Posts Tagged ‘Ruger 10-22 rimfire rifle’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Charles Spillman submitted this week’s winning photo for BSOTW.
Just a reminder that the Roanoke airgun show is next Friday and Saturday — a week from today! I hope to see some of you there.
As immersed as I am in airguns, it’s hard to surprise me these days. But that wasn’t always the case. I remember the time when I shot springers and CO2 guns but avoided precharged guns out of the fear of handling highly compressed air. I saw the movie Jaws and watched the great white shark blow up when the scuba tank let go!
So, I have a frame of reference for the newer airgunners — the guys who may have been shooters for a long time and have now decided for whatever reason to check out airguns. If I write for anyone, I write for them and also for the brand-new shooter.
And I hate jargon. Even though I use it too much, I know how confusing it can be to try to follow a story when the author keeps dropping acronyms and slang terms in your path. I could say PCP, and sometimes I do, but I try to say precharged pneumatic first. And I say silencer, when others attempt to skirt the issue with terms like Lead Dust Collector and Decibel Reduction Device.
Keeping a fresh outlook
One exercise that keeps me fresh is examining and using various firearms (I try never to say “real guns”). Not only does this keep my own perspective fresh and curious — it also gives me a busman’s holiday from airguns, when things become too much the same.
Several years ago, I decided to write a long series of articles for Shotgun News about the Ruger 10/22 .22 rimfire carbine. Why that gun? Because I’d never owned one before and had only shot one a few times. It would appear as new and confusing to me as a Benjamin Trail NP XL appears to a new airgunner. I called my five-part series, “What can you do with a 10/22?”
The Ruger 10/22 is an iconic .22 rimfire. It is to .22s what ARs are to centerfires.
Like any shooter who reads, I had read a lot about the 10/22 — or at least it seemed as though I had. In my mind, it was a superior .22 semiauto that was highly accurate, infinitely reliable and utterly desirable. So, I asked for and received one for Christmas. Just like any airgun, I immediately took it to the range to see what it would do. I was prepared for the best — and got the worst! My 10/22 shot 2-inch, 10-shot groups at 50 yards, on average, with just a couple getting close to the 1.5-inch range. Bummer! I’d owned dozens of .22s that were more accurate. Oh, well, nowhere to go but up!
Just like an airgun, the next step was to tune the rifle. But tuning a .22 means machine time, plus I knew absolutely nothing about the model, so I sent it off to a place in Connecticut that lightened the trigger, installed a trigger stop, jewelled the bolt, drilled a cleaning hole in the rear of the action so the barrel can be cleaned from the breech, rechambered the barrel with a match chamber and installed an extended magazine release that looks suspiciously like a thumbscrew!
Yes, they simply drilled a hole through the back of the aluminum receiver so a cleaning rod could pass through, once the bolt is removed. It’s a great idea!
A simple thumbscrew extends the magazine release so human fingers can operate it. For shame, Ruger!
What I got back was a different rifle. The trigger was now very good (Ruger should be ashamed of the trigger they put in that rifle!), the barrel could be cleaned from the breech, thus preserving the crown, the magazine now pops out fairly easily (another point of shame for Ruger) and — best of all — the rifle was much more accurate. Ten-shot groups of one inch were not uncommon.
Does this look familiar? I tested the Ruger at 50 yards, just like I would an air rifle.
Well, the ulterior motive for buying the 10/22 was so I could buy and test a legal silencer, but the drill to get one occupied more than a year of my time and finally a personal appeal to the head of the branch that approves such requests. I needed something to do in the meantime. My friend Mac donated one of those electric guitar-looking custom stocks to the project, and I bought a Butler Creek bull barrel to see if there would be any accuracy difference…and there was a huge difference! The new custom 10/22 now shot 10-shot groups of less than three-quarters of an inch, with a couple that were under 0.60 inches between centers.
You’re looking at the same rifle in two versions. At the top is the custom stock and bull barrel on the action. Underneath is the standard rifle with the custom trigger features Photoshopped out.
And all it took was spending a further $500 (factoring in the custom work, plus the cost of the custom stock if I had bought it and the bull barrel) to get this $130 semiauto to shoot! Boy, did I ever feel like a new airgunner!
Then, Mac proposed a test of my whomptydoodle custom 10/22 against a box-stock Ruger 10/22 Target — a rifle that Ruger makes and sells for about $450 (at the time the test was being conducted). I said sure, and another huge test was run. At the end of that one, I knew that the factory Ruger 10/22 Target was slightly better than my custom gun, though my rifle has the better trigger. I was kinda like the guy who buys a Beeman HW 97K and then spends $500 getting it tuned, only to discover that the TX200 Mark III was better in the first place!
This is what $450 bought. A Ruger 10/22 Target that out-shot my custom rifle at 50 yards.
By this time, the silencer had come in and I had to reconfigure the rifle with the factory barrel, because the silencer adapter Dennis Quackenbush supplied was made to fit it. I found in that test that a silenced .22 rimfire isn’t as quiet as everyone imagines. Also, the accuracy remains about the same with or without the silencer attached.
And the entire drill was to acquire this legal silencer so I could report on it. It works, but not as well as most people think.
Along the way, I sort of got a brief reputation among the Shotgun News advertisers as a 10/22 guy, so Magnum Research let me test both their .22 rimfire and their .22 Magnum semiautos that are built on the Ruger pattern. The long rifle version is incredibly light, and the magnum gun was a tackdriver. If only I had the money to buy it at the end of the test!
Boy, was this Magnum Research .22 Magnum a tackdriver!
Then, I tested another 10/22 wannabe (the Rhineland R22) and that was the extent of my exploration into this unfamiliar realm. I knew that Volquartsen (a maker of aftermarket upgrade parts for the 10/22) makes complete guns that are no doubt the best that money can buy, but I never sampled them.
This Rhineland R22 doesn’t look like a 10/22, but it is on the inside. This one was chambered for .17 HM2.
But in all of this, I learned some fundamental lessons. First, with all the hype, the Ruger 10/22 is a pretty standard firearm…and other semiautos, like the Marlin model 60, for instance, are just as good. What makes the Ruger stand out are all the aftermarket accessories and all the talk — most of which is just talk and not to be believed. I learned that you do get what you pay for. By spending a little more money up front, you can save a lot more down the road.
Just FYI — this little trip down memory lane originally occupied seven feature articles, taking over 30,000 words and 130 pictures. I mention that because all the detail was omitted for today’s report.
by B.B. Pelletier
Kit Palencar is this week’s Big Shot of the Week.
Today, we’ll complete the test of CB caps against an air rifle to show which is the better gun to use for close-in shooting. There will be a surprise in today’s report, plus I’ll summarize the entire test.
Today’s shooting is all at 10 yards. This is probably where the test should have started rather than finished. Once again, here are the players.
Air rifle — A Talon SS with 24-inch optional .22-caliber barrel and a bloop tube silencer. The rifle is scoped with a Leapers 3-12×44 SWAT scope. It’s shooting the .22-caliber JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellet.
The rimfire rifles are:
1. A Remington 521T target rifle chambered in .22 Long Rifle
2. A Stevens Armory 414 target rifle chambered in .22 Long Rifle
3. A Winchester Winder musket chambered in .22 Short
CCI CB Longs
Aguila Super Colibris
CCI CB Shorts
RWS BB caps
RWS CB caps
Left to right we have the RWS BB cap, RWS CB cap, CCI CB Short, Aguila Super Colibri and CCI CB Long.
Shooting indoors and the sound
I shot this final round indoors, so the relative discharge sounds could be closely monitored. There wasn’t much difference between the air rifle and any of the rimfire rounds except for the two RWS cartridges. Both of them were shot in the Winder musket’s 28-inch barrel and were slightly louder than all the others, with the BB caps being the loudest of all.
At 10 yards, the Talon SS shot all its pellets into a single hole that, until the tenth shot, was just 0.145 inches between centers. Shot 10, however, opened the group to 0.343 inches. You can see it when you look at the group. No excuses, though. I watched the last pellet drop and open the group, yet the hold on that shot was perfect, as it was for all the others.
The Winder musket has proven to be the rimfire star of this test; and at 10 yards, it did what I thought was impossible. It beat the air rifle! Ten CCI CB Shorts tore into a group that measures just 0.258 inches between centers. So, the CB caps beat the air rifle. I wouldn’t have believed this was possible if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes; but, clearly, the fact that the rimfires were shooting with peep sights against the air rifle’s scope did not sway the test that much.
The Winder musket, shooting CCI CB caps, beat the Talon SS at 10 yards.
The Winder was a star at 10 yards. It grouped 10 CCI CB Shorts in 0.258 inches, 10 RWS CB caps in 0.409 inches and 10 RWS BB caps in 1.033 inches.
Even RWS CB caps did well in the Winder at 10 yards.
All of the rimfire rifles shot good groups with CB caps and BB caps at 10 yards. The Remington 521T grouped 10 CCI CB Longs in 0.666 inches and 10 Aguila Super Colibris in 1.119 inches. The Stevens Armory 414 grouped 10 CCI CB Longs in 0.778 inches and 10 Aguila Super Colibris in 1.083 inches.
There was another small surprise during this test. The Stevens Armory 414 out-shot the Remington 521T with Aguila Super Colibris and was nearly as good as the Remington with CCI CB Longs. That tells me that the Stevens is a good-shooting rifle, after all, but maybe it doesn’t stabilize the slow-moving CB bullets well enough for accuracy at longer distances. I’ll come back to that thought in a moment.
Something I didn’t mention before
Blog reader Mike (I think) reminded me that CB caps have a pinch of gunpowder in the case, where BB caps are powered by the primer, alone. In this report, I’ve made it sound like the CB cap is also primer-powered with no powder, but that’s not the case. I took apart a CCI Long cartridge to show you the powder, and I’ve put it next to a CCI Green Tag .22 Long Rifle for comparison.
This goes in the “Don’t try this at home” instructions. At the top is a CCI CB Long pulled apart. Below is a CCI Green Tag Long Rifle cartridge pulled apart.
What I didn’t do in this test
I didn’t bust my tail trying CB caps in every .22 I have. If I had, no doubt the results might have been a little different; but I doubt there would have been anything earth-shattering. Any reader who has access to a fine .22 rimfire target rifle is welcome to try his or her hand at this test and report the results. I would really love to hear what a Remington 40X or an Anschütz free rifle could do. Until I hear different, I’m thinking these results are fairly representative of what you will see from a .22.
I have formed the following conclusions from the test results.
First, a CB cap in almost any .22 rimfire rifle in good condition can be accurate enough to dispatch pests at 10 yards or less. If you have a squirrel in the attic, a CB cap might be your best solution — especially if you don’t have an air rifle ready to go.
The rifle does have to be sighted-in for CB caps. Though they will be off by only an inch or so at 10 yards, the targets are often small enough that it does matter. Having a scope that has mil-dots so you can easily shift aim points is the best way to compensate for this.
Beyond 10 yards, the CB cap accuracy starts falling off rapidly. The rifle and exact round you choose start mattering. This is not true for air rifles, because one air rifle can be good from 10 yards to 50 yards with just slight changes in the aim point.
At 25 yards, the CB caps become very chancy, and it really matters which rifle and which rounds are selected. In this test, I found that no CB cap/rifle combination was good enough to go all the way to 50 yards. Yet, the air rifle did so with ease and could go even farther.
I’m going to say the CB caps are not stabilized out to 50 yards, because that’s what it looks like from the results. I just don’t think those bullets have enough spin to keep them on track that far out.
CB caps are quiet, but not more than a quiet PCP. When you’re in close confines, they’ll sound louder than you think.
Some rifles are simply not suited to the use of CB caps. I eliminated the Ruger 10/22 from the test after experiencing difficulty loading the caps.
Stuffing those tiny CB caps into the Ruger 10/22’s deep breech is no picnic. I don’t recommend it.
CB caps are expensive; but if you don’t plan to shoot a lot of them, they’re much cheaper than buying an entire air rifle. CB caps are ideal for older .22 rifles that may not have the strength needed for today’s more powerful cartridges.
On the other hand, if you own a quality air rifle like the Talon SS I’ve used in this test, I wouldn’t think of using CB caps in its place. The air rifle is so clearly ahead of the CB caps at all ranges — the results of the 10-yard test notwithstanding — that it simply makes no sense.
Was it worth the effort?
It absolutely was worth all the time spent gathering the data in this test, because now we have some solid performance data as a gauge. No, this may not be the last test anyone ever does, but it’s the first of its type of which I am aware. From now on, when somebody gives you the CB cap excuse for not shooting an airgun, you have something to help you argue your point.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today I will show you what CB caps did at 25 yards. Please remember the thrust of this investigation is to see whether a CB cap can be substituted for a good (read that as a PCP) air rifle. The four things I am interested in are the cost of ammo, accuracy, power and the noise at discharge.
Thus far we have learned that the air rifle is more accurate than the best CB cap at 50 yards. The pellets for that rifle are considerably less expensive than a similar quantity of CB caps and the dischange sound of my Talon SS with its 24-inch optional .22-caliber barrel the way I have it set up (with a bloop tube silencer installed) is as quiet as the quietest CB cap tested. And when I say CB cap, know that I’m also including the RWS BB cap in the list of ammo being tested.
So at 50 yards, you’ll want to choose an accurate precharged air rifle over a CB cap in any .22 rifle. But what about closer? What if the pests you want to shoot are no farther than 25 yards away? Today we will see how CB caps do at that distance, and of course as always, I will shoot the air rifle right with them, so we can keep track of things.
It was so easy to test the air rifle first, because if it is sighted-in at 50 yards, it’s also very close at 25 yards. In fact, my rifle is sighted-in for 25 yards and I have simply tolerated it at 50 yards because the group was close enough to the aim point. The same .22-caliber JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellet was used as at 50 yards.
The Talon SS set the bar pretty high for the rest of the rifles. Ten JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets went into this group measuring 0.436-inches between centers.
CCI CB Longs
Now it was the turn of the CCI CB Long CB caps. The first rifle to fire them was the Remington 521T that proved fairly accurate (for a CB cap) at 50 yards.
Ten CCI CB Longs went into this group measuring 1.83-inches at 25 yards. The Remington 521T did it.
After that, the Stevens 414 Armory stepped up to the plate. As you may recall, it did so poorly with both brands of CB caps at 50 yards that I fired a group of 9 Wolf Match Target rounds, which are regular .22 long rifle target rounds, just to see if the rifle was accurate at all. It was with that ammo, but not with the CB caps.
At 25 yards the 414 was a little better. Ten shots went into a group measuring 2.787 inches across. While that’s not tack-driving accuracy, at least they were all on the paper this time.
Not a killer group, but much better than the performance at 50 yards. Stevens 414 Armory shooting CCI CB Longs in this 2.787-inch group.
Aguila Super Colibri
The next round to be tested was the Super Colibri from Aguila. You may remember that we discovered that the Colibri rounds shoot way too slow for rifles and had to be eliminated from this test, so the Super Colibri is the only Aguila round being tested.
In the Remington 521T they performed adequately. Ten shots went into a group measuring 3.476 inches at 25 yards. While that might be good enough for plinking, no one would ever confuse it as an accurate round for pest elimination.
Not a stellar performance, but the best we did with Aguila Super Colibris at 25 yards. These ten shots made a 3.476-inch group.
Next up was the Stevens Armory 414, and while all ten shots did land on the target paper at 25 yards, they were spread out over 5-7/8-inches. Clearly the Stevens rifle does not like CB caps one bit. I won’t even show the group, because there is nothing to see.
RWS BB and CB caps
At this point the RWS BB caps and CB caps were up, and only one rifle is shooting them — my Winchester Winder musket. I did that because it is chambered for .22 Shorts, so the shorter RWS cases won’t cause as much trouble as they might in a rifle chambered for the .22 Long Rifle round.
The BB cap target I won’t show because the group is too large, and one round landed off the target. It measured about seven inches in all, which makes this round infeasible for use at 25 yards in this rifle. After the test is completed I may go back and try the round in the Remington, just to see if I’m right about the chamber being too long, but right now I’m finished with it at 25 yards.
The RWS CB cap, on the other hand, turned in a 10-shot group that measured 1.792-inches across, making it the best CB cap group at this range thus far. This tells be that the performance of the BB cap in this rifle is probably better than I would see in the Remington, because this rifle just out-shot the Remington’s best 25-yard group. So it is clear that the RWS CB cap is a cartridge to contend with, and also the Winder musket is no slouch in the accuracy department.
Best CB cap target at 25 yards to this point! The Winder musket can shoot and the RWS CB cap is not bad, either. Group measures 1.792-inchs across.
CCI CB Short
Only one cartridge remains — the CCI CB Short. We learned in the velocity test that it is equally powerful as the CB Long and has an identical bullet, so the only significant difference is the Short has a shorter case. It is ideal for rifles chambered for the .22 Short round.
You would think that would make this cartridge very similar to the CB Long, but that’s not how it turned out! When I was done with the string and looked at the target for the first time, I was amazed! The Winder musket has iron target sights, so I couldn’t see the group as it formed, and that was probably a good thing, because look at what it did.
Does this group look a lot like the tight air rifle group at the beginning of the report? It does to me. Ten rounds went into 0.981 inches, with nine of them cutting a group that measures 0.604-inches! That’s pretty amazing.
Obviously I have found a winner with the Winder musket and CCI CB Shorts. They are equally accurate as the air rifle and might be used to pick squirrels off the bird feeder, as long as it isn’t too far away, and the rifle is sighted-in for the cartridge.
Sum up for 25 yards
At 25 yards, some CB caps will work, while others won’t. It seems to rely a lot on the individual rifle at this range. Since I have only tried a couple rifles, I would think the possibilities are wide open for anyone who owns a .22 rimfire.
Let’s remember that these bullets are being powered by priming compound, alone. And it is the priming step that is both the most critical in the production of rimfire ammunition, and also the one most prone to failures. I did have several failures to fire with the Stevens Armory 414, but when I shot .22 Long Rifles there was only a single failure and that one didn’t work after three tries. Perhaps the Armory could use a tuneup, and maybe that is what is behind its poor showings.
The last group shown was the one that really stunned me. I would have bet big money before conducting this test that no CB cap in any rifle would every turn in that kind of performance. Well, that’s why I’m doing this. Now we all know a lot more about what CB caps can and cannot do.
There is one more test to conduct at 10 meters. That’s for those who just want to shoot squirrels in their attic. Then I will sum up all the important lessons this report has revealed.
by B.B. Pelletier
Andrew is hidden among the ferns with his KWA KM4 RIS airsoft rifle.
Today, I’ll finish the accuracy test at 50 yards.
This report is about how .22-caliber CB caps stand up to an air rifle in four areas: cost of ammunition, power, accuracy and sound. To-date, we’ve learned that the air rifle I’m using is just about as powerful as the most powerful CB cap and that it’s as quiet as the quietest CB cap that might be used. One specialty CB cap (the Aguila Colibri) is quieter, but so low powered that it wasn’t used in this test. It’s strictly for .22 handguns.
First, I tested the accuracy of the AirForce Talon SS, which is my control air rifle. It has to endure the same wind and lighting as the CB caps, so the results should not be skewed.
If you’ve been following this report, you know that I’ve been having trouble loading CB caps into the chamber of my Ruger 10/22 — one of three rifles I selected to test the accuracy of CB caps. I chose a 10/22 because I had one (always a good reason) and because I thought it represented what the average guy might use if he wanted to shoot a CB cap. However, that was before I discovered what a royal pain it is to load CB caps into a 10/22! Yes, it can be done and I actually did it many times, but it’s so frustrating that I finally gave up and removed the 10/22 from this test.
Before making that decision, though, I even went to the bother of converting my rifle to the custom configuration with the custom stock and bull barrel from Butler Creek. Then, I rediscovered this nasty fact. So, I bounced that rifle as well before firing the first shot. But that left me with no scoped rifles in .22 rimfire. My Remington 521T has target aperture sights, as does the Winchester Winder musket. I wanted to keep things as even as possible between the firearms and the air rifle that wears a Leapers 3-12×44AO SWAT scope, but it was not to be.
The Winder musket
Another rifle whose accuracy I haven’t yet reported in this test is the Winchester Winder musket. This is a Winchester Low Wall action chambered for .22 Short, and I selected it for two reasons. First, it was made as a target rifle, and as such should be pretty accurate. Second, because it’s chambered for the .22 Short round, it’s perfect for the CCI CB Short cartridge, as well as being better for the ultra-short RWS CB caps and BB caps. Shooting these rounds in a rifle chambered for long rifle ammunition is putting them at a decided disadvantage, because they have to traverse the length of the chamber before encountering the rifling. When doing that, it’s possible the bullets could tip slightly before they engage the rifling.
Though the Winder musket dates from before 1920, it’s still a highly accurate target rifle, as this test showed.
The Winder’s performance was pretty surprising. It out-shot both the Remington 521T target rifle AND the scoped Ruger 10/22. Not by just a little. With CCI CB Shorts, the Winder posted a 2.714-inch 10-shot group! While not in the same class as the air rifle, that’s not bad. It was the tightest group made by any of the CB cap and BB cap ammunition in any rifle at 50 yards.
Not bad for just priming compound at 50 yards! This group of 10 CCI CB Short rounds from the Winder musket measures 2.714 inches across centers.
With RWS CB caps, the Winder put 10 into a group measuring about 3.577 inches. I have to say “about” because one round strayed off the target paper and I wrote a note on the target that it was an inch to the right. The Winder has no lock on the windage adjustment, and I guess I’d rubbed it against the rifle case when pulling it out at the range. That rolled the windage adjustment too far to the right, which put the group in the upper right corner of the target. When I started shooting, the shots were close enough and far enough on the paper that I thought I could get them all on. Since it takes me up to 15 minutes to complete one group, while waiting for the perfect time to shoot, I decided to go with this group as is.
Nine of 10 RWS CB caps made it through this target from the Winder musket. Shot No. 9 just nicked the right edge of the paper. The tenth shot was about an inch to the right of the target paper. Actual group size was about 3.577 inches.
The RWS BB caps performed much differently than the CB caps in the Winder. Only 8 of 10 made it onto the paper, even though this group is well-centered on the target. Again, I have no idea how large the total group is, but the 8 shots I do have are spread out about 7.25 inches.
Adding the Stevens Armory 414 target rifle
I did add a third rifle to the firearm side since the 10/22 was removed. It’s a Stevens Armory 414 target rifle that was popular before World War II. It’s a single-shot lever-action that’s based on the popular Stevens No. 44 action. Mine has an adjustable target tang sight and a very odd front aperture that looks like it should be lethal.
The four rifles used in this test (top to bottom): AirForce Talon SS, Winchester Winder musket, Stevens Armory 414 and Remington 521T.
The front aperture on the Stevens Armory rifle is one of the smallest I’ve ever seen.
Now, it was time to shoot the new rifle at 50 yards with both the Aguila Super Colibri CB caps and the CCI CB Longs. This was done a week ago, and I saved the results for today’s report.
The results are really horrible! The Aguila Super Colibis managed to hit the 10.5″x12″ target paper 3 out of 10 times. For those on the metric system, the target paper measures 268mm by about 350mm! I have no way of knowing for certain what the group size actually is, but let’s conservatively call it a 15-inch group! I’m not going to bother showing you the target paper with three holes.
Next, I tried CCI CB Longs and got somewhat better results, though they’re still nothing spectacular. Ten shots made a group that measures just over 9 inches at 50 yards. At least all the shots were on the paper!
This got me wondering whether this particular rifle is accurate with anything, so I shot a group of 9 Wolf Match Target .22 long rifle cartridges. It would have been 10, but one cartridge failed to fire in three attempts. Rimfires! Naturally, that was the last of that brand of cartridge on hand. The group is small enough (0.978 inches) to indicate that the rifle can shoot, and I still have no idea what the best round for this rifle might be.
Nine Wolf Match Target rounds went into this group, which is under an inch; so, the rifle can shoot with the right ammunition.
Summary for CB caps against air rifles at 50 yards
The Talon SS air rifle with an optional 24-inch, .22-caliber barrel and bloop tube shot groups in the three-quarters to one-and-a-quarter-inch range at 50 yards. This rifle is a proven entity, and this level of performance is not unusual. Since it was shot on the same day as the CB caps, both were shot under the same conditions; so, we can cancel the wind and lighting as factors.
The best performance from the firearms was realized by the CCI CB Shorts shot in the Winder musket, and they made a 10-shot group that was just over 2.70 inches. The Ruger 10/22 that I eliminated because of loading difficulties turned in the second-best group, and the RWS CB caps in the Winder musket were close behind. After that, the group sizes increased very quickly. Most of the rest of the groups were too large to measure because several shots were off the paper and lost.
The bottom line for 50-yard shooting with CB caps is that they cannot keep pace with a good PCP air rifle. There’s something else you have to consider. If you grab a .22 rimfire to shoot just one CB cap, the rifle will not be sighted-in for that round. I spent a lot of time getting my shots on target at 50 yards. When I switched back to standard .22 long rifle ammunition with the Stevens Armory 414, the sights had to be adjusted a lot in both directions.
With an air rifle, you’ll always be on target, provided the rifle is sighted-in. So, just grab the gun, load it and take the shot. At distances as far as 50 yards, this makes all the difference in the world, because Mr. Rat is not going to sit still while you adjust your sights.
I must say that I was surprised by the tightest CB cap groups shot with both the Winder musket and the Remington 521T. I couldn’t have predicted that level of accuracy for them at 50 yards.
Next time, we’ll move in to 25 yards — and I already know the results are going to amaze you.
This report is going to start a controversy, because it dares to question the things that are currently held dear among airgunners and firearms shooters, alike. Sorry, but here it goes.
What is a crown?
The crown is the end of the barrel, or the place at the muzzle that has the final influence upon the bullet as it transitions to ballistic flight. One popular belief is that if the crown is not perfectly symmetrical, then one side of the pellet or bullet can exit before the other and allow escaping gas to impart a destabilizing effect on the bullet at the beginning of its path to the target. So, crowns have to be perfect, according to the vast majority of shooters.
The other side
But there have been experiments done that show that escaping gasses have zero effect on a bullet in flight. The most well-documented of these were done by Dr. F.W. Mann, who wrote about them in his book The Bullet’s Flight, From Powder to Target. Dr. Mann did numerous experiments until finally he demonstrated that a plank six inches long placed within 1/16 inch of the muzzle blast has absolutely no effect on the accuracy of a bullet.
You see, in Dr. Mann’s day riflemen believed that the muzzle blast had a deleterious effect on the flight of the bullet, and they warned shooters to keep the muzzle clear of any and all obstructions.
But is what Dr. Mann tested the same as an inaccurate crown? Maybe not. The question seems to be what, exactly, does the crown do?
The end of the rifling and the face of the muzzle bore must be as square as possible to the bore for the crown to be perfect. The reason for this is as I stated earlier — that the base of the bullet/pellet leaves the muzzle at exactly the same point around its circumference, rather than one part coming out before the rest. But there are all kinds of crowns, including some that don’t look like a crown at all.
Let’s look at some crowns now.
The crown of this Ballard target rifle is flat and polished like a mirror. The old-time shooters felt it was easier to see the distribution of the bullet lube — as it made a pattern on the face of the muzzle. There’s almost no break between the bore and the muzzle on this rifle — which is one of the more accurate ones I own. In the 135 years since this rifle was made, there has been no damage to this crown.
This Butler Creek bull barrel for a Ruger 10/22 has a recessed crown that’s similar to the Ballard crown except for the recess. However, on this one, it’s possible to see a tiny break (chamfer) at the muzzle. With the right ammunition, this rifle can hold 10 shots close to one-half inch at 50 yards. The recess supposedly protects the actual crown from inadvertent damage.
No doubt that this crown on an FWB 300 target rifle will look more familiar to most shooters. It’s the traditional rounded or radiused crown with a protected chamfer at the true muzzle. It’s on my most accurate ten-meter target rifle. Doesn’t look so pretty up close, does it?
The crown on this HW55 SF air rifle is similar to the one on the FWB 300, but up close it looks pretty disgusting. The rifle is one of the more accurate 10-meter target rifles I own. So, looks can be deceiving, and a “perfect” crown may not be all that it’s cracked up to be.
Not looking like your typical crown, this Swedish Mauser M1938 crown is a lot like the “redneck” crown job that hobbyists do on their guns. This is on a very accurate rifle. The lighting makes the bore seem to have a shoulder around the inside of the muzzle, but it doesn’t.
The redneck crown
Since the 1960s, there has been a hobbyist approach to crowning a barrel. It consists of a round-headed brass screw and a grinding compound — like automotive valve grinding compound. Chuck the screw in a hand drill and coat the domed screw head with grinding compound. Then, run the drill motor slowly while allowing the axis of the drill to oscillate to avoid making an oval cut. The result will look something like the crown on the Swedish Mauser M1938 shown above.
The crown on a custom barrel for a .17 HM2 rifle. Though brand-new and not even broken in yet, this rifle has already shot a five-shot 50-yard group that measured 3/8 inches across the centers of the widest shots. Note the powder burn pattern around the muzzle. This is the same thing that old-timers analyzed on the mirror surface of the Ballard muzzle when it was bullet lubricant that spread out instead of carbon fouling. This is another deadly accurate rifle that has no noticeable “crown” to the muzzle. The transition is very close to 90 degrees.
The crown on an AirForce Condor is very similar to the recessed target crowns shown before, except that this one has a definite chamfer or break at the muzzle. This rifle shoots half-inch five-shot groups and three-quarter inch 10-shot groups at 50 yards. And, yes, I did notice that it is time to clean this barrel!
So, what’s the verdict?
I’m not sure. That’s where I am on the whole crown issue. The reasoning makes some sense, and I can see why a PCP or a CO2 gun would then need a good crown, but a springer barely has any compressed air exiting the muzzle, so where’s the advantage there?
Don’t say anything about crowns removing burrs at the muzzle, because Dr. Mann did an extensive test in which he screwed blunt-tipped screws into the side of his Pope barrel at the muzzle to see if burrs at the muzzle that deformed bullets affected accuracy. They did not. He set his blunt-tipped screws to plough to the bottom of the grease groove of the exiting bullet, and no change was noticed in its accuracy at 100 yards.
Are crowns placebos?
I’m still undecided on the importance of crowning a barrel. I’ve read what everyone says, which is that the crown is of paramount importance to the accuracy of the barrel, yet I’m not convinced that it is. I’m also not convinced that it isn’t. I just don’t know.
I think there’s something more that has not yet been discussed about crowns and their importance to accuracy, but I’ll be darned if I know what it is. Do shooters shoot better after receiving (or doing) a crown job on a particular barrel? If you read what they write, they seem to. And most shooters believe that the barrel’s crown is of great importance to the performance of the barrel.
I wish I knew for sure, but I don’t.
by B.B. Pelletier
Here’s what Tyler says about his submission: Me (FR3AK) from the well-known team of Valhalla ODA (Operational Detachment Airsoft) at the annual Vietnam Patrol game at the CDWC field.
Let’s look at the accuracy of CB caps for the first time. This is a large test that isn’t even halfway completed at this point, so there’s still quite a lot to learn; and from my perspective, there has already been a lot of learning. Starting today, much of what I thought I knew for sure about CB caps is going away.
Some .22 rifles are not made to shoot CB caps
Before I started this test, I thought I could load a CB cap in just about any .22 rifle and get away with it. This test has shown that’s untrue. I’ll begin with a rifle I selected because I thought it was the standard of modern .22s — the Ruger 10/22 semiautomatic.
The 10/22 is not the most accurate rimfire rifle around, and nobody claims that it is. But it probably has more add-ons and aftermarket modifications than the next 10 most-popular .22s put together. The 10/22 aftermarket is almost as large and brisk as that of the AR-15 — the amazing, morphing black gun.
You can throw money at your 10/22 and turn it into a credible shooter for action matches, like the Chevy Sportsman Team Challenge, or you can literally paint it purple with colorful stocks and barrel options. If you have a wild hair and too much disposable cash, you can even lash several 10/22s together into a McGyver’s Gatling Gun. Yes, you can do just about anything with a Ruger 10.22 — except, maybe shoot CB caps in it.
Oh, they’ll fire once you’ve figured out the three-handed way of loading them into the breech. I even had suggestions on special loading tools to make loading easier, but loading is such a pain that I recommend finding a different rifle.
The rifle I thought would represent the everyman’s .22 turned out not to work well at all. However, I’m not stopping there. I have a Butler Creek bull barrel and a custom thumbhole stock that turns my stanrard rifle into a wannabe target shooter. The test will continue with the same rifle in that configuration.
I’ll also add the Stevens Armory 414 target rifle into the mix of rifles being tested to take the place of the standard 10/22. This is a single-shot target rifle that was popular before World War II, and I’m adding it just to keep the competition stiff. I’ll show you all the rifles when I report their accuracy, but today we’re only looking at the results of the Ruger 10/22 and the Remington 521T.
The baseline of the test is my AirForce Talon SS, fitted with an optional .22-caliber, 24-inch barrel. The range is 50 yards, and I shot the Talon on the same day as the rifles I’m testing.
Longtime blog readers know that this rifle posted a 10-shot group under a half-inch about a month ago. On the day I tested it with the CB caps, though, the wind must have had a greater influence, because the groups were all much larger. I shot the JSB Exact Jumbos domes weighing 18.1 grains, and the best 10-shot group went just under one inch. The worst was about 1.5 inches on this same day. So, that’s the baseline against which the CB caps are shooting.
The Ruger was next, and right away I discovered that loading it needed three hands. One to hold the rifle, the second to hold back the bolt and the third to load the CB cap. Yes, the 10/22 does have a bolt hold-open device, but it’s the very definition of a poor design. I never bothered modifying it because I never really used it before this test.
The rifle was equipped with a Centerpoint 8-32×56AO scope, and, naturally, it was set all the way up. While this may seem a little biased against the other .22s, which have open sights, the Talon SS does have a 16X scope, so this balances against that. When I swap in the bull barrel and different stock, this rifle will still be wearing this scope.
However, that didn’t matter, because the groups from the Ruger were so large that I can’t show most of them here. In one case, bullets landed on two different 12-inch paper targets. That, plus the difficulty of loading each round is why the standard Ruger 10/22 has been eliminated from this test. I did get one promising group from the CCI Mini CB caps. Ten shots measure 3.475 inches at 50 yards. That group was the one that opened my eyes and made me realize that there might be something to these caps after all.
I know that people who use CB caps are not shooting 50-yard groups. They’re interested in protecting the bird feeder from a ravaging squirrel without making a lot of noise. If the feeder is closer than 50 yards, it might just be possible to do.
Not bad for a CB cap at 50 yards! These are 10 CCI Mini CB caps shot from a Ruger 10/22. I didn’t expect to see this much accuracy from CB caps at this range.
Only two rounds were tested in the 10/22 — the Super Colibris from Aguila and the CCI CB caps. I did try to shoot a group of regular Colibris, but that’s when I learned that they were not meant for rifles at all. The Super Colibris gave a group a little larger than 12 inches, and I’m not showing that here. As far as I’m concerned, they do not work well enough in a 10/22 at 50 yards to be considered. The CCI Mini CB caps, on the other hand, do show some promise.
Next I tried the Remington 521T that I thought would bury the Ruger. Well, the best-laid plans oft go astray, I guess, because this rifle shot a slightly larger group of 10 CCI Mini CB caps. This group measured 4.013 inches.
This group of 10 CCI Mini CB caps measures 4.013 inches. It was shot by the Remington 521T at 50 yards.
As with the Ruger, the Remington also got much larger groups with the Aguila Super Colibri CB caps. They were over 7 inches, making them unsuitable for shooting at this distance. The reason the 521 gets to stay in the test is because loading it is far easier than loading the 10/22. I’m still going to test my custom 10/22, which will be just as hard to load as the standard rifle; if I get better accuracy, that rifle will bear the 10/22 standard for the entire test. If not, the Stevens Armory 414 will have to substitute, I guess.
That is a lot for you to digest, so I’ll stop here. In the next part, I’ll show you how the Winder Musket did with CCI Mini Short CB caps and with both types of RWS caps. The results will surprise you, I think. I know I’m surprised by what both of the rifles shown today were able to do.
Yet to come
In future tests, I’ll shorten the distance to 25 yards and then to 10 yards to show where CB caps can possibly do their best work. I know those who are interested in this subject must think I’m serializing it to keep you on the hook, but that’s not what’s happening. There are so many rifles and so much different ammunition to track that I am going through the results in a stepwise manner to make certain that everything gets looked at correctly.
I’ve already learned far more about the performance potential of .22 CB caps than I’ve ever read anywhere. By the time this test is complete, we’ll all know a lot more than has ever been published about this short-range ammunition.
There’s one additional benefit from this test. Readers are starting to ask a lot of questions about the fundamentals of accuracy and why certain airguns do what they do. On Monday, the blog will address a fundamental question that came in from the Pyramyd Air facebook page. Stuff like this cannot help but advance all of us in our understanding of the mechanics behind the accurate gun.
by B.B. Pelletier
When I started The Airgun Letter back in March 1994, I did so out of frustration. I had just subscribed to American Airgunner magazine and they folded, leaving me with half a subscription unfulfilled and an unquenchable thirst for more information about airguns. I could buy all the gun magazines I wanted, because there were over a dozen titles on the newsstands back then, but there was never one about airguns. And, the few articles gun writers wrote about airguns were trash back then…just as it is today.
Edith suggested that I write my own magazine about airguns, and I thought she was crazy. I told her I didn’t know enough about them to fill a whole magazine, so she suggested that I write a monthly newsletter, instead. I still thought she was out of her cabeza, but at her suggestion I sat down one day and wrote the titles of all the articles I knew I could write about. When I had three-and-a-half legal sheets filled with one-line titles (about 150 titles) I figured it might be worth a try.
The rest of the story is that we started publishing the newsletter in March 1994 and added 50 percent more pages a year later because I needed the extra space. Then, we also published six different 100-page magazines called Airgun Revue, for which I wrote historical airgun articles.
The only reason we stopped publishing the newsletter was we were losing money. People were copying the newsletter and sending it to their friends. I had thousands of readers the world over, but most of them were not paying for a subscription. Plus, the internet was growing, and we also found some of our articles online. In those days, it was harder to shut down another website for infringing on your copyright.
But back to today’s report. One thing I did when I wrote my newsletter was address topics that no other writer would. There were deep dark secrets back in those days, and various interest groups didn’t want the great unwashed (that’s everyone except themselves) to know these things. So, I wrote about them in a column called “Balderdash.” Two of them have to do with today’s blog.
There were several myths about multi-pump pneumatics that were being espoused on the few chat forums we had back then. One was the myth that a multi-pump loses power when left to sit for a long time after pumping, because pumping generates heat (the heat of compression); and when the gun has the chance to cool off, it will slow down significantly.
Another myth was that the cadence at which you pump each stroke has a tremendous effect on the power output of the gun. I’m going to answer those myths right now.
I tested both questions, using my Sheridan Blue Streak and a Japanese-made Sharp Ace I owned and found that pumping the gun fast or slow had virtually no effect on velocity. There were differences, but they were smaller than the total variation of velocity both guns had, so the results were “in the noise,” as electronic engineers like to say. There was no difference in the velocities of the guns whether they were pumped slow or fast that could be supported with statistical confidence.
What about shooting immediately as opposed to waiting for a long time? Would velocity vary then? Many said that it would, because the heated reservoir (and the air inside) would have time to cool and therefore lose energy. W.H.B. Smith claimed in his classic book, Smith’s Standard Encyclopedia of Gas , Air and Spring Guns of the World, that there would be a difference from the loss of heat over time, but it would be very small. Back in 1995 when I ran this test, Smith’s book was one of the only books on the subject of air-gunnery in existence. We knew even then that there were errors in the book, such as the low results he got with the HW 54 EL Barakuda ether-injected rifle that was probably due to a blown piston seal. But since it was just about all there was, we read it and thought about it and this idea of power loss through cooling became a fact.
The test I ran with my Sharp Ace indicated a small difference in power that favored the hotter gun over the gun shot later, but the results were, once again, very close. At about 770 f.p.s., the two results were separated by just seven f.p.s. for 10 shots. I concluded that the difference might actually exist, but that it was too small to be of practical interest.
But let’s set those two questions aside now, because yesterday, blog reader Aaron prompted me to write this blog when he responded to my test of accuracy between the Ruger 10-22 and the AirForce Talon SS that wrote about in yesterday’s blog. Aaron said that he could not understand comparing airguns to powder burners. That each was created to do a different thing and that any comparison was therefore senseless (I’m using my own words to paraphrase his thoughts here).
I agree with Aaron that we shouldn’t compare airguns and firearms — except that so many people do. When I was growing up, I heard a lot of older boys and even men saying, “That old Benjamin of mine is as powerful as a .22. I just pump her up 30 times and she cracks like a rifle!”
Overlooking the fact that the gun they were talking about probably was a rifle, I understood what they meant and I’m sure you do, too. What they meant was their multi-pump, when pumped about 30 times, had (they assumed) all the velocity and (they assumed) power of a .22 rimfire cartridge.
At this point, blog reader twotalon chimed in to tell us he knew what the outcome of this test would be. Well, he was right, but there is a VERY important point that we all need to understand. While conducting the first test about the speed of the pump strokes affecting the velocity, the first time I ran the test I actually proved that it did! And I published the results that way!
Several people took exception to my findings, and at about the same time I was testing the Beeman R1 for the articles that would eventually become the R1 book. Well, I discovered that my ancient Shooting Chrony chronograph that I bought used from Paul Watts could be “tricked” into displaying velocities faster or slower, depending on the angle of the pellet path through the skyscreens. I had to throw out a lot of R1 test results after I found out how to “cheat” the machine by angling the barrel for the shot. And that made me wonder about everything else I had tested with the same machine, so Edith and I bit the bullet and I bought a new Oehler 35P chronograph.
The new chronograph showed that there was very little difference between slow and fast pumping, so I had to print a retraction to the earlier article. I also learned the value of good equipment, because I had to rerun a lot of the R1 tests that were already in the can.
I’m not saying anything bad about today’s Shooting Chrony chronographs. I use one most of the time these days. But the one I had been using for those tests was one of the very ancient ones that had cardboard “windows” above each skyscreen, and the ones on my machine had been so shot to pieces that the results were unreliable. You’d get a three-digit number, but how close it came to the truth was anyone’s guess.
Back to the report
At any rate, I’d always wondered if the old guys were kidding themselves by thinking an overpumped pneumatic was more powerful, so I conducted a test. I really didn’t want to pump my Blue Streak more than eight times because ever since it was brand new in 1978 I’d been so careful to limit my pumps to a maximum of eight, just like the manual advised.
I’m sure that I conducted that test and published the results somewhere, but I can’t find it anywhere in the index of the Airgun Letter. So, I had to run another test for you today. Once again, I drafted my 1978-vintage Blue Streak for the job. And we remember that the manual that I lost years ago, but which Pyramyd Air has in their online library of manuals, says that 8 pumps are the maximum. So, let’s roll!
For this test, I used my old Blue Streak, which I oiled especially for today. The pellets are all 14.3-grain .20-caliber Crosman Premiers.
Well, that chart shows what I was talking about, but not as well as I’d like. You can see the power drop off after the tenth pump stroke. But a Blue Streak should be doing that on pump number nine and the velocity should be much higher.
I could tell at pump five that my old Blue Streak wasn’t feeling well. It looks like the old gal finally needs some attention, because the last time I recorded the same pellet at 8 pumps it was going 643 f.p.s. and a few years before that it was close to 675. There’s reason No. 12 to own a chronograph.
Next, I pressed a Benjamin 392 into service. These days there isn’t much difference between the 392 and the Blue Streak, except for the caliber. My 392 is a pump-assist model that I reported on several years ago, but the powerplant is stock.
Same Crosman Premier 14.3-grain pellet was used, but this time in .22 caliber. Again, the gun was oiled before testing began.
That wasn’t the clear and obvious test result I was hoping for. In the past, I’ve seen velocities turn around after pump eight, or in some guns after pump nine and everything thereafter was slower. This time, the gun kept increasing until pump 13, where it went slower for the first time, but after that it seemed to want to remain at about the same velocity no matter how many pumps were put into the gun. This wasn’t from residual air pressure remaining in the reservoir, because I was dry-firing the rifle after each shot from seven pump strokes on. Usually, I’ll be able to hear when the gun hasn’t exhausted all its air because there will be a small crack from the dry-fire afterward, but that didn’t seem to be happening with either my Blue Streak or this 392. The Blue Streak just needs an overhaul but there could also be some dynamic about the pump-assist conversion I’m not familiar with, I guess.
But the main point I wanted to make today was that the gun doesn’t just keep on getting faster and faster with each additional pump stroke, and that was proven in both tests. So, the myth of 30 pump strokes turning it into a .22 rimfire is just that — a myth.
I’m not blaming Aaron for any of this. He only said he didn’t think we should compare airguns to firearms. He never mentioned any of these old stories, but that was enough to set me off on this strange quest to expose some old-wives’ tales about our airguns.
Now, I have yet another sick air rifle to care for. It seems that the cobbler’s children will have to go barefoot a while longer.