Archive for May 2009
by B.B. Pelletier
Today I test the Daisy Powerline 953 TargetPro for accuracy and right off the bat I have to disqualify the sights that come with the gun. They are fiberoptic, which cannot be precise under any circumstances, and this set seems extremely difficult to use. For hitting Coke cans they are fine and for clipping clothes pins they’ll work okay, but for precision shooting you can forget them. All I had to do was fire four shots to know I couldn’t use them.
Allow me to explain. For precision shooting you have to see the front sight in relation to both the rear notch and the target. A fiberoptic front bead looks as large as a beachball when trying to aim a rifle. Yes, you can get on target quickly and if hitting within one inch at 10 yards is all you want this is the way to do it. But when you don’t want to be off by more than a few hundredths of an inch forget fiberoptics, ’cause they aren’t that precise.
So I jumped ahead and mounted a 4-power scope. I will return and test the rifle with target sights in the future, but today I wasn’t ready to do that. The scope I used is a short one that left the loading port open for loading, which quickly became a chore with several types of pellets. More on that as we review the pellets.
The 953 is a plinking rifle that some people use as an informal target rifle. So I shot off a rest at 10 meters. I decided to shoot 20-shot groups just because they worked so well with the U.S. Avenger 1100. Remember, this is not a test of target shooting. All we are looking at is group size from pellet to pellet. I kept the same aim point and just adjusted the scope knobs for each pellet.
RWS Club 10
The first pellet I tried was the RWS Club 10. It’s a utility pellet that 953 owners might select for plinking, so the results should prove interesting. The Club 10 was the hardest pellet to load of all four pellets tested. It tended to flip backwards on the loading ramp and didn’t always line up with the breech.
Beeman H&N Match
The next pellet I tried was the Beeman H&N Match. I expected to be blown away, but I wasn’t. The results were clearly better than the Club 10s, but nothing spectacular. These pellets also had some difficulty loading and tended to flip backwards in the loading port.
I expected Gamo Match pellets to group larger than H&N Match, but they didn’t. Apparently this 953 likes them! They also had the same loading problems as the first two.
By this point in the test I had fired 60 shots and was getting tired as many of you predicted. I therefore saved the pellet many feel to be the best in this rifle for last. No one can say I gave them special consideration.
RWS R-10 Match pellets
RWS R-10 Match pellets loaded without any problems. They are very smooth on the outside and didn’t seem to catch anything like the other pellets did. Please ignore the fact that they landed smack in the center of the black. That was just a coincidence, as all the pellets were fired after the scope was adjusted from a central aim point.
by B.B. Pelletier
This is an eye-opening day for me and for all who want to know the 953 TargetPro velocity. We had some readers chime in that their rifles were not in the 500s, so today we’ll see what this one can do.
Because this is a plinker as well as an informal target rifle, I selected pellets that were appropriate. Somebody asked for a .22 caliber single-stroke that makes 500 f.p.s. Be advised that there is only one rifle I know of that’s ever done that. The Dragon single-stroke was a 12 foot-pound gun, but the lever had to swing 105 degrees to pressurize enough air. Single-strokes are not that powerful, as a rule.
H&N Match pellets are made in light and heavy weights for pistols and rifles, respectively. There were the lights that weigh about 7.6 grains. They averaged 471 f.p.s., with a spread from 462 to 479. That’s a large spread for a single-stroke — almost double what I expected. I will still try this pellet for accuracy, though, because it has an excellent reputation.
Now, the RWS Diabolo Basic is a utility pellet. Ideal for plinking and probably okay for informal target shooting, too. We’ll see how good it is in the accuracy test. Because it weighs only 7 grains, I expected it to be the fastest pellet, but it averaged only 477 f.p.s. in this rifle. The spread was from 470 to 483, so it’s tighter than the H&N spread. But, like I said, not much faster.
Gamo Match pellets are an old standby. Often, surprisingly accurate in some guns, they are always worth trying in a target gun. Look how they did with the Air Venturi US Avenger 1100, not that it’s a target rifle. In the 953, they average 477 f.p.s. with a spread from 472 to 480. That makes them the pellet with the tightest velocity spread in this test.
Am I surprised? Yes. I expected to see velocities around 540 f.p.s. with the lighter pellets. Does that mean there’s something wrong with the test rifle? Not at all. In fact, this rifle may speed up as it breaks in.
Then, I remembered what I did with the IZH 46 when I tested its velocity. And I tried the same thing with this rifle. Average velocity for RWS Basics climbed to 547 f.p.s.! The spread was larger, though. It ran from 530 to 562.
So–what was that “thing” I did? I pumped the lever almost all the way three times before closing it. That rams a little more air into the gun. After 10 shots doing that, I tried one more shot with a single pump and got 459 f.p.s. I cannot recommend this procedure to anyone. No doubt it is hard on the mechanism. I just did it to see if this gun would react like the IZH 46, and it did.
The trigger is still not two-stage, but a couple of times it seemed to be headed in that direction–like there was a greater or more noticeable pause in the travel toward the end. I’m sure the trigger is breaking in, because it now breaks at 4.5 lbs. very regularly.
Can’t wait to try this rifle for accuracy. I’ll try it with the standard sights, then with target sight and finally with a short scope. It will probably take a couple more blogs to cover all of it.
by B.B. Pelletier
Daisy’s 853 target rifle has been an icon in youth target programs for the better part of 30 years. As an inexpensive 10-meter rifle, it has long represented the ground floor, but for causal shooters it is a bit pricey. However, Daisy also offers essentially the same gun as the Powerline 953 TargetPro with none of the frills and without the Lothar Walther barrel for just a fraction of the cost of the vetted target rifle. For the casual target shooter and plinker, it’s a price that cannot be overlooked
The 953 is a single-stroke pneumatic rifle that can function as a single-shot and as a five-shot repeater–it’s your choice. I will show you how to convert the rifle from repeater to single-shot in a future report. You must switch from the single-shot loading platform to the five-shot magazine, which is quick and simple to do. The magazine indexes automatically each time you pull the bolt back to cock the gun and, when the last pellet is fired, the bolt is blocked from going forward, signaling the need to reload.
The rifle is available in .177 caliber only and buyers should know there are no possibilities to increase the power. Be prepared to accept plinking velocities around 525-550 f.p.s.
The trigger is perhaps the weakest part of the gun, but it’s no worse than the trigger on the 853. It’s called a two-stage trigger, but in my opinion it’s really a single-stage with a long, creepy pull. It releases at just under 5 lbs. on the test rifle, but shows signs of breaking in to a lower-effort pull. Well-used rifles are often breaking below 4 lbs. and coaches all over American are able to adjust it to break at less 2 lbs. with less creep. The instructions are all over the internet. Any reader who has tuned their 953 trigger is welcome to chime in here.
This trigger is non-adjustable by design. Competition rules require a 1.5-lb. pull and rifles are tested at every competition, where a cocked trigger must lift a 1.5-lb. weight. There’s a manual safety located in the triggerguard, which is the best of all worlds.
The sights are fully adjustable fiberoptic open sights, which to my thinking are the most inappropriate sights this rifle could have. But if you view it as a pure plinker instead of a target rifle, I guess they’re okay. However, they come off easily and better sights can be installed in their place, which I plan on doing. A small scope is also possible, as is a red dot.
You have to love the stock! It’s shaped as an offhand stock with a vertical pistol grip and a very high butt and Monte Carlo comb. The forearm is flat on the bottom, but the pump handle precludes any accessory rail. It’s perfect for offhand work, which plinkers do as much as target shooters.
The stock is made from a dark synthetic. It is dense and adds some weight so the rifle doesn’t feel like a kid’s gun. It hefts like a lightweight adult rifle, and most adults will like the feel and balance.
The pump handle is metal and swings easier than the ones I remember on new 853s. Keep the felt washer and o-ring on the pump head lubricated with either Crosman Pellgunoil or the “clean motor oil” Daisy recommends for wiping down the outside of the gun (!) and the inside of the barrel. My only comment here comes from 20 years of having Pellgunoil (from Crosman) and 20-weight non-detergent motor oil (from Daisy) drilled into me. I guess modern synthetic seals can take almost anything, so just follow the instructions. Pennzoil will work, apparently.
The rifle is cocked by pulling straight back on the plastic cocking handle on the right side of the action. The location of the handle and loading tray favors right-handed shooters, but the rest of the stock and trigger are ambidextrous.
The barrel looks spindly, but bear in mind the powerplant has zero vibration. It’s plenty stiff to handle the load asked of it. And, from what some of our readers have said, it’s a good one.
As for ruggedness and longevity, this same action in the 853 has endured hundreds of thousands of shots and rough handling by hundreds of shooters. These are the club guns that everyone uses and no one but the coaches care for. The seals (o-rings) have to be replaced periodically, but that’s about it.
I’m going to test this rifle normally, then I will try a few sight options and maybe some other things. So, settle in for a long, thorough test.