Posts Tagged ‘AirForce Condor’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, blog reader John shares his experience getting his AirForce Condor to shoot quieter. I asked him for this report because he’s written many comments about it. We all know that John is a pest hunter, so let’s look over his shoulder and see what works for him.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.
Okay, John, the floor is yours.
Noisy gun goes quiet
Before I begin the report, I want to show you a piece of my past. It’s a Remington 514 made somewhere between 1948 and 1968. It’s a single-shot, bolt action .22 rimfire designed by K. Lowe.
Anyone who knows me knows I have a dislike for old guns. This one is an exception, however, since it’s the only thing I have that belonged to my dad. It’s fairly primitive, but as accurate as anything I’ve seen. It puts the shot where I want it…every time.
Remington 514 single-shot .22 rimfire.
It may not look like much, but it means a lot to me. And it shoots!
Now, on to the report.
I was thinking about how to make a noisy gun become not so noisy since noise tends to alert the pests you hunt, making your day very boring. I like to hunt with my AirForce Condor, which I lovingly call “Marvelous Magnificent Mad Madam Mim,” due to the fact that she can change just like that wacky Disney villain.
I took off the forearm and left it off just to make my work a bit easier today since I was going to be swapping things around. I think I should warn you that this is going to be an unusual report since I’m not using anything fancy like noise meters, showing accuracy targets or running shots through a chrony. All I’m concerned with is taking a loud gun and making it backyard friendly. So, I’m going to be using the tools we all have…ears.
For this test, I’m out on a little private island with a one-room guest cabin on 15 acres of land. It’s fairly dense, with trees and brush surrounding my work area. The cabin is about 10 feet to my right, where I normally set up for muskrat. We’re located in one of my actual hunting areas.
The first thing I did was test the Condor against my Remington 514 to compare how loud it sounds to me. I found that the Condor set at maximum power, with no barrel shrouds or anything to quiet it down, sounds louder than the Remington 514 shooting a .22 long rifle cartridge. It sounded about like a .30-caliber rifle to me.
I wanted to make it quiet, so I put on a Bullseye Bill frame extender (bloop tube) and tried it at full power with the standard Condor 24-inch .22-caliber barrel. Since the pellet was breaking the sound barrier, it sounded about like the Remington. It was quieter than before, but not quiet enough.
I wondered if stopping more air from escaping the gun would help, so I installed an optional 12-inch .22-caliber barrel and the Bullseye Bill frame extender. Now, the barrel was buried deep inside the frame extender. Since the shorter 12″ barrel wastes air at full power, I dialed down the power setting to about the middle of the scale. I figured that was about the top performance I could get out of the shorter barrel.
The rifle was now definitely quieter, but no quieter than if I’d just used the AirForce end cap on the frame of the gun and left off the frame extender. The report was now about as loud as a loud hand clap. Either way (with the end cap on or with the frame extender installed), it was equally quiet. I still wasn’t satisfied with how quiet it was. I knew I could do better and retain much more power than with a 12-inch barrel.
The 12-inch barrel and Talon SS end cap are just as quiet as the rifle with the frame extender installed.
Here comes the band
I heard B.B. talk about how they used to use rubber bands to quiet the sound of the striker, so I figured that was worth a try to quiet down the gun a bit more. Before trying this, I dialed down the gun’s power to about level 2 with a 12″ barrel and the end cap. Voila…a Condor became a Talon SS! This definitely made the gun as quiet as it could be. Then, I tried it with the rubber band installed.
No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the gun to fire with a piece of rubber band on the end of the top hat. That rubber band was acting like a shock absorber — not letting the striker hit the top hat hard enough to fire the gun. So, that was a total failure. Let’s try something else.
Looking for the best performance
We all know that performance is everything in airguns. You want a hunting gun to hit hard and accurately. I needed to get the most performance out of the gun. So, the 24″ barrel went back in the gun, and the frame extender went back on. If I correctly use that combination, the only sound the gun will make is the clunk of the striker and impact of the pellet. In other words, nobody’s going to know I took the shot but me and whatever I was shooting at. Now, it’s on to pushing the envelope.
Which of my available ammo types will get me the best performance, while not telling everybody around me what I’m doing? First up is my standard go-to pellet, the Crosman Premier Ultra Magnum hunting pellet. I like these because they’re available everywhere, and I get fairly good results with them. So, let’s see just where the upper power limit is for these while making as little noise as possible. I’m firing at a target 75 yards out, which is the longest distance I’ve ever taken a muskrat with this gun. The cabin is just close enough that I should hear any significant echo that a backyard shooter would also have.
I fired shots using the highest setting I thought I could and get just the clunk of the striker and slap of the pellet. Then, I’d inch up until it began to return an echo off the cabin wall. That told me I’d crossed the boundary, so I backed off to the last quiet setting for Premiers. The rifle stayed quiet up to 7.45 on the AirForce power wheel. This is the setting I’d use in the city for backyard target practice without anybody knowing what I was doing…and the setting I want to use if I do not want to alert critters to the fact I’m hunting.
With Crosman Premier Ultra Magnums, the rifle is still quiet when the power wheel is set no higher than 7.45. The major power setting (7) is indicated by the center of the screw head in the oval window on the right. The fractional power setting (.45) is indicated by the power wheel on the left.
Next, I dug out some Predator Polymags. I found these would give me slightly better performance, fly a bit faster and hit a bit harder while still not alerting anyone or anything to what I was doing. This is with a 24″ barrel and a frame extender — like a Condor SS on steroids. I got them to hit my 75-yard target with the dial set to a maximum of 7.10 [about 3/4 of the way toward power setting 8] as the outside power without advertising to everything around what I am doing. This gave me the slap of the striker and the thud of a pellet hitting the target 75 yards away.
Baracuda Hunter Extreme
I like the cross-hatch pattern on the nose of these Baracuda Hunter Extreme pellets for hunting, which is my primary use for air rifles. Surprisingly, with them, the power wheel went up. I thought the Polymags, with their nice sharp point, would cut through the air and give the quietest and most powerful shots of the day. But I was surprised. With these Baracuda Hunter Extreme pellets, the power wheel climbed up to 8.9 before anybody knew what I was doing. Birds kept on doing bird things. The Canadian geese kept swimming, totally unaware that a shot just landed in the target 10 yards to their left. Even the mallard ducks didn’t take off. That’s what I wanted.
This is important since, in the places where I hunt pests, we also have some very shy animals. I have to try my best not to disturb them. It’s spring, and the geese and ducks are nesting. I don’t want to scare them off their nests. It’s all about being a good steward of nature.
Gamo round balls
Last up was the .22-caliber Gamo round ball. I got these as a freebie with a Gamo gun, so I figured I might as well see what a “musket ball” would do. This one was the worst of the bunch. To keep the gun quiet with round balls, I had to dial the power down to 4.7. All the birds in the area took off and hid when I put one of these in the target at 8.9 on the power scale. I don’t think I’ll be using those again when I’m hunting at a sensitive time of the season.
What did I learn?
There’s plenty to take away from this that has nothing to do with the speed of the pellet. A PCP gun like the Condor can be accurate, powerful and quiet depending on how it is set up and which pellet is used. A shorter barrel robs power, but it also quiets down a gun. However, it can only do so much — even if you give it a massive space in which to allow the air to expand. My best bet was to leave the 24″ barrel on the Condor and put the frame extender on the barrel, leaving the end of the extender about 3 inches past the muzzle. This setup trapped spent air well due to the fact the pellet was blocking the end of the shroud at about the ideal time to minimize the muzzle blast. It’s kind of how a car muffler works.
This made my Condor about as quiet as a loud whisper. Just a thud of the striker and the slap of the pellet hitting the target. Very little echo, if any at all. Adjusting the power of the gun had quite a bit to do with this. If you throw too much power behind the pellet, you’ll hear something like a .22 rimfire bullet, which is not what you want to hear if you’re hunting pests in an environmentally sound-sensitive area or doing some backyard plinking and don’t want the police responding to reports of small-to-medium caliber gunfire in your neighborhood.
I tested a Condor only in .22 caliber since that’s all I had, and this is my primary pest hunting gun. I also used several pellets that I normally use for target shooting and hunting to compare their results. This is in no way a scientific study with high-tech instruments. Just one man with a good pair of ears. I did what I could to recreate a backyard shooting environment in an actual hunting environment. The intention was to gather some good information to help keep your shooting as quiet as possible so you don’t disturb the animals or people around you.
P.S. My day on the range ended on a high note when I took an opposum that was on my list of pest critters. It was a perfect shot with my dad’s old Remington 514.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Oh, boy, do I have a lot to tell you today! You’re reading this while Mac and his wife (Elissa), Edith and I are attending the 2013 SHOT Show. I did the testing for this blog back in November of last year. See? I can keep a secret!
There are many new things coming from AirForce, and today they’re showcasing them to the industry at the 2013 SHOT Show. Subscribers to Shotgun News got a sneak peak at them last week when the SHOT Show issue hit the newsstands with a full report.
There’s a new trigger and safety that will appear on all the sporting rifles. Then, there’s the new Condor SS and an updated Talon SS — both of which I will report for you today.
I was actually testing the new AirForce trigger and safety for them, to see if I could break it or make it malfunction. Then, at the end of my test, I visited AirForce for a day and got to see and hear the new Condor SS and Talon SS. And when I say hear, I do so only as in using a common phrase because you can’t actually hear the discharge of either rifle!
How much better is the new trigger?
I’ll never forget the day blog reader Kevin was visiting me and tried the trigger on my Wilson Combat 1911 CQB Light Rail pistol. He guessed it let off at one pound and simply refused to believe it was really three pounds. I got the trigger-pull gauge, and we tested it right there! Three pounds and an ounce or two, as I remember.
Well, that’s what the new AirForce trigger is going to feel like to veteran AirForce owners. The trigger on my vintage Condor breaks at about the same 26 oz. as the trigger on the new gun, but what a difference it is! First of all, the new gun is a brand-new gun. My old Condor has an untold number of shots out the muzzle, all of which helped to smooth up the trigger parts. And I never took it apart, because I used to build these guns and I know they do not tolerate lubricants, dirt or modifications to parts.
The other thing the new trigger does is stop right after it releases. It’s like a perfectly adjusted trigger stop, only there’s no stop. It comes that way from the factory.
The new trigger cannot be exchanged for the old. The pins are in different places, and the parts are completely different. This was not done to make you buy a new rifle. It’s just a fact that the new parts are all different and fit together differently.
This new trigger and safety will become the standard of the AirForce sporting rifle line, so you’ll find it on all three rifles — the Talon, Talon SS and Condor. And, of course, the new Condor SS will also have it when it comes to market.
All the new parts were designed on a CAD system that lets the designers play with different configurations without having to cut any metal. Only when they feel the design is right do they make the parts for testing.
The new safety operates differently than the old one. It does not allow the rifle to be uncocked. There’s an additional safety built in so the gun will not function until the bolt is almost closed — so no longer can you release the safety, pull the trigger and ride the bolt down slowly to uncock the gun. Once cocked, the trigger must be fired. To avoid exhausting any air, I found that if I unscrewed the air reservoir and held my hand behind the bolt cocking knob to catch it as the striker hit it I could avoid exhausting any air while uncocking the gun. This takes some practice, and you don’t want to do it indoors the first time — don’t ask!
Blah, blah, blah! Everyone knows I like AirForce guns, so what can I say about them that you haven’t already heard? Those who agree with me don’t need convincing, and everyone else believes I’ve sold out to the Dark Side. But — what if the new gun really shoots? What then?
So, I went to the range and shot it. And I did something that you haven’t seen me do before — at least not with an air rifle. You all know what I mean by a “group.” I mean 10 shots in succession, one after the other, and let the chips fall where they may. If 3-shot groups are like riding the bumper cars and 5-shot groups are like a drag race on city streets, then 10-shot groups are like Formula One racing.
I already knew the old Condor was an accurate air rifle, and I’ve shown that to you on several occasions. On this perfect, cold November day, I did something a little different. First, I shot 10 JSB 18.1-grain Jumbo Heavy pellets at 50 yards and got a group that measured 0.508 inches between centers. That’s pretty darned good. In fact, that’s a screamer in my book. And, in deference to people like my brother-in-law who thinks the shots must be centered in the bull to be good, I also centered them.
Normally this is where I would load a different pellet and shoot another 50-yard group, but on this day I didn’t do that. Instead, I walked out to the 100-yard berm and put up another target. Then, I shot another series of shots at that target. I’d elevated the scope by what amounted to several inches of elevation above the 50-yard zero, but the shots still fell below the bull. But they fell in a group that measured 1.003 inches between centers. Instead of 10 shots, there were 11 because I was so wrapped up in the shooting that I lost count of my shots.
Did the new rifle shoot that well just because of the new trigger? Of course not. A Condor with the old trigger could shoot just as well. All the new trigger did was make it even easier to shoot that group.
Uniformity is king
What are your chances of getting a trigger just as good straight out of the box? They’re excellent because one of the things the design of this new trigger does is make it easier to control dimensions and tolerances during manufacture. Each and every trigger should feel the same straight from the box. Even more important than how good the new trigger feels is the news about the uniformity.
On to the new quiet guns
I went to AirForce for a day to witness the new Condor SS and Talon SS upgrade perform. When I got there, we grabbed a Condor and immediately went outside where a chronograph was waiting. Why a chronograph? Because the new Condor SS is so quiet that it sounds like you’re shooting a Diana 27 breakbarrel. No — it’s not even that loud. All you hear is the click of the striker hitting the valve — and they’re talking about how to make that even quieter!
The new Condor SS has an 18-inch barrel, compared to the 24-inch barrel of the standard unsilenced Condor. It’s a little slower, but not much. They get about 1,200 f.p.s. with .22-caliber 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellets, where the unsilenced gun gets around 1,250.
Imagine a 55 foot-pound air rifle that’s so quiet you have to watch your breathing. As I said about the Benjamin Marauder and thousands of shooters now know: When the rifle fires, it’s the sound of a ballpoint pen falling onto a deep-pile carpet.
Like the current Talon SS, there’s space ahead of the Lothar Walther barrel in the Condor SS. However, unlike the current guns, there’s now something in that space. There are are 3 Delrin baffles designed to turn around the compressed air and direct it toward the rear of the gun. By the time it finally gets past the end cap, it has lost all its pressure and therefore makes no sound.
I’d love to show you those baffles, but they were still tweaking the design when I was there. All I can say is that the ones I saw looked a lot like large black diabolo pellets seen from the side. And they’re separate and individual. There’s also a spring that presses them tight so they don’t rattle.
Here’s some very good news for owners of the current Talon SS. These baffles will be sold separately so you can install them in your gun. Yes, I did get to hear a standard Talon SS with the new baffles, and it’s quiet. But since it’s impossible to be quieter than nothing, I can’t really give you a rating. It sounds just like the new Condor SS.
I asked them to put a standard air tank on the new Condor SS to see what I would do. We saw Crosman Premiers going 970 f.p.s through the traps, which is 100-120 f.p.s. faster than the standard SS. The benefit of that is that, instead of about 20 good shots on one tank, you get up to 40 shots — and the longer barrel gives you performance in the 30-40 foot-pound region. They have no plans to build that gun (standard tank with an 18-inch barrel and new extended Condor SS frame), but any owner can just put a standard tank on a Condor SS and get it for themselves.
This report is just Part 1 of what I hope will be a complete series on the new Condor SS. That’ll include the new trigger and safety, but I feel like I’ve already addressed that completely in this report. The gun will hit the market in 2013, hopefully sooner rather than later. As soon as it does, I’ll be on top of it for you.
This report is about a single family of new airguns at the 2013 SHOT Show, but it doesn’t really cover the show, so there will be several more SHOT reports coming.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
We last looked at the .22-caliber Talon SS on June 13, when I told you that I had mistakenly shot the rifle with a standard air tank instead of a Micro-Meter tank in the previous test. I retested the rifle with an AirForce Micro-Meter air tank and the standard 12-inch barrel. Today, I want to finish the test with the optional 24-inch barrel.
You’ll recall in Part 8 that I shot the rifle 380 times on a single fill of the Micro-Meter tank. Today, we’ll see what difference, if any, we get from the 24-inch barrel. The only pellet used in this test was the .22-caliber Crosman Premier pellet.
Let’s begin — shots 1 to 10
The tank is filled to 3,000 psi and shooting starts. The power wheel is set as low as it will go. The first three shots go 429, 536 and 667 f.p.s., respectively. Shot four goes 726 f.p.s. and the rifle is stable from that point on. The first three shots were needed to wake up the valve. Discounting the first three shots, the string averaged 727 f.p.s. and ranged from 725 to 732 f.p.s., a spread of 7 f.p.s. The average energy was 16.79 foot-pounds; and yes, I’m aware that a Micro-Meter tank isn’t supposed to be that powerful. But we’re seeing the effect of doubling the barrel length in a precharged gun, and it’s dramatic!
Because of the large number of shots I expect to get from the tank, I then shot 30 shots without a pellet. I’ll call these blank shots.
Shots 41 to 50
This string averaged 715 f.p.s. and ranged from 711 to 718 f.p.s, so another 7 foot-second spread. The average energy was 16.24 foot-pounds. Then another 30 blanks were fired.
Shots 81 to 90
I shot this string on the highest power setting the gun has — just to see if there was any difference. There wasn’t. The average was 705 f.p.s. and the range went from 702 to 709 f.p.s. Another 7 foot-second spread. The energy was 15.79 foot-pounds. Then another 30 blanks were fired.
Shots 121 to 130
The gun was set back to the lowest power setting and remained there for the rest of this test. The average was 675 f.p.s., and the range went from 668 to 679 f.p.s. the spread was 11 f.p.s. The average energy was 14.47 foot-pounds. Then 30 more blanks were fired.
Shots 161 to 170
The average was 658 f.p.s., and the string ranged from 654 to 662 f.p.s. — a spread of 8 f.p.s. The average energy was 14.17 foot-pounds. Then 30 more blanks were fired.
Shots 201 to 210
The average was 641 f.p.s., and the range was 637 to 653 f.p.s. This string had a 16 foot-second spread. The average energy was 13.05 foot-pounds. Following this, 30 more shots without pellets were fired.
Shots 241 to 250
The average for this string was 618 f.p.s., and the string ranged from 613 to 621 f.p.s. So, a spread of 8 f.p.s. The average energy was 12.13 foot-pounds. Following this, 30 more blanks were fired.
Shots 281 to 290
This string averaged 594 f.p.s. and ranged from 581 to 601. So a 20 f.p.s. spread. The average energy was 11.21 foot-pounds. Then 30 more blank shots were fired.
Shots 321 to 330
The average was 561 and ranged from 553 to 568, and the spread was 15 f.p.s. The average energy was 10 foot-pounds. After this, 30 more shots were fired without pellets.
Shots 361 to 370
The average was 539 f.p.s., and the string ranged from 534 to 545. A spread of 12 f.p.s. was observed. The average energy was 9.23 foot-pounds. Another 30 blanks were fired.
Shots 400 to 410
Now we’re in uncharted territory. The gun is giving me over 400 good shots on a single fill. Clearly, the 24-inch barrel is a real boon to the performance of the MM tank. This string averaged 519 f.p.s. and ranged from 514 to 527 f.p.s. A spread of 13 f.p.s. The average energy was 8.56 foot-pounds. After this, 30 more blanks were fired.
Shots 441 to 450
The average was 497 f.p.s. and the string ranged from 489 to 504 f.p.s., for a total spread of 15 f.p.s. The average energy was 7.85 foot-pounds.
I could have continued to shoot the gun for many more shots, but I stopped at this point for a reason. After 450 shots have been fired, the Talon SS is still launching pellets slightly faster than my Diana model 27 breakbarrel. If that’s enough power for me, then this gun certainly gives all that and more. And I can’t think of another time when I shot 450 shots, unless it was for a test like this one.
The 24-inch barrel added significant performance
We all know that barrel length is important to a PCP, and this test makes that very clear. The 12-inch barrel gave 380 shots that ended up in the high 300 f.p.s. range. We’re still 200 f.p.s. faster than that after 450 shots have been fired! I think that establishes the Micro-Meter air tank as the champion of PCPs with the 24-inch barrel is installed.
In this series, we’ve looked at the Talon SS as it comes from the factory and with various modifications. The one we haven’t tried yet is the CO2 adapter, so that’s next. I’ll leave the 24-inch barrel installed since that’s the way I shoot the rifle all the time now, but I’ll test both velocity and accuracy with CO2 for you.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today is the day I tell you about the horrible blunder I made. Remember the two tests I did with the Talon SS PCP rifle using the AirForce Micro-Meter air tank? Well, that wasn’t a Micro-Meter tank! It was a standard tank!
Blog reader twotalon guessed it was wrong, and I ignored him. When John McCaslin, the owner of AirForce Airguns, read my last report of the Micro-Meter tank — the one where I got 340 shots on a fill — he saw that I reached over 800 f.p.s. in .22 caliber and knew a Micro-Meter tank couldn’t do that. He called me and walked me through the logic of why it couldn’t be a Micro-Meter tank. Sure enough, he was right!
I guess what happened is that when I went to AirForce to pick up the Micro-Meter tank, I grabbed the wrong tank. Then, when I tested it on the optional 24-inch barrel first, I didn’t question the numbers because I didn’t know what the numbers should be with the longer barrel. As for why I missed seeing it when I tested it with the 12-inch barrel, that was entirely my fault. I simply didn’t think it through. Twotalon even asked me if there was a sticker on the Micro-Meter tank, and I told him there wasn’t, but I thought that was because AirForce had forgotten to put one on. Or I’d picked up a tank before the sticker was applied.
It doesn’t matter. The fact is that I tested the gun with both barrels using a standard tank. I’m going to update those other reports to reflect that, and today we’ll see what a Talon SS does when it’s using a real Micro-Meter air tank. And now we have the results of a standard tank for comparison.
I’ll start today with the standard 12-inch barrel, and then I’ll test the real Micro-Meter tank with the 24-inch barrel in the next report. Because I have a good idea of how many shots I’ll get from this tank, I modified the test to shoot 30 dry-fire, or blank, shots between the recorded strings — just to burn up air a little faster. In the previous two tests, I fired only 20 dry-fire shots between strings.
I’m still shooting only the .22-caliber Crosman Premier pellet in this test. And I started with a fill to exactly 3,000 psi.
The first string of 10 shots was with the power wheel set at the lowest setting, which I’ll call zero. The gun averaged 590 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 583 to a high of 601 f.p.s. That’s an average of 11.06 foot-pounds.
For the next 10, I dialed up the power as high as it would go. The rifle averaged 585 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 582 to a high of 590 f.p.s. The average energy at the muzzle was 10.87 foot-pounds. Then, I fired 30 blank shots without pellets.
Shots 51-60 were fired on low power and averaged 557 f.p.s. They ranged from 547 to 563 f.p.s. The average energy was 9.85 foot-pounds. I fired 30 more blank shots. From this point on, all shooting was done on the lowest power setting.
Shots 91 to 100 averaged 547 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 539 to a high of 556 f.p.s. They averaged 9.5 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Notice how tight the strings are? Even though the velocity is decreasing, the consistency remains good. After this string, I fired 30 more blank shots.
Shots 131 to 140 averaged 525 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 516 to a high of 533 f.p.s. The average energy was 8.75 foot-pounds. I noticed that the first couple shots at the beginning of each string were always the slowest, so those blank shots had an affect on the numbers. After this string, I fired another 30 blank shots.
Shots 171 to 180 averaged 512 f.p.s. and ranged from 502 to 523 f.p.s. The average energy was 8.33 foot-pounds. After this string, I fired 30 more blank shots.
Shots 211 to 220 averaged 489 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 475 to a high of 500 f.p.s. The average energy was 7.59 foot-pounds. That puts the gun, after 220 shots have been fired, in the same power range as a .22-caliber Diana model 27. After this string, I fired another 30 blank shots
Shots 251 to 260 averaged 467 f.p.s., with a range from 458 to a high of 474 f.p.s. The average energy was 6.93 foot-pounds. After this string, another 30 blank shots were fired.
Shots 291 to 300 averaged 443 f.p.s. with a spread from 434 to 451 f.p.s. The average energy was 6.23 foot-pounds. The velocity is dropping off steadily, but slowly; and if you were plinking in the backyard, you’d never notice it. After this string, I fired another 30 blank shots.
Shots 331 to 340 averaged 416 f.p.s. and ranged from 410 to 425 f.p.s. The average energy was 5.5 foot-pounds. Another 30 blank shots followed this string.
Shots 371 to 380 averaged 379 f.p.s. and ranged from 370 to 392 f.p.s. The average energy was 4.56 foot-pounds. I stopped after shot 380 because the velocity was getting low and I heard a short hiss of air escaping from the tank. Clearly, the valve was down to its bottom performance point and would not continue to hold air at pressures much lower than this. When I checked the pressure remaining in the tank it was exactly at 1,100 psi. The gun used an incredible 1,900 psi of air over these 380 shots.
What have we learned?
The first thing we learned is that the gun gets even more shots with the Micro-Meter tank than it does with the standard tank. I count 40 more shots, though there were still some shots left in the standard tank when that test ended at 340 shots.
Next, we see there was no increase in velocity, as this tank was used up. Instead, there was a slow and steady decline in velocity from the first shot to the last.
As far as consistency goes, the standard tank was just as consistent as the Micro-Meter tank, but at significantly higher velocities. The Micro-Meter tank will be easier on your backstop. If that isn’t a problem, the standard tank still gives you plenty of low-velocity shots.
The last thing I’ve learned is that I’m still capable of making mistakes. I thought I was done with them several years ago, but apparently it’s like riding a bike. Once you learn how….
by B.B. Pelletier
The report that follows was done in error. I thought I was testing a Micro-Meter air tank, but it turned out that I was really testing a standard air tank.
The corrected test is located here. I am sorry for this inconvenience, but you can click on the link in the sentence above and it will direct you to the correct test.
Today, I’m testing the AirForce Talon SS with the standard 12-inch barrel using the Micro-Meter air tank. This is the setup the tank was designed to use; and although I predicted that this test would look a lot like the last test with the Micro-Meter tank and an optional 24-inch barrel, I was wrong. Today’s test is amazing! It’s an insight into how a precharged airgun operates.
I’ll begin at the end. I fired a total of 340 shots on just one fill, and there was still plenty of air remaining for at least another 150 shots! I saw first hand at the NRA Annual Meetings how the Micro-Meter air tank stays on the line for so long without needing a refill!
But don’t go cashing in those 340 shots just yet. Allow me to explain what I did and how the gun performed.
As before with the longer barrel, the tank was filled to 3,000 psi. That proved to be a mistake in this case. Allow me to show you what I mean.
This time, I didn’t fool around with any pellets other than the .22-caliber Crosman Premier. Everything you’re about to read was achieved with that single pellet.
First 10 shots
The first 10 shots were fired on the lowest power setting and averaged 392 f.p.s., ranging from 347 to 442 f.p.s. That is a large spread, and, as you’ll see shortly, the valve was partially air-locked.
The next 10 shots were fired on the highest power setting and averaged 849 f.p.s.! That’s correct, the gun produced 22.89 foot-pounds with the Micro-Meter tank at the highest power setting. The low was 836, and the high was 861 f.p.s. That was clearly not what this tank was designed to do, so I dialed the power back to the halfway point, which corresponds to about the No. 6 on the dial.
Power setting 6
At this setting, the rifle averaged 836 f.p.s., so I stopped at shot 5. The low was 832, and the high was 839 f.p.s. I wasn’t interested in this kind of power from the Micro-Meter tank, and I didn’t want to waste air. So, I dialed back to power setting 2 and continued.
Power setting 2
On power setting 2, the rifle averaged 786 f.p.s. Again, I stopped at 5 shots. The low was 758, and the high was 803 f.p.s. By this, time a total of 30 shots had been fired on the fill. I dialed the power down as low as it would go and continued.
The next 10 shots on the lowest power setting averaged 514 f.p.s. The spread went from 487 to 537 f.p.s. It was clear that the valve was now staying open longer, and I would estimate the tank pressure had dropped to 2,800 psi by the start of this string. I could see at this point that this was going to be a long test, though I never imagined how long; so, I shot twenty “blank” shots (dry-fires that had no pellets) just to use up some air. It’s arguable whether shots that have no pellet in front of them use the same amount of air as shots that do have pellets. As you’ll see, it really doesn’t matter that much because we haven’t even started yet!
The gun is still on the lowest power setting, and this 10-shot string averaged 574 f.p.s. The low was 550, and the high was 628 f.p.s. After this, I fired another 20 shots with no pellets.
The gun is still set at the lowest power. These 10 shots averaged 649 f.p.s. and ranged from 603 to 689 f.p.s. In retrospect, after the test was over, I determined this string to be the start of the useful shots. I estimate the tank had about 2,500 psi at the start of this string — though that would have to be confirmed if the numbers meant enough to you to do the work. They didn’t to me, so 2,500 psi was just my estimate. Now, I fired 20 more blank shots.
This string averaged 703 f.p.s. and ranged from 633 to 743 f.p.s. After this, I fired 20 more blank shots
This string averaged 750 f.p.s. and ranged from 719 to 766 f.p.s. I would like to note that the rifle is now performing almost exactly the same as a Beeman R1 breakbarrel in .22 caliber! When this string was finished, I fired another 20 blank shots.
This string averaged 752 f.p.s. and ranged from 743 to 757 f.p.s. This was the top power the rifle developed in this test, and I would estimate the pressure at the start of this string was around 1,900 psi. The gun will not use air in a linear fashion as the shots increase. As the air pressure in the tank drops, the valve stays open longer. I then fired another 20 blank shots.
This string averaged 735 f.p.s and ranged from a low of 727 f.p.s. and a high of 740 f.p.s. Notice how tight these later strings are! You could shoot at 35 yards with the gun shooting like this! And you could also hunt with it. I then fired another 20 blank shots.
This string averaged 713 f.p.s. and ranged from 707 to 726 f.p.s. The rifle is slowing down, but the valve is keeping each 10-shot string relatively tight. I then fired another 20 blank shots.
This string averaged 688 f.p.s. and ranged from 682 to 694 f.p.s. I then fired another 20 blank shots.
This string averaged 659 f.p.s. and ranged from 652 to 664 f.p.s. Notice how tight this string is after 300 shots have been fired! No other air rifle that I know of can do this when running on air. The USFT might be able to, but I haven’t tested it this way to see. I then fired another 20 blank shots.
This string averaged 624 f.p.s. and ranged from 613 to 630 f.p.s. This was where I stopped the test; but as you can see, the gun will still continue shooting for a lot longer.
Ending air pressure in the tank
After 340 shots had been fired, the Micro-Meter tank still had 1,200 psi remaining. That isn’t an estimate — I actually determined it by filling the tank and noting when it began accepting a charge. If my estimate about the pressure was correct when I declared the gun to be on the power curve (at shot 91), and if I include all the shots fired after that, then there were a total of 250 useful shots on a fill to 2,500 psi. The gun got those shots on about 1,300 psi of air. That is remarkable when you consider that it was also developing some pretty respectable power at the same time.
Remember what the Micro-Meter tank is for
To accept what I’m saying, you must keep in mind that the Micro-Meter tank is for shooting quietly in your basement. The range I envision is 10 meters, maximum, though we can see that the rifle can actually shoot a lot farther than that. But that’s not the purpose of the tank.
If the starting fill pressure is only 2,500 psi like I suspect, then the Micro-Meter tank can be easily filled from a hand pump. Another good thing about this novel air tank.
If you want to use the adjustable power feature of the gun, the range will be in the lower numbers. After the halfway point on the power scale, the rifle is just wasting air.
I’ve tested the Micro-Meter tank in the past, but never before with the mindset of its real purpose. Now that I have that in mind, this test has revealed an incredible level of performance.
Sure the velocity varied a lot over the useful shot strings; but at 10 meters, I doubt anyone will notice. For plinking and keeping the grandkids amused, the Micro-Meter tank is the lazy man’s PCP!
Next, I plan to test that theory with an accuracy test of this tank and gun combination at 10 meters.
by B.B. Pelletier
This is a continuation of our in-depth look at the AirForce Talon SS precharged pneumatic air rifle. Today, I’m going to begin examining the optional air tank with the Micro-Meter valve. The rifle I’m testing today has the optional .22-caliber 24-inch barrel installed. I would not normally put this long barrel together with the Micro-Meter tank — because this is a pneumatic rifle, and a long barrel will give higher velocity than a shorter one. When I use the Micro-Meter valve, I don’t want high velocity. But since a detailed test like this has never been published (to my knowledge), I’m doing it here and now. After this test, I’ll install the 12-inch barrel that comes standard on the SS and rerun the test with that, since that’s what most owners will probably be doing.
Blog reader twotalon posted some results he got with his gun on the last report, but he was shooting a .177 rifle with a 12-inch barrel and he filled to only 190 bar. I filled to 206 bar, which is 3,000 psi.
Which power setting do I use?
There was some data that suggested the power settings on the gun would be reversed with the Micro-Meter tank on a full fill, and, indeed, that’s what I experienced. The first 10 shots were with .22-caliber Crosman Premiers at the lowest power setting and they averaged 718 f.p.s. Two additional shots were fired in this string but failed to record, however, I kept track of them to keep a running tally of the velocity over the entire shot count. In this first 10-shot string, the slowest shot went 713 f.p.s., the fastest went 723 f.p.s.
Next, I adjusted the gun to its highest power setting. The first shot went 722 f.p.s., but after that nothing was above 709 f.p.s. These 10 shots on the highest power setting averaged 707 f.p.s. and ranged from 699 to 722 f.p.s. Highest power gives lowest velocity when the Micro-Meter tank is full.
Then, I shot RWS Hobby pellets on high power and got an average of 740 f.p.s. But this string was very telling. Because it started out at a higher velocity, then began dropping about halfway through the string, I’d reached the place in the fill where the power settings on the gun reversed and started acting normal again. This string had a low of 713 and a high of 747 f.p.s.
Indeed, when I switched over to the lowest power setting for the next string of 10 Hobbys, the average velocity dropped to 738 f.p.s. This string was very close to the one before on the high setting. In this string, the low was 729, the high was 745 f.p.s.
At this point in the test, I’d fired a total of 44 shots on the same fill, four of them failing to trip the chronograph. I knew before testing that the next string of 10 Premiers at the lowest power setting would be much lower than the average of 718 f.p.s. that was seen on the first string. And it was. This time, the average was 689 f.p.s. on the lowest setting with Premiers, and the shots ranged from a low of 684 to 693 f.p.s. There were now 54 shots on this fill.
How the Micro-Meter tank will be used
This is when it finally dawned on me that the Micro-Meter air tank never gets used like a standard air tank. With a standard tank, a shooter will be shooting at great distances and often trying to shoot very small groups. Once the point of aim starts to drift after 30 shots or so, he’ll consider topping off the tank. But he’ll shoot a Micro-Meter tank at very short ranges, often at targets where precision doesn’t matter that much. He probably won’t be interested in group sizes; or if he is, he’ll adjust his sights when the aim point wanders a quarter-inch. Instead of 30-40 good shots, a shooter will probably get well over a hundred shots from a Micro-Meter tank — mostly because of how he shoots. I’ve seen it play out that way for years at the NRA public airgun range, but the difference in shooting expectations never dawned on me until now.
Getting back to the test, I was now 54 shots into the fill, but the rifle was still launching Crosman Premier pellets in the high 600s. Or, to put it another way, it was still shooting about 200 f.p.s. faster than my Diana model 27 on its best day! How’s that for perspective?
I bumped the power back up to the highest setting, just to see what the rifle would do. The next 10 Premiers averaged 688 f.p.s., or one foot-per-second slower than the previous string’s average. The low was 684 f.p.s., the high was 692 f.p.s. It seemed that the highest power setting was now launching the pellets just as fast as the lowest setting and with approximately the same spread.
I left the power on high and fired another 20 shots without recording anything. Then, I fired another 10 for the record, with one additional shot that failed to be recorded. The average velocity at 95 shots was 664 f.p.s., with a spread from 657 to 675 f.p.s. The rifle was clinging to its velocity during every string but losing steam slowly at the same time. Each string of 10 had consistent velocities, but the average was continuing to drop.
I adjusted the power setting to low and fired 20 more shots without recording anything. Then, a string of 10 gave an average of 646 f.p.s., with a low of 638 and a high of 657. One more unrecorded shot brought the total to 125 shots since filling the tank.
I checked the tank pressure without refilling it and determined that the remaining pressure after 125 shots was 1,900 psi. Normally, I stop shooting a standard tank when it’s dropped to 2,200 psi, but this tank still had lots of shots left to give.
In the interest of seeing what would happen, I fired another 50 shots without recording them. That brought the shot count to 175 shots. The next string of 10 shots was fired on the lowest power setting. They averaged 624 f.p.s. — so, after 185 total shots on this fill, the gun was still shooting .22-caliber Crosman Premiers in the 600s! I find that amazing. The spread for this string, however, was large…going from a low of 616 f.p.s. to a high of 668 f.p.s. And the slow shot came before the fast one. So, it was all over the place.
If a person was plinking with a Micro-Meter tank, he would still be shooting at 185 shots. That’s phenomenal performance for an air tank.
It didn’t seem normal to shoot the Micro-Meter tank with a long barrel, but I’m glad now that I did. As far as the shot count goes, I would expect the short barrel to give about the same number of shots, but at a lower velocity. We’ll see that, of course, when we test it next.
It will drive some people nuts!
This test is not for those who sit at their chronographs and sweat their shot string deviations. Those who feel threatened whenever their velocity spread goes over 20 f.p.s. will find what I have done today to be a train wreck! The Micro-Meter tank wasn’t invented for shooting groups at 50 yards.
But for grandpa who has the grandkids over on the 4th of July, how nice is it to know that, with a Micro-Meter tank, your Talon SS will give you hundreds of good shots for the basement or backyard range without refilling? They shoot AirForce guns on the NRA airgun range for hours between fills, and this is the same sort of performance they’re seeing. Yes, the impact point may wander a bit at 33 feet, but it’s not too much to keep up with for this kind of freedom with a precharged air rifle. If you want more shots than this, consider the CO2 adapter.
by B.B. Pelletier
Wow! Before I started this report on the AirForce Talon SS, I really had no idea of just how expansive it was going to be. Today, I’m going to start a report on the AirForce Micro-Meter air tank that transforms the Talon SS from a powerful outdoor hunting rifle to a plinker that gets lots of low-power shots. It brings the outdoors inside!
Now that you’ve seen the difference in performance between the factory 12-inch .22-caliber barrel and an optional 24-inch .22-caliber barrel with the standard tank, I’ll have to test both of those barrels with the Micro-Meter tank, so that’s a minimum of two tests for velocity and another test for accuracy. I hope you’ll let me get by with just a single accuracy test (from just one of the two barrel lengths); because after the Micro-Meter tank, I still have to test the rifle using the CO2 adapter with both barrels. Then there’s the new Spin-Loc tank still to be tested. And, yes, the Spin-Loc tank does come as a Micro-Meter tank and as a Hi-Flo tank, as well as the standard Spin-Loc tank. Talk about job security!
New airgunners who read about the Talon SS probably wonder why a Micro-Meter air tank is needed. Doesn’t the SS have adjustable power? Yes, it certainly does. But the stability between shots always falls off (the velocities vary more) when the power is adjusted on the low side. You can see that for yourself by carefully reading Part 2 of this report. And some airgunners shoot a lot more in their houses than they do outdoors. They want the power adjustability that comes with the rifle, but most of the time they’ll be shooting at the exact place on the power curve where the standard tank varies the most. These people are mostly shooting in a basement, attic or garage at 25 feet or 10 meters (33 feet), and the velocity variation doesn’t affect them that much. So, once more the question is: Why the Micro-Meter tank? The answer is that it budgets the air much better than the standard tank, and you get more shots. But that wasn’t why it was created.
I was there when the original idea for the Micro-Meter tank was hatched, though I left AirForce before it became a regular product. Here’s an overview of how it came to be.
The NRA Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas, in 2005 is what brought about the Micro-Meter tank. The NRA has an airgun range at their Annual Meetings and Exhibits where thousands of people can see, watch and even shoot various airguns. The guns have to be controlled because they’re in a public building! They can’t be shooting 1,000-f.p.s. airguns indoors. The pellet traps they bring for the range are satisfactory for lead pellets (lead ONLY, please, because synthetics can damage the traps and ricochet) at muzzle velocities of 600 f.p.s. and under. That turns out to be approximately the velocity of a 10-meter target airgun (both rifle and pistol) but manufacturers want to have their other sporting-type guns on the line, as well. And AirForce was left out altogether, because of the power potential of their guns.
How sad is that? A Texas-based company is excluded from providing airguns for the public to shoot at a show that’s being run in Texas!
Yes, the Talon SS can be adjusted down to below 600 f.p.s., but the problem is that it can also be adjusted the other way. The NRA had to guarantee their insurance carrier that all guns on the airgun range were not capable of shooting faster than 600 f.p.s. The best and really only way to do that is to not put out guns that have the potential of shooting faster. And the Talon SS most certainly does have that potential.
There were only a couple weeks before the show, and we really wanted to put a couple Talon SS rifles on the line. What to do?
We’d been making special valves for guns going to other countries that must have very low velocity, but even then the velocity of those guns was greater than 600 f.p.s. with lightweight wadcutter pellets. But another overseas customer needed a valve that was restricted in a different way for a different reason. So, what we did was make up a special valve that had both forms of restriction — a “double-restricted valve,” so to speak. And it worked! There was no way guns that had air tanks with that valve could shoot faster than 600 f.p.s.
It’s not easy!
For all who think designing a precharged pneumatic valve is straightforward, let me assure you it isn’t. I remember talking to AirForce while they were designing the Edge target rifle and saw the difficulty they had balancing the internal volume of the new target valve with the valve opening size and the return spring strength. You might get a gun to shoot 28 shots at 580 f.p.s. with only 5 f.p.s. variation, but then the velocity drifts up to 675 f.p.s. over the next 40 shots — and after that you’re out of air! Keeping a balance between velocity and shot count is the pneumatic hat-trick — ask anyone who has ever tried to do it.
So we built a few double-restricted valves for the annual NRA meetings, and that was it. They worked fine and gave hundreds of shots on a fill, which made them perfect for a public event like the show. Those guns have been in service ever since and have now been shot by quite a few people and are still going strong. But there was no immediate move to make the valve available to the public.
Several years later, however, AirForce decided to bring out the Micro-Meter tank as an option so everyone wanting an indoor target capability for their Talon or Talon SS could have it. I’ve never tested the Micro-Meter tank for you, except on the Condor back in 2008. So, this test has been waiting a long time.
The Condor was tested on both a high-power setting and a low-power setting. Initially on low power, the rifle had velocities from 829 f.p.s. to 848 f.p.s. over the first 21 shots when shooting the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellet. That’s much faster than what we hoped for from this tank, but a Condor has a heavier striker that holds the valve open longer than it was designed to. It also has a 24-inch barrel, which we know is usually more efficient in a pneumatic airgun. A Condor may not give the same performance as a Talon SS when using the same Micro-Meter tank. It also may not give the performance you want for an indoor airgun.
When I switched over to high power for shots 22 through 34, the Condor produced velocities ranging from 733 f.p.s. to 835 f.p.s. This string was fired without refilling the gun, so 21 shots had already been fired before this string started; but notice that the velocity actually dropped, even though the power was set on high. Then, I switched back to low power for shots 35 through 55, not filling the gun before shooting this next string, and the velocity ranged between 795 and 812 f.p.s. There was a lot more to that test, but you get the general gist of it. Pellets went faster on the low power setting! Just the reverse of what the power adjustment wheel normally gives!
I will test the SS with both the factory 12-inch barrel as well as the optional 24-inch barrel, and I think the 24-inch barrel will give me the faster shots. But I want to know whether the Micro-Meter tank is still viable when using a 24-inch barrel on an SS powerplant. And, of course, I’ll give you the total number of shots I get with both barrel lengths.
As for accuracy, I think I’ll test that with the 12-inch barrel, only, since that’s probably the most likely combination an owner will have. I doubt that at short range we’d see anything but stellar accuracy from the 24-inch barrel at 10 meters. Do you?
Too much to test!
Please reread the opening statement of this report. There’s still one more barrel length in .22 caliber and three lengths in each of the three other calibers that the SS can be converted to. And then there’s the regular Talon to test and the Condor to finish testing — in all three barrel lengths and all four calibers! Life isn’t long enough to test them all. But I do want to thank reader new2this for reminding me how much I like the AirForce Airguns. Until he commented, I didn’t realize how much there was.