by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I was all set to report the velocity of the .22-caliber Hatsan AT P1 PCP air pistol, when I discovered that there’s more I need to know about this airgun. I’d like to thank those who’ve been waiting patiently for this second report. I stalled for a long time because Hatsan uses a proprietary quick-fill probe. That means I have to undo one of my more universal fill connectors to attach their probe. Thankfully, the threads on their probe are standard 1/8″ BSPP that connect to most air hoses coming from tanks and hand pumps these days (I can still remember when that wasn’t true!), but I was working on both the Condor SS and the twist-rate report and needed a fill device for both of those. In the end, I pressed my Hill pump into service, and it proved to be a great way to fill the AT P1 pistol.
The first problem I encountered was with the 10-shot rotary clip — but I want to stress that it wasn’t the pistol’s fault. It was mine. I tried loading 28.4-grain Eun Jin domes that looked like they fit the clip well, but proved to be too long and jammed the gun.
Because they were the first pellet I tried, I thought the gun might be broken until it dawned on me that the pellets were the problem. Once I changed to Crosman Premiers, the gun functioned perfectly and there were no more cocking or feeding problems.
Rotary clips are sensitive to the length of pellets. If they stick out on either side of the clip, that can cause the gun to jam, as this Hatsan did. So, when selecting pellets for a rotary clip, keep this in mind. I chose the Eun Jin pellet for the weight. I thought it would allow this powerful pistol to develop its maximum power, but I went too far.
Removable air reservoir
In Part 1, I completely neglected to mention this pistol has a removable air reservoir. I saw the degassing tool in the tool kit and knew that it could only be used on the other (hidden) end of the reservoir, but for some reason I didn’t think to mention it.
Of course, the reason for a removable tank is so you can carry extra charged tanks in the field. Each one will give you more shots. I don’t think this is such a great feature after you learn how many shots you can get on a fill, but the choice is yours. At least Hatsan gives you the option.
Shots per fill
This will be the remainder of the report because I discovered during velocity testing that the AT P1 pistol has a very specific power curve. It’s not an inverted bathtub curve — where the velocity rises to the optimum level and remains there for a number of shots before falling back down again. Instead, the velocity rises, peaks and drops instantly. The curve looks like a peaked mountain with no flat spot at the top.
The manual says to fill to 3,000 psi and that there are 35 useful shots per fill. Several readers expressed doubts that the 50cc reservoir held enough air to give 35 powerful shots, and I agreed with them. If this was a target pistol, then 35 shots would be very possible; but at the power Hatsan claims, which is a .22-caliber pellet traveling 780 f.p.s. at the muzzle, it seems impossible to get 35 good shots on so little air. And, indeed, it isn’t.
My first fill was higher than 3,000 psi, and the velocity was depressed for many shots. When it did rise, it did so in a straight up and straight down fashion. There was no group of shots going at similar velocities. This told me I needed to control the fill very carefully.
I also noticed that the pistol fell off the power curve with about 1,800 psi remaining in the reservoir. But I didn’t stop shooting there. I stopped with about 1,500 psi remaining in the reservoir. From this test, I was able to determine that the pistol used about 62.5 psi per shot. I did that with a chronograph and with an accurate pressure gauge on the hand pump. The pressure gauge that’s built into the test pistol’s reservoir reads several hundred psi too low to be of much use.
I know how much air is in the reservoir when I start shooting because that’s what the pump’s gauge reads when I stop filling. I know how much air is in the reservoir when I stop shooting because that’s the spot on the gauge where the reservoir inlet valve is overcome by pressure during the next fill — you can see this when the gauge needle clicks at the opening of the inlet valve.
It took 1.5 pump strokes per shot, so refilling the reservoir went very quick. That’s why I believe the Hill pump is the best way to go, and the possibility of spare reservoirs isn’t worth the effort.
The shot count test
The next test I conducted began with a fill to exactly 3,000 psi on the hand pump’s pressure gauge. I used Crosman Premier pellets, exclusively for this test. I’ll give you the velocity readings and then interpret them afterward.
I’m not going to give you an average for this string because I don’t know which shots you want to consider as the good shots. Clearly, the pistol was slower at 3,000 psi on the hand pump gauge. And, remember, this is with the more accurate hand-pump gauge. The pistol’s built-in gauge was still showing about 2,700 psi at this point. Either way, there’s too much air pressure in the gun because the valve isn’t opening as long as it should, as evidenced by lower velocities.
Let’s say I like 761 f.p.s. for the first shot. If you agree, then the first 5 shots in this string were wasted. At 62.5 psi per shot, the gun was overfilled by 312.5 psi when it was filled to 3,000 psi. Since these gauges don’t read that accurately, let’s round that back to 300 psi overfill and say I need to stop filling the reservoir when the pressure gauge reads 2,700 psi.
If you select a different velocity as the start point of the shot string, then the beginning fill pressure will need to be adjusted accordingly. This is why I am not giving you an average velocity today. I can give average velocities, but before I do you need to know what is behind my numbers, because this pistol operates within narrow limits.
If I take the second reading of 761 f.p.s. as the ending shot in the string, there are a total of 7 good shots in the string. I think that’s probably too restrictive, and I need to expand my velocity variation allowance. If I allow a velocity variation of 74 f.p.s. between the fastest and slowest shots in the string, I can get 16 good shots on a fill and can start the fill at exactly 3,000 psi.
Do you see how I’m doing that? I’m using the chronograph numbers and accepting all shots until the pistol no longer drives Crosman Premiers out the muzzle at a velocity of greater than 700 f.p.s. My choices are arbitrary; but until I make them, I can say nothing about the shot count of this pistol
Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. Whatever I select as the acceptable velocity variation, I can say with certainty that this air pistol can never get 35 useful shots on a single fill. Where I draw the line is my choice, of course. If I want to shoot groups at 50 yards, the variation has to be tighter than if I want to hunt with the pistol out to 30 yards. Do you see how the anticipated use of the gun drives the useful number of shots you’re going to get?
When you change the clip, the gun must be cocked to pull the loading probe back out of the clip. Then, the clip’s axle must also be withdrawn to the front of the gun and held out of the way. That’s a separate brass bolt on the right side of the gun. The clips come out and go back in easily enough when these things are done.
Here you see the bolt probe that pushes the pellet into the barrel (brass pin in the clip recess) and the brass clip axle (the head is a brass knob) that’s been withdrawn to the front of the gun to remove the clip.
This gun is LOUD! I had to wear electronic ear protectors when testing it in my office. And although my office door was closed, my wife, Edith, remarked on the loud discharge when I was finished.
In the next report, I’ll test the pistol with several good pellets and give you some of the velocity data you’re used to seeing. But when I do, you’ll know what’s behind my numbers.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’m starting a long report about an air rifle that comes up in conversation all the time — the Benjamin Marauder. I use it as a standard for comparison to most other air rifles in its class; though, to be honest, there are no other air rifles that are in its class. They may have some of the same features, but no other air rifle on the market has everything that the Marauder has.
It’s very significant that the Marauder occupies the top position on the Pyramyd Air search page for precharged pneumatic (PCP) air rifles when you sort for the most popular models. Even though it costs more than the Benjamin Discovery, which was created to be the entry-level gun for those coming into PCPs for the first time, the Marauder out-sells the less expensive airgun. And with all that it has to offer, the Marauder is still a blistering bargain…not only among PCPs, but among the larger category of fine air riflesin general.
This is not my first report on the Marauder, or, as the insider jargonists have named it, the M-Rod. Way back in 2009, I did a 5-part report on this .177 rifle as it was first launched. Back then, the airgun community was just starting to get used to the idea that Crosman could build precharged airguns instead of buying them from other manufacturers and slapping their name on it. The Benjamin Discovery that the slangsters have shortened to Disco was their first attempt at building a PCP here in the United States, and they were so careful with the launch that they hit a home run the first time at bat. But the Marauder was the rifle they really wanted to build. And, with it, they knocked the ball out of the park!
When the Discovery was in development, Crosman engineers knew shooters were going to want a match-type trigger, a baffled barrel and superior accuracy. I argued that we first needed to get our production feet wet with a simpler design that had fewer technical challenges to build. As things evolved over time, we were both right. Building the Discovery first gave Crosman’s East Bloomfield plant the time it needed to ramp up a precharged pneumatic assembly line and to learn all the sensitive issues involved with building PCPs. But the customers really did want all the bells and whistles on their guns; so when the Marauder came out, the company was praised for finally getting it right.
As it turns out, there are actually two distinctly different motivations for buying these rifles. The Discovery is what you buy when you want to save every last penny and still get into precharged airgunning with a brand new airgun, while the Marauder is the one that’s bought for all its features. Sometimes, these are two entirely different customers; and other times, they’re the same customer but at different times in their airgunning journeys. Whatever the psychology, each model compliments the other one, and neither would be as successful by itself.
I’ve always believed that a company needs high-performance models to encourage timid buyers to purchase their more mundane products. That’s why the automobile industry pours millions of dollars into NASCAR — so that mom and dad can feel special while driving their ordinary wheels to soccer practice and to work. Remember this — most Range Rovers never leave the pavement — despite the fact that they can.
But Crosman has taken this marketing strategy one important extra step. They’ve built a high-performance PCP and held the cost to a fraction of what others charge for airguns of lesser capability. It’s like Ferrari is making a sports car that retails for under $30,000. The dinosaurs will claim that it can’t be done, yet here’s the Benjamin Marauder, proving it can.
This rifle deserves a second report because we keep bumping into it as we look at other airguns. It’s often held as the standard against which other air rifles are compared. So, it’s time to look at the rifle in its own light to see if all the hype is deserved.
As an interesting side note, I have not shot this rifle since June 2009, and it’s still holding air. I’m mentioning that because a lot of people talk about how these PCPs don’t hold their charge.
I also tested a .25-caliber Marauder air rifle, and that coincided with my illness and hopitalization. My good friend Mac had to step in and finish that test for me in 2010.
One last footnote before I talk about the gun. There’s a new synthetic Marauder coming out, and I’m going to get one to test for you. This is going to be a very thorough look at the M-Rod family.
The Marauder is a PCP repeater that comes in .177, .22 and .25 calibers. The .177 that I’m testing now holds 10 shots in the rotary clip. The .22-caliber rifle has the same number, but the big .25 caliber drops to 8 pellets.
The barrel is shrouded so successfully that the Marauder is held up as the standard for what a quiet PCP should be. Of course, you can make it even quieter with certain aftermarket modifications. But as it comes from the box, it’s quieter than 90 percent of the comparable PCPs on the market. The shroud gives the appearance of a bull barrel, which is pleasing to most shooters. But the real 20-inch barrel is located deep inside the shroud.
The stock is beech with a conventional shape. It’s thick through most dimensions. The fact that it encloses the rear of the reservoir tube means that it’s a trifle thick through the forearm. It really isn’t that wide; but it looks like it is, and that’s the impression most people have of the rifle — that it’s larger than it really is. In fact, it weighs only a trifle over 7 lbs., depending on the wood weight, and is actually a fairly lightweight air rifle.
The pistol grip is contoured nicely for right-hand and left-hand shooters, alike, with a hint of a palm swell on either side. The cheekpiece rises high enough to naturally bring your eye up to the eyepiece of the scope. The bolt handle located on the right is perhaps the one thing lefties will find objectionable.
The rifle is finished with a matte finish overall. The metal parts are a pleasing dark gray, and the wood has a satin sheen. It looks like it was designed for hunters by hunters, and the presence of detachable sling swivel studs is proof of that.
No sights come on the rifle because the shooter is expected to mount a scope. The 11mm scope base on the receiver stands above the barrel, so there will be good clearance for a large objective lens; but the circular clip protrudes above the top of the receiver, forcing you to use rings that raise it high enough to clear. You almost have to use a 2-piece mount, although it would be possible to use a cantilevered 1-piece mount that reaches over the clip. I’m telling you that you need to think about the scope and mount more carefully than with some other rifles.
The rifle is filled through a male Foster quick-disconnect nipple that has a 2-micron filter inside to stop dirt from entering the reservoir. This type of fitting is nearly universal these days, and it’s one of the pleasing features that all Crosman-made PCPs share.
The Marauder’s trigger is adjustable in ways the triggers on guns costing twice as much cannot equal. You control the first-stage and second-stage lengths, the weight of the let-off and even the position of the trigger blade when it’s at rest. The trigger releases with a light and crisp second stage that’s worthy of the title match trigger. I’ll discuss the trigger more in a future report.
The user can adjust the rifle’s power, within limits. But this is not a simple adjustment that acts just on the hammer spring, alone. Both the hammer-spring tension, or preload, and the hammer-stroke length are adjustable. You control both how hard the hammer strikes the valve stem and also how far it can push it. This gives you fine control over the rifle’s power output, but it’s a procedure that requires the use of a chronograph and balancing between the spring tension and the hammer-stroke travel. I’ll have more to say about this in a future report.
Adjustable fill pressure
I know of no other PCP that has the ability to adjust the maximum fill pressure of the gun. You’re actually controlling the volume of air that can flow through the valve when the hammer’s struck. This has to be done in conjunction with the power adjustment to be fully effective. If not done correctly, you could have a situation where the fill pressure restricts the possible top power the rifle can generate, rather than the hammer stroke and spring tension. I’ll talk more about this in a future report.
Marauders have a well-deserved reputation for accuracy. We’ll test that, of course; and in the years since the rifle was tested last, a number of good pellets have become available. This should be an interesting update for all of us.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This is the first accuracy report for the .177-caliber Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle. I shot this test using the open sights at 10 meters from a rest. I did that because I usually don’t have much luck with powerful gas-spring air rifles. They tend to spray their pellets all over the place. And getting a scope mounted and stable can also be a problem, so I wanted a track record for the rifle before I got to any of that.
Smooth Action Trigger
I usually wait until the accuracy test to report on how well the trigger, which in this instance is the Smooth Action Trigger (SAT), performs. The pull weight, measured in part 2, releases at 3 lbs., 12 oz. It’s a 2-stage trigger with a second stage that needs some explanation. Instead of pausing at stage 2 and then breaking cleanly, the trigger on the test rifle — and I must assume on all SAT — pulls through stage 2. You can feel the trigger move, yet there’s no creep. The pull is — well — smooth! And it’s predictable. It’s a different sort of feel from other triggers but not different in a bad way. I don’t think anyone will need to buy an aftermarket trigger when they have a rifle with the SAT installed. Well done, Gamo!
I also thank Gamo for making the safety manual. It does not come on when the rifle is cocked. That makes the shooting progress that much faster and with less for the shooter to do. It’s a small thing, but one that I noticed and must comment on it.
Feel of the rifle
This is a very light air rifle, yet the stock is shaped so your off hand goes to a spot immediately in front of the triggerguard. The rifle is so light that this still gives it a neutral balance, but it hangs right in the hands and feels good on the shoulder. The more-vertical pistol grip has something to do with the good feel, as well.
I did find the stock stinging my cheek with each shot, however. It served as a reminder to hold the rifle even lighter than I was, which is a good thing. Once I did that, there was no more stinging.
I sighted-in the rifle with JSB Exact RS pellets and discovered that the front sight was too high for a 6 o’clock hold on the 10-meter pistol bullseye target I was using. So, I did something I’ve never before tried. I’ll illustrate the sight picture I used.
As you can see, I placed the front bead at the top inside of the bullseye. The bull was so well lit that the bead showed up as black on gray. Maybe this isn’t the best open sight picture, but it seemed to work well enough for this test.
JSB Exact RS
The first pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS dome. We know it’s often a good pellet — especially in lower-powered air rifles, which the Fusion IGT certainly is not. In this gun, the RS develops 14.32 foot-pounds, which puts it into the medium power group. If you’re a hunter, that’s where you want to be, so long as the rifle is also accurate.
The RS pellet put 10 shots into a nice round group that measured 0.591 inches between centers. While that isn’t a spectacular 10-meter group, it’s good when you consider the novel sight picture I was using. I’ll keep the RS in mind when I back up to 25 yards and mount a scope.
The next pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome. This pellet generates 15.43 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Ten shots made a group measuring 1.332 inches. But it’s the shape of the group that’s really interesting! Five of the pellets landed in a very vertical group, while the other 5 made a beautiful small round group of their own. This target demonstrates why 10-shot groups are better than 5-shot groups because many shooters would just accept those 5 close shots and be done with it. I don’t think the Superdomes are right for this rifle based on all 10 shots.
H&N Baracuda Match
Many shooters think that heavy pellets are bad for spring guns. They’re supposed to damage the coiled steel mainspring. I wonder what they do to a gas spring like this IGT? That’s my way of saying I don’t think pellet weight is that much of a problem in a springer. Baracuda Match pellets average 824 f.p.s., for 16.06 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Impressive power. If they’re also accurate, this will be a good pellet for the rifle.
And, accurate they are! Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets went into 0.625 inches at 10 meters. That’s a pretty impressive group, considering the strange sight picture I’m using. It’s only slightly larger than the JSB Exact RS group, and I think these pellets have earned a spot in the 25-yard test, as well. I have no idea of why they’re spread out horizontally. When I checked the stock screws, all were tight.
Gamo Raptor PBA
The last pellet I tested was the Gamo Raptor PBA that Gamo uses to get the velocity out of this powerplant. Raptors go an average 1,232 f.p.s. and produce 18.2 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. That’s the best performance I saw from this rifle…alas, they aren’t accurate. Ten made a groups measuring 1.118 inches at 10 meters.
PBA pellets also cracked like .22 long rifle rounds because they broke the sound barrier. The noise, alone, would keep me from shooting them.
Evaluation so far
This rifle has plenty of good in its favor. The hold is good, the cocking is light for the power and the trigger is very nice. I’ll withhold my final opinion until I see how it does at 25 yards; but if this was any indication, this could be a best buy.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Update on some reports
Before I begin, here’s an update on a couple reports that you’re waiting for. I went to the outdoor range yesterday to shoot both the Walther LGV Olympia and the new New AirForce Condor SS at 50 yards. When I got there, the breeze was too much for the LGV, but I did try to shoot several groups with the Condor SS. I shot three 10-shot groups, waiting out the winds for every shot; but in the end, there was just too much wind to make the test a fair one.
One good thing did happen, however. I shot a certain .22-caliber heavyweight pellet that I haven’t tested before; and despite the wind, I got fairly good results. I’m going to save the pellet’s name for when I actually do the report, and I’ll also show you the group that I got.
I’m also working on the summary report of the rifling twist-rate test. I have all the data, but it’s taking me some time to make sense of it for you. So, that’s coming, and after that all 3 barrels will get tested at 50 yards, as well.
That’s it for now. Let’s look at today’s report on the Hatsan AT P1 PCP air pistol. I got a .22-caliber gun, and they come in .177 and .25, as well. We know that Hatsan knows how to make good precharged pneumatic airguns, so I’m expecting a lot from this one. I’m testing serial number 011320161.
I will let Edith tell you her first impression of the pistol. To use her words, “Oh, my gosh!” That’s her way of noting that this air pistol is a little large. It’s a little large just like an International Freightliner tractor that’s been turned into a custom pickup truck is a little large when you see it taking up 4 parking spaces at the grocery store!
It’s large, but it is a pistol — not a carbine. If you want a carbine, Hatsan has built one for you. They call it the Hatsan AT P2 PCP air pistol and shoulder stock. The P1 we’re looking at is just a pistol — even if it does weigh 4.5 lbs., or roughly the same as a Colt Walker revolver. When you examine this gun, you can see that it seems to be a PCP rifle that’s been cut down to fit into a pistol stock.
Hatsan rates this pistol at 780 f.p.s. in .22 caliber, so most of you will know without asking that it’s going to be loud. Can’t have a PCP with a barrel this short and a pellet this fast and be otherwise unless there’s a silencer…and this gun doesn’t have one. They also say that there are 35 shots per fill. We’ll test that, of course.
The pistol action sits in a synthetic pistol grip stock. The grip is for right-handed shooters, only, but it isn’t shaped well for my hand. It hits the heel of my shooting hand, pushing the pistol’s muzzle up. There’s also an adjustable palm shelf like target pistols, only this one is very difficult to adjust; and when it becomes as small as it will get, it’s still way too large for my hand. So, I have to rate the ergonomics down a bit.
The metal parts are finished to a matte sheen. The bluing is even over the whole gun. There’s a mix of steel and aluminum parts, all finished matte black; and with the black synthetic stock, the pistol has a very “black gun” look.
The quick-disconnect fill probe is a proprietary size that, fortunately, seems to have male 1/8-inch BSPP threads on the side that connects to the air hose of your tank or hand pump. To charge the gun, the fill probe is inserted in the reservoir fill hole and air is transferred. Fill to 200 bar (2,900 psi). An onboard pressure gauge tells you the state of the air pressure in the reservoir.
The gun is cocked by a sidelever on the left side of the receiver. Cocking also advances the 10-shot circular clip to the next pellet. The circular clip is held in the gun by a brass pin that’s slid forward on the right side of the receiver to remove the clip. The sidelever must be pulled all the way back to get the clip out, for it attaches to a bolt probe that passes through the clip to seat each new pellet in the barrel. This probe has to be retracted or the clip cannot be removed from the gun. A second clip comes inside the plastic gun case that holds the pistol
The 10.4-inch barrel is entirely free-floated, being attached at the breech, alone. The muzzle is threaded and covered by a removable cap.
The sights are fully adjustable for elevation, both in front and at the rear. The rear sight adjusts for windage, too. Both front and rear sight have fiberoptic tubes, and the front sight is not cut square, so precision sighting will be impossible. The gun does have a clever scope base that accepts scope mounts for Weaver or 11mm dovetails. Given the power of the gun, most owners will elect to scope it, I’m sure.
At first glance, there’s a lot to see on this Hatsan pistol. I don’t like all the features, but I haven’t shot the gun, yet. If it shoots well, a lot can be overlooked.
The one thing it has going for it is the price. At $450, it’s one of the least expensive precharged pistols on the market. It’s just $20 more than the TalonP. And the Hatsan is a repeater.
Further testing will determine if the Hatsan AT P1 pistol is a force to be reckoned with.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Sometimes, you find something works, and you stick with it. Apparently, the title of this report is one such thing. I seem to keep coming up with this title, yet my reports don’t seem to be related. Oh, well, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.
Today’s report is going to sound like a Friday blog, but that isn’t intentional. I just have a couple random things to say, and it’s going to come out that way.
I’ll start with the real reason for today’s report — new airgunners. Five years ago, we also got new airgunners; but back then they came from everywhere — not from one particular place. Some were people wanting to learn the basics of shooting, others were firearm shooters who wanted to try airguns for a change and others were people who had shot airguns in their youth and wanted to see where things had progressed since then.
Today, it’s different. The bulk of our new airgunners are now coming from the firearms side of the shooting sports. They’ve been shooting firearms for a while (some longer than others, obviously), but they admit they’re new to airguns and want to learn. Oh, they were always aware that airguns were out there, but they didn’t give them much thought. That changed when the ammo supplies dried up here in the U.S. These people like to shoot, and they see airguns as a way of doing that without hindrance.
I know this from the comments we’re getting on the blog, plus the number of new readers who are commenting for the first time. I noticed that whenever I write a report about something fundamental, there’s lots of discussion. Five years ago, I got more criticism that I wasn’t reviewing airguns as much as readers expected; but today, I’m getting real questions about the fundamentals of shooting. I think that’s great because we can all stand to learn more about our sport — me included. Just because I write this stuff doesn’t mean I necessarily know any more about it than anybody else. I’m just the guide on this trip — not the destination.
So, I visited a local large sporting goods chain store last Saturday. It’s Academy Sports, for those who know it. And I noticed that their shelves were packed with all kinds of shotgun ammunition, plus a healthy variety of rifle ammo (considering recent times). Looking at things like this is something I do a lot these days to find out where we are in terms of the availability of ammunition.
Then, my eyes fell on several plastic-looking bows. Now, I know next to nothing about bows. I’ve owned them and shot them, but I was never what you would call an archer. So, I’m looking at these plastic bows and let me tell you what I saw. They looked cool! Two were compound bows with pulleys, and one of them was priced at around $45, while the other was a whopping $95! I may not be an archer, but I know that a compound bow should cost several hundred dollars. Yet here were two of them for under a hundred each, and they looked good.
That was when it hit me — for me this experience was just like a firearm shooter looking at a super-powerful breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle from China! I know why those kinds of airguns are not special — I’ve had hundreds of experiences with them and could write a book of warnings about what you get for $129 from a discount sporting goods store. But the firearm shooter who considers them seriously for the first time doesn’t know what he’s looking at. He needs help — just like I needed help with the bows.
These two black plastic bows (each was stapled to a colorful cardboard backer, if that gives you any sense of their quality) looked very cool. So — that is what it must feel like to be a new airgunner and wonder why a Walther LGV Challenger costs so much more than a Winchester 1028 air rifle combo, when, according to the description, it doesn’t shoot nearly as fast, nor does it come with a scope!
I wanted to ask someone right then and there what the differences were between these cheap compound bows and a good one, but I knew that no salesperson in the store could answer that for me. And any customer who might try to help might be as confused as I was — but perhaps 6 months farther along the trail of tears — learning about bows the hard way.
So, I will continue to write about the fundamentals of both airguns and of shooting, along with the detailed tests of airguns…because I know there are many people who need to hear this stuff — and some who should know better also need to hear it again.
A related thought
I’ve been thinking of visiting a new archery store that opened several months ago — just to see what’s new. More specifically, I want to know about new crossbows. I haven’t been in this store yet, but conversations from several archers have led me to believe that perhaps they do not even carry crossbows! Know why? Because people who shoot longbows think very poorly of crossbows.
Is it possible that a retail store — one that has been established for the purpose of succeeding and making its owner money — would not carry a product that most people believe to be in the same realm? After all — both longbow and crossbow have the word “bow” in their names.
Yes, it’s very possible. There may be such an animosity between longbow archers and those who shoot crossbows that the store owner might think he would drive away longbow customers from his store if he carried products from “the dark side.”
I used that term, the dark side, on purpose because that’s the term airgunners use to describe precharged pneumatics (PCP). Although they’re the oldest branch of airguns, those who shoot spring guns feel somehow that PCPs are the newcomers. And they are, if you only look at the modern ones that started in the UK in 1980. But PCPs date all the way back to the mid-1500s, while spring-piston airguns date from around the middle of the 19th century. Precharged pneumatics are, in fact, 300 years older than spring-piston guns, no matter how you feel about them.
My point is not to debate the history of the two powerplants. Rather, it is to point out that a schism exists right in the heart of the shooting sports. More specifically, within the heart of airguns that are only a pimple on the skin of the shooting sports. Arguing about the legitimacy of PCPs versus springers is like two fleas arguing whose dog it is. And, given the current political climate we are suffering in the United States, the dog has just been sprayed for fleas!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Walther LGV Olympia was a top-quality 10-meter target rifle from the 1970s.
It’s play time again, today, for this is the day we shoot the Walther LGV Olympia target rifle at 25 yards in preparation for shooting it at 50 yards. This report is a look at the vintage Walther LGV platform as a sporter, rather than the 10-meter target rifle that it is. With Walther bringing out the new LGV models, I thought it would be nice to see how the original LGV did in the same test.
I have no idea which pellet to choose for shooting at 25 yards — to say nothing of shooting twice as far. So, today’s test was nothing beyond my best guess of what might work well. Because I’ll be shooting at a fairly long range with this relatively low-powered spring rifle, I knew the pellets had to be domes. Wadcutters start to fall off in accuracy after 25 yards, and pointed ones aren’t that accurate to begin with. But good domes can be as accurate as good wadcutters, and they hold their accuracy a heck of a lot longer.
I’m shooting 10-shot groups off a rest at 25 yards, using the target sights that belong on the rifle. Ten shots should show which pellet or pellets are the best. I’ll also try each pellet seated flush and seated deep, so there will be 2 groups shot with each pellet.
JSB Exact Express
The JSB Exact Express pellet is a fairly lightweight domed lead pellet that’s new to me. I tried it in the velocity test for the first time and learned that flush-seated pellets leave the muzzle faster than deep-seated pellets. That was the reverse of what 2 other pellets did in that test.
The first 10 shots were with flush-seated pellets. They made a group that measures 0.657 inches between centers; but within that group, there are 8 shots in a 0.257-inch group. What can we say about that? There were no called fliers, and I feel the 2 shots that strayed from the main group did so on their own, without the rifle contributing. I’m looking at the entire group size and ignoring the smaller group-within-a-group. However, this pellet does merit another chance at 50 yards.
Next, I shot another 10 JSB Exact Express pellets, only these were seated deep with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater. This time, the group measured 0.778 inches, and you can clearly see the dispersion of the shots. Deep-seating does not suit this pellet.
The next pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome, which so many shooters love. I had no idea how Superdomes would do in the LGV Olympia, and this test would be the way to find out. First, I shot them seated flush. Ten pellets made a group that measures 0.695 inches between centers. The group was fairly round, which I took to be a good thing, because it means the pellets are fairly evenly distributed.
Next, I shot 10 Superdomes seated deep in the rifling. This time, the group wasn’t as pretty, but it did measure only 0.649 inches, which is slightly better than the flush-seated group. It’s a toss-up between the different seating methods, though deep-seating does seem a trifle better. Perhaps the difference would be greater at 50 yards.
JSB Exact Heavy
The final pellet I tested in the LGV Olympia was the JSB Exact Heavy that I included in the velocity test. We wouldn’t normally select a 10.34-grain pellet for a rifle of the LGV’s limited power; but when you shoot out to long distances, the weight of the pellet is more important than its starting velocity.
The first group was shot with the pellets seated flush. It measures 0.354 inches, making it the best group thus far. This group is also very round, which is another point in its favor. I think I’ve found the best pellet to shoot in this rifle at 50 yards!
I now wondered if could this get any better. The next 10 pellets were shot deep-seated and, alas, the answer was…no. I’d gone as far as I was going in this test. Ten deep-seated Express pellets made a 0.79-inch group.
So, here at the end of the test we have a very clear example of one seating method triumphing over the other. The Express pellets wants to be seated flush in this rifle.
We also have a clear example of one pellet standing apart from the others. The flush-seated Express pellet made a group that was significantly smaller than all the other pellets I tried. That doesn’t mean it’s the best pellet in the LGV — just the best of these 3 that I tested. When I go to the 50-yard range, I need a day with zero wind — and I’ll try the JSB Exact Express first.
You may have noticed that the groups were all below the bullseye. That was with the rear sight cranked up pretty high. There’s still some room for more height; but at 50 yards, I know the gun will be printing its groups low. I’ll have to compensate for that.