Archive for September 2011
by B.B. Pelletier
Kit Palencar is this week’s Big Shot of the Week.
Today, we’ll complete the test of CB caps against an air rifle to show which is the better gun to use for close-in shooting. There will be a surprise in today’s report, plus I’ll summarize the entire test.
Today’s shooting is all at 10 yards. This is probably where the test should have started rather than finished. Once again, here are the players.
Air rifle — A Talon SS with 24-inch optional .22-caliber barrel and a bloop tube silencer. The rifle is scoped with a Leapers 3-12×44 SWAT scope. It’s shooting the .22-caliber JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellet.
The rimfire rifles are:
1. A Remington 521T target rifle chambered in .22 Long Rifle
2. A Stevens Armory 414 target rifle chambered in .22 Long Rifle
3. A Winchester Winder musket chambered in .22 Short
CCI CB Longs
Aguila Super Colibris
CCI CB Shorts
RWS BB caps
RWS CB caps
Left to right we have the RWS BB cap, RWS CB cap, CCI CB Short, Aguila Super Colibri and CCI CB Long.
Shooting indoors and the sound
I shot this final round indoors, so the relative discharge sounds could be closely monitored. There wasn’t much difference between the air rifle and any of the rimfire rounds except for the two RWS cartridges. Both of them were shot in the Winder musket’s 28-inch barrel and were slightly louder than all the others, with the BB caps being the loudest of all.
At 10 yards, the Talon SS shot all its pellets into a single hole that, until the tenth shot, was just 0.145 inches between centers. Shot 10, however, opened the group to 0.343 inches. You can see it when you look at the group. No excuses, though. I watched the last pellet drop and open the group, yet the hold on that shot was perfect, as it was for all the others.
The Winder musket has proven to be the rimfire star of this test; and at 10 yards, it did what I thought was impossible. It beat the air rifle! Ten CCI CB Shorts tore into a group that measures just 0.258 inches between centers. So, the CB caps beat the air rifle. I wouldn’t have believed this was possible if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes; but, clearly, the fact that the rimfires were shooting with peep sights against the air rifle’s scope did not sway the test that much.
The Winder musket, shooting CCI CB caps, beat the Talon SS at 10 yards.
The Winder was a star at 10 yards. It grouped 10 CCI CB Shorts in 0.258 inches, 10 RWS CB caps in 0.409 inches and 10 RWS BB caps in 1.033 inches.
Even RWS CB caps did well in the Winder at 10 yards.
All of the rimfire rifles shot good groups with CB caps and BB caps at 10 yards. The Remington 521T grouped 10 CCI CB Longs in 0.666 inches and 10 Aguila Super Colibris in 1.119 inches. The Stevens Armory 414 grouped 10 CCI CB Longs in 0.778 inches and 10 Aguila Super Colibris in 1.083 inches.
There was another small surprise during this test. The Stevens Armory 414 out-shot the Remington 521T with Aguila Super Colibris and was nearly as good as the Remington with CCI CB Longs. That tells me that the Stevens is a good-shooting rifle, after all, but maybe it doesn’t stabilize the slow-moving CB bullets well enough for accuracy at longer distances. I’ll come back to that thought in a moment.
Something I didn’t mention before
Blog reader Mike (I think) reminded me that CB caps have a pinch of gunpowder in the case, where BB caps are powered by the primer, alone. In this report, I’ve made it sound like the CB cap is also primer-powered with no powder, but that’s not the case. I took apart a CCI Long cartridge to show you the powder, and I’ve put it next to a CCI Green Tag .22 Long Rifle for comparison.
This goes in the “Don’t try this at home” instructions. At the top is a CCI CB Long pulled apart. Below is a CCI Green Tag Long Rifle cartridge pulled apart.
What I didn’t do in this test
I didn’t bust my tail trying CB caps in every .22 I have. If I had, no doubt the results might have been a little different; but I doubt there would have been anything earth-shattering. Any reader who has access to a fine .22 rimfire target rifle is welcome to try his or her hand at this test and report the results. I would really love to hear what a Remington 40X or an Anschütz free rifle could do. Until I hear different, I’m thinking these results are fairly representative of what you will see from a .22.
I have formed the following conclusions from the test results.
First, a CB cap in almost any .22 rimfire rifle in good condition can be accurate enough to dispatch pests at 10 yards or less. If you have a squirrel in the attic, a CB cap might be your best solution — especially if you don’t have an air rifle ready to go.
The rifle does have to be sighted-in for CB caps. Though they will be off by only an inch or so at 10 yards, the targets are often small enough that it does matter. Having a scope that has mil-dots so you can easily shift aim points is the best way to compensate for this.
Beyond 10 yards, the CB cap accuracy starts falling off rapidly. The rifle and exact round you choose start mattering. This is not true for air rifles, because one air rifle can be good from 10 yards to 50 yards with just slight changes in the aim point.
At 25 yards, the CB caps become very chancy, and it really matters which rifle and which rounds are selected. In this test, I found that no CB cap/rifle combination was good enough to go all the way to 50 yards. Yet, the air rifle did so with ease and could go even farther.
I’m going to say the CB caps are not stabilized out to 50 yards, because that’s what it looks like from the results. I just don’t think those bullets have enough spin to keep them on track that far out.
CB caps are quiet, but not more than a quiet PCP. When you’re in close confines, they’ll sound louder than you think.
Some rifles are simply not suited to the use of CB caps. I eliminated the Ruger 10/22 from the test after experiencing difficulty loading the caps.
Stuffing those tiny CB caps into the Ruger 10/22’s deep breech is no picnic. I don’t recommend it.
CB caps are expensive; but if you don’t plan to shoot a lot of them, they’re much cheaper than buying an entire air rifle. CB caps are ideal for older .22 rifles that may not have the strength needed for today’s more powerful cartridges.
On the other hand, if you own a quality air rifle like the Talon SS I’ve used in this test, I wouldn’t think of using CB caps in its place. The air rifle is so clearly ahead of the CB caps at all ranges — the results of the 10-yard test notwithstanding — that it simply makes no sense.
Was it worth the effort?
It absolutely was worth all the time spent gathering the data in this test, because now we have some solid performance data as a gauge. No, this may not be the last test anyone ever does, but it’s the first of its type of which I am aware. From now on, when somebody gives you the CB cap excuse for not shooting an airgun, you have something to help you argue your point.
by B.B. Pelletier
Once again, it’s time for me to fasten ice skates to the bottom of a stepladder, then try to skate across bumpy ice while carrying a flask of nitroglycerin. Seriously, that is how it feels to trust in something that all your life you’ve avoided because you felt it was too imprecise. Pistols and scopes just don’t mix in B.B. Pelletier’s world. But, today’s Part 2 of the test of BSA’s 2×20 pistol scope. It’s mounted on my Beeman P1 pistol, and I’m using BKL’s new 556 riser blocks to clamp to the P1 dovetail. I selected a pair of nondescript Weaver rings to hold the scope. They’re matte silver, so they don’t even match the finish on the pistol and the scope, but they work perfectly. You could use Hawke Weaver rings and do very well.
Last time, I was at 10 meters and wondering whether I would put a round through the wall behind the target trap. This time, I backed up to 25 yards — three rooms away from the target and wondered what damage I would wreak upon our house. Normally, I shoot handguns at this distance on a range, so this was a first. Even when I’ve tested other air pistols at long range, I’ve always shot out the bedroom window, but now I was trusting myself to keep them all on the target paper 75 feet away. Spooky!
No noticeable parallax
One reader asked me about parallax, but I was too busy not shooting the walls in the first test to notice whether or not the crosshairs moved when you move your head.
They don’t. Instead the entire image goes black. So, if you can see the image, no amount of head movement will make the crosshairs move on the target. If the image goes black, you’re done, anyway. Time to reposition the gun.
Parallax, of course, is the apparent movement of the crosshairs against the target; if your head is not always in exactly the same place, you’ll aim at different places on the target. With a rifle, you have a stock into which you press your cheek; but with a pistol, there’s no similar cue, so this was a good question. It appears the scope manufacturers have figured it correctly. At least BSA Optics has.
I was genuinely afraid that the pellet would not hit the target from 25 yards. After the first shot, I trained binoculars on the target to see where the pellet had gone. Because I was still shooting Crosman Premier lite pellets, I could not see the small ragged hole even through the binoculars, so I walked down and checked the target. Surprise! Even though the crosshairs had been moving all around the bull, there was a neat hole cutting the nine ring at one o’clock.
The next nine pellets also hit the target paper and gave me a group that measures 2.92 inches. I’ll be the first to admit this groups does not look that good, but please take into account that it was shot by a handgun at 25 yards. If I did this well with a .45 ACP, I’d be smiling. Of course, the big holes left by the bullets would make the group seem proportionately smaller.
I wasn’t satisfied with that group — other than all shots hit the paper. I modified my hold by holding the butt of the gun just in front of the sandbag rest, where before the gun had been six inches in front of the bag.
Group two was only slightly smaller, at 2.675 inches. If you look at it, eight of the shots made a group measuring just 1.743 inches. That seems a lot better to me.
Next, I put the actual butt of the pistol on the bag and held it there. The crosshairs grew rock-steady in this hold, and I thought I was on to something. But group three measures 3.467 inches — the largest to this point, and the largest group of the day, as it turned out. Apparently pistols need the artillery hold in the same way rifles do.
For the final group, I reverted to the hold in which the butt of the gun was just in front of the bag but not touching it. I was getting tired by this time, but I still managed to shoot a 2.311-inch group to end the session.
Forty shots and all of them on the paper at 25 yards. I’d call that success.
The scope is actually easy to use once you learn to trust it. I wasn’t used to seeing how much my hands shake and the scope really brings that out, so be prepared if you decide to get a pistol scope. I also find it difficult to believe that there’s any magnification at all. To me, it just looks like I am peering though a very clear window at the target about 40 feet away
I’m not finished with this test, because I still have to try the pistol with other pellets. I spent extra time trying to discover a good hold, and so far I’m satisfied. I’ll continue to experiment. For now, I think I know the best way to hold the gun for good groups. It just seems like those dang crosshairs are jumping all over the place!
by B.B. Pelletier
This question keeps coming up for me. How do I tell a new airgunner what he or she should buy as a first airgun? They come to me with their questions, and they don’t always ask them the same way; but they do all want to know the same thing. What gun should I buy?
It was easier for me. When I was growing up, we didn’t have the internet. As far as airguns are concerned, if they didn’t advertise in the backs of comic books and Boy’s Life and maybe Popular Mechanics, I didn’t know they existed. I went more on what my friends had than on anything else, and I certainly didn’t ask the advice of an adult.
That latter remark is probably still very true today, though the internet has blurred identities to the point that a teenager and an octagenarian can converse without knowing it.
Back to the question. What do you tell a prospective new airgunner when one comes to you looking for advice? Do you steer him toward your favorite airgun, regardless of everything else (money, intended purpose, availability of places to shoot, physical size of the person, etc)? Or do you have some pre-recorded tape you put on that goes through many questions in hopes of discovering what he wants to do with the airgun? Perhaps you play the roll of the non-directive therapist and let him talk about his desires until you both have a clear idea of what he wants.
This website attracts airgunners from around the world. It also attracts those who think they may have an interest in airgunning but aren’t sure. A couple dozen of them work up the courage to make a comment on some blog report, but 99.99 percent never say anything. They just watch, read the reports and the comments people make about them. They probably also visit several of the airgun forums and do pretty much the same thing; except that over there they may feel more threatened by the jargon and slang everyone seems to use. What’s a P-rod, and if you tell me that it’s a Benjamin Marauder pistol, why do they call it that? What’s dieseling, valve bounce, ballistic coefficient, lock time, etc.?
They also run into a crowd of discontents who have plenty to say about airguns they don’t own. The person who lingers long enough will get a bead on whose remarks can be trusted and whose should be ignored. But that still doesn’t answer his fundamental question about which airgun he should get.
If you could talk to these budding new airgunners, what would you tell them? Would you want their first airgunning experiences to be positive or should they be forced to earn their stripes the same way you did? If you vote for the positive experience, how do you ensure they get that through your writings on the internet?
Are we all the same?
I guess it boils down to this question, “Do we all want the same thing?” Is the primary goal of an airgun to hit its intended target, or is it something else? Should it be the most powerful gun in its class, regardless of the potential for accuracy? Or do you believe that just because a tester wasn’t able to get the best accuracy out of a gun doesn’t mean that you can’t?
If power is supreme over everything else, should you buy the fastest advertised airgun and spend the time to learn how to shoot it accurately? Or are there such things as inaccurate airguns that cannot hit what they’re aimed at, no matter what you do? Or is there a good aftermarket tune that can be done to improve the accuracy of almost anything?
Or maybe cost is the most important thing. Can you calculate the relative power of all guns and compare them to one another to find the least expensive airgun that has the greatest power? And, if you toss accuracy into that mix, what does that do to the results?
Or are you looking for something much better and more refined than the average airgunner? Are the finish of the metal and the grade of wood on the gun of paramount importance to you? If they are, do the photos of airguns online look like the guns that are actually shipped, or do the dealers cherry-pick a gun from all the guns in their warehouse to use as the example? Should you wait to buy a gun because you have to see it and hold it before you can know for sure that it’s as beautiful as you hope?
Who can you trust?
Do airgun testers tell the truth about the guns they test, or are they all sold out to the industry? Can you trust someone who’s given a gun to test and doesn’t have to pay for it?
Can you trust a dealer who has test reports on his website? Why would he ever show you a bad report?
Or do owners lie about their own guns because they bought them and now cannot face the reality that the gun they bought is no good? Is it like The Emperor’s New Clothes, where everyone walks around knowing the emperor is naked but nobody wants to admit it publicly?
What do YOU tell a new airgunner?
I’m asking you again. What do you tell a new airgunner? How do you lead him into this hobby in the best possible way?
I met a man…
I met a man who bought the most powerful car he could afford. He was walking because the car cost too much to keep running and he had no money for fuel and maintenance.
I met a man who calculated the cost of everything and bought the cheapest car he could find that met his minimum performance requirements. He was walking because the car he bought was a Yugo.
I met a man who bought the finest car he could afford. It had lustrous paint, a rich leather interior and a finely crafted motor that ran in absolute silence. He was walking because he didn’t want to risk damaging his fine car.
I met a man who bought a car that everyone else said was a dog. He got it at a great price because the store was blowing them out in a fantastic sale. He was walking because his car broke and there were no parts to repair it.
I met a man who didn’t buy a car. He was walking because he was worried that he wouldn’t buy the right car or that he might buy the right car but get a lemon.
I met a man who had watched all the other men. He was driving a taxicab.
by B.B. Pelletier
Benjamin’s 347 multi-pump was sold between 1969 and 1992.
Let’s shoot this old classic Benjamin multi-pump and find out just how accurate it can be. This is a test of a rifle you can’t get anymore, but the Benjamin 397 is a very similar airgun, if you’re interested.
Before we begin
I must first comment on the open sights; because after many trips to the range with the .22 rimfire target rifles I’ve been using for the CB cap test, I was shocked back to reality by the wide open notch in the rear sight blade on the 347. It isn’t a precision sight in any respect, and the rear notch is about three times too wide for the front post. I had to guesstimate if the front post was centered in the rear notch, because it’s too wide to know for sure.
Some readers might be inclined to mount a scope or a red dot sight on a rifle like this, but I’m not going to. It has always seemed to me that a rifle like this was meant to be shot with open sights, plus the mounting methods for optics on these multi-pumps leave something to be desired. The mounts can flex the barrel solder joint, eventually breaking it. There’s no good repair when that happens.
I also want to comment on the trigger. Compared to a modern “lawyer” trigger, this one is downright decent. Oh, it isn’t super-light, nor is it especially crisp, but it still breaks at less than 3 lbs., as we discovered in Part 1 of this report; and that’s a trait I like in a sporting rifle. I wish all modern airgun triggers could be this nice.
I decided to shoot at 10 meters, partly because I didn’t know what to expect from this rifle and partly because this is a sporting rifle, after all. It isn’t supposed to be a 50-yard tackdriver.
This rifle does have one quirk. The pump link is loose at the pump handle; every time you pump the rifle, it shifts position with a click. That could easily be fixed with a new link and bushing.
The first shot was offhand from about 15 feet to establish that the pellet was going pretty close to the point of aim. It was, so I moved back to 10 meters, where I rested the rifle for the test.
The first pellet tested was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. The 347 is a .177-caliber rifle, and in that caliber the Hobby weighs just 7 grains. I decided to use five pumps per shot, which is enough to shoot even farther than I was for this test.
After the first test shot, I figured that the pellet would rise a bit at 10 meters, and it did. Since the rifle has no scope, I used binoculars to verify that the pellet was hitting the point of aim, which was a six o’clock hold on a 10-meter rifle bull.
The shots were landing slightly low and to the left, but they were within the bull, so I left the sights exactly where they’d been.
Next up were Beeman Kodiaks. I’ve found over the years that these heavy pure-lead domes usually perform well in multi-pumps. They are one of my “go-to” choices. As before, the gun was pumped five times.
For some reason, this rifle didn’t like the Kodiaks as much as I thought it would. They made a slightly larger group than the Hobbys, but I thought it would be just the other way around. This is still a good group, but it isn’t as good as I expected.
The final pellet tested in the 347 was the Crosman Premier lite. Where the other two pellets had some resistance upon entering the breech, there was none with the Premier lite. It went in like it was made for the rifle…which it is, in a way.
Because I’m shooting 10-shot groups, I don’t have to keep shooting group after group when the results are good. Ten shots eliminates a lot of the randomness of a 5-shot group. To put it simply, it’s far more difficult to shoot 10 shots and have all of them be right than it is to shoot just 5.
So, the 347 is a shooter, just as I thought it would be. It’s right in there with all the other good-quality multi-pumps.
One other thing to note is that the points of impact for all three pellets were remarkably close. Hobbys being very light and Kodiaks being on the heavy end should have spread these points of impact more than you see; but this was shot at close range, and a pneumatic is less influenced by pellet weight than a springer. That’s something for hunters to bear in mind.
The bottom line
A vintage multi-pump like this one has a lot going for it. It will have a much nicer trigger than contemporary models; and unless it’s been abused, it should shoot just as well as a modern pneumatic. With all the aftermarket support that is available for rifles like these, you can be sure they will be doing their thing for decades to come.
Just remember to oil the pump piston head with Crosman Pellgunoil and to store the gun with a pump of air at all times.
by B.B. Pelletier
Because of the difficulty I had with the Oehler chronograph under the trees when I tried to do the velocity test the first time, today will be the velocity test. I was in the northern part of the Texas Hill Country for this test, and the sky was pure blue without a single cloud.
One reader left a message about several specific velocities he wanted me to test, but it doesn’t work that way. Since I now know the power settings and the pellets that produce the greatest accuracy in the TalonP air pistol, that’s where I started the test. It doesn’t make sense chronographing srtings of shots at different velocities if I don’t know that those velocities will be where the gun will always shoot best…does it?
Before we begin, perhaps I should mention for our newer readers that .25-caliber pellets are inherently less accurate than .22-caliber pellets. In test after test, I’ve seen the .25s perform less well than a comparable .22. Since .25-caliber pellets are the heaviest of the smallbore caliber pellets, they’ll produce the greatest energy. Many shooters choose a .25 for that reason. I’m telling you this so you’ll have some context for the report that follows.
This pellet performed great in the first (25 yard) accuracy test. It worked well from power setting three up to just before power setting six, where the groups opened up noticeably. Setting three was the most accurate setting of all, so that’s where I chronoed the gun.
Benjamin domes delivered an average 486 f.p.s. on power setting three. The range went from 480 to 496 f.p.s., for a total variance of 16 f.p.s. I did notice, however, that as I continued shooting, the velocity varied even more. For example, shot 20 was 499 f.p.s. The power curve of the pistol is narrow at this setting. That won’t matter one iota, as long as you keep your shots under 50 yards; and at this power setting, that’s what you should do anyway. But let’s keep this in mind. At the average velocity, this 27.8-grain pellet generates 14.58 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
Beeman Kodiak Match
At 31 grains, the .25-caliber Beeman Kodiak Match pellet has two things going for it. First, it’s one of the most universally accurate pellets in .25 caliber. Since many pellets are not accurate in this caliber, this is a pellet you want to try in just about every airgun.
The other thing Kodiaks have going for them is their weight. At 31 grains, they’re a medium-weight pellet in the quarter-inch bore. With the lightweights down at just over 20 grains and the heavyweights at 43 grains, the Kodiaks are a nice compromise of weight with accuracy.
We saw how accurate Kodiaks are at 25 yards in the last report, so let’s test them at the same power setting (three) they were at when shooting those groups. They average 439 f.p.s. on this power setting, and the range goes from a low of 435 to a high of 452 f.p.s. The spread is 17 f.p.s. At this velocity, the pellet generates 13.27 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
I know what you must be thinking at this point. Here’s an air pistol that purportedly gets 50 foot-pounds of energy, so why am I messing around with performance under 20? Good question. I’m just testing the velocity at which the best 25-yard groups were produced. However, I did not spend any time with the Kodiak at power settings above that during the accuracy test, so let’s now see what turning up the power gives us.
At power setting six, Kodiaks average 526 f.p.s. The spread went from 518 to 537 f.p.s. At the average velocity, that’s an average of 19.05 foot-pounds. I also tested Kodiaks at higher settings; but before we get to them, let me finish the other tests.
Eun Jin 43.2-grain pointed pellets
For the 43.2-grain pellet from Eun Jin, I cranked up the adjustment wheel as far as it would go. I want to test the maximum number of shots at max power. Instead of giving you the statistics, I’ll show you the entire string. This was starting with a 3,000 psi fill and finishing (based on velocity, not remaining pressure) at just under 2,000 psi:
Okay, looking at that string tells us several things. For starters, at closer ranges, like 25 yards, there probably are 12 good shots on a fill. But you’re safer stopping after shot 10.
For long-range shots, you might want to refill after 8 shots. As always, you need to prove these guesses by shooting at actual targets at the distances you’re interested in.
Taking the highest velocity seen in this string, we can calculate a muzzle energy of 57.48 foot-pounds. At the low end of the 8-shot string, 738 f.p.s. gives us an energy of 52.26 foot-pounds. Right there is your 50+ foot-pounds that everybody wanted to see.
Changes in the power wheel
One thing that’s characteristic of the AirForce power wheel is that, when changes are made, it takes a shot or two to settle the gun at the new setting. Let’s see what that looks like when I drop the power back to setting 10 and continue to shoot the heavy Eun Jins:
6 did not record
There’s a power drop at setting 10, and also no better shot count, for some reason. If we disregard the first shot because the gun was settling in to the new power setting, then shots 2 through 9 are the 8-shot string of consideration. The max power is 54.98 foot-pounds, and the lowest power is 47.15 foot-pounds. But with no more shots per string, I would only select this setting if it offered an accuracy advantage.
Back to Kodiaks
Now that we’ve seen what the pistol can offer with the heaviest pellets, let’s return to the Beeman Kodiaks and see what they do on power setting 10:
This group tells us a lot. First, the gun is not on the power curve at setting 10 with this pellet. The first shot is slow because of the gun settling in, but the remainder are still climbing into the power curve. I would call shot 4 the first good shot we see, and that tells me I should experiment with a lower fill pressure of perhaps 2,800 psi to see if I can get the first shot to go as fast as shot 4 goes in this string.
I would call shot 13 the last good shot in this string. If I stop there and begin with shot 4, there are 10 good shots in this string. Interesting!
The maximum power in this string came with shot 7 and is 47.78 foot-pounds. The lowest power came on the last shot and registers 44.18 foot-pounds. That’s a vert tight string and an interesting one that needs to be tested at longer range.
Dropping the power wheel back to 8 gives us the following string with Kodiaks:
Wow! It should be obvious with this string that on power setting eight, the gun does not want to be filled to 3,000 psi when shooting Beeman Kodiaks! In fact, it appears that a fill of around 2,600 psi might be the ticket! Notice that the velocity climbs more than 200 f.p.s. during this string.
I would say that the useful shots in this string start with shot 11 and continue to shot 22. That’s a string of 12 good shots with a low velocity of 771 f.p.s. and a high of 811 f.p.s. At the low velocity, the gun generates 40.93 foot-pounds of muzzle energy; and at the high, it generates 45.29 foot-pounds.
What have we learned?
We’ve learned that while there are a large number of powerful shots available, the number 10 to 12 keeps coming up, no matter where you are in regard to the power setting or which pellet is used. Take that with a grain of salt, though; because at the shorter range of 25 yards, I showed that the groups don’t open up that much. So, I’m now thinking of longer distances, like 50 yards.
I was very surprised when blog reader Matt made his comments last week, when he wondered how the TalonP operates. But I guess that’s because I’m so familiar with this gun, which is basically like all other AirForce sporting guns. Matt and everyone else who wonders how it works will get a little explanation.
The TalonP is a single-shot PCP air pistol. It has a removable air reservoir that nominally gets filled to 3,000 psi, though we’ve learned differently in this report.
While the Talon rifles have interchangeable barrels in each of the four smallbore calibers and each at three different barrel lengths, the TalonP pistol comes only as a .25-caliber gun with a 12-inch Lothar Walther barrel. Everyone wants to know if the rifle barrels will interchange with the pistol barrel, or if the pistol reservoir can be installed in a rifle. A quick examination shows that the basic hole patterns for the bushing screws are the same, but the length of the barrel breech is slightly different. I’m not going to try to interchange anything without checking with AirForce first, because there may be some fundamental differences between the pistol and the rifles that are not easily overcome.
The power adjustment wheel on the left is turned to advance and retard the power setting, indicated by the screw in the slot at the right. Here, the gun is set to 8 on the power adjustment. The numbers on the wheel correspond to smaller changes. The settings are just approximate but do relate specifically to each rifle. If I come back to this setting, I’ll get similar results.
The TalonP has a power adjustment wheel that resembles the one found on the three rifles. It works the same way and has the same characteristics of operation. Just like on the rifles, this wheel is not a precision adjustment that can be carried from gun to gun. In other words, power setting 3 on the test pistol may perform like power setting 5 on a different pistol. When it comes to the power settings, every AirForce owner must take the time to learn the peculiarities of his individual airgun, because no two are exactly the same.
In the next report, I’ll get back out to the range and test the pistol on higher power at longer distance.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today I will show you what CB caps did at 25 yards. Please remember the thrust of this investigation is to see whether a CB cap can be substituted for a good (read that as a PCP) air rifle. The four things I am interested in are the cost of ammo, accuracy, power and the noise at discharge.
Thus far we have learned that the air rifle is more accurate than the best CB cap at 50 yards. The pellets for that rifle are considerably less expensive than a similar quantity of CB caps and the dischange sound of my Talon SS with its 24-inch optional .22-caliber barrel the way I have it set up (with a bloop tube silencer installed) is as quiet as the quietest CB cap tested. And when I say CB cap, know that I’m also including the RWS BB cap in the list of ammo being tested.
So at 50 yards, you’ll want to choose an accurate precharged air rifle over a CB cap in any .22 rifle. But what about closer? What if the pests you want to shoot are no farther than 25 yards away? Today we will see how CB caps do at that distance, and of course as always, I will shoot the air rifle right with them, so we can keep track of things.
It was so easy to test the air rifle first, because if it is sighted-in at 50 yards, it’s also very close at 25 yards. In fact, my rifle is sighted-in for 25 yards and I have simply tolerated it at 50 yards because the group was close enough to the aim point. The same .22-caliber JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellet was used as at 50 yards.
The Talon SS set the bar pretty high for the rest of the rifles. Ten JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets went into this group measuring 0.436-inches between centers.
CCI CB Longs
Now it was the turn of the CCI CB Long CB caps. The first rifle to fire them was the Remington 521T that proved fairly accurate (for a CB cap) at 50 yards.
Ten CCI CB Longs went into this group measuring 1.83-inches at 25 yards. The Remington 521T did it.
After that, the Stevens 414 Armory stepped up to the plate. As you may recall, it did so poorly with both brands of CB caps at 50 yards that I fired a group of 9 Wolf Match Target rounds, which are regular .22 long rifle target rounds, just to see if the rifle was accurate at all. It was with that ammo, but not with the CB caps.
At 25 yards the 414 was a little better. Ten shots went into a group measuring 2.787 inches across. While that’s not tack-driving accuracy, at least they were all on the paper this time.
Not a killer group, but much better than the performance at 50 yards. Stevens 414 Armory shooting CCI CB Longs in this 2.787-inch group.
Aguila Super Colibri
The next round to be tested was the Super Colibri from Aguila. You may remember that we discovered that the Colibri rounds shoot way too slow for rifles and had to be eliminated from this test, so the Super Colibri is the only Aguila round being tested.
In the Remington 521T they performed adequately. Ten shots went into a group measuring 3.476 inches at 25 yards. While that might be good enough for plinking, no one would ever confuse it as an accurate round for pest elimination.
Not a stellar performance, but the best we did with Aguila Super Colibris at 25 yards. These ten shots made a 3.476-inch group.
Next up was the Stevens Armory 414, and while all ten shots did land on the target paper at 25 yards, they were spread out over 5-7/8-inches. Clearly the Stevens rifle does not like CB caps one bit. I won’t even show the group, because there is nothing to see.
RWS BB and CB caps
At this point the RWS BB caps and CB caps were up, and only one rifle is shooting them — my Winchester Winder musket. I did that because it is chambered for .22 Shorts, so the shorter RWS cases won’t cause as much trouble as they might in a rifle chambered for the .22 Long Rifle round.
The BB cap target I won’t show because the group is too large, and one round landed off the target. It measured about seven inches in all, which makes this round infeasible for use at 25 yards in this rifle. After the test is completed I may go back and try the round in the Remington, just to see if I’m right about the chamber being too long, but right now I’m finished with it at 25 yards.
The RWS CB cap, on the other hand, turned in a 10-shot group that measured 1.792-inches across, making it the best CB cap group at this range thus far. This tells be that the performance of the BB cap in this rifle is probably better than I would see in the Remington, because this rifle just out-shot the Remington’s best 25-yard group. So it is clear that the RWS CB cap is a cartridge to contend with, and also the Winder musket is no slouch in the accuracy department.
Best CB cap target at 25 yards to this point! The Winder musket can shoot and the RWS CB cap is not bad, either. Group measures 1.792-inchs across.
CCI CB Short
Only one cartridge remains — the CCI CB Short. We learned in the velocity test that it is equally powerful as the CB Long and has an identical bullet, so the only significant difference is the Short has a shorter case. It is ideal for rifles chambered for the .22 Short round.
You would think that would make this cartridge very similar to the CB Long, but that’s not how it turned out! When I was done with the string and looked at the target for the first time, I was amazed! The Winder musket has iron target sights, so I couldn’t see the group as it formed, and that was probably a good thing, because look at what it did.
Does this group look a lot like the tight air rifle group at the beginning of the report? It does to me. Ten rounds went into 0.981 inches, with nine of them cutting a group that measures 0.604-inches! That’s pretty amazing.
Obviously I have found a winner with the Winder musket and CCI CB Shorts. They are equally accurate as the air rifle and might be used to pick squirrels off the bird feeder, as long as it isn’t too far away, and the rifle is sighted-in for the cartridge.
Sum up for 25 yards
At 25 yards, some CB caps will work, while others won’t. It seems to rely a lot on the individual rifle at this range. Since I have only tried a couple rifles, I would think the possibilities are wide open for anyone who owns a .22 rimfire.
Let’s remember that these bullets are being powered by priming compound, alone. And it is the priming step that is both the most critical in the production of rimfire ammunition, and also the one most prone to failures. I did have several failures to fire with the Stevens Armory 414, but when I shot .22 Long Rifles there was only a single failure and that one didn’t work after three tries. Perhaps the Armory could use a tuneup, and maybe that is what is behind its poor showings.
The last group shown was the one that really stunned me. I would have bet big money before conducting this test that no CB cap in any rifle would every turn in that kind of performance. Well, that’s why I’m doing this. Now we all know a lot more about what CB caps can and cannot do.
There is one more test to conduct at 10 meters. That’s for those who just want to shoot squirrels in their attic. Then I will sum up all the important lessons this report has revealed.
by B.B. Pelletier
It was bound to happen sometime, and today was the day. My Oehler 35 chronograph failed to function at the range, so today has to be an accuracy day instead of a velocity day. The problem was overhanging trees that blocked the sky from the skyscreens. I could have moved into the sun, but I was short on air; and before I ran this test, I had no idea how much air the pistol would use. So, conservation was the main goal. I went straight to shooting groups.
Perhaps, now is the time to mention that I mounted the superb Hawke 4.5-14×42 Sidewinder scope on the pistol in Leapers 30mm high rings. Because I used a two-piece mount, the positioning options are very generous, which may be important as I get used to holding the pistol.
After a sight-in of two rounds at ten feet, I was on paper at 25 yards and ready to begin. Then, the enormity of this report hit me. The TalonP air pistol has adjustable power and, despite my saying in Part 1 that everyone will probably leave it at full power all the time, I discovered otherwise when the situation became real. With adjustable power and a fairly broad choice of pellets, I could spend a year with the gun and not learn all its secrets.
When you find yourself in a similar situation, you can turn it around by starting with what you know. I knew that AirForce said this gun gets 30 good shots on low power, so I adjusted it as low as it would go and began shooting.
They aren’t boasting, folks. This pistol really does get at least 30 good shots on low power. And they are not low-powered shots, either! We’ll have to wait until I get the chronograph numbers to back it up, but I could tell just by the time of flight and the impact sound made by the pellet that these quarter-inch lead pellets were hitting with authority.
The first pellet I tried was the 25.4-grain JSB Exact King dome. These fit the bore very well. They sailed right into the target and left only enough of the center of the bull that I didn’t lose my aim point.
The early success got me started; and from that point on, I had a ball. I shot the pistol 30 shots per 3,000 psi fill, but I shot five-shot groups instead of ten because I was still thinking about air conservation and there were lots of pellets and power settings to test.
After the first run, I started fiddling with the power setting. The JSBs did well until I boosted the power to No. 6 on the dial. Then the pellets started to open up.
By this time, I’d fired many groups and was ready for the big enchilada — the 43.2-grain Eun Jin pointed pellet that produces 50 foot-pounds in this gun. I filled the tank and ran the power wheel all the way up.
Loading these big pellets was a chore! They take a real push to seat them in the breech, and I got sore fingers after loading just a few.
Up to this point, I thought the discharge sound of the gun was well below what I was prepared for. But that left me wide open for the first powerful shot that barked as much as a .25-caliber pocket pistol. A second shot sent me hunting for ear protection. I finished four shots but noted that this power setting isn’t the best for this pellet. The group size was two inches, which made me conclude that I wasn’t using the best setting. I dropped the power and began testing all the other pellets.
Eun Jins at power setting No. 6 did even worse than they had with the power set all the way up, so I shelved them for another day. Next, I backed off the power setting to No. 3 and tried RWS Superdomes. They didn’t even want to stay on the paper at 25 yards, but I’d noticed that they were very loose in the breech — the only pellets that were loose in this gun.
The reason I backed off the power is that these pellets are all lighter than the Eun Jins, and I didn’t want to distort them with too much of an air blast. If there was any tendency toward accuracy, I could tweak the power setting at any time.
Gamo Pro Magnum pellets teased me at the No. 3 power setting, but there was still one flyer that opened the group too much. They deserved more attention, but after two similar “teaser” groups, I moved on.
The next pellet I tried was the .25-caliber Benjamin dome. It has no special name; but in this pistol, it certainly deserves one! These pellets were phenomenal, grouping around a half-inch time after time.
The last pellet I tried is the one AirForce believes was used to kill a prairie dog at 100 yards with a TalonP pistol a couple weeks ago. Watch for a YouTube video of that hunt soon. The 31-grain Beeman Kodiak Match dome is just about the ideal weight for an airgun of this power; it can handle the power, yet has the weight to deliver the punch downrange.
So far, what do you think?
Well, I was wrong about the TalonP. It isn’t for wide-open shooting at all. It is an accurate air pistol with plenty of finesse for every accurate pellet that can be found. The fact that it also has stunning power should be secondary to its utility as a hunting airgun. That’s just what I think to this point!
Oh, and about the air use — you can forget all the worrying. I consistently got 20 shots at power (not the highest power, but power setting No. 6) and 25 shots at the most accurate setting (power setting No. 3), so far. There’s so much to learn about this airgun, and I’ve only started with today’s report. Now that I know which pellets are accurate at which settings, I can test those for velocity, so this report can be bounded in some sensible way.
There’s a lot more to come!