Posts Tagged ‘Air Rifle Headquarters’
by B.B. Pelletier
El Gamo 68 is a futuristic breakbarrel from the past.
Today, I’ll take the El Gamo 68 to the next level of accuracy testing. I mounted a scope and went back to 25 yards to see what this gun can do.
Blog reader Mike sent me a trigger shoe he wasn’t using, and I installed it on the rifle’s thin blade. It made all the difference in the world. I don’t think I could have endured the 80+ shots that went into today’s test without it! Thanks, Mike!
The trigger shoe made the heavy pull pleasant.
I mentioned mounting a scope on the rifle before I checked it out. The 11mm scope dovetails are cut into the top of the spring tube and are very short by today’s standards. I was able to mount only a Leapers Bug Buster scope using 2-piece BKL mounts. The Bug Buster is a very compact scope, whose size compliments the 68 — and the eye relief worked out fine, so this was a happy coincidence.
I used this test not only to see how accurate the 68 is at 25 yards, but also to see if there’s a difference between seating pellets flush and seating them deep with an Air Venturi Pellet Pen’s PellSet. Each pellet shot one 10-shot group seated each way. Let’s see how it went.
H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
I first shot a 10-shot group of H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets seated flush with the breech. The group measured 0.963 inches between centers.
Then, I shot another 10-shot group with the same pellets seated deep. It measured 1.232 inches between centers. Clearly, the flush-seated pellets were best.
Air Arms Falcon
Next, I tried the Air Arms Falcon dome. Ten pellets seated flush gave a group measuring 1.163 inches between centers. Ten seated deep printed into 1.28 inches. This is too close to call.
The last pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby pellet. And here we had a reversal of the first test with the H&N target pellets –because the deep-seated pellets out-grouped the flush-seated ones. Flush-seated pellets grouped in 1.311 inches at 25 yards. Deep-seated pellets grouped in 0.888 inches, which was the best group of the test, though the initial sight-in group of Hobbys did group even better. But all the controls of the test weren’t in place when I shot that first group, so I can’t count it.
The results didn’t turn out as good as I expected. The 68 is accurate, but it’s not a 10-meter rifle in disguise. Having the trigger shoe makes the heavy trigger-pull comfortable, but a lighter pull would be much better.
As for the seating exercise, it seems to work with some pellets but not with others. And, of course, I haven’t yet experimented with different seating depths.
The next step with the 68 will be to disassemble the rifle and see what I can do to slick it up a bit.
by B.B. Pelletier
El Gamo 68 is a futuristic breakbarrel from the past.
As I said in Part 2, Mac and I simply couldn’t resist shooting the El Gamo 68 that I got from reader David Enoch at the Arkansas airgun show this year. And from the numerous reader responses, I see that we’re not alone in our admiration of this futuristic-looking breakbarrel from the past. Many owners have .22-caliber guns, which really surprises me, because I thought most European manufacturers, and especially El Gamo, produced mainly .177 airguns in the 1960s and ’70s, when this was new.
Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to locate a trigger shoe for the rifle. I probably got rid of one when I sold or traded a Webley Tempest years ago, though now I wish I still had it. If anyone sees an old Beeman trigger shoe for sale anywhere, please let me know, because this rifle really needs one.
It really didn’t begin as a test of this rifle. Mac was helping me test some new models you’ll be reading about later this month and asked if he could shoot the 68 when he finished with them. The test range was 10 meters indoors, and he produced a nice 5-shot group that can almost be covered by a dime in the center of the bullseye. It was so enticing that I decided to have a turn — which of course means a contest. Mac is a better rifle shot than I am, and we both know it. So when my 5-shot group came up noticeably smaller than his, he thought we should never speak of it again. And, Mac, after today…I probably won’t! I’ll add here that the next day he beat me by one point in a silhouette match at a friend’s place. That sounds close until you learn that my rifle was scoped and he was using peep sights!
But I digress. The fact is that we were shooting the 68 with the classic RWS Hobby pellet, and I have no idea how accurate the rifle really is. I just know that it shoots Hobbys well.
Well, Mac finally had to return home, leaving me with the 68 and much more to “test.” Much, much more, I hope!
Yesterday, I shot the rifle at 25 yards indoors and, once again, with Hobby pellets. Yes, I shot off a rest and used the artillery hold; but with this model, it’s a little more difficult to let the rifle float in your hands. The trigger has a stiff 8-lb. release, and the pistol grip forces the shooter to grip hard to squeeze that hard trigger blade. Other than that, the artillery hold was the usual one, but I mention the difference so you’ll know what went on.
The first shot went high and well-centered with the bull, so I settled in and fired 9 more just like it. The resulting group isn’t a thing of beauty, but it is what it is.
Last week I “discovered” that seating pellets with the new Air Venturi PellSet seemed to improve the accuracy of the Air Venturi Bronco I was testing. I took a lot of heat for mentioning that, because the test did not have the controls you usually see in this blog, but what the heck! I have a tough old hide, so go ahead and flog me!
I thought, why not try the PellSet with the 68 and really get the crowd in an uproar? I listened to several of you who advised me to start by seating the pellets as shallow as possible, so I adjusted the PellSet to do just that. Then, I shot a second 10-shot group at 25 yards and, lo and behold, it was smaller. I’ll probably never hear the end of this!
Now, to me, it looks like the intentionally seated pellets really do want to group better in this particular rifle. But what do I know? This was not a real test of seating pellets because there weren’t enough groups fired, plus there’s a lot more I want to test than just the single depth.
In fact, this wasn’t much of an accuracy test for the 68. Think of it as more of a “getting to know the rifle” session, because I plan to mount a scope and return with a genuine accuracy test in the next report.
But it sure was nice just to play with this little rifle once more! As a matter of fact, I think I’m going to find reasons to do more of this.
by B.B. Pelletier
El Gamo 68 is a futuristic breakbarrel from the past.
Mac and I couldn’t stay away from the El Gamo 68 once we started looking at it. The first thing we did was adjust the trigger so it would catch positively every time the rifle (carbine?) is cocked. When I got the gun, it failed to catch the sear several times every time the barrel was broken, but all that turned out to be was a trigger adjusted with too little sear contact area.
Trigger adjustments come in two different types. One adjusts the spring tension of the trigger return spring, and adjusting it will give a somewhat lighter trigger-pull. The other adjusts the actual sear contact area and makes the trigger release crisper without affecting the pull weight. That’s the type of adjustment the 68 has. It also has an adjustment for the length of the first-stage pull; and on this gun, I found stage one had been adjusted completely out. So, you started the pull on stage two — effectively giving the rifle a single-stage trigger.
Adjusting the trigger
The following instructions for adjusting the trigger are taken from the El Gamo owner’s manual for the 68 and 68-XP that David Enoch was kind enough to supply. They might also apply to the El Gamo model 300 rifle, which has the XP action in a conventional wood stock. I don’t know that the 300 has the same trigger adjustments, but I assume that it does.
The forward screw (closest to the triggerguard) is a locking screw that should be loosened before any adjustments are made. After all adjustments have been made, tighten the locking screw to lock the adjustments in place.
The larger screw in the center adjusts the length of the first-stage pull. Turn counterclockwise to lengthen the pull and clockwise to shorten it. As I mentioned, it’s possible to eliminate the first stage altogether.
The screw in back adjusts the sear contact area. It does not lighten the trigger-pull, so be careful not to over-adjust it or the rifle will not cock, as mine did not. Turn counterclockwise to increase the sear contact area and clockwise to decrease. Ostensibly, this adjustment would give you a crisper trigger release, but I didn’t see any difference at all. But when the contact area was adjusted too small, the rifle failed to catch when cocked.
Three trigger adjustment screws are located at the back of the triggerguard.
I was able to put back a long first-stage pull that I like; so now when the trigger stops, I know it’s at stage two and ready to break. Stage two was set with much more contact area, and now the rifle catches every time it’s cocked. I can’t detect that the pull has changed in weight or crispness. After it breaks, the trigger blade is at the end of its travel. It feels like there’s a trigger overtravel adjustment, but there isn’t.
The trigger blade is much too thin for the pull weight, which is between 7 lbs., 14 oz. and 8 lbs., 10 oz. This trigger can really benefit from the installation of a trigger shoe. I have a couple of them around somewhere, so I’ll try to find one and see if it benefits the rifle as much as I think it will.
The 68 fires very quickly and ends with a sudden small jolt. The feeling is strange, because you don’t expect a rifle this small to be so quick. It’s definitely not an R7! On the other hand, there’s virtually zero vibration with each shot. You might expect it to buzz a little because it’s an El Gamo, but you’d be surprised. Clearly, this rifle’s action is made much smoother than the current crop of Gamo spring rifles.
Since I own the rifle, I’m tempted to take the action out of the stock to see what I can do to smooth the firing cycle even more. If I can get the trigger to break reliably at 3 or even 5 lbs. and still be as crisp as it is, this would be one of my better spring-piston rifles.
The 68 appears to be butt-heavy, but that’s only an illusion. In fact, it’s somewhat muzzle-heavy, which stabilizes the rifle in the offhand position. The lack of a forearm means you have to hold it more like a pistol that has an attached shoulder stock, and both hands are centered around the vertical pistol grip. I don’t care for that hold, which is why a more conventional model 300 would suit me more, if all other parts of the action remain the same.
The gun seems to have a leather piston seal; but even if it doesn’t, it might benefit from the application of some silicone chamber oil dropped through the air transfer port behind the breech. I tested it with three pellets, both before and after oiling.
The first pellet I tested was the 7-grain RWS Hobby. This lightweight lead pellet is often very accurate in lower-powered spring guns and gives the highest velocity consistent with accuracy. Before oiling, Hobbys averaged 612 f.p.s., with a range from 604 to 615 f.p.s. They produced an average 5.82 foot-pounds of muzzle energy and the total velocity spread was a tight 9 f.p.s.
After oiling, Hobbys averaged 592 f.p.s. and ranged from 582 to 598 f.p.s. They produced an average of 5.45 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. The spread opened to 16 f.p.s.
Crosman Premier 7.9-grain
Next came the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier domed pellet. Before oiling, this pellet averaged 570 f.p.s., with a range from 558 to 588 f.p.s. They produced an average of 5.7 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. The total velocity spread was 30 f.p.s.
After oiling, the Premier lite pellets averaged 551 f.p.s., with a spread from 545 to 564 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 5.33 foot-pounds and the spread was 19 f.p.s.
The last pellet I tested was the 8.3-grain RWS Superdome. Before oiling, the velocity averaged 534 f.p.s. with a spread from 522 to 545 f.p.s. That produced an average of 5.26 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
After oiling, the same pellet averaged 524 f.p.s. with a spread from 519 to 527 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produces 5.06 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
What have we learned?
The first thing we learned was the need to properly adjust the trigger for contact surface. It didn’t change the pull weight, but it did correct the gun’s inability to cock positively.
Was it necessary to oil the gun? Probably not; but as the oil wears off, the velocity will increase again. Does the gun shoot any smoother as a result of oiling? I can’t tell any difference, so maybe this gun was working okay as it was.
The trigger could probably benefit from some lubrication and perhaps from more careful adjustment. I’ll have to see it closer to know if there’s anything that I can do to make it better.
by B.B. Pelletier
El Gamo 68 is a futuristic breakbarrel from the past.
I told you that the Arkansas airgun show was unique in yesterday’s report. Today, I want to start a report on an airgun I bought at the show. It was on the table next to me throughout the show, and I thought for sure someone would snap it up before I got the money to buy it; but as fate would have it, the gun waited for me until the end of the show. Literally, an hour before it was due to be packed up, I made an offer to reader David Enoch, the gun’s owner, and he accepted. I now own an air rifle that I’ve been wondering about for the past 32 years.
I first noticed the 68-XP (it’s a little hard not to notice!) in the pages of a 1979/1980 Air Rifle Headquarters catalog. I was still in the Army, living at Fort Knox with my young family at the time, so the discretionary funds were too tight to buy many of the things that caught my fancy, but this gun was so odd that I both hated it and wanted to get to know it at the same time.
Note: My gun is clearly marked as a model Gamo 68. A bit of Google searching came up with an old forum posting that the 68-XP was sold only in America, but the same gun was sold in Europe as the 68. If the guns were actually marked 68-XP when they came to the U.S., then mine was made for the European market since it lacks the “XP” initials.
You could tell that the description in the ARH catalog was mostly hype (not really, but I will explain as we go); but there seemed to be a thread of truth that ran through all their tests, and this rifle was reported as being fairly accurate. I already owned a Beeman FWB 124, so I didn’t need aspirin-busting accuracy; but the thought that a $90 spring-piston air rifle that looked like something Buck Rogers carried — but could also be a shooter — was enticing. It was offered only in .177 caliber, of course, because the powerplant was barely up to launching even those light pellets, to say nothing of the much heavier .22s. Of course, things like that never stopped companies like Diana, but El Gamo was a Spanish company that seemed wedded to the smallest caliber.
In those days (around 1979), Spanish airguns were looked upon like Chinese and Turkish airguns are today. We knew the companies were able to make good guns, but they often seemed to lack the willpower to actually do it. So, I considered El Gamo to be a junk brand, and in retrospect I believe that was a serious misjudgment on my part. What they really were was a non-German airgun maker that was building accurate and solid airguns at a time when most of us couldn’t see past Weihrauch, Webley, BSA and Feinwerkbau. And when I say “most of us,” I really mean just me, because there were no airgun magazines on the market (that I knew about), nor had Al Gore invented the internet, yet. It would be another 14 years before I started writing The Airgun Letter and attending airgun shows to discover that others shared my misguided opinions.
Robert Law, the owner of Air Rifle Headquarters, did his best to convince us that El Gamo rifles were good, but he was fighting unreasonable opposition. For some reason, we all (I later learned) believed every word he said about a Weihrauch HW 55 target rifle, but thought the copy about El Gamo was nothing but hype!
He would say things like, “All El Gamo models feature a rifled steel barrel,” which sounded suspiciously similar to “Each Yugo automobile features four perfectly round tires filled to capacity with factory air.” I think that we (I) had chips on our shoulder(s) and were daring Law to be right about anything he said regarding Spanish airguns..
Before anyone asks, El Gamo used to be the name Gamo used for their company. Sometime in the 1990s (I believe), they dropped the El from the logo.
The crackle finish held up well over time.
El Gamo’s logo is a stylized stag.
The 68/68-XP is based on the model 300 action. ARH sold it as the 300 Target and considered it to be an informal target rifle. They claimed an accuracy of 0.22 inches for 5 shots at 10 meters after their free conditioning, but all 68/68-XPs should shoot about the same after break-in. After they’re accurized, they said the rifle would group in 0.15 inches.
Beeman also sold the model 300, and they gave an accuracy potential of 0.22 inches — so they agreed with ARH. That’s not surprising, since they bought their guns from ARH in the beginning.
The gun is a strange one. It has no true stock, as you can see. What is the stock on most breakbarrels is a cast-aluminum frame on this one. The butt is synthetic — made of two halves screwed together around the cast-aluminum frame.
The trigger has three adjustment screws. Since David Enoch was kind enough to send me the manual, I’ll know how they work when it comes time. At the forward end of the triggerguard is a hole that leads to a large screw that might look like an adjustment screw but actually is the bearing point for the cocking linkage. I’ll pull the action out of the stock to see how this works and maybe why it’s there.
Three trigger adjustment screws are located at the back of the triggerguard. The one screw that’s in front of the trigger seems to adjust the cocking link bearing point.
The little gun feels heavy. It weighs 6 lbs., 2 oz., which isn’t much, but seems like a lot for a carbine whose overall length is only 37 inches. And yet the barrel is 17-9/16 inches long, which helps bring down the cocking effort to just 22 lbs.
The sights are old-school — no nasty fiberoptics to contend with. The rear sight adjusts in both directions, and the front sight is a crisp, wide blade with sharp edges. It fits the rear notch nicely, so you can aim precisely.
The rear sight is adjustable both ways. Though it looks like most modern open sights, it seems crisper than most.
The front sight is exactly what you want in a sporting front sight. Why did they ever change?
The ARH catalog says the gun holds well for offhand shooting, and I saw that when I shot it twice at the Arkansas airgun show. I was surprised when my pellets went into the same hole at 15 yards, because I’m not normally that good offhand. So I hope there’s a real surprise in store for us as far as accuracy is concerned.
There’s a scope rail on this one, so I’ll mount a scope after trying the open sights. They had scoped air rifles back when the gun was new; but they were still in the very early days, when not a lot was known about scoping airguns. Today, I have access to BKL scope rings, which overcome the lack of provisions for a mechanical scope stop.
The butt frame is aluminum, with two-piece synthetic shells that are screwed together.
You can’t buy one of these except as a used airgun, but it has so many of the features that I want to see in every lower-powered spring rifle that I wish it was still being made. If you don’t like the unconventional look of the 67/68-XP I’m testing, the action is identical to the model 300 that comes in a classic wood stock. So, let’s see how El Gamo made themback in the 1970s!
by B.B. Pelletier
Photos and test results for the Diana 60 by Earl “Mac” McDonald
The Diana model 60, which is a Hy-Score model 810 in this case, is a breakbarrel target rifle from the 1960s and ’70s.
That’s right, sports fans, today you’re getting a twofer. For the benefit of our readers outside the U.S., a twofer is slang that means “two for the price of one.” I decided to report on both Mac’s Diana 60 velocity test and my HW 55 Custom Match velocity test for reasons I will explain in each part. Grab a large cup of coffee and an extra Danish and sit back!
The Diana model 60 target rifle
We’ll look at Mac’s rifle first. Today, I’ll reveal the one thing that’s been troubling Mac about his rifle, so it doesn’t take a detective to know that it has to do with velocity.
The cocking effort of his breakbarrel rifle is 28 lbs., which seems high to me. Mac says it doesn’t feel that high because, for some reason, it gets lighter toward the end of the cocking stroke. He also cautions us to beware of the rack-and-pinion noises that these guns have when they’re cocked. To all that I have to say this.
There shouldn’t be any noises when this rifle is cocked. I’ve owned several Giss-system rifles and pistols and shot a lot more, and none of them made any extra noise when they were cocked. That’s clue No. 1. And, I’ll explain how the Giss system works next.
Clue No. 2 is the lighter cocking effort toward the end of the stroke. That’s atypical for a breakbarrel, but Diana has the reputation for breaking mainsprings. When they do, they get smoother. They don’t make any noise, nor do they bind during the cocking stroke. I’ve certainly seen a half-dozen Diana rifles with broken mainsprings and they all acted this way.
How the Giss contra-recoil system works
The Giss contra-recoil system consists of two pistons connected to each other. The real one goes forward when the gun is fired, and a dummy travels to the rear at the same time. The real piston is the only one that has a piston seal, and it’s the one that compresses all the air for the shot. The dummy piston has no seal and is just there to provide an equal and opposite reaction to the real piston. When the real piston slams to a stop, the dummy piston does too at the same instant. The EFFECT of this is that the impulse of each piston cancels the other. The first time an airgunner experiences it he’s usually blown away because, when the gun is timed right, absolutely no firing pulse can be felt.
Of course, timing is the principal concern in a gun that uses the Giss system. That’s why I never recommend a person try to repair his own gun. Sometimes, a mechanical genius like Nick Carter who writes Another Airgun Blog will be able to dive right inside a Giss gun and find no obstacle he cannot understand and overcome, but the average person will just create a basket case.
Looking straight down on the top of the model 60 action, we can see the two telltale caps that cover the gears connecting the two pistons to each other. All Giss-system guns have these caps.
This simple graphic shows how the two pistons oppose each other.
I’ll tell you right now that Mac experienced lower velocity than he expected from this rifle. An Air Rifle Headquarters catalog (the original company) from 1973 gives the velocity of the model 60 as 546 f.p.s., without specifying what pellet was used. That would probably translate to about 550-570 f.p.s. with the pistol-weight target pellets we use today. Mac wasn’t getting that.
He asked me what I thought about putting a drop of silicone chamber oil through the air transfer port to lubricate the piston. We know that these older target spring guns came with seals that dry-rotted over the years, and chamber oil will speed up their demise, but I figured he had to find out somehow, so he did it. But it didn’t cause the seal to destroy itself. It simply boosted the velocity about 12 f.p.s. with no change in how tight the velocity spread was.
The first pellet he tried was the H&N Finale Match Rifle pellet that weighs 8.18 grains. They averaged 457 f.p.s., with a 22 foot-second spread from 445 to 467 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 3.79 foot-pounds.
Next, he went with a domed pellet. JSB Exact Diabolos are domed pellets that would not normally be fired in a target rifle unless the target was something other than paper. But Mac also uses his target rifles for mini sniping, so he tested this 8.4-grain pellet anyway. It averaged 474 f.p.s., with a 16 foot-second spread from 465 to 481 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 4.19 foot-pounds.
The final pellet Mac tried was the old standard RWS Meisterkugeln pistol-weight wadcutter. Today, they only weigh 7 grains, but Mac had some older ones that weighed 7.7 grains. They were a very loose fit in the breech and averaged 458 f.p.s., with a whopping 37 f.p.s spread from 442 to 479 f.p.s. The average energy generated was 3.59 foot-pounds.
Both Mac and I think the rifle isn’t performing up to spec. Mac found some stated velocity figures of 460 f.p.s. in print somewhere, but he thinks it’s a transposition of 640 f.p.s., which is where a few of the 1960s and ’70s-era target rifles were.
I now believe the rifle has a broken mainspring. Mac thinks it’s just a tired one. Either way, the thought that his gun isn’t performing up to snuff is getting under his skin, so I advised him to have it repaired by either Pyramyd Air or Umarex USA so he’ll know for sure.
Nevertheless, the rifle still shoots as it should and there will be a part 3 coming soon. Let’s go to Part 2 of the other target rifle on today’s menu.
The HW 55 CM target rifle
Is this Custom Match the best HW 55 ever made? Read the report to find out.
I’m putting this additional report here for a couple reasons. First, I didn’t want to go too long without reporting on it. More importantly, I thought I might have to do an extra report on this rifle. As luck would have it, that’s how it turned out. While this is Part 2 and a velocity test, the next part will also be about velocity.
Remember that the HW 55 CM was the rifle that I felt had a harsh firing cycle back in Part 1. After I tightened the stock screws, some of the harshness went away. Even after that, the rifle was still feeling harsher than I felt it should for what it is.
Several of you readers thought that when the gun went back to Beeman for a rebuild, they probably installed the upgraded HW 50 sporter mainspring that would have boosted the power. The only way to find that out is with a chronograph, so that’s what I did. According to Air Rifle Headquarters catalog data, once again, a regular HW 55 should shoot H&N pellets at 650 f.p.s. Unfortunately, they don’t give a lot more data about the specific pellets they used for the test.
The rifle does still shoot a little harsh. When you’re peering through a peep sight, the smallest recoil becomes instantly noticeable. In this rifle, it’s unpleasant. The peep comes straight back and bumps into my skull when I fire. My Ballard rifle does the same thing, only its peep is on a tang sight that collapses forward when it contacts my eye. The HW 55 sight, in contrast, remains rigid and allows me to absorb all the impulse of each shot. Well, I’ll be danged if I’m going to put up with that!
The plan is to quiet the shot cycle with black tar, if possible. If the gun has extra velocity it doesn’t need, I’ll be only too happy to do that.
The cocking effort is just 20 lbs. on the nose, and the ARH catalog says to expect a weight of just 15 lbs. There’s another small deviation from what would be expected. Even the HW 50 mainspring isn’t that powerful, and the long almost-18.5-inch barrel may be providing the extra leverage to reduce the force.
The first pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby, that standard candle of high-velocity lead pellets. At just 7 grains, it’s not only light, but often it turns in surprisingly good results downrange. Hobbys averaged 694 f.p.s., with a 17 foot-second spread that went from 684 to 701 f.p.s. The muzzle energy is 7.49 foot-pounds. I would love to say that this speed wasn’t expected, but it wasn’t far enough out of line to be definitive.
Next, I tried H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. They weigh 7.56 grains. They averaged 632 f.p.s., with a 14 foot-second spread from 625 to 639 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 6.71 foot-pounds. That seems right on the money for a stock mainspring.
The final pellet I tried was the RWS R-10 Match Pistol pellet. Although they’re just as light as the Hobbys, they go the same speed as the heavier H&N Match Pistol pellets. That would indicate a bore-fit issue.They averaged 632 f.p.s., with an 18 foot-second spread from 619 to 637 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 6.21 foot-pounds.
I can’t tell for certain that the mainspring has been upgraded, but I do know that the rifle has way more velocity than I need. The next step is to lube the spring with black tar to see what EFFECT, if any, that has on the shot cycle. While Mac wants more velocity, I’m looking to get rid of some for the sake of smoothness.
I’ll break these two reports into separate reports for their respective accuracy tests. But before I do the accuracy test with the HW 55 CM, I’ll lube the spring and retest the velocity results, giving this rifle one extra report.
by B.B. Pelletier
The BSF S70 was the deluxe version of the BSF 55-series of spring-piston air rifles. It’s the grandfather of the Beeman R9.
First, I want to wish all my U.S. readers a Happy Memorial Day. Please take a moment to remember the friends and family members who gave their lives for our sake.
Today’s report will have some of you talking and thinking for weeks! Kevin will find that he is in a love-hate relationship with my BSF S70 rifle, and Herb will postulate three alternative universes from the data I’ve collected. Rikib will attempt to occupy one of them!
In other words, folks, today is not your ordinary velocity test day.
You will recall that I went into a lot of detail in Part 1, explaining that this could either be a powerful 800+ f.p.s. breakbarrel from the olden days, when 800 f.p.s. was the magnum threshold, or it could be a weak 7.5-joule German version of the same gun. Since this one has the Freimark that indicates the German power level, I thought it was probably the latter. Read Part 1 to find out what that means.
The first pellet I’ll send through the chronograph is going to tell us which it is. For that, I selected the JSB Exact RS, a 7.3-grain lightweight dome that seemed to me to be perfectly suited to this rifle. Here, now, is the first shot string:
Well, we can stop right there, can’t we? I mean that shot tells all, doesn’t it? However, in the interest of science and our morbid curiosity, I continued:
Well, that was probably a diesel, right? You have to expect them with the leather seals in this rifle:
I shot 14 rounds simply because I was fascinated by what the gun was doing. I just couldn’t stop.
The average velocity was 616 f.p.s., which, as you can see, was only close to one actual recorded velocity. It’s pretty obvious that what we’re seeing is a bimodal distribution.
Thank goodness I’m old
If I were a new airgunner I would not know what to make of this shot string. But years of playing with vintage springers has taught me that the ones with leather piston seals perform differently than those with modern synthetic seals. At this point, I oiled the piston seal with several drops of synthetic-based RWS Chamber Lube, administered through the air transfer port. I did not allow the seal to absorb the oil as I was on a tight schedule, so I expected the two loud detonations that came with the next two shots.
The old favorite RWS Hobby is the standard candle for velocity testing in spring airguns:
The average for this string was 866 f.p.s., and that’s a lot closer to the real average than the average of the first string. If you throw out the high and low shots, you get a 12-shot average of 868 f.p.s., so it’s pretty close. By the way, that gives a muzzle energy of 11.71 foot-pounds. Interesting.
What’s going on? The rifle is now behaving like a U.S.-powered magnum. Let’s try another pellet.
H&N Match Rifle
The H&N Match Rifle pellet is a heavyweight wadcutter. It weighs 8.2 grains. Let’s see what the shot string looks like:
The average for this string was 803 f.p.s., and this was the tightest string fired in the entire test. The total velocity spread is 30 f.p.s., which is what I’m used to seeing from a vintage springer in good condition. It works out to a muzzle energy of 11.74 foot-pounds.
What’s happening? Before I tell you what I think, I ran a short second string of the JSB RS domes. They went like this:
The average for that string was 687 f.p.s., which as you can see isn’t close to any actual velocity recorded. What’s happening?
For starters, this rifle DEFINITELY does not like JSB Exact RS pellets. It could not be any clearer than what you see here. Both before and after oiling the piston seal, we get a bimodal velocity distribution. And, only with a chronograph would you even suspect what was happening, because all the shots felt similar.
With the other two pellets, the rifle is near the 12-foot-pound region where magnum air rifles were in the late 1970s. This is exactly what I would expect a BSF S70 from the old Air Rifle Headquarters to do right out of the box.
Trigger-pull and cocking effort
The trigger is single-stage, and the pull is very long. It’s possible to adjust, as I showed back in Part 1, but as it is set now it breaks at 3 lbs., 14 ozs. As you pull through the long arc, the trigger hesitates at the end of the pull, telling you the rifle is ready to fire. It’s not a bad feeling at all, and I know that BSF triggers wear in with use.
It takes 34 lbs. of effort to cock this rifle. That’s in the same neighborhood as the Beeman R1, a spring-piston breakbarrel we all know to be far more powerful, but the BSF S70 is from a generation before the R1. True, they were both in production at the same time for a while, but the S70 is old-school and the R1 was the future back then.
Without question, my rifle is a full-power S70, which was a 12 foot-pound airgun in its day. I was completely mistaken when I guessed it would be a European-powered rifle. Kevin will both love and hate it because it represents the best of what Europe was making back in its day, and yet the power is the most upgraded version you could buy. I am glad that it’s more powerful, because a 34-lb. cocking effort ought to be rewarded with something!
The thing for you newer airgunners to carry away from this test is that air rifles and air pistols with leather seals behave differently than those with synthetic seals. Lubrication is so important for them.
A second lesson is that sometimes you encounter an anomaly like the performance of the JSB RS pellet. You have to find the ammunition your airgun likes, which is why discount-store pellets are no good unless you’ve also tested the finest premium pellets and actually proven that the ones from Wal-Mart are best in your airgun. Don’t shoot with your wallet. It just wastes money.
How to upload an avatar for this blog
This section is from Edith. We now allow avatars on the Pyramyd Air blog. If you have a favorite image or graphic you’d like to use, follow the directions below. In order to use the avatar, you must have an account on this blog. If you’re listed as anonymous or type in your name every time so you don’t have to register, then an avatar association can’t be made for you.
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At this time, we don’t have anything set up for me to preview avatars before they’re uploaded to our site. While I don’t expect anything bad from the regulars, we have had spammers.
If you find an offensive or questionable avatar, please let me know. Pyramyd Air’s tech support is looking into ways that I can preview avatars and either allow or not allow them.
I’ve also asked tech support if they can find a way to include the avatars in the comments RSS feed as well as the comments that are emailed to me.
You may email me if the above directions don’t work for you.
by B.B. Pelletier
Announcement: Here’s this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 gift card.
Today’s report begins with a bucketload of irony.
I told you about acquiring this BSF S70 breakbarrel air rifle at the Malvern airgun show about a month ago, Today, I’ll start a three-part report on it. Those of you who are interested in BSF air rifles might also wish to read the report on the BSF 55N I did three years ago.
The BSF S70 was the deluxe version of the BSF 55-series of spring-piston air rifles. It’s the grandfather of the Beeman R9.
BSF stands for Bayerische Sportwaffenfabrik (Bavarian Sporting Arms Manufacturer). They operated in Erlangen, Germany, until some time in the late 1980s, when they closed down and sold their tools, parts and equipment to Weihrauch. The extreme irony of that fact is that I was stationed in Erlangen for nearly four years in the mid-1970s, during which time Robert Beeman of America got me interested in precision adult airguns after I found and bought a Diana model 10 target pistol in Rothenberg ob der Tauber, a walled historic city I visited often. The fact that I lived in the same city where BSF airguns were made did not dawn on me until I began writing about airguns in the 1990s.
I actually saw a used BSF S-20 air pistol for sale in my favorite antique shop in Nuremberg (talk about leading a horse to water!) and passed on it because it looked to me as if old Hans had taken a breakbarrel air rifle and cut it down to fit into a pistol stock. Of course, that was actually what happened, only “old Hans” was a group of engineers at BSF. Today, I own a BSF S-20 Match pistol, as well. That report can be found here.
Back to the main story. So, three years ago I’m at the 2008 Little Rock Airgun Expo, poised to buy this beautiful BSF S70 rifle, and a young man swoops in and buys it out from under me. If you follow the link I provided, scroll down to the final two paragraphs and read the lamentations of a collector who has just lost a treasure. It’s under the title “The one that got away.” I didn’t tell the story about having the money for the gun back then because I guess I didn’t want to feel worse about it than I did. Read those paragraphs; you’ll understand.
Time has a way of bringing change, however; and though I’ve never been very patient, there are situations where I can’t do anything but wait. Like last year, when I missed the first Malvern show because I was in the hospital. The owner of this S70 went to that show, also trying to sell his gun but he didn’t connect with anybody.
Oh, here’s another important point. He’s not 14 anymore. He’s now 17, a lot larger and the look in his eye tells me he’s interested in things other than airguns.
I, on the other hand, am a wizened, shriveled-up old raisin with little to look forward to but the dust of my fast-fading dreams. Oh, and I also have a little extra money to spend. In other words, I’m the perfect airgun collector. On the other hand, Don Juan is focused on his next tank of four-dollar gas.
He came by our table at this year’s show and Mac, remembering how I had whined about this rifle, transfixed the youth with several of his engaging but pointless stories until I could return. Ten minutes later, I became the next owner of this nearly new vintage German breakbarrel.
But wait — there’s more!
However, the irony in this tale doesn’t even end there. After Weihrauch bought BSF in the late 1980s, the first thing they did was assemble the parts they had just purchased into new models of airguns. For example, they took the S70, found a way to put a Rekord trigger in it and re-named it the Marksman model 70. How about that? After Beeman shooed Marksman out of the high-end airgun business, they changed the name once more to the Beeman R-10 to please their No. 1 U.S. customer.
I am taking extraordinary license with this story, because Hans Weihrauch, Jr., didn’t tell it to me. I pieced it together over many years of collecting catalogs and connecting the dots. If I’ve made some erroneous assumptions, I apologize, but my main point still stands — that BSF was absorbed into Weihrauch and some of their guns eventually morphed into some Beeman R-series guns. I’m not saying that the BSF S70 parts will interchange with those of the Beeman R-10, or that you can remove an S70 trigger and drop a Rekord in its place, but if you had the parts to build 5,000 rifles, you would find a way. How’s THAT for a lead-in?
The BSF S70 general description
This is what used to be considered a large air rifle in its day, but in the shadow of the Walther Talon Magnum and the Benjamin Trail NP XL, it’s more medium-sized today.
The rifle is just less than 43-1/2 inches long with a 19-inch barrel, and it weighs 7 lbs., 4 oz. That puts it into the same physical category as the Beeman R9, which descended from the R10, so the bloodline still runs strong.
The beech stock is stained medium brown with impressed checkering on the forearm and pistol grip. A plain dark-brown rubber buttpad is separated from the buttstock by a white line spacer. The overall shape of the stock with its Monte Carlo butt, straight comb and raised cheekpiece is very American.
There’s no plastic on the gun anywhere, and all the barreled action parts are finished in a deep semi-gloss black. The finish on this particular gun is as close to 100 percent as it gets. The two pieces of aluminum I can find on the gun, besides the optional Williams sporting aperture sight, are the trigger blade and the scope base.
My rifle has no factory-installed sporting rear sight. Instead, it has a Williams aperture sight that was obviously made for this model. I searched in both the Air Rifle Headquarters catalogs and the early Beeman catalogs to see if either of them offered this sight, but neither did. At least, they don’t show a picture of it anywhere. While searching, I did discover that when Beeman sold the S70 in the company’s first few years of operation, it was actually marked as the BSF 55D. They mention in the description that the same gun is called the S70 in Europe. There’s a bit of trivia for you serious collectors.
My rifle came with this beautiful Williams aperture rear sight that fits the receiver profile perfectly.
The front sight is a tall post and bead surrounded by a huge sheetmetal globe that’s removable. Most sporting BSF rifles and pistols have this same globe.
The trigger on the S70 is two-stage and adjustable for release weight. In both the ARH and Beeman catalogs, they describe it as “wearing-in” over time, but I would put a caveat on that. What this trigger actually does is get lighter and smoother the more it is used. Older Gamo sporting triggers and the triggers in vintage Webley airguns did the same thing with one important difference. They eventually settled into a fine pull, where the BSF triggers do not. They keep right on wearing-in until they become unsafe. When that happens, it’s possible to adjust them back to a safe level, but usually the unsuspecting owner will just let the trigger go, thinking it’s getting real nice — until the gun fires on its own. You’ve now been warned by the man who has a pellet hole in his office ceiling.
Turn the screw toward the + to increase trigger-pull.
One other curious thing about BSF triggers is that they’re all made from multiple plates of steel sandwiched together. Then, the metal parts are formed to their final shape. It is a construction method that obviously reduces the cost of materials, but it works far better than it sounds or appears.
Instead of using one piece of steel, they sandwiched four thinner plates together to make the same part. It looks crude but works surprisingly well.
I may have a straight European airgun because there is no importer’s name anywhere on it. However, Air Rifle Headquarters didn’t put their name on either the BSF S20 Match pistol or the BSF S55 rifle I have. Since I have the boxes they both came in as well as some of the sales paperwork, I know their pedigrees. This could be an ARH gun, however, I don’t think it is because there’s a German Freimark on the left side of the baseblock. The letter “F” inside a pentagon signifies the gun is limited to a power level of below 7.5 joules, making it legal to own as an airgun in Germany.
The letter “F” inside the pentagon is the German Freimark, designating this airgun as having less than 7.5 joules of muzzle energy. It’s put only on airguns that meet this legal definition.
If this is a real Freimark gun, and there’s no reason to believe otherwise, the velocity of light .177 pellets should be in the high 500 to almost 600 foot-second range. If it were an airgun made for the unrestricted U.S. market, the velocity would be closer to 800 f.p.s. with the same pellets. A Freimark gun will have the piston stroke shortened, because simply changing mainsprings does not limit power that much.
Either way, I still love the gun, though the heavy cocking effort won’t be as much fun if the velocity doesn’t match. My BSF S55N rifle averages 773 f.p.s. with RWS Hobby pellets, which is about where it should be for a rifle intended for the U.S. That rifle does not have a Freimark. Knowing what sticklers the Germans are for marking things correctly, I’d be willing to bet this is a lower-powered rifle. I haven’t chronographed it, yet, so I’m just as curious as you are right now.
A second unusual thing is something I’ve seen many times before, but maybe it’ll be new to you. When World War II ended and the Allies divided Germany into different sectors, they named them East and West Germany. From that time forward until 1990, there was no Germany per se; there was East Germany or West Germany. I’m not dredging up bad memories to insult anyone here, but you do need to know that there were two distinct countries.
The items manufactured in those countries had to reflect where they were made. The stamps that said Made in Germany before the war were no longer correct. In many instances, the word West was simply added after the country name for West German goods, so the stamping would read Made in Germany West. If you examine these stamp marks on various articles, you even see that the word West has been added after the main stamp was produced because it doesn’t appear the same as the other letters in the stamp. And, so it is on this rifle.
The word “WEST” is clearly different than the rest of the stamp. It was added later.
The company was founded in 1935 and continued after the war until the remains were sold to Weihrauch in the late 1980s, so they would have used a Made in Germany stamp before the war. The gun exporter Wischo, also based in Erlangen, put their name on many of the guns that were exported, in the same way that RWS does with Dianawerke airguns. The Wischo name is missing from this one, leading me to conclude that the rifle was made for the German market. That makes the Freimark correct.
Articulated cocking link
Instead of a single steel link between the barrel and piston, the S70 has a two-piece link that’s hinged toward the front. That allows the link to be long but the cocking slot in the forearm to be short. A short cocking slot helps dampen any spring vibration, making the rifle seem smoother than it would if the cocking slot were long.
This two-piece articulated cocking link allows the stock’s cocking slot to be short, thus reducing vibration.
At this point, I believe that what I have is a German-power BSF S70. I also believe that fact is what has preserved the rifle in near-new condition for all these years. According to the latest Blue Book of Airguns, 9th Edition, my rifle probably shoots around 600 f.p.s., where a U.S.-spec. rifle would shoot near or even over 800 f.p.s. We’ll all find out together in Part 2.