread for the nine three shot groups is 0.18 in. The calculated repeatability for this rifle in this shooting system is less than one minute of angle. Here is an image of the target set.

My targets show why I’m excited about this rifle.

I suppose that the flyers in these groups are the result of my poor technique, probably shot anticipation or poor follow-through. I hope to do better with practice. Further analysis will have to wait until I zero the scope and take shots at greater ranges.


The BSA GRT Lightning XL SE is an excellent gun that undoubtedly exceeds my personal shooting capability. It has great accuracy if one takes the time to tighten ‘er up and find her preferred pellet.

I hope this revisit of this outstanding rifle will help someone choose to work with the gun and hopefully shorten the path to success.

Gamo Swarm Maxim: Part 2

St, 07/19/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Gamo Swarm Maxim repeating breakbarrel air rifle.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Loading
  • The feeding mechanism
  • Velocity JSB Exact RS
  • Gamo PBA Platinum pellets
  • H&N Baracuda Match 4.50mm heads
  • Back to JSB RS
  • What about dry fires?
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Trigger adjustment
  • Evaluation

Today we look at the velocity of the new Gamo Swarm Maxim multi-shot rifle. Of course this rifle is so different that we will also be looking at several things we don’t normally see. Should be an interesting report.


I was concerned about loading the magazine because I have some experience with other multi-shot breakbarrels and none of it is good. But the Swarm magazine loads like any rotary PCP mag, so there is no worry. Like most of them, there is an o-ring that’s around the entire rotary wheel and part of it intrudes into each chamber to hold the pellets. Consequently, they don’t just drop in. You have to push on their bases a little to get the heads past the rubber.

The magazine is spring-loaded to advance to the next loaded chamber. So when you load it, you turn the rotary wheel against the spring. It is not as hard as many PCP mags that are designed the same way. After each pellet is loaded the wheel stays where that pellet was loaded, so the rotary wheel never slips and runs all the way back to the first pellet hole.

A portion of the rubber o-ring is seen on the right side of the chamber. The pellet head must be pushed past it.

The feeding mechanism

Several of you asked to see the feeding mechanism. Well, it’s kind of like Yehoudi. He’s the man inside your refrigerator who turns on the light every time you open the door. The Swarm feeding mechanism is inside its plastic housing and is not visible from the outside, but I know that a probe has to push each pellet into the breech when the barrel is closed. Yehoudi works the same way. [From a popular song of the early 1940s “Who’s Yehoudi?,” made famous because of the popularity of classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin on the Bob Hope radio show.] Bottom line? I ain’t a’gonna tell ya ‘cause I don’t know.

Those wire legs move the feed mechanism.


The barrel is partially cocked with the magazine removed and the feed probe is seen sticking out on the right side.

What I can tell you is that loading the magazine into the rifle and taking it out again are very easy and straightforward. Have no concerns — you’ll be able to do it.

Velocity JSB Exact RS

The first pellet I tested was the lightweight JSB Exact RS. They gave some interesting results, so I will show the entire string.


The average for this string is 1063 f.p.s., but it’s meaningless. As you can see, the Swarm I am testing needed to burn off some oil before settling down. I will come back and test this pellet again, after I test all the others. It looks like it will settle in the 930-950 f.p.s. range.

Gamo PBA Platinum pellets

Next to be tested were Gamo’s PBA Platinum pellets. If the rifle is ever to achieve its advertised velocity of 1,300 f.p.s., it should be with this 4.7-grain pellet.

This pellet averaged 1218 f.p.s. in the test rifle. The spread went from 1202 f.p.s. to 1227 f.p.s. That’s 25 f.p.s. As you can see, the Swarm has already settled down. At the average velocity this pellet generates 15.49 foot pounds of muzzle energy.

H&N Baracuda Match 4.50mm heads

Next I tried some H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 4.50mm heads. This pellet averaged 813 f.p.s. in the Swarm, with an 18 f.p.s. spread from 804 to 822 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 15.63 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Back to JSB RS

Now it was time to re-test those JBS Exact RS pellets. This time they came in at an average 944 f.p.s. The low was 932 and the high was 955 f.p.s., so a spread of 22 f.p.s. That was where I expected it to be, though as the rifle breaks in it may speed up a little. At the average velocity this pellet generates 14.51 foot pounds of energy.

Operation of the repeating mechanism

You have to experience it to appreciate it. Since the safety is manual, just cock and fire. I shot a 10-shot string through the chronograph in about one minute. Once I realized how reliable the feed mechanism is, I was completely at ease using it.

What about dry fires?

The top of the pellet magazine tells you how many pellets remain in the mag. All you have to do is remember whether the rifle is cocked and therefore loaded.

The number of pellets that remain in the magazine is easily seen.

Cocking effort

The Swarm has Gamo’s Inert Gas Technology (IGT) gas spring and piston, so the cocking effort is constant throughout the cocking arc. I estimated it at 28 lbs., and when I tested it, it took 32 lbs. of effort to cock the rifle. It’s well within reason for the power of the rifle.

Trigger pull

The trigger on the test rifle breaks at 2 lbs. 7 oz. It is a two-stage pull with a light first stage and a definite stage 2. I can feel the tiniest bit of creep in the stage 2 pull, but I rate the operation of this trigger as fine.

Trigger adjustment

I said I would adjust the trigger in this report and let you know how that went, so here goes.

I followed the directions in the owner’s manual (declare a holiday!)  and was able to adjust both the length of the first and second stages of this COT trigger! I does work as advertised. However most other adjustable triggers allow the adjustment of the weight of stage two, so this one is different. It adjusts the length of the stage two pull. The weight remains the same.

I got the trigger with a very short first stage and a short second stage. The pull weight remained where it was — 2 pounds 7 ounces. But now this trigger is very sweet. You know — an adjustable trigger that actually adjusts isn’t that common. I praise Gamo for getting this one right!


So far I am quite pleased with the Swarm. If it turns out to be accurate, as I have already heard owners proclaim, then we have a world-beater on our hands.

The hump from the magazine feed mechanism will turn off some buyers, but I think Gamo has put a lot of value into this rifle. Accuracy is next.

Dinosaur ballistics

Út, 07/18/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Reading room
  • Discussion
  • The absurdity of sub groups
  • What lit the candle?
  • Why?
  • Advertisers
  • 10-shot groups and dinosaur ballistics

Yesterday’s series on collecting was a story that just burst out of me. I couldn’t stop it — it’s writing itself. Well, today’s report is the same way.

Reading room

Like so many of you I have a dedicated reading room in my house. It’s a small room across the hall from my office, and I go there periodically throughout the day to sit and ponder the meaning of life. I also do other things, but they aren’t the subject of this report.

I was in my reading room last Friday, flipping through the pages of the September 2017 Guns magazine, when I came across a statement that stunned me. It was the caption to a table of group sizes for the .22-caliber Ruger American Rimfire Target rifle. I’ll present it here and then discuss it.

” NOTES: Groups [ listed above ] the product or 4 out of 5 shots at 50 yards.”


Well, they are honest! That caption is below a table of group sizes for 7 different rounds. All of them were under one inch. Excuse me, but have we really sunk this low?

The best 4 of 5 shots tells me next to nothing about the accuracy of this Ruger rifle — other than the fact that author didn’t want to print the size of the group made by all 5 shots! Of course the “groups” are small. They are manufactured that way. I will explain what I mean in the remainder of this report.

The absurdity of sub groups

Sometimes when something doesn’t sit quite right for me I think about it for a while before realizing what’s wrong. Last Friday was such a time, and, because I often spend a little longer in my reading room, it was the perfect place to reflect.

I can give you three different reasons why a 4 out of 5-shot group is wrong.

Reason 1. If I take this approach out to its absurd limit, I can illustrate just how slanted and biased it is. Instead of 4 out of 5 shots, let me present the best 5 of 20 shots for my groups. Yes, that is not what the table I’m citing did, but it’s headed in the same direction.

Five pellets went into 0.354-inches at 50 yards. All 20 shots are in 2.681-inches. Which group best represents the rifles’ accuracy?

I sometimes comment on sub groups within a main group. But I never tell you that is the main group’s size.

Do you see how not including all the shots is deceptive? If you can’t see that then the rest of my report may not make any sense, either.

Reason 2. Instead of reporting the best 4 out of 5 shots, what if I report the number of bullets that land in a certain-sized group — one that we are all used to reading — say one inch? That is a take on the first idea, but with a twist. That table might look something like this.

Shots landing in less than one inch between centers at 50 yards. All these groups are based on 10 shots.

RWS Superdome…………………………..9
JSB Exact RS………………………………6
H&N Baracuda Match w/4.50mm hd……4

Nine RWS Superdome pellets went into 0.947-inches at 50 yards. Ten shots are in 1.443-inches. Which group represents the rifles’ accuracy? Incidentally, I can carve out a couple good 5-shots groups if I want to.

Here is the same table presented in a conventional fashion. All these groups are 10 shots, measured center top center of the two widest holes.

Pellet Group
RWS Superdomes………………….1.443-inches
JSB Exact RS……………………….1.916-inches
H&N Baracuda Match 4.50mm……2.73-inches

If I want to take the emphasis off true accuracy I can disguise it by the way I present the data.

Reason 3. Only report the ammunition that groups within a stated parameter. Maybe I test 5 different pellets, but only 2 give me the results I’m looking for. Those are the ones I present and the rest get shoved under the carpet.

When I write about the accuracy of an airgun I do publish the best group. I do that because I want my readers to know what that gun is capable of. But I almost always show the rest of the story, as well. I at least show other representative groups. Sometimes, if a particular pellet is going everywhere I might not show that group, but that’s more because that group is so large that I would have to shrink it to fit the size constraints of the images I am allowed to publish in the blog. When that happens, though, I do tell you about it.

What lit the candle?

I didn’t react to this magazine issue out of the blue. No — I was already spring-loaded by a certain Guns author who has been reporting 3-shot groups for years. I won’t name the writer, because in this particular issue of the magazine, sub-group reporting was across the board! Not just one author did it. It was done by no less than five different authors in as many articles. Only two gun writers in this issue reported all the shots they fired, and they reported 3-shot groups and 4-shot groups, respectively! Folks, this type of reporting is not one man’s decision; this is an editorial policy!


Why would an entire magazine format its technical reports this way? Well, you have to be around this stuff all the time to know why any writer would do this and why an editor would not only permit it, but seemingly encourage it. I know because I have seen behind the curtain. I almost want to turn this into a contest, to see how many of you can guess the reason. But I won’t make you wait.


Advertisers want to sell products. The days when a company was proud of its name and the things it made are mostly gone. They will never go away entirely, but when a company buys its principal product from another manufacturer and then sells it without laying a finger on the item; when they can push it into a high-volume distribution network, the marketing department of that company needs to be able to say something good about the product. I am not the man you want to test your gun when you want to push product. You want somebody who is willing and able to massage the data into a pleasing format that can be presented in a compelling way.

I toyed with the notion of taking a well-known inferior product and writing it up in the same fashion as the gun writers I’m slamming, but then I remembered Orson Wells’ famous 1938 radio broadcast dramatization of War of the Worlds that put thousands into a panic. I would put a disclaimer at the beginning and end of my report, but I know that some folks just read the captions. Marketing departments know that, too.

10-shot groups and dinosaur ballistics

This is why I usually shoot 10-shot groups in my tests. Because statistically, 10 shots are as revealing as one thousand shots. Not always, but a very high percentage of the time, they are. Five-shot groups are usually smaller than 10-shot groups and three shots are just a rough guess. But the best 4 of 5 shots — that’s deception at work.

Ten-shot groups were the order of business a century ago. It wasn’t until after World War II that we started seeing 5-shot groups. At the rate we are now going, by the year 2025 the one-shot group may be in vogue.

I’m calling 10-shot groups “dinosaur ballistics” because who, besides a dinosaur like me, would shoot them? They are much too cumbersome for today’s fast-paced gun writers, plus they wouldn’t put many of the guns being tested in a good light. Of course they could always just lie about the groups they shoot, but nobody wants to do that! Do they?

Collecting airguns: Scarcity 1

Po, 07/17/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Success!
  • Reality
  • How rare is rare?
  • Second gun
  • The big one
  • A defective design
  • USMR
  • History is the point
  • Scarce gun number 2
  • The difference
  • Celebrity association
  • Moral?
  • Is it real?
  • Sow’s ear
  • Don’t fall for it
  • Market-driven scarcity
  • Summary

This history section of the daily blog is a big success. Many readers are interested in collecting and learning about vintage airguns, so I am starting a series on collecting. There will be some things that you have seen before, but I hope to put it in a new light. And I have some new things to share, as well. I have already identified several topics for reports, so this promises to be a long one! I won’t run it consecutively, though. I’ll weave in in amongst the reports on historical items of interest. In the end I may turn it into a feature for “Firearms News”.

I have decided to depart from my usual fundamental writing style for this series. This will be written to an higher level.


I’ll start the series with a discussion of scarcity. The reality television shows that show buying, selling, finding and identifying rare items have helped me understand this topic immensely. Sure, many of the shows are scripted, and shows like Pawn Stars can be embarrassingly corny and amateurish. But among the maize there are nuggets of gold. That’s why I watch.

How scripted are they? A couple years ago I shipped a big bore air rifle to one reality show, so it could be “discovered” and addressed on the air. That’s how scripted they are.

How rare is rare?

Here are two examples to illustrate my point. I will present two guns that were each made in quantities of approximately 1,100. One from the mid-1800s is worth anywhere from $500,000 in fair condition (that’s NRA Horrible to most of us) to over one million dollars for one in good condition. Good means NRA Good, which means some small parts have been replaced and all the finish is gone, but the gun is still in functioning condition. If any historical provenance accompanies one of these guns, a zero can be added to it’s value.

Second gun

The other gun is a century newer, so mid-1900s. I am envisioning one that’s in very good condition — some finish missing but the gun functions, has all its original parts and has no modifications. There is very little chance of an historical connection with this one, but later I will address how personalities factor in. You can pick up one of these for $1,400-1,600 today.

Fourteen hundred dollars to one million dollars sounds like quite a spread for two things that were manufactured in similar quantities. One gun is close to a thousand times more valuable than the other. What are these guns?

The big one

The first gun is a Colt Walker revolver, named for Samuel Walker, the Texas Ranger turned Army company commander who convinced Samuel Colt to produce it. The U.S. Army ordered 1,000 revolvers and 100 more were made for the civilian market. They were revolutionary for their day, but they didn’t hold up in service!

The Colt Walker was so far ahead of its time that the technology wasn’t ready. The gun suffered many major malfunctions.

A defective design

First — these revolvers were subjected to the harshest conditions of combat in the American Southwest, where they were deployed. Second, the metallurgy of the era was not quite up to the challenge of the design. Guns blew up! Third, and this goes along with number two, the gun held a charge of approximately 60 grains of black powder in each of its six cylinders. Colt recommended only 50 grains, but 60 were possible and soldiers loaded by filling the chamber with powder and ramming a ball down on top of the charge.

Sixty grains of powder is a rifle charge — not a pistol charge. Combine that with the borderline metallurgy and Walker Colts have become extremely scarce. Close to 300 of them blew up in operation within the first couple years in service.


The Walker was issued to the First Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, although the history books now call them the U.S. Mounted Rifles. These were dragoons — like cavalry, only they packed more firepower. They were shock troops. I know the correct name because I was assigned this this regiment for the first three years I served in the Army.

When I was there it was called the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, but I saw their after-action report of the War with Mexico in our regimental museum, and Sam Walker’s name was in it. He commanded Company C. Kit Carson’s name was also in that report! Ironically, at the time I was there the regiment was stationed at Ft. Bliss, Texas, on the border with Mexico! We were the unit that gave Mexico Los Ninos de Chapultapec – five Mexican cadets and one instructor who fought to the death rather than surrender at the Battle of Chapultapec. The last cadet, Juan Escuita, wrapped himself in the Mexican flag and jumped to his death off the ramparts of the castle at Chapultapec — Mexico’s West Point. When Chapultapec fell, Mexico City, the capital, became vulnerable and had to surrender to the U.S. Army. This is celebrated every year by a national day of memory on the 16th of September.

The Mounted Riflemen fought on foot that day, leading the charge that took the castle. When the battle was over, the commander of the American forces, General Winfield Scott, said to them, “Brave rifles! Veterans! You have been baptized in fire and blood and have come out steel!”

History is the point

My point is — the Colt Walker revolver carries a lot of history with it — maybe more than any other firearm that can be named. Even a dug-up relic of this famous revolver is worth a lot of money!

Scarce gun number 2

The other scarce gun is an airgun — a Sheridan Model B Sporter, to be specific. Sheridan started producing the model B in 1948, in an attempt to lower the retail price, because their model A priced at $56.50 in 1948, was not selling well. Little wonder, when $44.50 could buy a new Winchester model 61 slide-action .22!

In 1948 the Sheridan Model A (bottom) was $12 more than a Winchester model 61 pump gun.

So Sheridan developed their model B. It had all the build quality of the model A, but was cheaper to produce. The stock was still walnut, but had no cheekpiece, so the blank could be thinner. And the finish was changed from plating to a black paint. However, it wasn’t that much cheaper. Instead of $56.50, the model B retailed for $35.

Sheridan model B was a less expensive version of the Supergrade. This one has been refinished.

Conventional wisdom says when you want to sell more of something you lower the price. But that’s only partly correct. Yes, lowering the price will raise interest, but if the new item with the lower price isn’t perceived to be as good as the older item, you may not sell more of them. You may sell fewer! That’s what happened to the model B. Only about 1,100 were made, compared to 2130 of the pricier model As.

Yet a model B commands very little more than a model A today. They typically sell for $1,400 to $1,600 in very good condition. Certainly it is nowhere near what a Colt Walker will bring. And, when the condition of the model B degrades, the value drops fast. There will always be some value because of the parts, but it’s nothing like the Walker that is still worth five figures when it’s rusted into a solid clump.

The difference

I chose two guns from opposite ends of the historical spectrum for this comparison. One is the most well-known model of its type and is associated with names from history that every fifth-grader knows. The other gun is in a category that is unknown to the majority of the population. No history is connected to this gun beyond its own story that only a few airgunners know or care about.

Celebrity association

If Samuel Walker’s personal pair of revolvers (as far as I know, they have never been found) were to come up for sale there is no telling what they might bring, but I feel confident it would be over ten million dollars. If the personal rifles of E.H. Wackerhagen or Bob Kraus (WHO? — the two founders of Sheridan) were to come up for sale they might fetch as much as twice what another model B in similar condition would bring, but not ten times as much. It might take a long time before even that much would be realized, where Sam Walker’s personal revolvers would merit a television special and worldwide attention, were they to be sold.


The moral of this is — be careful when you are asked to pay extra because an airgun was once owned by someone famous. There are many levels of fame. If a certain guitar was owned and used by Ted Nugent, it will fetch a lot more money than the same guitar in the same condition that was once owned by your music teacher! A person isn’t famous just because you have heard of him.

Is it real?

Here is something I see all the time. A guy is walking the aisles at an airgun show with a red felt bag. When you ask to see what he has, a conspiratorial look comes over his face as he guides you to a quiet corner. There he tells you a tale that goes something like this.

“When Daisy started making the Red Ryder BB gun, they used copper bands at the end of the forearm wood and around the muzzle. They called them “golden bands” in their sales literature. Well, what a lot of people don’t know is Daisy made three Red Ryders with real solid gold bands. I think they were 14 karat, but I’m not sure. These three were given to the president of the company, to Fred Harman, the cartoonist who created the Red Ryder series and to one other person. But Daisy’s marketing department also had 25 other rifles made with gold-plated copper bands. These rifles were finished with deep bluing and extra attention to the wood. This is one of those!”

Sow’s ear

The gun he shows you is a first variation Red Ryder that has been heavily restored. The wood has been sanded and re-stained, the metal has been highly polished and reblued. All the stamped lettering on top of the receiver looks melted as a result of the aggressive buffing. There are nuts on the ends of the screws that pass through the receiver that weren’t there when the gun was new. If you ask the guy about any of these details he has long and interesting stories for each one.

Sure enough, the bands on this gun are not copper-colored. They appear to be gold, except at the edges, where the gold has worn away to reveal the copper underneath.

Don’t fall for it

If your spider sense isn’t twitching off the scale at this point, you should take up a different hobby! What you are looking at is a junker Red Ryder that’s been buffed up and refinished, then fooled with (the gold plating) to make the bait more attractive. The fact that this is bait makes you the fish! Don’t be a sucker.

We could go on with other examples of rare guns, but the point has been made. Rarity by itself is not enough to make an airgun valuable. And any ties to celebrity have to be to real celebs. There is another facet that must be considered, as well. Is this an airgun people want? If people don’t want it it doesn’t matter if it’s the only one in existence.

Market-driven scarcity

Finally there are scarcities that are not driven by rarity, but by other things — things like location, laws, and customs. For example, silenced firearms are a scarcity in the U.S., but far less so in the United Kingdom and Europe, where the gun laws are different. Obtaining a firearm is more difficult there, but getting and using a silencer is easier.

The United Kingdom prohibited CO2 pistols for a long time. All air pistols in the UK have to be under 6 foot-pounds to be considered airguns (and not subject to legislation regarding ownership), but all CO2 pistols required firearm certificates for many decades. This built up a desire among UK airgunners to try CO2 pistols — especially certain models. Specifically they wanted Crosman Mark I and II Target pistols and Crosman 600 semiautomatic pistols.

When the laws changed several years ago, and CO2 pistols of less than 6 foot pounds were legalized, the UK market went ballistic. They began importing these Crosman pistols as fast as they could. Crosman Mark I and II and model 600 pistols are not rare or even scarce — except in the UK at that time.

Many of Crosman’s Mark I and Mark II went to the UK when the ban on CO2 was dropped.

The Crosman 600 10-shot semiautomatic pistol was a big hit in the UK when the CO2 ban was dropped.

The demand drove the price for these models sky-high. An average working Mark I that had sold for $80 one day was bringing $200 the next day. And 600s were topping $300 in the box at one point. This went on for several years until the itch was scratched thoroughly. Then life returned to normal, but with the prices of all these models a little higher than before.


Some guns are rare and command a lot of money. Some guns are rare and don’t seem to command the money their rarity implies. Some “rarities” are manufactured to deceive. Some guns command more because of association with celebrities, and some guns are scarce for market-driven reasons.

If you want to collect airguns you need to be aware of these facts. The decisions you make are up to you, but at least you know what’s true and what isn’t.

Diana model 5V pellet pistol: Part 1

Pá, 07/14/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana model 5V pellet pistol.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Guest blog
  • Mine is .177
  • Rifled
  • Condition
  • Trademark
  • Grip/Stock
  • General description
  • Sights
  • Trigger
  • Summary

Today we start looking at a Diana 5V pellet pistol that was made before World War II. While it uses the number five in the model name, it is completely different from the Diana model 5 air pistol that was made after the war. I wrote about that one in a three-part report published in March of this year.

Guest blog

We had a guest blog by Fred, formerly of the People’s Republic of New Jersey back in 2010. That one was titled Finding a Diana 5V air pistol, and it was a one-part all-inclusive report. Fred’s pistol was a .22, and as he noted, the Blue Book of Airguns only mentions the gun in .177. That’s a reminder to you collectors that the Blue Book is not the final authority. It’s good, but it doesn’t address everything.

Mine is .177

The pistol I bought at the Findlay show earlier this year is a .177. So, between Fred’s report and mine we get to see both calibers perform.


Like Fred’s pistol mine is rifled. I tell you that because they can also be smoothbore. The Blue Books says they were made from 1931 to 1940, which seems reasonable, since production in Germany was put on a wartime footing around that time.


My gun is in good condition and is only missing a locking screw that holds the pivot bolt in place and a small screw in the end cap. It’s 13.25 inches long and nearly 7 inches of that is the barrel, which is round and has 2 diameters. The pistol sits very high in the hand, as many pistols from this time did.


The gun is made of steel parts in a one-piece walnut grip/stock. The metal parts are polished and blued. According to the Blue Book this pistol may be the only model Diana that has the trademark of the letter D inside a circle with an arrow passing through. Fred showed that in his report and I will, too.

The Blue Book says the 5V pistol may be the only Diana to carry this trademark.


The grip/stock appears to be held to the action by 4 screws. There are 2 on either side. I may try to remove the grip to have a look inside the action, without taking it apart.

General description

The 5V is a breakbarrel that cocks and loads just like a rifle. There is no sight protector for your hand, so you have to choke up on the barrel to not drive the German korn-type front sight into the flesh of your hand.

The pistol weighs 2 lbs. 5 oz. which puts it in the same size/weight category as the BSF S20 pistol. I tested an S20 in 2016 but discovered that it was tired, so instead I’m linking you to an earlier test I did on the BSF S20 Match. That pistol averaged 436 f.p.s. with .177-caliber RWS Hobby pellets. I don’t expect this Diana 5V to be that fast for several reasons. First, it is a pre-war air pistol and few of them other than Webleys shot very fast. And second, this one looks a little tired. We will see, of course. I’m just not going to get my hopes up.


This pistol has German Kimme und Korn (notch and bead) open sights. I always though Korn, being the German word for corn, meant the front sight shape resembled a kernel of corn. It probably does, but the Germans have adopted the word Korn to mean sight, as well. So it’s not only descriptive, it’s generic.

The rear sight adjusts for elevation via a small thumbwheel through the rear leaf. If you want windage you must drift both sights to the side.

Rear sight adjusts for elevation only.


The trigger is not adjustable. It’s one-stage and releases with over 10 lbs. of pull. I would guess that it’s over 14 lbs. It’s so heavy my trigger-pull gauges cannot measure it.


That’s the pistol we are about to examine. I will test velocity in the normal way and accuracy at 10 meters. With this trigger pull as heavy as it is, I may even consider popping it out of the stock for a look at the mechanism. Maybe I can spread some moly on it without having to diosassemble the action. So this report might just be a little different than most.

Gletcher Stechkin APS BB pistol: Part 2

Čt, 07/13/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Gletcher’s Stechkin blowback BB pistol.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Velocity day
  • Piercing pin
  • Daisy BBs
  • Slide stays back after the last shot
  • Air Venturi Copper-Plated BBs
  • Umarex BBs
  • Shot count
  • Don’t count on the brand of CO2 cartridge!
  • Recoil from the blowback
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary
Velocity day

We learned a lot about the Soviet Stechkin select-fire pistol in Part 1, or at least I did, when researching it. Today we discover how powerful this Gletcher Stechkin APS BB pistol is. I will also comment on the trigger and the blowback feel.

Piercing pin

The pistol is rated to shoot at 410 f.p.s., so let’s see what this one will do. Before we dive in, though, let me give you a peek at the piercing pin and corresponding CO2 cartridge seal.

The piercing pin is hard to see because it’s slightly out of focus. It’s a hollow tube that’s ground on an angle on one side to have a pointed tip on the other side. The green around it is the seal material that the face of the cartridge pushes into.

I show you that seal and piercing pin because of some questions readers have had in recent times about piercing pins and their seals. This flexible seal presses against the steel face of the CO2 cartridge to prevent and gas from escaping. The hollow piercing pin gives the gas a way to escape, so the seal isn’t under that much strain.

Often, when a cartridge is pierced it seals instantly, but the Stechkin took a couple seconds to seal. I probably screwed the piercing screw in another 3/4-turn before gas stopped flowing. And, as always, there was a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of the new cartridge.

Okay, let’s get started!

Daisy BBs

First up were 10 Daisy Premium Grade BBs. They averaged 421 f.p.s., with a spread from 412 to 439 f.p.s. That’s 27 f.p.s. The Stechkin does slow down with every shot from the cooling of the gas, so you have to give it time to warm back up. I was allowing 10-30 seconds between shots, and the longer the better.

Slide stays back after the last shot

When the last BB is fired the slide stays open. That way you never fire a blank shot unless you want to. You can always push the slide release down to close the slide for a single shot. But if the magazine is empty or out of the gun, the slide will stay back after every shot.

Air Venturi Copper-Plated BBs

Next up were 10 Air Venturi Copper-Plated BBs (I had to link to the zinc-plated BBs because the copper-plated ones are no longer showing). These averaged 418 f.p.s. with a spread going from 411 to 431 f.p.s. This spread was 20 f.p.s.

Umarex BBs

Many of the shots were not registering on the chronograph. At the end of the second string I had fired the pistol 27 times to get 20 recorded shots. I’m telling you that because the Stechkin did not make it all the way through the third string before the velocity fell off.

I shot 10 Umarex Steel BBs for the third string.in the middle of that string, which was after 33 full-power shots had been fired since the CO2 cartridge was installed, which was also the 6th shot in this string (406 f.p.s.), I set the pistol aside for several minutes. I was answering emails and could not get back to the gun for more than two minutes. I mention that because shot number 34 (shot 7 in this string) went out at 393 f.p.s. Until this point these Umarex BBs had been between 406 and 431 f.p.s. The liquid CO2 had now all flashed to gas and the gun was firing on residual gas, alone.

I kept firing and recording the velocities that now dropped with each new shot. Shot 41 went out at 362 f.p.s. and shot 45 was 341 f.p.s. I could continue to shoot the pistol, but the shots were not full power any longer.

Before I leave the Umarex BB I will say that it’s probably right where the other two BBs are for velocity, when the gas pressure is at the maximum. I’m not going to retest it that way because I don’t think there is anything to be gained.

Shot count

The Stechkin started to run out of gas after shot 33. That is a very low number of shots on a cartridge, but it will vary from cartridge to cartridge. All CO2 cartridges have small differences in their fill. Since this shot count is quite low, and maybe some of the gas escaped when I pierced the cartridge, I installed a new CO2 cartridge and fired it blank 33 times. Then I set it aside for 20 minutes to warm up. Then I recorded the velocities of Umarex BBs, starting with shot 34. At least we should see the cartridge variability I just mentioned. I will show you each velocity.

35………………DNR (did not register)
A 2-minute pause

This cartridge had a few more full-power shots in it. I see the velocity definitely start to fall around shot 47. That’s still a small number of full-power shots for a CO2 cartridge, but as you can see, the shots that remain still have enough velocity to safely exit the muzzle. Based on the results of these two tests I would say with confidence that 50 shots are possible from this gun with no worries of a jam. With some cartridges, that number will be even larger.

Don’t count on the brand of CO2 cartridge!

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that one brand of cartridge has more CO2 than another. That might be true for two small samples, but the huge machines that fill CO2 cartridges and then weld them shut are always being adjusted, so this will change unexpectedly. Just know that all manufacturers weigh their filled cartridges and exclude light ones from their sales volume. In a 24-hour day (these machines run day and night) that amounts to a barrel full of rejects, which is several thousand. Those get sent to the engineers and to the repair centers for testing guns, so nothing is wasted.

Recoil from the blowback

The Stechkin recoils and the slide does come back pretty far, but the large grip absorbs a lot of the felt impact. This is not the hardest-recoiling CO2 gun I have tested. I would put it somewhere in the middle — ahead of all the short-blowback guns but behind those whose recoil I have remarked on in past reports.

Trigger pull

The Stechkin trigger operates in both the single and double action modes, but since it has a hammer, once the gun is fired the slide cocks the hammer for the next shot. From that time on the trigger is single action only. The double action pull is 10 lbs., 7 oz., which is on the light side. In single action it’s a two-stage trigger with a very long first stage that definitely stops at stage two. Stage two breaks cleanly at 7 lbs. 15 oz., but the break is so crisp I guessed it was around 5 lbs. In my opinion it’s a good trigger, but I’ll know more after the accuracy test.


There it is. The Stechkin BB pistol has a good trigger and decent blowback. The gun stops firing when the BBs are gone. But it does seem to use CO2 pretty fast.

If the Stechkin is accurate it will be a great BB gun to get. I say that based on the sights, the trigger and the overall realism. But it’s got to shoot well.

Gamo Swarm Maxim: Part 1

St, 07/12/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Gamo Swarm Maxim repeating breakbarrel air rifle.

This report covers:

  • Feeding is the problem
  • Issues
  • Scope
  • Trigger!
  • Silenced
  • The rifle
  • The magazine
  • Summary

Before we begin I want to draw your attention to the fact that Pyramyd Air has made it possible to post pictures to the blog. The Choose Image box is right there with the comments. This is something you have long asked for. I hope you will enjoy this new feature.

Today I start looking at the Gamo Swarm Maxim multi-shot rifle. This is a repeating breakbarrel springer — a type of air rifle that has never been very successful in the past. The problem is getting soft lead pellets to feed reliably without distorting.

Feeding is the problem

Gamo made several breakbarrel repeaters under the El Gamo name years ago and they were all quite fussy about the length and shape of the pellets they would feed. If you owned one you had to stock up on the pellets it liked because almost anything else would jam. These rifles were called by their titles with -matic tacked on the end. There were names like the Expomatic and the Gamatic as so on. They fed from linear magazines that caused the feeding issues. Anyone who has owned a Crosman 600 pistol knows what I’m talking about.

The Swarm Maxim solves that problem by using a rotary magazine, similar to the type many precharged rifles use, though not a copy of any of them. I will watch the performance of this magazine closely.


You know I’m going to test the Swarm with different pellet types, so we can lay that aside for now. But what about the sights? As you can see in the pictures, the repeating mechanism sticks up so high that open sights are not possible. Also, it would appear that at least the lower half of the scope is blocked. What affect does this have on sighting? I will report on that for you, but I shot the Swarm at the SHOT Show this year and can already tell you the target is in no way obscured by the feed mechanism. Undoubtedly some light from the target is blocked, but I don’t recall seeing anything in my way as I sighted.

The next issue that someone raised is how possible it is to dry-fire this rifle. Because it uses a rotary magazine, will it stop firing when the pellets run out, or can you keep on cocking it — and possibly shoot a shot without a pellet?

I remember a Gamo sales campaign from the late ‘90s that said you could dry-fire their spring piston rifles 10.000 times without damage. They no longer say that, plus I think most airgunners would not want to do it, but, since the Swarm is a repeater, this needs to be evaluated.

Does the pellet feed mechanism block the image of the target in the scope? I think not, but I will report in a future part.

The owner’s manual tells me it’s possible to double-feed a pellet (by cocking the barrel more than once), so you do need to pay attention. The manual does give a procedure for checking to see whether a pellet has already been fed without the risk of double-feeding. I will look at that for you.


The Swarm comes with a 3-9X40 scope. The fixed parallax is set at 25 yards. A one-piece scope mount comes already attached to the scope, and this is mounted by you to the special scope base on the Swarm. I will have more to say about mounting and using this scope in Part 3.


I get to test a couple things on the Swarm that, to my recollection, I have not evaluated before. The first is the Custom Action Trigger (CAT). This is a 2-stage trigger with adjustments for both the length of the first stage travel and the length of stage two. I guess stage two has some travel in it. The owner’s manual has excellent instructions for this, so I will adjust the trigger in part 2 of this report and let you know how it goes.

The trigger blade is very straight, which feels wonderful. The blade is also pierced with three holes for a racy look.

The safety is manual, according to the owner’s manual! That puts the shooter in complete control, which is how experienced shooters like to operate.


The Swarm also has Whisper Maxim Sound Suppression Technology. In other words, a silencer. Not sure I ever tested one of those by that name. Silencers on spring guns don’t do much because most of the sound comes from the powerplant, not the pellet leaving the barrel. And when your cheek rests against the stock the powerplant sound is transmitted through your cheekbones into your head, so the gun sounds louder to the shooter than anyone else. Still, I will test it.

The rifle

The first impression you get when picking the Swarm up is how light it is! According to the specs it weighs just 5.64 lbs. I weighed it on my postal scale, where it registered 5 lbs. 8 ozs. on the nose for the rifle and empty magazine. Of course the scope will add more weight, so once I mount that I will weigh it again. But the bottom line is — this springer is light!

The rifle is all black, like most Gamo airguns these days. It is powered by a Gamo IGT gas spring, and the cocking effort feels very reasonable. I’ll test that for you in part 2. Velocity is supposed to be 1300 f.p.s. with Gamo’s PBA Platinum pellets. That means with a heavy lead pellet I can probably get the velocity down into the high 900s, or so.

The pull measures exactly 14 inches and the rubber buttpad is both soft and thick. The rifle can stand in a corner without slipping. There is also a colored spacer between the pad and the stock. The color corresponds to Gamo’s recommended use for the rifle Red, like the Swarm has, is for pest control; green is for hunting and blue is for targets and competition. To their credit, Gamo lists the animals to be hunted as rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, and crows — not a word about feral hogs.

The barrel has a fat black plastic jacket that’s deeply fluted. It provides a comfortable handle for cocking.

The magazine

A lot of the feeding reliability resides in the unique 10-shot rotary magazine. You get one with the rifle, and you can also buy an extra magazine or two. The price is quite reasonable. The magazine has numbers that tell you how many pellets remain. There is also an international warning sign (an exclamation point in a triangle) when the last pellet has been loaded. That would be how you know the gun is empty, though it’s up to you to remember whether the rifle is still loaded and cocked when you see that symbol, because the mag will show empty then, too.

The magazine has clear indications of how many shots are left (top window).


There is a lot to test and evaluate with the Swarm. It’s as different as a breakbarrel rifle can be. I have said it about other $200 springers and I’ll say it about the Swarm — if this rifle is accurate it could well be a world beater! We just saw a prolonged test of an accurate air rifle, so you should all know where the bar is set.

Checking out a Diana RWS 34P: Part 6

Út, 07/11/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

The Diana RWS 34P is a classic breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle.

This report covers:

  • Drooper
  • Sight in
  • The groups
  • One last time
  • Different pellets
  • RWS Superdomes
  • BKL adjustable scope mount
  • Summary

Today I scope Geo791’s Diana RWS 34P and shoot it for accuracy at 25 yards. We already know this rifle is accurate from the test with open sights. Today we discover how much it droops and whether enough correction is possible. Let’s start with the scope mount.


I suspected this rifle was a drooper just because it’s a Diana 34. Most breakbarrels droop and all of the Diana 34s I have seen have had severe barrel droop. With some breakbarrels you can put shims under the rear of the scope to elevate it a little, but with this model shims usually don’t work — the droop is too great. If you used enough shims to raise it as high as it needs to go, you would damage the scope tube. So, I start out with a scope mount that’s made for a drooper. In this case I used the BKL 1-piece adjustable scope mount with 1-inch rings, because George has a scope with a one-inch tube. If this works I plan to send his rifle back to him with this mount installed, so all he has to do is mount his scope in the rings and sight in.

Sight in

Once the mount was installed I mounted an obsolete Centerpoint 3-9X40 AO scope that was reasonably close to George’s Hawke 3-9X50 AO. His objective bell is larger, so I will leave extra room for it above the spring tube. When the scope is mounted in a drooped position (tilting down in front), the clearance of the objective bell over the spring tube decreases.

On my first several shots I discovered that George’s 34 is an extreme drooper — similar to my own rifle that drops 21 inches in 20 yards. That answers reader GunFun1’s question about the amount of droop. Like I predicted, droop was probably the cause of those wild shots George was getting. But allow me to show you what I mean, and you will see why shims alone will not work on this rifle.

BKL’s adjustable drooper mount saved the day. Look how high the rear ring (right) had to be raised to get the scope on the target! I will say more about this mount in a bit.

This sight-in took a long time because I was trying to zero the scope so the groups would show against a bull. I shot just the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets that did so well in Part 3. Why experiment when you already know the answer? Or, so I thought! As it turned out there was a surprise coming, but let’s continue for now.

I shot over 30 pellets zeroing the scope and also refining the hold. I finally ended up with what I believe is the best hold for this rifle. The rifle lies on the palm of my off hand, which is my left hand. The heel of that hand just touches the front of the triggerguard and my left index finger is in the rear of the very long cocking slot. I can feel when the hold is right this way, so it’s easy to hold the rifle the same every time, and that is the key to shooting a recoiling spring-piston air rifle. This is the technique that has to be learned for most recoling spring-piston air rifles, and especially for the Diana 34.

The groups

I had shot so many shots at the sight-in target that I had to put up a freash target to shoot the groups. The first group measured 0.993-inches and is vertical. It’s well-centered but it seemed as if varying pressure against my shoulder was stringing the shots vertically.

Ten shots at 25 yards went into this vertical 0.993-inch group.

I tried to get the pressure against my shoulder consistent for the next group of JSB Exact Jumbo Heavys. This time 10 went into 1.096-inches. This one is also vertical , but only because of a single shot. I wish I could remember which one it was or how I was holding the rifle, because the other 9 shots are in 0.717-inches! Was I onto something?

Ten shots at 25 yards went into this vertical 1.096-inch group, but 9 are in 0.717-inches.

Okay, what was I doing right and what was I doing wrong? If the pressure into the shoulder was the secret I would try to perfect it. I still held the rifle on the flat of my hand, touching the triggerguard in back and with my index finger in the cocking slot.

The next 10 shots gave me a very vertical 1.083-inch group. Aww, shucks!

Ten shots at 25 yards went into this vertical 1.083-inch group. I’m trying too hard!

George, I hope you have noticed that all my groups are about the same size with no spurious fliers — fliers that land inches away. Your rifle is accurate, but I still wasn’t doing something right. After this test was finished I re-read the last test with open sights, where I see the same sort of groups. But I hadn’t done that at this point.

One last time

Okay, this wasn’t working out. I was shooting good groups; they were just not great. I shot better with open sights than I’m shooting with a scope. The problem was, I was trying too hard. When it’s this hard to shoot well you are either doing something wrong or else something other than you isn’t right.

I shot one final group pf JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets. Remember — I was shooting this pellet at the suggestion of a reader. They aren’t the pellet I would have selected, but in the open sight test they seemed to work.

Last group. Okay, this one was working. Less pressure into the shoulder and the same off hand placement. The first 8 shots grouped very well, then shot 9 dropped low and blew the group open. Ten pellets are in 1.366-inches, with 9 of them in 0.856. That’s frustrating!

Ten shots at 25 yards went into 1.366-inches, with 9 in 0.856-inches. I’m going to try a different pellet.

Different pellets

I tried Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets simply because I had a tin on the shooting table. But after 5 shots and two different holds I knew these were not the pellet. They were hitting the target several inches apart.

RWS Superdomes

The last pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome. This is the pellet I would have selected to test a Diana 34 on my own. And, they turned out to be the right ones!

I continued to hold my off hand where it was, but this time no special shoulder pressure was needed. I also didn’t waste any time settling in to shoot each pellet. These 10 were shots 76 through 85 in today’s test and I was tired from all the concentration. But this time the pellets acted like they were guided by a laser. Ten went into a group that measures 0.70-inches between centers. Not only that, this group is round. This is the pellet George’s Diana likes and I wouldn’t try any other!

I did not adjust the scope for this pellet, so it hit the target about 2+ inches above the aim point, and in excellent alignment, left and right. I can always drop the scope’s reticle!

Ten RWS Superdomes at 25 yards went into 0.70-inches, in a very round group.This is the pellet for this rifle!

In retrospect, even through this is a .22 that I don’t have a lot of experience with, I should have tried Superdomes before now. I knew they worked well in most Diana rifles. But at least I did try them and we now know this is the pellet for George’s rifle.

George, your rifle isn’t just accurate, it’s one of the most accurate Diana 34s I have ever tested. I have tested so many Diana 34s over the years that I can’t keep them all straight, but I know good when I see it. Your rifle is very good! Now you know what you have to do to shoot those pests.

Also, the Vortek tune is breaking in. I could feel the shot cycle smoothing out as the test progressed. It now feels dead calm.

BKL adjustable scope mount

A word about the BKL adjustable scope mount I used in this report. It’s FANTASTIC! It elevates the rear of the scope with great precision, plus the design is bulletproof. Once all the screws are tightened down this mount isn’t going anywhere! I’m sending George’s rifle back to him with this mount attached. George, it’s probably adjusted correctly for your scope. Don’t worry about running your scope’s elevation most of the way down to get on target. You only need to worry about it when it’s run all the way up!


Well, that’s it for this one. I have tested and evaluated George’s rifle and we now know that it’s accurate. The problem was caused by a combination of the wrong pellets, the scope’s elevation set too high and George’s shooting. I would blame the pellets and scope first.

This test has also wrung out a number of other products. We know that the Air Venturi Rail Lock mainspring compressor works like a champ on Diana breakbarrels, the Vortek Pro Guide 2 kit also does a wonderful job. And the BKL 1-piece adjustable scope mount with 1-inch rings is great for spring guns that have a large droop.

I am so pleased that things worked out this way, because for many years I have been recommending the Diana 34P as a reasonably priced pellet rifle for pest elimination and hunting. I recommended the .22 caliber, even though my own 34P is a .177. That’s simply because .22 is a better caliber when you intend to hunt.

I plan to use this series to refer new airgunners to when they ask about air rifle models. Yes, all powerful breakbarrels require special shooting techniques, but that’s universal. Most new shooters aren’t going to try a PCP as their first rifle. If you are going to shoot a springer, the Diana 34P is the best one I can recommend for the price.

Millita breakbarrel rifle: Part 3

Po, 07/10/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Millita air rifle.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Qiang Yuan Training pellets
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • Adjusted the sights
  • H&N Finale Match light
  • Artillery hold
  • Summary

Okay, it’s accuracy day for the Millita. Time to see what the old girl can do.

The test

I shot the rifle off a bag rest at 10 meters, using open sights. I also tried it one time using the artillery hold, so we can compare.

JSB Exact RS

First up were 10 JSB Exact RS pellets. This is the one pellet I shot both ways — rested directly on the sandbag and also held with the artillery hold. All shots were with a 6 o’clock hold. This first test was rested on the bag.

Ten RS pellets went into a group that measures 0.929-inches between centers at 10 meters. The group is a little low and to the right of the bull. I decided not to adjust the sights yet.

Ten JSB Exact RS pellets went into a group measuring 0.929-inches between centers.

Qiang Yuan Training pellets

Next I tried 10 Qiang Yuan Training pellets. They landed in a group measuring 0.975-inches between centers. This group is somewhat vertical, which means I was having difficulty sighting. The front sight on the Millita is a small bead that is very hard to see, so perhaps that is the reason for the verticality?

Ten Qiang Yuan Training pellets went into 0.975-inches at 10 meters.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

Next I tried 10 Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets. This pellet sometimes does surprisingly well in lower-powered airguns. In thew Millita 10 went into a group measuring 0.781-inches between centers. That’s significantly smaller than the first two groups, plus this group is rounder. I’m going to say the Millita likes this pellet.

Ten Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets made this 0.781-inch group at 10 meters.

Adjusted the sights

At this point in the test I noted that all pellets were going to the right, so I adjusted the sights. The rear sight was already drifted to the left in its dovetail, but so was the front sight! I drifted the front sight to the right before shooting the next pellet.

H&N Finale Match light

Next up were H&N Finale Match Light pellets. These grouped 10 in 0.822-inches. The group is to the left of the bull, so my sight adjustment probably went too far.

Ten H&N Finale Match Light pellets made this 0.822-inch group at 10 meters. This group looks smaller than the Sig group, but the Sig group has a large tear on the right pellet that make it appear larger than it is.

Artillery hold

I didn’t adjust the sights again, but I wanted to try the artiller hold with at least one pellet. Since the groups are all pretty close in size, I went back to the JSB Exact RS, only because as dome they were a little easier to load. This time 10 went into 0.775-inches at 10 meters. That’s a little better than before, but still not that much different, so I’m calling it a wash.

When the Millita was held with an artillery hold 10 JSB Exact RS pellets went into a group measuring 0.775-inches between centers.


Well, the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets produced the smallest group by a slim margin. Generally speaking, the Millita was about as accurate with each pellet. Run the same test again and the results might change.

This is as far as I will take the Millita. I think it is a fine air rifle, not only for the 1930s but also for today. It has just the right amount of power and accuracy to be fun to shoot, and isn’t that what airgunning is all about?

Millita breakbarrel rifle: Part 2

Pá, 07/07/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Millita air rifle.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • An important lesson
  • RWS Hobby
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • Cocking effort
  • It’s been lubricated
  • What have we learned?

Today we look at the power of the Millita rifle I bought at Findlay. The numbers will sound slow, but please remember this rifle is from the 1930s. It’s not a youth rifle, despite the velocity.

An important lesson

We will also learn something important from today’s test. I will show it to you in a little bit. Let’s get started.

RWS Hobby

The first pellet I tried was the venerable RWS Hobby. At 7 grains the Hobby is the quintessential high-speed pellet that gives the top velocity numbers that can be believed. Yes, there are lighter lead-free pellets that get thrown into the mix, but everyone knows they do not represent an airgun very well. Many manufacturers have taken to quoting two top velocity figures, one for lead pellets and the other for lead-free pellets.

I will show you the first string because it’s part of that special thing I want you to see.


The average velocity for this string is 487 f.p.s. That’s 3.69 foot pounds. The spread ranges from a low of 474 to a high of 535 f.p.s. That’s 61 f.p.s., a huge spread for a spring gun. But let’s examine the string and see if we can learn anything.

Notice the first shot was 535 f.p.s. and it was also the only shot that went over 500 f.p.s. The next-fastest shot went out at 492 f.p.s. — 43 f.p.s. slower. Throw that first shot out and the spread ranges from 474 to 492, a difference of just 18 f.p.s.

If I was to shoot a second string with this same Hobby pellet what do you think would happen? Would the spread tighten up? Where would the average be? Let’s try it and see.


The average for this second string was 484 f.p.s. That works out to 3.64 foot pounds. The range went from 466 to 510 f.p.s. — a span of 44 f.p.s. The average dropped just a little and so did the spread, but what this what you expected? I didn’t.

I expected an average about the same as what we actually got, but I expected a spread of perhaps 20 f.p.s. — based on those 9 shots from the first string. The low of 466 and the high of 510 were not expected.

JSB Exact RS

What does this tell you? It suggests to me that the RWS Hobby pellet may not be the best in this Millita rifle. I didn’t tell you that Hobbys loaded hard into the breech, but they did. Are you ready to say that this air rifle is in need of an overhaul? Hold that thought and let me shoot a different lightweight pellet — the JSB Exact RS.

I’m going to show you the velocity for each of these pellets, as well, so you can see what I saw.


Ahh! JSB Exact RS pellets that weigh an average 7.33 grains (that’s heavier than the Hobby) went an average 567 f.p.s. The energy is 5.23 foot pounds. These pellets average 80 f.p.s. faster than the Hobbys at their fastest average. The spread ranged from a low of 557 to a high of 578 — just 21 f.p.s. What do you think? Are JSB RS pellets performing better in the Millita? This is why a chronograph is so handy! Incidentally, the pellet that produced the slowest velocity (shot 8) also loaded the hardest. I predicted it would be slow and it was.

Air Arms Falcons

The final pellet I tested was the Falcon from Air Arms. It is also a dome that weighs the same 7.33 grains as the JSB Exact RS. JSB produces this pellet for Air Arms on dies owned by Air Arms. It’s similar to the RS pellet, but it’s not the same.


The average for the Falcon was 556 f.p.s. and the spread ranged from a low of 539 to a high of 567. That’s 28 f.p.s. It produces 5.03 foot pounds at the muzzle. To me this pellet also seems a lot more uniform and efficient in this rifle than the Hobby.

Cocking effort

The Millita cocks with 28 pounds of force. While that isn’t hard, it’s considerably more effort than a youth rifle should require. As I said before — this one is for adults.

Trigger pull

The single-stage trigger breaks at 3 lbs. 11 oz. While that sounds heavy, the break is crisp and it doesn’t feel that hard. Remember this trigger is adjustable, but since the adjustment changes the amount of sear contact, I’m not going to do it.

What have we learned?

To show you what we have learned today I will quote myself from Part 1, where I said, “After a day of [the oil] soaking-in, the rifle was shooting smartly which is not an exact velocity but I will guess it’s somewhere in the 500s.” My estimate was this rifle should shoot in the 500 f.p.s. range somewhere. I based that on years of experience with similar air rifles. With two of the pellets it averages 567 f.p.s. and 556 f.p.s., so I guess I hit the number on the head!

My point it, if you just looked at the first two shot strings with Hobbys you might be inclined to think this Millita was tired and needed an overhaul. But with two other pellets it performs exactly as expected. So, the lesson is twofold — first, get a chronograph and second, test more than one pellet, because, as you will soon discover, anomalies happen.

There may be faster examples of this Millita air rifle around, but I think this one is doing well. The lube tune I spotted in Part 1 was apparently done right!

How to make a spring-piston air rifle shoot smooth: Part 2

Čt, 07/06/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The Benjamin Legacy SE.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • The rifle
  • Important point!
  • The chase
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger
  • Accuracy
  • Summary

Today’s report should make an interesting contrast to the work I have been doing on Geo791’s Diana RWS 34P. By the end of this report I think you will see that American airgun manufacturers have the ability to make world-class spring guns. Let’s get right to it.

The rifle

Now I’ll tell you a little about the gun we have been looking at. The Legacy SE looks a lot like Benjamin Trail rifles. There’s no Weaver scope base because the Legacy SE was made years before Crosman began putting Weaver bases on their Trail rifles. What it does have is a set of conventional 11mm dovetail grooves with a single hole at the back for a vertical scope stop pin. Given the extreme smoothness and lack of recoil, that was good enough. There are no open sights.

The trigger appears to be the same one that’s found in today’s Trail guns; and since it isn’t holding back as much force, it breaks very crisply in stage 2. The safety is manual, so the shooter is in control, which is how I like it.

The cocking effort is exactly 16 lbs. I know because I’ve measured it for this report.

The rifle is normal-sized, at 44 inches overall. What looks like the barrel is just under 20 inches long, but the actual barrel is hidden deep inside a shroud. The actual barrel is about 1-1/2 inches shorter, and there are no baffles in front of it. The muzzle brake is just a nice solid cap that completes the look of the rifle.The pull is 14 inches.

The stock is synthetic with a dipped woodlands camo pattern in deep woods green and gray. There’s a stylized thumbhole, and the stock makes the rifle completely ambidextrous. A dark rubber cheekpiece is pinned to the top of the straight comb. The buttpad is a ventilated black rubber pad that prevents the rifle from slipping when stood in the corner. The forearm is thin in cross section and flat on the bottom for a good hand rest.

The metal parts are not polished and present a matte surface for the black oxide. The metal barrel jacket is even duller than the spring tube. There are a few plastic parts on the gun, like the triggerguard and end cap, but the trigger blade is metal.

Important point!

The barrel pivot is a screw that can be tightened. That means the rifle can be very accurate because any sideplay can be removed. However in testing mine wasn’t that accurate. I discovered that the end cap on the muzzle brake was probably touching the pellets as they exited the muzzle, tipping them sideways. The 25-yard groups were all over one inch.

The pellets were flying sideways, causing an open group.

The chase

As I told you in Part 1, the Benjamin Legacy SE did not last long. Rather than go on about what didn’t happen, let’s look at what did. Ed Schultz used what was learned from the Legacy SE as a starting point to develop the Crosman NPSS (Nitro Piston Short Stroke) — the rifle that got everything right! Same idea — easy cocking and smooth shooting, but with more power. How much more? Let’s look.

Crosman Premiers — 712 f.p.s. with a spread from 695 to 727.
RWS Superdomes — 694 f.p.s. with a spread from 680 to 709.
RWS Hobbys — 771 f.p.s, with a spread from 761 to 781.
Air Arms domes — 673 f.p.s with a spread from 664 to 679.


Crosman’s NPSS is no longer made, but was a landmark rifle in its day.

Cocking effort

The cocking effort was no longer 16 lbs. like the Legacy SE. It had increased to 24 lbs., but was still lighter than any other gas spring air rifle at the time. Now we had good power and easy cocking — a world-beater combination!


The trigger on the NPSS rifle breaks at 3 lbs. 12 oz. and is so crisp that I guessed the weight was a pound less. The length of the stage one pull is adjustable, but the letoff weight doesn’t seem to change with adjustment.


This is where the rubber meets the road. Because, if the rifle isn’t accurate, nothing else matters very much. This NPSS is quite accurate.

Five JSB Exact RS pellets went into this 0.302-inch group at 25 yards!

The accuracy may have a lot to do with the NPSS having a pivot bolt instead of a pin. The breech can be tightened to eliminate sideplay. But pivot bolts aren’t common on such airguns. Plain pins are far more common, to keep the manufacturing costs down.

I can just imagine the corporate meeting in which this design feature was discussed. The money guy asked, “How much does a bolt really help the accuracy? A bolt, plus the subsequent additional machining (threading the receiver fork) and additional assembly time costs the factory 31 cents more than a plain pin that can be pressed in. By the time that cost flows through our marketing model it adds $1.29 to the retail price of the gun. Is this pivot bolt really necessary?”

If there is an Ed Schultz sitting at the table (as there was for the NPSS), he can explain how the bolt helps the rifle maintain superior accuracy by allowing the barrel pivot tension to be adjusted. He knows this, not because he is an engineer, but because he is also an experienced airgunner.

If the engineer at the table doesn’t know the answer, the bolt goes away and the pin is substituted. Don’t blame the money guy — he’s just doing his job. The question he asked was reasonable. The problem was the engineer at the table didn’t know the answer and could not defend the more expensive bolt.

So, the rifle that gets the plain pin sells 11,000 pieces over the next 10 years, where the same rifle, if it had a pivot bolt, might have sold 50,000 pieces. But that is a subtlety that few people understand.

The NPSS went on to become the Nitro Piston 2 (NP2). That’s a gas spring rifle with even more power and additional technology (a buttoned piston) to reduce vibration.


I wrote this 2-part report because of the test I did on the Umarex Throttle. That rifle contains a device called Stop Shox to calm the firing cycle while still producing excellent power. In this 2-part report I have shown you the evolution of a gas spring rifle that needs no technology to produce the same result — with incredible accuracy!

If a manufacturer were to provide a gas spring rifle that the user could fill, then what you see here might be possible again. Let’s hope such a thing is being designed.

Checking out a Diana RWS 34P: Part 5

St, 07/05/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

The Diana RWS 34P is a classic breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle.

This report covers:

  • How to tell if the mainspring is broken
  • Tight piston seal
  • JSB Exact RS domes
  • RWS Hobbys
  • RWS Superdomes
  • Where are we?
  • Did the rifle smooth out?
  • Cocking effort
  • What are the advantages?
  • The rest of the story

Today we look at the results of yesterday’s tune on Geo791’s .22 caliber Diana RWS 34P. I talked to Tom Gore, the owner of Vortek, and asked what kind of results I could expect from this kit. He said this one was designed to make the rifle perform at the factory spec, but with much longer spring life. When I told him how the rifle had tested before he said he felt it was right on spec already. I felt so, as well. And of course that was with a broken mainspring.

How to tell if the mainspring is broken

Several of you have asked me whether it’s possible to know when a Diana mainspring has broken and I said no. If just one end of the spring is broken the gun will shoot smoother than before and will have the same velocity. I think the broken piece winds itself into the new end of the mainspring (it always does) and helps dampen vibration. Unless you are observing the performance of your rifle very carefully and watching for this you’ll never see it.

Of course when the other end breaks, as it often does, the rifle gets even smoother and easier to cock. But at that point a .22 will lose about 150 f.p.s.

So, Georges’ rifle was both smooth and powerful when I initially tested it. I said that in Part 2. Let’s see what the Vortek tune did. I will test it with the same pellets I used in Part 2, so everything is the same except the tune.

Tight piston seal

Several readers asked about the possibility of putting an o-ring in the groove that runs around the circumference of the piston seal. That is impossible. This new seal fits the compression chamber extremely tight. I had to use a screwdriver to ease it past all the cutouts in the spring tube, so the seal did not get cut.

That groove sqwishes down much smaller when the seal goes into the spring tube. It’s there to prevent excess lube from migration forward. George won’t have to worry about that because I applied the special grease very sparingly.

JSB Exact RS domes

The first pellets I tested were JSB Exact RS domes. They averaged 639 f.p.s. in the before test, with a 25 f.p.s. spread. This time they averaged 627 f.p.s. and the spread was 28 f.p.s. — from 613 to 641 f.p.s. That’s a bit of a drop. Before it produced 12.07 foot-pounds and this time it produced 11.73 foot pounds

RWS Superdomes

RWS Superdomes were next. These 14.5-grain pellets averaged 701 f.p.s. in the first test and 689 f.p.s. with the Vortek tune. The spread was initially 16 f.p.s. and this time it was 62 f.p.s. because of one slow shot. That one went 641 f.p.s., but it was an anomaly because the next slowest shot was 689 f.p.s. The high was 703 f.p.s. In the first test this pellet developed 15.83 foot pounds. After installation it develops 15.29 foot pounds.

RWS Hobbys

Next up were some 11.9-grain RWS Hobbys. In the before test they averaged 736 f.p.s. with a 39 f.p.s. spread. This time Hobbys averaged 727 f.p.s. and the spread was 37 f.p.s. That’s pretty close to last time. The muzzle energy was 14.32 foot-pounds in the first test and 13.97 foot-pounds this time.

Where are we?

I bet you didn’t expect those numbers — did you? I didn’t either. I do know that as this tune breaks in after several hundred shots the average velocities will rise just a bit, perhaps to where they were with the factory mainspring.

Why isn’t it any faster? Well, in my experience this Diana 34 was right where I expect all the good ones to be. Making it go faster serves no purpose unless it comes with some kind of benefit, like improved accuracy or smoother operation. Since tunes seldom affect accuracy I doubt a faster gun would offer us anything, and it is already shooting very smooth.

Did the rifle smooth out?

It’s difficult to say whether the rifle smoothed out because it was smooth before. I told you that when I tested it. Smooth shooting is one characteristic of Diana rifles that have broken mainsprings. They are already very smooth from the factory and when the spring breaks they get very calm.

So — is this rifle any smoother? I’m going to stick my neck out and say yes. I believe it is. The difference is very small because the rifle didn’t have very far to go, but I do believe I can feel a small improvement.

Cocking effort

Here the Vortek kit will suffer, because the rifle with the broken mainspring was already cocking very easy. Diana’s always get easier to cock when the spring breaks. I measured the force needed to cock the rifle now and it comes to 35 pounds on my bathroom scale. Before it was 28 pounds. So the effort has increased. Diana rates the cocking effort of a model 34 at 33 pounds, so one might say the rifle is back to factory specs.

What are the advantages?

This test has produced some surprising results, hasn’t it? We all want the ending to be like when Bob Beamon broke the world long jump record at the 1968 Olympics by almost 2 feet, but life isn’t always like that. Often the victory is measured in inches and sometimes, like today, it stays the same or even goes backwards. So, has anything been gained?

Absolutely! First, take another look at Geroge’s broken mainspring. Not only was one end snapped off, the other end is canted and will probably break as well. The Vortek kit has put an end to that fear. George’s 34P will still be shooting this fast or faster 10,000 shots from now.

Next, the powerplant has been lubricated for an indefinite period. George never has to worry about oiling the piston or greasing the mainspring because the materials I’ve installed probably have a good 10 years of life in them — maybe more.

And finally, the rifle does shoot very smooth. This time it’s not because of a broken part but because all the tolerances have been reduced to a minimum and then lubricated with just enough of the right grease.

The rest of the story

I said in an earlier installment that I have a plan to fix George’s drooping problem for him. I’m not going to tell you what it is today, but next time I will mount a scope that’s similar to the 4-12 George owns, and shoot for accuracy at 25 yards again. We now know which pellets it likes.

If everything works as planned, the mount I will use will allow the scope to be adjusted in the center of its elevation range, which may help George with his fliers. The mount maker has agreed to donate this mount to George, so when he gets his rifle back all he has to do is remount his own scope.

Checking out a Diana RWS 34P: Part 4

Út, 07/04/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The Diana RWS 34P is a classic breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle.

This report covers:

  • Happy birthday, America!
  • Vortek Pro Guide 2
  • Disassembly — Rail Lock Spring-Compressor
  • Spring break!
  • Removing the piston
  • Trouble
  • Lubrication
  • Assembly
Happy birthday, America!

Today the U.S. celebrates 241 years as a nation. It will be loud tonight (fireworks)!

Today I install the Vortek Pro Guide 2 tuneup kit in Geo791’s .22 caliber Diana RWS 34P. Now that we know his rifle is accurate it will be nice to also know that it shoots at the top of its form.

Vortek Pro Guide 2

Pyramyd Air doesn’t sell this kit, so if you want one you’ll have to get it direct from Vortek. The kit consists of instructions, a new mainspring, a special new spring guide, a synthetic top hat/forward spring guide, new piston seal, new breech seal and grease.

The Vortek Pro Guide 2 kit comes with everything you need to tune your Diana 34.

The mainspring in this kit appears to be made of good spring steel. I know that Diana has had problems in the past from over-hardening their mainsprings, so this tuneup should ensure George a long time of good operation with his rifle. The piston seal is also special and I will cover it in a little bit.

The new spring guide fits around the outside of the mainspring instead of the inside. You may remember that a coiled mainspring expands slightly when compressed, so this guide will become tighter rather than looser when the gun is cocked. As the kit comes, the guide is already on the spring extremely tight, so there isn’t going to be any vibration in this area!

Disassembly — Rail Lock Spring-Compressor

To fit the kit the rifle must first be disassembled. I used the Air Venturi Rail Lock Spring Compressor to remove the mainspring. This is the second type of action I have used the Rail Lock on and it works like it was made for Dianas!

The threaded rod of the Rail Lock Compressor spans the Diana safety and presses in on the back of the trigger — exactly where you want it!

Once the compressor was in place, I put a little tension on the trigger block and both pins that hold the trigger block in the spring tube came out. The action came apart in seconds, making this the fastest I have ever disassembled a Diana. The Rail Lock is the reason for that.

The trigger block is pushed out this far by the mainspring. All tension is off at this point.

Spring break!

Now the spring guide and mainspring could be removed and, once they were out, I saw something that I have seen many times before. The mainspring was broken about one inch from the end on the spring guide end! This is a very common fault with Diana spring rifles, though I thought they had corrected it in the past decade. The unbroken end of the mainspring has a small cant in it, as well. So, George was lucky that I decided to tune his rifle! I actually wrote a report about this in 2006 titled, Spring Break.

A broken mainspring is a common Diana fault. They typically break about an inch from the end like this. Notice the last coil on the other end is canted.

Remove the piston

The next step is to remove the piston. The barrel has to come off for this, because the cocking link must be separated from the piston body. Dianas are made to come apart easily this way and I had the barrel off in less than a minute.

All the powerplant parts are out of the gun.


The piston seal in the rifle was like new, but since the Vortek kit has a new one, I removed the Diana seal. Getting the new Vortek seal back on the piston, though, was not easy. It took me all of 45 minutes. I found that the seal material likes to be warmed by flexing, before it will hook the flared top of the piston. But I got it.

The Vortek piston seal is made from different material than the Diana seal, plus it has a groove around the circumference. That groove prevents lubrication from migrating forward from the mainspring.


I lubricated the piston seal (very sparingly), the rear of the piston body and the mainspring with the special grease that came in the Vortek kit. The Vortek owner, Tom Gore, tells me this piston seal will wear in to become incredibly slick with use, so it doesn’t need much lubrication.

I put a bit of extra grease at the mouth of the spring guide, since I couldn’t get the mainspring out to lube all of the coils. Cocking the rifle will spread this grease back on the back coils of the spring.


The rifle went together just like it came apart. Once more the Rail Lock compressor was easy to install and operate. I discovered the Vortek spring was a little longer than the factory spring that had the last inch broken off.

The Vortek mainspring is ever-so-slightly longer than the broken Diana spring.

The last job was to replace the breech seal. The old one looked fine, but since the kit came with a new one, I installed it.

Start to finish this job took 2 hours. That time includes taking pictures and 45 minutes fiddling with the piston seal.

After that I finished the assembly and went to my range to test-fire the rifle. How did it do? That’s coming tomorrow.

FWB 124 air rifle: Part 5

Po, 07/03/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This FWB 124 Deluxe is not the exact gun I’m writing about, but it is the same model.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • To scope or not?
  • Long sight-in
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Air Arms Falcon pellets
  • That’s it
  • Open sights versus a scope
  • Summary

Before we begin I have sad news. A reader who often commented on this blog, Wing Commander Sir Nigel Tetlington-Smythe, passed away on Jun 24. He had an accident a week before and suffered a brain injury that overcame him. He will be missed on this blog.

Today I scope the FWB 124 and shoot it for accuracy at 25 yards. We last looked at this rifle on June 12, and it was tested with open sights at 25 yards. In that test JSB Exact RS pellets gave me a 0.889-inch ten-shot group and Air Arms Falcon pellets put 10 into 0.874-inches. Today we will see what effect scoping the rifle has. Many people believe it will be even more accurate, because most of the aiming error will vanish.

To scope or not?

Scope sights do improve your precision when aiming. But they introduce a bag full of their own problems at the same time. The trick is to get the precision without the attendant problems. That’s why I used open sights when I first tested Geo791’s Diana 34P. I didn’t want the additional problems associated with mounting a scope to interfere with my assessment of the rifle’s accuracy potential. Once that potential is established, though, then mounting and using a scope can improve things — as long as it is done correctly.

I mounted my new Aeon 8-32X50 scope on the rifle. This 8-32 is as short and small as most 4-12 scopes. I bought it from Pyramyd Air recently because it is a superior optic. I mounted it in BKL 2-piece high rings. FWB 124s are difficult to find scope rings for but the BKL rings fit them perfectly and do not slip when the gun is fired.

Long sight-in

For this test the sight-in period lasted a long time. While it took just 5 shots to get on target at 25 yards, I fooled around with trying to shoot the FWB 124 rested directly on the sandbag. This rifle shoots so smooth that it reminded me of my Tyrolean R8 that’s able to be shot that way. But the 124 has a long piston stroke that needs the artillery hold.

I discovered the best hold is resting the rifle on the palm of my off hand when it is back touching the triggerguard. Believe me, I tried many holds before coming to that conclusion. As a result of all my shooting, I had fired the rifle 24 times before the first serious shot was taken.

JSB Exact RS

Group one was with JSB Exact RS pellets. In the test with open sights I put 10 of them into 0.889 inches at 25 yards. This time with a scoped rifle 10 went into 0.917-inches between centers. That’s right — I shot a tighter group with open sights! All theory aside — it happens!

Ten JSB Exact RS pellets went into 0.917-inches at 25 yards. This group is larger than the one I shot with open sights in Part 4.

I wasn’t too concerned about the RS groups, because that wasn’t the most accurate pellet. That title fell to the Air Arms Falcon that I felt would also do best in today’s test.

Air Arms Falcon pellets

Falcons were next and also last. In the test with open sights 10 of them went into 0.874-inches at 25 yards. The scoped rifle put 10 into 0.693-inches at the same distance. That’s what I expected to see today.

Ten Air Arms Falcon pellets fired from the scoped rifle went into 0.693-inches at 25 yards.

That’s it

There you have it. The FWB 124 is accurate. It did about as well as expected, though time spent with a Beeman R8 does make this one seem like more of a powerhouse that’s harder to control.

Open sights versus a scope

This also serves as an excellent test of the same rifle fired with both open sights and a scope. As you can see, there is nothing magical about a scope. It does help you see the aim point better, but it does nothing for your hold, which is where accuracy lives. Learn to trust those open sights and they will work well for you.


This is the last report I have planned for this rifle. I would like to remind you all that Pyramyd Air sold this to me at the Findlay airgun show, after it sat on their table with no interest for 3/4 of the show. They were asking $250. I bought it because it was a bargain, plus I have a soft spot for 124s.

I have no plans to sell this rifle. You can buy it at my estate sale, when I won’t need it any longer. But this is another not-so-gentle reminder to get out and attend those airgun shows!!!!!! The bargains like this one are found there more than anywhere else. The Kalamazoo show will be on Sunday, August 20, and the 2017 Texas Airgun Show will be Saturday, August 26.

Millita breakbarrel rifle: Part 1

Pá, 06/30/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Millita air rifle.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Another find from Findlay
  • It’s a rifle
  • Description
  • Trigger
  • Sights
  • It’s been lubricated
  • What we have
Another find from Findlay

Today we start looking at an air rifle that I know very little about. I bought it from someone who walked into the Findlay airgun show, earlier this year. In the Blue Book of Airguns on page 593 it is called a Millita-style air rifle. While there are many different air riflesmade in that style, I think the one I have is the real thing!

The seller didn’t know very much about the rifle and the buyer knew even less. But the rifle seemed to be complete and sound and the price was fair, so I took the plunge. I knew I would be testing it here and probably one of you readers could tell me all about it. I will tell you what I have been able to find and you can fill in the blanks.

According to the book, “Air Rifles,
by Dennis Hiller, the Original V rifle I have was made in the 1930s. The patina of the gun certainly agrees with that.

“Original V” is engraved on the top barrel flat.

Also found on my rifle and in Hiller’s description is the circular trademark FLZ. I was familiar with that mark from articles written by Larry Hannusch years ago, so when I saw it on the rifle I felt this might be the real deal.

The FLZ trademark is on the breech.

It’s a rifle

Many long guns of this era are smoothbores, but this one is definitely rifled. It was made by Fritz Langenhan in Zella Mehlis, Germany. These were very popular throughout Europe and the United Kingdom before the war.

The rifle’s serial number is repeated in part on the breech. European guns commonly put portions of the serial number on many of the major parts of the gun, just to keep things together where they belong.

The serial number.

Last part of the serial is on the breech.


This rifle is a .177-caliber breakbarrel that has just a walnut buttstock and no forearm. That was a look common to the early era of spring guns. The thing that sets this one apart from all the rest is the toggle lever that allows the shooter to push the spring-loaded barrel detent back out of the way. It sticks down through the long steel cocking link that has a slot to allow movement of the lever. The profile of the Millita is unmistakeable because of this lever.

The lever sticks through the long cocking link. Push it back and the barrel opens.

What isn’t obvious in the pictures is this lever is actually a barrel lock. The breech cannot be opened unless it is pushed back. It’s a clever design that serves both as the lock and the detent. The HW35 has something similar, but other than that is has been lost with the ages.

Looking up in the spring tube we see the coiled spring that powers the detent lever. The detent is actually the end of the lever!

The rifle weighs 6 lbs. 4oz. and is 43-inches long. The barrel, which is octagonal at the breech and transforms abruptly to round in a few inches forward, is just over 19.125-inches long. The butt is walnut and both the buttplate and grip cap are steel plate. The butt is held to the action by a long through bolt.

The butt drops sharply down, bringing the comb up to the cheek when the rifle is shouldered. The pistol grip is checkered on both sides, and on my rifle the checkering is well worn to flat diamonds. The wood has been sanded in the past and now stands proud of the metal parts in several places.


The trigger is adjustable. A long screw passes through the front of the triggerguard to bear on the sear. Screw it in and there is less sear contact with the trigger — a so-called direct sear. At present there is no adjustment on it and the rifle has a stout single-stage pull. It’s safe, and I will leave it where it is for now.

The trigger is adjustable by controlling the amount of sear engagement.


The front sight is a post with a bead on top. The rear sight adjusts for elevation. If you need adjustment to either side, both sights are in transverse dovetails and can be moved.

When you move the disk that adjusts the rear sight notch, it gets very loose and there is no good way to tighten it. I think this is the rifler’s weakest area.

The rear sight adjusts for elevation. But when that round disk moves, the sight blade gets very loose.

It’s been lubricated

A rifle of this vintage has a leather piston and breech seal. I oiled both with Crosman Pellgunoil when I started this report. After a day of soaking-in, the rifle was shooting smartly which is not an exact velocity but I will guess it’s somewhere in the 500s.

I can see part of the mainspring through the cocking slot and there is a small amount of grease on the coils. It looks like someone has done a recent lubrication, so I assume the rifle has been apart recently, and the grease is probably something modern.

What we have

What we have is a vintage breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle. It may have been made in the ‘30s, but it resembles every spring rifle made from 1905 until the start of WW II. The technology was being invented during this time — it didn’t start to evolve until later.

This will be an interesting test, because this is an interesting air rifle. Not since I owned a 1914 BSA Standard have I had such a vintage spring rifle to test!

Gletcher Stechkin APS BB pistol: Part 1

Čt, 06/29/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Gletcher’s Stechkin blowback BB pistol.

This report covers:

  • Stechkin firearm
  • BB pistol is not full-auto!
  • This handgun is BIG!
  • Loading
  • Sights
  • Heavy
  • Finish
  • Summary

Today we start looking at the Gletcher Stechkin APS BB pistol. Let’s define up front what this is and what it is not. This BB pistol is an all-metal full-sized BB pistol that operates on CO2. It is both double and single action, so the slide blowing back cocks the hammer for the next shot. This is a true semiautomatic BB pistol with a two-stage single action trigger that’s reasonably crisp.

Stechkin firearm

The Stechkin was a sidearm of the Soviet military in the early 1950s, but proved too heavy and cumbersome (not to mention too expensive to produce) to be issued to regular combat troops. It was resurrected to be issued to elite forces when I was in the Army in the 1970s. Then it was issued to special troops like Spetsnaz commandos. It is a select-fire (both semiautomatic and fully automatic) pistol, chambered for the 9mm Makarov cartridge. That cartridge is considered adequate in Europe and the former Soviet Union, but being roughly equivalent to the Western .380 ACP, it is weak side in the eyes of the U.S. military and law enforcement communities.

The Soviet Stechkin firearm seems strange and exotic to Americans.

Most full-auto handguns are uncontrollable and therefore a joke in practical terms. The Stechkin may be an exception, since it fires such a relatively low-powered cartridge, plus it is issued with a wooden shoulder stock. The handgun is also very large, heavy and hand-filling because of the 20-round double stacked magazine. I have watched You Tube videos of these guns being shot in bursts, and as long as you keep the bursts to three shots, the pistol doesn’t climb in recoil. Just watch out for the slide, because it comes back three times the length of the cartridge, for greater recoil reduction. If you choke up on the shoulder stock too much, you will get the slide in your eye!

The BB pistol slide doesn’t come back nearly as far as the firearm slide. Still, the Gletcher Stechkin BB pistol does not have a select-fire capability.

BB pistol is not full-auto!

The Gletcher BB pistol I am testing is not full-auto. That is not obvious to some folks who buy the gun for just that reason and are then disappointed. The selector switch on the left side of the slide goes forward for safe and down for semiautomatic fire, but it does not rotate back and up to the ABT marking that is for full-auto. You need to know that before you buy the pistol.

The selector switch goes to safe and fire, which is semiauto, but it does not turn to full auto (ABT).

Probably the reason it isn’t obvious to many folks is because this is a Stechkin. It’s known for being a full-auto handgun. It would be like a Thompson submachinegun that isn’t full-auto. Come to think of it, though, those do exist in .45 ACP. I used to own one!

Ex-military guys my age who were in combat arms remember the Stechkin as being full-auto. At the time we had no idea that a full-auto pistol wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. We just thought it was cool, so naturally we all wanted one. I think that latent desire is what causes the confusion now.

This handgun is BIG!

When you look at the pictures the Stechkin looks like a pocket pistol. Maybe it’s a little long, but it still looks small. Hold one in your hand though, and you quickly discover this is a large handgun. Not as large as the big Desert Eagle pellet pistol that used to be available from Umarex, perhaps, but it dwarfs a standard M1911/1911A1.

My 1911 (top) is smaller than the Stechkin.

This view from the back shows the real difference in size. The Stechkin’s wide grip is what makes the difference, plus the whole pistol is taller. Notice the Stechkin grip is cut for a buttstock iron.

The rear of the Stechkin grip frame appears to be cut for a buttstock iron. Of course the metal in this pistol is too soft for such a feature to be practical, so this is just for decoration I think. I did find a picture online of a Gletcher APS pistol with a buttstock, but I think the picture was actually the firearm.

The pistol is made in Taiwan and does bear a strong resemblance to an airsoft version that’s also marketed by Gletcher. This seems to be a trend, where airsoft guns are turned into BB guns. Some of them, like this Stechkin, are very realistic.


The 22-shot BB stick magazine fits inside the pistol grip and has the clumsy European-designed mag release that’s located at the bottom rear of the pistol grip. This release is different, in that it’s a button that you press in to drop the mag, but it still takes two hands to remove the magazine. The 1911-style release button on the left of the frame is much faster, though admittedly a problem for lefties.

To install a CO2 cartridge the left grip panel is removed. A separate large Allen wrench is needed to twist the tensioning screw, and it is supplied with the gun. Don’t misplace it.

The CO2 cartridge goes in the left side of the grip.


The front sight is a modified Patridge post that appears to be mounted on a dovetail, but that’s just cast into the metal. It doesn’t move.

The rear sight is the strange one. Windage is fixed, but elevation adjusts to 4 positions — 25, 50, 100 and 200 meters. That’s a copy of the firearm sight of course, and 200-meter shooting with a cartridge this weak is a pipe dream, but at least the BB pistol stays real to the firearm it copies. And, it gives you some elevation options.

Those knurled wheels rotate the rear sight notch to 4 different elevations.


The gun is also on the heavy side. It weighs 2 lbs. 4 oz. empty.


The pistol is finished matte black over all the metal. The grip panels are a reddish brown that appears very close to the grip color on Soviet-bloc Makarov pistol grips.


That’s all for now. Velocity testing will be next and this pistol is advertised to get about 360 f.p.s. with what I assume are steel BBs. Until then.

How accurate is a Beeman R7?

St, 06/28/2017 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report is a guest blog from reader Bob who has been a daily reader since 2011. He read my remarks about the accuracy of a Beeman R7 in a recent report and decided to see if they were correct. If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me. Take it away, Bob.

How accurate is a Beeman R7?
by Bob

This report covers:

  • BB’s challenge
  • Some research
  • I accept the challenge
  • My rifle
  • Result
  • BB responds

I am an enthusiastic shooter, and have been an enthusiastic reader of B.B.’s blog since 2011. Like many of us, I read (in no certain order) the morning news, email, and B.B.’s blog before my first cup of coffee. I’ve learned a lot from B.B. and readers’ comments.

BB’s challenge

B.B. recently reviewed the Diana 240 Classic rifle. He tested the rifle for accuracy, and after shooting ten Air Arms Falcon pellets into 0.865” at 25 yards he wrote, “I have shot several Beeman R7s over the years and I don’t think one of them ever shot better than this. If you are going to lecture me on the accuracy of an R7, please use 10-shot groups at 25 yards.”

Some research

I immediately re-read the four-part 2010 Beeman R7 report written by B.B. and his friend Mac. To put it mildly, accuracy was unimpressive in those reports, and B.B. suspected the scope was at fault. Testing ended after the fourth part, and was inconclusive.

I accept the challenge

While I have no desire to lecture, I saw an opportunity to contribute to the blog and its readers. How accurate is my R7, on a typical day, with me behind the trigger? Just a few hours after reading B.B.’s morning blog, I had my answer, and wrote this report to share with you.

My Beeman R7 is a vintage one that came with open sights.

My rifle

My rifle is far from new. It is a Santa Rosa-marked Beeman R7, in .177 caliber. I found it for sale on a used gun rack. It was tired and neglected, with scratched wood, surface rust and pitting, but it was treasure to me. I brought it home, cleaned it up, installed a Vortek kit, and mounted a Bug Buster 3-9 in two-piece BKL rings. The breech seal is original. I learned a lot shooting and working on this rifle, all the while reading B.B.’s blog and shooting many tins of pellets. This little rifle was my very first truly great air rifle, and is one of my favorites.

I put my target at a laser-measured 25 yards from the muzzle. I held the rifle with a modified artillery hold, and shot from a steady shooting bench. The wind was blowing lightly from behind me, and the sky overcast. Not optimal conditions, but real-world conditions.

I loaded pellets directly from the tin without inspecting them, and seated them with an Air Venturi Pellet Pen (a convenient little gadget). I usually shoot only JSB/Air Arms domed pellets, having found them accurate in my rifles, so I resolved to shoot just two ten-shot groups for this report, the first with Air Arms Diabolo Heavy 10.3 grain pellets, and the second with Air Arms Diabolo Field 8.4 grain pellets.

I had previously sighted my rifle to hit dead-on at 14 yards, to deal with a pigeon problem in a horse barn, so my pellets hit low at 25 yards for this test. I fired a few pellets to awaken the rifle (and me, too!) before shooting for score. While I was a little wobbly, there were no called fliers. I was satisfied that I had shot my best.


Ten Air Arms Diabolo Field Heavy 10.3 grain pellets went into 0.750 inches measured center-to-center, just slightly larger than a dime. The very first shot stood apart from the last nine. While not a called flier, I suspect it was the knucklehead behind the trigger that guided that first shot. The other nine pellets went into 0.660 inches.

With Air Arms heavy domes my R7 put 10 into 0.75-inches at 25 yards.

I next tried Air Arms Diabolo Field 8.4 grain domed pellets. Ten pellets also went into 0.750 inches.

With Air Arms light domes my R7 put 10 into 0.75-inches at 25 yards.

I am pleased with these results, as they accurately reflect the capability of my rifle and my shooting, from a steady rest, on an average day. Even more important, this test gives me opportunity to contribute to our blog, and to say thank you to B.B. and his readers.

BB responds

I thank Bob for accepting my challenge and showing us all what a vintage Beeman R7 can do. I stand corrected!

However, I would like to note that my dime is still way cooler than his!