by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’m retesting an airgun that I tested over a year ago. One of our readers called Daisy and said he was getting much better accuracy from his Daisy model 35 multi-pump air rifle than I had gotten in my test, and he asked Daisy if they would look into it. Well, they read the accuracy report (Part 3) and agreed with him that I should have gotten better accuracy than I did. So Joe Murfin, Daisy’s vice president of marketing, called and asked if I would be open to a retest.
Joe told me that Daisy engineers were getting groups of about 1.25 inches to 1.5 inches at 10 meters. I’m sure he meant 5-shot groups, and of course I shoot 10-shot groups; still, his groups were significantly smaller than what I’d gotten from the last gun. My 10-shot groups were in the 2.5-inch to 3-inch range.
I don’t like to retest
Normally, retesting airguns leaves me cold. My philosophy is that I test what users get, and it’s whatever it is. I look at the gun the same way a user would, except that I may know a few more things than the average user and am able to do things most people wouldn’t think to do. That gives the gun a fair test and also educates people who may learn a new trick or two by reading what I’ve done.
I have to admit that over the past year I’ve learned a lot about accuracy with diabolo pellets and the things to look for. More recently, I have become aware of the tremendous accuracy potential of some smoothbore airguns. From that standpoint, a retest of this smoothbore airgun is warranted.
This is not life-saving equipment, and the outcome isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things; but wouldn’t it be nice to know if this $35 airgun is really better than we initially thought? I agreed to retest the gun, and Joe sent one directly from Daisy. Instead of the black stock I had last time, this new gun is finished in camo. Other than that, though, it’s identical to the gun I tested before.
Upon reviewing the last accuracy test, I see I used the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellet, RWS Hobby pellet and some vintage Daisy Superior Match Grade pellets I had laying around. At the time, that sounded like a good idea; but after spending more time with the Diana 25 smoothbore in recent months, I think there are some other pellets I ought to try — namely the JSB Exact RS pellet and the RWS Superdome.
In the last report on the model 35, I wasn’t specific about what number of pumps to use for each shot. There was nothing to go on for this test except my experience with other multi-pumps. I would only be shooting at 10 meters, and high velocity wasn’t necessary. Six pumps sounded good to me, and that’s what I used for every target. If this was a larger, more powerful multi-pump, I might have opted for 5 or even 4 pumps, but the Daisy 35 is pretty small, and 6 sounded about right.
First target revealed loading problems
I shot the first target with JSB Exact RS pellets. They did well for the most part, but 3 shots landed apart from the main group. I was having difficulty loading the gun, and I think I may have loaded several pellets backwards because of how easily they flipped around on their own in the loading trough. I was shooting in a dark place to overcome the fiberoptic open sights and was unable to see the breech when the pellet was loaded. Those 3 stray shots might be explained as loading errors. Before I move on, I should note that the size of this first 10-shot group is close to what Daisy told me to expect from 5 shots at 10 meters.
Nothing to do but shoot another group with the RS pellets — making sure each pellet went into the breech the right way this time. I used a portable spotlight to shine on the breech during loading to see which way the pellets were oriented. I think Daisy could spend a little time fixing this problem because that loading trough is almost too small to work with.
The second group was much better. Ten more JSB Exact RS pellets went into 1.108 inches. This is better than what Daisy told me to expect, and my interest was piqued. How good would this gun get?
The second pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome that so many people love. The first 10 pellets made a 1.119-inch group. It’s actually too close to the second group of RS pellets to see the difference, but that’s what the caliper read when I measured it. And these pellets hit the target in approximately the same place as the JSBs even though they’re heavier.
The second group of Superdomes wasn’t quite as tight as the first. One stray pellet that I hesitate to call a flier landed below the main group, opening it up to 1.243 inches. But that’s still the best that Daisy said to expect from this gun!
But wait –
Well — there you have 4 groups that are all significantly better than any of the groups I got in the last test. The Daisy model 35 can shoot after all — just like our reader said. I wondered if there was any more accuracy beyond what the gun had already delivered. So, I fired a fifth group, this time with JSB RS pellets. Instead of 6 pumps per shot, I gave it the full 10 pumps for each shot. This time, they all landed in 0.76 inches, or as close to three-quarters of an inch as it’s possible to get.
Obviously, using the right pellets made all the difference in the world. That’s a lesson I’ll try not to forget. Even an inexpensive airgun like the Daisy 35 deserves a fair chance to perform its best.
I would love to press the 35 into service as a dart gun, but the tiny breech prevents the loading of darts. I may be able to load them through the muzzle, but you’ll have to wait to find out because I seem to have misplaced my .177-caliber darts. But there’s still 25 yards to test, so you haven’t seen the last of this airgun.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This test of the Daisy Avanti Champion 499 at 10 meters was requested a couple weeks back by a blog reader, and several of you seconded the request. It was in response to a discussion of the spin rate of projectiles and what benefits it conveys.
After I agreed to write the report, another reader asked me to test not only the Avanti Precision Ground Shot that’s made specifically for the 499, but also some more common BBs. So, today, we’ll see how the 499 performs at the 5-meter distance for which it was designed, as well as at 10 meters. I think we’re in for some interesting ballistics.
For those who don’t know, the Avanti Champion 499 is the world’s most accurate BB gun. It’s the only BB gun to compete each year in the International BB gun Championships at Bowling Green, Kentucky. Like the wheels and axels on Soap Box Derby racers (the All-American Soap Box Derby is an annual race where children race home-built cars powered by gravity, alone), the 499 is so specialized and ahead of the competition that there’s nothing that can touch it. Unlike derby wheels, though, anyone can own a 499 because they’re sold through specialized airgun dealers like Pyramyd Air (along with their special ammunition).
Although it may look like a Red Ryder to the casual observer, the 499 is as special among BB guns as a Formula One racer is among automobiles.
The 499 is a single-shot BB gun that has a precision smoothbore barrel. It’s loaded through the muzzle by dropping a BB down a funnel-shaped spout, where it enters the true barrel and rolls to the rear to be captured by a magnet. Regular BBs take 0.50 to 1.00- seconds to roll down the barrel, while the Precision Ground Shot can take up to 5 seconds.
The gun was developed by Daisy for their National BB Gun Championship Match. They noticed that coaches were ordering many shot tubes for their teams’ model 99 and 299 target BB repeaters that were used in competition at the time. The coaches were looking for the most uniform barrels that would shoot the best. When Daisy recognized that, they simply designed a gun to be accurate from the start. Once the 499 became a reality, all other BB guns were obsolete because nothing else could keep up.
For over a decade, the gun and ammunition was available only directly from Daisy, until I discovered it while writing The Airgun Letter. The guns were hand-built and Daisy didn’t really think they could sell them to non-target shooters because of the extra cost; but once the word was out about how accurate they are, everything changed. They’re probably still made by hand today, and I’m sure they’re not one of Daisy’s most popular products; but if you like accuracy, you really should look into getting one of these.
Baselining the gun
Before I shoot at 10 meters, I thought it would be nice to see what the gun can do at the regulation distance of 5 meters. I could have found old images for this because I’ve done this test many times before, but I always welcome the opportunity to shoot this marvelous little gun. I shot it on NRA 15-foot targets because I don’t have any of the slightly larger official 5-meter BB-gun targets on hand. The NRA is out of touch with BB gun competition and is stiill using the 15-foot target, where the rest of the world has backed up another 1.4 feet to 5 meters.
For this test, I selected three types of ammunition — Crosman Copperhead BBs, Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs and Avanti Precision Ground Shot. When I load the gun, I listen to the BB roll down the barrel and strike the magnet at the bottom. Copperheads roll the fastest — taking about a half-second to make the trip.
Crosman Copperhead BBs
I shot 10 shots with each BB at 5 meters. I used the back of a chair as a rest because this was a test of the gun — not me. There were no called fliers, and the 10 Copperheads grouped in 0.574 inches. That measurement is approximate, as BBs do not tear clean holes in target paper.
At 5 meters, 10 Crosman Copperhead BBs tore this hole, which measures 0.574 inches between centers.
Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs
Next up were Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs at 5 meters. These are ever-so-slightly larger than Copperheads and take 0.50 to 1.50 seconds to roll down the barrel. They made a 10-shot group that measures 0.361 inches between centers — and keep in mind this is approximate, at best. But you can see in the photo that this group is tighter than the first one.
Ten Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs made this 0.361-inch group.
The final group was shot with Daisy Avanti Precision Ground Shot that is specially made for the 499. If anything is going to group well in the gun, this is. Ten shots made a group measuring 0.224 inches between centers. The hole on the target tells all, as it is either a score of 99 or 98 — it’s too close to tell.
Avanti Precision Ground Shot shows what the 499 can really do. Ten went into this 0.224-inch group at 5 meters. This is almost a perfect score.
On to 10 meters
Now that we know how well the gun can shoot, it’s time to back up to 10 meters and test what we all came to see — namely, how well the 499 does at 10 meters. This is the first time I’ve done this, so I am just as interested in the results as all of you.
Crosman Copperhead BBs
First up were the Copperheads. I didn’t change the sight setting, so we’ll forgive the placement of the shots in this test. Ten shots landed in a group that measures 1.118 inches between centers. That’s actually slighly smaller than double the 5-meter group size (which would be 1.148″); so, allowing for the measurement error, it seems to be right-on.
Notice the two shots that landed below the main group. There were no called fliers, so those BBs are probably not the same size as the others.
At 10 meters, 1o Crosman Copperhead BBs made a 1.118-inch group. Those two at the bottom were not called as fliers.
Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs
Next up were the Daisy Zinc-Plated BBs that do so well in this gun for normal BBs. Ten of them made a group measuring 0.828 inches. That’s larger than double the 5-meter group size, which is what I expected at 10 meters. Again, there were no called fliers, and one stray BB hit below the main group.
Daisy Avanti Precision Ground Shot
Finally, I shot the Avanti Preciaion Ground Shot at 10 meters. The picture tells the story. Ten shots landed in a group that measures 0.755 inches across. This group is larger than double the 5-meter group with the same BB, which is what we would expect. Let’s talk about that next.
Why aren’t the groups just double the size at 10 meters?
This is a common misconception that I’d like to address. Groups don’t open up on a linear scale as distance increases. A 10-meter group should not be twice as large as a 5-meter group. And here we must differentiate between a spin-stabilized conical bullet and a round ball fired from a smoothbore.
A ball that’s not spin-stabilized will deviate much faster than a ball that’s stabilized by the spin introduced by rifling. A rough comparison can be made to a baseball that is intentionally thrown without spin — the famous knuckleball. It will go straight for a short distance, then suddenly deviate wildly and unpredictably from its ballistic path. The comparison is not perfect because a baseball has seams that affect its movement through the air, but the principle is similar.
Don’t run out and buy Avanti Precision Ground Shot for your Red Ryder. That would be like putting premium gasoline into a lawnmower! On the other hand, don’t buy a 499 and then try to shoot it with standard BBs. That’s false economy going the other way. Back up a few feet and look at what you are paying for ammunition, and then buy what makes the most sense.
The 499 is a special gun that’s purpose-built to do one thing — shoot BBs as close to where you aim as possible. I rested the gun for this test, but every year there are children who shoot similar targets offhand in competition.
I would like to thank everyone who requested today’s test because it was something I’ve never done before. Now, we all know what an accurate smoothbore shooting a steel BB can do at 10 meters.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The new Umarex P-08 BB pistol is a stunning copy of the firearm.
Well, today’s the day we see how this Umarex P-08 BB pistol shoots. As you know, I think this pistol is a big deal because people have been asking for it for years. And, yes, I’m aware that there are Asian BB pistols in the P-08 style that are supposedly all-metal and have blowback with realistic toggle action. But are YOU aware that sometimes those Asian websites lie about what they have? Some of those guns don’t exist, and images are shown to see if there’s enough interest to warrant the development cost.
Think about that before you jump on the bandwagon and criticize a real product. You may be comparing it to something that doesn’t exist.
Back to the gun at hand — the Umarex P-08 is a double-action-only handgun, and I think you’ll understand what that means by now. If you don’t, click on the link to Part 2 above and look at the picture of the revolver. Some of you mentioned that the revolver also advances the cylinder with the trigger in addition to cocking the hammer spring…and you’re right. That does add some resistance to the total effort required. However, I find that it doesn’t add as much as you might think — perhaps 10 percent or so. The majority of the effort to pull the trigger is dedicated to compressing that powerful hammer or striker spring.
I learned in this test that I cannot control the P-08 double-action trigger as well as I thought. Of course, a single-action trigger that just breaks at a few pounds is much easier, but a week ago I shot a 4-inch, 7-shot group at 45 feet with my carry gun, which is a Micro Desert Eagle that’s DAO in .380 ACP. That pistol is lightweight and has a relatively snappy recoil, but the double-action trigger-pull is smooth all the way through. So, I can put the sights on target and hold them there through what is perhaps an 11- or 12-lb. pull.
That is what I was expecting to happen with this BB pistol, but it didn’t. Not quite. Oh, the trigger-pull does stack at the end, and it isn’t as heavy overall as the triggers in my firearms, but the last bit of effort seems to increase or rise a lot more. That rise is what I find difficult to control, and you’ll see the results today. The other problem is that the trigger comes very far back when pulled. It releases very close to the back of the triggerguard, and that’s the spot where the strength leaves your fingers.
This is a BB pistol, so I shot at 15 feet, which is the normal BB gun distance. You may think that’s too close for a target pistol, but wait until you see the results of the test. It turns out that 15 feet is a very good distance to shoot, for reasons I will address in a little bit.
I shot at a target pasted to the face of a Winchester Airgun Target Cube. I’m reporting on this target cube in all of the BB gun tests I do instead of writing a special blog about it. The cube now has well over 1,000 shots on it and some of the styrofoam is crumbling off, but it still stops every BB I shoot at it. I consider it an essential part of my shooting equipment; and even though I know it will eventually wear out, I think I’ll get a lot more use before that happens.
I tape a stiff cardboard section to the side of the cube where I plan to shoot. The cube now has holes on all four sides where styrofoam has been blasted out of the center, and I can’t stick any Shoot-N-C target stickers to the center of the cube’s sides. But the cardboard is smooth and takes the stickers perfectly. All I have to do is remove the cardboard after each session, and I think the cube will last a lot longer.
I like using the Shoot-N-C targets with BB guns because of the instant feedback. I’m not going to worry too much about the group size except in relation to my dime, so I don’t care that you can’t really measure a group on a Shoot-N-C target (because the paint flakes off farther in all directions than just the BB hole). The most important aspect is the immediate feedback I get from seeing where the BB went through the target, or after many shots, the fact that there’s no feedback at all. That tells me the BBs are going through the same holes.
This pistol seems to shoot to the exact point of aim at 15 feet, which makes that distance perfect for target shooting. The sights are not adjustable, but they seem to be perfectly centerd and regulated for height in the test gun. However, it does present a problem, as I discovered on the first target.
I use a 6 o’clock hold when target shooting, which means I align the sights with the bottom edge of the bullseye. Many guns are regulated to shoot their BBs up into the center of a small bullseye, but the P-08 places them exactly where you put the sights. So, the group on the first target is low. One shot is in the center, but that was the result of me pulling the trigger to get it to break. In other words, it’s a wild shot.
All the shots but 1 are at the point of aim. Notice how wide this group is. I’m having difficulty controlling the double-action trigger.
Please understand — this is an accurate BB gun. But I’m having difficulty controlling the trigger. That’s a good thing because it means this pistol can help me learn to better control a double-action trigger.
The one thing that the first target demonstrated was that I needed a smaller target. For the second group, I used a repair paster for the first target. That’s just the center of the bullseye and nothing else. I hoped that the group would be smaller with a smaller aim point; instead, it grew in size.
The second group was larger than the first. Clearly, I’m having difficulty controlling the trigger.
Changed the shooting method
If I wasn’t able to shoot well one-handed, then I figured I’d try it from a rested position. I positioned a chair backwards and rested my arm on the backrest, where I shot the third and fourth groups. I won’t show you group 3, but it was about three inches, and I discovered something while shooting it. If you squeeze the trigger too slow, it gets hung up at the end and will never break. Struggling to break the trigger slowly is why this group was so large.
Next, I tried leaning back, so the pistol was rested against the top of the chair’s back. This did improve things, but the trigger was still causing me some problems. As you can see, this group with a rested gun is larger than when I one-handed the pistol.
This group is long and narrow — the result of a trigger that’s releasing at odd times. Only one shot went wide.
Next I decided what I had to do was use two fingers to pull the trigger. And when I did that, it worked! Now, I could control the trigger as I wanted to; and when I did that, the gun shot to the point of aim every time. Only when I struggled with the trigger release did I throw shots out of the bull.
That’s more like it! Six shots in the black and 4 in the white off to the lower right. Two are in the same hole. This is what the P-08 can do.
In reality, you’re probably going to bounce soda cans around the yard and don’t need the pinpoint accuracy this pistol can deliver. It’ll do that all day long. You’re also going to get a workout for your trigger finger, but that will only improve all your other shooting.
This is the first BB pistol in a P-08 wrapper to make it to our shores. As such, it fills a demand that’s decades old. It’s all you could want in a gun for this price. It delivers the power that’s advertised and can nail the target when you do your part. A welcome addition to the marketplace.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The new Umarex P-08 BB pistol is a stunning copy of the firearm.
Time to learn gun terms
Before I start today’s report, I must make a comment. It deals directly with the subject air pistol, but it also deals with many others. The trigger on the Walther P-08 BB pistol is double-action. It is therefore harder to pull than a single-action trigger. I have read several overseas reports of this gun that complain about the “hard trigger pull.” The trigger-pull of this pistol is not hard — it’s double-action, which means that your trigger finger is first cocking either a striker or a hammer before bringing it to the point that the sear releases it to fire the gun.
My own brother-in-law shocked me this past Christmas when I took him to the range and let him fire my Makarov pistol. I told him that it’s a double-action and single-action handgun, so expect the first shot to have a heavier trigger pull. He did and of course the gun’s trigger-pull was heavy. Then, it fired again before he was ready and he remarked, “Wow, this trigger sure gets lighter after the first shot!”
Well, of course it does! It shifts from being double-action to single action, which would be the reason the trigger-pull goes from 10 lbs. down to 3 lbs. On the second and all subsequent shots, you don’t have to pull the hammer back with your finger — the slide does it for you. But it still shocked him.
To me, not understanding this is as absurd as complaining that you can’t find the clutch pedal in a car that has an automatic transmission. But people don’t do that, do they? They “get” that an automatic transmission does away with the need for a clutch pedal.
But new shooters and some that aren’t so new are still not understanding the meaning of a double-action trigger-pull. So, here’s a photo that I’d like you to internalize (if this is something you’re having difficulty understanding).
This is what you are doing every time you pull a double-action trigger — whether you can see it or not.
Back to the test
Okay — rant is over. Today is velocity day, when we test the P-08 pistol with Umarex Precision steel BBs. I noticed when I pierced the CO2 cartridge that the gas leaked more than usual. It caught me by surprise, and I had to tighten the piercing screw several more turns before the face seal finally stopped the gas flow. And, yes, I did have a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of the cartridge.
Then, it was a simple matter of loading 21 BBs into the stick magazine, and the gun was ready for testing. You may remember that the advertised velocity of this pistol is 410 f.p.s., so let’s see what it really does.
The first 10 shots averaged 384 f.p.s. They ranged from a low of 378 to a high of 393 f.p.s. The pistol started slow and sped up as the string was shot. I rested a minimum of 10 seconds between all shots.
The second 11 shots (21 in the mag) averaged 394 f.p.s. The low was 391 and the high was 399 f.p.s. The slowest shot in this string was faster than the average of the first 10 shots. The gun seems to be breaking in.
Next, I shot 10 blanks, just to use up some gas because I suspected the next magazine would be all there was. I was wrong about that.
Shots 32 to 42 averaged 382 f.p.s. with a low of 377 and a high of 385 f.p.s. The pistol seems to be settling down.
Shots 43 to 52 averaged 386 f.p.s. The low was 382 and the high was 398 f.p.s. The gun had more shots remaining after this second magazine.
Now, I decided to just shoot the entire 21-shot magazine and record the average. Shots 53 to 74 averaged 381 f.p.s. The low was 358 f.p.s., and it occurred at the start of the string. The high was 388, which occurred at shot 71. Go figure!
The next magazine started at shot 75 and ended at shot 96. The average was 371 f.p.s. At shot 88, the velocity started to fall rapidly. The cartridge was out of liquid and was just putting out residual gas pressure at this point.
How many shots?
I believe this gun will be good for at least 4 full magazines before its time to replace the cartridge. If you don’t replace it then, you could get a BB stuck in the barrel when the pressure drops too low.
I do believe this gun needs to break in a little, and you can expect to see velocities climb a little after several hundred shots have passed through.
I measured the weight of the trigger-pull for you. It’s a light 9 lbs., 2 oz. to 9 lbs., 5 oz. Compared to a Colt or Ruger revolver, that’s very light. There’s a definite stack at the end of the pull; so once you learn this trigger, it should be very easy to control.
Opinions thus far
I still like this pistol. There were no surprises in this test except for the greater number of shots. I’d estimated about 60 good shots and there are really over 84. Watch that piercing screw, as this one seems to need more movement than many CO2 guns on the market. I might have lost another 10 shots just by losing the gas in the beginning.
Can’t wait for the accuracy test!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The new Umarex P-08 BB pistol is a stunning copy of the firearm.
When I first saw this gun at the 2013 SHOT Show, it changed my outlook on the show altogether. Up to that point, I was angry because the show had changed so much. Media Day, the day before the show opens and where members of the media are invited to shoot all the new firearms (and airguns!) at a public range in Boulder City, had tightened up because of past abuses, and it now took an invite from a booth holder to attend. Media credentials, alone, were not enough.
Besides that, the show planners did away with the gold carpet in the two large display halls that I have used for reference and navigation for the past 17 years. Now, the show resembled a bazaar in Mumbai, with crowded aisles and tall structures that limit the view of the surrounding countryside. Suddenly, you’re 5 years old and everything around you is tall, confusing and moving too fast.
Then I saw IT in the Umarex booth. I was being shown the new products by one of their reps and the guy said, “Oh, yeah. They also have a new replica of some vintage gun.” My heart leapt within my chest. Would this be the year that they built IT? Would this be the year of the German Luger?
Sure enough, there it was — displayed for all to see. Only it’s NOT a German Luger — or a Luger of any kind. Because, you see, Stoeger purchased the rights to the Luger name back in the 1920s, so the only pistol that can bear that name legally has to be sold by them.
That’s okay, though, because what we know as the Luger was never called that, anyway — except by us. What the Germans called it was the Pistol ‘08, or P-08. It was standardized (not invented) in 1908 for the German army; and because they were preparing for war at that time, they also nicknamed it the para bellum, which is Latin for “prepare for war.” Hence, the name Parabellum that’s come down to us through history. The firearm is chambered for many different pistol rounds, including a 7.63mm bottlenecked cartridge the Swiss favored and also the .45 ACP for American trials. But by far the most popular chambering is the 9×19mm cartridge that’s also called the 9mm Parabellum (and, yes, the 9mm Luger). Is this all beginning to make some sense?
This iconic German selbstlader (self-loader or autoloader) is as recognizable throughout the world by its very shape as the Broomhandle Mauser and the Colt Single Action Army revolver. It’s the one handgun that, when anyone picks it up for the first time, makes them paraphrase Crocodile Dundee, “Now, THAT’S a gun!”
The P-08 is arguably the most ergonomic handgun ever made. Many companies, like Ruger, copied it for their own guns. And, because it’s chambered for the soft-recoiling 9×19mm cartridge, it’s extremely mild to shoot. Even though the gun is designed for ammunition that’s loaded well above today’s standard 9×19mm loads, its toggle-link bolt and recoiling barrel extension absorb so much recoil that it’s a thoroughly enjoyable handgun to shoot. I know, because I owned one and shot hundreds of hot rounds in it!
But I’m not alone in admiring the P-08. Thousands of shooters around the world feel exactly as I do about the gun. Which is why, when Umarex began making their incredible replica pellet pistols and BB guns years ago, the cry went up to build a P-08. The demand was there from the beginning, but, alas, the dream went unfulfilled. Gun after replica gun came out of Amberg, but no P-08. And people wrote me, asking why. The two handguns I’m asked for more than any others are this one and the Single Action Army.
Well, the wait is over. The Umarex P-08 BB pistol is finally here!
The P-08 BB pistol is all metal on the outside and is pleasingly cold to the touch when you pick it up. A 29.3-oz. unloaded weight gives good heft in the hand without being heavy. The power comes from a standard 12-gram CO2 cartridge stored in the grip. The spring-loaded BB magazine holds 21 Umarex Precision steel BBs. The stick magazine drops free by pressing the contoured round button on the left sight of the grip.
The 21-shot stick magazine drops free of the gun with the push of a button.
I’m testing serial number 12A00004, which tells you it’s an early production gun and you probably have zero chance of buying this one after I’m finished because it’s on loan directly from Umarex. In other words, the production guns aren’t quite here yet. I think this may even be the same gun I saw at the SHOT Show.
The grip panels are black plastic, which is in keeping with later P-08 “Black Widow” firearms. Nothing looks or feels out-of-place. The right grip panel pops off to reveal the CO2 chamber, and the tensioning screw is hidden by the bottom of the magazine that’s molded to appear like the bottom of the firearm mag.
The right grip panel pops off to install the CO2 cartridge. The cap of the magazine covers the piercing screw.
Let’s talk about that molding for a minute. Umarex has been perfecting their casting processes over the years, and they have arrived at the point where I found it difficult to believe that the toggle link did not move when I examined the gun at SHOT. The pieces are so well-defined and appear to be awaiting a pull upwards on the toggle “ears” (the two large round knobs at the top rear of the pistol) that I fiddled with the gun for several minutes — trying to get it to “work.” It fooled me completely.
I heard disparaging remarks from some readers that if the toggle doesn’t work, the gun is worthless, or words to that effect, but do you think we’re asking too much? This is a not a $250 pellet replica pistol. It’s a $60 BB gun — or at least it will be somewhere near that number. It has the weight and balance of the firearm, as well as the ergonomics and wide trigger blade. Isn’t that enough for what they’re asking? Right now, I have to say that it is for me.
The controls that do work are the mag release, as already described, and the safety, which is identical to the one on the firearm. Even the word secured (gesichert) is written in German, as on the prototype firearm it copies.
The safety is in the same place and has the same German word as on the firearm.
The sights on a short-barreled P-08 firearm are fixed, and the rear notch is integral with the rear part of the toggle link. So, when the gun fires, the rear sight moves as the toggle moves. On the firearm, the front sight, which is attached to the barrel, also moves, because the barrel extension does move back when the toggle link breech is opened. But on the BB pistol, neither sight moves because both the barrel and the toggle link are fixed in place.
The trigger is not adjustable and operates in the double-action mode, only. You’ll have to learn how to control a longer, heavier trigger-pull.
Velocity is supposed to be around 410 f.p.s., which is quite brisk for a BB gun. You’ll definitely want a good backstop when you shoot this air pistol, and everyone in the vicinity will have to wear safety glasses for protection from rebounds.
Other than that, this pistol is what it is — a super ergonomic BB pistol (by copying the P-08 profile exactly) with a lot of realism. I hope it shoots accurately because this is definitely an interesting BB gun.
This is the first P-08 BB pistol to hit the market. The realism is remarkable.
When can we expect to see it?
I don’t know just when the P-08 will hit the U.S. market, but I would hope it will be by early summer. I will keep an eye out for it.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, you’ll get a twofer — thanks to blog reader Les, who asked about adjusting dot sights and lasers. I said I would test the Umarex MORPH 3X with a dot sight, so I thought I’d combine that test with instructions on how to adjust the sight to hit the point of impact.
I hadn’t considered testing a laser on the Morph, but I can certainly describe how to do it. I’ll get to that at the end of the report.
The dot sight
What is a dot sight? Well, once you understand what it is, you’ll understand that adjusting one is the same as adjusting a scope. Because that is what a dot sight is — a scope without the magnification (usually) or the crosshairs!
On scopes, the crosshairs or reticle are lines that you see through to see the target. By adjusting where the lines are, you can adjust where your shot strikes the target. I think most folks understand that.
All a dot sight does is substitute a glowing dot of light for the center of the crosshairs. In other words, the intersection of the crosshairs is replaced by a glowing dot of light. Put that over what you want to hit; and if the sight is adjusted properly, it works the same as a scope. No one other than the shooter can see the dot.
The glowing dot is different than the crosshairs because it isn’t a solid object. It’s a reflection on the surface of a lens that appears in your line of sight. You can see it because the reflection is physically there, but it isn’t anything that can be touched, anymore than you can touch an image in a mirror. But you can adjust where the dot is seen by adjusting the lens that reflects it.
If you have a dot sight, try looking through it and moving your head around from side to side and up and down. You’ll note that the dot moves against the target quite a bit. That’s because you’re moving your eye, and that changes where the reflection of the dot appears to be. You can do the same thing with the reticle of a scope, but not to the same extent. Where a scope reticle will appear to move just a little against a target, a dot appears to move more. That’s the difference between looking at something that is physically there and something that’s just reflected off a curved piece of glass.
That should warn you that dot sights have a lot of parallax problems and require consistent eye placement for every shot. The same is true with open sights, but open sights give cues when the alignment isn’t right. The front sight moves relative to the rear sight. But a dot sight is just a single point of reference, so you can’t see the misalignment as easily. Therefore, the placement of your head is extremely important if you expect to hit the target every time.
What I’m saying about dot sights applies to the older tube-type sights, like the one I’m using in this test. I suspect, like all technologies, dot sights have become more precise in recent years. But my experience is with the older style.
Don’t get the idea that dot sights are impossible, though, because they’re not. Though they are somewhat dicey to use. It’s not as bad as ice skating on stilts.
Dot sight adjustment
Now that you understand what a dot sight is, you should know that it adjusts in the same way as a conventional scope. One knob controls the up and down movement, and the other controls the left and right. Sighting-in a dot sight is no different than sighting-in a scope. You select a point of aim, which you hope will also be the point of impact and hold on it as you shoot. If the pellets strike the target low and to the left, the sight has to be adjusted up and to the right.
Like a scope, it helps to begin sight-in of a dot sight at a close target. I like starting at 10 feet away, and I adjust the sight until the pellet is striking the target on the centerline and as far below the point of aim as the center of the sight is above the center of the bore. Then, I know I can back up to 10 meters, and I’ll be on paper. I may need to refine my sight adjustment a little when I shoot at 10 meters, but this is the fastest way I know to sight in an airgun — especially one that cannot be boresighted.
But what if you’re at a public range and can’t shoot at 10 feet? That’s when I put up a 2-foot by 4-foot light-colored paper backer and staple my target in the center of that. Even at 50 yards, there’s a good chance my shots will land somewhere on that big piece of paper if I shoot at the center of the target. When even that fails, I enlist the help of a spotter to watch the berm. I shoot at a dirt clod we can both identify and he watches through the binoculars that I always carry to see where my bullet strikes relative to the dirt clod.
Tasco Pro Point
I mounted a Tasco Pro Point dot sight to the rail on top of the Morph and was ready to commence sight-in. The Pro Point is a dated design, but it was good quality 15 years ago and still works well today. The amount of parallax is small for a dot sight, but I still watch my head placement every time.
It was very easy to install the Pro Point on the Morph. The Weaver bases on the Pro Point clamp right to the Morph’s rail, and clamping pressure plus the keyed cross-slots hold the sight in place.
Tasco Pro Pont dot sight fits the Morph quite well.
I think it was Victor who asked me how I stop the BBs from bouncing back, so today I thought I’d show you. I photographed my target setup, so you can see the light and the Winchester Airgun Target Cube with the Shoot-N-C target pasted on its front.
Absolutely no BBs bounce back using this setup. The target cube is starting to slough off small pieces of styrofoam, now that over a thousand shots have hit it, but nothing gets through it and nothing bounces back.
On to the shooting
At first, I shot the Morph in carbine form offhand at 15 feet (I’m using Umarex Precision steel BBs). I dialed the red dot intensity up to No. 8; because when the Shoot-N-C target turns green, it’s so bright that it masks the dot. Even at the 8 setting, I could barely see the dot against the target, once it changed from black to green (or yellow — I can’t tell…I’m colorblind.). Of course, when you shoot offhand, the dot seems to move all over the target — even at 15 feet.
Seeing the accuracy of the carbine made me want to shoot the gun rested. I brought in a kitchen chair, turned it around and used the back as a rest for my next group.
Seeing this result made me want to see just how good the gun could shoot. So I adjusted the dot to the right and shot another 10 rounds.
Let’s back up
Seeing how good the Morph could do at 15 feet prompted me to back up to 25 feet and try again. This was also a rested group of 10 shots. I adjusted the sight a little more to the right for this one.
I was running out of the smaller bulls, but with a dot sight that poses no problem. Since the BB goes where the dot is, the size of the target has no influence over where you hit, as it would with a peep sight or a post and notch using a 6 o’clock hold.
At 25 feet the group opened up a bit, but it’s still respectable. There’s a single BB above the bull in the cardboard. This is a larger bull; but with a dot sight, that doesn’t pose a problem. The sight is still not far enough to the right, and notice that the impact point has climbed just a little. The orange dot in the center of the bull was the aim point.
I don’t have a laser that will fit on the Picatinny rail of the Morph, so I can’t mount one, but let’s talk about how a laser differs from a dot sight and a scope. A laser actually shines a light on the target. What you see is reflected from the target — not from a lens inside an optical device. The laser dot can be seen by everyone — not just by the shooter — the way a dot sight can. And because the laser dot actually hits the target, there can never be any parallax. What you see is actually there, on the target.
With a laser, there’s nothing to look through. Think of a laser as a very powerful flashlight. It isn’t actually a sight. It’s more of a designator.
A laser is adjusted just like a scope or dot sight, except you’re adjusting where the light actually falls. So, the procedure is to use a separate sight to sight-in the gun, then adjust the laser so it’s on the target when the other sight is.
Adjusting a laser is usually different than adjusting a scope or a dot sight. There aren’t click adjustments, as a rule, but there are screws that push the laser tube in the direction you want it to go. This may be backwards of how a scope’s adjustments move, so read the laser’s manual before you start adjusting.
Distance is limited
Lasers can’t be seen very far on bright days, so they’re limited in distance. You can look at them through a scope which increases the distance at which the dot can be seen, but even then the laser is a limited-range sighting aid. A 50-yard shot is very far for a laser. Most shooters set them up for very close shots, like 20-30 feet. They use their other sights for longer distances.
Les — I hope this helps you with the sight-in procedure for dot sights and lasers. Let me know if you have more questions.
The Morph 3X rifle and pistol is a unique airgun that’s accurate and powerful at the same time. The double-action trigger-pull may take getting used to, but it poses no problem as far as accuracy goes.
I find the Morph accurate, conservative of gas and trouble-free to operate. If you want an accurate BB gun that also has power, check this one out.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I didn’t realize how many readers were watching the Umarex MORPH 3X pistol and rifle until I read some of the comments. Apparently, many of you must use smoothbore BB guns for various reasons, and a long-barreled gun is something you like. Since this one can change from a pistol to a long gun, it’s of particular interest.
As you will remember, the Morph not only has two barrel lengths — it also has two power levels. Each of those conditions had to be tested. I shot at 15 feet, which is one of two established distances for BB guns — the other being 5 meters or just over 16 feet.
The gun has fiberoptic sights, but they do not illuminate well in room lighting. In essence, they were a sharp set of post and notch open sights. That’s better for accuracy, because fiberoptics are less precise since they cover a lot of the target.
The gun was loaded with 30 Umarex precision steel BBs and fired in its pistol form first. I started with low power and put 3 shots off the bull before I got the sight picture correct. I had to hold on the center of the bull with the Morph. Then, they went to the center of the bull but made a vertical dispersion. I believe the verticality is mostly my fault, as I’m not yet used to the double-action trigger-pull.
Next, I adjusted the pistol to high power and shot a second target. This time, the shots all went lower, as they often do when they go faster. They also went to the right for reasons I cannot explain. The group is even tighter, so I’m thinking this is where the pistol wants to shoot for me.
Pistol with long barrel extension
Someone asked if the barrel extension could be added to the pistol without connecting the longer forearm, and it can. They then asked me to show a picture of what that looks like. Here it is.
It was time to test the carbine. This is the forearm and barrel extension plus the detachable butt. I decided to test the gun this way and not just with the barrel extension by itself since the butt would give me greater stability. It also placed the rear sight too close to my eye for good aim, but I’ll address that at the end of the report.
On low power, the carbine shot slightly low and to the right of the aim point. I must report that shooting with the double-action trigger, while not as precise as shooting single-action, is not that difficult when the carbine butt is attached.
Then, I adjusted the gun to high power and shot another group.
Several owners have said they like their Morphs because they’re accurate, and I think this test supports that. The gun seems to be equally accurate as just a pistol or with the barrel extension installed. But high power does seem to improve things in either mode. Four targets aren’t enough data to prove anything; but since these are 10-shot groups, they do give a pretty good indication of how the gun is shooting.
The sighting situation was a compromise, as I mentioned earlier, so I do plan on another test of the gun. That one will be with a red dot sight attached. Then, I think we’ll see everything this unique BB gun has to offer. So far, though, the Morph 3X is a winner in my book.