Posts Tagged ‘springers’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
In almost every field of mature consumer technology, there’s a sense that the science and achievement have gone as far as they possibly can. The days of innovation are over and, from this time forth, all new models will be repaints and reskins of what’s gone before. So it is with airguns.
So the question must be asked, “Is this all there is for airguns?”
Today, I’m going to try to hopefully restore your faith that airgun technology still has new frontiers to be explored. There are still new things yet to come; we haven’t opened the last of our presents, yet. In fact, in my opinion, there’s more that lies ahead of us than all that’s happened so far.
I periodically give new ideas to several companies just to gauge how quick they are to grasp the possibilities. Often, they give lip-service to ideas that sound like they want to advance the technology; but in over 95 percent of the cases, my ideas remain unexplored. In the few cases that do get developed, over half veer sharply off-course during development and end up as hopeless failures. In terms of what’s possible, I think there are a thousand acres of fertile land lying before us and, at present, we only have a hoe — or at best a rototiller — to work the soil.
Some folks may think we’ve gone as far as we can go with springers because we’ve hit the maximum velocity barrier. They think that nothing is left for airgun companies, short of reskinning existing models and coming up with new buzzword names and bizzare camo paint patterns for the stocks! But they’re missing the boat. No one yet has built a spring rifle that is easy to cock, yet produces over 20 foot-pounds. I’m talking about a rifle that cocks with 20 lbs. of force, and delivers a medium-weight .22-caliber pellet out the spout at 850 f.p.s.
Can it be done? Of course! I’ve even given the concept of how to do it to one company, where it’s currently lying on the floor, getting trampled by engineers who are busy designing great new ways to encapsulate 30 foot-pounds into ever less-expensive envelopes.
How about a spring gun that can put 10 pellets into a dime at 30 yards? We know that’s possible because there are several such rifles already in existence. The FWB 124 is one, and the TX200 is another. But the bulk of the new models coming out today are hard-pressed to keep 10 shots inside an inch-and-a-half at that distance. We’ve explored the very way to make a rifle shoot that well here in this blog, yet we keep getting new spring guns that are designed as exercise machines, rather than for shooting. If you want to know how to make a spring gun more accurate, refer to this blog report.
Surely, we’ve seen the ultimate in PCP possibilities? The answer is “Yes,” if by ultimate we mean finding out how much the market is willing to bear in terms of cost. But there are places the PCP technology has yet to go. How inexpensive can a gun of reasonable quality be? Can we make a PCP that can sell for $150 and still return a reasonable profit? I think it’s possible. Maybe not under the existing manufacturing paradigm; but if a new process of building was created at the same time as the design, then, yes, I think it could be done.
But, the marketeers all shrink from such thoughts. Where’s the profit in a low-cost air rifle? A century ago, a man asked the same thing about automobiles. He took the average price for an entry-level car from over $800 to under $400 inside of 15 years. In the process, he created the world’s first vertically integrated manufacturing plant and also put humanity on wheels. I’m speaking of Ford, of course. I understand he was able to make a few dollars along the way.
Leapers will bring out a scope with an internal bubble level in a few months. That’s an idea that’s been bubbling along for years, pun intended. Such scopes were hand-made in the 1990s and Sun Optics makes them today, but their models don’t achieve their rated magnifying levels. Leapers has worked on this idea for several years, and they’re close to bringing a quality optic to market. The bubble level will end the problem of canting, which is extremely important to accuracy for airgunners.
Are we finished with optics? Never! There are still so many things to be done. Where is that great air pistol scope, for example? And where’s that scope base that makes mounting a scope easy? Benjamin uses Weaver bases on many of their springers, which is a step in the right direction. We need more of that.
When Leapers made the drooper mount bases for Diana rifles, they solved a decades-long problem for airgunners. However, they did even more than that. They focused Diana’s attention on the problem and the need to end the drooping barrel problem. If airgun barrels didn’t droop, drooper mounts wouldn’t be required. The Diana 350 Magnum proves that it’s possible to make breakbarrels that don’t droop.
What about a simple, foolproof scope-mounting system? Where’s that? When the market supports people paying money to have their scopes mounted by someone else, you know there’s room for improvement.
There’s plenty of room in the world of open sights for improvement. For starters, how about a muzzlebrake that incorporates a front sight post, or even a selection of front sight elements that can be folded out of sight and stored when you want to mount a scope? Wouldn’t that be welcomed by a lot of shooters?
While the technology has advanced in so many areas, the one place it has actually gone in retrograde is the trigger. There were better triggers in the 1880s than exist today. We still rely on the simple sear with a small contact area, when there’s a universe of mechanical possibilities yet to be explored. An over-center geometry that collapses when pushed past center is just one way to build a reliable adjustable trigger. And people make so much of triggers that I’m certain there would be a small but profitable market for a single-set or double-set trigger as an upgrade on certain premium airguns.
Chiappa figured out that if the barrel of their Rhino revolver was lower, the perceived muzzle jump would be less. We need air pistols that do the same.
Hunting is growing fast these days, and everyone who goes afield knows the value of a sling. There’s certainly a market for a easy-to-use sling swivel attachment that could be conveniently installed on an air rifle. Mossberg had them in the 1940s, but nobody ever looks to the past to find the things we need now.
Things to avoid
While thinking of the things we need, there are some things that must be avoided….
More power in spring guns
The horsepower race among smallbore spring-piston airguns has painted several companies into the corner. They can’t find enough adjectives to describe their next new magnum gun. What they fail to realize is that the parade has already passed by the power race. The max velocity possible is well-known and now shooters are looking for a gun with adequate power that can also hit what they shoot at. I’ll agree that the uneducated buyers don’t understand this yet, but the moment they get saddled with a jackhammer that takes 50 lbs. to cock and removes their fillings when it fires…they will. They’ll also leave airgunning, never to return!
Higher fill pressure
The usefulness of higher fill pressures has peaked and gone past the optimum, into the weeds of excessive pressure that offers no benefit. We thought that 3,000 psi was necessary until Tim McMurray and Crosman showed us different with the USFT and Benjamin Discovery rifles, respectively. Going higher than 3,000 psi is the marketing kiss of death, because nothing in this nation supports such pressure.
Scopes of higher magnification
I used to shoot field target, and we thought the higher-powered scopes were necessary for success. We thought that because we wanted to be able to see blades of grass at 55 yards, so we could focus on them and be able to determine range. When the magnification passed 40x, the scopes started getting darker because the optics inside couldn’t support that great power. And we were unwilling to pay the $2,000 required to buy the kind of optics that could. Instead of chasing magnification or objective lens size, what the optics companies need to do is come up with an erector tube that doesn’t float when it gets too high or right in its adjustment.
These are just a few of my thoughts. I think there has never been greater opportunity for new airguns than right now. There’s an established base of educated shooters who understand airguns well enough to accept a good new gun and make it profitable for the builder. In that respect, we’re much better off than we were a decade ago. But are the airgun makers in the same position? Only time will tell.
by B.B. Pelletier
We have a guest blog from regular blog reader and commenter Fred DPRoNJ (Democratik Peoples Republic of New Jersey). He’s tested an interesting concept that will be beneficial to all you spring gun shooters. I’ll let him tell you about it.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.
Take it away, Fred!
by Fred DPRoNJ
Spring-powered air rifles are the hardest guns to shoot accurately. At the top of this list are the magnum springers (those that generate 15 or more foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle). Once the trigger is released and the spring propels the piston forward, the rifle shoves back against your shoulder. When the piston stops, its forward motion transfers to the rifle, which then moves forward. This is the jarring motion that turns scopes that are not airgun-rated into castanets. Also, as the spring is uncompressing, a torque is produced which tries to twist the rifle about its longitudinal axis. It’s next to impossible to control these three forces the same way every time and obtain consistency. The pellet will strike the target at a slightly different place than your point of aim.
As long-time readers of this blog know, the trick to wringing out the utmost accuracy from a spring-piston rifle is to use the artillery hold that B.B. Pelletier has popularized. It allows the rifle to recoil as it wants, while achieving consistency in the point of impact. In the artillery hold, the forearm of the rifle rests lightly on your palm or the back of your fingers or top of your closed fist so the rifle can move how it wants. You do not grasp the forearm with your fingers. That technique is explained here.
However, additional accuracy can sometimes be obtained by positioning your hand under a different point on the forearm. There’s no tried-and-true position since each rifle has its own characteristics, and that requires experimentation. I thought I had the most accurate hold for my .177 Diana RWS 350 Magnum, which is the hardest recoiling and one of the most powerful spring-piston air rifles in my collection. Its recoil makes it one of the hardest rifles to shoot accurately. But I wondered if varying my hand position might improve the results. And that’s the subject of my report.
What I did
I marked the forearm of my rifle in four positions, shot a number of different pellets at a target, rested the rifle at each of the four points and then measured the groups. Distance to the target was 28 feet — the maximum limit of my basement target range. The rifle has an optional peep sight — the Beeman version of the Williams model 64 receiver peep sight – and a hooded front.
I quickly found out that my arm was too short for the farthest position, which would have been at the end of the forearm, so the experiment was revised to three positions.
Even position one (shown above) was too far out for me to comfortably hold the rifle, and that probably contributed to the poor results obtained in that position. The rifle was rested on the top of a closed hand (the top of my fist), with my elbow rested on a flat surface. The rifle did tend to move with the movement of my body, hand and arm. [Editor's note: The rifle will always follow the body. That's why the stance is so important for an offhand shooter...and a baseball pitcher.] I’m afraid these aren’t one-hole groups.
My first pellet was the Air Arms Falcon domed pellets that weighs 7.33 grains. The smallest group I got with all but one pellet was with my off hand in position three, which is closest to the triggerguard. For the Falcon pellets, that group measured 0.6355 inches between centers. Positions one and two resulted in groups that were larger than one inch across.
The first three groups were shot using Falcon pellets. They’re arranged in this way — upper left from position one, upper right from position two and lower left from position three. Position three gave the tightest group.
At this point, I’d like to apologize for the wrinkled targets. Spike, my pet cockatiel, overturned a glass of water and soaked all the paper targets prior to my taking photos of them. He was sternly spoken to and told to straighten up and fly right.
Spike posed for this picture, but he tipped the glass on the targets before I could photograph them. As you can see from the look on his face, he has a mischievous streak and he won’t allow me to photograph him when he’s misbehaving! His favorite TV sitcom character is Eddie Haskell.
Crosman Premier Ultra Magnum
Next up were 10.5-grain Crosman Premier Ultra Magnum pellets, and, once again, the smallest size obtained was position three — 0.698 inches between centers. As you can see, positions one and two produced groups in excess of one inch, total spread.
Crosman Premier Ultra Magnum, 10.5 grains. Once again they’re arranged — upper left from position one, upper right from position two and lower left from position three. Position three gave the tightest group.
RWS Super H-point
The third pellet I used was the RWS Super-H-Point weighing in at 6.9 grains. The rifle didn’t like these at all. This target produced the only anomaly of the entire test – position one had the tightest group of 1.198 inches between centers, while position three was 0.125 inches larger. Perhaps, this could just be a measurement discrepancy?
The RWS Super-H-Point target was the one anomalous target in the test. They’re arranged — upper left from position one, upper right from position two and lower left from position three. In this case, position one beat position three.
My next pellet was the 10.65-grain H&N Baracuda Match pellet. Once again, the third position produced the smallest group of 0.698 inches between centers.
Finally, with the H&N pellet, I was starting to get some decent results. Again, they’re arranged — upper left from position one, upper right from position two and lower left from position three. Position three gave the tightest group.
JSB Exact 8.4-grain dome
The JSB Exact 8.4-grain dome produced a grouping that was equal for positions two and three, with position one being roughly one inch across.
JSB Exact 10.3-grain dome
My last pellet was the JSB Exact 10.3-grain domed pellet. This pellet was the most accurate of the test with a best group of 0.573 inches between centers, which was almost a one-hole group.
What I can deduce from my testing is that position of the hand on the forearm certainly affects accuracy. With one exception, the groupings did get tighter as my hand position was moved in from position one to position three. Position three was nearly always the best place to rest the rifle on my hand, irrespective of the pellet used.
[Editor's note: Fred's findings correspond with my own. Placing the off hand back by the triggerguard is nearly always the best place for a spring rifle. There have been exceptions, however, so it's good to test all positions with every rifle.]
by B.B. Pelletier
This TS-45 rifle is probably at least 30 years old, yet also brand new.
I’ve anticipated this day with great hopes, because this TS-45 rifle has the tightest bore I’ve ever seen on a vintage Chinese air rifle. I’ve owned a couple older Chinese air rifles, and they always had huge bores that every pellet wallowed in. The only one that was ever accurate was another TS-45 that I modified by changing the barrel for a Lothar Walther from Dennis Quackenbush. That one also had the benefit of an overhaul and was really a nice little plinker after all the work was done. But it didn’t have the original oversized barrel.
Through the years, I’ve heard from many owners of Chinese springers who said they had accurate guns. And always their barrels were considerably tighter than any I’d seen. Well, Lady Luck finally smiled on me, because this time it was my turn to get a tight barrel. So, I anticipated the possibility of accuracy.
Loose stock screws
Before testing I tried to tighten the stock screws. The rear triggerguard screw and the rear sling swivel anchor screw are what hold the action in the stock. Both were loose and needed tightening.
For fun, I removed the barreled action from the stock. From what I see, this would be an easy action to work on, so I may have a go at it at some future date. No promises, but if I can collect another dozen “round tuits,” I’ll have what I need to smooth out this action.
I have to compare the firing of this rifle to that of the El Gamo 68 I recently tested. Both have heavy triggers and quick shot cycles with very little vibration afterward. The firing pulse is heavy and disagreeable, but I think that with the fitting of a few parts it could be made smoother.
The trigger looks simple enough and is obviously has a case-hardened sear. I can tell that by the shape of the part and its thickness. If I were to rebuild the gun, I might have a go at smoothing the sear contact area a little.
I had a gut feeling this rifle wanted to shoot, and it didn’t disappoint me. The first pellet I tried was a 7.9-grain Crosman Premier dome. I shot at a 10-meter pistol target at a distance of 10 meters (33 feet). The pistol target has a larger bull than the 10-meter rifle target, and I find it easier to see when I use open sights like the ones on this rifle.
Speaking of the sights, I find the sights on this TS-45 to be among the sharpest and easiest open sights I’ve ever seen on an air rifle! I wish the makers of modern air rifles would put sights this good on their guns! The rear sight has a U-shaped notch that’s positioned at just the right distance from my sighting eye, so the top of the notch appears clear. And the front post is very sharp and easy to focus on. I had no trouble holding a 6 o’clock hold on the target.
The trigger, on the other hand, is appalling! It’s too heavy to measure on my trigger-pull scale, but I am guessing that it breaks at something approaching 14-15 lbs. of effort! It’s so heavy that my wrist started hurting from pulling it during the test. I’m not sure the final group I shot was as good as it could have been because my wrist hurt so much from squeezing this horrible trigger.
The first group wasn’t as nice as I had hoped, spreading out to the left as the shots increased, but it was much better than a typical old Chinese airgun would do for me. One pellet went way out to the left; but as far as I could tell, the sight picture was perfect for that shot, as well as for all the others. I used an artillery hold with the back of my off hand touching the front of the triggerguard. The rifle sits well in the hand for this hold and is light enough to feel good. Later in the series, I flipped my off hand over and rested the rifle on the backs of two fingers. That seemed to have less movement on target as the trigger was pulled.
The second pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby. I’ll usually default to this pellet in a lower-powered spring gun because, for some reason, many of them seem to like it very much. This pellet fit the bore very tight and gave the best group of the day.
The Hobby group was very encouraging. I started believing this rifle was going to shoot like a target rifle. The next pellet was shot with the Gamo Match, and here’s where I started to notice the heavy trigger-pull taking its toll. I can’t say for certain, but I think some of the size of this group was due to fatigue.
The final pellet I tested was the H&N Finale Match Pistol, but by this time there was no mistaking my fatigue. The only other time I remember feeling like this while shooting a gun was when I tested one of those $2,500 Airrow airguns made by Swivel Machine Corp. They had a trigger pull over 25 lbs. and were horrible to shoot. You can see the results of my fatigue in the vertically scattered shots, where the other three groups were good in the vertical plane.
As I indicated earlier, I’ll set this rifle aside for now. But it looks like a simple action to work on, and I may eventually return, just to see what I can do about that heavy trigger and violent pulse at firing.
I was never one to praise these old Chinese airguns; but if I’d encountered one like this one back in the days when I tested them, things might have turned out differently. I certainly would have cut them more slack if I’d known they could shoot so well.
by B.B. Pelletier
This TS-45 rifle is probably at least 30 years old, yet also brand new.
Let’s look at the velocity of my new-old-stock TS-45. It’s been many years since I tested a really old Chinese airgun, so this was a nostalgic test for me. The TS-45 surprised me by being smoother to cock and fire than I imagined. The stock bolts were loose; but once I tightened them, the rifle fired quite smoothly and without a lot of aftershocks. I think that’s mostly due to the low power rather than any special fitting of the powerplant parts. Randy Mitchell did lubricate the powerplant of this rifle, but an older Chinese spring-piston air rifle needs a lot more than a lube tune to straighten up.
The non-adjustable trigger is single-stage and if you pull it slowly it releases consistently at around 5 lbs., 14 oz. You don’t want it any lighter because of the danger of this mechanism slipping off the sear while loading. As cumbersome as it is, I always put my arm in the path of the cocking lever while I’m loading, just in case the sear lets go.
The first pellet I tried to test was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier — the so-called Premier Lite. I say I tried to test the velocity, but it was all over the place. The first shot went 564 f.p.s. and stayed there for two more shots. Then shot No. 4 leaped up to 750 f.p.s. And the feel of the gun at firing was more harsh, which told me it was dieseling pretty heavily. No detonations (explosions) were heard, but I suspect we were running just shy of them.
The Premier pellet fit the bore tightly, which I take as a good sign for potential accuracy. They’ll certainly be among those pellets I use for accuracy testing.
The velocity remained in the 700s for a few shots, then slipped back through the 600s to the 500s again. By the time I had fired 16 shots, we were down to 523 f.p.s.; but I knew the velocity would drop even lower than that, so I switched to the next pellet.
Next up were RWS Hobbys. They started out at 558 f.p.s. and dropped to 523 f.p.s. by the tenth shot, but the average for the string was a healthy 552 f.p.s. I suspect that number is a bit high, but it’s close to the real velocity with this lightweight pellet. Accepting it as fact gives us an average muzzle energy of 4.74 foot-pounds.
Like the Premier, these Hobbys also fit the bore tightly. They will be tested for accuracy, as well.
One nice thing about Hobbys is that they force a lot of dieseling for some reason. Perhaps, it’s due to their lightness, but I often find they’ll burn off excess lubricant when a gun has just been tuned.
The next pellet I tried was the Air Arms Falcon dome. These pellets fit the bore loosely, and I don’t have a lot of hope for their accuracy potential. They averaged 512 f.p.s., which seemed close to the real velocity. The range went from 500 to 529, so the rifle is definitely becoming more stable. At the average velocity, they generated 4.25 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
Back to the Premiers
The rifle seemed to have settled down by this time, so I tried chronographing the Crosman Premiers once more. This time they were very stable at an average 464 f.p.s. The range went from 462 to 466 f.p.s., so the rifle seems to have settled in — at least as much as it’s going to for now. A crude spring rifle like this always needs about a thousand shots through it to fully break in and start performing the way it was meant to, but I doubt the velocity will change by more than 20-30 f.p.s.
At this velocity, the rifle generates an average 3.78 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. While that seems low, remember that spring guns do favor lighter pellets, and this one will probably follow that trend very closely.
So, how do I like the TS-45 so far? Well, I see a lot of pellet rifles over the course of a year, and this one isn’t the best that I’ve seen. It isn’t even in the top half. But it also isn’t at the bottom of the list. I’ve tested guns with a lot more power that I liked less than this one. If it weren’t so dangerous, this might be a nice little plinker.
The accuracy test is next, and those results will be very telling.
by B.B. Pelletier
This TS-45 rifle is probably at least 30 years old, yet also brand new.
At every airgun show there’s always one or two special things that show up. At the 2012 Arkansas show this year, one of those things was a pile of new-old-stock Chinese TS-45 sidelever air rifles. Randy Mitchell had found a pallet of these vintage guns and was selling them for $20! Now, I’m as cheap as any airgunner, but a twenty-dollar spring rifle in new condition is more than even my frugal nature can ignore.
Yes, we’ve already looked at the TS-45 in this blog. Most recently, Vince gave us a look at two slightly different variations of that model — one of which was a rifle I bought at the Little Rock airgun expo many years ago from the late Paul Landrith, a well-known airgun repairman from Arlington, Texas. It was about 15 years ago, and Paul had several TS-45s on his table.
I was writing The Airgun Letter at the time and bought most of the airguns that I tested. I’d stayed away from the Chinese springers as long as I could, but the insistent battle cry of, “Real wood and steel for just a few dollars” finally overcame my resistance, so I started testing them. I did it mostly to poke my fingers in the eyes of everyone who had asked me to test Chinese airguns; but the more I ranted about their obvious shortcomings, the more my readers agreed with me. “Yes, they’re horrible! Don’t you just love them?” It was like attending a convention of bathtub Saab 96 owners. “They’re not supposed to start every time!”
Back to my story, I was at Malvern and saw a rack of TS-45s and immediately thought of Paul Landrith and the old Little Rock show so many years before. Paul warned me that the gun I bought from him was one of those that had amputated a few thumbs during loading, and I was never to trust the anti-beartrap mechanism. Always restrain the sidelever positively, he made me promise before selling the rifle. I always did. When I sent it to Vince, I told him the same thing.
Randy Mitchell was selling piles of these new-old-stock TS-45 sidelevers at the Arkansas airgun show.
And here was another cache of new-old-stock TS-45s, at the show that succeeded the Little Rock show. The clincher came when Randy Mitchel said to me, “These rifles remind me of Paul Landrith!” Apparently, there are many airgunners who dealt with the kindly man and remember him fondly.
So, I bought the gun, more as a reminder of the past than as an airgun project. But after examining my new-old rifle and comparing it to the two in Vince’s report, I see that this is a third variation. It resembles Vince’s beloved “Pointy” more than the other rifle he also tested, but it has small differences. What the heck; this one might shoot as well as Pointy, too, and then wouldn’t I be happy?
The rifle I’m testing for you is a .177-caliber sidelever spring-piston air rifle. From comparison with Vince’s rifle, I would have to say this one might be the earlier model — or as Vince guesses, another one made for export. Since the only writing visible on this rifle says MADE IN CHINA, plus the numbers on the rear sight, I’m inclined to go with the export-model theory. This rifle lacks any Chinese characters or the mountain logo found on the other two rifles on which Vince reported.
Randy has stripped this rifle and lubricated it with the correct grease. He also removed the anti-beartrap device parts from some of the actions, and I got to choose if I wanted them in the gun I bought. Since they’re notorious for failing, I elected to get the rifle without the anti-beartrap, and I’ll be restraining the cocking lever every time I load. That’s how I always did it with my other TS-45, and that’s what I advise all owners to do, as well.
To safely restrain the sidelever during cocking, tuck the sidelever behind your arm, as shown in the photo below. Never put your fingers into the loading port unless the sidelever is restrained this way. If the gun were to slip off safety, the lever would smack into your arm. It would hurt, but your arm would stop it from allowing the sliding compression chamber to cut off your fingers.
The sidelever is safely restrained by my right arm. My right thumb is loading a pellet into the breech. If the sear slips, my arm will stop the lever and the sliding compression chamber from closing on my thumb.
The TS-45 is a vintage airgun made in China and does not have the same safety mechanisms found in similar spring-piston air rifles made today. If you fail to restrain the cocking sidelever while loading, as the photo shows, the gun can slip off its sear and send the sliding compression chamber forward with enough force to amputate your fingers during loading. This is a known fault of these rifles that’s easily addressed by this safe loading procedure.
I know that most of our readers are careful shooters who pay attention to warnings like this, but I’ve also witnessed enough people who act before thinking. I feel it’s necessary to emphasize this warning. It’s the same kind of warning as not loading a muzzleloading rifle with the muzzle pointing at your head. It makes perfect sense; and if you follow it, you won’t have a bad accident. But there is danger, and you need to be informed.
This is a single-shot rifle that’s a whisker shy of 40 inches long. It weighs 7 lbs. on the nose. The barrel is 18 inches long and is fixed in the frame. The pull (length from the center of the butt to the center of the trigger blade) is 12-5/8 inches, which is short for an adult.
The metal has not been finished in any detectible way beyond tumbling with a black oxide finish, so the least critical description is a matte black finish. But there are a couple scuffs and scrapes that show this rifle in no way received any special handling at the factory. The finish is 100 percent, however, as befits a new gun, though not all Chinese airguns of this era have that.
The stock is a single piece of blond pallet-grade hardwood. It has been shaped on an industrial sander and has a smooth outer surface that’s covered with a clear synthetic finish. The internal inletting was done by a rabid beaver and resembles the rough sort of folk carving an Appalachian woodsman might do with a dull hatchet. The butt is protected by a blackened steel plate that’s larger than the wood and is one of just two metal parts on the gun that have a smooth finish. Apparently, the punch press is kept fairly clean of metal chips. The other shiny part is the end cap that houses the sidelever pivot point. It shows signs of being hand-finished.
The sights are a hooded round post in the front and a rear ramp that’s adjustable for elevation, only. It has the button lock that Vince likes on his Pointy rifle, but the rear notch is laid back unlike any other other TS-45 I have seen. The rear notch is U-shaped and very well-sized to the front post. I’ll be able to take good aim with these sights.
The front sight is typical of a Chinese post sight, like the one found on an SKS rifle.
The rear sight adjusts for elevation but not windage. The rear notch slants backwards more than others I’ve seen. Notice the sidelever latch lock that takes so much pressure to unlock!
I’ve fired it a couple times just to familiarize myself with the operation and can tell that the bore is uncharacteristically small. I say “uncharacteristically” because, in all my experience with Chinese airguns made during this era (1970-1980), the bores have always been way too large. I have some hope that this may turn out to be a shooter.
The sidelever stays in position until the catch is pushed to release it. On this rifle, the force required is massive — on the order of 20 lbs., which is asking a lot of a thumb! The lever is under extreme tension — not from the mainspring, but from the geometry of how the lever and its parts fit. It’s not a pleasant rifle to cock, considering that it’s supposed to be a plinker. Give me a Bronco any day!
What’s the plan?
The plan is that I’ll test this rifle exactly as if it’s a new airgun. It doesn’t have a scope base, so I can only test it with the open sights that came with it. There’s a limited supply of these new-old-stock rifles, so don’t look for anything long-term from this test. If a few readers want one for themselves, just Google Randy Mitchell and airguns, and you’ll find the link to his website. He doesn’t seem to have these rifles listed there, so you will have to contact him to ask about them.
by B.B. Pelletier
This report is another response to a viewer of our Airgun Academy videos. In episode 22, we say the following at 3 minutes, 20 seconds into the video, “When using real hunting pellets, you have to realize that the velocity and, therefore, the power is going to be significantly less [than the light pellets the rifle is advertised to shoot fastest].” A viewer took issue with that statement, so today I’d like to explore how airguns handle pellets of different weights.
There are three different types of airgun powerplants: pneumatics that store air under pressure and release it with the shot. This compressed air pushes the pellet and gives it it’s power. The pneumatic powerplant pushes the greatest volume of compressed air behind the pellet and, depending on design considerations, is potentially the most powerful type of airgun powerplant.
Spring-piston airguns store no air. They have a spring-powered piston that releases with the shot and moves forward to compress a very small amount of air that gets behind the pellet to push it. The pressure of this compressed air is very high, but the volume is very small; once the pellet starts down the barrel, the air pressure behind it drops off fast. By the time the pellet leaves the barrel, there’s very little pressure in the air behind it — especially compared to a pneumatic airgun.
Guns that use carbon dioxide act more like pneumatic guns, except that carbon dioxide is under less pressure than compressed air; plus, it expands slower because its molecule is larger than the atoms contained in compressed air. CO2 guns act like pneumatics to a point, and then they’re limited by their use of the larger CO2 molecule, where compressed-air guns, which are pneumatics, have much higher limits.
How it works
How does this affect the performance of an airgun? Most commonly, when the pellet weight increases. The power of a spring-piston gun decreases, and, of course, the reverse is also true. It’s not an absolute physical law, but only a general relationship. There are some design considerations such as the contact surface of the pellet with the bore and the lubricity of the lead alloy that can change this relationship slightly. However, the relationship still stands.
British airgun magazines have been talking about this since the 1980s. It’s very important to them because of their legal 12 foot-pound power limit. If a new pellet can come on the market and increase the performance of certain airguns that are currently legal so they exceed the legal limit of 12 foot-pounds, then the entire airgun community needs to be aware of it! Once it becomes known that a certain pellet can do that, the authorities will be using that pellet to test all airguns. Let’s put this relationship to the test today and see if it holds any water.
Using a .22-caliber Diana 27 spring rifle, I’ll shoot three different weights of pellets. If the relationship holds true, the lightest-weight pellet should produce the greatest power, the medium-weight pellet should produce the second-greatest power and the heaviest-pellet should produce the lowest power.
The .22-caliber RWS Hobby pellet weighs 11.9 grains and averages 490 f.p.s. in the Diana 27. That means it produces an average 6.35 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
The .22-caliber Crosman Premier pellet weighs 14.3-grains and averages 459 f.p.s. in the Diana 27. It produces an average 6.69 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
The .22-caliber Beeman Kodiak pellet weighs 21 grains and averages 352 f.p.s. from the Diana 27. It produces an average 5.78 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. I am aware that the Pyramyd Air website says the Kodiak weighs 21.14 grains; but the Kodiaks I’m using are several years old, and I’ve weighed them on an electronic scale at exactly 21 grains.
So, we already have an exception to the general rule, with the Premiers producing greater muzzle energy than the lighter Hobbys, where the relationship predicted the opposite. But the general trend does remain in force, as the much heavier Beeman Kodiaks produce significantly less muzzle energy than the lighter pellets.
Now let’s try these same three pellets in a tuned Beeman R1 and see what happens. If the relationship holds, we should see the lightest pellet making the greatest energy and the heaviest pellet the least, in a linear relationship.
The .22-caliber RWS Hobby pellet averages 817 f.p.s. in the R1. That means it produces an average 17.64 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
The .22-caliber Crosman Premier pellet averages 750 f.p.s. in the R1. It produces an average 17.87 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
The .22-caliber Beeman Kodiak pellet averages 575 f.p.s. from the R1. It produces an average 15.42 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Again, the Premier pellet stepped out of line by producing the greatest energy. But the Kodiak maintained the relationship.
What does this prove?
It doesn’t prove anything. It demonstrates a general relationship between pellet weight and power in a spring-piston airgun. You could test 10 more guns and get several more anomalies, including a gun that actually shot the heaviest pellet with the greatest power. In fact, I’ll tell you how to do that in a moment.
But if you tested 10 different spring-piston air rifles, you would probably still see the general relationship holding most of the time. I’ve been doing this for many years, and I’ve seen it happen too many times to doubt that the relationship does work as described.
How to beat the relationship
I learned, when testing several exotic tunes while writing the Beeman R1 book, that a heavy piston always favors the heavier pellet. So, simply adding sufficient weight to a piston will change everything. But it will also give you more piston bounce and poor performance with a broader range of middleweight and lightweight pellets — which is why the pistons of spring guns weigh what they do. They’re made to give the broadest possible range of performance within the expected power band of the rifle they were made for.
When I wrote the script for episode 22, I was thinking of spring-piston airguns when I wrote the line that the viewer took exception to. That’s because the huge preponderance of airgun hunters today use spring-piston rifles.
Before you jump down my throat for saying that, I do realize that there are thousands of hunters using PCPs; and in some warm spots, there are even hunters with CO2 guns. But that doesn’t change the fact that most airgun hunters in the U.S. still use spring-piston rifles today. I shouldn’t have made a broad statement like that in the video without qualifying it, and the viewer was right to voice his concern. We’ve added corrective text to the video at that point.
But this report isn’t really about that video. It’s about learning how pellet weight performs in an airgun. According to this logic, precharged guns develop more energy with heavier pellets and less with lighter pellets. So, let’s switch over to a precharged pneumatic rifle and run the same three pellets, to see what happens. If the relationship holds as it’s stated, the heaviest pellet should be the most powerful and the lightest the least powerful.
The .22-caliber RWS Hobby pellet averages 1035 f.p.s. in the SS. That means it produces an average 28.31 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
The .22-caliber Crosman Premier pellet averages 982 f.p.s. in the SS. It produces an average 30.63 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
The .22-caliber Beeman Kodiak pellet averages 882 f.p.s. from the SS. It produces an average 36.28 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
So, this time, the relationship held exactly as predicted. You can expect the same relationship to play out in every pneumatic, regardless of the power level at which it performs.
Okay, I’ve explained an old relationship between pellet weight and performance. What about it?
A couple of things, actually. First, with the modern uber-magnum spring rifles, you can expect to see a lot of reversals in the relationship. That’s because they have heavier powerplants that are designed for heavier pellets. So, things may not be as cut-and-dried as you see here.
Second, I want those of you with chronographs to do your own tests and report the findings. That way, we’ll see if the relationship still holds over a much wider sample of airguns and pellets than what I’ve shown. Just choose pellets with weights that are separated by a good margin, so each one stands apart from the others.
And, finally, this is a lesson you need to internalize, because it’s fundamental — or at least I hope that all of us can prove that it still is. In the same way that a longer barrel increases the velocity and power in a pneumatic, this relationship will help you as you move forward in your airgun journeys.