Pneumatic Pnews

Monday, October 09, 2006

Repeater vs single-shot

by Tex Force

Which to buy? A repeater or a single-shot? In the past 15 years, the number of airgun repeaters has increased dramatically, and the buying public's response has been great. But, is a repeater really what it's cracked up to be? Let's discuss some things about repeaters and single-shots that you may not get to read on the airgun forums.

Load perfect pellets for best accuracy
For maximum accuracy, a few things are necessary. One of them is that an undamaged pellet be loaded into the breech the same way every time. With most single-shots, you place the pellet directly into the breech when you load the gun. You control how far it goes in and if it is a perfect pellet when it is loaded. Not so for all repeaters! A repeater takes over the loading function from you, and that's where damage to the pellet can occur. If the repeating mechanism bends the skirt of the pellet before it is loaded, you will not get a consistent shot. This can happen in a number of ways. Guns that have a circular magazine can bend the noses of pellets that are slightly longer than the magazine. This means every pellet will be damaged before it is shot. The FX precharged guns from Sweden that are also sold under the Webley and Logun brand names have this problem. The manufacturer highly recommends that only JSB pellets be used in their guns, because they know these pellets fit the magazines. Even then, the shooter doesn't load the pellet, a bolt probe does it, thus removing one of the controls shooters have over consistency.

Don't get me wrong, FX airguns are very accurate! But they are not more accurate than American-made AirForce single-shots that cost hundreds of dollars less. Both guns use the best barrels, but the AirForce rifles let you load pellets directly into the breech the same way every time. That does make a difference.

Single-shots have few ammunition limits - repeaters have many
A case to illustrate this point. There are presently two Korean 9mm air rifles on the American market. Both are made by ShinSung, a Korean maker with a good reputation. The Career Ultra is a lever-action repeater, and the Fire 201S is a single-shot. The Ultra is extremely limited as to the pellets it can feed through the magazine. They must be very short to work. That limits the shooter to pellets weighing only 60 grains! There's a place on the opposite side of the Ultra where a single pellet can be loaded, but it, too, is extremely short, and the pellet cannot be pushed into the barrel by hand. The bolt probe must do it. The single-shot 9mm barrel, in contrast, can be directly loaded with pellets of all weights, including 9mm lead pistol bullets up to 130 grains! That gives the single-shots far more effectiveness, because a heavier pellet or bullet means more power. The complicated Ultra repeater weighs over 9 lbs., while the sleek Fire 201S weighs less than 7.5 lbs.!

Repeaters can jam
Some repeaters, such as the Korean repeaters that use a linear (inline) magazine, jam if the length of the pellet does not exactly fit the space into which the pellet is pushed prior to transport to the breech. They will also jam if the nose of a pellet sticks too deeply into the skirt of the pellet in front of it. The feed mechanism strips off each pellet sideways, and pointed pellets will jam every time. Gamo had a repeating breakbarrel rifle for several decades that they simply could not get to work correctly. It started as the Expomatic in the late 1960s and matured into the larger, more powerful Shadowmatic that was sold until a few years ago. It was so picky about pellets that almost nothing besides the one pellet they recommended would work...and that only part of the time.

There are a few repeaters with very few feeding problems. They are the rifles that use a "harmonica" type clip that slides sideways in the breech, such as the IZH 61 and Daisy's Avanti 853C target rifle. As long as the pellets aren't too long (use flat-nosed wadcutter pellets in these target guns), they'll feed reliably all the time. Other airguns with circular magazines, including the Crosman's 1077 and all CO2 pistols and rifles made by Umarex, work fine if you use shorter pellets.

Single-shots, in comparison, usually have no feeding problems whatsoever. Some, such as the Benjamin 397, do use a bolt probe to seat the pellet in the breech. Others...such as all Tech Force spring rifles...allow the pellet to be handloaded directly into the breech. This allows you to experiment with all kinds of pellets without worrying about jamming. The only thing you must always do with a breakbarrel is seat the pellet deeply into the breech so the skirt doesn't bend when the barrel closes. If you remember to do that, the rifle is far more flexible than any repeater.

The choice is yours. Repeaters do offer faster second shots, as long as you learn their quirks. For the ultimate in accuracy, however, you should look to the single-shot.

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