Pneumatic Pnews

Monday, January 30, 2006

Beeman R7 pellet rifle

by Tex Force

You want to buy a high-quality air rifle. You like accuracy, good triggers and guns that are well made. Power is secondary to quality in your book. Well, pardner, you're in luck, because the Beeman R7 (sixth rifle down) is probably just the air rifle for you.

Not a magnum
Not everybody wants the absolute last bit of velocity from an airgun. Instead, some like a smooth shooter that they can spend delightful hours with. It's not too much fun to cock a breakbarrel that takes 50 pounds of effort, but one that only takes 18 pounds is no work at all. Where most spring-piston air rifles weigh at least eight pounds, the R7 comes in at just over six. The stock is correctly proportioned for an adult, and you will really enjoy shooting this delightful little rifle.

Two calibers to choose from
The R7 comes in both .177 and .20 caliber. In .177, it reaches to 700 f.p.s. with lightweight pellets, and the .20-caliber gets up to 550. A good .177 pellet is the Gamo Match (third pellet down), and the RWS Superdome (sixth pellet down). In .20 caliber, try the Beeman H&N (fourth pellet down).

Rekord trigger
At the heart of the rifle, a special trigger called the Rekord controls the action. The Rekord has been produced continuously since the mid-1950s and is the one all other airgun triggers are compared to. It's a fully adjustable two-stage multi-lever trigger that can be set to break cleanly at less than three pounds. It has an automatic safety that disables the gun every time it is cocked until the safety button is pushed in. Once the safety is off, the barrel must be broken open all the way to re-set it.

Weihrauch accuracy
All the Beeman R-series air rifles are made by the Germany firm Weihrauch. Beeman specifies the shape and length of the stock, and in several cases the power level of the guns. The R-7 looks very much like its larger brother, the R1. Everything is scaled down on the R7 except for the length of the butt, which is practically the same as the one on the R1. Weihrauch is famous for making high-quality target rifles, and that skill carries over to their airgun line. All HW barrels are considered very accurate, and the R7 is a delight because it is so lightweight and easy to shoot.

A rifle worth scoping
Although the R7 comes with an excellent set of open sights, it accepts scopes just as easily as all other Beeman R-series rifles. Because of the smaller size, I recommend getting a scope to match. The Tech Force 2-7x32 scope (fifth scope down) would be a perfect match to this rifle's power and accuracy potential. Since it has a 32mm objective lens, you could use the B-Square fixed airgun rings with a built-in scope stop. Yes, there are cheaper scopes and rings, but the R7 has the quality and accuracy that merits spending just a little more.

Fun targets
If you want to have more fun with your new rifle, take a look at the Gamo rocker pellet trap (top of the page) and the Gamo metallic rat and squirrel field targets (third item down on the same page). Shoot at any of these targets, and you'll see the results right away! The rat and squirrel targets are used in the exciting sport of field target, so this could be the start of something new for you.

The R7 is acknowledged as a classic spring air rifle. It has Weihrauch quality that you will still be proud of 20 years from now, and Weihrauch accuracy that you can use anytime. Just look around and see how many used R7s you find for sale. People usually don't part with them. You won't, either.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

What about those solid pellets?

by Tex Force

I read a lot on the airgun forums about shooting solid pellets these days. Apparently, shooters have figured out that the heavier a pellet is, the more power it generates in pneumatic guns. What they haven't yet discovered is that almost no airguns work well with them. That's what I want to discuss today.

Pneumatics favor heavy pellets
If you weren't aware of this - it's true. The heavier the pellet, the more muzzle energy it will generate in a multi-pump or precharged pneumatic. Spring guns like lighter pellets for power, but today we're looking at heavy pellets. Let me present this example. In the AirForce Talon SS (second rifle down), the Crosman Premier pellet goes about 840 f.p.s., or so. The .22-caliber Crosman Premier weighs 14.3 grains, so that delivers a muzzle energy of 22.41 foot-pounds. The same rifle averages about 735 f.p.s. with a 21-grain Beeman Kodiak (last pellet on page), and that is 25.2 foot-pounds. This same relationship holds for all pneumatics. So if you want a little more oomph, shoot the Kodiak - it's that simple. Ah, but there is a catch!

Super-heavy pellets!
If you want EVEN MORE power, what about using a heavier pellet? Well, now the shooter begins to search for the heaviest pellets he can find, and that will lead him straight to the solid lead pellets. He makes this search with the blind faith that nothing else will change - he'll just get more power from his airgun. But that's not the way things turn out. As it happens, the pellets he's been shooting are all of a similar type called diabolos. They have a narrow waist and a hollow tail. The shooter doesn't give this much thought, but that shape is quite important to the functioning of his airgun. You see, the narrow waist and hollow tail create what is known as drag on the pellet as it flies through the air. This drag is what keeps the nose pointed forward and the pellet on track. If there were no drag, the pellet would have to be stabilized entirely by its spin, which is imparted by the rifling. And that's the catch!

Airgun rifling doesn't twist fast enough for bullets
Maybe you noticed that a heavier pellet goes slower in the Talon SS. Well, if you shoot an even heavier pellet, it goes even slower. As a result, the twist rate of the rifling spins the pellet more slowly when it exits the muzzle. That doesn't matter much when the pellet is stabilized by the drag on its tail, but when the tail is filled and the side of the pellet becomes straight, as it is on a solid pellet, it doesn't have the high drag anymore. Instead of a diabolo pellet, the shape we now have is called a bullet. A bullet has to be stabilized by spin, and pellet rifles have twist rates too slow to stabilize bullets unless they can accelerate them to very high velocity. The standard twist rate in an air rifle barrel is one turn in 16 inches - too slow to stabilize a 30-grain lead bullet at anything less than about 1,000 f.p.s. The AirForce Condor (third rifle down) can get 30-grain bullets up to that speed, and so can a few Korean air rifles like the Career 707, but most pneumatics and no spring guns can!

The downrange effect
The result is that a Talon SS can shoot a one-inch group at 50 yards (under ideal conditions) with both Crosman Premiers and Beeman Kodiaks but can't keep five 30-grain bullets inside a two-foot circle! That's pretty dramatic, and it's all because the shooter did not understand how his pellets really work.

It's your choice - make it a good one!
The pellets you feed your air rifle are a personal choice, but you have to understand what they do as far as accuracy is concerned. Standard diabolo pellets are far safer than solid bullets because they travel only a fraction as far when accelerated to high velocity. The high drag on their tail slows them down like a badminton birdie. But it also gives you most of your accuracy, and it's the reason your pellet rifle works as well as it does. If you want to experiment with bullet-like ammunition, know what the tradeoffs are before you invest in too many tins.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Benjamin Sheridan SHB 17 & SHB 22

by Tex Force.

Do you ever feel you got into airgunning too late? That, if you could just turn back the clock 30-40 years, things would be great because that was when all the really neat airguns were available? Well, you may have overlooked a gun that's still made today in the same way it has been made for the past 60 years - the Benjamin Sheridan SHB17 and SHB 22 (second gun down on the page).

How far back does it go?
The models 132 and 137 began production right after World War II in 1946. They're the direct ancestors of today's multi-pump pistol and had an incredibly long production run - up until 1985. Over that time, they lost the "Tootsie Roll" pump handle, the finish changed from plating to paint and the wood grips become more modern. But, the basic gun remained the same.

The Benjamin 130/132/137 may have looked a little different. Underneath, it was the same gun as the one you can buy today.

Quality reveals itself
The gun had a brass barrel in 1946, and it still does today. The stock and forearm were made of walnut, and they're still made of American hardwood, which can be either walnut or other hardwoods. The adjustable sights have remained, as have the two calibers - .177 and .22. In short, this is pretty much the same air pistol you could buy 60 years ago, only this one has all the modern improvements that make it a better gun.

Seals have improved since WWII!
Synthetics and seal materials have improved vastly since the 1940s. No longer is leather used as a pump head seal. It worked fine in its day, but it had to be oiled frequently or it lost compression pretty fast. Today's pump head will probably outlast the first owner and maybe the second, too. The space program advanced synthetics quite far from the 1960s through the 1980s. However, you still want to leave one pump of air in the gun at all times to keep the valves closed against air contamination.

Pellets have improved, too!
The pellets they had in the 1940s were nowhere near as accurate and efficient as modern pellets. For this pistol, you'll want to use a light pellet to keep the velocity respectable. I like the Daisy Quick Silver pellets and the RWS Geco pellet.

Back in the '60s, you'd be lucky to get a 1" group at 10 yds. Now, that can be stretched out to 25 yds. by a careful shooter. The barrels haven't gotten better - just the pellets. Improvements in pellets have also sped up the guns! The .177 is now rated at 525 f.p.s., and the .22 is rated at 460. That's the equivalent velocity of a Beeman P1 for less than one-third the price!

How much longer do we have?
It's difficult to say how much longer these pistols will be made. In the past 10 years, Crosman (who owns Benjamin Sheridan) has cancelled all of the Sheridan pistols. The guns we see today in .177 and .22 are Benjamins - Sheridans are always .20 caliber. They have also done away with the nickel-plated versions, which were very attractive. So, a grouping of more than 10 pistols has been whittled down to just four - including the CO2 SEB 177/22. It's just a matter of time before these, too, will be history.

Are they too expensive?
In 1949, a Benjamin 132/137 was $13.50. Compasseco now lists the SHB pistols at $116.95. If Chevrolet had increased their full-sized car prices by the same percent, a 2006 model would sell for under $14,000. In my book, today's American air pistol is something of a bargain!

If you want one of the most powerful air pistols generally available, and one that is still made here in the U.S., this model is one to consider. It has a level of quality that will never diminish.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Tech Force 90 red dot sight

by Tex Force

Today, I want to look at something you shoot WITH. This is not just for airguns - firearms can use it, too! I'm talking about the Tech Force 90 dot sight (7th sight down on the page).

Made to military standards!
I was there when Compasseco first began selling this sight. At a time when other red dot makers were charging more than $100 for their sights, Compasseco brought out the Tech Force 90, a HUGE improvement over the run-of-the-mill dot sights with features that would cost extra in other sights. But the biggest sales point of all was the fact that this sight is made at an optics plant that does a lot of business for the military. They make everything to the same exacting standards.

What makes this one so good?
Besides the quality, which should never be overlooked, the TF 90 has a huge viewing area! When they first came out, other companies had been bragging about their 30mm view area - this sight sent them back to the drawing board. The Tech Force 96 (8th sight down on the page) has a one-inch tube, but the TF 90 is an INCH AND A HALF! It's like looking through a picture window!

Precision-coated optics enhance bright dot
You get the same rugged lens coatings the military uses for maximum light transmission. The dot can be seen in bright daylight by adjusting the seven-level dimmer switch. Use the lowest setting you can for best results, as the size of the dot increases with brightness. A larger dot means a larger aim point, which can cover part of the target and make aiming less precise.

Two different mounts allow use on firearms, too!
The sight comes with both a Weaver mount and a dovetail mount to attach it to any rifle, shotgun or handgun on which bases for those mounts can be attached. Many airguns already have the dovetails, so you need nothing else. For example, the Beeman P1 pistol (3rd pistol down on the page) has an 11mm dovetail rail running the full length of the top between the sights. Clamp the TF 90 to this rail using the dovetail mount and butt it up against the front sight, which serves as a scope stop. Since the P1 recoils in the opposite direction of most spring guns, this works fine.

It adjusts like a scope
Although there is just the center dot, you adjust it for both windage and elevation, the same as for any scope. Once you're zeroed, all you have to do is put the red dot on the target and squeeze off the shot - the bullet will go where the dot appears. Best of all, only YOU will see the dot. No light projects from this sight, so there is nothing to spook game or to alert anyone to your presence. The dot you see stays inside the sight tube.

Dot sights are much quicker than scopes to get on target, plus they are more precise than open sights. Though there is no magnification of the target, you won't have any trouble knowing where your pellet or bullet is going. They are just as handy on rifles or pistols, and shooters are finding new ways to use them every day.

TF 96 or TF 90?
The TF 96 is a less-expensive version of the TF 90, but this isn't a place to save money. Get the larger 90 if you possibly can, because a great part of its excellence is in the 50 percent larger optics. If your budget is too tight to allow the stretch, the TF 96 is a wonderful sight in its own right and has all the features as the 90, except for the size.

Tech Force 90 on a Beeman P2 pistol. It's large but not heavy.

Don't think that the TF 90 is too big for a handgun, either! It is large, but the use of extruded aluminum keeps the weight manageable. It adds only a few ounces to the overall weight of your gun.

If you are not getting the scores you should with open sights, the TF 90 may be just your ticket.

Monday, January 02, 2006

RWS Diana 350 magnum

by Tex Force

Let me be the 400th person to wish you a Happy New Year!

This week I want to talk about a spring rifle that is about the best value going. Oh, it's not cheap, though Compasseco has put it on sale as I write this blog. That will change in time, but even at the full price, the RWS Diana 350 Magnum (5th rifle down on the page) is a classic air rifle that's tough to beat.

It's a BIG gun!
The length and size of this rifle puts it into the LARGE category. It's 45" long and well-proportioned for an adult. Yet, despite the size, the 350M is not at all heavy. At 8.2 lbs., it's lighter than a Beeman R1 (5th rifle down on the page), a rifle it trounces in the power category. Diana managed to somehow make the 350 easy to cock. At just 33 lbs. of force when fully broken-in, this monster cocks easier than the R1!

One of the three power kings!
There are only two other spring rifles sold in the U.S. that have this kind of power - the Gamo Hunter 1250 (3rd down on the page) and the Webley Patriot (which is also sold as the Beeman Kodiak - end of the page). Both those rifles are heavier than the 350 and quite a bit harder to cock. The Webley is also considerably more expensive.

With the right pellets, the 350 is a slammin' powerhouse. Beeman Kodiak pellets (bottom of the page) will get more than 21 foot-pounds out of the gun. If you want the best, try RWS Superpoints! (bottom of the page) For some strange reason, this rifle seems to love this pellet and will shoot it at almost 24.5 foot-pounds! That's hummin' along at 875 f.p.s., which is about as fast as you want to go for the best accuracy.

How is it to shoot?
Like most spring-piston air rifles, the 350 Magnum requires some technique to shoot well. You hold it with the lightest touch you can manage, so it can recoil as much as it wants to. It'll reward you with half-inch groups at 25 yards. Hold it tight, and the group size will double.

Open sights are all you need
The 350M comes with an incredible set of open sights. They're fully adjustable, and the front globe accepts different inserts, though none come with the gun. The rear sight features four different notch shapes, so you can tailor it to your liking. Of course, the adjustment knobs have crisp detents, so you know what's going on.

Which caliber to pick?
The 350M comes in both .177 and .22. You're going to get the highest velocity with .177 (a bad thing, if you exceed about 950 f.p.s.) and the most power from the .22 (a very good thing). If you do choose the .177, remember to order the heaviest pellets you can find to keep the velocity under about 950 f.p.s. Then, you'll have real power plus a flat trajectory, but you won't go supersonic and blow your pellets all over the place. In .22, the 350M can really shove the heavy lead, getting as much as 685 f.p.s. out of 21-grain Kodiaks. But, that 14.5-grain RWS Superpoint is definitely a pellet you'll want to try, because it's going downrange at just under 900 f.p.s. - perfect for long-range accuracy and deep penetration.

Should you mount a scope?
Every gun benefits from a scope simply because the aim point is more precise. For the 350M, I'd recommend a Tech Force Heavy Duty Hunting Scope (third down on the page) in 3-9X40mm. I would mount it in a pair of B-Square fixed 1" rings. I like the two-piece rings because they give you more flexibility where you mount the scope.

Finally - it's on sale!
The 350 Magnum is on sale as I post this blog. I don't know how long that will last, but there's never been a better time to buy one than now. If you're looking for a large, powerful spring rifle, this is one of the top three available. It's a deal!