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BSA Meteor Mark I: Part 3

Pá, 09/30/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


BSA Meteor Mark I.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Tune in a Tube
  • Baseline the Meteor
  • A second tune?
  • Disassembly
  • The compressor
  • What did I find?
  • The rest of the powerplant
  • Offset transfer port
  • The pivot point
  • What’s next?

Ho ho, hi ho; inside the gun we go! Today’s report brings a lot of topics together on one stage.

Tune in a Tube

One reason I’m doing this is because reader RidgeRunner has been touting Tune in a Tube — or at least I think he’s one. This is getting confusing, so please bear with me. Tune in a Tube is a tube of viscous grease that comes in an applicator that makes it easy to squirt the grease into the spring gun powerplant. It’s a type of lube tune that is simple and supposewd to be very easy to do. I want to find out if it’s a product that does what it says, because if it is there are quite a few spring guns that could benefit from it.


Tune in a Tube looks simple and straightforward. Let’s hope it works!

Baseline the Meteor

Before I start working on the Meteor Mark 1 though, I thought it would be nice to establish a baseline of performance. I’ve done some of that already. In Part 2 of this report I tested the velocity. We know my rifle is very powerful for a Meteor and that it is also very buzzy. We don’t know anything about the accuracy yet, but as I have said many times, a tune does not affect the accuracy. Maybe it makes a gun more pleasant to shoot, but that’s all.

Today we’ll have a look at the parts of the Mark 1 powerplant, so we know the condition of the gun before I apply the grease. After we look at them I will assemble the gun again and apply Tune in a Tube — following the directions to the letter. I have to tell you that I have already read them and they are both simple and straightforward. The manufacturer doesn’t make any outlandish claims. So far, I am impressed by the product.

Then I will test the rifle after Tune in a Tube has been applied and give you a complete report. Except for accuracy. I won’t test that just yet.

A second tune?

After that I may tear the rifle apart again, clean it and do a more thorough tune; one like I did for the other Meteor in that 9-part series. I must tell you that this Mark 1 is quite a bit different than that Mark IV Super Meteor. We may be comparing apples to oranges. I’l know more after we look inside this gun today.

So that’s the plan. At least to this point. Let’s get started. Oh, and I will be using the new Sun Optics mainspring compressor that I reviewed for you yesterday to take the gun apart. If there is anything noteworthy there, I will mention it.

Disassembly

Before I started I read Part 2 of the Mark IV report. That was most helpful! It cut the time to do the job to a minimum and also saved some embarrassing missteps. The Mark IV and Mark I are different in some ways, but they come apart the same way.

The first step was to install the barreled action in the mainspring compressor. That took 5 minutes of adjustments. Then I was ready to begin.

I will cut to the chase and tell you to read that Part 2 I just linked to, because everything I did to this rifle is in that report. It took me 15 minutes to completely disassemble the rifle — including photography! With this new mainspring compressor the job is a snap, though I will now note some things about the compressor.

The compressor

It would have been better to have been able to use the new pusher block that has the pin, because my plastic pusher block walked around the headstock cup a lot. Also, I do lament the lack of a locating bump in the center of the tailstock to anchor the muzzle. Other than that, the new compressor works beautifully. The bridge bolts work a lot better than the leather belt I have to use with my older B-Square compressor. I’m going to look for some plastic cap nuts for my bolts.

What did I find?

Can you say “dry as a bone?” And rusty! I don’t think this rifle has ever been apart. The mainspring appears to be a stock one and it’s still very straight. There is some wear on the coils from rubbing over the years, but overall it’s in fine condition.


The spring is straight and dry. The trigger parts are dry and gritty.

I was surprised to see that the construction methods of the Mark 1 piston, i.e. folded metal that’s welded top and bottom, are identical to the Mark IV Super Meteor piston I worked on. That one was just broken in several places from a lot of abuse. This one seems to be fine and intact, but dirty and rusty!


This is the top of the piston, where the seal attaches. The spot-weld is visible.


The bottom of the piston may or may not be welded. If it is, it’s a very precise spot-weld. It may just be punched into shape.


The piston body is rusty!

The piston seal is leather and did have a little oil in it when I took the gun apart. It needs a lot more and I think I will oil the rifle through the transfer port after the rifle is assembled — just as I would if I never took it apart.


The piston seal is leather and looks good. It has a little oil, but needs more. A good cleaning is also in store — but after the Tune in a Tube.


The piston head is keyed into the top of the piston. And that’s not an optical illusion. The piston top is really out of round. The head is larger than the piston and that’s all that’s necessary to keep the seal centered in the compression chamber. This is mid-century economical engineering at its best!

The rest of the powerplant

The trigger parts are dirty and gritty and desperately need a cleaning. The mating sear surfaces seem to be shaped well and they seem to be properly case-hardened. I can tell that because they are not overly worn from use. I will NOT stone them! Case-hardening is too easy to remove with a stone — I don’t care how careful you are. Besides — I already told you this trigger is very nice. I will lubricate it with some moly grease, and I’ll also oil all the pivots.

Offset transfer port

I peeked inside the compression chamber to confirm that the walls are smooth, which they are. I also wanted to make sure there wasn’t any excessive dirt or smashed pellets that dropped through the air transfer port. People will sometimes load a .22-caliber pellet rifle with .177 pellets and you’ll find them at the end of the compression chamber, smashed into a wad. Thankfully the chamber was clean and clear. But what’s this? The air transfer port isn’t in the center of the chamber!

I guess I never paid attention to the Mark IV, but the transfer port has to be offset to align with the rear of the barrel. According to airgun tuners, that lowers the rifle’s power potential just a little. Nothing to do about it — I’m just pointing it out.


From the front the offset transfer port is obvious.

The pivot point

Remember that I had to repair the barrel pivot joint on my Mark IV? Well, this one seems fine, even though it’s the same construction. It’s dry, so I will moly it after this first test. For now I’ll just oil it.


The pivot point is plain and has no washers. It needs some moly, but it seems tight. Look at that detent that has popped out!

What’s next?

The rifle is assembled just as it was before. I will oil the pistol seal and the pivot point, but the next big thing will be applying the Tune in an Tube. The next report will be immediately following that, and I will give you velocities to compare as well as my impressions of the smoothness of the shot cycle.

I will definitely tear this rifle down a second time, to clean out all the rust. Yes, I left it all in the gun, except for a little that flaked off when I touched the parts. It felt like fingernails scratching a chalkboard, putting those dirty, rusty parts back in the gun, but how else am I going to test Tune in a Tube fairly?

Mainspring compressor

Čt, 09/29/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


Mainspring compressor.

This report covers:

  • Can you make a mainspring compressor?
  • BSA Meteor
  • Description
  • Bridge
  • Headstock
  • Tailstock
  • Legs
  • General

Today I’m going to show you a mainspring compressor that I will use in tomorrow’s blog. I was asked this week by a new reader to show the tools needed to safely disassemble a spring-piston airgun. Here is the request.

Sir,
Great web sight!  As a “newbee” to air rifles, I find it a wealth of info!  Having a hard time trying to start a new post in the blog forum..  Specifically, I’m looking to find out if anyone makes proper tools for the correct disassembly of the Benjamin Trail NP XL 1500.. Looking for a proper end cap removal tool, and a spring compressor.  I was an armorer for years in LE, with an incredible amount of proper tools for “firearms”.  Just want to make sure that maybe there’s a place to purchase proper tools for air rifles out there.

Thanks…
samoneshotout

I didn’t answer him that gas springs, which the Crosman/Benjamin Nitrop Piston is, usually do not require mainspring compressors, because I knew this blog was forthcoming. I wanted to work it in, so I told him I would answer him in a blog later in the week.

The truth is, gas springs — and, yes, that is the correct generic name for all of them, be they Nitro Pistons, gas rams, gas struts or anything else — are usually under no preload when they are in the rifle. If there is any preload (spring under pressure when it is in the gun) the travel is no more than 1/2 inch or so. So usually you can just drift out the pin or remove the bolt that holds the end cap in the spring tube and the gas spring drops out as a unit. Don’t disassemble a gun unless you know for certain how it comes apart, but this is what you will usually find.

We are here today to learn about a mainspring compressor that can be used to disassemble almost any spring-piston airgun that has a conventional coiled steel mainspring. I have been using a compressor like this one for over a decade and in fact I helped with its development. This compressor was invented by B-Square, under the direction of the company owner, Dan Bechtel. I consulted with him during its development and the result was a tool that hundreds of airgunners now own. But to be honest, mainspring compressors are not very exciting, so airgunners tend not to buy them. They tell themselves that can make one if need be, and then I hear all the whining and crying when the day finally dawns that they really do need one.

Can you make a mainspring compressor?

Yes, you can make a mainspring compressor. In fact building a mainspring compressor is so easy that hundreds of them have been made by shooters over the years. Some guys have even made them for resale, but every one of those guys stopped when they discovered how poorly mainspring compressors sell. A mainspring compressor is like a good pair of pliers. When you need a pair almost nothing else will suffice, but when you don’t need them you never even think of them. No, I will go even farther. To a person about to disassemble a spring gun a mainspring compressor is like a bench vise. It is absolutely essential.

Don’t get me wrong — airguns can be disassembled without using a compressor. Some guns, like the Air Arms TX200 Mark III, are so easy to disassemble that a compressor is never used. But they are the exception. Most spring guns do require a compressor if you want to be safe and have no more than two hands.

BSA Meteor

Tomorrow I’m going to use this new compressor to disassemble my new BSA Meteor Mark I for you. This is so you can see what the innards look like before I start the Tune in a Tube test. That test will be followed by a real tune, so we can compare the results after each tune. If you want to know more about how a BSA Meteor comes apart, read the 9-part report.

Description

This new compressor is sold by Sun Optics. It is fully adjustable and is designed to disassemble the barreled actions of spring rifles and pistols that have been removed from the stock. The parts that contain the action (called the tailstock and the bridge) adjust up and down stainless steel tubes which is what all the holes are for. Sun Optics has even made some improvements over the compressor B-Square made. The B-Square compressor used steel conduit for the legs instead of tubing. The holes in the legs of the Sun Optics compressor are all chamfered for smoother adjustability. I noticed the difference right away.


The new stainless steel tubes (top) have chamferred adjustment holes. I had to grind the burrs around the holes on the old compressor myself (bottom).

Bridge

The bridge is the part of the compressor that keepss the spring tube from flexing to one side when the mainspring is no longer trapped. This flexing is the second biggest problem you’ll have when you disassemble spring guns. Controlling the end cap is the only task that’s more important.

The bridge has screws that adjust to center the spring tube in line with both the headstock and the tailstock. That gives you the most working room around the barreled action.

On the old compressor the bolts on the bridge were all left raw. I protect the finish of my guns by wrapping the gun’s spring tube with a heavy leather belt that the screws cannot scratch through. The new compressor has plastic tips on each of these screws.


The tips of all the bridge adjustment bolts have plastic caps. No more leather belt to keep from scratching the spring tube!

Headstock

One feature of the original compressor that made it the best on the market is the rotating headstock. It allows you to rotate the barreled action from side to side while still maintaining pressure on the end cap and therefore on the mainspring. This allows the positioning of the tube so pins can be aligned and/or drifted out. This is the key to the compressor, because many spring gun actions are held together by pins. The new compressor headstock rotates in the same way as the old one.

The new compressor headstock also has a hole in the center for a pin to a part the old compressor didn’t have. It’s a pusher block that’s used to disassemble certain spring gun actions, notably BSAs. Unfortunately this block is slightly too wide to fit inside my Meteor spring tube, so I will have to use the plastic pusher block I made when I disassembled my other Meteor. But if I owned this compressor I could easily shave the new block down to fit.

I will also have to enlarge the hole in the headstock, because the pin in the pusher block is too large to fit. It does fit the hole in the tailstock, but I don’t know anyone who would use it that way.


The headstock turns to allow access to different parts of the gun’s spring tube. This new headstock has a hole (arrow) for the pin of a new pusher block.


New aluminum pusher block comes with the new compressor. The pin at its base is too large to fit the hole in the headstock, so some drilling will be needed.

Tailstock

The tailstock is where the muzzle of the action rests. It adjusts along the two steel rods to fit the gun you are working on and give the headstock screw lots of room to travel. It also has a hole for the pusher block, though I cannot think of a reason to use it that way.

The new tailstock also lacks the raised bump the old tailstock had. That was inserted into the muzzle of the barrel, to keep it from walking when the action was under pressure.


The tailstock adjusts for the length of the gun. Hole is for the pusher block pin, but I don’t know how it would be used on the tailstock. Gone is the raised bump the old compressor had to keep the barrel from walking.

Legs

The new compressor can work like the old one, or you have the option of installing 4 longer bolts that also serve as legs. Two fit the headstock and two fit the tailstock. The compressor then stands up away from the work table. This gives even more access to the spring tube.


The longer bolts that serve as legs have been installed. See how they elevate the entire compressor?

General

The compressor comes with no instructions. Like a bench vise, you should know how to use it if you own it. That doesn’t mean you automatically have to know how to disassemble every spring gun mechanism. I doubt if anyone knows that. But spring guns belong to different groups that have similar features. With experience the worker learns what to do with any action to take it apart. The compressor is just a tool for a specific set of tasks within that body of work.

Is it “worth” it? This compressor retails for about $200. Is it worth the price? Pyramyd Air does not carry the compressor at this time, so you will have to go directly to Sun Optics. Pyramyd Air probably remembers how people complained about paying half the price of this one for the old compressor.

The thing is, if you work on a lot of spring guns a compressor of some sort is good to have. This is the best one I have seen, and I have seen dozens of different ones, besides designing and building one of my own that I documented in the R1 book.

For a few workers this compressor is worth the price. And you had better get one now, because who knows how long they will be available?

Tomorrow I’ll disassemble the BSA Meteor Mark I using this compressor. If anything stands out as I do that I will be sure to include it in the report for you.

Air Venturi Rockin’ Rat target: Part 1

St, 09/28/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


Rockin’ Rat.

This report covers:

  • Knocked down
  • Together in 3 minutes!
  • Instructions
  • Three minutes and done!
  • Now what?
  • Directions
  • Why the Rockin’ Rat?

Say hello to my little friend! I saw the Air Venturi Rockin’Rat target at the 2016 Pyramyd Air Cup and asked to have one sent for evaluation. This is the kind of product I would like to write about more, but how can I make a story out of it? This one looks so interesting that I’m going to try.

Knocked down

The target comes knocked down in a lithographed box. As a man, those words “some assembly required” started screaming in my head. That’s what took the fun out of many Christmas mornings for me when my family was young. Everybody else was passed out from their sugar comas, listening to carols, while I looked at sheets of papertelling me to “press tab A into flange B”. My most memorable moment was when I bought a youth bicycle wrapped in plastic shrink wrap, and all I had to do was straighten the handlebars and tighten one nut. Hurrah!

But the Rockin’ Rat is more complex than that. Today I’m going to fool with tabs, flanges and fasteners. The box weighs 3 pounds, so you just know there’s a hornet’s nest of parts inside!

Together in 3 minutes!

Oh, phooey! This thing is so easy to assemble that I had it completely together in less time than I’ve spent complaining about it. But I have a report to write, so I’m going to drag things out in excruciating detail. First the parts.


The parts. Not too many, but there’s that bag of fasteners that no man wants to see!

And of course there is a spanner for all the fasteners. Or, if you are an American, you can call it a wrench, because that’s what it really is. It’s thin and small and you think it can’t possibly do the job, but like I said — three minutes and the whole thing was together. The nuts have lockwashers on one side, so you tighten the bolts from the head side, which is the outside of the target.

Instructions

As a man I do not read instructions. Women don’t understand because they were never taught that in school. Some men missed that class, as well. They are the nerdy ones who always do things right the first time. How are they ever going to learn if they never make mistakes? As for me — I am a perpetual student! But the Rockin’ Rat is just too simple to fool anyone. Read the instructions and you’ll see.


This is not how to write instructions for anything that must be assembled! There are supposed to be three pages of gobbledygook words and weird names for all the parts. And there should also be a few fasteners missing! But when there are only 4 nuts and 4 bolts, it’s hard to be confusing. At least they called the wrench a spanner.

Three minutes and done!

I was all revved up to give you a long sob story about how difficult this assembly is, but I finished as soon as I started. It takes me almost as long to assemble a field-stripped Garand.

They even sent the crossbar with the nuts already in place. And their washers are attached to those nuts, so they cannot be misplaced. I don’t think the Air Venturi target designers went to design school. Either that or one of them is a former Ikea employee.


The nuts were already on the crossbar. Loosen the outer one (that contains the washer) and slip the bar into both sides of the target. This is really too simple.

And then the target was together! It was as if I was watching a television show about a guy assembling a car engine and they speeded up the film. Only it wasn’t speeded up and I was the one doing it. It just didn’t take long!


Like it or not, my Rockin’Rat was together in three minutes!

Now what?

I had hoped for a lengthy struggle with this target, so you could all praise me for hanging in there, but this was about as hard as closing a zipper! So, I thought I would take it out to its natural habitat and show you what it looks like.


Looking from the left front, you see how the target will rock when the face is hit.


This is how the target will appear to the shooter. The object is to hit either one of the yellow paddles.

When you see the target as it will be shot you see that when the paddles are hit they will move more than the rest of the target. But if the face of the target is hit (the body of the rat), the whole target will rock, alerting you to the miss. That may not seem like a big deal when the target is freshly painted like it is here, but after sebveral hundred pellet impacts, you will see why the Rockin’Rat is such a good idea. Anyone who has shot field target will get it straight away.

Directions

The directions for use are on the box. If you don’t understand how the target works by looking at it, they are just as straightforward as the assembly instructions.


If the target isn’t obvious, these instructions are on the box.

Why the Rocking’ Rat?

A lot of you tell me you would like to shoot field target. Well, the Rockin’Rat is a type of field target. But it’s one that doesn’t need to be reset after every hit. It takes care of itself by the way it works. You can set it out in the field and just shoot at it all day if you want to. There are no strings to break, no paddles to jam and you don’t even need to repaint it if you don’t want to. Just set it and forget it — except for shooting it, of course. This will be the best twenty bucks you ever spent on your hobby!

The instructions say to keep the guns you shoot at this target to under 22 foot-pounds. I’m going to revise that downward a bit. I’d keep them at 15 foot-pounds or less. More than that and the metal will bend with time.

I made this a Part 1 because I intend coming back and shooting this target for you. I know — it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!

Air Venturi Air Bolt: Part 3

Út, 09/27/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


Air Venturi Air Bolts turn a .50 caliber big bore into an air bow.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Broadhead performance
  • How fast do broadheads fly?
  • Can a broadhead be stopped?
  • How to load broadheads
  • Robin Hood!
  • What about the Wing Shot?
  • Wing Shot accuracy
  • Summary

This is a continuation of the report I started last week. Although it’s titled Part 3, think of it as Part 2, because I’m finishing things I didn’t tell you last week.

Broadhead performance

We looked at the performance of the Air Bolt from Air Venturi with target points. Now let’s see what they do with broadheads. Last week I showed you those lethal points that open as they penetrate the target. When I was researching this report I heard all sorts of claims for them. First, that they penetrate so deeply that no arrow stop in the world can stop one — they will pass right through. Also, they are heavier and will drop a couple inches more as they fly. Also, they are less accurate because they have those razor blades hanging out in the breeze as they fly. And finally they are so sharp that there is no way to attach them to an arrow without a wrench.

How fast do broadheads fly?

I did chronograph one broadhead immediately following a fill. Where the target points flew 492 f.p.s. from the Dragon Claw following a fill, a broadhead went out at 445 f.p.s. Yes, they do fly slower.

Can a broadhead be stopped?

This was the one that really scared me, because everyone I polled said the same thing — arrows tipped with broadheads cannot be stopped by an arrow stop. I told you last time that I bought the best stop the archery store had, but it was only rated for target points at 400 f.p.s. But we have already seen that is stopped target points flying a good deal faster than that. How would a broadhead do?


This is the arrow stop I used for this test. It has stopped hundreds of arrows so far and not one has passed through. All 6 sides are usable, and I imagine it’s good for several thousand shots.

Yes, a broadhead can be stopped by this bag. They do penetrate deeper but they are also easier to remove. I think the people telling me they can’t be stopped are using inferior bags.


The arrow on the left has the broadhead. It went much deeper than the arrows with the target points, but it was stopped and did come out of the bag easily.

Broadheads do drop a couple inches lower at 35 yards, but that’s because of their lower initial velocity. The little testing I’ve done shows them to be just as accurate as target points.

How to load broadheads

Loading broadheads from the muzzle is simple and safe. Just don’t attach them until after the bolt is loaded in the gun. They screw in, so after the bolt is in place, just screw one down into the tip. I wouldn’t say it is completely safe and a head wrench would be a good idea. I plan to get one! Buyt be careful and you’ll do fine. If you are accident prone, use a wrench at all times!


Here is an arrow with a target tip loaded. In place of the target tip, screw in a broadhead. Remove the knurled cap for more access.

Rossi Morreale, the host of American Airgunner, showed me a neat trick about loading. Remove the knurled muzzle cap and get more access for loading. That will really help with broadheads!

Okay, that’s it for the broadheads. Let’s look at some other things about the Air Bolt.

Robin Hood!

I loaned the target and my arrows to Rossi Morreale at the Texas Airgun Show, so he could sight in his rifle for a pig he was going to the next day. I don’t know how many arrows he shot, but one of them was a Robin Hood. Naturally it was Rossi who did it and not me. Still, it does demonstrate the inherent accuracy of the Air Bolt.


This arrow hit the base of another arrow, sliding the rubber o-ring of the first arrow all the way up the shaft of arrow number two! You can even see some of the base of the first arrow still caught under the o-ring. A perfect Robin Hood.

What about the Wing Shot?

In Part 1 I mentioned the Air Bolt also works in the Wing Shot air shotgun. So I also tried that. Since the wing Shot is a smoothbore, the Air Bolts go out even faster. Here are some shots wirh target points.

Shot…………………….Velocity
1………………………….520
2………………………….533
3………………………….584
4………………………….502

As you can see, the arrows do go faster from the Wing Shot, but there is also one less shot because the air reservoir is smaller. Still, no hunter should need more than 3 shots for one animal. But what about accuracy?

Wing Shot accuracy

Pyramyd Air tells me they are getting better accuracy at close ranges with the Wing Shot than with the Dragon Claw. But after 30 yards the Dragon Claw takes over.

The Wing Shot I was sent to test came without the dovetail base, so I wasn’t able to attach an optical sight. I could have removed the base from the Dragon Claw and probably made it work, but since I was still testing it, I left the Wing Shot without a rear sight. So I moved up to 25 yards and shot using the front bead, only.

The aluminum head of the Air Bolt does not fit into the muzzle of the Wing Shot, so I shot with it sticking out of the muzzle. Even then I was able to put four arrows into a handspan of about 5 inches at 25 yards.


The high arrow on the right was fired from 10 yards, to make sure the gun was on target. The 4 arrows below were shot on a fresh fill from 25 yards offhand with a monopod rest.

The arrows from the Wing Shot dropped a lot more than those shot from the Dragon Claw. An optical sight would correct that, plus tighten the group a lot!


The UTG Monopod made offhand shooting a breeze!

Summary

The Air Venturi Air Bolt has no competition in the world of air bows. For no additional expense your big bore rifle or shotgun is turned into an accurate arrow launcher that is currently the most powerful one on the market.

In all my testing that included hundreds of shots, I never lost an arrow. One arrow was fired into a railroad tie at 100 yards by another shooter at the Texas Airgun Show and could not be pulled out! Rossi’s Robin Hood destroyed a second arrow and I lost one while pulling it too aggressively from the target bag. But I saw where each and every arrow went.

Would I buy a set of Air Bolts? Certainly — if I wanted an air bow and also a big bore air rifle or shotgun. This is a combination that has no rival. As an air bow it cannot be beat!

Sheridan Supergrade: Part 1

Po, 09/26/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

Sheridan model A, also called the Supergrade.

This report covers:

  • What is a Supergrade?
  • First sight
  • Only .22 caliber airgun Sheridan made
  • My impressions before owning one
  • Materials
  • Must be cocked to accept a charge
  • Power and accuracy
  • I no longer own a Supergrade

For many years I lusted after the iconic Sheridan model A, which is known among airgunners as the Supergrade. It was the first Sheridan air rifle to be produced and production commenced in 1947 — the year of my birth.

What is a Supergrade?

I was unaware of the existence this fine multi-pump pneumatic at the time when it was being sold, which ran from 1948 until sometime in the middle 1950s. Production ended in 1953, but stores continued to sell guns until their stock ran out. Supergrades sold for $56.50 in 1948, when Winchester model 61 slide-action rifle were selling for $44.50. Today a 61 that’s excellent in the box will bring $1,800-2,500, and a Supergrade in the same shape brings even more. This is one air rifle that has appreciated in value. According to the book, <i>Know Your SHERIDAN Rifles & Pistols</i> by Ronald E. Elbe, 2130 model As were produced.

A Supergrade in working condition with some finish, and one that has not been hacked up in any way, will fetch $1,200-1,500 all day long. Unfortunately there are a lot of Supergrades that have been “customized” by former owners, and have been reduced to parts guns. Nobody wants a scope on a Supergrade!

I only became aware of the rifle in 1976, while serving with the Army in Germany. I bought volume 1 of Airgun Digest, by Robert Beeman, and my journey with the Supergrade began.

First sight

It wasn’t until my first airgun show in Winston-Salem in 1993 that I actually saw one up close for the first time. When I did, two different thoughts surfaced. First, the rifle is surprisingly small in person. It’s no larger than a Blue Streak. It’s bulkier, and the wood is shaped better, but the overall size of the rifle is about the same as a Blue Streak. However, the Supergrade is way beyond the Blue Streak in appearance. It has a real raised cheekpiece and all the wood is shaped better than the wood on the Blue and Silver Streaks. The rear sight was always a peep sight that sort of defines the airgun. And the large cast aluminum receiver really stands out from the gun, when contrasted with the Streak receiver that’s just s the pump tube.


Supergrade cheekpieces were raised.

The bolt handle is another place where the Supergrade stands apart from the Streaks. It is comparatively long and curved down, where the first Streak bolt were short and straight. Both of them operate the same though, cocking the rifle when lifted and pulled all the way back..


The receiver is a large part made from cast aluminum. Note the long bolt handle.

Only .22 caliber airgun Sheridan made

During the prototype period, the men who developed the Sheridan, E.H. Wackerhager and Rorert Kraus, used at least one .22 caliber barrel before standardizing on .20 caliber for the gun. There is at least one Supergrade in .22 caliber, if not more. There is no advantage to .22 caliber, but to a collector such a rifle would be quite valuable.

My impressions before owning one

You guys know how you build expectations of what an airgun will be like before you actually try one. That’s what I did with my Supergrade. As far as I was concerned, the Supergrade was the most fabulous airgun ever produced and nothing else could compare.

Sheridan used to show ads of their rifles penetrating up to one inch of wood with variable numbers of pump strokes, and at the time read those ads I was still shooting BB guns that bounced off any wooden surface. I was as yet unaware of the Supergrade model that was out of production by that time, so I assumed the ads referred to the Blue and Silver Streaks that were selling. No matter, though, because the Supergrade and Blue Streak are almost equal in power. If there is a slight edge it goes to the Supergrade, but the difference isn’t that great.

Materials

The Supergrade barrels and pump tubes were made from phosphor bronze, where the same parts in the Streaks were made from red brass. Knowing nothing about metallurgy, just the names of those two different metals make the Supergrade sound better. All Sheridan rifles had walnut stocks up to the end of production and sometimes the Streaks can have highly figured stock wood. I never saw a Supergrade whose stock had anything but plain grain, so this was the one area where the Streaks were actually better.

Must be cocked to accept a charge

One thing really surprised me when I finally got my Supergrade and that was the fact that it has to be cocked or the gun won’t accept a charge. This is not that unusual and simply relates to how the firing valve it set up to operate. It’s neither good nor bad — just different.

Power and accuracy

I know you want to know everything right now, and I’m going to give it all to you. Just not today. When I got my Supergrade all I had to go on was the writeup in Smith’s Gas, Air, and Spring guns of the World. Smith was able to get the Sheridan pellet up to 712 f.p.s. on 10 pump strokes. Well, the Sheridan pellet was all they had in .20 caliber in 1956 when Smith wrote his book and the “chronograph” he used for his test was a room full of electronic equipment that was run by a technician in the H.P. White Laboratories. A hundred-dollar chronograph today has much more computational power and precision than was in that entire room!

That peep sight gives the impression of extreme accuracy, and I will reveal in a future report what my tests showed. I envisioned that phosphor-bronze rifle barrel capable of infinite accuracy before testing one the first time. This should be a real eye-opener for you readers!

I no longer own a Supergrade

Alas, Edith and I fell on hard times when The Airgun Letter ended and we had to refund all those unfulfilled subscriptions. I had to generate some cash fast so I sold my Whiscombe, my R1 and my Supergrade. I have since bought back both the Whiscombe and the R1, but the Supergrade is still missing. So this repoort is based on the testing I did years ago.

However, there possibly might be a good substitute. A friend who is local just acquired a Supergrade and has asked me if I would like to test it. I jumped at the chance! He will evaluate his new rifle when it arrives and, if it is in good condition, I might actually be able to do an updated test for you. We shall see!

Crosman 600 air pistol: Part 3

Pá, 09/23/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


Crosman 600 CO2 pellet pistol.

A history of airguns

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • The test
  • First up — Crosman Premiers
  • Hobbys are next
  • Adjusted the sights
  • JSB Exact RS pellets
  • Where does that leave us?
  • Conclusion

Me shooting a Crosman 600 CO2 pellet pistol at the Pyramyd Air Cup. Photo courtesy of Bryan Lever.

Today is accuracy day for the Crosman 600 semiautomatic pellet pistol. Before I get to that, however, let me tell you about my experience with one at the Pyramyd Air Cup a few weeks ago. Bryan Lever brought one for me to try and we were virtually alone on the range while the competition was ongoing. We both got to shoot as much as we wanted.

Bryan’s 600 is much like mine except it had a knob on the safety switch that I had never seen before. It turns out this knob is supposed to be there, but it’s one of the first things to fall off. It does make operating the safety a lot easier because you can both feel and see where it is.


Sorry about the poor quality but this is an enlargement of an image off the web. That button is small and is missing on most of the 600s out there.

Bryan’s pistol performed much like the one I am testing for you. We got 3 magazines of 10 rounds each, but the final few shots were very weak. So it really got about the same 25 shots per CO2 cartridge that I’m saying mine gets. His gun was shooting very high at 15 yards, but we held off the spinners and managed to connect. That led me to wonder where my sights would be in today’s test. Let’s see.

The test

I shot from 10 meters with the pistol rested across a sandbag. Since the 600 is a gas gun, there is little recoil and vibration, so resting on a bag will work.

I shot 5 shots per target at first, hoping to find one or more pellets to test further. I had no idea of what to expect, as far as accuracy was concerned, because the 600 pistol varies so much from gun to gun.

First up — Crosman Premiers

The first pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier. In the 600’s day we shot the “flying ashcan” pellets that Crosman made, and I have always tried Premiers in every vintage Crosman gun that I test. With some airgun makers it isn’t as important to match the gun with the maker’s pellets, but with Crosman I’ve found it a good place to start.


Two oxidized Crosman “flying ashcan” pellets on the left and Premier pellets on the right.

The target shows 5 pellets in 1.632-inches at 10 meters. Three of the shots are clustered in a tight 0.396-inch group, but I don’t attach much value to it. It just shows why 5 shots are more realistic than 3.


Five Crosman Premier pellets went into 1.632-inches at 10 meters. I don’t think I will try these again in this pistol.

Hobbys are next

Next up were RWS Hobby pellets. When I saw that 5 of them went into 0.636-inches at 10 meters, I knew this was the pellet for this gun. I would return and try 10 of them.


Five RWS Hobby pellets made this 0.636-inch group at 10 meters. This is the pellet to beat!

Adjusted the sights

You have noticed that the pellets are hitting the target low and to the right. My aim point is 6 o’clock on the black bull, but I want the pellets to climb into the center of the bull. So I adjusted the sights. A small flat-blade screwdriver is all it took. Remember to move the rear sight in the same direction you want the pellet to move. I didn’t know how far to move the notch, so I guessed.

JSB Exact RS pellets

Next up were JSB Exact RS pellets. These showed such promise during the velocity test, but alas, they are not that accurate in this pistol. Five of them grouped in 1.583-inches at 10 meters. The only good thing was my sight adjustments appear to have been about right. But the pellets are not worth pursuing.


Five JSB Exact RS pellets went into 1.583-inches at 10 meters. Not the pellet for this pistol.

Where does that leave us?

At this point we have to ask whether this 600 is accurate or not. If it is not accurate you can always put a different barrel on it, though it’s not exactly a simple thing to do. But the machining isn’t too challenging, so you can end up with a gun that’s accurate and smooth-shooting, if that’s what you want.

For me, though, the Hobby group of 5 is enticing enough to try a 10-shot group — just to see what I get. So, that’s what I did. Now that the sights have been adjusted the pellets hit higher on the target. Nine of them landed in a 1.294-inch group, but a lone stray landed off to the left, opening the group to 1.515-inches between centers. Given that I was shooting all of this with my bad right eye, I am satisfied with the accuracy the way it is.


Ten RWS Hobby pellets made a 1.515-inch group, with 9 pellets going into 1.294-inches. This will do for me.

Conclusion

The Crosman 600 semiautomatic pellet pistol is an all-time classic. It is one of the few truly semiautomatic pistols that are not blowback, and it features an exceptional trigger. The sights are adjustable and the gun can be very reasonably accurate with the right pellets.

The grip is form-fitted to your hand and allows the pistol to be pointed as naturally as a Luger. The pellet feeding of my personal test pistol is flawless.

Like the other classic airguns, the 600 is a pistol you should try to experience, if not own.

Why can’t I shoot better ?

Čt, 09/22/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Why can’t I shoot better?
  • B-I-L speaks
  • Plateaus
  • What could make me advance?
  • Better equipment?
  • The end

This is a question I am asked from time to time. Why can’t I shoot better? Recently several readers asked the question and my brother-in-law, Bob, asked it privately. I told everyone I would address this issue, and today is the day.

Why can’t I shoot better?

This is a question that’s not unlike the one we all asked as children, namely “ Why can’t I grow any taller?” Of course today you recognize that you were growing all the time, but the progress was so slow it was impossible to see. Someone, probably your mom, may have marked your height from time to time with a pencil mark on the woodwork of a door frame. As a kid you didn’t think too much about that process, but as time passed you had to admit the marks kept going up.

Now you’re an adult and you’re in the same position with your shooting, only mom can’t help. Your progress isn’t measured by marks on a wall, but by scores in a record book. That’s assuming you keep records. If you don’t keep records you will never be able to see progress. I would guess that most of you asking this question don’t keep records. You remember your scores. The problem with that is your remembery isn’t as good as you think it is. Most of ours isn’t. Either we only remember the best things, like Pollyanna, or we remember the worst — like most of the rest of us.

Until you keep accurate records you will never know if you are getting any better. In fact, keeping records tells you what you must do to get better, as in, “I have shot 514 and 519 out of 600 in the last two matches, but today I shot a 528! If I keep that up, my average is going to increase.”

I can talk to a serious 10-meter pistol competitor and ask how well he shoots and his answer goes like this, “Well, I’m averaging 8.9 points a shot in practice, which is a 534 (600 possible points for a men’s match), but in competition my average drops to 8.7 points (522/600). I need to work on my concentration during the matches.”

If I ask a non-competitor how well he shoots he might say, “I’m pretty good. I keep them all in the black most of the time and I get at least five 10s in every match.” In other words, he hasn’t got a clue how well he shoots.

Now, before I get a lot of comments about how you only shoot for enjoyment and your score is incidental, please remember the title of this report. If you really want to shoot better you have to know how well you shoot now. Otherwise the title would be How to enjoy yourself while shooting. I’m talking to the guys who think there is a cap to how far they can improve as a shooter. I’m telling them there isn’t — at least not a cap they will ever reach.

B-I-L speaks

My brother-in-law, Bob said this about his shooting, “The great golfer, Lee Trevino, as a teenager, used to gamble with other golfers by using a Dr. Pepper glass bottle and broomstick as a “club” and usually won the bet. He was a “natural” and played well no matter what equipment he used.” Bob was lamenting his seeming lack of progress in the field of shooting.

I will admit there are natural talents in every field of endeavor, including shooting. I’ve told you guys how Crystal Ackley outshot a national airgun silhouette champion with his own rifle on American Airgunner in the first season. Viewers never saw it because it was edited out. She also outshot me with a pistol, and I think that did make it to the air (naturally). Guys — I’m pretty good with a pistol. She did it while I was supposed to be teaching her how to shoot! Talk about an ungrateful student!

Seriously, it’s better to have talent for something than to not. But just because you don’t have a lot of talent does not mean you can’t practice until you are very good — even great! I used to “coach” a man who lived several states away in 10-meter pistol. He had a hard time breaking 400 out of 600 when we started. Within a year he was averaging over 500 out of 600, but then things slowed down. It took him another year to get up to a 530 point average. That’s 100 points advancement in the first year and 30 points in the second. What does that mean for his future?

Plateaus

The stopping places along the road to improvement are called plateaus. How long we remain at one depends on many things, but the principal blame always comes back to us. Let me tell you about one of mine to illustrate.

I was competing in national matches run by the NRA many years ago and my average was creeping up steadily. I went from an average 505 points per match when I started to an average 534 points per match in about a year of competition.

I stayed at that average for more than a year. That was my plateau. Then something happened during training. I discovered what the experts mean when they say the front sight is the most important thing in sighting, and I learned how to focus on it. When I got that lesson internalized, my average practice score jumped over 540, with 545 being my all-time high in practice. I was one of those people who do as well in matches as they do in practice, so I looked forward to advancing from the top of the Sharpshooter class (85.0 to 89.99 points out of 100 possible, which is 510 to 539.94 points out of a possible 600) to Expert (90 to 94.99 points out of 100 possible). That 540/600 would have bumped me up to the bottom of the Expert class.

But things in my personal life arose at that time and I stopped competing rather suddenly. So I never made it to the Expert class. But I was about to! In all it took me about three years of shooting to go from novice to that level.

What could make me advance?

This question always arises. Can anything help me advance, when I reach a plateau? Do I have to remain where I am or is there a way to break through? I always thought a better target pistol would have added some points to my score. But I knew there were shooters with pistols even cruder than mine who were out-shooting me. So in reality, the pistol was not the problem.

More dry-firing was what pushed me into the next class — or would have, if I had continued to compete. I was spending an hour each day dry-firing at a target. Top competitors spend up to five times that long, from what I have learned. It was during a dry-fire session that I discovered the importance of the front sight.

Better equipment?

Does better equipment really help? Part of what started this discussion among you readers was that whomptydoodle rifle Al Otter shot at the Pyramyd Air Cup a few weeks ago (see it in the Pyramyd Air Cup report Part 1). Several readers asked if Al won the match. No, he didn’t. I shot with Al for several years at the DIFTA field target club in Maryland and we were about equivalent, with him having a slight edge over me. Today I’m sure he is better, not because of his equipment but because of all the shooting he does.

Al and I both shot with another guy who was famous for spending a fortune buying the latest and greatest equipment. At one time I think he owned 5 field target rifles worth over $2,000 each. And that was back in the late ‘90s. He had the best stuff, but his scores were always in the middle of the pack.

Another guy who shot with us only owned one rifle — an HW77K with a 6-power scope. That guy usually placed in the top 3 spots and nearly always won the spring gun honors. Oh, did I mention that he only shot offhand? I have seen him hit 4 for 4 one-inch kill zones at 50 yards — OFFHAND!

The end

You can pursue the latest fads if you want, but don’t expect them to make you a better shooter. I will close with a joke I heard back in the 1960s. A tourist in New York City needed directions to a concert for which he had tickets. So he asked a beatnik who was playing bongos on a subway landing, “Can you please tell me how to get to Carnagie Hall?”

The beatnik responded, “Practice man. Practice.”

Air Venturi Air Bolt: Part 2

St, 09/21/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


Air Venturi Air Bolts turn a .50 caliber big bore into an air bow.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Power!
  • Broadheads
  • Velocity
  • Accuracy
  • Penetration
  • More to come

Today we take our second look at the Air Bolt from Air Venturi. I may not have written much about it, but I have been demonstrating it to the public and shooting it much more, since the last report. Today’s look will be comprehensive, because I’m writing a feature article for Firearm News. This will be the material gathered from that testing.

Go back and read Part 1 to learn more about the Air Bolt. It’s an air bow system that you can own without buying a separate arrow launcher. If you already own certain .50 caliber big bores like the Sam Yang Dragon Claw 500cc rifle and the Wing Shot air shotgun, all you need are the arrows, or bolts as they are properly called. Instead of spending $900, you spend $120 for 6 bolts and you’re in business. And that’s not all!

Power!

The Air Bolt is powerful! Where a Benjamin Pioneer air bow launches a 375-grain arrow at up to 450 f.p.s., the Air Bolt pushes a 430-grain bolt at 500 f.p.s. Not that you need that much power, because the Pioneer is already much more powerful than any crossbow commonly available. The best crossbows are topping out at around 425 f.p.s. with lighter bolts, so either of these air bows trump them right now. But the Air Bolt is fastest and is even more powerful than the Pioneer, which means flatter shooting over longer distance.

I’m not going to just quote numbers from a website. I have actual data to show. First, let’s look at the weight of the bolt with a standard target tip.


An Air Bolt with a target tip weighs 429.9 grains. That’s pretty close to 430!

Broadheads

But wait, say the archers. These are target tips that aren’t meant for game. Won’t a hunting broadhead add a lot more weight to the bolt?

Actually, no. I bought 4 broadheads to test on the bolts and they weigh 100 grains, nominally. They have mechanical blades that are pointed forward and open as the arrow penetrates the target. That allows them to partially fit in the muzzle of the rifle. They cut a swath 1.5 inches wide as they penetrate, creating huge blood loss. Best of all, they weigh just a couple grains more than the target points.


An Air Bolt with a broadhead weighs just 3 grains more than a target tip!

I bought Matthews Grim Reaper broadheads, and a pack of 4 was just $30. These are vicious tips that fly with their blades folded forward and open like switchblades when they contact the target. They cut in 3 directions with razor-sharp blades that you had best respect when loading! Remember — the Air Bolt is loaded from the muzzle! I will discuss loading the broadheads later.


These broadhead points have 3 razor-sharp blades pointed forward that fold out and back when the arrow penetrates a target. They cut a swath 1.5 inches wide for maximum blood loss.


Ouch! Three razor-sharp blades deploy as the broadhead penetrates the target.

Velocity

Let’s get serious. You know how much the arrows weigh, now let’s look at velocity when fired on high power, which is the Dragon Claw bolt pulled all the way back. This first string is fired with all target tips, from a fill to 3000 psi.

Shot…………………………..Velocity (f.p.s.)
1……………………………………492
2……………………………………465
3……………………………………474
4……………………………………482
5……………………………………467
6……………………………………479
7……………………………………454

I stopped after the seventh shot — not because the velocity was too low but because I wanted to test other things. However, in the field I would limit my shots to 5 per fill, just to be safe. This is still a big bore air rifle and even though it does get a lot of shots per fill there is no reason top abuse that. It affects accuracy, as I will now show.

I refilled the rifle to shoot again and noted that 7 shots had dropped the reservoir pressure from 3,000 psi to about 2,300 psi. That is a rough estimate because the day was so bright that reading the gauge was difficult.

Accuracy

I shot at 35 yards using the red dot sight that is sighted-in. I sighted-in at 25 yards, so I know the arrow will drop about 6 inches in the additional 10 yards. It becomes a simple task to aim over the desired point of impact. Let me show you.


First shot from 35 yards using the top of the dartboard (at the number 20) as the aim point.

As you see, the first shot hit close to the center of the target. But what is just as important is where shot number 2 hits. Let’s see.


Shot number 2 from 35 yards using the same aim point landed less than an inch from shot one.

Now we see that the first two shots hit pretty close to each other. So I continued shooting.


Shot number 3 was close to the first 2, then the group started opening. Shot number 5 is the one that’s up and to the right. The first 4 would have all struck the heart/lung area of a deer. The first three would have gone almost exactly where they were aimed.

Penetration

Here is something I have heard from a lot of air bow users. The arrows penetrate the targets so deep that they get ruined upon extraction. And when I used an excelsior bale to stop a Stealth arrow launcher, that was true. I have seen those flimsy 12-inch thick arrow bags that are built for sub-300 f.p.s. bows that don’t work, either.

But I bought the baddest arrow stop my local archery store had. It’s a 19-inch cube that’s rated to stop arrows going 400 f.p.s. It was only $71, and because I am going to be testing other air bows in the future, it was a business expense.

My arrow stop stops the Air Bolts with target points in about 13 inches of penetration. Let’s look.


I grabbed the arrow where it stuck out of the bag and pulled it straight out. What’s in front of my hand is how much arrow was in the bag.

More to come

I’m going to stop her, but there is a lot more to come. I’ll show you the performance of the broadhead in the bag, plus give you its velocity. I’ll talk about some practical issues of owning and using air bows. I’ll also tell you about the benefits and drawbacks of owning a crossbow. And I will try to address any questions you may have in the interim.

Hatsan Gladius .177 long: Part 6

Út, 09/20/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5


Hatsan Gladius Long.

This report covers:

  • Big lesson!
  • Rings report
  • The test
  • Scope report
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Air Arms Falcon
  • H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm heads
  • H&N Field Target Trophy pellets with 4.50mm heads
  • Summary

Today is the final report on the Hatsan Gladius long air rifle. It is also an interim report on the UTG G4 8-32X56mm scope with that special illuminated half-mil dot reticle. And, by extension, I will be reporting on the new UTG POI rings, though it is difficult to make much of a report on rings. If they do their job they should be almost unnoticeable.

Big lesson!

There are three fundamental truths about airguns that I try to stress whenever possible. First — that a better trigger does not affect accuracy. Second — that a tuneup does not affect accuracy. And the third one is seen today — namely that a more powerful scope does not affect accuracy. We shall see.

Rings report

It was back to the 50-yard range for the Gladius. I knew that H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 4.50mm heads were the best pellets tested so far, so today I threw in some new pellets — just to see if I could find something even better. When I mounted the new scope last week I got the rifle sighted-in at 25 yards, but I didn’t shoot any groups at that distance. All my time was taken up evaluating the new UTG POI rings, which performed as advertised. In fact, let’s address them right now.

I have just one thing to add to what I have already said about these rings. Because they are held to such tight tolerances, they are not the rings to use when you want to shim! If your rifle has a droop problem, find another way to solve it besides shims if you are using these rings. These rings fit the scope tube so snug that shims would just defeat all that the rings provide. The entire base to which the rings attach needs to slope downwards, rather than doing anything odd like shimming one of these rings. They are so tight that they could easily bend the scope tube if they are not installed correctly.

The test

I shot from a bench at a target 50 yards away. The rifle’s power was set to 4, which you can look up in Part 2, if you are curious. That is a relatively high setting. The range is 1-6.

Scope report

I arrived at the range a full hour before sunrise, so the stars were out when I set up. By the time everything was ready to go there were still 30 minutes before sunrise. This is where that illuminated dot reticle comes in so very handy. I discovered that while it is barely visible in daylight, at night that dot is quite bright. I used the buttons to select an intensity of the green dot (the most visible to my eye) three steps down from the brightest. At that setting, the dot didn’t cover much of the bullseye — perhaps 1/8-inch at 50 yards.

This feature allowed me to start shooting 30 minutes before sunrise. Any illuminated scope will give you a head start on the day, but this tiny dot is probably the best one to get started the earliest. So in my estimation, that dot works as advertised.

JSB Exact RS

For some reason I didn’t start the test with the proven pellet. I knew the rifle was sighted-in for 25 yards, so I started the test with JSB Exact RS pellets. The first pellet landed very low on the target and somewhat to the left. I corrected with the elevation and windage knobs and fired shots number two and three. They didn’t move as much as anticipated so I cranked in a lot of up and right. Shot number 4 hit just outside the bullseye at 3:30, which I figured was good enough. So I left that adjustment where it was and fired 9 more rounds.

The other 9 shots went even higher on target, giving me a 10-shot group that measured 2.376-inches between centers, with 9 of the shots shots measuring 1.548-inches. If the 9 shots had been tighter I would gave tried a second group, but the RS doesn’t look like the right pellet for the Gladius.


JSB Exact RS pellets grouped 10 in 2.376-inches and 9 in 1.548-inches at 50 yards. This is not the pellet for the Gladius.

Air Arms Falcon

Next I tried the Air Arms Falcon pellet with the 4.52mm head. Although these are light for the powerful Gladius, they sometimes do surprise me. That was one of those times. Ten Falcons landed in 1.243-inches at 50 yards. This was so impressive that I tried a second group.


Falcon pellets did well, at 50 yards. Ten in 1.243-inches. Looks like 8, doesn’t it?

The second group of Falcons measured 1.615-inches between centers, with 9 of them measuring 1.213-inches. They are very good in this rifle.


The second group of Falcons measures 1.615-inches, with 9 in 1.213-inches.

H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm heads

The H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 4.50mm heads were the best pellet to this point in my testing. The best 10-shot group at 50 yards I got in Part 4 was 1.148-inches across. On this day 10 of the same pellets went into 0.981-inches. That’s better, but still in line with what I got in the last test when the UTG 10-50 sniper scope was installed. It iwas the single best group of the test.


Ten Baracuda Match went into 0.981-inches at 50 yards.

So, the Baracuda Match with the 4.50mm heads are still the best pellets, but the Falcons look like they would be worth further exploration, if I owned this rifle.

H&N Field Target Trophy pellets with 4.50mm heads

Everyone keeps telling me that H&N Field Target Trophy pellets are good, though they have never shot well for me. I thought I would give them a chance in the Gladius. These are the ones with 4.50mm heads. Ten of them made a 2.503-inch group at 50 yards, so they aren’t for this Gladius.


Ten FTT pellets went into 2.503-inches at 50 yards.

Summary

Today’s test revealed how nice the new UTG G4 8-32 power scope is. But even all that additional power didn’t make the Hatsan Gladius any more accurate at 50 yards. I think that is the point to remember.

This is the last time I will test the Gladius. We now have a very good picture of what this PCP rifle is like and what it can do. I will continue to evaluate both the G4 scope and the POI rings on other guns.

BSA Meteor Mark I: Part 2

Po, 09/19/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


BSA Meteor Mark I.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Scope base
  • Breech lockup
  • Spend the money!
  • Velocity
  • Hobbys
  • RWS Superpoint
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Conclusions

I learned a lot from the comments to Part 1 of this report. Apparently a lot of readers are fascinated by the BSA scope that came as an option. I was asked several questions about how it mounts to the rifle, so let’s start today by looking at that.

Scope base

BSA cut two large dovetails into the spring tube. Then they pressed two steel inserts into these dovetails to create two hard mounting points for the scope ‘rings.’ I put quotes about the word rings because they aren’t rings at all. They are built right into the plastic scope body and as such they cannot be moved. Neither can the scope base oj the rifle be moved. So BSA gives you three holes to adjust the scope’s eye relief.


Two wide dovetails have been cut into the top of the spring tube, and hard steel inserts have been pressed into each cut. This forms a hard and immobile place for the scope mount to clamp to.


The scope doesn’t have rings. The mount is molded into the plastic body. Three holes allow some movement fore and aft for best eye relief. Pardon all the dust. I brushed the mount before taking the picture, but the plastic attracts and retains dirt.


Although the scope body is plastic, the clamp has steel inserts where it matters. These clamp onto the plates in the dovetails on top of the spring tube.

Breech lockup

The other point that reader GunFun1 asked was about the breech lockup. Though the Meteor barrel opens without a slap on the muzzle, the breech locks up tight like a bank vault. This is something modern airgun designers need to study, to learn how BSA does it. I’m showing you what the breech looks like, but the secret is in the strength of the detent spring. They didn’t overdo it.


Nothing special about the breech detent, other than the spring isn’t too strong.


This is where the breech goes when the barrel closes. The shiny steel pin holds the detent (and the barrel) in place.

Spend the money!

One final remark — and this is for an airgun engineer who is currently developing s new breakbarrel. This Meteor has a pivot pin, rather than a bolt that can be tightened. As a result, the breech gets loose with use. This is a common fault of the Meteor. You fix it by crushing the action forks in a vise and hammering the vise to brinnel the forks togethyer tighter. Don’t try this at home unless you are a carrfull worker!

My point is that pivot pins DO NOT WORK on breakbarrels! They always loosen up and accuracy goes out the window. I’m stressing this for the sake of the engineer who has to sell it to a budget oversight review board. Sure, putting a bolt there means greater expense (the bolt costs more, plus the action forks have to be machined to receive it), but SPEND THE MONEY! This is a fatal flaw in some breakbarrels, and yes, I am thinking of some popular models that almost made it but fell short. Their designers haven’t got a clue why that is, but I just told you.

Velocity

Okay, enough talk. Today is velocity day. Let’s see what this baby can do!

Hobbys

This rifle is a .22, so RWS Hobbys weigh 11.9 grains. I expected something in the low 500s and was pleasantly surprised by an average of 615 f.p.s. Reader Dom said to expect 8 foot-pounds, but at this average Hobbys produce 10 foot-pounds on the nose. This rifle is doing very well.

The low was 600 and the high was 624 f.p.s., so a spread of 24 f.p.s. The rifle shoots with a lot of buzz, which I think I will address down the road.

RWS Superpoint

Dom also said RWS Superpoints are a good accurate pellet for a Meteor, so I tested them next. They averaged 547 f.p.s. in my Meteor with a low of 532 and a high of 559 f.p.s. At the average velocity Superpoints averaged 9.57 foot-pounds at the muzzle. The spread was 27 f.p.s.

JSB Exact RS

The last pellet I chronographed was the JSB Exact RS dome. They averaged 565 f.p.s. with a low of 558 and a high of 572. So a total sprtead of 14 f.p.s. At the average velocity RS pellets produced 9.52 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Conclusions

I have a Mark I Meteor in very good firing condition. I don’t care for the buzzing, but the power is where it should be. To my great surprise, it’s more powerful than the Diana model 27 I’m always touting.

The rifle cocks easily, shoots well and has a tight breech lockup. This one may become a permanent part of my collection. It hinges on the accuracy.

Sheridan Blue Streak: Part 3

Pá, 09/16/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns


My Sheridan Blue Streak was purchased new in 1978.

This report covers:

  • Where are we?
  • A local repair
  • Test 1
  • Test 2
  • Test 3
  • Break-in required?
  • Test 4
  • Pump effort
  • Time to move on
Where are we?

This test was halted after Part 2, when it became obvious that my Blue Streak was in need of a rebuild. So I prepared to send it off after the Texas Airgun Show. But, while meeting with the people at the Arlington Sportsman Club where the show was held, Jeff Cloud told me he was repairing multi pumps and asked me if I wanted him to have a go at mine.

A local repair

I was going to ship it to Rick Willnecker in Pennsylvania, but Jeff seemed confident and I told him all I wanted was to bring it back to spec — no hot-rodding. I gave him the rifle at the show on August 27 and got it back when I returned from the Pyramyd Air Cup.

Test 1

Today will therefore be the actual velocity test of the rifle. I will start with Crosman Premiers that I used as my standard pellet before the powerplant was rebuilt. Let’s look at what the rifle will do from 3 pumps to 9.

Pumps……………….Velocity (f.p.s.)
3…………………………373
4…………………………447
5…………………………482
6…………………………527
7…………………………570
8…………………………582
9…………………………609 (air left over)

This is a lot faster than the rifle was before the rebuild. It maxed out at 480 f.p.s. on 7 pumps. Jeff said the seals looked hard and old, but he noted the rifle had never been taken apart. So this boost in velocity is more than 100 f.p.s. with the new seals. But there is more.

Test 2

For the second test I pumped the rifle 5 times and fired a string of 5 shots. Let’s look at those velocities.

Shot………………….Velocity (f.p.s.)
1…………………………468
2…………………………502
3…………………………515
4…………………………541
5…………………………533

The gun is gaining power as it is shot. I think what’s happening is the new pump seal is warming up as I shoot, and it’s sealing the compression chamber better and better. The average for this string was 512 f.p.s., but if I continued to shoot, all shots on 5 pumps would be faster than that.

Test 3

This made me curious about the average, now that the gun was warm. So I fired a second string of 5 shots, again with 5 pumps per shot. Here is what that looked like.

Shot………………….Velocity (f.p.s.)
1…………………………530
2…………………………543
3…………………………546
4…………………………549
5…………………………546

This time the average was 543 f.p.s. for the 5 shots. I think the gun is warmed up as far as it will go, so I want to bear this in mind when I shoot for accuracy. Better that I warm up the powerplant and get stable so all the shots are as close as they can be.

Break in required?

I don’t have much experience with refurbished Blue Streaks, so I’m unable to ansswer whether a break-in period is needed. I’m going to assume the gun will continue to perform as it has here.

Test 4

I’m not going to shoot all the vintage pellets I shot in Part 2, because I know the velocity will be higher for them than it was before the rebuild. But I will test the Sheridan cylindrical pellet, just like I tested the Premier pellets in the beginning.

Pumps……………….Velocity (f.p.s.)
3…………………………451
4…………………………506
5…………………………552
6…………………………568
7…………………………610
8…………………………614

Pump effort

I am recording the effort required to operate the pump arm for each pump from 3 through 8. I do this by placing the end of the pump arm on a bathroom scale and pressing down until the arm closes.

Pumps……………….Effort (lbs.)
3…………………………30
4…………………………32
5…………………………35
6…………………………35
7…………………………37
8…………………………37

This is the new baseline for my Blue Streak. In the future these are the numbers I will compare to.

Time to move on

I must thank Jeff Cloud for doing a wonderful job on my rifle. It looks just like it always did and now it shoots like it did when it was new. Now that the rifle is shooting like it’s supposed to, I can move on to the accuracy test.

Hatsan Gladius .177 long: Part 5

Čt, 09/15/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


Hatsan Gladius Long.

  • Back to the Hatsan Gladius
  • POI rings
  • Ring fit
  • Assessment of the POI rings
  • My new glasses
  • The scope
  • Sight-in
Back to the Hatsan Gladius

Today I revisit the .177-caliber Hatsan Gladius long that we have looked at 4 times already. I’m going to use this rifle to mount the new UTG G4 8-32X56 scope in those special UTG POI rings. This report will focus more on mounting the new rings and scope and sighting-in at 25 yards. There will be an additional report with this setup on the 50-yard range.

POI rings

The POI rings I am installing are medium height, which would be a problem because of the large scope objective bell, if not for the riser base in the Galdius. It seems perfect for these rings. I will show you after the scope is installed.


The jaw moves in and out on two spring-loaded guide pins. The movement is smooth and sure!

The Hatsan scope base accommodates both Weaver and 11mm dovetail mounts, but there is a problem. The cross slots for the Weaver stop blocks aren’t cut deeply enough in the Hatsan base to allow Weaver mounts to attach — at least not these POI rings. So in the end I had to install the UTG Weaver to 11 mm adaptors to get these rings on the rifle.


The UTG Weaver to 11mm adaptors came to the rescue once again. I didn’t need the scope stop screw shown here.


The POI ring with adaptor installed fit the Gladius scope base well. The cross notches in that base are too shallow for traditional Weaver mounts.

The other problem is the Gladius is a bullpup configuration that puts your sighing eye next to the scope. So the rear scope ring has to be positioned far forward for eye relief. Fortunately the Gladius base is long enough to permit that. In fact, the scope has to be positioned WAY forward, with the rear ring in the center of the scope base on the rifle.

Ring fit

The ring jaws are guided by two spring-loaded pins, so the jaw moves in and out, parallel to the ring base. There is no chance for cocking or tilting. And it fastens tight to the base with just a quarter turn of the Torx screw.

And when the scope is laid in the rings before the caps are installed, it just stays put. It is an exact fit. There is no slipping around in any direction.


Even though it is a bullpup style rifle, the Gladius is large. But the new G4 scope is large, as well. This picture shows them together. Notice that the tall Hatsan scope base eliminates the need for high scope rings.

Assessment of the POI rings

I am impressed with the fit of the POI rings. They seem to be everything they promise to be. The fit of everything is precise and tight without binding. I can see the quality we talked about. It’s difficult to rave about scope rings — they are like shoelaces. But everything UTG promises about these rings has come true during the installation.

My new glasses

Now I’ll talk about the scope. But first a word about my new glasses. They do improve my vision, but not to 100 percent. I’m not used to having poor vision in one eye, so I’m still off-balance with these glasses, but they will allow me to shoot again. The reticle appears bent and wavy like it did before, only now the image is much clearer. The bent and wavy lines are due to my retina not being perfectly smooth, and that will be with me for the rest of my life.

The scope

Once the scope was mounted I looked through and found the eyepiece needed serious adjustment. The reticle lines in the G4 scope are very fine in the center of your view and coarse around the edges. The coarse lines direct your view toward the fine center lines. When I was able to see the 1/2 mil dot at the center of the reticle, the eyepiece was adjusted. Then I fooled with the illumination. What looks best to me seems to be the brightest green dot. At least I think it’s green. I’m colorblind, so how would I know?

Sight-in

Once the reticle was adjusted so I could see the fine reticle lines and the dot, I sighted the rifle in. The first 2 shots were at 12 feet for the rough adjustment. Then a shot was taken at 10 meters, and finally 2 shots at 25 yards to confirm a 25-yard zero. My plan is to take the rifle/scope/mounts combination to the range tomorrow and shoot more groups at 50 yards.

Back in July when I shot the rifle at 50 yards, I was using a UTG 10X50 Accushot SWAT scope that was quick and easy to mount. I felt it wasn’t giving the best precision, which is why I scheduled another 50-yard accuracy test. The G4 scope and POI rings happened to arrive at the right time for this, and I don’t think anyone can say I’m not giving the Gladius the test it deserves.

2016 Pyramyd Air Cup: Part 2

St, 09/14/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

  • The matches
  • Field target
  • Strange airgun
  • Fun guns
  • Air Bolt
  • Rockin’ rat target
  • The end
The matches

Let’s get right to it. The Pyramyd Air Cup is a series of airgun matches, with field target being the premiere sport, followed by the Pyramyd Gunslynger and then the Pay Day Challenge. The Pay Day Challenge is first and the $200 prize gets everyone in the mood for competing. It’s a total of 10 shots at field targets with sighted-in rifles provided by Pyramyd Air. Five shots are at 40 yards off a benchrest with an HW S100 PCP rifle. Then 3 shots offhand at 25 yards with an Air Arms S200 FT, and finally 2 shots offhand at 15 yards with a Condor. All targets have 1.5-inch kill zones.

The offhand targets were the most challenging, by far. Many shooters, including some of the top world-class shooters) didn’t think the Condor I was judging was sighted-in, because they missed the target at least one time, but I shot it left-handed and nailed the kill zone. I think the problems were just unfamiliarity with the rifle. I saw many shooters refuse to get the rifle into the correct position on their shoulder and were thus unable to see through the scope. They said they didn’t like the feeling of the butt plate high on their shoulders.

The two Pay Day Challenge winners (a tie between Dave Hitchcock and John Eroh) split the $00 prize between them.

The Pyramyd Gunslynger is a modified silhouette match shot from the bench, and both time and accuracy are the enemies. You must clear all the silhouettes off their stands in your lane to stop the clock. There are classes for PCP rifles and for spring pistons, with a $1,000 cash prize for each. Greg Sauve won the PCP and Eric Brewer took the piston class.

Field target

The field target match was held over two days and had the largest number of shooters. The classes are Open, Hunter and WFTF. Many of the shooters were nationally ranked and those that weren’t were still good shots. People traveled to Ohio from all over the country to compete in this match that was an AAFTA-sanctioned Grand Prix match.

The prizes were guns and equipment, and the winners in each class got a chance at about a $900 prize. Overall champion was Greg Sauve.


Each day of competition began with a match briefing from Tyler Patner.

 

This is part of the line on one of the two field target courses. Competitors shot one course per day.


This competitor is seated in the classic field target position.

 

 


If I ever compete again, this is how I’ll do it.

Once the competition began, the ranges with fixed targets cleared out and the vendor’s tables became very accessible. This is when I did most of my work.

Strange airgun

I told you yesterday that I saw a strange airgun. Here it is. It’s a Setra rifle that resembles a Sheridan model F. The owner says he believes only around 3,500 of them were made, and looking at how much it copies a Sheridan I am inclined to believe that. I’m sure Sheridan got lawyers on the company as soon as the Setra surfaced!


This Setra C02 rifle is .177 and bulk fill. Except for the caliber it resembles a Sheridan model F more than a little.

I don’t know where it was made, or when, but the production run was short. It was found on Craig’s List and definitely qualifies as a find.

Fun guns

Even though I couldn’t see that well, I did get to shoot at the Cup. Ruth Kass’ husband, Bryan, brought a satchel full of his Crosman pistols for me to try. I shot a 1300, a 1322, a 2240, a Mark I and a Crosman 600.


I shot Bryan Kass’ Crosman 600 a lot!

We burned through many CO2 cartridges — especially with that 600 that we both enjoyed shooting so much. And I went through a large portion of a tin of pellets. It was an enjoyable time for both of us.

Air Bolt

The public was treated to an Air Venturi Air Bolt demonstration, plus the opportunity to shoot. Part of the backstop was a cinder block, until two shots demolished it! That Air Bolt is one powerful airgun!


The Air Bolt was demonstrated at the Cup.


Two Air Bolts cracked this cinder block in half!

Rocking rat target

At the Pyramyd Air table there were many newer products I had never seen. Among them was a neat field target called the rocklin’ rat. It’s both a spinner and a field target that also tells you when you have hit the faceplate of the target. I plan to review it for you soon.


I saw this rockin’ rat target, and you’re going to see it soon.

Pyramyd Air president, Val Gamerman, also told me about several other new targets they have. I asked to get them to test for you, so you’re going to see some of the Cup whether you like it or not! One target is electronic and operates like a shooting gallery!

The end

For me the Cup was over at 10 a.m. on day 3, because I had to dash back to Cleveland to catch a plane home. Both my flights were fine, but a Delta plane just before me had an engine failure on takeoff and had to return to the Atlanta airport.

I’m home now, but still thinking of all that I saw during those 3 days. Like all airgun shows I attend, this one left some lasting memories that I will share with you in the coming months.

2016 Pyramyd Air Cup: Part 1

Út, 09/13/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • You don’t have to compete
  • My eye
  • Bubble level!
  • New Bug Buster
  • Speaking of scopes…
  • Fun stuff
  • More to come!

I attended all three days of the 2016 Pyramyd Air Cup last weekend and got to meet a number of blog readers from around the nation. Oddly, some of the readers who live only a few hours away from New Philadelphia, Ohio, did not make the trip. That surprised me. I don’t think they realized all the advantages of attending.

You don’t have to compete

You can attend the event without shooting in any of the events. In fact, a lot of people might like to do that even more, because while most of the crowd is on one of the courses, you get to monopolize the time of the vendors and look at everything they brought to display and sell. Just a for instance — Pyramyd Air brought out some guns that were in their back room — guns like an older Beeman Webley Tempest pistol. The people not shooting in the Cup had the chance to buy these things, and many of them did.

My eye

I didn’t shoot in any of the events this year, because my right eye (I had a detached retina that was operated on in early May) keeps me from shooting well. Yes, I can shoot left-handed, but it’s slow and I didn’t want to go to all the effort. My right eye has been diagnosed as 20/100, which is extreme nearsightedness to the extent that my depth perception is affected. Fortunately it is correctable to 20/30 with glasses that I had already ordered but did not have when I flew to Ohio. Ironically, I got the call that my glasses were ready for pickup on the first day of the event, but I was standing on the range in Ohio, 1,200 miles away from the store. I will get them today and report on the success as soon as possible.

I guess I’ll start with the first pictures I took. I was walking the line on Friday and saw an outlandish sidewheel scope setup that I just had to show you. It was so odd, in fact, that it reminded me of Al Otter, who used to shoot at the DIFTA field target club I belonged to in Maryland. Then I looked at the shooter closer and thought he even looks like Al, if Al was 15 years older. OMG! It has been 15 years since Al and I shot together and that IS Al Otter! Only Al would invent toys like these!


Al Otter’s large sidewheel parallax adjustment wheel is very large and belt-driven. It’s mounted on an 8-80 power March X scope that sells for $3,400!


These data sheets pull out to reveal the number of clicks needed to zero the reticle at different distances.


This inclinometer tells the shooter the exact angle of the bore to the target, allowing for sighting corrections. Otter designed and built it to work automatically.


The wind gage (center) tells you when the wind is blowing and gives an idea of how fast the breeze travels. It was spinning but the strobe of my flash stopped it cold. The rake on the left is Al’s pellet holder.

These are just a few of the unique things Al has done to his air rifle. I could write an entire blog on the man, if he just lived closer! But I was glad he was there, because I was able to show his equipment to David Ding, the owner of Leapers. David was astounded by the magnification (8 to 80X) and the cost ($3,400) of the base scope Al in using. Then he found out that many of the shooters are using that scope and a Sightron that apparently exceeds most other scopes, yet costs “only” $1,550! The level of comittment these shooters have was really impressive to David.


From the left, Tom Gaylord, David Ding, Mr Yi and Val Gamerman. Mr. Yi is Leapers lead optics engineer. Think of him as Mr. Bug Buster.

Bubble level!

Speaking of Leapers, they brought their new bubble level scope to the Cup for the public to see for the first time! They have gobne through many iterations with this scope over the past 5 years, but David Ding told me he wanted to get it right the first time. Several advanced field target shooters were amazed by the scope’s clarity, to say nothing of the internal bubble level that I predict will soon be required equipment for extreme benchrest competition.


The UTG bubble level scope is ready to produce! Everyone who looked through it remarked on the clarity of the optics and the ease with which the bubble can be seen.

New Bug Buster

I said Mr. Yi is the UTG optics engineer. Leapers was showing a 3-13 Bug Buster scope at the Cup. I can remember when we felt glad to get a Bug Buster in 4 power. They are still the only riflescopes in the world that parallax adjust down to 3 yards!


Leapers will soon have a 3-12 Bug Buster scope to sell.

Speaking of scopes…

I also looked at what’s new from Hawke Optics. Many of you are familiar with Hawke scopes. Well, I saw a very nice one on display at the Cup. It’s called the Sidewinder ED 10-50X60mm scope. It offers superior clarity for just about a thousand dollars. That sounds like a fortune until you compare it to the March scopes that sell for over $3,000 and the Sightron field target scopes that sell for $1,549. Then it starts sounding like a bargain. This one is dedicated to field target


Hawke’s new 10-50X60mm sidewheel scope bears a review.

Fun stuff

My friend Rich Shar brought some new spring rifles to show me. One was the new Hatsan QE Vortex breakbarrel in .30 caliber that’s based on the 135 rifle. That rifle is a terror to cock and a real stinger when fired, but Rick has mounted a longer barrel and really tamed the buzz. He offered it for a test, of course, but I declined because I haven’t tested the factory rifle yet. I should do that, so if comparisons are to be made, I know what I’m talking about.


Inventor Rich Shar holds the Hatsan QE Vortex .30 caliber breakbarrel he has modified for easier cocking and smoother shooting. I have to admit, I was surprised.

More to come!

I feel like I have barely scratched the surface with this first report. I saw odd vintage airguns, got to shoot another Crosman 600, saw neat new targets, filmed a couple Roundtables for American Airgunner — oh, and I also saw a little airgun competition! There is a lot more to come.

Crosman 600 air pistol: Part 2

Po, 09/12/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


Crosman 600 CO2 pellet pistol.

A history of airguns

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Feeding problems?
  • Crosman Premiers
  • JSB Exact RS
  • RWS Hobbys
  • Shot count
  • What we have

Today is the day we discover the health of my new/old Crosman 600. Since I first filled it I have been keeping it filled and shooting several shots each day to keep the mechanism in good working condition.

Feeding problems?

Crosman 600s can be fussy about the pellets they will feed. I’ve had a few that would swallow anything put into them and others that only wanted one or two pellets. When that happens you’d better hope the pellets that feed are also accurate. Let’s get started.

This particular gun wants to be cocked before the CO2 cartridge is pierced. That is due to the design of the valve. Most guns need to be cocked first but some don’t don’t. It’s a good habit to get into with a 600. Slide the cocking button back until the sear catches and you’re good to go.

Crosman Premiers

I loaded 11 Crosman Premiers first. They drop one at a time into the front of the magazine tube with the follower pulled back and locked. Tilt the muzzle up and they slide back. Ten pellets will fit, but with some pellets like Premiers you get one extra.

Premiers fed fine except for one pellet fourth from the end that jumped out of the mag and jammed the feed. Once I pushed it back in, it fed fine. There were no other feeding problems with this pistol.


This is what the pellets look like in the magazine. These are Hobbys.

Eleven Premiers averaged 390 f.p.s. the low was 385 and the high was 395 f.p.s., so only a 10 foot per second spread. This is about the velocity I predicted for the pistol. I waited at least 10 seconds between shots to keep the gun from cooling too much.

JSB Exact RS

Next up were the lighter JSB Exact RS domes. Like the Premiers, 11 of them fit in the magazine tube. At 13.43 grains I expected them to be faster than the Premiers but they weren’t. They averaged 376 f.p.s. and the spread went from a low of 354 to a high of 402 f.p.s., so a 98 f.p.s. spread. That’s not very impressive.

RWS Hobbys

The next and last pellet I tried was the lightweight RWS Hobby. These have always fed well for me in 600s and this time was no exception. But the gun was also running out of gas. I loaded 10 pellets but had to drop 2 out of the magazinewhen I saw the velocity dropping fast. I will explain why.

Instead of giving an average velocity for the RWS Hobby, I will show you the velocities of each pellet in succession, from 1 to 8.

Shot Vel
1…………..358
2…………..344
3…………..331
4…………..319
5…………..302
6…………..284
7…………..260
8…………..250 dump

Whenever you see a linear velocity drop like this you know the gun is out of liquid CO2 and running on residual gas. In a 600 that’s dangerous, because this gun will jam in a heartbeat. Someone asked me about the steel rod in the box with the gun — with the 600, you need it!

Don’t play around like I just did. When you see the velocity falling off, or hear it, stop shooting immediately and unload the magazine. It isn’t easy, but it’s easier than unjamming the mechanism when pellets get stuck.

Incidentally, the word “dump” after the eight shot means the pistol automatically dumped the remaining gas after that shot. In a typical Crosman 600 fashion, it went full auto for a couple shots and was out of gas. This pistol is notorious for going fiull auto when the gas pressure drops.

Shot count

The Crosman 600 is a gas hog because the semiautomatic mechanism goes through gas fast. Just to demonstrate that I’m right about the gas pressure, I installed a fresh CO2 cartridge and fired another Hobby pellet. This one went out at 408 f.p.s., which is about where it should be.

Based on these results, I would say there are 25 good shots in a single CO2 cartridge with this gun. Shot number 4 in the string above was the 25th shot for the first cartridge.

Trigger pull

The single-stage trigger has a lot of travel, but breaks at 2 lbs. 5 oz. If you ever feel one you will be amazed!

What we have

This Crosman 600 is performing exactly as expected. It gets 25 good shots that are mostly in the high 300 f.p.s. range. It feeds many pellets well.

I will continue to test it exactly as I received it. Yes, it is possible to boost the power and, yes, you can run the gun on bulk CO2 for a lot less money, but there is nothing wrong with the gun the way it is now.

I will leave the gun under pressure at all times, because that is what a 600 wants. I will put it somewhere I can quickly grab it to fire off a couple shots now and then. A 600 needs to be used regularly to stay in top condition.

Daisy’s Red Ryder: Part 4

Pá, 09/09/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

A history of airguns


Daisy Red Ryder.

This report covers:

  • Installs quickly and easily
  • Base slants downward
  • Scope or dot sight?
  • Not a Red Ryder test
  • The test
  • Daisy Premium Grade BBs
  • Hornady Black Diamond BBs
  • Air Venturi steel BBs
  • Observations

Okay, I am shifting gears on this report. The first 3 reports were about my vintage Red Ryder — a Daisy model 111-40. But it wouldn’t accept the Brice scope base that I wanted to test for you. So Bill Brice sent me a new Daisy Red Ryder to test his base for you.

Pyramyd Air will be stocking this mount, so if you like what you see, you should be able to order one soon.

Installs quickly and easily

The scope base goes on the gun very quickly. Remove the rear sight elevator and then lift the sight and slip the mount base underneath. Use the wood screw that’s on the gun to attach the rear of the base.

Base slants downward

The base slants downward, back to front, giving you a natural lift to the impact of the shot. That’s useful with a BB gun, because of the low velocity.

Scope or dot sight?

With this base you are free to choose any type of optical sight to install. No doubt many will chose a scope, but because I have some experience with scoped BB guns and know that the sight won’t make the gun any more accurate, I chose a high-end dot sight. Dot sights are used to 50 yards with success. I’m using one on the Dragon Claw that launches the Air Venturi Air Bolt, and the accuracy has already produced a Robin Hood (arrow striking the back of another arrow). That’s good enough for me!

Not a Red Ryder test

This is a test of the Brice scope base, not the new Red Ryder. I see a lot of differences in this new BB gun that I will report after the scope base has been tested, but for today and perhaps one more report I just want to concentrate on the scope base.


The rear sight elevator must be removed.


The elevator is gone so the front screw of the scope base can be inserted into the slot.

Base slants downward

The base slants downward, bach to front, giving you a natural lift to the impact of the shot. That’s useful with a BB gun, because of the low velocity.

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The Brice mount is installed and you can see the steep slope.


The dot sight is installed.

The test

I shot the BB gun at 5 meters, using the UTG Monopod rest to steady it. This is as steady as shooting from a rest of any kind.

Daisy Premium Grade BBs

First to be tested were 10 Daisy Premium Grade BBs. The first shot went over the backstop andf hit the backer board I put there to protect the wall. The downward slope of the scope base is extreme! I might have to modify it for a future test.

The first group landed very much higher than the aim point, despite my cranking the sight down by 40+ clicks. The BBs were also landing to the right of the aim point. Ten Daisy BBs went into 1.63-inches at 5 meters. In my experience, that’s about par for a Red Ryder. But it was still shooting too high so I cranked it down about 40 more clicks. It was now nearly bottomed out.


Ten Daisy BBs went into 1.63-inches at 5 meters. They appear to have hit to the left, but actually hit far to the right.

Hornady Black Diamond BBs

Next up were 10 Hornady Black Diamond BB. They made a 1.867-inch groiup at 5 meters. It was still high and now a bit too far to the left, as I had over-adjusted the dot sight. I cranked in a few more down clicks and ran out of adjustment. But I was able to bring the impact back to the right.


Ten Hornady Black Diamond BBs went into 1.867-inches at 5 meters. The gun is still shooting too high.

Air Venturi steel BBs

The last BB I tried was the Air Venturi steel BB. Ten of them went into a wide 2.541-inch group that was still over an inch above the aim point. Clearly the slope of the Brice mount needs to be reduced. And just as clearly, this is not the right BB for this gun.


Ten Air Venturi steel BBs went into 2.541-inches at 5 meters. The dot sight is adjusted as low as it will go and the gun still shoots too high.

Observations

The Brice mount is quick and easy to install and it works exactly as intended. If you want to mount a scope or dot sight on a Red Ryder, or on the Marlin BB gun Crosman used to sell, this is the mount to use.

The slope of the base is way too steep. I think I will cut the rear spacer in half to get the gun hitting at the aim point.

I think next time I test this base I will try mounting a scope, just to experience that. I’ll also try some different BBs, though lead BBs are out because the Red Ryder relies on a magnet in the feed mechanism.

When I finish testing the Brice mount I will do a velocity test and accuracy test with the open sights with this Red Ryder — just to complete the circle. I find that a optical sight is fun on a BB gun, although I do not recommend using one to teach people to shoot. Shooters should always learn to use open sights first, because they are the hardest to learn. When they understand how to shoot a gun, then they can graduate to optics.

Beeman Double Barrel air rifle: Part 4

Čt, 09/08/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


Beeman Double Barrel air rifle.

This report covers:

  • The test
  • RWS Hobby pellet
  • Falcon pellet
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Which is which?
  • Summary

Today I shoot the Beeman Double Barrel air rifle with a quality red dot sight mounted. I will tell you now that I learned a lot from today’s test.

The test

This was an accuracy test using a Tasco Pro Point red dot sight. I shot rested at 10 meters and I shot left-handed because my right eye is not working well. I’m not looking to hit the target in this test. I’m looking at the groups I get with different pellets, plus I have a couple surprises to share with you.

After mounting the sight I fired one shot and saw that the pellets were hitting about where I wanted them. I left the sight as it was and moved back to 10 meters.

RWS Hobby pellet

The first pellets I shot were RWS Hobbys, because in the last test with open sights they were the most accurate. I fired 5 shots which was 10 pellets and got the same two groups that we saw in the last test. Oddly, these groups were larger than those fired with open sights. Don’t read anything into that, because later in the test I do shoot a tighter one.

The upper group measures 0.71-inches between centers and the lower one measures 0.72-inches. That’s almost exactly the same. In the last test with open sights, the lower group measured 0.297-inches and the upper group measured 0.951-inches. The dot sight has made the groups closer to the same size. Let’s see if this trend continues.


The upper group of Hobbys is 0.71-inches between centers. Lower group is 0.72-inches.

Falcon pellet

Next I tried the Falcon pellets from Air Arms. This time the groups were sized differently, with the upper group being 1.356-inches between centers and the lower group measuring 0.702-inches. That was how the open sight test turned out, as well. The upper group there was 1.245-inches, while the lower group was 0.619-inches.


The upper group of Falcon pellets is 1.356-inches between centers. The lower group is 0.702-inches.

JSB Exact RS

Finally I tried some JSB Exact RS pellets. This is where the first surprising thing happened. I didn’t fire 5 shots from each barrel this time, because the dot sight fell off the gun on shot number 4. You might be tempted to think that was the reason these groups aren’t as small as those shot with the open sights, but just look at the upper group. It measures 0.583-inches between centers. While that’s not a great group for only 10 meters, look at the lower group with the same pellet. It measures 1.492-inches between centers.


The upper group of JSB RS pellets is 4 in 0.583-inches between centers. The lower group is four in 1.492-inches.

These 8 shots with JSB Exact RS pellets gave us both the smallest and the largest groups of this test! Since only 4 shots are in each group I don’t want to compare them to the other 5-shot groups. What I want to do is draw your attention to the huge difference in the size of each group. Obviously this pellet behaves much differently in each barrel. I have said the same thing many times, but this is the first time I have been able to show it so dramatically.

Which is which?

I wanted to know which barrel shot which group. I thought the lower barrel was shooting the lower group, but I didn’t know for sure. One way to find out was top shoot a hobby from one barrel and a Falcon from the other. The Hobby, being a wadcutter, would cut a larger cleaner hole than the domed Falcon.

So I put up a fresh target and shot one of each pellet. The Hobby was loaded into the lower barrel and the Falcon was loaded into the top barrel. When I saw the target I could see that the bottom barrel was placing groups on top and the upper barrel was placing them below.


The Hobby pellet, fired from the bottom barrel, went high, and the Falcon pellet, shot from the upper barrel, went low — the opposite of what I thought.

Summary

This is as far as I’m going with this rifle. Sure there are more oddball things I can do, like try to find two pellets that will cross at a certain distance to give one good group, but this isn’t an easy pellet rifle to shoot. The trigger is rough and heavy and the scope base on the spring tube is humped up high, making scope mounting difficult. I have other airguns and accessories to test that are worth the effort more than this one.

Still, this has been an interesting air rifle to test. I wonder what medication the designer was on when he came up with the idea. Or perhaps he hasn’t been treated yet? This is one of life’s truly oddball airguns!

Behavior at an airgun show

St, 09/07/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Prepare for the show
  • Tie your airguns
  • Price all your guns
  • Table coverings
  • Packing the car
  • Be careful
  • Asking to “borrow” table space from a friend
  • Theft
  • Watch what you say!
  • Common stuff you always need
  • Watch out!
  • Loading in and out

This report was requested by reader Michael and elaborated on by reader Siraniko. At first I didn’t think I could write much that would be of interest, but Siraniko opened my eyes to what Michael was asking. I have been selling at gun shows for almost half a century and at airguns shows since 1994, so I have hardened to all those things that might puzzle someone new. It is a worthy topic, and if it gives just one person the courage to have a table at a show, it will have served its purpose.

Prepare for the show

It might seem obvious, but the first step is to get ready for the show. A major part of that is deciding which airguns you want to sell. Maybe there is one you aren’t sure of. You like it a lot, but it’s also something that will attract a lot of attention. I like to put those guns on my table, so I price them in such a way that if they sold I could live with it. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is attending the show. Maybe they are like you and would like to see a Sheridan Supergrade for sale. So price it at $1,800 and be prepared to sell it if a buyer comes along. These days a working Supergrade is worth $1,250-1,500, so pricing it like that assures that only a serious buyer will be interested. However, if it is a gun you truly love, like I love my Diana model 27, then either don’t take it or mark it not for sale.

Tie your airguns

I make everyone tie their airguns at my shows for safety. That’s electrical cable ties around the trigger or the cocking mechanism to prevent cocking and firing the gun. I have seen many people shoot themselves at airgun shows in the past. I don’t allow dry-firing at my shows. If there is a range where the public can try the gun, so much the better, but remember — no gun shows allow shooting. You take a chance when you buy a firearm at a gun show and an airgun show can be the same. Tie all your guns before packing them for the show, because when you set up you won’t have time.

Price all your guns

Put prices on all your guns, or attach labels that say they are not for sale. Some people think if they don’t price their guns people will be forced to talk to them. I feel they are being deceitful, and I almost never ask the price. It seems to me they want to size me up and price the gun accordingly. In my experience as many as 75 percent of the dealers with no prices on their guns are, in fact, deceitful.

Table coverings

Don’t forget to pack coverings for your tables. The tables are provided at every show I have attended, but the coverings are not. Years ago I bought four 100-percent wool Swiss military blankets for $10 apiece, They have now increased to $65-90 apiece, but I continue to use them. Being wool they protect the guns from damage when they are laid down hard, and they hide the stuff I have stashed under my tables.

Gun show tables range from 6 feet to 8 feet in length, and the length makes a big difference in the amount of stuff you can display. They are all uniformly 24 to 30 inches wide. Find out how long the tables you are renting will be (most shows tell you up front, in the table fee info) and plan accordingly. If I lay rifles on the table I can get about 12 on a 6-footer and 18 on an 8-footer. But I have racks that allow me to put 9-16 long guns, plus 12 handguns on one 8-foot table — if it will take the weight.

When you put the covers on the tables make sure they do not extend to the floor in front of your tables. If they do someone will step on them and pull them off your tables, along with everything on top of them!

Packing the car

Think through the loading-in process. The first thing you will need for your tables are the covers, so pack them last. If you use a wheeled dolly to transport your guns, put it on top of the load, so it’s the first thing out, after the table coverings.

Be careful!

One thing about laying rifles on tables is they almost always have to hang over the edge of the table on one side or another. My advice is to hang them over on your side — not the public’s side. When the show gets busy people don’t always watch where they are going and can knock your guns off the tables. They may bump them as they pass by, or a purse or backpack strap may catch a rifle barrel and pull it without the person being aware until it’s too late. You can be more careful on your side of the table.

Asking to “borrow” table space from a friend

You have three airguns to sell. You don’t want to rent a whole table for just that, so you ask a friend if you can put some of your stuff on his table. I am of two minds about this practice.

First, this is what kills airgun shows. The promoter has to rent to hall, the night guards and there may be additional expenses he incurs. I have seen whole airgun shows die when people do this, because it minimizes what the promoter earns.  For that reason I am against it.

On the other hand, if all the tables in a show are sold out and there is no way to get one, and if the offer is made to put your guns on a table, I have no problem with it.

But I would never ask to put my guns on somebody’s table. I might prearrange to share the table rental fee with a partner, but the split would be done before the show. I would never impose at the show.

Rather than borrowing space on a table, why not carry your airguns with you through the show? This is a very common practice at gun shows. It actually gives your guns more exposure than laying on a table. I do this all the time at gun shows and have made some very good transactions as a result.

Theft

It does happen. At one show in ten I hear of some theft from a table. I have been lucky so far in over 100 shows, but it is always a possibility. Some firearm shows demand that all guns be attached to the tables by means of a cable that is locked. I carry such cables and locks in my show bag, but no airgun show has ever required it.

Watch what you say!

Almost every gun show will have at least one undercover agent from the ATF walking the show. If you know what to look for you can sometimes spot them — mid 30s to mid-40s, fit, close-cropped hair and often wearing a gun in an ankle holster. But if it turns out to be a middle-aged woman who looks like a bored housewife, don’t be surprised. Watch what you say in public, because you never know who might be listening.

Small stuff you always need

I carry a salesman’s sample case loaded with everything experience has taught me I will need:

scissors
magnifying glass
tactical flashlight
tool kit with lots of Allen wrenches for scopes
cable tie cutter (diagonal cutter)
Gorilla tape
scotch tape
extra labels
extra cable ties (all lengths)
plain 5X8-inch white cards to make signs
Hobo knife (knife, fork and spoon for eating lunch)
shop towels
Ballistol-soaked cloth in a plastic bag
wire cables and locks to fasten guns to the table
ballpoint pens
Sharpies (felt-tipped pens)

I also use this case to carry small things that go with the guns I’m selling — things like magazines that can disappear off a table fast if you’re not careful. I also carry pellets in the calibers of the guns I’m selling, so people can try them if the opportunity arises.

Once I get to the show I put the diagonal cutter in my pocket, so I can cut cable ties when people want to examine a gun closer. I also put the tactical flashlight in my pocket (Pelican 1920 is the best I have found) and I carry a Swiss Champ Swiss Army Knife in my pocket for its tools and the magnifier. My smart phone also has a magnifier app for enlarged images when the magnifier on the knife doesn’t do the job.

I always have two pocket knives with me. A larger one is a camp knife the army used in WW II and the smaller one is a Swiss Army Midnight Manager that has a powerful light and a pair of scissors.

Watch out!

Here are some common things to watch the public for. First is the guy (always a guy, by the way) who sets his wet coffee/soda cup down on the pristine dust jacket of your $75 collectible airgun book or magazine. He is looking at your $700 air rifle, which he will pick up with his wet hands, hoist to his shoulder five times, then place back on your table upside-down before walking away. This is cousin Eddy who has $15 in his pocket and as far as he is concerned, this isn’t an airgun show, it’s a living museum that’s granted him the right to touch and handle everything. I can spot these guys coming and can usually defend against them.

Then there are the knobdickers. That is a technical term, by the way They are the guys who love to twist and turn all the knobs on your scopes. They never got over their Busy Box as children and need something to play with. I’m thinking of taking a Slinky to shows for them.

They are followed by the incurably curious who will cock your airguns before you can stop them. They see how it works and they have to show everyone they understand. The last one of these cocked a Daisy Number 25 BB gun on my table, then was surprised to discover it couldn’t be uncocked. So he put the muzzle on top of his shoe and pulled the trigger. The gun was loaded (my bad) and he shot himself in the foot. I wasn’t at the table, but Edith told me his face turned red and he coughed up the $75 for the gun, just to feel less embarrassed. I thought of using that as a sales technique for all my airguns, but then good sense set in.

Yes, that actually did happen many years ago at Roanoke, but seriously, whenever I hear someone dry-fire an airgun at a show I call, “CEASE FIRE” in a loud voice, hoping to embarrass the miscreant. In all the years I have only had one person take exception to my doing this. I had to endure a lecture about how BB guns are not that dangerous and he certainly knew how to handle them safely. To which I responded, “Then you’d better start doing so!”

Loading in and out

When you load into the show or out after it’s over. look around for people who are having difficulty. Invariably there will be a few folks who can use some help. Help them if you can, because one day it will you who needs help.

If you have parked your car close to the building, move it after you have loaded in. Then someone else can use that close spot. Some shows will remind you to do this, but even if they say nothing, do it anyway.

If you brought a trailer or large vehicle to the show, move it after you have loaded in. Be mindful of others who have to load their stuff, too.

These are a few of my pointers. Setting up at an airgun show is not difficult. Heck — running a show isn’t that hard. If you have airgun friends, you can always start with them and grow from there.

Walther Parrus with wood stock: Part 3

Út, 09/06/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


Walther Parrus with wood stock.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • 5-shot groups
  • The test
  • H&N Field Target Trophy
  • RWS Superdomes
  • JSB Exact 15.89 grain
  • Eley Wasp pellets
  • Baracuda Match 5.53mm heads
  • Last pellet — JSB 18.1 grain
  • Summary

Today I begin testing the accuracy of the .22-caliber Walther Parrus with wood stock. Since the rifle has open sights, I used today to sort through 6 candidate pellets for future tests.

5-shot groups

I only shot 5-shot groups today, because I’m not testing the ultimate accuracy of the rifle — just the potential for certain pellets to be accurate. Also I had to shoot left-handed because my right eye is acting up. I can’t see the target with my right eye when I look at the front sight. The good news is my retina specialist tells me that it’s time for me to get a pair of glasses. Looks like the eye is healed as far as it’s going to. At least with glasses I should be able to see things with both eyes again.

The test

I shot from a rest at 10 meters. With the target brightly lit by a 500 watt halogen light, I am able to see a squared-off front sight post instead of the fiberoptic dot. Aiming precision is greatly improved. All the bullseyes are shown in the same attitude in which they were shot.

H&N Field Target Trophy

The first pellet I tested was the 14.66-grain H&N Field Target Trophy. I have never had success with this pellet, though others swear by it. I tested the pellet with the 5.55mm head.

Five pellets went into an open group that measured 1.438-inches between centers at 10 meters. They are all over the place, and I know this is not the right pellet for the Parrus under test.


Five H&N Field Target Trophy pellets went into 1.438-inches at 10 meters. Not a good pellet for the Parrus being tested.

Are you concerned? I’m not, and I’ll explain why. I knew the FTT pellet was probably not a good one for this rifle. It fit the breech really tight, and I have never had any luck with this particular pellet.

I also know I’m shooting left-handed, which will affect my accuracy a little. Some shooters might feel daunted by this, but I have done it enough to know that it does work. Just look at what the next pellet did and you’ll understand.

RWS Superdomes

I get mixed results from RWS Superdome pellets. Some airguns like them and others don’t. This Parrus I’m testing likes them a lot. Let me show you what a good group looks like. Five Superdomes went into 0.61-inches.


Now this is a group! Shooting left-handed, this is about as good as I could do on this particular day. At 0.61-inches between centers at 10 meters, it’s much better than the FTT group. This pellet is worth testing further in this rifle.

JSB Exact 15.89 grain

I tested the JSB Exact 15.89 grain domed pellet next. Five of them went into a vertical group measuring 0.588-inches between centers at 10 meters. That’s so close to what the Superdomes did that I would call it a tie. This is another pellet to be tested later.


Five JSB Exact 15.89-grain pellets went into almost exactly the same size group as the Superdomes. Five in 0.588-inches at 10 meters.

Eley Wasp pellets

Think I’m on a roll? In the groove? Watch what happens when I try 5 Eley Wasp 5.6mm pellets. The group opens up to 1.334-inches between centers and you see right away that there is a big difference in pellets. Wasps fit the breech tight and are not for this Parrus.


Five Eley Wasp pellets scattered at 10 meters into this 1.334-inch group. There is a definite difference in performance, depending on which pellet is used.

These large groups don’t bother me because I’m also getting the smaller ones. Shooting left-handed with open sights is enough of a handicap that I can tolerate the size of the groups for now.

Baracuda Match 5.53mm heads

The fifth pellet I tried was the H&N Baracuda Match pellet with the 5.53mm head. I had a feeling these would be good and they didn’t disappoint. Five went into 0.664-inches at 10 meters. They strung vertically, which seems to be a common theme when I shoot left-handed.


Five H&N Baracuda Match went into this 0.664-inch group at 10 meters. This is another pellet I will try again.

Last pellet — JSB 18.1 grain

The final pellet I tried was the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets. They fit the breech very well and seemed to be a natural choice for the Parrus. Five went into an identical 0.664-inch group at 10 meters, but within this group is a smaller group of 3 pellets in 0.273-inches. Does that bode well for the future? Who knows? It was enough to land them in contention.


Five JSB Exact Jumbo domes went into 0.664-inches at 10 meters, but three of them are in a tantalizing 0.273-inch group.

Summary

Today I tried something different. I shot 5-shot groups that allowed me to test more pellets for accuracy potential. Once again, 5 shots are not an indicator of true accuracy, but as you see here, they do separate the wheat from the chaff. This is a good way to test a lot of different pellets fast.

Next I’ll mount a scope and go for accuracy at 25 yards. If we see results that are good enough there, I will also go to 50 yards.

BSA Meteor Mark I: Part 1

Po, 09/05/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


BSA Meteor Mark I.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • You outta try…
  • Off the bat
  • A scope!
  • What to expect

Back in 2013/14 I wrote a 9-part review of the BSA Super Meteor Mark IV that I bought at what turned out to be the last airgun show in Roanoke, Virginia. That gun was pretty bad when I got it, but I was able to buy all the parts to make it good again, plus my buddy, Otho, did some welding on the piston that saved it. When I sold the gun at the Malvern airgun show in 2015, it had been transformed into a nice little air rifle.

You outta try…

As I reviewed the gun several readers told me the model I really should be looking at was the Mark I or Mark II Meteor. Those were made as fine airguns, before BSA started painting their parts and cheapening their manufacture. Well, as luck would have it, I saw a Mark I Meteor on Larry Hannusch’s table at the recent Texas Airgun Show. He wanted a lot for it, and I let him take it home, but then, after a lot of thought, I reconsidered and bought it. Larry gave me a nice discount and shipped it immediately, which is why I have it today.

Off the bat

After assembling the rifle out of the package, I had to shoot it to see if it really was that much better than what I remembered from the Mark IV. It is. Several readers said this was their favorite air rifle, and after a few shots with this one I now understand. It cocks easily, has a nice adjustable trigger pull and fires smoothly, if with a lot of buzz. The stock is slender like air rifles used to be in the 1950s, and overall I can see why so many people like this model.

My new/old Meteor is a .22 caliber Mark I. I know that from its serial number, which is T 41267. It’s a small air rifle — just 40.5 inches overall with an 18-inch barrel. It weighs 5 lbs. 5 oz, which makes it lighter than a Diana 27.


The serial number is found on the underside of the barrel base block (the part that holds the barrel). This one indicates a Mark 1 Meteor made between 1959 and 1962.

The stock is beech without any grain. The forearm is scored with three deep parallel lines on each side that help with the grip. The wood is finished with what looks and feels like a synthetic spray.

The metal is all blued steel, where my Mark IV Super Meteor was painted. The metal is polished very well. It is what would be considered a superior finish today, but in 1960 was simply business as usual.

Up front is a hooded post and bead that is replaceable. A screw on the left side of the sight base allows removal of the post and bead element and replacement with something else. I assume BSA had a number of different front sight elements available in the day. A sliding sheet metal hood that shades the sight comes off easily.


The front sight element has been removed from the ramp for easier viewing. The hood is slid forward for this picture.

The rear sight is adjustable for elevation, but to adjust for windage you must drift it sideways in its dovetails. I will know better how well these adjustments work after I start shooting the rifle for accuracy.


The rear sight adjusts for elevation.

A scope!

The BSA Meteor was the first air rifle to come with an optional scope. And this rifle has one! I think that is what drives the value, beyond the quality of the airgun, itself.

What an instrument it is! It has a tube with an outer diameter of 0.70-inches, so the optics are tiny. It’s 2 power and has an ultra-fine crosshair with the traditional turret adjustments. But the beauty of this scope is not the performance. It’s the BSA trademark that’s cast into the side of the turret. Yes, this BSA scope wasn’t made in Asia. It was made in England and says so on the scope tube. According to Wikipedia, was the first telescope to be offered on an airgun.


The scope was an option for the Mark 1. This was two decades before scopes were common on air rifles.


The BSA trademark is seen on the turret of the scope. Elsewhere on the scope it says “Made in England.”

What to expect

The Meteor was never meant to be powerful. In .22 caliber I’m hoping for velocities in the low- to mid-400s with lighter pellets. I had good luck with JSB RS pellets in the .177 Meteor, so I’m thinking the same might hold for the .22 caliber RS.

Currently the powerplant buzzes a lot with every shot. I’m hoping I can tune that out and get a smooth shot without loosing much velocity. Thankfully I have the detailed teardown procedure outlines in the earlier report, so this time it should go faster. And I know that T.R. Robb carries the parts I need.

So settle back. This should be an interesting series!