Pneumatic Pnews

Monday, April 24, 2006

The 1377: A classic air pistol from Crosman

by Tex Force

Blogger went down sometime late April 23d. Apparently Google (the Blogger host) uses Blogger to post the status of Blogger for all Blogs, so they are not able to post any news about this. Apparently no comments can be posted while Blogger is down, but past posts are unaffected.

This week, I'd like to examine an air pistol from Crosman that's been around a long time. The .177 caliber Crosman 1377 Classic (third gun down) has been made since 1977, in one form or another. For many years Crosman also made a 1322 companion pistol, but production ended in 2000 for that one. The 1377 is a multi-pump pneumatic that develops surprising power for a pellet pistol. Rated at 600 f.p.s., this pistol for under $60 has as much power as the celebrated Beeman P1 that sells for $355.95! And, it's very nearly as accurate, too!

Crosman 1377 Classic is a fine example of an American multi-pump pneumatic pistol.

A multi-pump is a reliable friend!
If you take care of a multi-pump airgun, it can outlast YOU! The best thing you can do is always store your gun with a pump of air in the reservoir, so both the inlet and exhaust valves remain closed against airborne dirt. The valves will remain fresh and good for decades! Another thing to do is always shoot premium pellets in your gun. Don't use anything but lead pellets to preserve the shallow multi-grooved rifling in the barrel. There's no need to ever clean the barrel of the 1377, because it doesn't shoot fast enough to need it. Pellets guns don't get the powder fouling that firearms do, so the only real problem they have is with lead deposits in the bore. Those form only when the pellets are going above about 900 f.p.s. Lastly, never over-pump your gun. It doesn't generate greater velocity, and it wears the joints in the pumping mechanism overly fast. Crosman says 10 pumps is the maximum, and you don't always need that.

Multi-pump maintenance
The one thing an owner can do is keep the pump head oiled, so the head seals well. That ensures the highest compression, which delivers the greatest velocity. Crosman shows exactly how to do this and how often to do it in their owner's manual. If you already own a pistol and need an owner's manual, contact Crosman at 800-724-7486 (800-7airgun). Use Crosman Pelgunoil to oil the pump head, as it has been specially selected for its sealing properties, as well as doing no harm to the seals of the gun.

The 1377 description says it delivers rifle-like performance. Well, by attaching the shoulder stock, it can become a handy carbine. Then, you can add a Crosman scope mount 459 to accept scope rings for a scope mounted on the barrel. To that, you can mount a Tech Force low power airgun scope (fourth item down) on the gun, and you'll have a scoped air rifle for under $100!

The 1377 shoulder stock turns the pistol into a carbine.

You'll want to shoot medium and lightweight pellets in the 1377. I recommend any of the Crosman Copperhead pellets (second, third and fourth items down) for their weight and because they're made to fit this barrel. Another good, low-cost pellet for this pistol is the Gamo Match pellet (third item down). It's light, made very well and gives wonderful accuracy.

If you're looking for a good buy in an air pistol, the 1377 Classic is one to consider. It has the power and accuracy that few other air pistols can match, plus it's one of the most affordable air pistols around.

Monday, April 17, 2006

What about a hand pump?

by Tex Force

You've finally convinced yourself to get a precharged pneumatic air rifle, now you have to decide how you're going to fill it. The two most common ways are from a scuba tank or with a hand pump. Let's take a look at the hand pump to see what it involves.

Can you REALLY pump 3,000 psi by HAND?
The hand pump looks a lot like a bicycle pump, but it's really very special inside. It's not just one pump but three - or rather it compresses air in three separate stages, which is how it is possible for a person to compress air to 3,000 psi (pounds per square inch). A shop air compressor goes as high as about 175 psi, and portable paint sprayers get up to 125 psi - so 3,000 psi is way beyond any of them. There is a device you can attach to a shop compressor that will multiply the air output to 3,000 psi, but it costs about $800 to $1,000. Nothing on the market is even close to the low price of the high-pressure hand pump!

It works by mechanical advantage
If you've ever lifted a car with a hydraulic jack, you know something about mechanical advantage. You can lift a tremendous weight that way, but it takes a lot of pumping, because each stroke only does a small amount of lifting. So it is with the hand pump. Depending on the volume of the reservoir you are filling, the hand pump takes from 8 to 14 pump strokes to increase the internal pressure by 100 psi. The AirForce air tank (second item down) is one of the largest tanks in airgunning, and it takes from 12 to 14 pump strokes to boost its pressure by 100 psi. If you want to put 1,000 psi into the reservoir, it will take 120 to 140 pump strokes. That's about a five- to seven-minute session.

You don't start from zero each time
Precharged guns are never shot until they are empty. You shoot until they are no longer satisfactorily accurate. For many guns, including all three AirForce models, there will still be something like 2,000 to 2,200 psi left in the air tank at that point. You need to put back only 800 to 1,000 psi. Airforce tells their customers that, depending on the power setting they use, they will need to pump from one to two full pump strokes per shot. That's a fair guesstimate, though with the guns set at the most powerful level, the number may be above two strokes.

How hard is it?
Until 1,500 psi, most adults can pump the pump with one hand. It is very light up to about 2,000. Somewhere around 2,200 to 2,500, you will notice the effort becoming greater and above 2,700, it is the hardest. Most people pump with their arms until the effort increases, then they stiffen their arms and use the weight of their body. As long as you weigh more than 140 pounds and have reasonably strong wrists, you will be able to reach 3,000 psi. Lighter shooters sometimes rest their stomach on the pump handle and make the pump try to support their weight, but shooters over 150 pounds shouldn't have to do this.

Does the hand pump remove all the moisture from the air?
No - the hand pump still permits a small amount of moisture to enter the reservoir it is filling. A scuba tank has drier air, but even then, there is always a small amount of moisture in the air. In the ten years hand pumps have been in worldwide use, they have not proved to be a problem in this respect. Incidentally, one type of pump has a moisture filter on the intake side of the pump, where it does almost no good. The only effective moisture filter is thermal mass inside the high compression chamber that all pumps on the market currently use.

How long will a pump last?
A pump operated correctly should last more than a decade with no maintenance. If it is abused, it can fail within a month. The biggest abuse is not allowing the pump to cool down after each five-minute pumping session. The final compression stage gets extremely hot (over 400 degrees F) and will fail early if not allowed to cool for 15 minutes between sessions. I always bleed the pump between sessions to help cool it.

Bleeding the pump means exhausting the high pressure air so the gun or reservoir can be disconnected. Proper bleeding is the other maintenance factor. Always bleed using the brass screw at the base of the pump. If you have a second bleed screw on the fill gauge, do not use it. The pump needs to have the high-pressure air blow out the collected moisture from the compression chamber every time you bleed it.

The hand pump is a great way to fill a precharged airgun if you're not averse to a little work. It lets you go into the field without a heavy scuba tank, plus it is the source of high-pressure air whenever you need it. If you operate it according to the instructions, it should give a long period of good service.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Gamo's CF-X: A hot new spring rifle!

by Tex Force

Gamo's CF-X is an underlever spring rifle with a synthetic stock. It may be the most exciting Gamo rifle ever!

There has certainly been a lot of excitement about Gamo's new .177 CF-X fixed-barrel spring-piston air rifle (eighth rifle down). Veteran airgunners love fixed-barrel rifles because of their better accuracy. Whether that's actually true or just a good advertising ploy, there is no doubt about this new Gamo. It is most definitely accurate!

Low cost and high performance
Airgunners are used to Gamo spring rifles offering a lot of gun for the money, but they haven't stood up to the top European spring guns like those from Weirauch, BSA and Air Arms in the accuracy department - until now! The new CF-X can group five pellets under an inch at 35 yards, where the groups from most budget air rifles are starting to fall apart. Of course the pellets you use make a difference in the accuracy, and my testing indicates that Crosman Premiers (top of the page) in the 7.9-grain weight are just about the best for this rifle. Gamo pointed pellets (fourth item down) are another good choice for this rifle.

Lighter pellets for better results
Spring guns can be particular about the pellets they like and I found that the CF-X does not like heavier pellets - at least not when I'm shooting it! I tried both Beeman Kodiaks (bottom of the page) and the heavy Crosman Premiers (top on the page), and neither one shot as well as the lighter pellets. I think other heavy pellet I didn't get around to testing are also probably not as good in this particular rifle. But that leaves a host of lighter pellets that out-number the heavies two to one.

Open sights or a scope?
The CF-X comes with a fully adjustable set of fiberoptic open sights that are fine for all kinds of shooting. If there's any light at all, the front dot will glow orange between two green dots in the rear. If the light is low, they'll revert to a regular black dot and notch type of open sight. They're fine for all kinds of shooting, but to get the most accuracy from this rifle you need a scope. A good scope! Almost any good-quality scope will be great on this rifle, but if I had my choice, it would be a Tech Force 3-10x44 Bright Vision (sixth scope down) scope. I like the size and the magnification for the CF-X.

If the barrel is fixed, where does the pellet go?
Gamo has created a rotary breech that rotates to the left to uncover the back of the barrel and closed when you are ready to take the shot. A deep, grooved ramp guides the pellet into the barrel. Because it's on an angle, long pellets are much harder to load. But the most accurate pellets prove no problem at all, once you get used to the different loading process. The thumb latch that opens the breech is very low to clear the scope, if you use one, so there shouldn't be a problem with clearance. Use medium or high mounts (second and third item down) just to be sure.

It's a large rifle, but lightweight
The CF-X is an adult-sized rifle for certain. At 44" overall, it's as long as any full-sized hunting rifle. But the weight is just 6.6 lbs. - amazingly light when compared to similar underlever rifles such as the 9-lb. Beeman HW 97 (fourth rifle down). The stock dimensions are also sized for an adult. I found that this rifle was sized very well for me, both in length of pull and the height of the cheekpiece, which proved perfect for a scope on medium mounts.

Like real wood - get the Royal
The CF-X in a wood stock is called the CF-X Royal. The stock adds $75 to the price tag, which is why I left it until the end, but some shooters want wood. Even at that price, the CF-X Royal still beats the competition by a large margin.

Any drawbacks?
Just one, as far as I can see, and everybody in the world knows about it. The Gamo trigger leaves a lot to be desired. It's a two-stage that's supposed to be adjustable, but I never felt any difference regardless of where the screws were. Some say the trigger gets better with use, and I hope so! It's very creepy and indistinct, though not too heavy. You feel as though you don't know when the gun is going to fire. Still, as bad as it is, I managed to shoot very well with the CF-X.

The bottom line
The Gamo CF-X has a lot going for it. Accuracy, light cocking, great sights and a smooth operation are too much to ignore - especially at this price. If your tax refund has a spring rifle in it this year, this is a model you should consider.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Try the BIG guns from AirForce

by Tex Force

When we looked at the three types of airgun powerplants blog, we learned that the precharged pneumatic or PCP is the oldest type of airgun of all. They were difficult to fill and to operate when charged, but they were a wonder for their time! Today's PCPs are modern, powerful, accurate and easy to use. So easy to shoot, in fact, that they are considered the most accurate airguns of all.

AirForce Airguns made in the USA!
Most PCPs are made in Europe, with a few examples made in Asia, but one very unique brand - AirForce Airguns - is made in Ft. Worth, Texas. They make three rifles, the Talon, Talon SS and the Condor. Each rifle has some characteristics that set it apart from the others, but all three share some common features, as well.

What's common to all AirForce air rifles?
To start with, all AirForce rifles have precision barrels made by the Germany's Lothar Walther. This firm has earned a reputation as one of the top airgun barrel makers in the world. The barrels AirForce uses are all choked at the muzzle for maximum accuracy potential, so you get equal accuracy from their 12", 18" and 24" barrels. And, this is a huge plus for an AirForce airgun - all rifles allow quick barrel changes! Because the guns come in both .177 and .22 caliber, this means you can buy just one gun and have it in both calibers, plus any optional barrel length you choose.

Another thing common to AirForce guns is an external power adjustment wheel on the left side of the frame. Other PCPs may be adjustable, but many of them require you to take the action out of the stock to make adjustments. AirForce expects you to adjust their rifles, so they put the wheel in a convenient place.

The power adjustment wheel on all AirForce airguns makes it easy to adapt the rifle to your shooting style.

The other things that are common to all guns are an amazing amount of 11mm accessory attachment points located all over the gun. The air tanks are huge 490cc removable reservoirs that hold more air than nearly all other PCPs. That gives you more shots on one fill of air. Because the air tank comes off, all AirForce rifles break down to very small packages for transport. Since they are made from aluminum extrusions, all three rifles are incredibly light - often several pounds less than their European competition.

Let's look at the rifles individually.

Like an eagle's talon, the Talon from AirForce (first rifle on the page) is powerful, quick and light. It's also their least expensive model. Being the cheapest often means something lacks features, but the Talon has everything the Talon SS has except sound reduction. In fact, the 18' barrelled Talon is slightly more powerful than the SS, so there's a benefit for the loss of sound reduction. In .22 caliber, the Talon will launch a medium-weight pellet at speeds of 900 to 950 f.p.s. In .177 it will go up to 1,100 f.p.s., which is too fast for best accuracy, but you can use heavier pellets to keep the speed down in the 900s. Remember, the gun has adjustable power, so it's easy to get the speed exactly where you want it.

Talon SS
The Talon SS (second rifle down on the page) is the rifle for the suburbs. The 12" barrel is hidden inside the tubular frame, so the muzzle blast is muted when you shoot. A powerful shot that generates about the same force as the Webley Patriot magnum spring rifle (first rifle on page) sounds about as loud as a loud hand clap. In .22 caliber on high power, the Talon SS generates 810 to 850 f.p.s. with medium-weight pellets, while in .177 with medium-weight pellets it increases to around 950 to 1,000 f.p.s. The low-end adjustability of the SS isn't quite as stable as the low end on the Talon, but speeds in the 600 f.p.s. range are possible in .22 caliber.

The Condor (third rifle down on the page) is a special air rifle. Although it looks a lot like the other two, it is the world's most powerful smallbore air rifle, generating a string of shots in excess of 60 foot-pounds. At the muzzle, the Condor is as powerful as a .22 rimfire shooting the standard speed short cartridge! Put another way, it is the only smallbore (.177, .20, .22 and .25 calibers) air rifle that will reliably shoot through a 2x4 in either caliber! Because of its high power, the Condor is noisy. It's just as loud as a .22 rimfire. You can dial the power way down, though. When it shoots with the same power as an SS, it's only a little louder than the quiet SS with its special technology. The 24" barrel of the Condor extracts all the energy from the compressed air charge, so you get wonderful adjustability - from a high in excess of 1,200 f.p.s. with a .22-caliber medium weight pellet to a low in the 600s.

Interchangable barrels means flexibility
Because the owner can change the barrel (fifth, sixth and seventh from the bottom) of an AirForce rifle, it can become more than just a single airgun. A Talon SS, for example, is the most popular model. With an optional 18" barrel installed, the SS develops the same power as the Talon. With the optional 24" barrel, the SS develops two-thirds the power of a Condor! All from a simple five-minute barrel change!

.177 or .22?
By far, .22 caliber is preferred over .177. AirForce rifles are so powerful that they take full advantage of the larger caliber. But the option to switch barrels at any time means an owner can have both calibers in one airgun. No longer is it necessary to make a choice.

AirForce rifles are probably the smartest buy for first-time PCPs buyers. American-made, they are fully supported by the factory in Ft. Worth. They come with both a printed owner's manual as well as a one-hour instructional DVD that shows you all operations of the guns. This is the only "systems" air rifle on the market, and a great choice for hunters and general shooters, alike.