Posts Tagged ‘CO2 rifle’
by B.B. Pelletier
Fresh from the closet, another fine Crosman 160 emerges into daylight. We’ll watch this one blossom.
Today, I’m testing the Crosman 160 for accuracy. This is a target rifle — originally intended for 25-foot ranges, so 10 meters, which is very close to 33 feet, is the distance I shot for this test. And I shot at 10-meter rifle targets. It’s important to remember this rifle is a .22, not a .177, because the larger pellets will influence the overall group size.
The 160 has a post front sight that isn’t as precise as an aperture, but I learned to shoot on a similar sight, so it still works well for me. I’d disassembled the rear aperture sight during cleaning, so when I sighted-in there was a lot of adjusting to get the pellet on target.
I held my eye as close to the aperture as I could get, because my recent experience with both the Ballard and Remington model 37 has taught me that this is the way to get the best accuracy from an aperture sight. The tiny hole made my pupil dilate and the front sight came into sharp focus, as it always should.
I sighted-in with the JSB Exact 15.9-grain dome and left the sights there. So, the first group is well-centered and the other pellets are a little bit off.
Remember that wonderful trigger I told you about last time? Well, this is where it came into its own. It is breaking so light that I leave my finger off the blade until the sight picture is correct. Then it’s just touch and “Bang!” It breaks at a pound. I’ve bump-tested the gun several times without a pellet just to see if I could jar it off the sear, and it’s holding fine…but it feels like a precision set trigger. Perhaps, having the overtravel adjustment makes the difference.
I remember these 160s as being more accurate than they have a right to be, given their original price, and this one is, too. The first 10 shots went into a group that measures 0.313 inches. The group is very round and gives every indication that the rifle loves this pellet.
Next, I tried the .22-caliber Premiers. Back in the early 1990s, when this pellet first came out, 160 owners discovered their rifles were much more accurate than they had believed. When the 160 was new, it was thought that the best they would do was a quarter-sized group at 25 feet. Now they were shooting into a dime at 33 feet.
This time, the group wasn’t as good as some others I’ve shot. Ten shots measure 0.449 inches between centers. The point of impact shifted to the left a bit, as well.
I also wanted to try a pellet I’d never used in a 160, so the next pellet was an RWS Superdome. They should do well, being both medium weight and thin-skirted. A thin skirt can be blown out into the rifling by the low pressure of the CO2 gas, which will seal the pellet in the bore quite well.
Before you get excited from looking at these next targets, you need to know that I was interrupted while shooting and as a result I put 5 shots on each target, instead of the 10 on one, as planned. Although this was a mistake, it does illustrate, once again, the difference between the sizes of 5-shot and 10-shot groups.
If you didn’t know there were only 5 shots in this group, you could make up all sorts of claims for the RWS Superdome pellets. The group measures 0.107 inches between centers. This is 10-meter target rifle size — even though it was shot with the larger pellets! But it is only 5 shots.
As I loaded and shot, I reflected on the ease of the bolt’s operation. Opening it requires just the flick of one finger, because you’re not cocking a spring. It’s as quick as pulling back the bolt on a biathlon target rifle. Pushing the bolt forward takes some effort, though, because this is where the hammer spring gets compressed.
The big .22-caliber domed pellets lie in the loading trough and feed without a bobble. Where some guns want to flip pellets around, the 160 feeds them effortlessly every time. I can describe the cocking and loading experience as having an oily smoothness.
Upon examination, I feel the JSB Exact pellet did the best in this test. It put 10 pellets into a group the same size as the final 5 Superdomes made. It would be interesting to shoot another group of Superdomes that were not shot at the end of the gas supply, but I still think the JSBs will turn out better.
I noticed on the final 5 shots that the rifle sounded like it was losing power. Since 5 shots were used for sight-in, this rifle has given me 35 good shots on two cartridges. Blog reader Jim in PGH commented that an Archer Hammer Debouncer Device (abbreviated HDD and designed to give the valve stem a dead blow to exhaust gas without valve flutter) installed on a Chinese version of the 167 (a .177-caliber version of the 160) that he owns has increased his shot count to 80. That would be worth looking into, if you decide to go the 160 route.
Where are we?
As I shoot the 160, I cannot help but think of a fine 10-meter target air rifle. Kevin would be proud to shoot one so fine. I think most of you would be impressed with what this gun can do.
This is the last report I have planned for the 160. As I suspected, the owner of this 160 was not too keen about the two CO2 cartridges needed to power his gun, so he sold it to me. I have no plans for it at this time, other than to show it to several firearms shooters to impress them with what an airgun can do. I’m also toying with shooting it at 50 yards, just to see how it does.
by B.B. Pelletier
Fresh from the closet, another fine Crosman 160 emerges into daylight. We’ll watch this one blossom.
Today, I’ll report on the cleaning of Jose’s Crosman 160 and the adjustment of the trigger. This rifle was quite rusty when I got it, so today it came out of the stock for a thorough cleaning. The barreled action comes out of the stock by removing one nut on the bottom of the forearm and by removing the safety switch. To remove the switch, it must be turned toward SAFE while you push it out of the triggerguard. It will pop right out when you get it in the right position.
The broken safety has been pushed out, and the nut removed from the stock. That’s a new safety to the left of the broken one. The barreled action is now ready to come out of the stock.
Once the action was out of the stock, I could see that it was far rustier than I originally thought. The rust that could be seen when the rifle was intact was just surface rust, but the stock was hiding deep active rust that had to be removed.
This was under the stock — heavy, active rust that must be dealt with!
I used Ballistol and a special scrubbing pad I bought at a recent gun show. A friend of mine says this pad looks like a stainless steel pot scrubber. All I know is that it removes all the rust and doesn’t harm the blue.
I used Balistol in a spray bottle and a special metal scrubber to remove the rust.
I was surprised at how fast the rust was removed. In all, it probably took no longer than 15 minutes to completely clean all the metal parts.
With the gun finally clean, it was time to address the trigger. I mentioned in Part 1 that this trigger is one of the finest ever put on an inexpensive air rifle, and it can be adjusted to a very light, crisp pull. When I got the gun, the single-stage trigger had lots of creep and was breaking at 5 lbs., even. Something had to be done about that.
The Crosman 160 trigger is an adaptation of a 15th century crossbow trigger, where a rotating piece called a nut forms the sear that releases the hammer — in the case of the pellet rifle. The nut is a lever that’s shaped like a circle. It allows a small force (the sear) to overcome a greater force (the hammer spring) through leverage. No filing or stoning of the trigger contact surfaces is necessary, because the trigger doesn’t work like a conventional one.
From Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey’s book, “The Crossbow,” (published in 1903) this illustration of a 15th century crossbow nut shows how a great force can be overcome by a smaller one.
But the Crosman 160 trigger is more sophisticated than the crossbow trigger. It allows the adjustment of the sear contact area and also the point at which the trigger stops. This gives the shooter a safe trigger that breaks cleanly, yet feels like an expensive precision target trigger.
The trigger in the subject rifle was about as filthy as I’ve ever seen. This trigger has a sideplate that allows the user to watch the adjustments of the parts and even to cock and fire the trigger with the parts exposed. Normally, this sideplate keeps the parts inside pretty clean, but you can see from the photo what I saw inside this one.
I’ve removed the trigger unit from the action here. It isn’t necessary to do this, and in fact you must be able to cock the rifle when you adjust the trigger, so leave it connected. I did this for cleaning purposes.
Compare this photo to the previous graphic, and you’ll see all the important trigger parts. This is before cleaning. The rusty red part at the upper right is the nut that’s the sear.
I removed the trigger blade from the trigger assembly and cleaned it outside the trigger box, but all other parts were cleaned where they were situated. Ballistol on cotton swabs worked wonders at removing the rust, dust and dirt. And it left all the parts with a lubricated surface.
The two trigger adjustment screws were stuck in place by dried grease, so Ballistol had to dissolve that before I could clean the threads. The final touch was to apply moly grease to the mating surfaces of the trigger blade and the rotating nut that serves as the sear. Then it was time to adjust the trigger.
The first step was to back off the trigger return spring, which is located at the bottom rear of the trigger box. With this spring relaxed, you can feel the engagement of the sear much better.
Next, I adjusted the top screw, which adjusts the trigger/sear contact area. I set it very quickly because I’ve adjusted dozens of these triggers over the years and I know what they need. You may have to adjust the screw then cock the rifle and fire it several times to get the engagement you want. The engagement needed is very narrow, and it looks like the trigger is about to slip off the sear; so I always give the cocked rifle a bump test after adjusting the trigger, just to be safe. If I can’t jar the trigger off the sear, it’s safe.
The final screw to adjust is the trigger stop or overtravel screw. It stops the trigger blade after the sear has released, and the closer this is to the release point without impeding the trigger-pull, the better the trigger feels. Once the engagement area is okay, it’s easy to set this screw to stop the trigger immediately following trigger release.
With that done, I put the cover plate back on the trigger and shifted my attention to the S331 sight. By the way, Robert of Arcade explained in a comment that the S331 sight was actually made by Mossberg and not by Williams, as I originally said in Part 1. I changed the maker to Mossberg in Part 1, and now I’m telling you.
The rear sight on this rifle was loose when I examined it, so I removed it from the rifle and disassembled it for cleaning. Most of the parts are aluminum, but a couple are blued steel and suffered from rust to the point that there were pits left on their surfaces after the rust was removed. The detents are very crisp and easy to feel as you make the adjustments. This is a simple peep sight assembly, but it works very well and adjusts precisely, which is all you can ask of a sight.
Once the sight was clean and back on the rifle, I put the barreled action back into the stock. I had to use the old broken safety switch because the replacement I have is slightly too large to fit the hole. I’ll trim it down in a separate session so the gun has a complete safety switch. For now, I’ll just keep the rifle off safe.
How does it look?
Because the bulk of the deep rust lies below the stock line, the deep pits that appeared from cleaning do not show. What was above the stock line was mostly just surface rust that’s now completely gone. The metal on this rifle now appears to be 80 percent or better. The stock finish is still flaky and needs to be taken down all the way with sandpaper and reapplied, but it doesn’t detract from the rifle’s appearance.
And the trigger?
The trigger now breaks at one pound, even. It’s glass-crisp, and you would swear that it releases at just a couple ounces if you didn’t see the trigger-pull gauge. I think the owner will be amazed at the transformation this rifle has undergone.
Yet to come
I won’t bore you with the other mundane jobs like the safety and the stock finish, but I’ll test this rifle for accuracy. So, there’s one more report yet to come. We already know the velocity is in the right ballpark — 656 f.p.s. for a 14.2-grain Daisy pellet on a 90-degree day. But I want to show you the accuracy these old rifles can give with modern pellets.
by B.B. Pelletier
Jacque Ryder is this week’s BSOTW.
Fresh from the closet, another fine Crosman 160 emerges into daylight. We will watch this one blossom.
I was at the rifle range yesterday, and a friend delivered an air rifle that another friend had asked him to give me. It’s a Crosman 160, and that’s a classic air rifle that I’ve never reported in this blog, so here we go.
The Crosman 160 and 167 (.22 caliber and .177 caliber, respectively) was first produced in 1955 and lasted until 1972. There were several variations of the basic model over the years, but most airgunners rank them by their triggers. There was a very simple trigger in the first variation from 1955 through 1959, then Crosman put out a very special variation with a super-adjustable trigger in the guns made after 1959. The gun I’m testing has this wonderful trigger.
At some time in the 1960s, the Air Force bought a large number of 160s that were fitted with a Crosman S331 peep sight (made by Mossberg) and sling swivels that held a one-inch leather sling. As chance would have it, several hundred of these rifles were discovered unused in a government warehouse in Maryland or Virginia in the 1990s, and Edith and I bought one. It was brand new and still contained the original Crosman CO2 cartridges that had been used to test it at the factory. I knew they were original cartridges because they were sealed with the patent-dodging “bottlecap” tops Crosman had to use for several years. The end flap of the box had the Air Force Federal Stock Number for the gun, and everything inside the box was new and untouched.
Still rusty and dusty from long years of storage, the Crosman S331 peep sight is a great addition to this accurate target rifle.
I reported on that 160 in The Airgun Letter several times, but eventually I got rid of the rifle. And until yesterday, that was all I had to do with a Crosman 160.
A shooting friend of mine told me a couple months ago about an airgun he had, and from his description I guessed that it was a 160. Yesterday, he sent it to me so I could examine it and tell him what he has. Jose — I have your rifle, and it’s a Crosman 160!
Yours is the last variation they made, which in all ways is the best 160 model to have. It isn’t a former military model, because they all have sling swivels and your rifle has no evidence of ever having them. But you do have the adjustable trigger and the S331 peep sight.
Your rifle has a lot of surface rust that I’ll remove with Ballistol and a special scrubbing pad I’ll show you in the report. I’ll also open the sideplate on your adjustable trigger and clean and adjust it for you. If it’s like the other 160 triggers I’ve adjusted in the past, I should be able to get a glass-crisp trigger-pull of a little less than one pound. I think you’ll be surprised!
Back when these air rifles were new, people thought they were only capable of putting 5 shots into a quarter at 25 feet. What we didn’t appreciate back then were the poor pellets we used held us to that level. Once world-class pellets became available in the 1980s, everything changed and these rifles suddenly became capable of putting 10 shots inside a dime at 10 meters. That is — if they had a good barrel.
Crosman made the barrels for the 160s. When they were good, they were very good. But when they were bad, they were horrible! I’ve heard tales of barrels with only half their rifling and even some that had no rifling at all! It isn’t common, but it happened often enough that old Crosman collectors know about it.
Pellgunoil works, again!
I installed two fresh powerlets and a LOT of Crosman Pellegunoil, and the gun held gas. I then fired 5 shots at a 50-yard target, just to see what kind of barrel it had. I got a group of about 5 inches, but it was a windy day and all I was trying to do was see if the barrel was rifled or not. It is. When I shoot it for accuracy, this rifle should do very well.
The safety switch is broken, which means I’ll have to use pliers on it, because it’s key to disassembling the rifle. The good news is that some plastic aftermarket safety switches exist and I may be able to locate one.
The big problem with a 160 is that it uses gas like a Hummer towing a house trailer! Typically, the two CO2 cartridges give about 30-35 good shots before they give out. Since they cost at least 50 cents apiece, a 160 can cost more than a .22 rimfire shooting good ammunition.
The solution is to convert the rifle to bulk-fill operations. That reduces the gas cost per fill to around 5-7 cents per fill. You still get the same number of shots and the same velocity, but the operating cost is much lower. Of course, you have to have all the equipment that’s needed for bulk-fill to do this, and that does cost some money.
Most 160s I’ve tested pushed 14.3-grain pellets out the spout at between 600 and 630 f.p.s. on an 80-deg. F day. It was about 90 when I shot through the chronograph at the range and the 14.2-grain Daisy pointed pellet (very similar to the current Precision Max) went through the Oehler skyscreens at 656 f.p.s. — right on the money! The rifle can be souped up a just a bit, but at the cost of increased gas usage. There’s really no convenient way around that.
By contrast, the Crosman 180 was a single-cartridge rifle that shot a .22-caliber pellet at around 575 f.p.s. and got about 40 good shots per cartridge. It was the favorite of many shooters. But the Air Force obviously didn’t care about how much CO2 they used, and the slightly more powerful 160 also had a better stock, a longer barrel and better sights. It was the obvious choice for a target rifle. I feel the procuring agency must have bought the gun, not so much for its accuracy but more for its much safer operation when compared to a standard .22 rimfire that was the normal target rifle of the time. A pellet rifle range could be set up safely in a gym, where a rimfire range required more safety measures.
The Crosman 160 is a .22-caliber single-shot CO2 rifle. It cocks on closing the bolt. It needs two CO2 cartridges to operate, though it will work with just one at lower velocity and with fewer shots.
The rifle weighs 6 lbs. and is 39-1/2 inches long. The barrel is 21 inches. The pull is 14-1/4 inches.
The rifle is mostly blued steel in a solid wood stock. The metal was not highly polished and I’ve always thought that the wood stock was some very clever kind of laminate, since it shows more grain than I think it should. I will show you the detail and let you be the judge.
The stock sure looks like a laminate to me.
I plan to clean the metal of this rifle and preserve it with Ballistol. I’ll open the sideplate of the trigger and show you the inner workings, then I’ll adjust the trigger to get it working as fine as I can.
Next, I’ll test the rifle for velocity with several pellets. I’ll also get a shot count for you.
Finally, I’ll shoot the rifle for accuracy at 10 meters with several pellets. I’ve examined the barrel, and the bore appears sparkling clean. The rifling is deep and everything looks okay. We should have some fun with this one.
Jose, you have a very nice air rifle, here. I hope you enjoy this report!
by B.B. Pelletier
Redemption is a powerful experience, because it comes only after suffering and anguish. Redemption is what I longed for with the Nelson Lewis combination gun and with my Ballard rifle. Today, however, I’m going to talk about another redemption — that of the Winchester M14 dual-ammo rifle.
In Part 1, we learned that this rifle is nearly all plastic — which for many, including me, is a put-off. We also learned that it uses two 12-gram CO2 cartridges instead of one, and that assaulted the the miser in all of us. Accuracy is the only thing that would make it worth the extra cost.
When we looked at the velocity in Part 2, we discovered that the rifle does not begin to achieve the advertised velocity of 700 f.p.s. That’s not a bad thing, except it leaves us disappointed from unrealized expectations. The velocity should prove high enough, though, as long as the rifle is accurate — which brings us to today’s test. Part 3 — accuracy day.
The Winchester M14 is both a BB gun and a pellet rifle, so I had to test the accuracy of both types of projectiles. BBs get tested at the standard 5 meters (just over 16 feet) distance, while pellets were shot at 10 meters. And each target got 8 shots instead of 10 because of the capacity of the circular clip at either end of the stick magazine. Trying to load just two more of anything in one of these clips is annoying and troublesome at the least.
So, it was BBs first, as they’re shot at the closer distance. I shot the rifle using Daisy zinc-plated BBs offhand at 16.5 feet.
I left the sights as they came out of the box. With a 6 o’clock hold, the first BB struck the target at the exact aim point, so I stopped checking and fired 7 more shots. This rifle is super-easy to shoot, as there’s nothing to do but pull the trigger. The cocking and advancement of the cylinder are all taken care of by the gun. And as light as the rifle is, it’s easy to hold it on target for all 8 shots.
After the clip was empty, I walked up to the target to see the results, which is when the word “redemption” came into my thoughts. The group is very round and measures 0.532 inches between centers! This is a group I might shoot with a Daisy 499 Champion — the world’s most accurate BB gun. I’ve never shot a group this small with any other long BB gun, that I can remember.
What if it was just a fluke? What if the next 8 BBs went into a group twice the size? Only one way to find out. I shot a second group. This time, it was positively fun — as the confidence of an accurate gun poured over me! I adjusted the rear peep up three clicks and shot again.
The second group was easier to shoot because I now knew the gun was accurate. I only hoped I could repeat what had been done before. Alas, that didn’t happen, as the second group was smaller than the first. Eight shots went into a group measuring 0.472 inches!
Here’s a BB gun that rivals the most accurate BB gun ever made! And this one has M14 sights that encourage target shooting. Look at the center of the second group. It’s just a little higher than group one, which is exactly how the sights were adjusted.
Now I moved back to 10 meters where I could shoot pellets from a rest. Again all the groups will have 8 pellets because of the mag capacity. The rifle was rested on a sandbag positioned under the forearm just in front of the magazine that hangs down. Although this rifle is very light, I found it to be very steady in the rested position, and the trigger-pull did not disturb the aim point.
The first pellet I tried was that champion of lower-powered spring guns — the JSB Exact RS that Kevin turned me on to. It struck the target higher than the BBs, but did not group very well. Eight pellets made a group measuring 1.384 inches between centers. That’s not good for 10 meters.
I followed the JSB pellet with our new friend — the H&N Baracuda Green that we’re learning to love. As light as it is, I wondered if it might be suited to the lower power this rifle generates. Apparently it is, because 8 of them went into a tight group that measured 0.739 inches. This is only 10 meters; but if you look at this group, I’m sure you’ll see the potential the rifle promises.
Next up were some H&N Match Pistol pellets. I chose them for no special reason, other than I am trying to mix up the pellets I usually test with. They printed a group that measures 0.694 inches between centers — so just a little smaller than the Baracuda Greens. The rifle just keeps on doing better!
The final pellet I tried was an RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet. This pellet is among the best target pellets I have available, and I wanted to see what it could do in this rifle. The 8-shot group measures 0.722 inches across, so it’s between the Baracuda Greens and the H&N Match Pistol pellets.
Do you notice we have three groups that are very similar in size? I think the rifle is capable of this level of accuracy all day long, and perhaps there’s another pellet I haven’t tried that’s even better. The gun shoots easily and very much resembles a fine target rifle when I shoot it. The sights are easy to see, and very crisp, plus they seem to adjust with precision.
As I shot this rifle I thought of blog reader Matt61 and his new Garand. Here’s an apartment-sized airgun that he could use to keep his skills sharpened for those days when he can’t get out to the range with the large firearm.
I was also reminded of when I was a youngster, shooting the NRA’s beginner training course. There’s virtually no resemblance between this rifle and the Winchester 52, but the shooting experience seems so similar that it’s scary. I understand why all those customer reviews have praised the accuracy so highly, and also why they’ve forgiven the plastic and light weight for the most part. The Winchester M14 has redeemed itself in my eyes!
The last word
I used the Winchester Airgun Target Cube to stop the BBs and pellets fired in this test. Because this rifle shoots faster than 350 f.p.s., the cube was turned to the side for higher-velocity rounds. As before, the cube caught all BBs and pellets with no mess and nothing got through. I will continue to report on the performance of this cube backstop as I use it in future tests, with an eye to discovering just what it will take.
by B.B. Pelletier
Let’s test the velocity of the Winchester M14 dual-ammo rifle. Of course, I’ll test it with both BBs and lead pellets. This rifle is a semiautomatic 8-shot repeater powered by 2 CO2 cartridges. Someone made a comment that referred to the rifle having blowback action, but I want to clear that up — it doesn’t. Yes, the action operates by CO2 power and really is semiautomatic; but no — there’s no sensation of blowback, and nothing moves when the rifle fires.
You do have to pull the “bolt” back to cock the rifle before the first shot. It’s not really a bolt — just a plastic cover to hide the metal internal parts of the firing mechanism. But the act of pulling it back is realistic.
The stick mag has an 8-shot rotary clip on each end. After firing 8 shots, you pop it out and reverse it for another 8. Then, you must reload the magazine. I see no reason why you can’t carry additional loaded magazines, as long as you take some care to keep them clean. They do have moving parts that affect their function, so these parts have to be able to move or the gun will jam.
I tested the rifle with Daisy zinc-plated BBs first, and discovered that the rotary clips have a magnet inside to hold the BBs in place. Because the chambers in the clips are for .177 pellets, they’re too large for BBs — which are .173-caliber. But the magnets securely hold the BBs in place.
BBs averaged 560 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 546 to a high of 580 f.p.s. That’s a pretty broad spread for a CO2 gun. It’s also 140 f.p.s. slower than the advertised top velocity of 700 f.p.s., which surprised me, because the BBs are very light and are possibly the fastest projectiles this gun can shoot. This BB weighs 5.1 grains and generates 3.55 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, on average.
The stick mag dropped out of position two times during the test, which entailed just over 40 shots. I’ll chalk that up to my not seating it correctly for now, but it’s something I plan to watch as the test progresses. I note that there’s a click deep inside the gun that must be heard to know the magazine is seated correctly.
The first pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS. As light as this domed pellet is, I felt it would compliment the power of this airgun well.
This 7.33-grain lead pellet averaged 519 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 507 to a high of 542 f.p.s. At the average velocity, it generated 4.39 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
Next, I loaded RWS Hobby pellets. At just seven grains, I expected them to be the velocity champs among the pellets, but they turned in a disappointing average of 491 f.p.s. The spread, however, ranged from a low of 443 f.p.s. to a high of 532 f.p.s., indicating the gun was running out of gas. This was after fewer than 30 shots had been fired! Well, it’s possible that I shot it more times while writing Part 1 and just didn’t remember it.
I installed two new CO2 cartridges; and as the old ones were expelled, they both lost a lot of gas. The rifle was not firing at this point, so a lot of gas was being wasted. I kept track of each shot these new cartridges gave, so I could report the total shot count.
With the new cartridges in place Hobbys gave an average 549 f.p.s. The spread, though, was still very large, extending from a low of 507 to a high of 592. Since the first four shots also expelled a cloud of CO2 vapor, I know they were artificially higher than the average, which was more in the 520 f.p.s. region.
I don’t know what to make of these velocity numbers. Clearly, Hobbys were all over the place, depending on how new the CO2 cartridge was. I would guess their average is really closer to 520 f.p.s., which would give them an average muzzle energy of 4.2 foot-pounds.
I must also note that Hobbys were too large to seat in the chambers of the circular clip easily. I had to use the Air Venturi PellSet to get them into each chamber far enough for the clip to rotate freely. Perhaps, that might explain their erratic behavior.
The next pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain dome. These averaged 472 f.p.s. in the M14, and the velocity spread went from 457 to 482 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet averaged 3.91 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
I mentioned in Part 1 that I felt the trigger was close to a military pull. Well, it breaks at an average 6 lbs., 5 oz., so it’s just a little heavier than the standard 5-lb. military pull. The pull is a little creepy, but it’s not bad. I will probably have more to say about it after the accuracy test.
Shots per fill
We’re using two CO2 cartridges in this rifle. So how many shots does that give? I disregarded the early cartridge swap and started counting after the new cartridges were installed.
I got a total of 112 shots before feeling it was necessary to change the cartridge. That’s a good number for everything else this gun does. Let me tell you how it went.
I used mostly JSB Exact RS pellets for this test, so I could see where the power was at any given time. After the first 40 shots, the gun no longer shot above 500 f.p.s. It stayed around 470 until shot 88; but if several shots were fired quickly in a row without giving the gun time to warm up again, the velocity dipped down to almost 400 f.p.s. Stop shooting a minute, though, and it’s back to 470 with the RS pellet.
After shot 88, the rifle dropped below 400 f.p.s. for the first time and started slowing down. If 5 shots were fired rapidly the velocity at the end was only 312 f.p.s. After shot 104, the gun was always in the 300s. I stopped at shot 112 because I felt the gun could jam if I went too much farther. Shot 112 was fired after a minute’s pause and went 335 f.p.s.
Impressions so far
This rifle is turning out to be somewhat different than I thought at the beginning. It isn’t as consistent as I’d hoped. It suffers too much velocity loss from the cooling effect as the gun shoots. That will be expressed as vertical stringing on any targets. The best accuracy will come by pausing a minute between shots.
Accuracy is next. I am very curious as to what we will see.
by B.B. Pelletier
I told you I would review the Winchester M14 dual-ammo rifle as soon as it came in. Well, the package arrived last week and today I’ll begin my report.
This M14 is able to fire both BBs and pellets from its 16-shot magazine. The mag is a long stick with an 8-shot rotating clip on either end. After 8 shots have been fired, the magazine has to be removed and inverted to position the next 8 shots.
The rifle is powered by two 12-gram CO2 cartridges that fit in an assembly that also holds the stick magazine. This entire assembly fits into a fixed box “magazine” that extends down from the bottom of the action and cannot be removed. The bottom of the gas assembly matches the fixed box and lengthens the overall magazine look. A hole in the bottom of the assembly allows the stick mag to be removed when it need to be inverted, and a small button in the fixed box releases just the stick mag.
This photo shows the stick mag protruding from the bottom of the gas assembly and the gas assembly coming out of the bottom of the fixed box that’s attached to the rifle. To remove the charged gas assembly, both a lever and a second button (located below the primary lever) must be pushed. The gas assembly comes out of the gun under pressure, so don’t do this unless it’s necessary!
The fact that the rifle uses two CO2 cartridges concerns me because they’re costly — more so than the pellets. Given the muzzle velocity of an advertised 700 f.p.s., I would expect to get 45-50 shots from a single cartridge, so I’m hoping to see at least 90 shots from this rifle before it’s time to replace the cartridges.
It’s a rifle!
I will cover loading the mag and charging the gun in Part 2. Right now, I want to continue to describe the rifle. First of all — it is, indeed, a rifle. It has a rifled steel barrel that can also tolerate steel BBs, so either ammunition can be safely used. When I do accuracy testing, I’ll test one type of ammo at a time. I don’t want to rush this test because so many readers have indicated an interest.
Lots of plastic
When I first took the rifle from its box, the term “plastic-y” immediately came to mind. Without the gas/magazine assembly installed, the rifle is very lightweight due to a hollow plastic stock and external parts made of mostly plastic. The pull length seems about right, at 13-1/8 inches. And the shape and size of the stock seem the same as the M14 I remember — though I’m remembering something from 43 years ago.
In my opinion, the shape and realism of the airgun trumps the light weight and overly plastic nature. I learned to love the Crosman 1077, once it showed me accuracy that topped many premium European spring rifles. That’s what this Winchester has to do, too.
For those readers who are only familiar with the AR-style of rifle, this M14 has a far more conventional feel when you shoulder it. The AR pistol grip that’s too close to the trigger for almost every shooter is replaced with a more conventional pistol grip and reach to the trigger blade. And your cheek will find a nice resting spot on the broad buttstock instead of on some spindly tube. This is a feel I personally prefer.
The action and trigger
The box says this is a “semiautomatic.” And this time they’re right — it really is! Instead of a double-action revolver mechanism in disguise, this M14 really does operate semi-automatically. I don’t know how they managed it, but they put a pretty nice military trigger-pull into this rifle, too. Those two things plus the sights will put it over the top if it’s accurate.
The safety is exactly like the one on an M14, only almost everyone will be able to work this one with their trigger finger! It’s smooth and positive, yet requires very little pressure to move in either direction.
The sights are very correct, and if you’ve never experienced a Garand or M14/M1A, this air rifle provides a cheap way of seeing the same thing. And the rear peep sight is adjustable in both directions, exactly the same as military sights, with one exception. The windage knob on my test rifle is very stiff, and sometimes I have to help it by pushing the sight carrier to the right to free it for an adjustment. I think this will wear in. My fear is that it may also wear out, because all I can see and touch is plastic. I sure hope the detents inside the sight are steel.
Anyone who has ever owned a Garand will love the ease with which the elevation on this Winchester adjusts. Once the sight is where you want it, though, it stays put.
There’s currently no possibility of mounting a scope on this rifle. And don’t try to equate it to a genuine M14 or Garand that can be scoped, because those guns have steel receivers to accept scope base screws. This rifle’s receiver is plastic, so there’s nothing to drill into to mount the base.
Don’t let that bother you, however, because this type of sight was one of the reasons the Garand was celebrated as the finest battle rifle of World War II. It’s easy to use and very precise. If this rifle is accurate, the sights will do nothing but compliment it.
The rifle comes with sling swivels, and I am glad that no sling was provided. I say that because the type of sling that would have been selected is a cheap black nylon strap with toy-like thinness. If you want a sling, get a real one! The sling swivels appear to be well-anchored and look like they will even tolerate a hasty sling hold. Former military will know what that means. The rest of you should look it up on the internet.
The bottom line
Many of you reacted to the realistic look of this gun and asked me to review it. I now have one in my hands and I’ve told you how it feels and looks in person. In spite of the toy-like feel of the gun, the M14 genes carry through strongly, and I can’t wait to shoot it. If it proves as accurate as it looks and feels, this will be a rifle that doesn’t go back to Pyramyd Air!
by B.B. Pelletier
Before we begin today, I wanted to remind you of the 2nd Annual Airgun Extravaganza in Malvern, Arkansas. It’s being held on Friday and Saturday, April 15 & 16. Contact Seth Rowland for more infomation.
Seth has made a deal with a couple motels. Mention the show and you’ll get a discount:
Comfort Inn Malvern, 501-467-3300: Thurs. $55, Fri. $65 Holiday Inn Malvern, 501-467-8800: Thurs. $85, Fri. $90
Make reservations now because they may fill up since the show’s being held on the same weekend as the Arkansas Derby. I have two tables reserved, and the Lord willing I’ll be there with Mac.
Now, for today’s report. From time to time, I’m asked to verify some facts by testing airguns in a certain way. Reader Victor questioned the accuracy claim for the Tech Force 79 Competition Rifle in the last report, and rightly so. It said the rifle is capable of a 5-shot group measuring 0.08 inches at 10 meters — something that the world’s top 10-meter rifles of today still struggle to achieve. I reckoned that the number had been mistakenly carried over at Compasseco in the past from the Chinese BS-4 target rifle that is a near-perfect copy of the FWB 300. That one really was capable of stunning accuracy. When Pyramyd Air purchased Compasseco, they used that description and this detail was never questioned. Given the large number of products that had to be added to Pyramyd Air’s website, it’s easy to see why not.
However, my struggles with the TF-79 during accuracy testing caused Pyramyd Air’s leadership to examine the rifle more critically, and this past week I was asked to establish a new accuracy figure for the rifle — one that’s realistic. Also, one that we know can be obtained. Since I spent an entire morning testing this rifle again, I darned sure was going to get a blog out of it!
I already had a great target from the RWS R-10 Match Heavy pellets. I showed it to you in the last accuracy report, so it became the group to beat. Remember, I’m testing just one rifle. Others may be more accurate and some may be less accurate, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. No dealer can give you absolute accuracy information for every rifle with every possible target pellet. It simply takes too long. Even the $3,000 rifles are tested with only one pellet. To do otherwise would add hundreds of dollars to the cost of the gun, and would still be meaningless, since at any time a better pellet could come along.
Lest any of you get on the “machine rest” bandwagon at this point, that’s not how 10-meter guns are tested at any factory. They’re tested by human shooters, shooting off a rest. The one time I actually used a machine rest (a heavy machinist’s vise) was at AirForce, testing the Edge, and the results were no better than if I’d held the rifle myself. So, get off the machine rest/vise kick. It just isn’t done in the real world in the interest of time, and it isn’t necessary.
Having said all that from my bully pulpit, I also must admit that the people who test 10-meter rifles at the factories in Germany and Austria are the closest thing to vices that still have a heartbeat. They get real good at what they do, and you can see it in the tiny groups they send with their rifles. On the other hand, I’m just an average joe. I know how to shoot. When I get in the zone, I can even shoot pretty well. But I’m not the equal of the guys who test Olympic-grade 10-meter rifles for a living.
For this test, I had to get into the zone and stay there throughout the test. And THAT, my friends, is where the value of shooting the Ballard .38-55 centerfire target rifle comes in! You may recall that in my last outing to the range, I discovered the zone for the Ballard, and the last two targets showed it most dramatically. With that experience fresh in my mind, it was easy to get into the zone with the TF-79. I think you’ll see that my results prove it.
The target to beat is the best one I shot in the last test. That was with RWS R-10 Match Heavy pellets and measured 0.244 inches across the centers.
Pyramyd Air asked me to do a comprehensive test of H&N target pellets (they’re the U.S. importer). I did test other pellets, as well, but 14 groups of H&N pellets were fired during this test. All pellet head sizes of every pellet used in this test were 4.50mm. While other sizes exist, nearly everything I have on hand has that same head size. The JSB S100 pellet (4.52mm head) that I tested in this rifle in the last test made a poor showing. I’m thinking this may be the best head size for this rifle. That’s just a guess, since there’s simply not enough time to test all of the 50+ tins of target pellets I have on hand.
H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets
First, I tested H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets. I thought they might be the most accurate because of their weight of almost 8.2 grains. The TF79 is a powerful 10-meter rifle and needs (may need?) a heavier pellet to gain consistency.
All my guessing turned out to be wrong. The H&N Match Rifle pellet had a wider spread of accuracy than some others. It averages 0. 33825 inches for five groups. That’s not a great showing in light of what was to come.
H&N Finale Pistol Match
H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets were next — and they surprised me.
The average of all four H&N Finale Match Pistol targets was 0.31775 inches. That’s significantly better and more uniform than the Finale Match Rifle pellets. Even though the Finale Match Rifle pellets had the single best group of the session, all of the Finale Match Pistol pellet groups were better than all but two of the five Finale Match Rifle groups.
H&N Match Pistol pellets
Next I tried H&N Match Pistol pellets. They lack the Finale name and are a couple dollars cheaper per tin, so I assume they’re made with less precision.
As you can see, the targets of the H&N Match Pistol pellets varied widely in accuracy. They averaged 0.39567 inches for all groups shot.
I also shot a special hunting pellet that’s currently a secret but will be revealed soon. I’ve been testing this pellet under various different circumstances, and in this test it surprised me by turning in the second-best group of the entire test!
A surprise was this single group of five special hunting pellets that averaged 0.279 inches between centers.
I won’t tell you what pellet is is, yet. When it comes to market, I’ll direct your attention back to this group.
The bottom line of this test is that the TF79 shoots pretty much the same as I tested it last time. By concentrating on H&N pellets, I did manage to show their performance in far greater detail. The RWS R10 pellets are still the best in this particular rifle, and 0.244 inches is still the best group I’ve shot with it. I did shoot one group of R10 pellets in this test and got a group measuring 0.30 inches between centers, so it’s still a very consistent performer.
I was entirely in the zone throughout the test, and only one target had to be thrown out because of technical difficulties (sighting variations) that were noted. So, we’re going to show the potential accuracy of this rifle to be 0.244 inches. Some may be better than that, of course, and others may not be as good.
Also, you get a bonus out of this. After this exhaustive test, I got out four vintage world-class 10-meter air rifles and went to town, just to make sure I still know how to shoot air rifles. You’ll get to see the results of that on Friday.