Posts Tagged ‘Spring-piston rifles’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Walther LGV Olympia was a top-quality 10 meter target rifle from the 1970s.
Don’t get confused. The title of this blog is the Walther LGV Olympia field test, but the first part was titled, We interrupt our regular program….I used that title so I wouldn’t give away the topic that first day. This report is, indeed, about the Walther LGV Olympia of history, but this is a new take on it. I already reported on it two and a half years ago, but that report was about the rifle as a vintage 10-meter target rifle, which at that time was all the LGV had ever been. Only in 2012, when Walther brought out their new line of sporting rifles under the LGV model name, was the LGV anything except a breakbarrel target rifle.
We’ve now looked at the .177-caliber Walther LGV Master Ultra rifle and also at the .22-caliber LGV Challenger (which I now own), so I thought it might be nice to see how the original LGV stacks up to these new rifles. This test will look at the vintage LGV Olympia at 25 yards and at 50 yards. At both distances, I’ll use the rifle’s target sights. I mentioned last time that when I tested the FWB 300S at 50 yards, it didn’t seem to matter that much whether target sights or a scope was used, so I see no need to switch the sights on this rifle.
One thing I have learned in the two and a half years since testing the LGV target rifle is how deep-seating the pellet often has a dramatic affect on accuracy. We have seen that with other airguns, but this will be the first time I think I’ve tested it on a vintage target rifle. This should be an interesting test. And, because the LGV is a breakbarrel, it plays right into the test plan, because breakbarrels are the easiest type of guns in which to seat the pellets deep.
Naturally, I’ll use the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and PellSet seater to seat the pellets. It’s so easy; because once you set the optimum seating depth, it never changes until you change it. If you don’t have a tool, you can seat pellets with a ballpoint pen…but the seating depth is not adjustable.
Today, we’re just going to see how well the rifle performs with some sample pellets that might get chosen for the 25-yard test. I’ll test the velocity of all pellets both seated flush with the end of the barrel and also seated deep. That will be a good comparison.
JSB Exact Heavy
You must wonder if I’ve lost my mind, testing the 10.34-grain JSB Exact Heavy domed pellet in a rifle this weak. No, that’s one of the types of pellets I expect might do well at 50 yards. It certainly has the capability to buck the wind, so I thought it might be a good one to test. I have almost no experience shooting airguns of this low power level out to 50 yards, so this is just a hunch.
JSB Exact Heavys averaged 500 f.p.s when seated flush with the breech. The low was 499 f.p.s., and the high was 501 f.p.s., so there was a total variation of just 2 f.p.s. That’s remarkable for a spring-piston air rifle — I don’t care what type it is! This pellet generates 5.74 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
When seated deep, the same pellet averaged 511 f.p.s., with a low of 509 f.p.s. and a high of 512 f.p.s. The spread opened up to 3 f.p.s., which is still astonishing. Deep-seated pellets averaged 11 f.p.s. faster than flush-seated pellets. The average muzzle energy was 6.0 foot-pounds.
The second pellet I tested was the ever-popular RWS Superdome. This is another pellet that I believe might do well at long range when fired from this air rifle. When seated flush, they averaged 552 f.p.s., with a 17 f.p.s. velocity spread from 543 f.p.s. to 560 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy this pellet generated when seated flush was 5.62 foot-pounds.
When seated deep, the average velocity increased by 10 f.p.s. to 562 f.p.s. The spread ranged from 557 to 565 f.p.s., so it tightened up to just 8 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 5.82 foot-pounds.
Next, I tested the Beeman Kodiak pellet. This is another heavy pellet that I plan to try at 25 yards; and if it does well there, at 50 yards, too. At 10.65 grains, this is the heaviest pellet in today’s test. When they were seated flush, Kodiaks averaged 483 f.p.s. in the LGV Olympia. The spread went from a low of 478 f.p.s. to a high of 487 f.p.s., so 9 f.p.s. in total. That’s still pretty tight. The average energy was 5.52 foot-pounds.
When seated deep, the average velocity for Kodiaks increased to 501 f.p.s. The spread now went from a low of 479 f.p.s. to a high of 515 f.p.s., so a total of 36 f.p.s., which is on the high side. The average muzzle energy was 5.94 foot-pounds.
JSB Exact Express
The JSB Exact Express pellet is one I haven’t tried before. It’s a dome that weighs 7.87 grains. Normally, I would try the JSB Exact RS pellet in a rifle like this; but when I tested it in the past as a 10-meter rifle, I did try the RS pellets and they didn’t seem to do very well at 10 meters. So, I welcomed the opportunity to include this new JSB dome in the test.
Although it’s heavier than the RS, this Express pellet is still the lightest pellet I tried in this test. When seated flush, it averaged 585 f.p.s., with a spread from 569 to a high of 593 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 5.98 foot-pounds.
Of course, I expected this pellet to go even faster when seated deep, but it didn’t. In fact the relationship between deep-seating and velocity turned around 180 degrees with this pellet. The average for deep-seated Express pellets was 547 f.p.s., with a range that went from 545 to 553 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 5.23 foot-pounds. So, just like we have seen in some tests of deep-seated pellets in the past, here’s another surprise. I wonder what will happen in the accuracy test?
The Walther LGV Olympia has an adjustable 2-stage match trigger. The one on my rifle is set very nicely, and stage 2 breaks at 10.5 to 11 oz. I can do very fine work with a good trigger like this.
Impressions thus far
I was surprised by how consistent the rifle is with JSB pellets. The fact that 3 pellets increased when seated deep, while one decreased, is also something curious. It just points out the need to test a gun in as many ways as you can think of, I guess.
Best of all, this test gives me one more opportunity to shoot and handle this rifle. I own many nice airguns, but my work doesn’t often afford the chance to play with them; so, tests like this one are a refreshing change for me. And I know that many of you get enjoyment from reading about a fine vintage airgun. It’s a nice change of pace.
I do hope the newer readers will see how nice these older airguns are and maybe use the links to explore them more thoroughly. If you’re new to the shooting sports, this is where a lot of the fun is found.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll begin looking at the Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT breakbarrel air rifle. This rifle is offered only in .177 caliber, and I’m testing serial number 04-1C-419038-13. It has a gas spring, which Gamo calls their Inert Gas Technology, or IGT. In many ways, it reminds me of the older Whisper rifle, except the cocking is heavier. But this report will look at all the differences and new things Gamo puts on this rifle.
There’s a lot of synthetic material on the outside of this rifle. The stock is all synthetic, as is the fluted barrel jacket and the baffled silencer on the front of the barrel (they call it a double-integrated sound moderator). My point is that if you don’t like synthetics, this isn’t the airgun for you. If you don’t mind them, though, I see a lot of potential here.
The stock has an adjustable cheekpiece that will come in handy when you mount the 3-9X40 scope that comes with this package. The rifle has a large scope base attached to the spring tube. It rises high above the tube, so there shouldn’t be any scope bell clearance issues. The scope base has two generous holes to accept a vertical scope stop. The scope comes already mounted in a one-piece mount with a scope stop pin already correctly adjusted down far enough to engage the scope stop holes in the scope base. That makes this the first air rifle I’ve tested whose mounted scope came ready to install. I’ve always had to unmount the scope in the past to run the stop pin down far enough to engage the stop pin hole in the past. It’s a small point, but it tells me the factory gave some thought to how the gun was shipped.
The stock is very thick and full. It makes the gun feel larger than it is, but that’s offset by the light weight of 6 lbs. without the scope and 7 lbs., 2 ox. with the scope and mount. The buttstock sounds hollow, which I know puts off a lot of people, but it seems rugged enough to me. The stock material is rough to the touch, but not rubbery.
The fluted barrel jacket is very thick — giving the impression of a bull barrel, but without the weight. The silencer is huge — measuring 1-1/2 inches across, for a substantial gripping point when cocking the gun.
Cocking is easy until the final few inches of the stroke. Gamo has realized that the solution to power is not the strength of the spring but the length of the stroke. This is probably the longest cocking stroke I’ve ever encountered, with the barrel breaking down about 135 degrees. This is one of the easier-cocking gas-spring rifles I’ve tested; and if they meet their power output figure of 1,300 f.p.s. (printed on the outside of the box), then I think Gamo has built a winner — at least as far as power is concerned.
To their credit, Gamo installs open sights on the gun. The rear sight is fully adjustable in both directions with crisp, positive clicks. A scale on the windage slide tells you where you are at all times, but there are no numbers on the elevation wheel. They may think that most people look at the elevation of the sight from the side to see where they are; and while there’s some truth to that, the numbers do help you turn the wheel in the correct direction. Of course, the mechanically minded won’t get confused because clockwise turns the rear sight down and counterclockwise turns it up.
I plan on testing the rifle at 10 meters with the open sights. If it does good enough, I’ll back up and also shoot it at 25 yards. Then I’ll mount the scope and shoot it again with the most accurate pellets. So, you’re going to get an extra part or two from this report.
Is it quiet?
Gamo says on the package that this rifle is 89.5 percent quieter.* When you track down what the asterisk means, you find the phrase “Under the Gamo measurement standards.” Whatever that means! I already fired it a few times to get a sense of how it feels and Edith commented from her office, “Why is that airgun so loud?” The pellets I was shooting were probably going supersonic, so I then tested it with some extra-heavy Beeman Kodiak pellets, and it was most definitely quieter. Edith didn’t even notice it that time until I called her attention to it. So, for everyone except the shooter, this rifle is undoubtedly a quiet one…as long as the pellets are very heavy. The shooter, however, hears all the sound through the bones in his face, and the sound doesn’t change much from pellet to pellet.
The trigger is Gamo’s new Smooth Action Trigger or SAT. It comes set up as a 2-stage trigger, and everything was adjusted to my satisfaction right out of the box. A short first stage stops abruptly at stage 2, then breaks cleanly for the shot. I’ll have more to say about it in Part 2 of this report.
The safety is manual. I applaud Gamo for taking this bold step, because a shooter really should be the one to decide when to apply the safety. If they don’t know how to handle the gun safely, no automatic safety will change that or make the gun one bit safer. The one criticism I have of the safety is that when you put it on, the lever is pulled toward the trigger. If your finger slips, you could discharge the rifle. That’s where safe gun handling comes in, because the muzzle should always be pointed in a direction where it is safe if it should fire.
Gamo promises 1,300 f.p.s. with lead-free PBA pellets. I’ll certainly test them; but if experience holds, they won’t be the most accurate pellets in the gun. I’ll also test it with the types of pellets I believe shooters will really select if they want to hit their targets. If I’m wrong and PBAs turn out to be accurate, I will publicly apologize to Gamo.
I always liked the Whisper; and when a gas spring was added, I thought it was even better. The Whisper Fusion IGT was built from the ground up to be a powerful gas-spring gun, yet lightweight at the same time. It’s the combination many shooters say they want, so let’s see what you get.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
…to have some fun. I mean, that’s what this is all about, isn’t it? Don’t we all shoot airguns for fun?
So, there I am at the range last week with the new Walther LGV, and I’m shooting these groups on a perfect day and all the time I’m wondering the same things most of you wonder right back at me. Things like, “I wonder what my R8 would do at this distance? Could it really group this far?”
But you don’t want to hear about my R8, because you can’t have one of your own. They’re rare birds and hard to come by these days. And, heaven forbid, they cost money — something that makes airgunning a real drag. But I still want to shoot something fun, instead of sticking to the script.
Then it dawned on me. I’m shooting an LGV. And I shot another LGV very recently. Both rifles were great fun. and fun is what I’m looking for today.
But I have another LGV that I haven’t shot in over a year. That LGV is the original LGV Olympia target rifle that was popular back in the 1970s. I reported on it two and a half years ago, but back then I was looking at it solely as a target rifle — lumping it in with the HW55 and the FWB 300. It was a target rifle, to be sure; but in light of the new LGV sporting rifles, might it also be something more? Might it be a low-powered sporting rifle that can shoot at 50 yards? It would certainly be fun to find out. There’s that word, again — fun.
Walther LGV Olympia target rifle was a top-quality 10-meter rifle from the 1970s.
What would be fun about shooting a 10-meter rifle at 50 yards? Well, first, could you do it? Of course you could. I know the gun will shoot that far. I even tried shooting my most accurate 10-meter target rifle — an FWB 300S — at 50 yards once. Remember that? It was in Part 5 of the report on the FWB 300S. In fact, it was also in Part 4 of the same report.
But when I reread that report, I discovered that my mindset wasn’t how accurate the rifle could be. It was more like, “How accurate could a 10-meter rifle BE at 50 yards?” (Said with sarcasm) I see that I didn’t even try to pre-qualify pellets at 25 yards before moving out to 50 yards. I went straight from 10 meters out to half a football field in one jump.
But the recent test of the two new LGVs included a 25-yard intermediate stage where I was able to qualify certain pellets and let others fall by the wayside. Shouldn’t that be done for the 10-meter rifle, as well? And that doesn’t even address the possibility of deep-seating the pellets, which we’ve seen in other recent tests can have a profound effect on accuracy.
The LGV Olympia
The Walther LGV Olympia is a vintage wood and steel airgun that does have a plastic triggerguard, but no other plastic on the exterior of the gun. The design is a conventional breakbarrel spring-piston powerplant with one of the lightest cocking efforts and softest recoils ever produced in a factory air rifle. The test rifle cocks with just 13 lbs. of effort. I measured it at 15 lbs. in the lest test, so perhaps my technique has changed or maybe the mainspring has weakened, but I’ll test the velocity and we can make a comparison.
Speaking of comparisons, how does this vintage LGV stack up against the modern rifles? Well, it’s about a pound heavier, and has the capacity for being even heavier by inserting lead weights in the stock. The barrel is enclosed in a heavy steel sleeve that adds about 2 lbs. to the overall weight. And it was weight that Walther used to temper the recoil when this gun was new.
The LGV represents the high-water mark of recoiling spring target rifles from Walther. They built several models in their 50-series, with the model 55 being the last and most well-developed. Then the LGV topped them all. After that, Walther moved into the single-stroke technology that they developed in their LGR rifle and LP II pistol.
Like the modern LGVs, this vintage target rifle has the same barrel latch that locks the barrel shut during firing. It works the same way as the modern barrel latches do; but since it has probably unlocked the gun several thousand times more, it’s a little smoother.
Like the current LGVs, the target rifle has a barrel latch.
Shooting the LGV Olympia will come as a bit of a shock to anyone unfamiliar with the golden age of spring rifles because there’s almost no recoil. A tuned HW55 can be very calm, but the LGV has no equal when it comes to soft recoil. You feel a pulse but are hard-pressed to say that the rifle actually moves. There’s a very subtle spring twang that will remain on my rifle forever, ’cause ain’t nobody gonna see the insides as long as she’s a-workin’.
The trigger on the Olympia is lighter than the sporting trigger, but not by that much. And the wider trigger blade on the sporting guns makes their triggers feel lighter than they are. So, the triggers are a wash between the vintage guns and the modern sporters. Both are great.
The sights on the Olympia are target aperture sights — front and rear. I plan on keeping the peep sight mounted for this test, as I demonstrated with the FWB 300S that I can shoot just as well with a peep as with a scope.
The front sight is a hooded globe with inserts.
The rear sight is a precision adjustable aperture sight.
Finally, the finish on the vintage Walther is the one place where hand work shows. The metal is polished smooth and deeply blued in the manner of fine firearms. And the stock is made of walnut rather than beech. It harkens to an earlier time when such things were both possible and expected.
What I plan to do is shoot the rifle at 25 yards to find the best pellets for long range. I’ll try them both seated flush and deep, and we’ll hopefully get one or two that really shine. Then, we’ll take those to the 50-yard range on a perfect day and see what this baby can really do.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, you’ll see the test of the .177-caliber Walther LGV Master Ultra at 25 yards with open sights. This is for all who have an interest in a rifle that I think redefines the breakbarrel spring-piston sporter.
Twenty-five yards is not quite 2.5 times the distance at which the first test was conducted, so I expect to see the groups open up quite a lot. In fact, this is a wonderful distance at which to test an airgun because this is where the real pedigree starts to show through. Let’s see how our test rifle did.
Crosman Premier lite
The first pellet I tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite that did so well in the 10-meter test. After confirming the shot was on the bull with a spotting scope, I shot the remaining 9 shots without looking again. Shot 9 was a called pull to the left, and I knew I would see a hole to the left of the main group when I examined the target.
Crosman Premier heavies
Next, I tried 10 Crosman Premier heavies because a reader thought they might do well. They did not — giving a very open and scattered group that measures 1.549 inches between centers.
Next, I shot 10 Beeman Devastator pellets. These lightweight hollowpoints surprised me in the Pellet velocity versus accuracy test I did two years ago. And they fit the LGV breech very well, so I had hopes they might be accurate, as well.
Indeed they were! Ten gave a 1.154-inch group, but 9 of them were in 0.746 inches. That’s very much like the Premier lites, though there was no called shot this time.
JSB Exact Heavy 10.34-grain
Next up were 10 JSB Exact heavys. The Exact RS pellets had not done well in the 10-meter test, but these heavier domes often succeed where the lighter ones don’t. This time, the outcome was very telling. Eight of the pellets made an incredibly small 0.518-inch group that’s perfectly round, then the final two shots enlarged the group to 2.147 inches. They made both the largest and smallest group of the session! That small inner group tells me that this may well be the most accurate pellet in this rifle, as it often is.
This group made by JSB Exact Heavy pellets will make you think! I didn’t call any shots, but I think something went wrong with the two outliers. I believe the small cluster is more representative of what this pellet can do in this rifle.
Of course, I could be wrong, but this isn’t the last time I’m going to shoot this LGV for accuracy. Next time will be at 25 yards with a scope mounted. This JSB just won a place in that test.
H&N Baracuda Match
The last pellet I tested was the H&N Baracuda Match, which did so-so in the 10-meter test. I thought I would give them another chance at 25 yards; but, alas, their mediocrity only continued. Ten made an open 2.121-inch group with no pattern or clustering.
Am I satisfied?
I am very satisfied with this performance. The naysayers will probably dream up new things to say about the gun; but as far as I’m concerned, it’s on track for a spectacular test.
I will say that the firing behavior was quite buzzy with the Premiers, but much less so with the Baracudas and the heavy JSBs. I think those JSBs are going to turn out to be the pellets of choice in this rifle. I’ll also comment that the trigger now seems as good as a well-adjusted Rekord. It’s not as light, but the wide blade makes the release feel very crisp.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Now that we know how powerful the new .177-caliber Walther LGV Master Ultra is, people are lining up to see it shoot. We get to that today. I’ll start at 10 meters because I’m using the good open sights that come on the rifle; but as I mentioned in the last report, there will be other accuracy tests yet to come. While I’m not keeping this rifle like I did the .22, I don’t mind having it around awhile. Also, I’m writing a feature article about these new rifles for Shotgun News, so I have to do the testing anyway. I love my job!
For today’s report, I shot the rifle rested at 10 meters. Although that is an easy test for what we assume will be an accurate rifle, it is sensible because the open sights are being used. If the rifle really is accurate, I may also shoot the rifle with open sights at 25 yards because I’ll have confidence that it can do it. I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I shot the other couch in our living room about a month ago (I shot the first couch a few years ago), and we have since bought two new couches that I’m absolutely not allowed to shoot. So, any rifle I test has to be accurate…guaranteed.
I’m going to write a report this week for Jim H. on how to pick a good pellet, but let’s get that started today with how I selected the pellets for this rifle. I picked three for this rifle based on the power I thought it might have, which the velocity testing had demonstrated varied widely from 13 to 16.25 foot-pounds. I chose the JSB Exact RS dome because it’s been a wonderful pellet in lower-powered airguns, though in this one it’s up pretty high. I chose the H&N Baracuda Match because it often proved accurate in .177 rifles of wide-ranging power. Some say this spring rifle is too underpowered for a pellet this heavy and that the mainspring will suffer from shooting it, but I strongly disagree. I’ve used them in many rifles of this same power, and they usually worked well. The last pellet I tried is the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite, which has always been an accurate pellet. Sometimes, it’s even the absolute best in rifles of this power.
That was my pellet selection criteria for this rifle. It’s not scientific — it’s based on experience and some other factors I’ll talk about. I could just as easily have chosen 3 or 4 other good pellets for this test, but that would have been about all for this rifle, in my experience. Be sure to read that pellet-selection report later this week.
The rifle was shot off a rest at 10 meters. The rest was a sandbag on which I rested my off hand, then I rested the rifle on the flat of my palm, with the heel of my hand touching the triggerguard.
H&N Baracuda Match
The first pellet up was the heavy H&N Baracuda Match. The first shot was made without adjusting the sights. The pellets landed low but centered, so I dialed the rear sight up about 5 clicks. The next shot landed in the black, so I settled in and fired 9 more pellets without looking through the spotting scope. After the 10 shots, I knew we had another winner and how this report was going to end. This rifle is great, just like the .22, only more powerful.
Now, we’re on a roll. I expected great things from it, and the Premiers were up next.
After making certain that the first pellet was on target, I shot the other 9 without looking. When I went down to change the target I came upon a near-screamer of a 10-shot group. Ten Premier lites went into 0.325 inches. Yes, I’ve shot smaller groups at 10 meters, but maybe not with open sporting sights — I don’t really remember. This is justification for including this pellet in the test.
JSB Exact RS
The last pellet I tested was the light JSB RS dome. Again, the first pellet landed in the bull, so I stopped checking. Nine more went downrange, then I walked down to pull the target. This time the group wasn’t very good, which was something of a surprise. The group measures 0.666 inches between centers. I’ll shoot this pellet again at 25 yards, but I’ll be careful when I do.
JSB Exact RS pellets didn’t do as well as I’d hoped. This group is twice the size of the Premier group; and because this is 10 shots and not 5, it’s not just an estimate of accuracy: It’s the final word.
The trigger on this rifle continues to excel. And the sights are exceptional. The firing cycle is smooth and relatively free of buzz. But I imagine that will vary, rifle by rifle. And as it breaks in, I think it’ll become increasingly smoother.
I like the shape of the stock. I said that about the synthetic-stocked Walther LGV Challenger in .22 caliber I tested before, but this stock has a more conventional shape. The balance is slightly muzzle-heavy, which I find ideal.
Next, I’ll back up to 25 yards and test it there with open sights. But you already know how this is going to turn out. The new Walther LGV family of sporting spring rifles is a very refreshing change to the usually similar new airgun models.