Archive for February 2006
by B.B. Pelletier
A Leapers 3-12x tactical mini-scope fits the CF-X with room to spare. B-Square high mounts give plenty of clearance.
The Gamo CF-X is a popular spring-piston rifle that I “tested” for you by surrogate on Friday, Jan. 6, of this year. I made some assumptions in that report. Now that I’ve tested an actual CF-X in the field, it’s time to see how close I came. I mounted a Leapers 3-12x power compact tactical scope just for the CF-X guy to see how that scope works on the rifle. The scope rode in B-Square non adjustable 30mm rings with a B-Square scope stop placed behind the rear ring.
A first look at the rifle
The CF-X is a fixed-barrel underlever spring gun that uses a rotary breechblock to access the barrel for loading. Because this is a BSA design and because Gamo owns BSA, I assumed that the rotary breech would be similar to the one on the BSA SuperStar I shot years ago. The CF-X is a much smaller rifle with a narrower spring tube. It’s also a bit lighter. In fact, I find the CF-X to be very light for all the power it has. I guessed that cocking would be smooth, and it is. The CF-X is the most refined powerplant Gamo has yet fielded. When it shoots, it’s just as smooth – a fact I got wrong in the earlier report. I had thought there would be some twanginess to it, but the rifle I tested is quite smooth.
The CF-X trigger is classic Gamo. It’s extremely creepy with a long second stage pull. It takes a lot of getting used to. However, these triggers do wear in with time and will become crisper (or able to be adjusted to a crisper pull) after they have some time on them. To their credit, Gamo puts a manual safety on the gun. Once it’s cocked, you’re ready to go.
The rotary breech
I do not care for the rotary breech, but if it’s necessary, I’ll live with it. Round-nosed pellets tend to flip around backwards on the loading ramp, which takes time to sort out. I soon learned to load this rifle horizontally instead of resting the butt on my leg (like I usually do) because many pellets fell back out of the breech. The loading ramp on the CF-X is also not as smooth as the one on the BSA I tested, so this gun REALLY flips pellets if you’re not careful!
The breechblock rotates to the left, revealing a groove that guides the pellet to the barrel.
All guns will vary; this is what I got with mine. RWS Hobby (7 grains) averaged 942 f.p.s. Crosman Premier light (7.9 grains) averaged 873 f.p.s. Beeman Kodiak (10.6 grains) averaged 785 f.p.s. The new Gamo Raptor (5 grains) averaged 1153 f.p.s. I notice that my velocities are only a few f.p.s. different than those of reader JB, which is encouraging.
I learned that the CF-X does not like heavy pellets! It threw Beeman Kodiaks and Crosman Premiers 10.5-grain pellets all over the place at the 33 yards I had the target placed. Group sizes of 2.5″ to 3.5″ were common at that range, which is way below acceptable accuracy for a gun in this price range. Then, I tried Crosman Premier lights – the pellet of choice for many spring gun competitors in field target. The groups climbed up on the target about three inches and shrank to less than 1.5″ for five shots. I was onto something, but still shooting poorly.
None of the usual techniques worked!
Group after group was a heartbreaker, with three shots going into an American quarter and numbers four and five opening it up. I tried every technique I know, and even held the rifle firmly to see if that was the solution. It wasn’t. I also tried something that usually doesn’t work – I rested the gun DIRECTLY on a sandbag without a hand in between. Voila! The groups tightened by a third! My best group of the session at 33 yards was one that measures 0.886″ – just over 3/4 of an inch. I shot enough similar-sized groups with this technique to know that this one is not a fluke.
While the CF-X is not in the TX200 class for accuracy, it’s right there with most RWS Diana guns. I know I said yesterday that an RWS Diana 52 can almost keep all its shots on a dime at 30 yards, but I believe the CF-X can do it, too. With my limited test, all I did was establish that the gun can shoot – I have not pushed it as far as it will go. Just hand-sorting the pellets should eliminate another quarter-inch from the groups. And, who knows what the absolute best pellet may be? Discovering that requires an investment in range time.
I couldn’t get Raptors to print on the target paper at 33 yards, so I backed up to 15 FEET and shot a couple. They were already beginning to disburse at that close range, so I knew they would be wildly inaccurate in this rifle. I then moved the target to 15 yards (45 feet) and proceeded to shoot a five-shot group that measured 1.065″. At 33 yards, that would open to a four or five-inch group which is absurd. The Raptor is not a pellet for the CF-X. CF-X guy – if you want to shoot tin cans with them, make sure they’re close.
My take on the Gamo CF-X? It’s a heck of a lot of air rifle for the money! The action is tight and smooth and the rifle is light and very easy to cock. The trigger is the worst feature, but it’s one of the better Gamo triggers I’ve seen (and we know it gets better with use). The rifle is surprisingly accurate, and I will be recommending it to a lot of new shooters. The Leapers scope and B-Square mounts made this test very easy and pleasurable.
by B.B. Pelletier
A reader named RWS 350 asked for this post, but several others chimed in with interest, too. So, for all of you who like the big springers, here we go!
Diana’s most powerful airgun!
Before the Diana RWS 350 Magnum came along, the 48/52/54 sidelever (same powerplant in different stocks) was the top Diana gun. But the long-stroke 350 breakbarrel produces even more power than those big bruisers.
It’s big but not heavy!
At 48″, the 350 Magnum is one of the longest air rifles on the market. But tipping the scales at just 8.2 lbs., it is medium weight – for the power. Being a long-stroke springer, it kicks hard, but not as hard as the Webley Patriot, which is also sold as the Beeman Kodiak.
Velocity and power
The .22 caliber rifle I tested got 935 f.p.s. with RWS Hobby pellets, 870 with RWS Superpoints and 675 with Beeman Kodiaks. To get the 1050 f.p.s. that RWS advertises, you’ll have to shoot a lightweight pellet with a synthetic skirt, which I don’t recommend doing in a spring rifle of this power – not enough cushion for the piston. So, the difference between this gun and the advertised velocity for the Kodiak/Patriot is nonexistent. In my testing, Superpoints delivered the most energy, at just under 24.5 foot-pounds. Crosman Premiers were the most accurate, with Kodiaks a close second.
Being a long-stroke springer, the 350 takes a lot of technique to shoot accurately. You have to float it very lightly to realize all the accuracy it has, which is a lot if you do your part. Do not grasp the stock in any way, but rest it on your open palm and allow the rifle to move when it fires. Don’t grip the pistol grip tightly or press the buttpad into your shoulder. In this respect, shooting the 350 is identical to shooting the Kodiak/Patriot. My five-shot groups averaged 0.35″ at 25 yards, which is almost as good as I can do with an RWS sidelever. I had an RWS 450 scope on mine, but one of the new Leapers TS scopes would be a better choice today, because they are more rugged and have clearer optics.
Mounting a scope
This is a weak point on all Diana RWS airguns. Their scope rail has three shallow depressions that are not deep enough to hold a recoil stop pin in a set of rings. There is a large-headed screw at the rear of the rail, and you may be tempted to butt the rear ring against the head (I’ve done it, too), but it will not take the repeated stress of recoil. If you use it that way, you can shear off the screw head! The solution, which I read about years ago, is to hang the scope stop pin in front of the rail, where it can bear against the full depth of the aluminum rail. That leaves half the front ring (assuming a two-piece ring set) hanging off the rail, which is a good reason to use a one-piece mount on an RWS airgun. I used a medium-height Beeman 5030 scope ring with the RWS scope, but any good non-adjustable ring should work. Just make sure you match the ring height and diameter to the scope used. The RWS scope ramp doesn’t give much clearance over the top of the compression tube.
The Diana scope rail is not very conducive to scope mounting. Don’t butt the rear ring against the large screw head at the right. Instead, hang the stop pin in front of the scope rail, so it has something to bear against.
Cocking a 350 is as easy as cocking a Beeman R1 and just a little harder than cocking one of the big Diana RWS sidelevers. At just 36 lbs., it’s nowhere near the effort required for a Patriot (50 lbs.) or the even more difficult Gamo 1250 (60 lbs.). Yet, this rifle has power equivalent to those airguns. The ballbearing detent that keeps the barrel closed is very easy to overcome, so you don’t need to slap the muzzle to break the barrel open.
The 350 Magnum comes in both .177 and .22. If you buy this rifle in .177, you’ll throw out so much power in that caliber. It’s like buying a new Corvette with a V6 engine (if they made one) for better fuel economy. However, this is just my opinion, and you know what they say about opinions!
The trigger can be adjusted to be very nice BUT YOU HAVE TO READ THE OWNER’S MANUAL! If you don’t, you’ll be turning screws for years without a clue as to what they do. Properly set up, a Diana trigger can be as crisp as a Rekord, and that’s saying a lot.
It’s a classic airgun!
The 350 magnum is large but not heavy. It’s powerful but easy to cock. It’s difficult to scope but very accurate when you do. Besides all that, it feels right when held and shot. It has all the earmarks of a classic air rifle that will endure the test of time.