Pneumatic Pnews

Monday, June 26, 2006

Tech Force 97 now on sale!

by Tex Force

You've been cruising this site, trying to make up your mind about several powerful spring rifles. I'd like to help you by giving you a closer look at the Tech Force 97 (second rifle down). I mentioned this rifle in my October 17, 2005, blog - "A quick look at Tech Force 97, 99 & 78 rifles." Today, I'll take a much closer look to help you decide if this should be your next rifle.

Compasseco designed the TF 97
While all Tech Force airguns are made in China, Compasseco wrote the specifications for the TF 97, and they worked with the Chinese factory for many months and through several prototypes before they had the rifle they wanted. Tech Force is a trademarked brand of Compasseco, and they aren't about to put their name on an air rifle unless it does everything they say it can! If you're interested in this gun, you can get a good sense of it by reading Tom Gaylord's article - "The Tech Force 97: Compasseco’s flagship spring rifle gets a workout." However, I'm going to tell you some things Gaylord didn't touch on in that article.

Spring guns need a break-in
Spring guns usually don't begin working the way they should until 500-1,000 rounds have gone through them. They need a break-in period for all the mechanical parts to settle in and begin working together. This is especially true for both the trigger and the barrel.

When you first start shooting a 97, the trigger feels stiff and sluggish. After 50 shots, it starts to smooth out. After 100 shots, it starts working much better - in terms of a lighter pull that's also crisper. If you observe closely, you can feel this happening. But that's NOTHING! After 1,000 shots, the trigger will feel so much better than it did at first that you won't remember it. As the shot count climbs, the trigger keeps getting better. Somewhere after 4,000 to 6,000 shots, it stops improving. By that time, you'll be shooting such a different gun that you won't remember it was ever anything but good. There is no need to disassemble the gun or to put anything on the trigger for this to happen. Just keep shooting the gun. It takes care of itself.

The barrel
When the gun is new, it will not group as well as after 500 shots. However, there is something you can do about it. Run a brass brush loaded with JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound through the barrel 35 times in both directions, then clean the bore thoroughly to remove all traces of the paste. This is the same stuff that benchrest shooters use in their expensive target rifles to improve accuracy. After that, your rifle should group as tight as it's ever going to, which will be noticeably tighter than when it was new. If you don't want to do this procedure, shooting the gun 2,000 times accomplishes the same thing.

It's on sale right now!
You can save a whopping $20 right now on the TF 97 in the special sale Compasseco is having. When you order, remember to buy several tins of Chinese domed pellets. The TF 97 likes them!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Crosman 1077: The rapid-fire rifle for everyone!

by Tex Force

If you haven't tried a Crosman 1077 (third rifle down), you have a treat in store! Though the price is super-low, this air rifle packs a lot of value. It's powered by CO2, and in the standard form it uses conventional 12-gram Crosman powerlets. They provide the energy for pellet velocities up to 625 f.p.s.

12-shot repeater!
The 1077 comes in .177 caliber, only. Every rifle is a 12-shot repeater that houses a revolving clip inside the action. The trigger cocks and fires the gun as well as advancing the clip to the next pellet, so it's 12 shots as fast as you can pull the trigger.

A box magazine is removed from the bottom of the rifle, then the 12-shot circular clip comes out of that. Each gun comes with three clips, so you can pre-load them all and have 36 fast shots ready to go. It's possible to purchase extra box magazines as well, so you can have them ready to insert without doing anything else. Compasseco calls this the speedloader kit (second item down), and it comes with one box magazine and three spare circular clips.

It's accurate!
You don't expect to get accuracy for less than $70, but the 1077 is an exception. This rifle can keep them on a dime at 20 yards - if you can! While it comes with a great set of adjustable open sights (with fiberoptic inserts, even!), it really deserves an optical sight. The most appropriate sight for a 1077 is a red dot, and Compasseco's TF 90 or TF 96 (eighth and ninth down, respectively) is ideal! If you want to save a little more, try their TF 47 dot sight which is shown at the bottom of the same page. You can read a review of these fine sights in the Jan. 9, 2006 posting.

Shoot longer with AirSource
A few years ago, Crosman came out with a new 88-gram disposable CO2 tank they call AirSource (bottom of the page). Eighty-eight grams of gas gives you approximately 7.3 TIMES as many shots as you'll get with a 12-gram powerlet. Since the 1077 gets about 50 shots with a powerlet, let's be conservative and say you'll get around 350 shots (or more) with a single AirSource tank. Crosman now offers a 1077 set up to use the AirSource tank (second rifle down). It can also use powerlets after a simple owner conversion that takes less than a minute.

If you already own a 1077, there is a conversion kit (second item down) that lets you alter a standard 1077 to take the AirSource tanks. So, no one needs to miss out!

The 1077 is for the active shooter
If you're a shooter who likes to make targets dance around, the 1077 is for you. Twelve quick shots with pinpoint accuracy will make your shooting sessions both fast and fun.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Scope reticles: Part 2 - the mil-dot reticle

by Tex Force

The last post about scope reticles brought a lot of questions about the mil-dot reticle. I'd like to explain what a mil-dot reticle is and how it helps airgunners.

A mil is an angular measurement. There are 6,400 mils in a circle, so one mil covers approximately 3.6" at 100 yards or close to 36" at 1,000 yards. Military forces around the world have used the mil for decades for range estimating - most often to adjust indirect fire (artillery and mortar). Most military binoculars have a mil-scale reticle etched on the lens on one side.

A mil-dot reticle is a special type of mil reticle etched on the lens of a telescopic sight. Eight dots is sort of standard, but there are reticles with more than eight dots.

In scopes of fixed power, the reticle is used just as it appears. In variable scopes, there is just one power setting at which the mil dots are seen at the correct separation relative to the target. In most variable scopes, this is the 12x setting. The dots are separated from each other by one mil, so the distance from the center of one dot to the center of the next dot is one mil when the scope is at the correct magnification.

This mil-dot reticle has 12 dots on each line, instead of the more common eight. From the center of one dot to the next is one mil, when the scope is set to 12x.

Mils for range estimation
Mil reticles are used for range estimation by the military, where the size of equipment is more or less standard throughout all the armies of the world. The length and width of main battle tanks are very similar everywhere. A soldier can measure the number of mils between the sides of the tank and use that number to calculate the approximate distance to the target. For example, a main battle tank is about 12 feet wide. At 1000 yards, one mil is very close to one yard. If a tank measures three mils across the front, it's about 1,000 yards away.

For adjusting indirect fire it's even easier. The forward observer simply measures the amount of correction between the target and the last explosion. The fire direction center knows where both the forward observer and the target are, so the mil angle reported can be correctly transcribed from the forward observer's viewpoint and interpolated for the corrections to the guns. But that is of little interest to an airgun hunter.

Different aim points
While all scope makers explain how to use mil-dots for range estimation in the field, I find that, with experience, a hunter will soon learn to estimate ranges better without the math. As long as he shoots the same gun and load (the same pellet in our case), it will become second nature to factor in the distance to the target. So, mil-dot reticles are useful to an airgun hunter for other reasons. They offer different aim points. The dots on the horizontal reticle are good for wind compensation, and the dots on the vertical reticle are good for adjusting for distance. When I shoot field target, I use both sets of dots in place of adjusting my scope for every shot. It works quite well.

We can look at some of the other scope reticles if you like. Let me know!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Scope reticles

by Tex Force

A reader who calls himself sav300 asked for a blog on scope reticles, so today's the day.

Riflescope history
Scopes were first used as rifle sights some time before the American Civil War. The first crosshairs were two strands of silk or sometimes two strands of spider web. I won't go into the history of scope-making, but today's reticles are either actual metal wires or dark lines etched onto glass. When you adjust the scope, the entire reticle moves together as a unit inside a tube called the erector tube. Knowing this, you can understand how a scope reticle could be a single dot in the center of view, or it could look like the video landing display of a commercial passenger jet. Both those types do exist! In fact, with just a change of the laser etching software, your reticle could look like Madonna!

Avoid the hype
There's a lot of hype today about exotic-looking scope reticles. I believe this is due to so many young shooters never having served in the military, and all these different patterns look strange and cool. If you served in any combat force, you have seen, used and become bored with mil-dot reticles, ranging scales found in crew-served gun sights and so on. Since Hollywood is using them in action movies, they're the rage among those who don't actually have to use them.

Start simple
Let's begin with the simplest reticle of all - the plain crosshair. You may think there isn't much to a plain crosshair, but the thickness of the reticle lines makes all the difference in the world! Thick lines cover too much area to aim precisely enough for the best accuracy. When your crosshair intersection covers a 2"-square section of the target, you can hardly expect to shoot 1/2" groups. On the other hand, thin crosshairs are difficult to see if the lighting isn't perfect. You can see thin reticle lines against a stationary paper target that is well lit by bright sunlight coming from behind you, but you will never be able to find them in the deep woods when the squirrels are jumping from branch to branch. It's exasperating to look through a scope and see the target clearly without a clue where the reticle lines are!

Match the reticle to the type of shooting
So, a thick crosshair is easy to see in a fast-moving hunting situation, while a thin crosshair gives the most precision. Hate to say this, but you can't do both with just one reticle!

Enter the duplex reticle
Some bright optics engineer got the idea of combining a thick reticle for fast acquisition and a thin reticle for greater precision. What he did was start the crosshair lines thick at the edge of view and then taper them to thin near the place where they intersect.

The duplex reticle lines are thick at the edges and tapered to thin near the aim point. They give the best of all combinations for fast acquisition with aiming precision.

Okay, that's a look at the two most popular scope reticles found today. If there is any interest, I will continue this discussion with a look at other reticle types. Talk to me.