G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 007

The Beretta 92FS is another CO2-powered replica air pistol. It looks and feel like the Beretta pistol used by so many military forces and law enforcement agencies. The air pistol (there is some disagreement about what it should be called. The www.airgunsofarizona.com website has it as the Beretta 92 FS, the printed manual that comes with it calls it the Beretta 92FS, and the label on the side of its case says Beretta M 92 FS) weighs 2 pounds 12.2 ounces, and its length is 8.27 inches.

Everything on this pistol appears to be made of metal except for the checkered plastic grips. There are several models, including a blued finish with black grips, blued with walnut grips, nickel with black grips, nickel with walnut grips, and an all-black XX-Treme model with false silencer and dot sight. I tested the nickel finish version with black grips.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 009

What all of them have in common is that, while they look like their semi-automatic firearms counterparts, they are, in fact, double-action revolvers. Press the slide release lever on the side of the receiver, and the front of the slide moves forward to reveal the slot for the 8-shot rotary magazine.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 012

The procedure for loading the CO2 cartridge and for loading the magazine is exactly the same as it was for the Colt 1911 replica CO2 pistol that I tested last week, so I won’t go through that again here. And like the 1911 that I tested last week, the Beretta suffers from the same malady: if you shoot it in double action mode, the trigger pull is very high – over 10 pounds – but when you shoot it in single-action mode, the trigger pull drops to 5 pounds 5 ounces (which is still higher than I would like to see). And, like the 1911, the wallop that the Beretta packs is sufficient at 10 feet to dent and bounce tin cans but not enough to punch holes in them.

And that leads, naturally enough, to a question: what exactly are guns like the Beretta 92FS and the Colt 1911 from last week good for? They are not as accurate as match pistols, and they are not powerful enough for pest control at short range. And yet they are fun to shoot.

So what is needed, in my not so humble opinion, is a really good game to play with these pistols, and I think an airgun version of IPSC – the course of fire offered by the International Practical Shooting Confederation – would be just the ticket. Here’s what the IPSC website (www.ipsc.org) says: “IPSC shooters need to blend accuracy, power, and speed into a winning combination. Multiple targets, moving targets, targets that react when hit, penalty targets, or even partially covered targets, obstacles, movement, competitive strategies, and other techniques are all a part of IPSC to keep shooters challenged and spectators engaged.”

I think it would be absolutely terrific if the folks who manufacture replica air pistols would offer a line of targets that would allow shooters of these replica pistols to set up their own “backyard IPSC” courses. Check out this video of airsoft IPSC shooters in Asia — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABhkFTO4cp4 – I don’t see why a similar thing couldn’t be done with replica air pistols . . . and it looks like an enormous amount of fun to me.

If anyone knows of an effort in the US to put together something like IPSC for air pistols or air soft, please let me know.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

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G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 013

I’ve been seeing a lot of replica air pistols lately. By replica, I mean air pistols that look and feel like their firearms counterparts.

This week’s example is the Colt Government 1911 A1 pellet pistol from Umarex. It stretches 9 inches from end to end and weighs 2 pounds 6 ounces. Everything except the checkered grips (plastic) is made of metal in a handsome blued steel finish. Powered by a 12-gram CO2 cartridge, it features a slide release latch, a manual safety on the left side, a functioning grip safety at the back of the pistol grip, non-adjustable front and rear sights, a lanyard loop, and a working hammer.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 014

It looks like a semi-automatic, but in actuality the 1911 A1 is a double-action revolver that houses a small rotary magazine inside what looks like the 1911’s slide.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 015

To ready the 1911 for shooting, first press the slide release lever just above the trigger assembly on the left side of the pistol. This will allow the front section of the slide to move forward, opening a gap to reveal the rotary magazine. Remove the rotary magazine. Next, press the magazine release button on the left side of the receiver between the trigger guard and the pistol grip. This releases the grip panel on the right side of the pistol which you must finish removing with your fingers. Beneath the grip panel is a chamber to hold the 12-gram CO2 pistol.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 018

Pull the cartridge lock lever at the bottom of the pistol grip down as far as it will go. Loosen the gold-colored cylinder screw by turning it clockwise. Insert a new CO2 cartridge into the chamber with the small end point toward the top of the pistol. Tighten the cylinder screw by rotating it gently counterclockwise until snug. Return the cartridge lock lever to its original position by pushing it upward. This should pierce the CO2 cartridge. To confirm this, point the pistol in a safe direction, flip the safety to FIRE, push in the grip safety, and squeeze the trigger. You should be rewarded with a “pop.”

If you don’t hear a pop, swing the cylinder lock downward, tighten the cylinder screw a bit more, and try again. Once you are sure that the pistol is discharging CO2, it’s time to load the rotary magazine by inserting pellets headfirst into the eight pellet bays. The back of the magazine has a small eight-point star-shaped assembly at the center. Once the magazine is loaded, drop it into the slot between the front and rear sections of the slide with the front of the magazine facing the muzzle and close the slide by pulling the front section of the slide back until it locks.

You can chose to shoot the 1911 A1 in one of two ways. In double action mode, you pull the trigger back, back, back, driving the hammer backward until the shot fires. In single action mode, you pull the hammer back until it locks and then you pull the trigger to discharge the shot.

Theoretically, double action mode is faster because you don’t have to pause between shots to cock the hammer. I found, however, that the effort to pull the trigger in double action mode is high . . . very high . . . 8 pounds 12 ounces, in fact. That’s high enough to be no-fun-at-all, in my view.

However, if you shoot in single action mode and cock the hammer first, the effort to trigger the shot is much more reasonable: only 2 pounds, 13.5 ounces. As a result, I highly recommend shooting this pistol in single action mode.

On a 75-degree day (velocities from CO2-powered airguns can vary considerably with temperature), the 1911 1A launched its first 7.9 grain pellet at around 400 feet per second. I shot slowly, taking a few seconds to align the pistol over the chronograph sensors, and every subsequent shot was slower, until the last shot registered around 353 fps. This is typical of CO2 powered airguns unless you give them sufficient time to recover CO2 pressure between shots.

I tried a few shots at a soup can at a distance of about 10 feet and found the 1911 A1 didn’t have enough oomph to punch holes in the can. It would dent the can and bounce around, but no holes.

In the end, I found the 1911 A1 is well made and fun to shoot. What this air pistol really needs is a fun game to play with it, and we’ll get into that a little bit next week when I take a look at Beretta 92FS pellet air pistol.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

Why in the world would an airgun company knowingly create and sell an air rifle/scope combo with a crappy scope – one that is likely to create a customer satisfaction and product return problem for them? The short answer is that you are not the first customer. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Of course I am the first customer. I’m the guy who plunks down his money and takes the air rifle/scope combo home.”

Wrong. The first customer for that air rifle/scope combo is the buyer at a big box chain of retailers. I saw a documentary a few years ago that explained there has been a change in the dynamic between manufacturers and big box retailers that have thousands of stores.

It used to be that a manufacturer’s representative would approach the buyer at a retail chain, put on a dog-and-pony show of what products he had available, and then the buyer would decide which products to order. Now the buyer may well be, in effect, deciding which products the manufacturer should make by saying something like this: “If you can deliver a rifle/scope combination with the following features for $X price, I’ll buy 100,000 of them.”

Now no manufacturer is going to turn down a big sale like that, so they will try to figure out how they can deliver the rifle/scope combo that the big box buyer wants at the specified price and still make a profit. The end result: a really cheesy scope is part of the combo.

At this point, you may well be thinking: “What about me, the airgun enthusiast? Don’t they care about me?” The short answer is: yes, they do care, but probably not as much as you had hoped.

The reason, quite simply, is that the big box retailers are the center of the universe when it comes to corporate profits for the bigger airgun manufacturers. Enthusiasts are important, but not as important as the big box stores.

It’s really a matter of numbers. I did a little research a few years ago to try to get a handle on the size of the airgun enthusiast market. I called each of the bigger online airgun retailers, talked to the boss, and asked – under the provision that I would not share the information with anyone else – how many unique customers they had in their customer database. Then I added up the numbers (ignoring the fact that there were probably duplicate customers from retailer to retailer and that the folks I was talking to might be inflating the numbers just a bit) and came up with an estimate that there were 15,000-20,000 airgun enthusiasts in the United States.

Given that this was a few years ago and that the airgun market has been growing, let’s postulate that the number has more than doubled, and that there are now, say, 50,000 airgun enthusiasts in the U.S.

That’s not a bad number, but compare that to the millions of people who visit the big box retailers every day, and you don’t have to be Einstein to figure out why those big box stores are so important to the larger airgun manufacturers.

So what can you do to help get the airgunning products you want? Two things.

First, if you have a retailer like www.airgunsofarizona.com who spends the time on the phone (or in person) with you to help you make an informed buying decision, support them by buying from them. Sure, you might spend a buck or two more, but isn’t it worth it to get buying advice you can trust from people who actually know and use the product?

Second, reinforce good behavior but letting manufacturers know when they have done something right. Take the time to call the customer service line or email someone when you really like their product: “Hey, thanks for including an adjustable objective on that rifle combo” or “I really love the new such-and-such pistol; well done!”

Ingratitude is darn-near a national disease in the United States. It is very fashionable to bitch, whine, and complain when the least little thing doesn’t suite us. Let’s strike a blow for the good guys. Let people know when they are doing good and how much you appreciate it. You’ll be surprised how much good you can do with a few positive words.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you probably have noticed that I don’t generally do negative reviews. Oh, sure, I may mention that I didn’t like this or that about a particular airgun or that something could be improved, but if I find that an airgun has what I call “a fatal flaw” (for example, the trigger weight might be unacceptably high), I tell the manufacture that the review will have to wait until they fix the problem.

My underlying philosophy is that you, the reader, would prefer to read about products that work reasonably well and that perhaps you might like to buy. My presumption is that you, like me, read reviews of products on-line as a kind of “decision support tool” that you use to figure out whether you are interested in a product.

Lately, though, I have noticed a trend that has gotten me hot enough that I need to blow off some steam. That trend has been the inclusion of really crappy scopes in a package with an inexpensive yet decent air rifle.

What do I mean by “a really crappy scope?” Quite simply, a scope that does not have an adjustable objective. An adjustable objective – usually a rotating bell on the end of the scope that faces the target but sometimes a sidewheel on the scope – allows the shooter to critically focus the scope on the target. Sometimes because the scope cannot be focused, it is just plain difficult to see the target clearly.

But there is another problem: a non-adjustable objective can result in something called parallax error. For a detailed explanation of parallax, go here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2009/07/parallax.html The upshot of parallax error is that if you don’t place your eye in exactly the same spot behind scope for each shot (and it is surprisingly easy to get it wrong), you may think that you are aiming at the same spot on the target, but you may not be.

Now, at this point you would be right to ask: “So what?” Well, it is a very big “so what.” If you can’t be sure that you are aiming at the same spot on the target, your attempts to shoot groups for accuracy and to test different pellets to see which is the most accurate will be in vain . . . that’s what.

The reason that I am writing about this is that in the past month or so, I have been sent three different air rifle/scope combos that included crappy scopes. In one case, I contacted the manufacturer and said, “The previous generation of this rifle had a better scope; this is a step backwards.” I was told: “The decision was made to include this scope with this rifle. I’ll let you know if anything changes.”

In another case, I contacted the parent company, and they said, “Maybe you got a defective scope.” I sent the scope back and in a few days I heard from them: “You should test this rifle with whatever scope you prefer.” In other words, the scope was not defective, just crappy. (And in private conversations, the guy I spoke with, a marketing guy, admitted that this was likely to create a customer satisfaction and product return problem for them.)

Next time, we’ll look at why airgun companies do this.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 019

Back in the very late 1800s and early 1900s, the US Army had a problem. From 1899 to 1902, US Soldiers were fighting the Philippine-American War, and this involved facing Moro tribal insurgents who are alleged to have rendered themselves insensible to pain through a combination of body binding with leather, narcotics, and religious ritual.

When the Moro charged, they just kept on coming, and the soldiers’ .38 caliber service revolvers were not adequate to deterring the Moros. According to the Internet sources I have read, the Army tried reverting to the .45 caliber single-action Colt revolver. The heavier bullet was effective, but the single-action Colt simply wasn’t fast enough. A higher rate of fire was needed.

Enter John Moses Browning, prolific firearm inventor. In addition to a lever action rifle, a pump action shotgun, a machine gun, and an automatic rifle, Browning invented the M1911 semi-automatic magazine-fed pistol, which served as the standard-issue sidearm for the US Armed Forces from 1911 to 1985. This pistol has an illustrious history and is still widely used by military, law enforcement, firearms competitors, and private citizens throughout the world.

Recently, the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me the Colt 1911 WWII Commemorative Edition air pistol. It is a limited edition model, with just 500 made. I was immediately struck by the appearance of the box for the WWII Commemorative. At first glance, it looks like an ancient corrugated cardboard box that has been lying neglected in some warehouse for decades – stained by the dirt, dust and grease of not being disturbed for years. In short, the box looks like it might have been made during World War II and somehow “fell through the cracks” until now. Closer inspection reveals that the box actually has the shiny finish of modern printing, but nevertheless, it is a very cool effect.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 022

Open the box, and the appearance of the pistol is even more striking: as the antiques folks put it, it has been “distressed,” given an aged look that suggests the pistol you are holding is a veteran of World War II. Normally I am not much of a fan of “faux” this or faux that, but in this case I am more than willing to make an exception. Whoever at Umerex designed this commemorative pistol did a really nice job, and it absolutely looks the part. I think would be interesting to put one of these in front of a 1911 firearms enthusiast and see how long it takes them to figure out that this is a modern replica and an air pistol at that.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 020

The WWII Commemorative stretches 8.5 inches from end to end and weighs two pounds, one ounce. The frame is metal and the grips are wood. Press the magazine release button and a magazine that holds a 12-gram CO2 cartridge and 20 BBs drops out of the pistol grip. The pistol features a full blow-back slide, a slide release latch, a manual safety on the left side, a functioning grip safety at the back of the pistol grip, non-adjustable front and rear sights, a lanyard loop, and a working hammer.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 021

To ready the Commemorative for shooting, release the magazine and turn the cartridge piercing screw counter-clockwise with the allen wrench that is provided. Slide a CO2 cartridge into the magazine and slide the magazine back into the pistol grip. Now turn the cartridge piercing screw clockwise until the CO2 cartridge is pierced and stops hissing. Eject the magazine again and slide the BB follower down until it locks. Load up to 20 BBs into the magazine through the loading port, press the BB follower to unlock it and re-insert the magazine into the pistol grip.

Now, here’s the really cool part: as the last step before shooting, you have to “rack the slide” – pull the slide back so that it cocks the hammer. Take aim at your target, and a mere 2 lbs. 4.8 oz. of pressure on the trigger will send the shot downrange. As it does so, the Commemorative emits a “pop,” and the slide blows back, cocking the hammer for the next shot, just like the real deal. When the last shot is fired, the slide locks in the back position, just like the real deal.

The Commemorative launches BBs at around 300 fps. That’s not enough to punch a hole in a tin can at 10 feet, but it is enough to bounce the can around pretty well. I can imagine setting up a backyard practical shooting course and having a whale of a lot of fun with this interesting commemorative pistol.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

Recently, as research for a story in ShootingSports USA, I had the opportunity to interview several of the shooters who won their classes at the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship held at Crosman Corporation, July 10, 11 and 12.

There were several unusual stories, and one that certainly caught my attention was that of John Tyler of Yardley, PA. He won the Hunter PCP class, which the most hotly contested with some 44 registered shooters.

A couple of things really struck me about John’s effort. The first is that he was shooting a somewhat unusual air rifle. He was shooting a Benjamin Marauder in .177 equipped with a hammer de-bounce device and with a forestock that has been shortened by several inches. The underside of the buttstock has been removed which took off about a pound of wood. Because he is shooting in the hunter class, which allows the use of shooting sticks, the stock has a notch at the end of the forestock to fit the shooting sticks.

In the photo below are two of John’s Marauders. He won with the one on the bottom.

IMG_20140806_181534593

What really sets John’s Marauder apart is that, having been tuned by Chris Helm, it shoots hot, sending 8.44 grain Air Arms pellets downrange at 1,010 feet per second, for around 19.8 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Now, if you have been reading this blog for a while or paying attention to various on-line forums, you know that conventional wisdom has it that you really don’t want your air rifle launching pellets at more than 930-950 fps, because higher than that will likely produce inaccuracy. Tyler’s Marauder apparently has not gotten the news. It shoots very accurately at that power level and delivers about 50 shots at that power level per fill.

John tells me that his M-rod shoots flat from 22-45 yards and that additional power really helped him to punch through high winds and torrential rain on the second day of the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship. While most shooters shot significantly worse on the second day, John shot the same score both days, although he feels he should have done better on the first day.

IMG_20140806_164557703_HDR

The second unusual aspect of Tyler’s effort was his use of a radio-controlled truck to help him confirm his “scope dope” on the sight-in day. Walking a target holder out yard-by-yard to make sure that his scope is set up properly could be very interruptive to other shooters, since the rangemaster would have to call a cold line each time John wanted to move his target. So he mounted a sign holder on the back of his radio control truck and uses that the move the target as needed without interrupting the other shooters. At the Northeast Regional, he positioned himself at the far end of the sight in range and inched the truck out yard by yard as he sighted in and made sure that all was well with his scope.

John tells me that there is a very small printed sign on the back of the radio controlled truck that says, “If you shoot me, you’ll have to deal with my owner.”

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

G12 Chiappa FAS 604 004-001

My first thought when I opened the case for the 6004 FAS by Chiappa Firearms was, “Wow, this is a nice air pistol.”

And, indeed, it is. I’ve been reviewing air rifles and air pistols for a while now, and everything about the Chiappa 6004 says to me: “This is a serious air pistol, made by people who are serious about quality.

The 6004 comes in two models, the standard, which has an ambidextrous walnut grip, and the match, which has a match-style grip with adjustable palm shelf. Other than the grips, I believe the single-stroke pneumatic powerplants for both models are identical. Airguns of Arizona sent me the standard model for test.

G12 Chiappa FAS 604 006

The 6004 stretches 11 inches from end to end and weighs just two pounds. At the extreme aft end of the pistol is an ambidextrous walnut grip that I found extremely comfortable. It seems to grip my hand with a small shelf at the top of the grip and another at the bottom. There are sculpted finger indentations which seemed to fit me “just right,” and the finger indentations and the back of the grip (where the palm wraps around) is stippled for easier gripping.

Forward of the pistol grip, the lower part of the receiver forms a black metal guard around a black metal trigger that is adjustable for trigger weight and position and pull. Plastic must be some sort of dirty word at the Chiappa factory in Italy, because I couldn’t find a scrap of it anywhere on the 6004, with the exception of a tiny o-ring at the breech end of the barrel.

Underneath the receiver, you’ll find the caliber, “Made in Italy,” and a serial number, all inscribed in white lettering. On either side of the receiver, also in white lettering, you’ll find 6004 FAS by Chiappa Firearms. There is a pin, secured by e-clips, for a pivot point at the extreme forward end of the lower receiver. Above that is the upper receiver, which has an inset opening for the muzzle and, above that, a blade-type front sight that can be swapped out if needed or desired.

G12 Chiappa FAS 604 007

At the extreme aft end of the upper receiver is a micro-adjustable notch-type rear sight with knobs for adjusting windage and elevation. On the left side of the upper receiver, just forward of the rear sight is a latch for releasing the upper receiver for loading and cocking.

That’s all there is to the 6004. The fit and finish are excellent, and everything smacks of quality. The only addition that I would make to the 6004 would be the inclusion of a small dovetail on the top of the upper receiver so that a red dot or scope could be added if the shooter desires.

G12 Chiappa FAS 604 011

To ready the 6004 for shooting, press the latch on the left side of the upper receiver in. This releases the upper receiver so that the aft end can pivot up and forward so that the upper and lower are open almost flat. This exposes the breech end of the barrel for loading. Slide a .177 pellet into the aft end of the barrel. Return the upper receiver to its original position – this requires about four pounds of effort – and this pressurizes the action for shooting.

Take aim at your target, ease the first stage out of the trigger. This required 1 lb. 9.2 oz. of effort on the sample that I tested. At 3 lb. 2.5 oz. of pressure, the second stage trips, and the shot goes downrange with a mild “pop.” Depending upon the weight, the 6004 launches pellets up to 400 fps.

With the right pellet, the factory claims accuracy of 0.08 inches center-to-center. That’s plenty good enough for 10-meter competition, air pistol silhouette, and high-precision backyard plinking. Because of its low velocity and low power, the 6004 would not be suitable for pest control, except possible mice or hornets at close range.

Now here’s a surprise: because the 6004 is produced in a modern firearms factory with efficient manufacturing techniques, the price is actually much less than I had expected; the standard model is under $400. That strikes me as a bargain for a pistol that, based on the quality of its construction, promises to deliver decades of shooting fun with occasional replacement of seals.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

FZ200 Daystate target 001

To ready the Daystate Mk4 iS Target for shooting, remove the cap at the end of the air reservoir and fill the reservoir to 230 BAR with a SCUBA tank or high-pressure pump. Next, load the rifle.

Because this is a target rifle, I didn’t mess with the 10-shot rotary magazine, since my preference would be to load single shots if I were shooting field target with this rifle. Initially I tried loading the Daystate Mk4 iS Target without the benefit of the single-shot tray, but I found this to be enormously fussy and difficult. Fortunately, single shot tray is included with the Daystate Mk4 iS Target. It drops readily into place, is held there by magnets, and makes loading single shots absolutely straightforward. You rotate the bolt up and pull full back, place a pellet headfirst on the tray, and slide the bolt back to its original position.

FZ200 Daystate target 006

It’s at this point that I encountered some of the weirdness that is associated with an electronically controlled rifle. The bolt, it turns out, doesn’t cock anything, so it operates super smoothly and very easily. The electronics do all the cocking of the action within the receiver. As a result, it is possible to trigger shot after shot, without moving the bolt, simply by pulling the trigger if the safety is set on FIRE. Now obviously, if you are not moving the bolt and loading any pellets, you will not be sending pellets downrange with those repeated trigger pulls, but you will be sending compressed air down the barrel, compressed air that could cause damage if in too close proximity to another object. (A fellow on one of the forums, using a different precharged pneumatic rifle, put his finger over the muzzle and pulled the trigger to see if there was any air left in the reservoir. The resulting pellet-less discharged wreaked havoc with his finger, and his next stop was the emergency room.)

When the electronics are turned off, the trigger has a small amount of play and feels as inert as if it were attached to a brick wall. Turn the electronics on, though, and it becomes a thing of wonder. There is a very light, but solid and unmistakable , first stage (which I found impossible to measure with the electronic trigger gauge), and at 7.3 ounces, the very crisp second stage trips, and the shot goes off

Mk4177

On high power, the Daystate Mk4 iS Target launches 10.34 grain JSB .177 pellets at 917 fps average for 19.4 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. On Power 2, it sends the same pellets downrange at 797 fps average for 14.7 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Accuracy was excellent, as you can see from the target below shot at 32 yards, and the report, thanks to the very efficient valve and control system (which will deliver more than 100 shots per fill on Power 2), was to my ear no louder than an average high-power springer.

FZ200 Daystate target 013-001

In addition, the electronic of the Daystate Mk4 iS Target offer a wide variety of control options for the shooter, including: magazine counter, shot counter, active display pressure, power, lighting, turning magazine counter on and off, single shot mode, and low pressure warning.

To be honest, I didn’t mess with any of these electronic settings. Instead, I contented myself with the pleasure of shooting an astonishingly accurate air rifle.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

FZ200 Daystate target 009-001

I have to get this off my chest right up front: I am not accustomed to air rifles that light up when you switch off the safety. Yet that is precisely what the Daystate Mk4 iS Target does. When you move the rotary safety to the FIRE position, a cheerful little screen just forward of the safety on the left side illuminates with messages such as “115.0BAR” (the pressure within the air reservoir), “Pwr 2” (the power level), “S69” (the number of shots that have been taken; it’s resettable), “73%” (the state of the battery charge), and so on.

FZ200 Daystate target 011

The Daystate Mk4 iS Target, you see, is a target rifle with an electronically controlled heart. It features the Harper patent Mapped Compensated Technology (MCT) electronic firing system, the Harper sling-valve valve, and an air-stripper out at the muzzle end of the barrel. We’ll talk about what all that means in terms of the shooting experience in a bit (probably in Part II), but let me cut to the chase: the Daystate Mk4 iS Target is a bona fide tackdriver and, it is a little unusual to shoot because of the electronics.

FZ200 Daystate target 005

First, let’s take a guided tour of the Daystate Mk4 iS Target. At the extreme aft end of the thumbhole stock, which is covered with a soft rubbery material for better gripping, you’ll find a soft rubber butt pad that can be adjusted vertically. Forward of that, on the right side of the buttstock is a large silver knob that, when loosened, allows the shooter to adjust the height of the cheek piece.

The pistol grip is almost vertical and has finger indentations and textured surfaces on either side. Above that on either side is a shelf for resting your thumb while shooting. Forward of that, the stock material surrounds an adjustable electronic trigger that has an adjustable trigger shoe. Underneath the trigger assembly is a slot where there is a lock that can lock the entire rifle as well as a bolt for attaching the receiver to the stock. The stock can be fitted with a rail underneath and a knee riser for field target.

FZ200 Daystate target 002

Above the extreme forward end of the forestock is the 144 cc air reservoir. There is a black cap on the end that can be removed to reveal a male foster fitting for filling the reservoir with a SCUBA tank or a high pressure pump. A barrel band connects the reservoir to the barrel, and at the muzzle end of the barrel you’ll find an air stripper that strips turbulence from the pellet as it exits the barrel to increase accuracy. The stripper is tune-able to your pellet. By loosening the screw and sliding the unit forward or back you can tune the harmonics and actually improve accuracy for your pellet/power combo.

Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the black metal receiver, which incorporates a generous breech that can be fitted with a 10-shot rotary magazine or a single-shot tray. On the left side of the receiver is the digital display, and at the extreme aft end of the receiver is a large silver colored bolt handle.

The Daystate Mk4 iS Target stretches just 36.5 inches from end to end and weight 9.5 pounds before a scope is fitted. It is available in .177 or .22 caliber. www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me the .177 version to test.

Next time, we’ll take a look at how the Daystate Mk4 iS Target performs.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

FZ200 FX Bobcat 008

To get the Bobcat ready for shooting, first charge the air reservoir to 200 bar (not quite 3,000 psi) using a SCUBA tank or high pressure pump. Be sure to use the fitting that comes with the Bobcat because it can be difficult to get a grip on a normal (shorter) fill fitting.

Next, load the12-shot rotary magazine. To do that, first, rotate the clear plastic face plate counter-clockwise as far as possible. Now, while holding the face plate in position, flip the magazine over so you’re looking at the back side. You’ll see that a port has opened in the back of the magazine. Load a pellet backwards (tail first) into the port. This will lock the spring and keep the inner wheel from turning. Now, flip the magazine over and load the rest of the pellets by dropping them nose-first into the magazine while rotating the transparent cover so that the hole in it opens each of the pellet “bays.” Once you have filled the magazine, rotate the transparent cover back to its original position.

An aside: The magazine is self-indexing. In other words, the spring inside the magazine causes the inner mechanism to rotate so that the next shot is lined up to be moved into the barrel by the bolt. That’s why you have to rotate the clear plastic face plate; you are, in essence, “winding up” the spring. I mentioned that I actually prefer rotary magazines that are not self-indexing because they have no spring, are easier to load, and there is little to go wrong with them. However, the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com pointed out something really important. To wit: if you are going to use a rotary magazine, you have to get it to rotate somehow, which means either a spring built into the magazine or some sort of mechanism to rotate the magazine built into the receiver of the rifle. If a self-indexing magazine has a problem, you just swap magazines, but if the magazine-indexing mechanism that is built into the rifle has a problem, you have to send the entire rifle back for repair.

FZ200 FX Bobcat 002

Now back to our story: Pull the breech lever to the rear of the receiver to move the bolt back. Now slide the magazine into the breech. Push the breech lever forward to move the first pellet out the magazine and into the barrel. Take aim, slide the safety off, and squeeze the trigger. On the sample I tested, it required only 14.2 ounces to take up the first stage, and at l lb 7.7 ounces, the shot goes down range.

On high power, the Bobcat launched the 16 grain JSB Jumbo pellets at an average of 933 fps generating about 30.9 (average) footpounds of energy at the muzzle. The report is a loud pop. On medium power, the same weight pellet cruised downrange at 680 fps, generating 16.4 footpounds of energy, and the report is more subdued. And on low power, the Bobcat averaged 534 fps, for 10.1 fp of energy with a very mild report.

Accuracy was what I have come to expect from FX airguns. At 32 yards, off a casual rest, five JSB pellets fell into a group where all the pellet holes touched each other. It seems to me that the state of the art in precharged air rifles is now very high. It has been quite a while since I have shot a precharged air rifle that did not deliver similar results. They all seem to be wickedly accurate.

The bottom line is that the FX Bobcat is small, easy to handle, relatively quiet at medium and low power, very accurate, and a lot of fun to shoot.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott