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
Before we begin, there was a request last week for me to test the Benjamin 392. I thought I’d tested it already, and it turns out I did. Click see all 5 parts on the old blog.
The question of barrel equivalency
Today, we’ll look at the accuracy side of this test, where yesterday we looked at how the twist rate affects velocity. Before I begin, however, we have to settle an issue that’s in a lot of people’s minds. Namely, is it reasonable to test barrels made by Dennis Quackenbush against a Lothar Walther factory AirForce barrel? Will the test results be skewed for that reason and not because of the different rifling twist rates? Or will the twist rates determine part of the results and the barrel’s pedigree determine the rest?
To carry that kind of logic out to its conclusion, every barrel will be different. Who’s to say that one Lothar Walther barrel is not better or worse than another? The fact is that we know that some of them will stand apart — being either better or worse than the norm. There’s no way to test the exact same barrel with all 3 twist rates because we cannot adjust the twist rate of a rifled barrel. Once it’s built, it is whatever it is. Three separate barrels have to be used for this test, whether they’re made by Lothar Walther or by someone else.
Another thing to consider is that other smallbore barrels made by Dennis Quackenbush in the past have proven to be as accurate as barrels made by Lothar Walther. I’m now talking about barrels of the same caliber — not comparing .22-caliber Walther barrels against .308-caliber Quackenbush barrels. I know of .22-caliber barrels and .25-caliber barrels made by Quackenbush that can go against the best barrels made by Lothar Walther.
But in the end, we can never know if the barrels I’m using for this test are exactly as accurate as the Lothar Walther factory barrel I am also using. There is just no way to know that. There is, however, a way of getting pretty close. If the Quackenbush barrels produce some groups in the same accuracy range as the Lothar Walther barrel, then we can be assured that we are testing barrels of similar quality. We can never be entirely certain they are exactly as good, so this is as close as it is possible to come. And, by the same logic, that is all we could do if Lothar Walther had made all 3 barrels used in this test.
Lothar Walther is not going to make test barrels for a test like this unless they want to. There is no way to contract with them to make one-off barrels that have the different twist rates we are testing. They don’t make one-off barrels — at least not for the public. There are barrel makers who do make one-off barrels, and Dennis Quackenbush is one of them. We’re going to have to be satisfied with the barrels he has provided and look at the results to see if we believe his barrels are as good as the factory barrel we’re testing.
On with the test
With that issue set aside, let’s look at what the 3 barrels did in this test.
The group sizes in the table are shown in inches.
The first thing I looked at was the results of the 2 Quackenbush barrels against the factory Lothar Walther barrel, and I learned something interesting. At 10 meters, the 1:22″ twist barrel shot better than the factory barrel with Crosman Premier pellets — not by a little, but by a significant margin. On both zero and 6 power, the 1:22″ barrel made groups that were one-tenth of an inch smaller than those made by the factory barrel. On power setting 10, the factory barrel beat the 1:22″ barrel by only four one-hundredths of an inch. I think that’s significant. It shows that the 1:22″ twist barrel can keep up with and even exceed the Lothar Walther barrel…at least to 10 meters.
The 1:12″ twist barrel wasn’t quite as good as the factory barrel at 10 meters, but it was very close. At power settings zero and 6 they differed by just a few thousandths of an inch. On setting 10, the factory barrel exceeded the 1:12″ barrel by the same four one-hundredths of an inch that it did with the 1:22″ barrel.
These results tell me that the two barrels made by Dennis Quackenbush are as capable of making good groups as the Lothar Walther barrel. The differences in the group sizes are less than the measurement errors made when measuring the groups. That puts the barrel equivalency question to rest in my mind. I’m willing to accept that the results of this test are from the different twist rates and not from the inherent quality or lack of quality of the barrels being tested.
Ten meters is really too close for definitive results when the question of accuracy is on the line. That’s why the test was also shot at 25 yards, and later I’ll shoot it at 50 yards. It was at that distance that the factory barrel really shined. With 14.3-grain Crosman Premiers, the factory barrel was more accurate on power setting 10 than on the lower settings. With 15.9-grain JSB Exacts, the factory barrel did its best on power setting 6. But both of the other barrels did not perform their best at this range.
The 1:12″ barrel shot Crosman Premiers best on power setting 6, but it shot JSB Exacts about the same on settings 6 and 10. There was a little difference with the Exacts, but it was down in the measurement error margin.
The 1:22″ barrel, on the other hand, got worse with Premiers as the power was increased. And the difference between the best and worst groups was large enough to be more than a coincidence. It was almost twice as large on power setting 10 as it was on power setting zero (1.082″ compared to 0.671″).
With JSB Exact pellets, that trend was reversed. The greater the power, the smaller the groups became. For both pellets at 25 yards, the 1:22″ barrel was not anywhere near the factory barrel at the same distance. Only at power setting zero with Premiers was that barrel close to the factory barrel, and the difference was still outside the measuring-error margin.
The 1:12″ barrel performed similar to the 1:22″ barrel at 25 yards. Only once, at power setting 6 with Premier pellets, did the 1:12″ barrel exceed the factory 1:16″ barrel.
If you look at the results of the 1:22″ barrel, you’ll note that it falls apart at 25 yards. It held its own at 10 meters; but at 25 yards, it falls far behind the factory barrel.
The 1:12″ barrel does the same, but it doesn’t open up as much as the 1:22″ barrel. There are individual instances where one of the two Quackenbush barrels exceeds the other; but in general, what I’m saying holds true. The factory barrel, however, doesn’t work that way.
The factory barrel holds together at 25 yards, just as it does at 10 meters. Again, there’s a single instance at 25 yards where it is beaten by the 1:12″ barrel (power setting 6 with Premier pellets), but that stands out as the only time the factory barrel was beaten at 25 yards. We can say in this test the factory 1:16″ twist barrel outperformed the other two barrels at 25 yards. That allows me to say two things.
First, I predict that the factory barrel will be the most accurate at 50 yards. Second, I believe that the 1:16″ twist rate is the best twist rate of the 3 we’ve tested.
Don’t get too excited
This test has been too small to say anything with certainty. I said that before we began, and I’m saying it again now. All these results can do is suggest things that should be looked at more closely. Other pellets will give different results — I’m sure of that. And more testing will refine these numbers. Where there’s gross separation between the Quackenbush barrels and the factory barrel, I feel certain the trend will continue with more testing. But where things are close, there might be a reversal of the outcome. There simply isn’t enough test data to say otherwise.
Conclusions so far
Based on the data we see thus far, I think that the 1:16″ twist rate seems to be the best of the three twist rates we’ve tested. At 10 meters, the factory barrel shot 3 of the best 6 results. At 25 yards the factory barrel shot 5 of 6 groups better than the other 2 barrels. Out of the total of 12 results, the factory barrel was the best 8 times. So, 67 percent of the best groups in this test were shot by the factory barrel.
The factory barrel is the best overall barrel in this test so far, and it gets better the farther the distance is to the target.
Because the other 2 barrels beat the factory barrel one-third of the time, I think the question of their quality can be laid to rest. Clearly, they’re giving the Lothar Walther factory barrel a run for the money.
Power versus accuracy
In Part 8, I talked about not needing to use power setting 10 with the 1:22″ barrel if it proved to be accurate enough. The velocity at power setting 6 was so high that I said I could stop there and conserve air. I think I’ve now shown that it isn’t accurate enough. Yes…when you look only at that barrel’s accuracy, you could surmise that it’s accurate enough at power setting 6 to stop at that point. But when the factory barrel is brought into the equation, the 1:22″ barrel falls behind.
Next, I’ll shoot all 3 barrels at 50 yards. I’m planning to shoot only power settings 6 and 10 with each barrel because of the distance involved. This will be outdoors, and the pellets will really scatter in the light breezes if they’re shot on the lowest setting. I will have to wait for ideal range conditions, so it may be quite a while before I’m able to make my next report.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’m presenting the first part of the data collected thus far in this extensive test. My thanks to blog reader Fred DPRoNJ (Democratic People’s Republik of New Jersey) for creating the original spreadsheet for this data. Although I didn’t use his spreadsheet in the publication, I did use it as my worksheet to put this report together. Thanks, Fred!
This is a look at how the twist rate of rifling affects the velocity and accuracy of pellets in an AirForce Talon SS rifle in .22 caliber. We’re testing the same 2 pellets in each of 3 different barrels in the same gun. All 3 barrels are the same 12-inch length. Two of the barrels were custom-made by big bore airgun designer/maker Dennis Quackenbush for this test, and the other barrel is a factory Lothar Walther barrel that comes with the rifle. I chose this airgun for two reasons. First, it allows the quick barrel change that makes this test possible. Second, it has adjustable power so we can vary the power for each pellet we test.
I’m testing the rifle with 2 pellets. The first is the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier that has long been established as one of the most accurate pellets for a .22-caliber Talon SS. The second pellet is the 15.9-grain JSB Exact pellet that I’ve found will sometimes exceed the Premier for accuracy. I don’t believe there’s another pellet in the world that can match either pellet’s performance in my .22-caliber Talon SS.
Velocity was the first thing I tested, and it will be the only thing I report today. There’s too much data in this test to dump it all in a single report, so the accuracy portion of the test will follow tomorrow.
I shot 10 shots with each pellet at each of 3 different power settings on the gun — zero power (as low as the gun will go), power setting 6 and power setting 10. That was done in each of the 3 barrels, so there are a total of 18 outcomes to this test. Those 18 outcomes are shown in the table below.
My Talon SS doesn’t have a power setting scale etched on it, so I put a piece of tape on the side of the gun above the power window. Zero power is with the power-indicating Allen screw head all the way to the left in the window (the same as it would be on a gun that has an index etched on it). I put marks on the tape where power settings 6 and 10 are. I’ve tested many hundreds of these guns over the years that I know where the power screw head has to be, so these settings are quite accurate. The fact that I used the marks for each test (by centering the screw head on the mark) means that everything was identical for each test.
First, I note that in all cases the velocity increased the most between power setting zero and setting 6. The velocity increase from setting 6 to setting 10 was always smaller than the increase from setting zero to setting 6, and that’s irrespective of the twist rate or which pellet was shot.
It’s true that there’s more variation between power setting zero and power setting 6 than between settings 6 and 10, but what you’re seeing here is the slowing down of the rate of velocity increase. That becomes clear in a moment when I discuss the rifle’s maximum velocity potential.
Next, I noted that, as the twist rate slowed (1:22″ is slower than 1:12″), the velocity increased at most power settings with most pellets. There was one instance with the 1:22″ barrel where the 15.9-grain JSB Exact pellet actually went 2 f.p.s. slower at setting 10 than at setting 6, but with all other barrels and all pellets, there was always a velocity increase as the power setting went higher.
Focusing on the 1:22″ barrel for a moment, we see that the velocity increases between setting 6 and setting 10 were not as great as they were in either the factory (1:16″) barrel or the 1:12″ barrel. This suggests what we have suspected all along — that the twist rate of the barrel does slow down the pellet as it gets tighter. And we can see from this test that the phenomenon is most apparent at the lower power settings. At the higher power settings, the differences seem to shrink, indicating that the influence of the power setting is overriding the influence of the twist rate. I believe this is an important finding, and it sets up the next observation, which is that the top velocity of the gun was fairly close for all 3 barrels, regardless of the twist rate. The type of pellet made more difference to the top velocity than the barrel twist rate did.
Specific things we learn from this test
It should be obvious from these results that the Talon SS powerplant has upper limits that cannot be exceeded by forcing more compressed air through the barrel. Better than anything I’ve seen, this illustrates the relationship between barrel length and velocity in a pneumatic airgun. Last week, I had an inquiry from a budding inventor who wanted to know the fastest pellet velocity I had ever witnessed. After I told him what it was, he told me he was working on an airgun design that used compressed gas at 5,000 to 6,000 psi, implying that this would increase the velocity. He told me that he had done extensive research on the internet and was unable to find anything on this topic, despite several of my own reports that address this very thing.
My point is that I get such inquiries all the time from people who are not yet connected to the airgun community and are out there reinventing the wheel. They’re working on a supposition that we all recognize as erroneous — namely that higher reservoir pressure gives higher velocity — but they haven’t gotten far enough into the subject to know that yet. This test serves as a foundation for why we say that barrel length affects velocity in a pneumatic gun.
A second thing that I found interesting is that power setting 6 is very close in performance to power setting 10. In the case of the 1:22″ twist barrel, it’s remarkably close…but it’s close for all three barrels. A prudent airgunner might consider this when setting the power wheel adjustment on his Talon SS, knowing that a lower setting uses less air, yet gives velocity that isn’t that much slower.
A third thing is that the velocity performance of the 1:22″ barrel is so good at power setting 6 that it makes power setting 10 useless. Take that thought just a little farther, and you’ll see that all power settings above setting 10 are pretty much a waste of air in a Talon SS with a 12-inch barrel, regardless of which pellet you use.
If the 1:22″ twist barrel turns out to be accurate, we’ll want to use it in the Talon SS instead of the factory 1:16″ barrel because we’re getting the same performance at power setting 6 that the factory barrel gets at setting 10. On the other hand, there’s not much real velocity difference between the 1:12″ barrel and the factory 1:16″ barrel. So, whichever one is more accurate is the one to go with if the 1:22″ barrel proves not to be as accurate.
That’s all I have to say, but I’m sure that some of our readers will have even more observations to add. Let the discussions begin.
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
Today’s report is a guest blog from reader /Dave. He’s going to tell us about his recent experience with a fine precharged pneumatic (PCP) air rifle.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.
Take it away, /Dave.
Most of you know me as /Dave. I used to be known here as Shooter, until someone was nice enough to recommend the movie of the same name to me. I immediately changed to /Dave because I’m simply not, and never will be, in that league. Please excuse the pictures, they are from my phone.
I have known a lot of people in my life who absolutely must have new when it comes to buying anything. Guns, cars, bicycles…doesn’t matter — anything, really. As if used is somehow not as good, is damaged or is missing the right aura. To them, if it’s not new, it just isn’t right. For those people, I write the following report; as proof that used things are not all bad. This is one of my better experiences with used stuff.
A couple months ago, I bought a used Air Arms S410E bolt-action .22-caliber (FAC version) air rifle from the Yellow Forum classifieds. It showed great promise while I was shooting it and getting to know it in my basement’s 9.50-yard range, but I longed to try it out at a longer range in a relaxed setting, like my backyard. My neighbors are mostly okay with me shooting outside. To make sure they aren’t bothered, I wait to shoot until I have days off during the week when they’re at work.
Dave’s new/old Air Arms S410E air rifle.
I can get a measured 27 yards from the end of my muzzle on my kitchen countertop to the target near the back fence. A friend recently gave me a mechanical rifle rest that he wasn’t using anymore, so I gave that a try. The countertop makes for a nice place to put the rest when you clamp a wide board to it. I usually shoot off a monopod while standing or sitting, so this was much more solid than what I’m used to.
Shooting range from behind the rifle. Sshhh! Don’t tell the wife.
Here’s a look through the new scope I also got from the Yellow Forum classifieds (from a different guy). He bought it, never even took it out of the box and decided to sell it. It has a range-estimating reticle and mil-dots that I have yet to learn to use. So far, I just use the sidewheel focus knob. It seems close enough for government work. There are 36 colors for the reticle illumination! Haven’t tried those out, either.
The view through new, secondhand scope (bought from Yellow but the box was still factory sealed) — UTG Accushot SWAT IE 3-12×44mm, IR, side focus, 30mm tube and set on about 7x. Looks out of focus on the picture, but it’s really clear and in focus when looking through it with my eyes. Sidewheel set on about 26 yds, so it’s not too far off on the factory markings after adjusting the diopter for my eyes.
My backstop is a piece of plywood behind an old crate, and inside — you guessed it — a pile of phone books still in their wrappers!
Backstop at 27 yards.
OK, on to business….
When I received my gun, I immediately pumped it up to its maximum fill of 200 bar (approximately 2900 psi) and started the chronograph testing. Blog reader Kevin Lentz accurately predicted that the sweet spot on the fill would be about 180-190 Bar. Above that, the valve is getting air locked, reducing the velocity of the pellets. I didn’t save the results from my chronograph, a Competition Electronics ProChronoDigital, but I did figure the muzzle energy with each string’s average using this Pyramyd Air’s handy online calculator. With various pellets, it produces anywhere from 26 to 30+ foot-pounds. Lighter pellets generate less, and the heavier ones generate more energy, as is typical with a PCP airgun. This gun doesn’t really start falling off the pressure curve (losing power and velocity) until around 110-120 bar (about 1600 psi), after 60 or more shots.
Pumping it back up to around 190 bar on the gauge takes somewhere around 150 strokes of my Benjamin hand pump. Sounds like a lot, huh? It’s really only 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 pump strokes per shot. I’d call that pretty efficient in terms of energy transfer! While pumping the gun up, I noticed that the gauge on my pump and the gauge on the gun disagreed, so I go by the higher of the two readings just to be safe. That happens to be from the gauge on my pump. During the last couple of months since I received the gun, it hasn’t leaked down any noticeable amount, so I think we’re good there. Chalk one up for used equipment!
What about the accuracy? That’s what airgunning is all about isn’t it? OK, then, on to the shooting results.
At 27 yards on a mostly windless day and shooting off my mechanical rest, I think it does well. As I said, the mechanical rifle rest is a lot more solid than what I’m accustomed to. It doesn’t adjust from side to side except by sliding the back end around, but it has a very fine elevation screw, allowing me to dial in the height very easily. It also has very thick felt v-pads on the front and rear to allow a non-marring, but freely sliding surface to support both the forearm and the butt of the rifle. While shooting my groups, I was also adjusting the scope a bit to get it closer to what I wanted. The clip on this gun holds 10 rounds, so it’s easy to shoot groups of 10. I’ll give both edge-to-edge and center-to-center group measurements for your comprehension. Generally speaking, I think that center-to-center is the standard.
My first group with .22-caliber JSB Exact Jumbo, 5.52mm head, 15.9-grain domed pellets measures about 5/8″ from edge-to-edge, giving me just over 3/8″ center-to-center. You might notice I don’t use calipers. Although I own several, I just use a tape for my groups since that’s usually what I have handy. This same pellet duplicated this group a couple of clips later and is the best pellet of the 4 types shot today at this distance.
My second group was with Air Arms Falcon pellets, 5.52mm head, 13.43-grains, domed pellets. These gave me a 10-shot group of 11/16″ edge-to-edge, or about 7/16″ center-to-center.
The third group was with Crosman Premier .22, 5.50mm head, domed pellets. These are from the box, not the tin. These weren’t terrible at 13/16″ edge-to-edge, or about 9/16″ center-to-center. I think I’ve found something other than my 2240 that will shoot these CP’s with acceptable accuracy!
The fourth group was from the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy, 5.50mm head, 18.1 grain, domed pellets. At 5/8″ edge-to-edge, or about 3/8″ center-to-center, these matched the 15.89-grain JSBs. Two good choices!
My fifth group was a repeat with the JSB Exact Jumbo .22, 5.52mm head, 15.89-grain, domed pellets from the first group. This was my best group of the day at 9/16″ edge-to-edge, or about 5/16″ center-to-center!
My sixth group was a repeat with the JSB Exact Jumbos from the first and fifth group. I just wanted to verify that I was sighted in at 27 yards. This group is in the upper left of the following picture. The group size is a bit larger due to the fact that I shot away my aim point.
Six 10-shot groups on one fill. One-hundred fifty strokes of the Benjamin handpump to refill to 190 bar from about 110-120 bar. I think that the JSB Exact Jumbo 15.89-grain pellet is the winner of the day. Last group is upper left after scope adjustments.
As you can see, each of the six groups can be completely or almost completely covered by a dime. The largest can be covered with a nickel. All are pretty round, and these are consecutive group; so I’d say this rifle isn’t too pellet picky. Cost for this set-up was less than $600 for the gun and 2 clips plus $100 for the scope. The Accushot scope mounts I already had laying around. All of the pellets that I used today were purchased from Pyramyd Air at one time or another. Can’t beat their 4 for the price of 3 deal!
Am I happy with this gun? Absolutely! But, back to the original question: “Can you get a good, used gun?” Of course! This isn’t my only used gun purchase. Nearly all of my higher end guns are used (I call them higher end but, in fact, they’re more middle range), either acquired from the Yellow Forum classifieds or from Pyramyd Air’s Reman/Refurb/Open Box or Used Gun section. Either I’ve had great luck or this is the norm for me, with the bad apples being the occasional exception.
One of the things that ups my success versus “oops, I shouldn’t have done that” rate is research. In this case, I’d witnessed an S410 FAC sidelever in action. I know that Air Arms has a pretty much stellar reputation; and, from looking at going prices, I knew this one was a pretty good deal — even if it is a bolt-action and the stock isn’t walnut. Not a screaming deal; but at arm’s length, everyone walks away happy deal. I also buy new guns and other things, but I fully intend to keep saving money by careful shopping in the used, remanufactured and refurbished aisles! So can you. You’ll need just a little patience and act quickly when you notice something!
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.