Pneumatic Pnews

Monday, October 23, 2006

Daisy's Avanti 853 Legend

by Tex Force

Daisy's 853 is the perennial favorite target rifle for NRA youth competition. The inset shows the three butt spacers that allow the rifle to grow with the shooter.

With the holidays coming, many shooters are thinking about that big gift they want. If you like to shoot targets with the best accuracy possible, Daisy's Avanti 853 Legend is a rifle you should think about.

A classic!
The 853 has been around for decades. It's a true classic, and the No. 1 choice of over 700,000 junior shooters enrolled in NRA shooting programs each year. Clubs and individual shooters all over America have been using this rifle to set records. Despite the relatively low price, the 853 is deadly accurate!

Two models: a single-shot and a repeater
The 853 is a single-shot rifle, which is what you must use in all formal competitions. There is also a more expensive 853C 5-shot repeater. To make it meet the regulations, the C model can also be used as a single-shot. But the basic 853 is the model most competitors choose, and it's the one that Compasseco sells.

A single-stroke pneumatic
This rifle is a single-stroke pneumatic. It's pumped one time to make it ready to shoot. A second pump does nothing. The pump stroke takes about 20 lbs. of effort, which years of competition have demonstrated is about right for children 12 and older. Younger kids may find it too difficult to operate. The pump lever is plastic, which turns shooters off. In my 20-year experience with 853s, I have never known of a single lever that broke through normal use. Shooters have to keep the pump head oiled to maintain compression. A drop of 20-weight non-detergent motor oil (Daisy's recommendation) or Crosman Pellgunoil (what everyone really uses) on the pump head every six months keeps the rifle shooting strong.

The rifle is cocked by pulling back on the bolt handle. A single target pellet, such as the RWS R-10 target wadcutter, is laid in the loading trough, and the bolt is pushed closed. For target use, only wadcutter pellets are used because they cut a perfectly round hole in target paper. That makes scoring easier. Nothing but wadcutters can be used in competition. If you just want to practice, a less expensive pellet is the Gamo Match wadcutter. It's plenty accurate for basement shooting, and it costs a lot less than formal target ammo.

The trigger takes some getting used to
The trigger on the 853 is one of its shortcomings, being both heavy and creepy - two things you don't want in a target trigger. With use, it wears a point, but it never becomes a fine trigger. Still, there are hundreds of thousands of kids setting records every year with the 853, so it can't be that difficult to learn!

Barrel and stock
Daisy uses a fine Lothar Walther barrel for the 853. This company makes airgun barrels that are as fine as any in the world. Most guns that have them cost about twice what the 853 costs. Such a barrel gives you a rifle capable of hitting the period at the end of this sentence from 33 feet away. The 853 stock is hardwood and adjustable for different sizes of shooters. There are plenty of adults who own these fine rifles, as well as kids, as the stock comes with butt inserts to make it adapt to shooters of all sizes.

This is not a powerful air rifle, so the construction is robust enough to last for a very long time. Daisy uses common O-rings everywhere. When the time does come for a rebuild (club guns get rebuilt every 50,000 to 100,000 shots), you won't have many special parts to buy. Most shooters don't shoot more than 3,000 shots in a lifetime; but, with a rifle like the 853, it's easy for a dedicated shooter to put 5,000 shots a year through the gun. It will still be a decade or more of hard shooting before your gun requires any attention. When it does, the parts won't be difficult to find.

An 853 is not cheap; but, with the holidays coming, now may be the right time for target shooters to announce their favorite gift this year.


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