Posts Tagged ‘repeater’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I put this report of the Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol ahead of some others because one of our readers did a bad thing and got himself into trouble with his gun. I want to address that today before I get to the accuracy test.
I mentioned in Part 2 that while it’s possible to remove the slide from this pistol, it isn’t recommended. Well, blog reader Gregory did so anyway, and now he can’t get his pistol back together. I tried to help him by taking my slide off, and I lost the spring that powers the slide altogether.
Umarex USA couldn’t help
Since Gregory lives outside the U.S., I called Umarex USA for him so they could advise me how the spring goes back in the gun. Gregory has his spring, so all he needs to know is how to get it back in the gun. But Andrew at Umarex USA told me they do not support this gun, aside from exchanging it. So, they have no parts on hand, nor do they have any technical data relating to it. And, if you take the slide off, that’s not authorized, and they will not fix it under warranty.
Pyramyd Air steps in
Next, I called Pyramyd Air because this will become their problem sooner or later. I spoke with Gene Salvino, the service manager, who is also a firearms gunsmith and familiar with the disassembly of the firearm P38. I walked him through the problem and, sure enough, the spring popped out when he removed the slide. But he didn’t give up. Several guns later, he was able to reinstall the spring and get the gun working again.
Gene says he’ll try to get Umarex USA to stock the spring because, like me, he sees it as something people are going to need. He went through four guns before he was able to get a good spring back in and get the gun working again, so this is definitely a design problem.
Assembling the gun
Now we know beyond a doubt that you should not attempt to take the slide off the frame of this gun. But for Gregory’s sake, I want to show where the spring goes. I’m doing this without having seen the spring — just the place where it goes. But Gene confirmed that I was right about that.
The slide has been taken off this gun. That long slot in the right side of the frame is where the slide return spring goes. It’s held in the gun by the fit of the slide to the frame. You can see two cutouts at the top of the long slot in this photo. When the spring is installed, it must be compressed enough to allow the slide projection to enter the frame through the rear slot (the one on the left).
The slide is slipped over the front of the frame and pulled to the rear. A projection on the inside of the slide passes through a slot cut in the frame for this purpose. The long spring has to be compressed behind (to the left of) the place where the projection enters the frame.
The slide has a projection on the right side that slips through a cutout in the frame when assembling the gun. Getting the slide back on is simple once you understand how it fits. First, the front of the slide is put over the front of the frame, where it aligns very easily. Then, pull the slide all the way to the rear of the frame as far as it will go. At that point, the projection on the inside of the slide is aligned with the cutout in the frame, so it’s ready to be installed. You just push down on the top of the slide to get the hammer out of the way, while pushing the slide forward and it goes back into position very smoothly. After that, the barrel inserts into the front of the slide and the barrel latch is swung closed, locking the gun together.
The trick in all of this is to insert the spring into the slot on the right side of the frame, and to compress it so it’s behind the slide projection once it slips into the frame. You’ll need a thin tool for this; and, according to Gene, it’s a skill that takes some time to master. I don’t have a spring to show you, but I’m presently working on finding or making a replacement.
What the spring does
The spring really isn’t that powerful. Think of a long ballpoint pen spring that is also very thin. It holds the slide in the forward position.
You can use the gun without the spring, which is what I’m going to do today. You just have to keep the muzzle pointed slightly down when shooting and you have to make certain that the slide is all the way forward before you pull the trigger. The slide moves extremely easily on the frame when the spring isn’t installed, and you can operate the pistol without it if you just pay attention to the slide’s position.
I function-fired the pistol many times, and the pistol operates as it should without the spring. Even the blowback works perfectly, as long as there’s a slight downward angle to the gun. Sometimes, the slide will not go all the way forward, so you have to push it the last quarter-inch; but you can do that with the thumb of your shooting hand. It isn’t a perfect solution by any means, but it beats cursing the darkness and being without your gun!
I mentioned in Part 2 that you load the magazine one BB at a time. I said it wasn’t a problem as long as you kept the magazine oriented up so the BB could fall down inside after it entered the mag. Well, during this test I encountered one additional thing. You should hold your finger on the opposite side of the mag when loading; if you don’t, some BBs will pass straight through the top of the mag and fall out the other side.
Shooting for accuracy
The P38 is a blowback BB pistol — not traditionally the most accurate of air pistols. Where those pistols without blowback can have closer tolerances and a tighter barrel, these blowbacks have to leave a little room for the reliable operation of the slide and for the BBs that get blown into the barrel. So, they’re more for the shooting experience and less for precision.
Knowing that, I stepped off 12 feet from the Winchester Airgun Target Cube that I now use as a backstop and trap for all BB-gun tests. Of course, I had the cube positioned lower than my hand so the gun could be positioned downward. For targets, I decided to use Shoot-N-C bullseyes that were just applied to the front of the Target Cube. That made changing targets fast and easy.
I want to comment on the trigger-pull now. You never appreciate it until shooting for accuracy, and I was able to evaluate this one very well in today’s test. As I said earlier, the P38 has a trigger-pull that feels like a light double-action pull. That became very evident when I was shooting for accuracy. But the trigger also stacks at the end of the pull, just like a vintage Colt. The pull weight increases exponentially right before the gun fires, and that lets you control this trigger with precision. It takes some getting used to, but I’ve shot enough vintage Colts that I recognized it right away.
The first target revealed two things. First, the sights were hard to see against the target. I was using a center hold, and the black sights of the gun disappeared against the black bull. Second, the gun shoots a little low. I confirmed that with the second target and was able to raise the rounds by holding more of the front sight up above the rear sight.
The Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol is a realistic action pistol that delivers on performance. It should not be disassembled, as I have explained here; but if you just want a realistic action shooter, I think this is a gun to consider.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Falke stock restoration update
Before we begin looking at the Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol, I have an announcement. I feel like a kid who knows he is about to get his first BB gun! Doug Phillips, the man who is restoring the stock of my Falke 90 rifle (which I’m in the middle of testing), has been updating me weekly on the status of the project. He had to completely rebuild the section of the stock where the trigger is located, which on this gun is a very thin and complex wooden shelf that has holes for the front and rear triggerguard bolts, plus an enlarged hole for the trigger. Because this shelf was more than half missing, he had to completely redo it, including redrilling all the holes. It took him three attempts to get things in the right place, but he now tells me that they’re finally right.
But the real news is something that he didn’t tell me, but he showed me in a very small photo. The initials in the checkering on the left forearm panel are now gone. I was unable to tell they’d ever been there, though I’ll need to see the gun close up to know that for sure. And the grain in the walnut now stands out instead of being hidden by a cheap-looking layer of shellac.
All of the dents and scratches are gone as well. I’ll be writing a blog about this work when I get the gun back, but I wanted to share the progress with you now. I’m so grateful to blog reader Kevin for recommending Doug in the first place. I took plenty of before pictures, and Doug has taken pictures all through the restoration process, so you’ll get to see the project from start to finish. But, now, let’s get to today’s report.
Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol
One question that blog reader John asked after the first report: Can the gun be disassembled in the same way as the P38 firearm? The answer is a qualified “yes.” I should have showed that in Part 1, but since I didn’t, we’ll look at it now. There’s another lever on the left side of the gun that I didn’t mention last time. It’s at the forward edge of the frame, above and in front of the triggerguard. It’s the disassembly lever or what the owner’s manual calls the barrel catch lever. To disassemble the gun, rotate the rear of the catch down and forward until it stops. The barrel can then be pulled straight off the frame. As I recall, that’s exactly how the firearm came apart, as well.
It’s possible to also take the slide off the gun, but it doesn’t serve any useful purpose, so I recommend against it. The barrel comes off to clear a jammed BB, but removing the slide doesn’t give you access to anything that you need on the gun.
This gun has blowback! Although the slide is a smaller mass than on other pistols, it still comes back with a jolt — creating the simulation of recoil. The impulse is quick and sharp, unlike some other blowback guns that have bulkier slides.
The trigger is two-stage (non-adjustable). Stage one has more resistance than usual, making it almost feel like a single-stage trigger, but you’ll feel the start of the second stage if you persist. Stage one takes almost exactly 3 lbs. of pull and stage two breaks at between 7 lbs., 5 oz. and 8 lbs., 5 oz. I know that sounds heavy; but since this trigger feels more like a double-action pull than a single-action pull, it doesn’t seem that bad. Very few double-action guns have an 8-lb. trigger pull.
The stick magazine is set up to receive just one BB at a time. Once the BB enters the mag, the mag must be oriented nearly straight up and down or the BB will stay at the top of the mag and block other BBs from being loaded. That makes this a more troublesome magazine to load than the average stick mag.
However, the BBs do go into the mag opening easily enough. As I mentioned in Part 1, the place the BBs enter the magazine is funnel-shaped, plus there’s a small groove that leads to it. If you hold the mag nearly vertical, each BB that enters will fall to the bottom, making room for the next. The way this magazine is designed, I don’t think it will be possible to fit it to a speedloader.
I tested the velocity with Daisy zinc-plated BBs, which have proven themselves to be the best general-purpose BB on the market. The velocity of the test gun averaged 385 f.p.s. with a fresh CO2 cartridge. At the average velocity, this pistol generates 1.68 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. The range was from 374 to 404 f.p.s., so the total variation was 30 f.p.s. I did notice the gun cools down a lot as it’s shot, so waiting longer between shots gives you higher velocity.
There are between 50 and 60 shots in one CO2 cartridge. All 60 won’t be powerful, but they should all shoot out of the gun. So plan on shooting three full magazines before changing cartridges.
Thus far, the Walther P38 seems to be everything they advertised. Let’s hope it’s also reasonably accurate; and if it is, this will be one very authentic and nice BB pistol!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Am I a gun collector? Not in the strictest sense. I do have a lot of guns, but I run through them fast — getting rid of the ones I’m no longer interested in and getting others that I’ve never had before. A couple guns, like the M1 Carbine, do fascinate me to the point that I’m attracted to every one of them. Even with that model, I’ve pared down the number I own to just one.
And I’ve always been this way. If you met me 40 years ago, I would just be a younger version of myself, and the guns I owned then were different from those I have today. I’m sentimental to a point, but my curiosity overcomes nostalgia when it comes to owning guns. And, because I have limited means, I have to own them sequentially rather than all at once.
Back in the salad years, I was questing after the guns that everyone wants — the Lugers, Colt SAAs and Winchester lever actions. And among all those wonderful guns I once owned, there was a Walther P38. The P38, which is short for Pistole (19)38 was designed in 1938 to use modern (at the time) production methods to build a sidearm that replaced the more complex and manufacturing-intensive P08 (Luger). The P38 was adopted by the German army in 9×19mm caliber, which is more commonly called the 9mm Luger.
I knew when I bought the gun that it wasn’t built the same as a Luger (which I would have to wait a few more years to acquire), and the actual pistol I could afford at the time had lots of wear on it. The accuracy wasn’t the absolute best — and that was at a time when I was shooting handguns all the time, so accuracy mattered a lot.
My impressions of the gun were that it was made differently than I’d expected. It was made of stamped parts, and the tolerances were on the loose side. Of course, my well-used gun was probably even looser than the norm, but I do remember being surprised at the rattle it made when shaken.
At the time, it was one of a very few semiautomatic pistols that were both single-action and double-action. So, you could carry it with a round in the chamber and just pull the trigger to start shooting. The Browning High Power (P35) was another one, but in those days I couldn’t come close to affording one of those. Over the years, they’ve come down in price as my purchasing power has risen, but I’ve still never owned one!
I was prepared for a horrible double-action trigger-pull from my weary P38, but even that well-worn example surprised me by being light and smooth. And the single-action pull was reasonable, if just a bit creepy. After all, this was a wartime sidearm that had seen a lifetime of field use and it was in about the same operating condition as any arms-room M1911A1, so a creepy trigger is to be expected.
This was my very first 9mm handgun, and the light recoil really came as a shock. After a childhood spent listening to stories of Lugers that shot through several people with a single bullet, I was expecting a real cannon; but as anyone who has shot the round knows, that simply is not the case. It has very little recoil for the power and is absolutely delightful to shoot.
The other thing that surprised me was how natural this pistol felt. It was replacing the Luger, which is the poster-child for an ergonomic handgun, yet the P38 did not disappoint when I brought it up to shoot.
The Walther P38 BB pistol
Now that I’ve told you my own backstory of P38 experience, let’s look at this Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol! For starters, this one is finished beautifully! Umarex has really gotten the finish of these replica guns down to a fine science, and this one is darkly blued. The metal is smooth and shiny and so good-looking that only the owner will know it isn’t a firearm.
The grips are brown plastic, designed to resemble wood, but they don’t quite make it. They are a little too reflective, though an effort has been made to dull them.
This is a BB pistol with a 20-shot drop-free stick magazine. It’s released by a lever located at the bottom rear of the grip frame, and the mag must be removed to pop off the left grip panel so you can install a CO2 cartridge. The tensioning screw for the cartridge is completely hidden within the grip so the gun’s profile is entirely authentic. In fact, there’s even a cleat at the bottom of the left grip panel for a lanyard hook — just like on the firearm!
The safety is a switch on the upper left rear of the slide. Up makes the gun ready to fire and down makes it safe, but you need to push the lever all the way down until a click is felt. If you don’t, the gun is not on safe and will fire when the trigger is pulled. The safety looks like the kind that also de-cocks the hammer, but this one doesn’t do that.
The one thing I wish was different is that this P38 doesn’t have a double-action trigger. The hammer must be manually cocked to prepare the gun for firing the first shot. After that, blowback cocks the hammer for each successive shot, so you have a true semiautomatic pistol. The blowback is brisk, though the mass of the slide is low, and you can definitely feel the shot going off. After the last BB has left the muzzle, the slide stays back so you know it’s time to reload.
The slide is held in place by the slide release, which is a working lever on the left side of the gun, just above the trigger. Reload the magazine, slip it back in the gun and push the lever down to let the slide go forward.
When the last BB’s fired, the slide stays open like this, alerting the shooter that the pistol needs to be reloaded. The slide release is a lever just above the trigger that’s pushed down to release the slide.
The magazine could be easier to load. To load it, you retract the spring-loaded follower and lock it in position, then feed each BB through the same hole they are fired from at the top of the magazine. Most stick magazines have a enlarged cutout in the follower channel that assists the loading of BBs, but this one doesn’t have that.
On the other hand, there is a loading groove where the BBs enter the mag, and the hole they drop into is slightly funnel-shaped. I guess I should reserve my comments on loading until after I’ve done it a few times.
The sights are fixed, both front and rear. They’re sharp and easy to see, and we’ll learn how close the gun shoots to the point of aim in the accuracy test.
The test pistol weighs 2 lbs. with a CO2 cartridge installed but no BBs in the magazine. That’s slightly heavier than the most common P38 firearm that has an aluminum frame and even heavier than the steel-frame early gun. But it isn’t a heavy handgun. It feels just right to me. The grip is neither too wide nor too narrow for me. Since the firearm has a single-stack 8-round mag, the width of the grip can be controlled by the thickness of the grip panels.
This will be a fun test for us. I just hope it’s as accurate as it looks!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Photos and report by Earl “Mac” McDonald
This is the final report about Mac’s vintage steel-breech IZH 61. We are only doing two reports — partly because the rifle performs just like the one that’s being sold today, but mostly because Mac sold this rifle at the Roanoke airgun show this past weekend. He also bought one just like it that was like new in the box because he got a super price at the same show. That one will be given to some fortunate youngster, as part of Mac’s “Arm the Children” program!
As I reported in Part 1, this vintage rifle has a truly adjustable two-stage trigger, instead of just being able to reposition the trigger blade like on the current gun. Mac had it set to release at 27 oz., and he says it was crisp.
Someone wanted me to post a photo of the entire vintage rifle, but there isn’t that much difference between it and the current one. I didn’t think it was worth showing. Yes, if you’re a fanatic collector, there are some small differences; but I spent the weekend with the vintage gun before it sold, and it’s pretty much the same as what they sell now except for having a steel breech and metal clips.
On the subject of the metal clips, Mac says he has had some plastic clips that got worn to the point that they would no longer stay in the gun as they should. They’re supposed to advance one pellet each time the sidelever is pulled out to cock the rifle, but he said some of his would shoot out the side of the rifle because they’re under spring tension.
I showed the sights on this rifle in Part 1, but Mac tried both the peep sight that comes with the rifle and also a Tasco Pro Point dot sight with a 4 MOA dot. At the 10 meter distance he shot, the dot covered about 0.35 inches He e got equal accuracy with both types of sights, but all the groups seen in this report were shot with the Tasco.
He rested the forearm of the rifle on the palm of his hand and shot off a bag rest at 10 meters. We wanted to keep the results equivalent with those I recently got with the new rifle. And he also shot at 10-meter rifle targets, which is why he elected to use the dot sight. The hole in the factory peep sight is so large that there’s a loss of precision when using the smaller 10-meter rifle bulls. They get lost in the hole (meaning you can’t tell when they’re exactly centered). He could have used pistol targets that have a much larger bull, but he wanted his test to look just like mine.
Mac shot 5-shots groups instead of 10-shot groups. Things got confused in our talks, so we didn’t shoot the same number of shots per target. Still, I think you will see some interesting things as we go.
JSB 8.4-grain Exacts
The first pellet tested was the JSB Exact that weighs 8.4 grains. Five shots at 10 meters produced a group measuring 0.95 inches between centers. That’s pretty big for just 10 meters!
There are some indications of tumbling with the JSB, so it’s possible the rifle wasn’t stabilizing it. That would account for the large group.
Next he tried RWS Hobby pellets. These are often among the most accurate in a low-powered rifle, but not this time. Five Hobbys made a 0.90-inch group.
H&N Finale Match
Next up were H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. Five of them made a group that measured 0.80-inches, but notice that one is apart from the other four. If there was something wrong with that pellet, it could explain why it’s apart. This might be the right pellet for the rifle, and it’s a good example of why one 10-shot group tells you more about accuracy potential than three 5-shot groups.
The next pellet Mac tried was one you can’t buy anymore. The Eley Wasp has left the stage, at least in the version Mac was shooting. It was an oversized pellet that sometimes cured accuracy problems for rifles with larger bores. In this rifle, 5 shots made a group that measures 0.70 inches. You’ll also notice that there don’t seem to be any signs of tumbling like there were with the JSBs.
Five Eley Wasp domes made a group measuring 0.70-inches. This group also has a single stray pellet, which means it might also have more potential than seen here.
RWS R10 Pistol pellet
The last pellet Mac shot was the RWS R10 Pistol pellet. These grouped best, with 5 of them making a 0.50-inch group. While that looks good in comparison with the other groups, it doesn’t begin to equal the groups I got with the new IZH 61 shooting 10 shot groups! That means is we have to revise our thinking about the old steel-breech/metal clip guns, don’t you think?
Mac and I discussed these results at length, and we believe that the steel breech IZH 60/61 has perhaps become more accurate through the long lens of memory. Just as a walk to school was always 10 miles uphill in both directions when we were young, so it’s possible that these rifles were as variable back then as the new ones are now. From the results, we have to say that it looks like the current version of the gun is at least as accurate as the old one, if not more so.
We think that there were probably some very accurate rifles with steel breeches, and then the rest — which our test rifle seems to be — were only good plinkers. I know this test was hardly exhaustive, nor was it entirely without bias. Even so, I think we must admit that the new rifle beat the old one in this case.
What do you think?
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Photos and report by Earl “Mac” McDonald
This report was promised back when I tested the IZH 60 Target Pro several weeks ago. If you’re not familiar with the discussions about the IZH 60 and IZH 61, both from Baikal, there was a major design change several years ago and the Russian pellet guns that had formerly been made of steel now sport plastic receivers. In the case of the repeating IZH 61 — plastic pellet clips. Knowing that there was controversy over which was more accurate — the old design or the new — Mac promised to test his steel-receiver IZH 61 and report the results to us. It’s a good thing we caught him at this time, because he’s selling his rifle at the Roanoke airgun show this Friday and Saturday.
We won’t go through the traditional three-part report because the new and old rifles are so alike, except for the materials. So instead this report focuses on the differences.
We’ll begin with the sights. All references will be for both rifles, unless stated otherwise. The only difference is the 5-shot repeating mechanism on the 61, and Mac shows that in detail. The sights on the older models allowed standard inserts in the from globe, and each rifle was shipped with one post and one aperture insert.
Mac reports that the front aperture in his rifle sight is on the large side — too large for good precision on a 10-meter bull at 10 meters. He toyed with using a 10-meter pistol bull, which is three times the size of the rifle bull. In the end, he mounted a dot sight that gives approximately the same precision as the peep sights.
The rear sight on the old rifles was a value-added affair. It came as a notch that was mounted far forward for good resolution, but there was also a disk that could be attached in place of the notch. The rear sight was then repositioned to the far back of the receiver, where it was closer to the sighting eye. The disk was an inexpensive part, but it conveyed to shooters the fact that Baikal cared how their little sidelever performed.
The old-style trigger was adjustable for pull length as well as engagement area, effectively giving the rifle a lighter trigger-pull. Contrast that with the new trigger, whose blade can be moved — but nothing else.
Magazine feed mechanism and the metal magazines
The metal magazine is shaped differently than the plastic one — possibly because the plastic needed more material to offset wear. As with the modern gun, the mag inserts from the left side of the receiver and is pushed to the right as far as it will go.
On the right side of the receiver, the silver button is pushed forward at the top, causing it to spring back and retract the bolt. Now, the magazine can be pushed into the receiver from the left side. It comes through the end of the hole seen at the extreme right center of the picture.
To load a magazine, a silver button on the right side is pushed forward at the top. A spring then pushes both the bolt and button to the rear, clearing the magazine channel for the insertion of the loaded mag.
Those are the major differences between the older-style rifles and the guns being sold today. In Part 2, we’ll look at the results on target from 10 meters.