Posts Tagged ‘Spring-piston rifles’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’ll cut right to the chase — this Walther LGV Challenger is everything I hoped for. This is a classic air rifle, and we’re privileged to see its inception. We were there!
Today, I tested the rifle’s accuracy from a rest at 10 meters using the open sights. This rifle is equipped with fiberoptic sights, and we all know that they’re not precision aiming devices; but if you light the target brightly and shoot from a relatively dark space, the dots won’t appear. You’ll see a crisp, square post and sharp rear notch that you can use to the extent of your shooting skill.
Start of the test
Each time I break open this rifle, I’m reminded of why it’s so special. The barrel feels like a bank vault — both on opening and again on closing. Cocking is relatively easy and every one of the four pellets I tested loaded easily, yet were tight in the breech. I even like the size and configuration of the stock that seems to be made for me.
JSB Exact RS
The first pellet I tested was the one that I thought might be the most accurate — the 13.4-grain JSB Exact RS dome. Remember, the rifle I’m testing is .22-caliber, so all the pellets will be heavier.
Since I was using open sights, I looked at the target after the first shot to make certain the pellet had struck the paper. It had, and in the bull, too. It was at 6 o’clock, on center with the 10-ring so I didn’t adjust the sights. As I continued to shoot, I could see pellets dropping just below the bull — and the hole didn’t appear to grow much from where I sat.
When I went downrange to change targets, I saw the first group — 10 JSB Exact RS pellets in 0.464 inches between centers. It’s a good group that told me the rifle could shoot, but the verticality told me I needed to do better on estimating the bottom of the bull with the tip of the front post.
The rifle hangs perfectly dead in the hands when shooting. What that means is that I wasn’t fighting it to find a good hold point or to control the balance. It just hung there, giving me confidence. My off hand was back under the forearm touching the triggerguard.
The trigger does have some creep in the second stage, and I would want to adjust as much of that out as I could; but for this test, I left it as it was. It was light and posed no difficulty to good shooting, as you’ll see.
Next up was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier domed pellet. They went to almost the same place as the JSB pellets on the target, which is a good sign that the rifle isn’t picky about pellets. Of course, I could only see the shots that landed in the white below the bull; but when I went down to change targets, I saw they were all in the same place! I had a remarkable group that measures 0.285 inches between centers. Look how round it is! This is what you see when a rifle really likes a particular pellet.
The third pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. At just 11.9 grains, it goes the fastest of the lead pellets and is often among the most accurate pellets — at least at close range. Ten shots went into 0.408 inches.
The last pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome, which weighs 14.5 grains. It made a 10-shot group that measures 0.378 inches between centers. The group is taller than it is wide; but this came at the end of the test, so I may have been tiring out. I know that each shot looked perfect to me when it went off, just as all shots in this test did.
Opinion so far
I gave you my opinion at the start of this report. I think the new LGV Challenger is a wonderful new spring-piston airgun. I certainly did not expect to see quality like this from a new air rifle. I thought those days were past, but it’s now clear that fine spring-piston airguns can still be made when the maker wants to.
This rifle reminds me a lot of my Beeman R8. The trigger could stand to be improved, but not much more needs to be done. I think you’re going to like the LGV if they all work as well as the one I’m testing.
Next, I plan to test this rifle at 25 yards with a scope. I expect the great shooting to continue. Then, I have to find more things to test it with, so I can hold onto it until Umarex receives their first shipment of rifles to sell so they can give me a price for this one.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I get to play with this wonderful new .22-caliber breakbarrel Walther LGV Challenger, and the experience was wonderful. Kevin — start thinking about a new gun! And Victor — stick around, because today you’re going to see an example of an airgun whose velocity claims are on the money. What a perfect way to get rid of the bad taste yesterday’s report left.
Oh, and to whoever said these were going to cost $700 — they’re not. This one is listed for $566.10 on the Pyramyd Air website (on the date this blog report was published). I realize that’s still a lot of money, but you can’t buy this level of quality for a whole lot less. The first time I cocked it for today’s velocity test, I was reminded of the bank-vault feel the action has. I cannot say enough good about it, except to tell Kevin that it cocks as nicely as my tuned Beeman R8. He’ll know what I mean.
What does a two-piece cocking link do?
I made an offhand remark in Part 1 that because this rifle has a two-piece cocking link that allows a shorter cocking slot, it vibrates less, and one reader asked me why that was. It isn’t because of the cocking link. It’s because the shorter slot in the stock makes the stock stiffer and less prone to vibrate. It’s a trick that’s been around since the 1960s and used to be touted by all the airgun catalogs.
The barrel is held shut by a lock whose latch can be seen sticking out the end of the forearm. Cocking requires that latch to be pushed up with the thumb and only then can the barrel be broken open. You don’t have to slap the muzzle like you do on so many air rifles today, but the barrel opens like a bank vault, also.
The LGV has a short-stroke piston, so when the rifle is cocked the barrel doesn’t go very far past 90 degrees. Compared to many magnum rifles we see today, it seems to stop very quickly when you break it down. The catalog says the rifle cocks with 38 lbs. of effort, but my test specimen cocks with 33 lbs. of force. And, it feels like it may drop a pound or two after a good break-in.
“And don’t-cha wanna know how it works?” as the comedian Gallagher used to say. I selected three pellets to test today, though I may try others during the accuracy tests later on. Pellet No. 1 is that “standard candle,” the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. Premiers averaged 587 f.p.s. in my test. The low was 583 and the high was 591 f.p.s., so the total velocity spread was just 8 f.p.s. That tight spread is phenomenal for a new springer and would even be considered good for a tuned gun.
At the average velocity, the test rifle generates 10.94 foot-pounds of muzzle energy with this pellet. And speaking of velocities in this range, remember that 671 f.p.s is a “magic” number; because at that velocity, the energy of the pellet in foot-pounds equals its weight in grains. That makes it easy to know the power of the rifle you’re dealing with.
The second pellet I tested was another standard test pellet — the 11.9-grain RWS Hobby. It’s a pure-lead pellet, so it has high lubricity, and its skirt is both thin and flared wide enough to seal most barrels…and that holds true for all calibers. So, the Hobby is the pellet serious shooters select when they want to know the practical power and velocity limits for a given springer.
Hobbys averaged 664 f.p.s. from the test rifle. The low was 649 and the high was 670, so this spread was a much larger 21 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the Hobby pellet generated 11.65 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
Gamo PBA Platinum
I don’t have a lot of lead-free pellets — especially in .22 caliber, so I had to use what I had. Ideally, I would have tested this rifle with the RWS HyperMax pellet that weighs 9.9 grains. But the Gamo PBA Platinum pellets I did test weigh 9.7 grains. Normally, they would be even faster, but these are very large and fit the bore tightly. I know that HyperMax pellets in .177 caliber are not that large, so I’m assuming they would also be smaller in .22 and would, therefore, be a little faster, as well.
The PBS Platinum pellets averaged 703 f.p.s. (see, Victor?) in the test rifle. The low was 691 and the high was 713 f.p.s., so a total spread of 20 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the PBA pellet generated 10.65 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle
So, this LGV Challenger is a 12 foot-pound gun. Ten years ago, that would be a suicide marketing venture, because the 1,000 f.p.s. mark was considered the gold standard (and 800 in .22). Today, we know better, and I’m here to tell you — this is a seriously classic air rifle. I can see a long and successful life ahead for the new LGV series, as long as it holds up in the accuracy department. And I think it has to, because I can tell the level of care that went into its design. Walther, all will be forgiven for re-using a classic model name if this test rifle shoots well.
The trigger is adjustable. I don’t have a manual, but I can see the screws, and they call it a match trigger. As it was shipped, the trigger was two-stage and released at 1 lb., 10 oz. The first stage takes about 7 oz., so you can’t really feel it at all and stage 2 is definite. I felt one jump of creep on the second stage, and that was it.
The first stage is quite long, and that may bother some folks. None of the two adjustments appears to affect this. The screw that’s in the trigger blade affects the length of the second-stage pull, and the Allen or hex screw that’s located behind the trigger blade affects the sear contact area. It’s possible to adjust out all the contact so the gun cannot be cocked.
What I found was that the trigger was adjusted as good as it gets when I received the rifle. So, the numbers above represent the best you can expect.
The rifle has a small shudder when it fires. It’s enough to tell you there’s a steel mainspring, but it’s not objectionable. I would leave it as is. The application of black tar would quiet the shudder, but you would lose a little velocity. Perhaps, some tolerances could be closed up or the piston might be buttoned to calm the gun, but that’s a topic for a real airgunsmith — not me.
Next, I plan to shoot the rifle with the open sights. I’ll light the target so I can use them without the fiberoptics showing, which will give greater precision. After that, I plan to mount a scope and test it again. If this rifle shoots well, it’ll be an instant classic!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’ll start looking at a new breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle that’s offered by Walther — the LGV. I saw the full range of these at the 2013 SHOT show and asked to test this one. For the record, I’m testing serial number BJ001517 — a .22-caliber rifle in a black synthetic stock. Also for the record, this rifle says “Made in Germany” on the baseblock.
The new LGV
There was an old LGV, of course. Several of them, in fact. They represented Walther’s high-water mark in the 1970s with breakbarrel recoiling spring-piston target rifles, coming at the end of a long line of developments in that field.
Walther’s LGV Olympia target rifle was one of the last and finest recoiling spring-piston target rifles.
The new LGVs are all sporting rifles, which means more power but no target sights or target stocks. So, I’ll evaluate these guns on the basis of what they are, not on the name they carry.
The LGV Challenger is a large air rifle, weighing 8.5 lbs. and measuring 43 inches from end to end. The pull is 14-1/2 inches, so it fits me like a glove. I cocked it just to see how it felt…and, gentlemen, I must admit that I am in love! I haven’t felt a spring-piston air rifle that cocked this smooth since — never! And the cocking effort is light for what they tell me is a 700 f.p.s. rifle (in .22…it’s 1,000 f.p.s. in .177). When I closed the breech, it clicked like a Mercedes limo door after a factory adjustment.
Then, I thumbed off the automatic safety (which they put on the tang, just like a shotgun safety) and squeezed the two-stage trigger. It was light, if not quite crisp, but it beats most other air rifle triggers I’ve tested right out of the box. The literature calls it an adjustable match trigger; and based on just one shot, I think they’re correct. Of course, I’ll do all the adjustments and tell you what I discover.
The feel upon firing was a tiny shudder of vibration. Nothing so bad as to need attention, but enough that you know the gun is a springer.
Walther had a choice of power sources — coiled steel mainspring or gas spring. They chose the coiled steel spring, and that brings with it the easy cocking and slight shudder at firing. I think they made the right choice, because cocking a powerful gas spring gun these days is like bending the bow of Hercules!
The sights are fiberoptic — front and rear. But they also give the shooter a VERY crisp squared-off front post and rear notch. The fiberoptic tubes are very bright, so I’ll have to adjust the lighting to use them as conventional sights; but if this rifle shoots half as nice as it looks, it’ll be worth the effort.
The rear sight is fully adjustable. The knobs for both adjustments have crisp detents and scales to tell you where the sight has moved. And it’s made of steel!
The rifle has a grooved scope rail built into the top of the spring tube and, once again, Walther did it right. They put three vertical scope stop holes at the rear of the rail, so there should be no problem mounting a scope that will stay put.
The one feature that carried over with the LGV name was the barrel lock. It’s a latch under the baseblock that must be pushed up before breaking the barrel. The barrel locks with a strong detent, which this lock puts over the top. Ddid I mention that I like the positive feeling when the barrel closes? It closes more positively than just about any breakbarrel I’ve tested since a Diana model 25/27.
The barrel pivots on a genuine steel bolt that appears to have a nut on the other side. It looks like the designers listened to the need to occasionally tighten the breech bolt and did the right thing.
The synthetic stock is rough to the touch and has a hint of tacti-cool to its profile. When the off hand touches the triggerguard, the rifle is agreeably muzzle-heavy, which stabilizes it in all positions. A thick, soft, black rubber buttpad holds the rifle securely on your shoulder and keeps it from slipping when you stand it up in the corner.
All metal, except for the rear sight, is highly polished and deeply blued. You’ll be proud to own a rifle that looks this nice.
The cocking link is a two-piece articulated link that allows the cocking slot in the stock to be shorter. That reduces vibration a lot.
The Challenger has a threaded muzzle with 1/2×20 thread, which is the British thread pattern for a silencer. Most conventional American-made silencers use a pitch of 28 threads per inch and will not fit. Now, in truth, most spring guns aren’t loud enough to need a silencer. Most of the noise travels through the stock, and the shooter is the only one who hears it; but airgun silencers are all the rage today, and this is a nice touch.
I can’t wait to start shooting this rifle. The feel conveys a sense of quality that I haven’t felt in a new air rifle in a long time.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald
The SHOT Show is not a gun show — though that is what many attendees call it, and the mainstream media that doesn’t attend also calls it that. Instead, it’s a happening — to use a 1960’s term. Or it’s a Middle Eastern open market. The big booths house the recognized names like Colt, Winchester and Crosman. Their booths are two stories tall with signs hanging from the ceiling that you could see a mile away if there weren’t other signs hanging in front of them.
But the real drama of the show isn’t at those booths. People already know what to expect in those places. It’s the little out-of-the-way booths hugging the walls that have the surprises. I always set aside some time just to cruise the aisles, looking for some rocks to turn over.
I’ll be walking along a narrow aisle and someone will step out to stop me. Then, in a conspiratorial tone, he leans over and says something like, “Don’t you just hate it when your ice cubes melt and dilute your drink? Cold Bars have solved that problem forever. These are sanitized stainless steel bars that retain the cold almost as well as water, plus they’re reusable forever. Put three of these in your scotch and soda, and it’ll be as fresh and strong after 20 minutes as when it was poured. When you finish the drink, just pop them in the freezer for 10 minutes…and they’re good to go again. While you wait, you use the second set of three bars in your next drink! Nothing could be easier.”
This guy is serious! You look at his spartan booth and realize that he has poured everything into this venture because at some point watery drinks pushed him over his tipping point. When he bounced the idea off his wife and friends, they all agreed it was the next big thing. They had no idea he would mortgage the house and put his life savings into it!
So, here he is, in a narrow aisle of a large trade show, hawking his brains out to people who, for some reason, just don’t seem to get it. Who doesn’t want cold, undiluted drinks?
Think I’m exaggerating? Attend a trade show and walk the aisles some time.
Why do I plod through these pathways of personal misery? Because next to the stainless steel ice cube booth there ’s the G+G Airsoft booth that has the best action target I’ve seen in a long while. It’s a lighted rubber hemisphere that’s computer-controlled to react to being hit by an airsoft BB. You can turn the light on or off, depending on how you have programmed it.
They call it the MET Unit, which stands for multifunctional electronic target. It can exist as one single target or they can be strung together in up to 25 targets for a prolonged target array.
The MET Unit is from 1 to 25 programmable lights that turn off or on when hit by an airsoft BB.
The wires between targets can be up to 50 meters in length, which allows them to be set up in a tactical course and either light up at some random time until hit or stay on for a programmed time and go off after the time is up or when hit. Two competitors can shoot at the same target and change the color of the lights when they hit it, establishing a duelling target.
The individual target will sell for $66 or 5 for $250. It looks like a great way to have fast-action fun with airsoft guns. They can take hits from AEGs shooting 0.20-gram BBs at up to 450 f.p.s. Naturally, they’re not robust enough for even the lowest-powered steel BB or pellet guns.
Umarex is now branding airguns under their own name. This year, there are three new long guns: the Octane is a breakbarrel with a Reaxis gas spring and SilencAir, which is a baffled silencer; the Surge is an entry-lever springer breakbarrel; and the Fusion is a CO2 pellet rifle, and it also has the SilencAir noise dampener. We’ve seen the Fusion before, branded as the Ruger LGR, but Umarex tells me the Fusion is a Gen 2 upgrade and quite different. I never got the chance to test the LGR, so I’m looking forward to testing the new Fusion as soon as possible.
The Fusion is a new CO2 single-shot rifle from Umarex that sports a 5-chamber noise dampener.
I spent an hour at the Leapers booth this year. The most important thing I wanted to see was the new scope with an internal bubble level. It’s a 4-16x in a 30mm tube, and it looks exactly like what the doctor ordered for those long-range targets we love to shoot. They’re working hard to get it to market this year, but it won’t go out until they’re certain of the quality. Putting a bubble level inside scopes on a production line is apparently quite a challenge…but one I’m sure Leapers will do correctly.
The entire line of scopes have been upgraded with finer adjustments — many of them 1/8-minute adjustments — and greater repeatability. They have a broad range of adjustment in both directions, and their production models are even exceeding the maximum limits they established! All leaf springs have been replaced with coil springs to increase adjustment precision and repeatability.
But the WOW factor comes on the stuff you can see. How about a 3-9x scout scope (10-inch eye relief) with a wide field of view? That is the big trick for scout scopes, and I saw a beauty mounted on an M1A — though it would be just as correct on a Mosin Nagant.
Leapers new scout scope has a full field of vision — something scout scopes are not known for.
Another surprise from the folks in Michigan is the smallest tactical laser I have yet seen. I asked Mac to photograph it next to a quarter for scale.
Leapers new laser is the smallest I have yet seen. That’s a quarter next to it.
Back to the Crosman booth to show you what the new Benjamin pump looks like when the handle is raised. I didn’t expect the huge reception this pump got when I showed it the first time this year. Please note that it has not one but two pump tubes. This is a 3-stage pump — the same as the current pumps, but this one compresses a bit more air with each stroke. I’ll have more to say about it when I test it.
Maybe this view will help you understand how the new Benjamin pump magnifies the force you put into each pump stroke.
I’ll close with a last look at the Hatsan booth. They have the AT-P carbine and AT-P1 pistol…and both are precharged pneumatics. They’ll come in .177, .22 and .25 calibers that each have hunting levels of power. These are repeaters with circular clips and adjustable Quattro triggers. The sights are fiberoptic, and there are provisions for scopes. The air cylinders remove, and spares will be available as options.
For those who are looking for hunting air pistols, I think these two should be considered. I’ll work hard to review them for you as soon as possible.
The Hatsan AT-P2 Tact (left) and the AT-P1 are exciting new PCP airguns.
Leaving the show
As Edith and I left the show we passed by one final booth. The guy is selling Instant Water for survivalists. Just drop one of his pills in a bucket of water and — Presto! — instant water. Why I can’t think of things like that?
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Edith and Tom (left) and Mac and his wife, Elissa, prepare to support Yoda as he carves his way through the jammed SHOT Show aisles.
Today, we have Part 2 of the SHOT Show report; but before we get into it, I want to remind you all that I’m showing you only a select smattering of the guns I saw at this show. This is, hands down, the largest SHOT Show ever for airguns. This year, nearly all companies are innovating in a big way, and the results are proudly displayed in their booths. It’ll take some time for the full story to come out.
Also, the SHOT Show is a wholesale show — not a retail show. The products seen there are not necessarily ready for market, yet. Some products get put on the back burner for any number of good reasons, but after they were seen at SHOT, people expect them to be available. In fact, many people don’t understand why they’re not on sale the day the show closes. Well, it doesn’t work that way.
As a writer, my job it to give you the best sense of when a product might become available in the coming year. That can change many times after SHOT closes, so please bear that in mind.
I had my official tour of the Crosman products, and a couple of them were holdovers from last year. One was the butterfly hand pump that Crosman engineers have now developed quite thoroughly.
The Benjamin butterfly hand pump is now far along in development. This is a pre-production sample. Look for it this summer.
I also saw several new guns Crosman plans to bring to market. While they look very developed, I spoke to the engineer who was working with the specifications, and these are not just rebranded items.
A new 1911 BB pistol will be available for testing and purchase later this year.
I’m going to put Gamo here because their booth was difficult to navigate and understand, as far as I’m concerned. Yes, there are new models, but many of them look to be just reskinned from existing guns and given catchy brands that reflect the TV hunting shows they sponsor. The technology displays (silencer, trigger, gas spring, vibration damper) that were new in 2012 were still displayed as new for 2013, though no changes seem to have been made.
The Little Cat is a new youth model that I’ll test as soon as possible. It’s very lightweight and does have some plastic in key areas like the breech (it’s a breakbarrel); but if it’s done right, it could work. I want to see how well-suited it is for younger shooters.
The new Gamo Little Cat is a youth-sized spring rifle. Can’t wait to test it!
The other airgun that piqued my interest at Gamo was their new MP-9 — a semiautomatic BB gun that resembles the Ingram submachinegun. It’s powered by CO2 and looks very cool. It was displayed in such a way that I could not actually hold it — and there were no Gamo representatives available in the booth both times we visited it. So, we’ll just have to wait and see what comes in the box.
The Gamo MP9 (the sign is confusing — this isn’t a PT-85 Blowback Tactical) looks like a cool new BB gun.
American Airgunner has gained a new host. Rossi Morreale, from television’s Belly of the Beast and Junkyard Wars, will take the lead with the airgun show starting its fourth season. I’ll be appearing in a few episodes this year, the first of which was filmed at the 2013 SHOT Show. So, I’ve now come full circle.
Tom meets Rossi to discuss SHOT on American Airgunner.
There’s a lot more to cover, including some great new scopes from Leapers and a dynamite action target for airsoft guns. Next week.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Umarex did it!
WOW! They did it! Umarex did what airgunners have been asking for years! They’re going to make a P08 BB pistol. Many of you will call this a German Luger; but since Stoeger owns that name, Umarex has chosen to use the official military nomenclature of Pistole Model 08 or just P08.
I was looking at the new Walther LGV when the Umarex staffer mentioned they also had a replica BB pistol in the lineup this year. My heart skipped a beat as I hoped against hope it would turn out to be the Luger, er P08, and, glory be — it was!
A fond wish is now reality. The P08 BB pistol will arrive this year!
As far as I’m concerned — this is the big news of the SHOT Show in airguns. However, I did mention that I was standing next to the the new Walther LGV rifles when this happened. They aren’t small potatoes — either!
The new Walther LGV Competition Ultra is the top of the new LGV rifle line.
The new line of LGVs are all sporting breakbarrels, as contrasted with the vintage LGVs that were breakbarrel target rifles. They have Super Silent technology and a built-in vibration reduction system. Like the vintage LGV, all the new guns have a barrel lock that positively locks the breech, so accuracy should be pretty good.
There’s a lot more to report from Umarex, but I’ll have to return and get it later.
Everybody is talking about what Crosman is doing these days, and a lot of it is new. Let’s start with their highly popular PCP, the Benjamin Marauder. They put it in a synthetic stock and dropped a lot of the bulk and a pound of weight. The result is a slimmer rifle that’s still everything the Marauder has always been. The old rifle will not fit into the new synthetic stock because the trigger group was moved backwards in the new rifle.
The Marauder drops weight and bulk with synthetics.
The next rifle I, frankly, did not believe until the Crosman rep demonstrated it to me. An M4 carbine, called the MSR77MPC, that’s a Nitro Piston breakbarrel in disguise. It’s a full 1,000 f.p.s. single-shot rifle, yet it looks way cool at the same time.
This sexy carbine is called the MSR77MPC. I broke the barrel open so you would believe it.
Speaking of M4s, Crosman has upgraded their multi-pump M4-177 with an improved internal pump that now develops 800 f.p.s. with BBs. It shoots both BBs and pellets — the same as the original gun, but as you can see, the styling is quite different.
The MK 177 is an improved multi-pump BB and pellet shooter that hits 800 f.p.s. with BBs.
The other news I’ll give you today comes from Hatsan. They have a whole new line of PCPs, starting with the AT44-10 TACT. Although it looks like a tactical rifle, the features seem to support the hunter quite well. It has a built-in circular clip and storage for two additional clips in the stock. And because it comes from Hatsan, it comes in .177, .22 and .25 calibers.
The AT44-10 TACT is a powerful PCP with an adjustable stock, circular clips and lots of shots per charge.
There are a host of other beautiful Hatsan rifles I’ll cover in the next report; but for today, I’ll close with something that’s far removed from these powerful airguns. The little Striker Alpha is a youth-sized air rifle that I can’t wait to test.
Hatsan’s Striker Alpha is a quality youth spring gun. I can’t wait to test it.