Posts Tagged ‘Benjamin pellets’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This comment came in last week from our new blog reader Jim H, and I wanted to address it right away. It’s a good question for a new airgunner to ask, and it deserves a good answer.
“I’m new to the airgun side of things, so I have a lot of questions but here’s one that is really bugging me. I have read all of the reviews here by Tom and also the blogs over at that “other airgun retailer” written by Jack Elliot. One message that has come through loud and clear is that each gun will tend to like specific pellets and only experience will tell the shooter which one is best. What is the best approach for testing various pellets? Do you pick a velocity that you want to shoot at and then try all the pellets that will get you to that velocity range or do you simply have favorite pellet brands and types that you’ve come to love over the years and that’s what you go with? With the hundreds of pellets available out there, what is the ’short list’ of pellets that a newbie needs to start with?”
Several of you started to answer Jim in the comments section, so my answer comes a little late; but from what I’ve read, I’m telling him things that are pretty different from what all of you told him. He actually asked 2 different questions: 1. What is the best way to test a pellet? and 2. What is a short list of pellets to choose to test airguns? I took my direction for this report from his request for a “short list” for a newbie.
This will not be a very technical report. I’m not going to discuss pellet head sizes or skirt thicknesses, except where it affects the pellets I name. I have a short list for most of the airguns I shoot, and it’s not rigid. But it’s caliber-specific, and there’s also a small powerplant component to it.
Money is no object
I used to focus on the cost of pellets, but that was before discovering that hitting the target is far more important than saving money. If saving money is your principal goal, get a piggybank. I shoot for fun, and hitting the target is where the fun is. It costs no more to be accurate than it does to experiment by chasing the illusion of economy.
I must also say that I have more experience with pellets for rifles than for pistols. So, today we’re just looking at pellets for rifles. Let’s take a look at them.
For .177 rifles my short list is the following pellets:
Crosman Premier lites (brown box) springers and CO2
Crosman Premier heavies (brown box) pneumatics and CO2
JSB Exact RS (up to 12 foot-pounds)
JSB Exact Heavy 10.3-grains
H&N Baracuda and Baracuda Match
Beeman Kodiak and Kodiak Match
That is my short list. There are other pellets that are very accurate, but I find them to be more specific to certain guns. Please remember that this is not a popularity contest. If your favorite pellet didn’t make my list, don’t fret. I try other pellets all the time — these are just the ones I count on.
If you ask me why these pellets are on the list, it’s because they’re the ones that are the most reliably accurate. That’s my only criteria because if you can’t hit the target, nothing else matters.
The .20-caliber list is very short because there aren’t as many reliable pellets made in that caliber. The most reliable one is the Crosman Premier.
Other than that, I would try anything JSB makes, and that’s about it.
The quarter-inch caliber is another one with few good pellets. The two on my list have demonstrated they will deliver in all cases.
Benjamin domed (these have no name, but they are essentially a .25 caliber Premier)
JSB Exact King
I prefer domed pellets to all other shapes. They’re more accurate at long range and penetrate well. Wadcutters are good for distances under 25 yards but not for farther than that.
Pointed pellets, hollowpoints and lead balls
I have no use for pointed pellets of any kind. I’ve never found them to be accurate, and the slight advantage they have in penetration isn’t good if they can’t hit the target. Hollowpoints are a subject that need a blog report of their own. Lead balls are specialized for certain airguns and are not for most air rifles.
Pellets and power
As power goes up, the pellets should generally get heavier. And PCPs tend to do best with heavier pellets. CO2 guns are a lot like PCPs when it comes to pellets, so I consider them to be the same.
Other selection criteria
There are other selection criteria, of course. I’ve found certain pellets to sometimes be surprisingly accurate in certain guns, and that’s enough to keep me trying them in other guns — searching for more miracles. But the lists above are the tried-and-true performers that almost never let me down. That’s why they made my list.
The second question
The other question Jim asked was how to test pellets. I do it by choosing the most accurate rifle I have and shooting 10-shot groups with each pellet in which I’m interested. Do it that way, and pellet testing is easy.
I usually don’t express my opinions this strongly; but when it comes to picking a good pellet, I think it’s too important to let it slide.
by B.B. Pelletier
Test data and photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald
First of all, we got no answers on last Friday’s question at the bottom of the blog. The answer is: it’s a catapult gun, and it shoots steel BBs. It was offered by the same company that built the Johnson semiautomatic rifle that was used as an alternative by the Marines in World War II, but at the price of $15 in 1948, it never stood a chance.
Today, we’ll shoot the Quackenbush .25 pistol for velocity and accuracy. There was a surprising amount of interest in this pistol, though much of the talk took place on Pyramyd Air’s social network sites. But even here, many readers know about this airgun. Just as a reminder, this isn’t a fire-breathing PCP. It’s a CO2 gun that uses the same stock valve as a Crosman 2240.
This pistol bloops them out at less than 400 f.p.s. because it’s a .25 and shooting pellets far heavier than the valve was designed to handle. Mac says he loves watching them arc out through the scope and drop through the aim point at the last instant. When the sun is behind you, it can be quite a show.
We’ll start with the velocity first. A couple of readers guessed that this pistol would shoot under 400 f.p.s. and they were right. The fastest average velocity Mac recorded came from Diana Magnum pellets — an obsolete brand that used to be the best .25 caliber pellet on the market. Until now, Mac has found that it shot best in this pistol. Although Diana Magnums came in both 20- and 21-grain weights (they varied over time), Mac says these weigh an average 19.90 grains, so these are the lighter ones.
Because this is a CO2 gun, Mac had to allow for cooling — so he waited 15 seconds between each shot. That allows the gun to warm up. He also replaced the CO2 cartridge after 24 shots, even though he says the gun gets up to 40 shots per cartridge. That gave every pellet the best chance to perform.
Mac recorded an average 378 f.p.s. with this pellet. The total spread was 7 f.p.s., which is pretty tight for such an inexpensive airgun . At the average velocity, this pellet generates an average 6.32 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Because this is a gas gun, it’s probably going to get more energy from heavier pellets.
Next up was the Beeman H&N Match wadcutter pellet. Weighing 21.6 grains, they averaged 370 f.p.s., with just a three foot-second spread. The muzzle energy was 6.57 foot-pounds.
Mac upped the ante with one of the two new .25-caliber pellets. The Benjamin dome weighs 27.8 grains, so it’s a heavier pellet in this caliber. It averaged 323 f.p.s. with a 7 f.p.s. total spread. The muzzle energy was 6.44 foot-pounds, so less than you would predict; but because it’s a Benjamin pellet, there’s antimony in the alloy, and that may slow it down just a little.
I told Mac that this pellet and the next one are the two most accurate .25-caliber pellets on the market. I expected both of them to beat the Diana Magnum in his pistol.
The final pellet he tried was the new JSB Exact Kings that weigh 25.4 grains. This is the other very accurate pellet that Mac tested. It averaged 346 f.p.s. and generated an average 6.75 foot-pounds. The total velocity spread was 9 f.p.s.
Okay, now the velocity testing is out of the way, and what do we have? The pistol averages under 400 f.p.s. but over 6 foot-pounds of energy. So, it isn’t a weak air pistol. Slow, perhaps, but not weak. So, how does it shoot?
Mac shot the pistol at 25 yards. I asked him to shoot 10-shot groups instead of the five he used to shoot with this gun. That made a difference in the group sizes, of course. But another dynamic emerged during testing that I think you’ll find very interesting. I’ll explain it as we go.
Do you see the dynamic? The group forms around the final shots. Mac did “season” the bore between targets with two shots from each new pellet; but, even so, the pellets walked into the group at the end of each 10-shot string. I suggested to Mac that this might be due to seasoning the barrel, but he thought it was because the gun cooling down as it was shot.
The heavy JSB Exact Kings were next up. Mac found them to also string vertically for the first three shots, then bunch together at the end, just like before.
Ten JSB Exact King domed pellets made this 1.09-inch group at 25 yards. The first three shots are vertical, then the final seven are bunched together below. There’s one straggler out to the right, but this is a much better group than the wadcutters produced.
Thus far we have seen an interesting dynamic of the pellets moving to a place, then grouping tightly. So how do the formerly most accurate Diana Magnums react? They’re next.
The Diana Magnum pellets didn’t act like the first two pellets. They all landed at the same height on target, without an vertical stringing. Group size was 1.09 inches between centers.
The Diana Magnums don’t seem to follow the same pattern as the first two pellets. I don’t know why that would be, but that’s what the target shows. As with all other pellets, Mac seasoned the bore with two shots before this group was fired. Let’s go to the final pellet and see what happens.
The Benjamin domes gave the smallest group of ten shots at 25 yards. Group measures 0.85 inches between centers. Again, we see a vertical orientation to the group; though, this time, Mac didn’t indicate that the final shots were all bunched together in the large hole.
There you have it. That’s what this Quackenbush .25 can do.
In my opinion, Mac should pick just one pellet — the Benjamin dome — and shoot nothing else in this gun. I think the tighter groups at the end are due to seasoning the bore; because in my other testing, I’m starting to see very similar results. But even if that isn’t what’s happening here, the Benjamin dome is still the accuracy champ.
Is the Quackenbush conversion a good thing for a Crosman 2240? If you want a .25-caliber air pistol and you don’t want to get into high-pressure air, then I guess it is. You must accept the low velocity, while realizing that this pistol is still a good deal more powerful than a Beeman P1. And because it’s launching very heavy pellets, it retains more of that energy longer downrange, so things keep getting better the farther the target is from the muzzle — within reason.
This much is certain — people love tinkering with their Crosman airguns, and Dennis Quackenbush has provided the means to do that for over a decade and a half. This may not be the only game in town, but it’s certainly one of the very best.
by B.B. Pelletier
You know that dream where you remember at the end of the semester that you signed up for a course that you forgot to attend, and the final exam is today? And you just walked out the front door without your keys and the door locked behind you? And you’re in your underwear? And you live on Main Street? Well, something similar really happened to me!
Two years ago, I spent some time in the hospital, and the best-laid plans….Actually, my buddy, Mac, drove out from Maryland and spent a week testing airguns and taking pictures to help Edith and me keep the blog going. When he left, Mac left me with a pile of targets and photos that I continued to use to write blogs for two weeks after I was finally discharged but still not back on my feet.
Mac did test the .25-caliber Benjamin Marauder for accuracy and left me with the test targets, but in the post-hospital confusion I threw them out! Then, when I recovered enough to finish the report and discovered I’d disposed of the targets, I looked for the .25-caliber Marauder so I could finish the test. But couldn’t find it. I figured Edith might have returned it while I was out of action.
However, last week I was packaging some guns to return and found the .25-caliber Marauder standing just where Mac had left it. So, today, I am doing the accuracy test of the gun that was last reported nearly two years ago.
Actually, the rifle and you readers do benefit from my mistake, because there are now two great .25-caliber pellets available. When Mac tested it, there was only one — the .25-caliber Benjamin dome that I’m so tempted to call a Premier. It weighs 27.8 grains, and Mac got an average velocity of 797 f.p.s. with a tight spread from 791 to 802 f.p.s. That’s an average muzzle energy of 38.94 foot pounds.
The other pellet wasn’t available when Mac tested the rifle. But I discovered during the test of the TalonP pistol that the .25-caliber JSB Exact King is another superior .25-caliber pellet. Weighing 25.4 grains, it should be a trifle faster than the Benjamin dome but produce slightly less energy.
Long time, no shoot!
When I set about to test the Marauder for today’s report, I was reminded how long it’s been since I shot one. There was a guy at the recent LASSO shoot who was shooting a .177 Marauder, and I remember being surprised by how quiet it was. But his rifle was the only one keeping up with my Talon SS on the smallbore range! And he was shooting out to 75 yards! So I admit there was a lot of anticipation at getting to shoot a Benjamin Marauder once again.
So, here’s a quick impression of the rifle before we get to the accuracy report. The Marauder is a big gun. I’d forgotten how large the stock feels. It isn’t heavy, but it fills your hands. The trigger is one of the best on the market, but the trigger in the rifle I tested has not been adjusted. It’s exactly as the factory sent it. The first stage was surprisingly heavy, but stage two was light and very crisp. Once I figured out where stage two was, I found the trigger very crisp and responsive; and of course, it would be no trouble to dial off some of the first-stage pull weight.
The rifle was set to operate on a 3.000 psi fill from the factory. I say that because the Marauder will function with any fill pressure from 2,000 to 3,000 psi — it’s adjustable by the owner. But the .25 screams to be set up for the full 3,000 psi. That’s because this big .25 is a real thumper that uses a lot of air for each shot. I got three good 8-shot magazines from each fill, but after that the pellets started falling lower on the target. So, 24 shots to a fill.
I mounted two-piece medium-height rings on the rifle, and that was when I discovered that the receiver of the Marauder is not very high. Usually, the receiver on a precharged rifle is much higher than the barrel, but the Marauder is different. The barrel is shrouded for quiet shooting, which makes it fatter, and the low receiver means mounting a scope takes some thought. You can’t just slap on a scope with a 50mm objective lens, because it will hit the shroud. So, I used an old Bushnell 6-18×44AO Trophy that I used to use in field target competition. It provided plenty of magnification and a very clear image.
If I wanted to use a scope with a larger objective, I could have used high mounts, of course. But the medium mounts were much better for natural eye placement.
Okay. What will she do? Quite a lot, actually. This big quarter-inch bore is accurate! At 25 yards, it managed an 8-shot group that measures just 0.287 inches between the centers that are farthest apart. That was with the Benjamin domes. Why 8 shots and not 10? Because that’s the magazine’s capacity in this caliber. I actually shot a couple such groups, and they were all pretty much the same, much to my surprise. This big Marauder wants to lay them into the same hole, shot after shot.
Next, I tried the JSB Exact King pellet. It’s a little lighter than the Benjamin dome, but also has a wider skirt — and I could feel the pellet entering the breech every time the bolt was pushed home. This time, I went to the trouble of loading a partial magazine to get the full 10 rounds in the target.
From just this evidence, I would have to say the JSB pellet isn’t right for the Marauder; but because I took such a long break in the report, I’m not going to let it end here. I want to mount a better scope on the rifle and try it again. And I want to adjust the trigger next time. I think the Marauder has more to show us.
One more thing
The pellets for this big .25 cost as much or more than .22 long rifle ammo. That’s correct — they run $20 to 25 for 500. So why shoot an air rifle? First, because it’s more accurate than the average .22 rimfire shooting budget ammo. Second, because this rifle has a better trigger than all but the more expensive target rimfires. Third, although this air rifle produces pretty close to 40 foot-pounds at the muzzle, it’s still shooting diabolo pellets that are safer at distance than a .22 bullet. Fourth, because unless you spend $400 and more, you aren’t going to get a .22 rimfire that’s this quiet.
Scale is why you shoot a Marauder. You can drop woodchucks at 50 yards and not bother the cattle in the next pasture. Make no mistake, the .177 and to a lesser extent the .22 Marauder are both well-suited to plinking and general shooting. The .25 is not, unless you don’t mind the additional cost of the pellets. The .25 is a hunting airgun, plain and simple. But it’s a hunting airgun that can hit the target without weighing 12 lbs. or requiring 50 lbs. of effort to cock.
by B.B. Pelletier
Announcement: Around 10 or 11pm tonight (12/15/11) Eastern time, the server for all of Airgun Academy (including this blog) will be restarted. Hopefully, it’ll be unnoticed and everything will march along just fine. If something does go wrong and everything goes offline for a while, please know that people are working on it.
Here we go! Today is accuracy day for the .25-caliber Beeman RX-2 Elite series combo air rifle. Before I start shooting groups, though, I thought I would adjust the trigger. In Part 2, blog reader SpringGunner commented that the screw inside the trigger blade is what determines the location of stage two. It’s a very small Allen screw, and the one in the test gun is so deep inside its hole that it can’t be seen.
I started by turning this screw counter-clockwise about a turn and a half, but all that did was lose the second stage for me. What I ended up with was a single-stage pull with lots of creep and an indeterminate and extremely light release. I came back clockwise on the screw about a third of the way and voila — stage two reappeared! When it did, I made certain that it was positive and repeatable before accepting the adjustment.
The trigger now breaks cleanly at 1 lb., 9 ozs. The second-stage creep is gone, and the trigger is much crisper now. While it’s still not quite as good as a Rekord, it is much better than I reported in Part 2. It’s more than adequate for hunting and occasional target work.
I noticed at sight-in that the rifle has a lot of barrel droop. Pyramyd Air had shimmed the rear scope mount, but I think I would want to use something like the BKL Drop Compensating mount to get the scope in the center of the adjustment range.
What’s in a name
And before I move on, I would like to say something about product naming and why it’s so difficult to find things on a website. BKL has named their mounts “drop” compensators, but the most common term among airgunners is “droop.” Some people think that spelling or naming a product doesn’t matter, but on the internet it matters a lot. When I searched for a BKL mount that compensated for droop, I entered the word droop in the search window and came up with all the drooper mounts except those made by BKL. Then, I happened to remember that BKL uses the term drop instead of droop, and I was able to find all their drooper mounts. [Note from Edith: I fixed it so a search for droop will now bring up the BKL drop-compensating mounts.]
Several years ago, I had an ongoing conversation with Crosman about the use of the term soft air for their airsoft line of guns. We went back and forth for five years about this until one day their VP of sales told me they just liked the term soft air better. So, I challenged him to do a Google search for airsoft and again for soft air. Soft air turned up just over three hundred thousand hits. Airsoft turned in over 15 million! Today they call all their current 6mm guns airsoft.
When the world is looking for something today, it uses an internet search engine. If you don’t call your product what everybody else calls it, expect to be excluded from the party. End of sermon.
Back to the RX-2
Sight-in went pretty quickly, and then I up to the 25-yard line. The first pellet to be tried was the Benjamin dome that did so well at 50 yards in the AirForce TalonP pistol test. But in the RX-2 it didn’t do as well. I tried a number of different holds, but the results were always the same — an open group. Since this rifle is difficult to cock, I decided to move on to the JSB Exact King.
Success with this new .25-caliber pellet was immediate. Among the four pellets I tested, the Kings were the best. The first group was very tight but had two pellets that went above the main group. I hesitate to call them fliers. They were due to a subtle shift in how I held the rifle, and the second time I knew the shot was going to move from the main group. I didn’t know that it would group with the other stray, but I must have repeated the same hold for those two shots.
Eight pellets made the lower group that measures 0.563 inches between centers. These .25-caliber pellets make huge holes and the groups appear larger than they are. Notice that the other two shots are also tightly grouped.
This target showed me two very important things about the RX-2. The first was that the huge .25-caliber pellets make big holes in the paper — groups that appear larger than they are.
The second thing I learned is that the RX-2 is very sensitive to hold. It doesn’t seem to want to be held as lightly as many other accurate spring rifles. But it does want to be absolutely “dead” weight in your hands. This means stretching the off hand out until the cocking slot is touching your palm. The rifle then sinks into your palm, and that pushes the buttpad back into your shoulder — you can’t avoid it. It’s a tighter artillery hold than I would normally use, but it works with this rifle.
More pellets tested
Next, I loaded some RWS Superdomes and noted that, of all the pellets I tested, these loaded the easiest. All other pellets were hard to push into the breech, with Benjamin Domes being hardest of all. But Superdomes went in rather easily.
Downrange, however, they scattered everywhere. No matter how I held the rifle, they never went to the same place twice. I was worried that I might shoot out of the pellet trap so I stopped. I think this pellet is better-suited to precharged rifles and not spring-piston guns — at least not the RX-2.
Then, I tried the H&N Baracuda pellet. These required a different hold than the JSB Exact Kings, but they showed some promise. However, as I was attempting to shoot a 10-shot group, I inadvertently held the forearm slightly wrong and blew the group with two shots. I think I got cocky because of the early success and didn’t pay as much attention to the hold as I should have. Instead of shooting another group of these, I opted for one more round of JSB Exact Kings, which had already proven quite accurate.
Five H&N Baracudas went into a nice cluster at 25 yards, then a small change of hold sent two pellets elsewhere. I decided to stop shooting this group and move on. The five closest holes measure 0.592 inches between centers.
One more pellet you should try with this rifle is the H&N Field Target Trophy. I didn’t test them, but several readers mentioned that they are very accurate with this rifle. And, at just over 20 grains, they’ll also have good velocity!
Another observation is that the rifle is starting to cock smoother, if not exactly easier. I think the RX-2 might be one of those rifles that needs a good period of break-in, which I have not provided in this test. Certainly from what I read on the internet, the owners of the gun seem to like it a lot and are very faithful to the model. It may even be that breaking it in will show a gain in velocity over the numbers you saw in Part 2.
The bottom line
The Beeman RX-2 is a big spring rifle that has good power. In .25 caliber, it performed better than any .25-caliber spring rifle I’ve tested recently. Part of that is due to the excellent JSB Exact King pellet, but part must also go to the underlying Weihrauch quality.
The trigger can be adjusted to a nice crisp let-off. Don’t just use it as it comes from the box. Read this whole report and don’t be afraid to experiment.
I don’t know if all RX-2 rifles will droop like this one did, but you’ll want to keep it in mind. If you get one that does, there are drooper mounts that will fix the situation.
Lastly, the RX-2 is primarily a hunting air rifle. Buy it in a large caliber (either .22 or .25) but don’t think that you’ll be able to plink all day. This is a rifle you can leave cocked and on safe as long as you hunt without worrying about the state of the mainspring — and that’s the biggest advantage of a gas spring.
by B.B. Pelletier
Two new airgun videos have been posted. Both are about cleaning airgun barrels, how to do it correctly and which products are safe for airguns. Part 1 reviews when you should consider cleaning, and part 2 shows you the mechanics of cleaning.
Now, on to today’s blog.
Today, we’ll test the power and velocity of the Beeman RX-2 Elite Series combo air rifle. Remember, this rifle contains a gas spring instead of a coiled steel spring, so the cocking effort is entirely different. A gas spring doesn’t increase in effort as you advance through the cocking stroke. It starts out at the maximum force and maintains that same force until the gun is cocked. But the leverage of a breakbarrel rifle is poor in the beginning of the cocking stroke, so the gas spring feels like a lot more effort.
I measured the force needed to cock this rifle, and it came up an even 44 lbs. That was actually lighter than I guessed, but heavy enough that everyone will notice it. Of course, this isn’t a plinking rifle, so the effort it takes to cock it isn’t a problem. Hunters can cock their rifles and leave them cocked for hours while they hunt, because the gas spring doesn’t degrade from being compressed. Just don’t buy this rifle for its power without being aware that the cocking effort is quite high.
Alas, this rifle is a .25 caliber, and that caliber has long suffered from a lack of accurate pellets. Shooters buy the .25 because it offers the heaviest pellets on the market, but they fail to realize that none of these pellets are particularly good. And when I say “good” I mean in comparison to what a quality .22-caliber pellet can do at great range. Almost anything will shoot well at 10-15 yards, but when the range stretches out to 25 yards and farther, most .25-caliber pellets can’t keep up with what a good .22 can do.
The H&N Baracuda (Beeman Kodiak Extra Heavy) was about the best pellet available up to the present time and they were only okay — not spectacular. However, this situation has recently changed. I asked for the rifle in .25 caliber because, during the test of the TalonP PCP pistol, I found two new pellets that are quite accurate.
The JSB Exact King pellet is a medium-weight .25 that delivers phenomenal accuracy at long distance when everything is done right. It weighs 25.4 grains, nominally, which puts it in the lightweight to middleweight range among .25-caliber pellets. That means it gives you the best velocity you’ll get from a superior pellet in .25 caliber. You can waste your time shooting sinker larvae, or you can pony up and buy the very best. As long as you’ve gone to the trouble to buy a .25-caliber air rifle, doesn’t it make sense to buy the pellets that make it shoot the best?
The other good .25-caliber pellet we have is the Benjamin dome. This one came out over a year ago, probably to support the .25-caliber Marauder, but the rest of the market also benefitted. I think it should be called a Premier, because when you stand it next to the other three calibers of Premiers, it looks very similar. But it has no special name, other than diabolo, which references the shape. This one weighs 27.8 grains, so it’s a little heavier than the JSB and definitely in the middleweight range. It offers reasonable velocity with good power — especially when used in precharged guns! It also happens to be quite accurate, which is a plus for the quarter-inch bore, so I definitely included it in today’s test.
I included the H&N Baracuda just because it was once the favorite. Who knows what it might do in this rifle?
First up were the JSB Exact Kings. They averaged 556 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 545 to a high of 560. That’s a span of 15 f.p.s., but it looks larger than it is. All but a single shot out of ten were at or above 551. At that speed, the rifle generates 17.44 foot-pounds at the muzzle. You may remember that the test certificate sent with the rifle had placed it at 17.4 foot-pounds with a lighter pellet, so this is pretty stable performance.
Next up were the Benjamin domes. They averaged 507 f.p.s. and ranged from 499 to 514, so again a 15 foot-second spread. At that velocity, they averaged 15.87 foot-pounds.
Finally, I tested the H&N Baracudas. At 31.02 grains, they’re definitely among the heavyweight .25-caliber pellets, though the bar has been raised to over 43 grains by Eun Jin. These pellets averaged 494 f.p.s. in the RX-2. The range went from a low of 487 f.p.s. to a high of 499, so the spread is 12 f.p.s. At the average velocity they delivered 16.81 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
The trigger breaks at 2 lbs., 1 oz., which is more than light enough. My only complaint is that the second stage is so creepy. I went on the internet and attempted to find instructions on how to adjust this Elite-series trigger. Imagine a dark night with a train whistle in the distance and a lone dog barking! There are a lot of folks asking the same thing, but I’m darned if I can find any instructions on how this trigger works. Just a lot of plaintive inquires that date back to 2005.
So, I grabbed a screwdriver and found out how to do it on my own. The adjustment screw is the one in front of the trigger blade. When you turn it counterclockwise, the trigger-pull becomes lighter, and the first-stage travel length increases at the same time. I was never able to remove all of the second-stage creep, but I got about 75 percent of it out with 1.5 revolutions of the screw. The pull then registers 1 lb., 11 oz., which is too light on a sporting rifle, but it is safe and reliable.
The picture worth a thousand words. Turn this screw counter-clockwise to reduce the pull weight and lengthen the first-stage travel — clockwise to do the reverse. The length of the first stage is tied to the pull weight (apparently), so that’s all I was able to do.
What about the power?
Are you as surprised as I am that the velocity, and power are as low as this? The specs say it should get 725 f.p.s., but I don’t know with what. If Pyramyd Air tested it with the H&N Field Target Trophy pellet that weighs 20.06 grains and only got an average of about 626 f.p.s., what sort of trick pellet would get another 100 f.p.s.? I think what we’re seeing is the rifle’s true potential in .25 caliber.
This is not that surprising; because when a spring-piston rifle is upgraded to .25 caliber, the maximum power it generates often falls off. The RWS Diana 48, which generates 22 foot-pounds in .22, will make about 19-20 foot-pounds in .25 on its best day. That’s probably why they don’t make them in that caliber anymore. And other guns perform about the same. The only spring-piston air rifles that seem to perform up to spec are those that start out in .25 caliber, and they usually have a much longer piston stroke. Now you can see why I was so impressed with the power of the TalonP air pistol.
Don’t be discouraged with the RX-2 just yet. We still have to test the accuracy. If this rifle can lob them one on top of the other, we won’t care what energy it develops. As many have noted, a heavy .25-caliber pellet will buck the wind and deliver its payload to the target better than any other smallbore pellet around. So, let’s give the rifle the chance to perform.
It was another calm day at the range last week when I tested the TalonP air pistol once again. This time, I had a couple special goals. One was to see if the new method of scope mounting recommended by AirForce owner, John McCaslin, would help me hold the gun better, and the other was to test the velocity of the gun with the most accurate pellets on power setting eight.
New scope mounting method
The scope has to be moved forward for increased cheek contact with the reservoir/tank. You know that I’m now using the optional shoulder stock extension that clamps onto the pistol’s reservoir. The way it clamps gives you a wide range of pull lengths. I need a longer length of 14.5 to 14.75 inches, so I have the extension way out at the back of the reservoir, but most shooters will slide it in a bit. John recommends that you adjust the stock first then position the scope where it needs to be for your eye. He recommended a BKL cantilever mount that pushes the scope forward. I used their BKL 4-inch one-piece mount with what they refer to as drop compensation, which actually means droop. Because the one I had on hand has one-inch rings, I had to say goodbye to the superb Hawke 4-14×42AO Sidewinder Tactical scope I’ve been using and substitute a Leapers 5th Gen 6-24×50AO scope. While it was entirely adequate, I have to observe that the Hawke at 14x was clearer than the Leapers at 24x.
The first time around, the Hawke scope was mounted on two-piece BKL mounts that were slid as far forward as possible. The image was still too close to my eye to resolve to full size, so I needed to move the eyepiece of the scope forward about another half-inch.
Sight-in took longer because, at this rifle range, I don’t have the ability to place a small target at 10 feet. I have to mount all my targets at the 50-yard backstop. So, I mount a two-foot by four-foot silhouette target on the backstop with its plain, light backside facing me. Then, I place the sight-in target in the center of that, and usually I can catch the pellet holes somewhere on that huge piece of paper. You could use cheaper paper for this — just as long as it shows the pellet holes clearly. I’ve never used a scope collimator, and I don’t intend to start now. This is so much easier!
I hadn’t changed the power setting from the last test, so the performance went the same as before; this time, I cut off the fill at less than 2,700 psi. That allowed me to start shooting a group in three shots. As I learn this pistol, I’ll eventually learn exactly where to stop the fill so shot one is right on the money every time. However, as with most airguns — including springers — you have to “wake” the gun with a couple shots each new time. For hunters who spend hours between shots, this can be daunting; but very few guns will put the first shot in the same place as the others after a long period of rest. It’s true of firearms, as well, so I guess it should also apply to airguns.
How did it do?
Nothing really changed from the last time I tested this pistol. Now that I have the air fill down pretty well, I can even do “tricks” with the gun. Let me demonstrate with JSB Exact Kings and Benjamin domes.
50 yards: Five JSB Exact Kings in the hole below and two above. The five-shot group was 0.246 inches between centers. Add the other two shots, and the group grows to 0.577 inches between centers. Even that is better than most .25-caliber air rifles can do at 50 yards; but the point (trick) is that I knew those last two shots were going to stray, and I didn’t have to shoot them.
50 yards: Five Benjamin domes in the hole on the right and then I shot a sixth that I guessed would stray. Stray it did, but to the left this time, where in the last test Benjamins moved to the right. Go figure! The tight group measures 0.38 inches. With shot six, it opens to 1.059 inches.
Technique is important!
Lest a new airgunner buy this airgun and splurge on all the support equipment to operate it (basically just a carbon fiber air tank), and then buy the same exact pellets I’ve used in this test, only to be disappointed that he cannot replicate what I’ve done, allow me to show you how I’m able to do what I’m doing. It’s not a trick, but it does require an advanced shooting technique of which a new shooter is probably not aware. You will remember that I mentioned my intention to mount a scope level on the gun last time. I forgot to do that, but on a printed target there are plenty of references to help me control the amount of cant (the amount the rifle is tilted to one side) for every shot. So, for the two groups I’ve shown you thus far, I watched the visual cues as precisely as I’ve been watching the bubble level in the Pellet velocity versus accuracy test. Let me show you what it looks like when I ignore these cues and just shoot when I think the airgun is being held the same every time. I’m trying just as hard to shoot a good group, except I’m ignoring the one variable of cant.
50 yards: This is what you get when you don’t pay attention to cant when shooting an accurate pellet at 50 yards. Five JSB Exact King pellets made this 0.747-inch group. That’s still a very good group for a .25-caliber airgun at 50 yards, but it looks large in comparison to what I’ve shown you previously in this report.
I tested the velocity of this pistol with several pellets back in Part 2. That was when we confirmed that the TalonP isn’t just capable of hitting 50 foot-pounds at the muzzle — it can actually shoot a string of 10 shots above that energy figure.
Today, I’ll give you the velocities of the two most accurate pellets. I’m doing this for one reason. The 43.2-grain pointed Eun Jin pellets that are required to achieve that bragging power are not the most accurate pellets in this airgun. The two I’m showing today are, and they’re best at power setting eight. This is a real-world look at what the pistol can pump out when it can also keep five pellets inside a wedding ring at 50 yards.
JSB Exact Kings
The gun was filled to 2,700 psi and shot over an Oehler chronograph. The average velocity of JSB Exact Kings for the five best shots was 875 f.p.s., with a low of 860 and a high of 892 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the muzzle energy is 41.66 foot-pounds. So the total spread of velocity for the pellet that would put five under a quarter-inch at 50 yards was 32 f.p.s., but you can see that it doesn’t really matter that much.
If I had included the very first shot fired after the fill, the velocity was 844 f.p.s. and the next shot was even slower, at 836 f.p.s. I got a total of 11 shots on a fill, the last of which went 841 f.p.s. I’ve shown you both last time and today that there are five screaming shots within this larger string that I know for certain will be accurate if I do everything right. Do you want to kill the woodchuck at 60 yards, or do you just want him to envy you?
I refilled the gun to 2,700 psi and shot a string of Benjamin domes. They averaged 877 f.p.s. with a low of 840 and a high of 902 f.p.s. That’s a 62 f.p.s. spread, yet you can see what they did on target. This pellet generates 47.49 foot-pounds at the average velocity. Looking at the total string, shot one went 783 f.p.s., and shot 11 went 827 f.p.s. Those shots are outside the string that gives the best accuracy, and you’ll break your heart by hoping to get them to go into that tiny little group. Take your five great shots, or think about buying a different pellet gun.
You won’t find another pellet pistol that will touch this one for power and accuracy at this range, and many pellet rifles will fall behind as well. The TalonP air pistol is not for everyone. It’s for the shooter who has the heart of a buffalo hunter. The one who knows exactly what his gun is capable of and is willing to invest the time and care to get it.
Airgun hunter, Eric Henderson, has already taken a prairie dog at 100 yards with the exact same pistol I’m testing for you. I’m not the only one getting these great results.
What I’ve done is take the time to decode the operation of the gun and find two good pellets for it. I’ve told you the best fill pressure, which is way less than what the factory recommends. I’ve given you the power setting, which is under the maximum setting.
The TalonP is a thinking shooter’s airgun. If you want the most accurate and most powerful smallbore air pistol in production today, here it is.
by B.B. Pelletier
I had a perfect, wind-free day at the range for this report, and as a result I learned several very interesting things about the TalonP air pistol. There’s no substitute for a calm day when you’re trying to figure things out for an airgun.
The target was set 50 yards away, and I shot off a bag rest. I promised to show you how I hold the pistol when the shoulder stock extension is attached and I will, but John McCaslin of AirForce told me of a much better way to set up the gun. Since I didn’t try that this time, I’ll just show you how I held it for this test.
The butt is on my shoulder, which allows my cheek to touch the rear of the reservoir. My left hand is under the pistol grip for fine elevation adjustments. The bag I’m using is a large bunny bag (a sandbag that has “ears”) filled with crushed walnut shells that are as dense as sand but weigh only half as much.
This hold was stable, but I can see how the one John suggested will be even better, so I will show that next time. I have nothing but praise for the Hawke scope that is so clear I can see the pellets as they fly to the target. I think we need to add this scope to our stable of equipment, Edith.
I started this test shooting the JSB Exact Kings that were so accurate in the last test. They were still on the money — even better than before — but the calm day allowed me to see a dynamic I hadn’t see last time. The TalonP pistol can shoot a great five-shot group, but if you try for more shots, the pellets start to wander.
A new dynamic
As you know, I like to shoot 10-shot groups to demonstrate the accuracy of airguns. There are exceptions to that, of course. I won’t shoot 10 from a 10-meter gun because 5 shows all that I need to see. A big bore will also get 5 shots instead of 10, because there aren’t ten good shots in the reservoir. Well, that holds true for the TalonP, too.
I shot many groups that were astounding on this day, but only when they were 5-shot groups. When I tried to stretch them to 10, they always opened up. Before I get to that, though, I also discovered that this pistol doesn’t need a 3,000 psi fill when it’s shot on power setting eight.
If I filled all the way to 3,000 psi, the first shots were lower-powered. They would walk up the target in sequence until the gun came into the power curve, which was around 2,700 psi for this pellet on power setting eight at 50 yards. Then I always got an astounding 5-shot group. And then the pellets started wandering once again. Before I go any farther, look at a couple of these groups.
The larger hole to the right of the dime is four JSB King pellets at 50 yards. Shot five made the hole underneath the first group. But shots six and seven are above the dime and to the left. Those four tight shots represent the tightest group of shots I’ve ever made with an airgun at 50 yards. The group measures 0.159 inches and the 5-shot group measures 0.524 inches.
Kevin suggested that I also test the Benjamin domes and Beeman Kodiaks. I found the Benjamin domes to be equally accurate in the pistol as the JSB Exact Kings, which is surprising because in an earlier test at 25 yards they were not as good.
The Beeman Kodiaks were not good in the pistol at any power level I tried, though I didn’t spend as much time with them as I did with the JSBs and Benjamins. In fact, I ran out of JSB pellets and had to order more to complete this test.
I have said in the past that none of us have enough life left to throughly test even one AirForce airgun. The adjustable power, plus the ability to control the fill pressure, gives you an infinite variety of things to test with every good pellet you find. However, I do have an advantage, in that I used to work at AirForce and have tested hundreds of guns and thousands of valves during manufacture. So, I know a couple helpful things. Here’s one of them.
Sometimes, there’s a second power band located outside what you think of as the normal pressure curve. With a PCP gun that has a 3,000 psi fill limit, I find the bottom of the power curve is somewhere around 2,200 to as low as 2,000 psi. That’s for any gun — not just one made by AirForce. Of course, the AirForce guns have adjustable power, so you can do things — in that outside part of the fill curve — that aren’t possible with other PCPs.
I haven’t yet completed this test, but I just wanted to know if there might be another power curve below the normal pressure curve, so I kept on shooting JSB pellets with the gun set at power setting eight. As I did, the gun suddenly started to bellow a deep flat roar with every shot. I knew from past experience that this was what I was looking for. In fact, the pistol became so loud that I thought the end cap had fallen off, but it hadn’t. It was just the sound of the valve remaining open an extra long time and letting out a large volume of lower-pressure air. I didn’t get any good groups at this level; but with some lowering of the power setting, that might be possible. When I finished about an additional eight shots, the gun was down to 1,500 psi, which is way outside the normal curve.
On the TalonP, I find the best curve so far with the most accurate pellets to be between 2,700 psi and 2,200 psi. However, since I was trying to shoot 10-shot groups, the lower number isn’t correct, either. I didn’t have time to find out what the real lower limit was, exactly. The one time I checked it seemed to be around 2,550 psi, but that’s too rough to go by. Besides, it’ll be a different number on each different pressure gauge you use, so the number doesn’t really matter that much. You’ll have to find the number on your own fill gauge. If you do what I do in this test, you’ll find everything you need.
A big point
I’d like to stop here and mention that at no time have I brought a chronograph into today’s test. I did chrono the gun some back in Part 3, but that was before I knew how well it was going to perform at distance. Since there’s so much to do, I decided to set the chronograph aside until I find the best performance at 50 yards, then I’ll chrono just that. For those who own PCP guns but don’t yet own chronographs, this is something you should think about. It doesn’t matter how fast the pellets are going if they aren’t hitting anything, so find your most accurate pellets first and then chronograph them.
Knowing that the gun grouped 5 shots very tight with these two pellets, I tried a couple times to find the exact fill point for stopping to shoot 5 good shots. I could then shoot my 5 and refill for 5 more good shots. The ideal stopping point is located somewhere below 2,700 psi when the gun is set on power setting eight and shooting JSB Exact Kings or Benjamin domes, but I didn’t find the exact spot yet. When I shot the groups shown above, I had to shoot the first couple shots at a different target until the shots stabilized. Therefore, the number of good shots is greater than 5, since at least one shot and perhaps two were thrown away as I let the gun climb into the power curve.
I also tried shooting all the pellets, including Kodiaks, at power settings nine, ten and six. Those settings were not as good as setting eight when I filled to 2,700 psi.
This is the TalonP power adjuster I mention in the report. It appears to be set just under eight, as indicated by the center of the hex screw in the oval window. Forget the numbers on the wheel. Until you find the right setting in the oval window, they will just confuse you, and they aren’t that precise.
I now know the two best pellets for this gun. I have a rough idea of where the optimum power curve is located, so I won’t have to hunt for it as much next time. Also, John McCaslin has shown me a better way to mount my scope so I get a more positive spot weld (locating the cheek at exactly the same place every time so the maximum parallax is cancelled), and that may help me shoot the TalonP even better.
Here’s what I know so far. This “pistol” is the most accurate .25-caliber airgun I have yet tested. And I have one 50-yard group that’s the best I’ve shot to date with any airgun. That old one was five shots from a SCAN at 40 yards. There’s a heck of a lot of potential here. I can’t wait to get back to the range to try out all this new stuff!