Posts Tagged ‘precharged pneumatics’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I was all set to report the velocity of the .22-caliber Hatsan AT P1 PCP air pistol, when I discovered that there’s more I need to know about this airgun. I’d like to thank those who’ve been waiting patiently for this second report. I stalled for a long time because Hatsan uses a proprietary quick-fill probe. That means I have to undo one of my more universal fill connectors to attach their probe. Thankfully, the threads on their probe are standard 1/8″ BSPP that connect to most air hoses coming from tanks and hand pumps these days (I can still remember when that wasn’t true!), but I was working on both the Condor SS and the twist-rate report and needed a fill device for both of those. In the end, I pressed my Hill pump into service, and it proved to be a great way to fill the AT P1 pistol.
The first problem I encountered was with the 10-shot rotary clip — but I want to stress that it wasn’t the pistol’s fault. It was mine. I tried loading 28.4-grain Eun Jin domes that looked like they fit the clip well, but proved to be too long and jammed the gun.
Because they were the first pellet I tried, I thought the gun might be broken until it dawned on me that the pellets were the problem. Once I changed to Crosman Premiers, the gun functioned perfectly and there were no more cocking or feeding problems.
Rotary clips are sensitive to the length of pellets. If they stick out on either side of the clip, that can cause the gun to jam, as this Hatsan did. So, when selecting pellets for a rotary clip, keep this in mind. I chose the Eun Jin pellet for the weight. I thought it would allow this powerful pistol to develop its maximum power, but I went too far.
Removable air reservoir
In Part 1, I completely neglected to mention this pistol has a removable air reservoir. I saw the degassing tool in the tool kit and knew that it could only be used on the other (hidden) end of the reservoir, but for some reason I didn’t think to mention it.
Of course, the reason for a removable tank is so you can carry extra charged tanks in the field. Each one will give you more shots. I don’t think this is such a great feature after you learn how many shots you can get on a fill, but the choice is yours. At least Hatsan gives you the option.
Shots per fill
This will be the remainder of the report because I discovered during velocity testing that the AT P1 pistol has a very specific power curve. It’s not an inverted bathtub curve — where the velocity rises to the optimum level and remains there for a number of shots before falling back down again. Instead, the velocity rises, peaks and drops instantly. The curve looks like a peaked mountain with no flat spot at the top.
The manual says to fill to 3,000 psi and that there are 35 useful shots per fill. Several readers expressed doubts that the 50cc reservoir held enough air to give 35 powerful shots, and I agreed with them. If this was a target pistol, then 35 shots would be very possible; but at the power Hatsan claims, which is a .22-caliber pellet traveling 780 f.p.s. at the muzzle, it seems impossible to get 35 good shots on so little air. And, indeed, it isn’t.
My first fill was higher than 3,000 psi, and the velocity was depressed for many shots. When it did rise, it did so in a straight up and straight down fashion. There was no group of shots going at similar velocities. This told me I needed to control the fill very carefully.
I also noticed that the pistol fell off the power curve with about 1,800 psi remaining in the reservoir. But I didn’t stop shooting there. I stopped with about 1,500 psi remaining in the reservoir. From this test, I was able to determine that the pistol used about 62.5 psi per shot. I did that with a chronograph and with an accurate pressure gauge on the hand pump. The pressure gauge that’s built into the test pistol’s reservoir reads several hundred psi too low to be of much use.
I know how much air is in the reservoir when I start shooting because that’s what the pump’s gauge reads when I stop filling. I know how much air is in the reservoir when I stop shooting because that’s the spot on the gauge where the reservoir inlet valve is overcome by pressure during the next fill — you can see this when the gauge needle clicks at the opening of the inlet valve.
It took 1.5 pump strokes per shot, so refilling the reservoir went very quick. That’s why I believe the Hill pump is the best way to go, and the possibility of spare reservoirs isn’t worth the effort.
The shot count test
The next test I conducted began with a fill to exactly 3,000 psi on the hand pump’s pressure gauge. I used Crosman Premier pellets, exclusively for this test. I’ll give you the velocity readings and then interpret them afterward.
I’m not going to give you an average for this string because I don’t know which shots you want to consider as the good shots. Clearly, the pistol was slower at 3,000 psi on the hand pump gauge. And, remember, this is with the more accurate hand-pump gauge. The pistol’s built-in gauge was still showing about 2,700 psi at this point. Either way, there’s too much air pressure in the gun because the valve isn’t opening as long as it should, as evidenced by lower velocities.
Let’s say I like 761 f.p.s. for the first shot. If you agree, then the first 5 shots in this string were wasted. At 62.5 psi per shot, the gun was overfilled by 312.5 psi when it was filled to 3,000 psi. Since these gauges don’t read that accurately, let’s round that back to 300 psi overfill and say I need to stop filling the reservoir when the pressure gauge reads 2,700 psi.
If you select a different velocity as the start point of the shot string, then the beginning fill pressure will need to be adjusted accordingly. This is why I am not giving you an average velocity today. I can give average velocities, but before I do you need to know what is behind my numbers, because this pistol operates within narrow limits.
If I take the second reading of 761 f.p.s. as the ending shot in the string, there are a total of 7 good shots in the string. I think that’s probably too restrictive, and I need to expand my velocity variation allowance. If I allow a velocity variation of 74 f.p.s. between the fastest and slowest shots in the string, I can get 16 good shots on a fill and can start the fill at exactly 3,000 psi.
Do you see how I’m doing that? I’m using the chronograph numbers and accepting all shots until the pistol no longer drives Crosman Premiers out the muzzle at a velocity of greater than 700 f.p.s. My choices are arbitrary; but until I make them, I can say nothing about the shot count of this pistol
Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. Whatever I select as the acceptable velocity variation, I can say with certainty that this air pistol can never get 35 useful shots on a single fill. Where I draw the line is my choice, of course. If I want to shoot groups at 50 yards, the variation has to be tighter than if I want to hunt with the pistol out to 30 yards. Do you see how the anticipated use of the gun drives the useful number of shots you’re going to get?
When you change the clip, the gun must be cocked to pull the loading probe back out of the clip. Then, the clip’s axle must also be withdrawn to the front of the gun and held out of the way. That’s a separate brass bolt on the right side of the gun. The clips come out and go back in easily enough when these things are done.
Here you see the bolt probe that pushes the pellet into the barrel (brass pin in the clip recess) and the brass clip axle (the head is a brass knob) that’s been withdrawn to the front of the gun to remove the clip.
This gun is LOUD! I had to wear electronic ear protectors when testing it in my office. And although my office door was closed, my wife, Edith, remarked on the loud discharge when I was finished.
In the next report, I’ll test the pistol with several good pellets and give you some of the velocity data you’re used to seeing. But when I do, you’ll know what’s behind my numbers.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’m starting a long report about an air rifle that comes up in conversation all the time — the Benjamin Marauder. I use it as a standard for comparison to most other air rifles in its class; though, to be honest, there are no other air rifles that are in its class. They may have some of the same features, but no other air rifle on the market has everything that the Marauder has.
It’s very significant that the Marauder occupies the top position on the Pyramyd Air search page for precharged pneumatic (PCP) air rifles when you sort for the most popular models. Even though it costs more than the Benjamin Discovery, which was created to be the entry-level gun for those coming into PCPs for the first time, the Marauder out-sells the less expensive airgun. And with all that it has to offer, the Marauder is still a blistering bargain…not only among PCPs, but among the larger category of fine air riflesin general.
This is not my first report on the Marauder, or, as the insider jargonists have named it, the M-Rod. Way back in 2009, I did a 5-part report on this .177 rifle as it was first launched. Back then, the airgun community was just starting to get used to the idea that Crosman could build precharged airguns instead of buying them from other manufacturers and slapping their name on it. The Benjamin Discovery that the slangsters have shortened to Disco was their first attempt at building a PCP here in the United States, and they were so careful with the launch that they hit a home run the first time at bat. But the Marauder was the rifle they really wanted to build. And, with it, they knocked the ball out of the park!
When the Discovery was in development, Crosman engineers knew shooters were going to want a match-type trigger, a baffled barrel and superior accuracy. I argued that we first needed to get our production feet wet with a simpler design that had fewer technical challenges to build. As things evolved over time, we were both right. Building the Discovery first gave Crosman’s East Bloomfield plant the time it needed to ramp up a precharged pneumatic assembly line and to learn all the sensitive issues involved with building PCPs. But the customers really did want all the bells and whistles on their guns; so when the Marauder came out, the company was praised for finally getting it right.
As it turns out, there are actually two distinctly different motivations for buying these rifles. The Discovery is what you buy when you want to save every last penny and still get into precharged airgunning with a brand new airgun, while the Marauder is the one that’s bought for all its features. Sometimes, these are two entirely different customers; and other times, they’re the same customer but at different times in their airgunning journeys. Whatever the psychology, each model compliments the other one, and neither would be as successful by itself.
I’ve always believed that a company needs high-performance models to encourage timid buyers to purchase their more mundane products. That’s why the automobile industry pours millions of dollars into NASCAR — so that mom and dad can feel special while driving their ordinary wheels to soccer practice and to work. Remember this — most Range Rovers never leave the pavement — despite the fact that they can.
But Crosman has taken this marketing strategy one important extra step. They’ve built a high-performance PCP and held the cost to a fraction of what others charge for airguns of lesser capability. It’s like Ferrari is making a sports car that retails for under $30,000. The dinosaurs will claim that it can’t be done, yet here’s the Benjamin Marauder, proving it can.
This rifle deserves a second report because we keep bumping into it as we look at other airguns. It’s often held as the standard against which other air rifles are compared. So, it’s time to look at the rifle in its own light to see if all the hype is deserved.
As an interesting side note, I have not shot this rifle since June 2009, and it’s still holding air. I’m mentioning that because a lot of people talk about how these PCPs don’t hold their charge.
I also tested a .25-caliber Marauder air rifle, and that coincided with my illness and hopitalization. My good friend Mac had to step in and finish that test for me in 2010.
One last footnote before I talk about the gun. There’s a new synthetic Marauder coming out, and I’m going to get one to test for you. This is going to be a very thorough look at the M-Rod family.
The Marauder is a PCP repeater that comes in .177, .22 and .25 calibers. The .177 that I’m testing now holds 10 shots in the rotary clip. The .22-caliber rifle has the same number, but the big .25 caliber drops to 8 pellets.
The barrel is shrouded so successfully that the Marauder is held up as the standard for what a quiet PCP should be. Of course, you can make it even quieter with certain aftermarket modifications. But as it comes from the box, it’s quieter than 90 percent of the comparable PCPs on the market. The shroud gives the appearance of a bull barrel, which is pleasing to most shooters. But the real 20-inch barrel is located deep inside the shroud.
The stock is beech with a conventional shape. It’s thick through most dimensions. The fact that it encloses the rear of the reservoir tube means that it’s a trifle thick through the forearm. It really isn’t that wide; but it looks like it is, and that’s the impression most people have of the rifle — that it’s larger than it really is. In fact, it weighs only a trifle over 7 lbs., depending on the wood weight, and is actually a fairly lightweight air rifle.
The pistol grip is contoured nicely for right-hand and left-hand shooters, alike, with a hint of a palm swell on either side. The cheekpiece rises high enough to naturally bring your eye up to the eyepiece of the scope. The bolt handle located on the right is perhaps the one thing lefties will find objectionable.
The rifle is finished with a matte finish overall. The metal parts are a pleasing dark gray, and the wood has a satin sheen. It looks like it was designed for hunters by hunters, and the presence of detachable sling swivel studs is proof of that.
No sights come on the rifle because the shooter is expected to mount a scope. The 11mm scope base on the receiver stands above the barrel, so there will be good clearance for a large objective lens; but the circular clip protrudes above the top of the receiver, forcing you to use rings that raise it high enough to clear. You almost have to use a 2-piece mount, although it would be possible to use a cantilevered 1-piece mount that reaches over the clip. I’m telling you that you need to think about the scope and mount more carefully than with some other rifles.
The rifle is filled through a male Foster quick-disconnect nipple that has a 2-micron filter inside to stop dirt from entering the reservoir. This type of fitting is nearly universal these days, and it’s one of the pleasing features that all Crosman-made PCPs share.
The Marauder’s trigger is adjustable in ways the triggers on guns costing twice as much cannot equal. You control the first-stage and second-stage lengths, the weight of the let-off and even the position of the trigger blade when it’s at rest. The trigger releases with a light and crisp second stage that’s worthy of the title match trigger. I’ll discuss the trigger more in a future report.
The user can adjust the rifle’s power, within limits. But this is not a simple adjustment that acts just on the hammer spring, alone. Both the hammer-spring tension, or preload, and the hammer-stroke length are adjustable. You control both how hard the hammer strikes the valve stem and also how far it can push it. This gives you fine control over the rifle’s power output, but it’s a procedure that requires the use of a chronograph and balancing between the spring tension and the hammer-stroke travel. I’ll have more to say about this in a future report.
Adjustable fill pressure
I know of no other PCP that has the ability to adjust the maximum fill pressure of the gun. You’re actually controlling the volume of air that can flow through the valve when the hammer’s struck. This has to be done in conjunction with the power adjustment to be fully effective. If not done correctly, you could have a situation where the fill pressure restricts the possible top power the rifle can generate, rather than the hammer stroke and spring tension. I’ll talk more about this in a future report.
Marauders have a well-deserved reputation for accuracy. We’ll test that, of course; and in the years since the rifle was tested last, a number of good pellets have become available. This should be an interesting update for all of us.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is a guest blog from reader /Dave. He’s going to tell us about his recent experience with a fine precharged pneumatic (PCP) air rifle.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.
Take it away, /Dave.
Most of you know me as /Dave. I used to be known here as Shooter, until someone was nice enough to recommend the movie of the same name to me. I immediately changed to /Dave because I’m simply not, and never will be, in that league. Please excuse the pictures, they are from my phone.
I have known a lot of people in my life who absolutely must have new when it comes to buying anything. Guns, cars, bicycles…doesn’t matter — anything, really. As if used is somehow not as good, is damaged or is missing the right aura. To them, if it’s not new, it just isn’t right. For those people, I write the following report; as proof that used things are not all bad. This is one of my better experiences with used stuff.
A couple months ago, I bought a used Air Arms S410E bolt-action .22-caliber (FAC version) air rifle from the Yellow Forum classifieds. It showed great promise while I was shooting it and getting to know it in my basement’s 9.50-yard range, but I longed to try it out at a longer range in a relaxed setting, like my backyard. My neighbors are mostly okay with me shooting outside. To make sure they aren’t bothered, I wait to shoot until I have days off during the week when they’re at work.
Dave’s new/old Air Arms S410E air rifle.
I can get a measured 27 yards from the end of my muzzle on my kitchen countertop to the target near the back fence. A friend recently gave me a mechanical rifle rest that he wasn’t using anymore, so I gave that a try. The countertop makes for a nice place to put the rest when you clamp a wide board to it. I usually shoot off a monopod while standing or sitting, so this was much more solid than what I’m used to.
Shooting range from behind the rifle. Sshhh! Don’t tell the wife.
Here’s a look through the new scope I also got from the Yellow Forum classifieds (from a different guy). He bought it, never even took it out of the box and decided to sell it. It has a range-estimating reticle and mil-dots that I have yet to learn to use. So far, I just use the sidewheel focus knob. It seems close enough for government work. There are 36 colors for the reticle illumination! Haven’t tried those out, either.
The view through new, secondhand scope (bought from Yellow but the box was still factory sealed) — UTG Accushot SWAT IE 3-12×44mm, IR, side focus, 30mm tube and set on about 7x. Looks out of focus on the picture, but it’s really clear and in focus when looking through it with my eyes. Sidewheel set on about 26 yds, so it’s not too far off on the factory markings after adjusting the diopter for my eyes.
My backstop is a piece of plywood behind an old crate, and inside — you guessed it — a pile of phone books still in their wrappers!
Backstop at 27 yards.
OK, on to business….
When I received my gun, I immediately pumped it up to its maximum fill of 200 bar (approximately 2900 psi) and started the chronograph testing. Blog reader Kevin Lentz accurately predicted that the sweet spot on the fill would be about 180-190 Bar. Above that, the valve is getting air locked, reducing the velocity of the pellets. I didn’t save the results from my chronograph, a Competition Electronics ProChronoDigital, but I did figure the muzzle energy with each string’s average using this Pyramyd Air’s handy online calculator. With various pellets, it produces anywhere from 26 to 30+ foot-pounds. Lighter pellets generate less, and the heavier ones generate more energy, as is typical with a PCP airgun. This gun doesn’t really start falling off the pressure curve (losing power and velocity) until around 110-120 bar (about 1600 psi), after 60 or more shots.
Pumping it back up to around 190 bar on the gauge takes somewhere around 150 strokes of my Benjamin hand pump. Sounds like a lot, huh? It’s really only 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 pump strokes per shot. I’d call that pretty efficient in terms of energy transfer! While pumping the gun up, I noticed that the gauge on my pump and the gauge on the gun disagreed, so I go by the higher of the two readings just to be safe. That happens to be from the gauge on my pump. During the last couple of months since I received the gun, it hasn’t leaked down any noticeable amount, so I think we’re good there. Chalk one up for used equipment!
What about the accuracy? That’s what airgunning is all about isn’t it? OK, then, on to the shooting results.
At 27 yards on a mostly windless day and shooting off my mechanical rest, I think it does well. As I said, the mechanical rifle rest is a lot more solid than what I’m accustomed to. It doesn’t adjust from side to side except by sliding the back end around, but it has a very fine elevation screw, allowing me to dial in the height very easily. It also has very thick felt v-pads on the front and rear to allow a non-marring, but freely sliding surface to support both the forearm and the butt of the rifle. While shooting my groups, I was also adjusting the scope a bit to get it closer to what I wanted. The clip on this gun holds 10 rounds, so it’s easy to shoot groups of 10. I’ll give both edge-to-edge and center-to-center group measurements for your comprehension. Generally speaking, I think that center-to-center is the standard.
My first group with .22-caliber JSB Exact Jumbo, 5.52mm head, 15.9-grain domed pellets measures about 5/8″ from edge-to-edge, giving me just over 3/8″ center-to-center. You might notice I don’t use calipers. Although I own several, I just use a tape for my groups since that’s usually what I have handy. This same pellet duplicated this group a couple of clips later and is the best pellet of the 4 types shot today at this distance.
My second group was with Air Arms Falcon pellets, 5.52mm head, 13.43-grains, domed pellets. These gave me a 10-shot group of 11/16″ edge-to-edge, or about 7/16″ center-to-center.
The third group was with Crosman Premier .22, 5.50mm head, domed pellets. These are from the box, not the tin. These weren’t terrible at 13/16″ edge-to-edge, or about 9/16″ center-to-center. I think I’ve found something other than my 2240 that will shoot these CP’s with acceptable accuracy!
The fourth group was from the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy, 5.50mm head, 18.1 grain, domed pellets. At 5/8″ edge-to-edge, or about 3/8″ center-to-center, these matched the 15.89-grain JSBs. Two good choices!
My fifth group was a repeat with the JSB Exact Jumbo .22, 5.52mm head, 15.89-grain, domed pellets from the first group. This was my best group of the day at 9/16″ edge-to-edge, or about 5/16″ center-to-center!
My sixth group was a repeat with the JSB Exact Jumbos from the first and fifth group. I just wanted to verify that I was sighted in at 27 yards. This group is in the upper left of the following picture. The group size is a bit larger due to the fact that I shot away my aim point.
Six 10-shot groups on one fill. One-hundred fifty strokes of the Benjamin handpump to refill to 190 bar from about 110-120 bar. I think that the JSB Exact Jumbo 15.89-grain pellet is the winner of the day. Last group is upper left after scope adjustments.
As you can see, each of the six groups can be completely or almost completely covered by a dime. The largest can be covered with a nickel. All are pretty round, and these are consecutive group; so I’d say this rifle isn’t too pellet picky. Cost for this set-up was less than $600 for the gun and 2 clips plus $100 for the scope. The Accushot scope mounts I already had laying around. All of the pellets that I used today were purchased from Pyramyd Air at one time or another. Can’t beat their 4 for the price of 3 deal!
Am I happy with this gun? Absolutely! But, back to the original question: “Can you get a good, used gun?” Of course! This isn’t my only used gun purchase. Nearly all of my higher end guns are used (I call them higher end but, in fact, they’re more middle range), either acquired from the Yellow Forum classifieds or from Pyramyd Air’s Reman/Refurb/Open Box or Used Gun section. Either I’ve had great luck or this is the norm for me, with the bad apples being the occasional exception.
One of the things that ups my success versus “oops, I shouldn’t have done that” rate is research. In this case, I’d witnessed an S410 FAC sidelever in action. I know that Air Arms has a pretty much stellar reputation; and, from looking at going prices, I knew this one was a pretty good deal — even if it is a bolt-action and the stock isn’t walnut. Not a screaming deal; but at arm’s length, everyone walks away happy deal. I also buy new guns and other things, but I fully intend to keep saving money by careful shopping in the used, remanufactured and refurbished aisles! So can you. You’ll need just a little patience and act quickly when you notice something!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Update on some reports
Before I begin, here’s an update on a couple reports that you’re waiting for. I went to the outdoor range yesterday to shoot both the Walther LGV Olympia and the new New AirForce Condor SS at 50 yards. When I got there, the breeze was too much for the LGV, but I did try to shoot several groups with the Condor SS. I shot three 10-shot groups, waiting out the winds for every shot; but in the end, there was just too much wind to make the test a fair one.
One good thing did happen, however. I shot a certain .22-caliber heavyweight pellet that I haven’t tested before; and despite the wind, I got fairly good results. I’m going to save the pellet’s name for when I actually do the report, and I’ll also show you the group that I got.
I’m also working on the summary report of the rifling twist-rate test. I have all the data, but it’s taking me some time to make sense of it for you. So, that’s coming, and after that all 3 barrels will get tested at 50 yards, as well.
That’s it for now. Let’s look at today’s report on the Hatsan AT P1 PCP air pistol. I got a .22-caliber gun, and they come in .177 and .25, as well. We know that Hatsan knows how to make good precharged pneumatic airguns, so I’m expecting a lot from this one. I’m testing serial number 011320161.
I will let Edith tell you her first impression of the pistol. To use her words, “Oh, my gosh!” That’s her way of noting that this air pistol is a little large. It’s a little large just like an International Freightliner tractor that’s been turned into a custom pickup truck is a little large when you see it taking up 4 parking spaces at the grocery store!
It’s large, but it is a pistol — not a carbine. If you want a carbine, Hatsan has built one for you. They call it the Hatsan AT P2 PCP air pistol and shoulder stock. The P1 we’re looking at is just a pistol — even if it does weigh 4.5 lbs., or roughly the same as a Colt Walker revolver. When you examine this gun, you can see that it seems to be a PCP rifle that’s been cut down to fit into a pistol stock.
Hatsan rates this pistol at 780 f.p.s. in .22 caliber, so most of you will know without asking that it’s going to be loud. Can’t have a PCP with a barrel this short and a pellet this fast and be otherwise unless there’s a silencer…and this gun doesn’t have one. They also say that there are 35 shots per fill. We’ll test that, of course.
The pistol action sits in a synthetic pistol grip stock. The grip is for right-handed shooters, only, but it isn’t shaped well for my hand. It hits the heel of my shooting hand, pushing the pistol’s muzzle up. There’s also an adjustable palm shelf like target pistols, only this one is very difficult to adjust; and when it becomes as small as it will get, it’s still way too large for my hand. So, I have to rate the ergonomics down a bit.
The metal parts are finished to a matte sheen. The bluing is even over the whole gun. There’s a mix of steel and aluminum parts, all finished matte black; and with the black synthetic stock, the pistol has a very “black gun” look.
The quick-disconnect fill probe is a proprietary size that, fortunately, seems to have male 1/8-inch BSPP threads on the side that connects to the air hose of your tank or hand pump. To charge the gun, the fill probe is inserted in the reservoir fill hole and air is transferred. Fill to 200 bar (2,900 psi). An onboard pressure gauge tells you the state of the air pressure in the reservoir.
The gun is cocked by a sidelever on the left side of the receiver. Cocking also advances the 10-shot circular clip to the next pellet. The circular clip is held in the gun by a brass pin that’s slid forward on the right side of the receiver to remove the clip. The sidelever must be pulled all the way back to get the clip out, for it attaches to a bolt probe that passes through the clip to seat each new pellet in the barrel. This probe has to be retracted or the clip cannot be removed from the gun. A second clip comes inside the plastic gun case that holds the pistol
The 10.4-inch barrel is entirely free-floated, being attached at the breech, alone. The muzzle is threaded and covered by a removable cap.
The sights are fully adjustable for elevation, both in front and at the rear. The rear sight adjusts for windage, too. Both front and rear sight have fiberoptic tubes, and the front sight is not cut square, so precision sighting will be impossible. The gun does have a clever scope base that accepts scope mounts for Weaver or 11mm dovetails. Given the power of the gun, most owners will elect to scope it, I’m sure.
At first glance, there’s a lot to see on this Hatsan pistol. I don’t like all the features, but I haven’t shot the gun, yet. If it shoots well, a lot can be overlooked.
The one thing it has going for it is the price. At $450, it’s one of the least expensive precharged pistols on the market. It’s just $20 more than the TalonP. And the Hatsan is a repeater.
Further testing will determine if the Hatsan AT P1 pistol is a force to be reckoned with.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll test the Walther 1250 Dominator at 50 yards. I had to go out to the rifle range for this test, and we’ve been having some winds lately, so it took some time before I got a calm day. But this day was perfectly calm — I couldn’t have asked for a better day to shoot an air rifle at long range.
As you recall, the Dominator takes a 300-bar fill, which is 4,350 psi. I had to delay the test to get my carbon fiber tank refilled, and even then I didn’t have enough air for a full fill. When you fill a tank, it gets warm; and when it cools back down, you lose several hundred psi. I was able to fill to about 4,100 psi this time, but that single fill was enough air to last for the entire test, which was about 50 shots. And the needle in the pressure gauge is still in the green, which means there are more full-power shots remaining in the rifle.
I normally shoot from one of two mechanical rifle rests when I’m at this range, but for this test I decided to use my long sandbag, instead. The rifle lays in the crease on top of the bag and doesn’t move. There’s also more flexibility to reposition the rifle when required. Since this is a repeater that has to be reloaded, this flexibility was a good.
Since the circular clip holds 8 pellets, I decided to shoot 8-shot groups. It’s too much trouble to load just two pellets by themselves. So, all the groups seen today are 8-shots.
The first pellet was the venerable RWS Superdome. They landed close enough to the bull that I didn’t bother to adjust the scope. Eight pellets made a group that measures 2.017 inches between centers. The pellets spread out horizontally, but there was no wind whatsoever. I don’t think this pellet is suited to the rifle.
Following this, I adjusted the scope up and to the left just a little to compensate for where the Superdomes had landed. Then, I shot a group of JSB Exact Heavy pellets.
JSB Exact Heavy
I expected the JSB Exact Heavy dome pellet to give good groups, and it did — sort of. Seven of the 8 pellets landed in a group that measures 0.753 inches between centers. But 1 shot landed apart from the group, opening it up to 1.933 inches. This shot was somewhere in the middle of the string of 8. It wasn’t the first or last shot, and there was no called flier. It’s just somewhere in the string.
When something like this happens, I’m tempted to believe that it was caused by a defective pellet or by something just as obviously wrong. I think the JSB Exact Heavy is a good pellet for this rifle.
I probably shouldn’t have tried Beeman Devastators because they’re essentially wadcutters in profile, and wadcutters don’t do well at long distances. But I did try them, and they strung vertically into a group that measures 3.067 inches. Obviously, they’re a non-starter for this rifle at 50 yards.
JSB Exact RS
Next, I shot a group of JSB Exact RS domes. As light as they are, I wouldn’t normally recommend them for a precharged rifle of the Dominator’s power but had them along, so why not? Eight went into 0.945 inches, so I’m glad I tried them. This was the smallest group of the test. I do want to emphasize that the day was calm, because these light pellets do get blown around a lot.
Crosman Premier 10.5-grain
Next up were the heavy Crosman Premier 10.5-grain pellets. I expected them to do well in this rifle, and they didn’t disappoint. Eight went into a group measuring 1.19 inches between centers. While that number sounds a little large, look at the group it represents. It’s a little vertical, but it’s not a bad group.
Crosman Premier 7.9-grain
The last group I shot was with the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite. Eight of them made a group measuring 1.371 inches. That’s a little large when there are other pellets that are better, but it’s not a bad showing for 8 shots at 50 yards
The bottom line
I was glad to finally have the chance to test the Walther 1250 Dominator. It was a good rifle, overall, but I took exception to removing the air tank to fill it, the high fill pressure and the discharge noise.
However, out at the range, the rifle was much quieter — far quieter than a rimfire. Also, the trigger that I complained about when shooting indoors was actually no problem outside. I don’t know what the difference was, except that it was a different day and I saw things differently. I must say, there are a lot of very powerful shots in the tank once you get it up to pressure.
I did get used to fiddling with the bolt handle, and the rifle fed without a problem during this test. Installing the rotary clip is easier than on most other PCP rifles.
I would have to say that the 1250 Dominator is a fine precharged air rifle, but it runs into a lot of stiff competition. Buyers will get it because they like the overall styling, the all-weather materials it is made from and the high shot count.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, blog reader John shares his experience getting his AirForce Condor to shoot quieter. I asked him for this report because he’s written many comments about it. We all know that John is a pest hunter, so let’s look over his shoulder and see what works for him.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.
Okay, John, the floor is yours.
Noisy gun goes quiet
Before I begin the report, I want to show you a piece of my past. It’s a Remington 514 made somewhere between 1948 and 1968. It’s a single-shot, bolt action .22 rimfire designed by K. Lowe.
Anyone who knows me knows I have a dislike for old guns. This one is an exception, however, since it’s the only thing I have that belonged to my dad. It’s fairly primitive, but as accurate as anything I’ve seen. It puts the shot where I want it…every time.
Remington 514 single-shot .22 rimfire.
It may not look like much, but it means a lot to me. And it shoots!
Now, on to the report.
I was thinking about how to make a noisy gun become not so noisy since noise tends to alert the pests you hunt, making your day very boring. I like to hunt with my AirForce Condor, which I lovingly call “Marvelous Magnificent Mad Madam Mim,” due to the fact that she can change just like that wacky Disney villain.
I took off the forearm and left it off just to make my work a bit easier today since I was going to be swapping things around. I think I should warn you that this is going to be an unusual report since I’m not using anything fancy like noise meters, showing accuracy targets or running shots through a chrony. All I’m concerned with is taking a loud gun and making it backyard friendly. So, I’m going to be using the tools we all have…ears.
For this test, I’m out on a little private island with a one-room guest cabin on 15 acres of land. It’s fairly dense, with trees and brush surrounding my work area. The cabin is about 10 feet to my right, where I normally set up for muskrat. We’re located in one of my actual hunting areas.
The first thing I did was test the Condor against my Remington 514 to compare how loud it sounds to me. I found that the Condor set at maximum power, with no barrel shrouds or anything to quiet it down, sounds louder than the Remington 514 shooting a .22 long rifle cartridge. It sounded about like a .30-caliber rifle to me.
I wanted to make it quiet, so I put on a Bullseye Bill frame extender (bloop tube) and tried it at full power with the standard Condor 24-inch .22-caliber barrel. Since the pellet was breaking the sound barrier, it sounded about like the Remington. It was quieter than before, but not quiet enough.
I wondered if stopping more air from escaping the gun would help, so I installed an optional 12-inch .22-caliber barrel and the Bullseye Bill frame extender. Now, the barrel was buried deep inside the frame extender. Since the shorter 12″ barrel wastes air at full power, I dialed down the power setting to about the middle of the scale. I figured that was about the top performance I could get out of the shorter barrel.
The rifle was now definitely quieter, but no quieter than if I’d just used the AirForce end cap on the frame of the gun and left off the frame extender. The report was now about as loud as a loud hand clap. Either way (with the end cap on or with the frame extender installed), it was equally quiet. I still wasn’t satisfied with how quiet it was. I knew I could do better and retain much more power than with a 12-inch barrel.
The 12-inch barrel and Talon SS end cap are just as quiet as the rifle with the frame extender installed.
Here comes the band
I heard B.B. talk about how they used to use rubber bands to quiet the sound of the striker, so I figured that was worth a try to quiet down the gun a bit more. Before trying this, I dialed down the gun’s power to about level 2 with a 12″ barrel and the end cap. Voila…a Condor became a Talon SS! This definitely made the gun as quiet as it could be. Then, I tried it with the rubber band installed.
No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the gun to fire with a piece of rubber band on the end of the top hat. That rubber band was acting like a shock absorber — not letting the striker hit the top hat hard enough to fire the gun. So, that was a total failure. Let’s try something else.
Looking for the best performance
We all know that performance is everything in airguns. You want a hunting gun to hit hard and accurately. I needed to get the most performance out of the gun. So, the 24″ barrel went back in the gun, and the frame extender went back on. If I correctly use that combination, the only sound the gun will make is the clunk of the striker and impact of the pellet. In other words, nobody’s going to know I took the shot but me and whatever I was shooting at. Now, it’s on to pushing the envelope.
Which of my available ammo types will get me the best performance, while not telling everybody around me what I’m doing? First up is my standard go-to pellet, the Crosman Premier Ultra Magnum hunting pellet. I like these because they’re available everywhere, and I get fairly good results with them. So, let’s see just where the upper power limit is for these while making as little noise as possible. I’m firing at a target 75 yards out, which is the longest distance I’ve ever taken a muskrat with this gun. The cabin is just close enough that I should hear any significant echo that a backyard shooter would also have.
I fired shots using the highest setting I thought I could and get just the clunk of the striker and slap of the pellet. Then, I’d inch up until it began to return an echo off the cabin wall. That told me I’d crossed the boundary, so I backed off to the last quiet setting for Premiers. The rifle stayed quiet up to 7.45 on the AirForce power wheel. This is the setting I’d use in the city for backyard target practice without anybody knowing what I was doing…and the setting I want to use if I do not want to alert critters to the fact I’m hunting.
With Crosman Premier Ultra Magnums, the rifle is still quiet when the power wheel is set no higher than 7.45. The major power setting (7) is indicated by the center of the screw head in the oval window on the right. The fractional power setting (.45) is indicated by the power wheel on the left.
Next, I dug out some Predator Polymags. I found these would give me slightly better performance, fly a bit faster and hit a bit harder while still not alerting anyone or anything to what I was doing. This is with a 24″ barrel and a frame extender — like a Condor SS on steroids. I got them to hit my 75-yard target with the dial set to a maximum of 7.10 [about 3/4 of the way toward power setting 8] as the outside power without advertising to everything around what I am doing. This gave me the slap of the striker and the thud of a pellet hitting the target 75 yards away.
Baracuda Hunter Extreme
I like the cross-hatch pattern on the nose of these Baracuda Hunter Extreme pellets for hunting, which is my primary use for air rifles. Surprisingly, with them, the power wheel went up. I thought the Polymags, with their nice sharp point, would cut through the air and give the quietest and most powerful shots of the day. But I was surprised. With these Baracuda Hunter Extreme pellets, the power wheel climbed up to 8.9 before anybody knew what I was doing. Birds kept on doing bird things. The Canadian geese kept swimming, totally unaware that a shot just landed in the target 10 yards to their left. Even the mallard ducks didn’t take off. That’s what I wanted.
This is important since, in the places where I hunt pests, we also have some very shy animals. I have to try my best not to disturb them. It’s spring, and the geese and ducks are nesting. I don’t want to scare them off their nests. It’s all about being a good steward of nature.
Gamo round balls
Last up was the .22-caliber Gamo round ball. I got these as a freebie with a Gamo gun, so I figured I might as well see what a “musket ball” would do. This one was the worst of the bunch. To keep the gun quiet with round balls, I had to dial the power down to 4.7. All the birds in the area took off and hid when I put one of these in the target at 8.9 on the power scale. I don’t think I’ll be using those again when I’m hunting at a sensitive time of the season.
What did I learn?
There’s plenty to take away from this that has nothing to do with the speed of the pellet. A PCP gun like the Condor can be accurate, powerful and quiet depending on how it is set up and which pellet is used. A shorter barrel robs power, but it also quiets down a gun. However, it can only do so much — even if you give it a massive space in which to allow the air to expand. My best bet was to leave the 24″ barrel on the Condor and put the frame extender on the barrel, leaving the end of the extender about 3 inches past the muzzle. This setup trapped spent air well due to the fact the pellet was blocking the end of the shroud at about the ideal time to minimize the muzzle blast. It’s kind of how a car muffler works.
This made my Condor about as quiet as a loud whisper. Just a thud of the striker and the slap of the pellet hitting the target. Very little echo, if any at all. Adjusting the power of the gun had quite a bit to do with this. If you throw too much power behind the pellet, you’ll hear something like a .22 rimfire bullet, which is not what you want to hear if you’re hunting pests in an environmentally sound-sensitive area or doing some backyard plinking and don’t want the police responding to reports of small-to-medium caliber gunfire in your neighborhood.
I tested a Condor only in .22 caliber since that’s all I had, and this is my primary pest hunting gun. I also used several pellets that I normally use for target shooting and hunting to compare their results. This is in no way a scientific study with high-tech instruments. Just one man with a good pair of ears. I did what I could to recreate a backyard shooting environment in an actual hunting environment. The intention was to gather some good information to help keep your shooting as quiet as possible so you don’t disturb the animals or people around you.
P.S. My day on the range ended on a high note when I took an opposum that was on my list of pest critters. It was a perfect shot with my dad’s old Remington 514.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Let’s look at the Walther 1250 Dominator accuracy at 25 yards. In deference to the 8-shot clip, I’m shooting 8-shot groups rather than 10. The way this rifle loads, with the clip almost disappearing in the receiver, it’s too difficult to keep track of those 2 extra shots.
I’ll be honest — I stalled testing this gun in the house because of the noise. It’s one of the loudest airguns I’ve ever shot indoors.
I said last time that I would give you a shot count once I filled the rifle to 4,350 psi (300 bar). Well, that didn’t happen. I filled it as far as my freshly filled carbon fiber tank would go, but that was only to 4,200 psi on the tank’s gauge, which seems pretty accurate. The rifle’s gauge showed a lower fill pressure, but I chalk that up to small pressure gauges never agreeing.
I didn’t get a complete shot count. I did, however, fire about 40 shots in the test and still had air remaining for at least another 15. If you can get the gun completely filled, there have to be at least 55 full-power shots available. Probably more, but at least 55.
I mounted an AirForce Airguns 4-16X50 scope on the rifle in a BKL 1-piece cantilever mount. The scope was low over the receiver, even though the BKL mount is a high one; but because the circular clip is entirely contained within the receiver, there was no interference.
I shot from a sandbag rest at 25 yards off an MTM Case-Gard Predator shooting table. In a moment that will become important to know.
I sighted the rifle in and started shooting with the H&N Baracuda Match pellet. It was accurate enough, but I felt the rifle could do better. Eight shots went into a group measuring 0.597 inches between centers.
The Baracuda Match pellets didn’t give me what I wanted, so I switched to 10.34-grain JSB Exact Heavy domes. They started out doing better than the Baracudas and produced a 0.522-inch 8-shot group. But two pellets strayed from the main group. I called the one that went to the left, but not the other one that went high. So, as good as this pellet is, it isn’t the best pellet in this rifle.
Then, I tried RWS Superdomes — a pellet that many of you favor over just about all others in .177 caliber. And this is where I had an epiphany with this rifle. The first 8-shot group measured 0.461 inches, but it was full of wild shots that went off when I wasn’t on target. That was both the fault of the trigger and the rifle’s light weight. I’ll address it in a moment. But this target told me that this rifle could shoot much better if I really tried.
The Walther 1250 Dominator is a very light rifle, and the trigger isn’t that light. As a result, the gun moves more than a little as the trigger is squeezed. This can be overcome by paying extreme attention to detail on each shot, but it’s something I normally don’t need to do when shooting an accurate PCP.
That’s why I mentioned the shooting table and sandbag rest. Normally, such things are an absolute lock for the guns, but this time the rifle is so light that it still moves around too much. You’re only going to solve that with technique.
The next group was shot with as much concentration as if I were using the artillery hold. And the payoff is a 0.404-inch 8-shot group. That represents the best I can do with this rifle and pellet at 25 yards.
The bolt is hard to cock and sticks when pushing it forward to load the pellet. It isn’t much of a hinderance, but you do notice it. I did discover that if the bolt is worked fast and with authority, it does become smooth. So, the rifle likes to be treated like an SMLE.
Opinions thus far
I found things to criticize on the Walther Dominator 1250. No. 1 is the need to fill it to 300 bar. That’s just too much pressure, and it uses all the air I can get. The rifle is very loud, and I’m no longer used to pneumatic air rifles being so loud. The trigger is too heavy and long, and the rifle needs to weigh at least 2.50-3.00 more lbs. to be stable. However, all that pales when we look at the accuracy.
This is an accurate air rifle — make no mistake. Today’s test was at 25 yards, so it’ll be very interesting to see what happens when we move to 50 yards.