Posts Tagged ‘Hawke Optics 4.5-14×42AO Sidewinder Tactical Rifle Scope’
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!