If you have an aversion to snakes I’m going to ask you to buck up and read on so I can relay info on one of the MTC scopes named after vipers.  MTC Optics is a British scope maker around for about a dozen years now and part of the corporate group that owns Breda shotguns and Daystate airguns.  It is a company that was started by shooters to provide optics for shooters by a man named Gary Cooper.  The model I’ve worked with is the Mamba-Lite in a 4-16x42mm configuration with a low-profile side turret for parallax adjustment from 10 yards to infinity.  The body is a 1-inch aluminum tube sporting a matte black finish and the scope weighs in at 20 ounces.  The Mamba-Lite offers multi-coated optic glass for brighter edge-to-edge viewing and a red illuminated reticle. The scopes are made to MTC’s exacting quality standards and designed for use with any caliber.  Normal scope care is all that is required for maintenance; such as cleaning the outside with a soft cloth and using high quality lens cleaning products.

The reticle design is called the SCB2 (mil) and stands for: Small Caliber Ballistic Reticle (type 2) but can certainly be used with larger calibers and is especially appropriate for long range applications as the reticle is in the second focal plane so the mil spacings remain “true” at the highest magnification.  Additionally, ½ mil aiming points have also been incorporated into the reticle.  Only the center of the reticle is illuminated and operated by a microswitch on the parallax turret under a waterproof rubber button.  Minor pressure on the button for 2 seconds turns on the power and there are 6 illumination levels that get brighter with each press of the switch.  Turning off the power is accomplished by pressing the button and holding for 2 seconds, retaining the illumination setting for the next time it is powered up.  Something they appear to have left out, however, is an auto-shutoff so remember to check illumination is off before you store your rifle back in the safe.

A feature I particularly liked were the Patent Pending spring loaded, rotatable flip-up lens covers.  Sometimes fumbling with lens covers that close by snap fit or friction fit can be frustrating and even require two hands to open in order not to pull the covers completely off the scope.  Not so with these covers.  They also stay open at your choice of 90 or 180 degrees and can be locked down in the position you choose.  Why this is important involves the other nifty feature incorporated into the rear cover – a magnifying lens.  When flipped to the 180-degree position, it provides an easy to read heads-up display of whichever turret markings you have it aligned with.  Of course, if using it on a center fire rifle you would be well-advised not to leave the rear cover open to the 90-degree setting as heavy recoil may lead to an unwanted scope bite.

Pricing from www.airgunsofarizona.com is $399.00 and the scope comes standard with a 1-year warranty.  That can be extended to Lifetime, per the U.S. website, by registering it with the manufacturer within 30 days of purchase.  AofA also carries the Sportsmatch scope rings recommended by MTC.  Sportsmatch U.K has been making scope rings for over 45 years and these aluminum rings retail at $37.00.

The Mamba Lite is a quality scope made by MTC Optics

First Of All, Someone Threw Down A Gauntlet…

Around a year ago, the Umarex Gauntlet started shipping. That was a big deal because – for the first time – a regulated, magazine-fed, shrouded PCP air rifle was available at the ground-breaking price of $300. Well, actually $299.99.

Cue for some rapid developments in the low-price PCP airgun world!

Now we see one of the first responses to the Gauntlet thrown down by Umarex. It’s the Benjamin Fortitude air rifle.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

As with the Gauntlet, we have a $300, regulated PCP which delivers 60+ shots per fill, uses a 10-shot magazine feed and offers backyard friendly sound levels. Both have similar muzzle velocity capabilities and reassuring multi-year warranties.

So which should you choose? That’s a great question!

Let’s Look At The Fortitude In More Detail…

The Fortitude looks something like a cross between a Benjamin Maximus and a Marauder air pistol, with a regulator built-in. You can see how it compares to the Maximus in the photograph below. (Both air rifles are the same length, perspective makes that look less obvious).

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

The breech looks very similar to that of the Marauder air pistol. However, there’s clearly some differences as the Fortitude uses the 10-shot Marauder rifle magazine, rather than the 8-shot mag from the Marauder pistol.

Crosman has always had a core competency in re-using existing parts to build new products. Why design something new when there’s a perfectly satisfactory part already in existence? That’s very sensible engineering, so it would be no surprise to find that the new Fortitude uses many parts that have been proven in previous models. Doing so reduces development time and risk, while keeping costs down.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

Compared to the familiar Marauder air rifle, the Benjamin Fortitude is a much lighter, less bulky air rifle. It weighs about 2 Lbs less than the Marauder rifle and just 5 Ozs more than the single-shot, unregulated Maximus. This means that it feels light and handy to shoot.

As with all other Crosman and Benjamin PCPs, the Benjamin Fortitude is manufactured in the USA at the Velocity Outdoor headquarters in Bloomfield, New York.

Velocity Outdoor? That’s the new name for the company formerly known as Crosman Corporation. Don’t worry about it, the Crosman and Benjamin airguns you know and love are still the same…

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

The Benjamin Fortitude we tested shot at around 750 FPS with 14.35 Grain JSB Jumbo Exact 14.35 Grain pellets – in .22 caliber, of course. That’s just under 18 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy. The gauntlet we tested gave 805 FPS, 20.75 Ft/Lbs with the same pellets.

These JSB pellets also gave the best accuracy of any we tried. Few will find that a surprising result!

And the Benjamin Fortitude was impressively consistent. In fact it gave the lowest average Standard Deviation FPS of any air rifle we’ve ever tested. At any price!

So does that make it better than the Gauntlet? Well, that depends…

First The Fortitude.

The Fortitude is a much smaller, lighter air rifle than the Gauntlet. It has much better natural pointing capability and is a breeze to carry on a hunt.

The Fortitude is manufactured in the USA. The Gauntlet is built in China. For some that will be a big deal, for others not so much.

The Benjamin also has a 5-year warranty, compared to the 3-year coverage of the Gauntlet.

The Gauntlet Strikes Back.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

Unfortunately the Fortitude needs a stock with an adjustable cheek piece. I got a chin weld, not a cheek weld when shooting it! The Gauntlet has an adjustable comb to the stock which is much better.

And the Gauntlet’s trigger is also superior. True, it needs some adjustment but this is easily done with setscrew adjustment of pull weight, sear engagement and overtravel all available once you pop off the stock.

The Fortitude’s trigger is non-adjustable and the sample I tested had an average pull weight of five and a half Pounds. Ouch! Yes, there are some fixes for this to be found online, but it’s starting waaaay behind the Gauntlet.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

And then – although both have heavy bolt actions – the Gauntlet’s is much easier to operate. The bolt handle is longer and larger, there’s more space to avoid skinning your knuckles on the scope and the pull effort is less.

The Gauntlet is slightly more powerful also.

So Where Does This Leave Us?

For $300, both the Fortitude and the Gauntlet are great choices. It’s almost too close to call. Your decision will depend on which features are most important to you.

It’s great to have choices!

 

Stephen Archer is the publisher of Hard Air Magazine.

Extreme Benchrest is coming! The 8th annual Extreme Benchrest Competition will be held from Oct 11th-14th at Rio Salado Sprtsman’s Club in sea, AZ. This is the premier airgun competition of the year drawing in top shooters, manufacturers, and airgun celebrities from around the world. All will be competing for over $19,000 worth of cash and prizes as well as the coveted title of Extreme Benchrest Champion!

 
This years Extreme Benchrest has a few exciting changes from previous years. The new “One Gun” competition is being introduced. This award will be given to the competitor that has the highest combined scores over 4 different events using the same gun/scope/caliber. A shooter will really have to be “one” with their rifle to win this! Also, the 25m competition has ben replaced with a 50yd competition. Some other rule changes relate to the speed silhouette competition which should keep it very exciting for everyone!


Are you going this year? If so, I’d like to share a few tips that I’ve learned over the years. Whether you’re a spectator or a competitor, bring sunscreen, a good hat, and a good pair of sunglasses. Eye protection is required at all times around the shooting range and you will get asked to leave if you don’t have some type of eye protection.
There will be places to sit in the shade and Airguns of Arizona rents a great big outdoor air conditioner to help keep everyone cool.
Bring some extra pocket money. There will be cold drinks and lunch for sale during the competition. And, don’t forget about the raffle! You don’t have to be a competitor in order to enter into the raffle. And, you could win something really great!
If you want to take a sneak peak at how the competitors are doing during the match, you’ll want to have a good pair of binoculars or spotting scope.


Past years have always been pretty hot with 90º to 100º temperatures. Be prepared to be out in those temperatures all day.
As a competitor, I have found a few things that have made competing a little easier and more convenient. First on my list would be a fold up cart that I bought from Walmart for about $50. It really helps to have something to tote your shooting bags, rests, and rifles from the parking area to the benches all at once.
Next on my list would be a butt pad. The stools provided by the range for us to use are sometimes not tall enough and they’re certainly not padded for comfort! Having something soft to sit on can make your competition time a lot nicer.
Pellets! Bring plenty of pellets. The Airguns of Arizona store is closed during the competition. So, if you run out of ammo to shoot, it could put you in a pretty bad situation. Most shooters will be happy to lend a helping hand to a fellow competitor but, it’s best to avoid running into a situation like that.
Bring a towel. The benches we shoot off of are made from trex decking and it can be nice to have something soft to lay your elbow on or to lay your rifle on during casing and un-casing. Also, if you didn’t bring a butt pad, you can fold it up and use it for a seat cushion.


If you’re using a mechanical magazine, I’d suggest bringing at least one spare. You would be surprised at how often unexpected breakdowns happen at competition! The Airguns of Arizona van will be there with an assortment of tools and some parts. They are there to help everyone to keep shooting and having a great time!


There will be plenty of air at the competition. So, you don’t have to bring your own bottle unless you want to. Personally, I have always brought my own bottle so that I can practice all I want at the practice range, and so that I don’t have to wait for one of the community bottles to become available. Airguns of Arizona will have a few compressors at the range. If you decide to bring your own bottle, they’ll be happy to refill you. Thanks AoA!
A small cardboard box can come in handy as a makeshift practice target. Sometimes, you just want to set up your own target at a certain distance and having a cardboard box to shoot at can make it quick and easy.
I also try to save up a decent amount of “unexpected spending money.” You might see something at Airguns of Arizona, before or after the event, that you just can’t live without. 😉 I can tell you from personal experience that exact thing happens to me every year! lol
I hope to see you all there having a great time!
Happy Shooting!
Tom

If collectors and enthusiasts refer to the time of airguns crafted of German and British engineering with richly blued steel and top-quality hardwood stocks as the “golden age”, then what we are seeing now must surely be the “realism age”.  Case-in-point is the subject of today’s blog, the “We The People” Advanced Sports Pellet CO2 clone of the 1911 style .45 caliber firearm of the same name introduced by SIG SAUER a couple of years ago.

The new SIG SAUER “We the People” CO2 repeater

Part of the Advanced Sport Pellet line, this beautifully crafted air pistol is an exact replica of that firearm made in Taiwan as part of SIG’s “next generation of air pistols” to the exact specifications of the firearm.  It duplicates it in almost every detail, right down to the method of field stripping.  A portion of the CO2 is used to provide blowback action.

Impressive as the detailing is, this pistol is equally impressive in the styling department.  The original .45 is a tribute to America and the 2nd Amendment.  This BB pistol sports a metal slide marked on the top with a circle of 13 stars representing the original colonies, on the left side with 1776 in large numbers and on the right side with WE THE PEOPLE.  Each metal grip panel is decorated with 25 raised stars to represent the 50 states in the union, and overall the pistol is treated with a distressed antique finish.  The firearm has a skeletonized trigger and hammer, an extended beaver tail and grip safety, as does this BB firing replica.  The grip safety is functional along with an ambidextrous safety that locks the slide just like on any 1911.

As attractive as the pistol is, it is equally well done internally with an excellent fit and mechanical functioning.  No malfunctions were experienced unless the COdropped to a level where the slide would not fully retract and lock back on an empty magazine.

The drop-free magazine holds the 12-gram CO2 cartridge plus 17 BBs in a staggered column.  A supplied hex wrench is used to turn the piercing screw in the floorplate of the magazine.  Other niceties beside the already mentioned ambidextrous safety include a BB follower that locks back to facilitate loading, the face of the trigger is serrated and a clearly written owner’s manual with good black & white photos.  Instructions are included on removing the slide as a start to field stripping but should have gone further to describe removal of the barrel in case of a stuck BB.  SIG SAUER provides a one year warranty as well.

Other details that may be of interest:  the overall weight of the pistol out of the package is 2.2 pounds.  The specs indicate a trigger pull of 4 pounds but on my sample, I found it to average 5 pounds 10.5 ounces.  Though the pistol still needs to go through some additional breaking in which may reduce the trigger pull weight, I wouldn’t anticipate it coming down that far.  I averaged over 4 full magazines per CO2 cartridge (between 70 and 80 rounds) at a mile above sea level doing mostly slow fire.  However, I have to admit, with these CO2 repeaters I have trouble restraining myself from shooting rapid fire strings.  Accuracy was very good right out of the box up to 25 feet or so, making it a great plinker.  It is rated for a velocity of 340 fps and at my altitude, using Hornady Black Diamond BBs, I averaged very close to that with 332 fps.

Functioning is incredibly similar to the real thing

This model is not currently listed on www.airgunsofarizona.com  under their SIG page as it is so new to the market.  However, the great group of folks at AofA can certainly help to order one up for you.  The MSRP listed for this air pistol is $119.00 but check with AofA to discuss pricing.  Additionally, depending upon the political climate where you live there may be restrictions on shipping this air pistol.

As a competitive shooter, I wash and sort my pellets. But, is there a reason to wash them if you’re not a competition shooter? I say, YES!

Air rifles can be picky about which pellets they like. Whether you’re a competitive shooter, hunter, plinker, or just out to hone your skills with an air rifle, you want to feed your rifle what it likes in order to get the best accuracy downrange. JSB’s, RWS, Crosman’s, Diana, H&N, Daystate, Benjamin…. The list goes on and on. Then, there’s the different weights to consider, which almost always comes with a slightly different shape. There’s no telling what a rifle will like without trying different brands. Research has shown that two rifles of the same brand and type can even like different pellets. Although, that scenario is getting a little more rare these days with the advancements in manufacturing.

As a beginner shooter, where should you start in your pellet selection process? If I were to give you advise, I’d say to start with JSB’s. They’ve consistency given me two things…
1) The best accuracy
2) A consistent starting point to measure other brands against.

Next is to consider what weight to try. I think that depends on what your expected shooting distance is, or what your purpose is. Hunting pellets would be an obvious choice for hunting. When it comes to target shooting there’s more to consider. A lighter pellet will have a flatter flight path and a heavier pellet will buck the wind better. I’d say that if your shooting short range, a lighter pellet will serve you well. For longer range or more knock down power, a heavier pellet would do well.

Personally, I buy JSB’s almost exclusively. I have found them to be very consistent in performance and accuracy. I prefer to buy my pellets through Airguns of Arizona because AoA gets them with head size and lot numbers’s on each tin. Matching head sizes and lot numbers means that the pellets are more consistent from tin to tin and should shoot with greater consistency overall. It also means you can try different head sizes to see if your rifle likes them a little thinner or a little thicker.

Washing pellets is the first step in sorting pellets. Sorting pellets can be as simple as washing alone or as complex as you want to make it. A FULL sorting process for me includes washing, drying, inspecting, weighing, head measuring, rolling, a personal top secret step, and possibly lubing (hyperlinks are for my how-to videos!). The full sorting process is a very long one that I only use for competition pellets. But for the rest of my pellets, I wash! Through all of this sorting, and inspecting, and weighing, and rolling, etc… I have found that washing alone makes the biggest difference in accuracy, even with premium pellets.

What does washing do? Through the process of manufacturing, little microscopic bits of lead are left over and stick to the pellets. Those little bits can cause the tiniest variation in the way a pellet travels down a barrel and cause a shot to be missed. Imagine if one of those little bits gets stuck in your rifling or turns into a lead fouling down the inside of your barrel. Not only will it affect one shot, but it could affect every shot until you clean it out.

Washing is easy! I like to use Dawn dish soap because it works very well at getting the leftover manufacturing lubrication off and, as a bonus, it’s safe to use on animals (remember the BP oil spill?). In a dedicated NON-FOOD container, mix a few drops of soap with some warm water. Then gently pour your pellets in and start swishing them around with your fingers. Not too fast, just enough to get them moving through the soapy water and to knock the little bits of lead off without damaging the pellets. Next is rinsing. I like to use a plastic dedicated NON-FOOD mesh strainer and warm water. Gently pour them into the strainer and move them around under the running water to get all of the soap off. For drying, I lay them out in a single layer on a towel. I leave them overnight with a fan running to keep the air moving around them. In the morning, I look inside a few skirts to see if there’s any leftover droplets. If not, then I’m all done and ready to shoot!

If you’re unsure whether or not this will help with your own accuracy, try it out with just a handful. I’d love to hear about your results! Thanks for reading, and Happy Shooting!
Tom

Umarex is a leading purveyor of BB and pellet firing replicas of famous firearms and this example is a licensed copy of the popular P30 series from Heckler and Koch that is actually manufactured in Germany by HK for Umarex.  Like its firearm counterpart, it is a polymer pistol sporting a metal slide. However, this is not a blowback pistol as the slide is non-reciprocating.  It does separate, with the front section sliding forward upon depressing what would be the slide release lever on the actual firearm.  Once the slide is open, either a metal 8-round rotary magazine or a BB adapter can be inserted into the gun.  To shoot BBs, the plastic “BB adapter” supplied with the gun is inserted in place of the rotary pellet magazine and 15 BBs are loaded into the drop-free magazine.

P30 with magazine & accessories

This pistol operates in both single and double action modes and has a functional exposed hammer.  The P30 is listed as being a semi-auto because the internal workings line up the next shot automatically and ready the gun for firing, but to shoot in single action, the hammer must be manually cocked each time.

While the P30 is a faithful reproduction in looks and feel, right down to the picatinny rail on the dust cover, the only controls that operate as on the original are the ambidextrous magazine release incorporated into the trigger guard and the de-cocking button at the rear of the slide, next to the hammer.

To ready for firing, a 12-gram CO2 capsule is inserted into the drop-free magazine after rotating the magazine base plate 180 degrees clockwise.  A small knurled wheel at the base plate of the magazine is rotated to “snug up” the capsule and then the magazine base is rotated counterclockwise to pierce the capsule.  The gun would then be pointed in a safe

P30 Magazine with base plate in open position

direction and the trigger pulled to make sure that CO2 was flowing and the gun would fire before loading it with ammo.  Note that, with this gun, if the manual safety near the rear of the slide is engaged, it blocks the valve so you might think the CO2 capsule has not been pierced as trigger pull is not affected by the manual safety.

Nice features of this P30 replica include a 3.3-inch rifled steel barrel, vertical groves in the face of the trigger, front and rear sights that are drift adjustable for windage, a hard-plastic foam-lined case plus the inclusion of two 8-round pellet magazines and a small plastic tool for seating the pellets to the same depth.  Additionally, it is a quiet shooter compared to other CO2 pistols I own, making this model “backyard friendly”.

Umarex rates the P30 at 360 fps for pellets (grains not specified) and 395 for BBs.  Since I prefer not to shoot BBs through barrels with shallow rifling, I can only report my results from the pellets I used.  My findings are based on a 90+ degree day at well over a mile above sea level.  Using H&N Excite Plinking pellets weighing 7.3 grains the average fps was: 304.9 and with Predator GTO lead free wad cutters at 5.5 grains the average fps was: 278.1.

The P30 wasn’t stingy with the CO2, yielding only 45+ full power shots per capsule.  It was fun to shoot and with the two magazines provided, was quick to reload for a full 16 shots, however, keep the pistol level and over your shooting bench when opening the slide to insert or remove the 8-round pellet magazines as they will easily fall out otherwise.  The trigger pull averaged 3 pounds in single action and a very heavy 11 pounds in double action.  Not unmanageable, but it was more pleasurable to shoot by manually cocking the hammer for each shot.  Accuracy was acceptable for a nice plinking airgun at ranges out to 20 yards.  All-in-all, I liked the way it shot and the solid, comfortable feel in your hand.  If you are into the replica airguns at all, this one would make a nice addition to your collection.  MSRP on this model runs in the $225 range and it can be found on the AofA website www.airgunsofarizona.com

for a considerable savings.

For the plinkers in the audience I wanted to cover a fun little item that is an accurate enough replica to be valuable as a training arm as well – the Walther PPK/S from Umarex.  This is an all metal semi-auto replica of the pocket .380 firearm.  As Walther is part of the Umarex family, this little 1.2-pound replica BB shooter sports the Walther logos and is a pretty exacting copy.  The only deviations would be the non-functional safety on the left side of the slide (an actual safety is located on the right side of the frame) and in the case of my slightly older version, a protruding thumbscrew used to pierce the 12-gram CO2 cartridge.  Newer models no longer have the thumbscrew, replacing it with a threaded plug needing a hex wrench, and this gives a more realistic look.

Umarex Walther PPK/S with grip panel and magazine removed.

A 15-round drop-free stick type magazine forms the “pinky ledge” that would be part of the magazine on the real deal. The CO2 cylinder sits behind the stick magazine under the left grip panel which is held in place with spring clips.  The pistol operates by single action and Umarex rates the gun at velocities up to 295 fps.  I experience less velocity because I live at higher altitude but was unable to measure the fps due to a malfunctioning chronograph.  BBs still hit with some authority and in no way diminished the plinking fun that can be had with this little pistol.

The non-adjustable trigger was very nice with a smooth pull that averaged around 2 ½ pounds.  The face of the trigger is grooved like it is on the firearm and after a slight take up it travels about ¼ of an inch before dropping the hammer.  As this is a blowback action gun, some CO2 is bled off to cycle the slide and prepare the next shot.  After the last BB is fired, the slide locks back, but only partially.  Still, it is somewhat realistic and prevents the waste of gas by pulling the trigger on an empty magazine.  The pivoting safety switch on the right side is made of plastic and disengages the trigger when in the downward position.  There is a small cutout in the right grip panel so the lever needs to be slightly depressed to move upward, revealing a large red dot and readying the pistol to fire.

Sporting a 3.5-inch smooth bore barrel, a high degree of accuracy cannot be expected but if you keep your targets to within 25 feet or so, you’ll put plenty of BBs on soda cans, pinecones and other reasonably sized targets.  This pistol was pretty conservative on its gas use so I was able to get up to 90 shots before the pressure dropped to where the slide would not cycle.  It is possible to get additional shots with a fair amount of punch by simply manually cocking the hammer each time thereby getting the most of the CO2 cylinder.

Close up of left side markings on the Walther PPK/S.

Having excellent balance and feel in the hand, plus a very nice trigger for this price range, the PPK/S is a lot of fun.  The MSRP is around $85 and it comes with a 90-day limited warranty.  Umarex USA has a good reputation for warranty work should you need to make use of it.  Check out this model [http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/bb-pistols/walther-ppk/s-bb-co2-pistol/] and other licensed copy CO2 pistols which are available on the Airguns of Arizona website at: www.airgunsofarizona.com.

The airgunning community can feel tiny speck when compared to the firearms community. The firearms community has money, power, political groups, etc. We don’t. It would be nice if we did but, our community is so small that I don’t know if we could effectively sustain it. We simply don’t have the numbers… yet.
But, if you look at it from another perspective, we’re actually pretty lucky. We have a community of shooters where many of us know one another and call each other “brother” or “sister”. It’s very easy to reach out to each other for advise and friendship through the online forum or blogs like this. I think we are very lucky to be part of such a tight knit group of people. Sometimes we disagree and get on each others nerves. But, overall, we know that we are all in this adventure together and we all do what we can to watch out for one another and come together when we need to. This became very apparent to me when youtube had it’s banning spree. Everyone from industry leaders and manufacturers, down to the newest faces in our sport was ready to stand together. It was really great to see that collective reaction.
While we may not have all the power of the firearms industry, we also don’t have all the political attention like the firearms industry, which is really nice! Youtube did eventually realize that they made a mistake and most of our airgun channels have been reinstated. Firearms channels are still in the radar though.
It was unfortunate to see one of the old forums get torn apart. As a “community” we stuck with each other and turned a bad situation into something great. I think this tight knit community is something we should really cherish and appreciate. Because we are so small and so tight with one another, I think we could almost use the word “Family” of airgunners.
I recently attended the 1st ever “Daystate owners fun shoot” hosted by Airguns of Arizona. It was a heck of a good time shooting all the newest Daystate rifles, meeting new people, and seeing old faces again. While I was down there, I noticed something interesting. On the back of the new Daystate T-shirts, it says, “Welcome to the family!” It put a smile on my face since I had been brainstorming on this topic before heading down there.
How hard do you think it would be to get in touch with the owner of one of the major firearms dealers? I think it would probably be a bit of a chore. I have personally spoke with many retail owners and manufacturers in the airgun industry over the past few years. Some of them are so approachable and talkative that I end up wondering how they could possibly have the time to run a business if they’re that chatty with everyone they talk to!
As an airgun family, we know one another. We know what rifles each other has. We borrow from one another. We know each others families. We celebrate additions to the family and mourn losses together. 6 degrees of separation? In our community, it’s more like 1-2 degrees. Do you know Steve, Giles, Ted, or Matt? I’ve met them. I consider them distant friends and know that they recognize me, who I am, and what I stand for. Since you’re reading this that means you’re 1 degree of separation away from knowing them as well!
I look back at a time when I was shooting firearms and before I found airguns. While shooting firearms is an enjoyable sport, I had an overall feeling of isolation. Even at the range, shooters rarely spoke to one another. These days, when I shoot with other airgunners, we’re always talking and laughing and having a great time together. I feel tremendously fortunate to have found this sport and all the great people involved in it! I hope all of you enjoy this feeling of family like I do.
Tom Adams

Beretta Px4 Storm air pistol showing the safety lever

This Umarex licensed copy of the Beretta Px4 Storm, a 1:1 BB/Pellet firing copy of the original firearm released in 2004, is a black polymer pistol with a metal slide.  It features blowback action and a single or double-action trigger mechanism utilizing an exposed hammer to activate the valve.  Sights are fixed and the slide stop and manual safety levers are molded in/non-functional.  However, Umarex did provide a manual safety on the right side that requires a 2-step action to engage/disengage it.  A long lever has a ribbed bar inset into its face that must be depressed and slid rearward slightly in order to be able to move the safety lever either upwards to disengage and reveal a red dot, or downwards to engage.  Interestingly, if the hammer is back when engaging the safety lever, it will safely be dropped.

CO2 cartridges are inserted in the grip after rotating the false magazine floorplate clockwise 270 degrees and removing a small backstrap panel.

False magazine floorplate is the piercing knob

Insert with the neck pointing upwards and the base of the cartridge rests on a curved plastic wheel that can be rotated to snug the cartridge up against the piercing pin.  Returning the false magazine floorplate back to its original position pierces the cartridge, taking guesswork out of the piercing operation.  Pellets are held in a stick magazine that rides in the grip just in front of the CO2 cartridge.  It is ejected from the grip by depressing the functional magazine release button found in the usual location on the left side just behind the trigger guard.  Be certain your hand support hand is in position to catch the magazine as it is forced out by spring pressure.  The magazine is a double-ended affair with rotary pellet chambers on either end each holding 8 pellets.  Count your shots or you may wind up wasting CO2 before you realize you need to drop the mag and insert the other end as there is no mechanism to lock the slide back after the last pellet has been fired.

A number of replica CO2 guns on the market bleed off some CO2 in order to simulate recoil and cycle the slide.  However, this Beretta model really offers some kick!   Partially because of that harder recoil/blowback action, I averaged 4 ½ magazines (72 shots) per cartridge shooting only slow fire.  This pistol does not disassemble or field strip like some replica CO2 guns are capable of.  Indentations on either side are the location of the takedown buttons on the firearm, but there are no such buttons on the CO2 version.  Still, those indentations make a nice tactile area for resting the index finger when it is outside the trigger guard.  A short rail is provided on the dust cover should you want to mount a flashlight, laser or training device such as Laser Ammo or MantisX.

Firing in double-action for the first shot averaged a trigger pull of 10 pounds, 4 ounces.  Of course, the hammer is cocked after that first shot and the trigger pull drops off to an average of 5 pounds, 6 ounces.  The trigger pull is long and a little gritty, but I anticipate that will improve as the gun is broken in more.  Trigger break is crisp and remarkably good for an air pistol in this price range.  Shooting in single-action mode, I was getting good accuracy from standing shots using various lead and alloy pellets at 10 yards.  The best accuracy seemed to be with the SIG Match Ballistic flat-nosed alloy pellets which weighed in at 5.2 grains.  They averaged 398.8 fps at a mile above sea level out of the 4.1 inch rifled steel barrel.  I am hesitant to fire steel BBs through these dual ammo guns as the rifling is shallow so I stick with pellets.  Umarex USA rates the Px4 at 380 fps using pellets.

The Px4 Storm with magazine and backstrap removed

This little pistol was fun to shoot and accuracy was on par with other semi-auto replica pistols.  It would be an excellent training replica for holster drills and dry-fire practice.  There were no feeding problems or malfunctions.  While the MSRP lists at $110, here is a direct link to the Airguns of Arizona page where the Px4 Storm lists for $79.95: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/co2/beretta-px4-storm/.   The warranty offered with the pistol covers the buyer for 90 days.

I’ve been seeing some pretty cool optics come out recently that are integrating technology into their functions.

Most recently, I picked up the MTC Rapier Rangefinder. I first noticed this little rangefinder at Shot Show 2018 and was immediately impressed at how much more it did than just tell me the range alone. This little gadget uses your smart phone or watch to calculate the ballistics of your rifle and then shows you and tells you exactly where to place your shot. Yup, it actually talks to you through either through your device or via an included bluetooth earpiece! It gave me a laugh the first time I heard it because it’s been programmed to talk to you with a British accent! It does require some initial setup information from you in order to provide you with the most accurate feedback. But, that little time spent in the beginning will take away any guess work out in the field.

Calculating ballistics is one thing but, this little rangefinder does even more. It also takes into consideration the angle your shooting at. That alone can mean the difference between a hit and a miss. “But wait, there’s more!” If you’re in an area with internet connection, you can download the local weather in your area and it will compute that into your ballistics as well. “But wait, there’s more!” There’s also a place for the shooter to enter the local wind data so that it can compute that into the ballistics of your shot as well!

The Rapier Rangefinder provides 4 pre-sets that are set up by the shooter a “custom tailored” fit to each of their rifle/scope combinations. I say custom tailored because ballistic coefficient, zero distance, velocity, scope height, twist rate, bullet weight, caliber, and length are all taken into consideration.
So, you might be wondering if it works with any scope. Yes! It asks you a couple of questions during setup in order to work with whatever scope your using. Is it First or Second focal plane and at what magnification is the scope at “true mil-dot.” Once this is entered, the main screen will then allow you to set and change your scope magnification very easily.

You can also choose what it tells you after you hit the “FIRE” button. It will tell you Range, plus any combination of the following – Angle, Drop, and Drift. Are you an MOA user? Or, maybe you prefer to “click in” to take your shot? No problem! Just set it to what you like… mil, MOA, 0.1-0.2 mil clicks, 1/8,1/4,1/2 MOA clicks, or bullet drop in inches or centimeters, and it will tell you what you want to know and how you want to hear it.
You do need a smart phone or watch in order to utilize all this information. But, even without one of these, the rangefinder will still work as a standard rangefinder. Through the eyepiece, you’ll see the changeable reticle, distance in yards or meters, angle with up or down indication, battery level, and whether vibration mode is on or off.

I searched around to see if there was anything else like this available. There is, but there’s only about 2 others to choose from (that I found) and you’d have to spend double or even triple the price in order to get one of them. Another product you might compare this to is the ATN X-sight scope. It has a lot of the same features built directly into the scope itself. Here’s why I like the rangefinder platform better. I own multiple rifles and I can easily use it with them without having to go through the process of un-mounting or mounting anything at all. That means I also don’t have to re-sight in. Being a rangefinder that will work with any scope, I can use whatever scope I want to look through and not be forced to use something that I might not like as much. Then, there’s the weight. The Rapier is 6.2oz in your pocket whereas the ATN scope is 2.5LBS on top of your rifle. Cost is always a concern as well. The MTC Rapier is the lowest priced of anything I found that compares to it making this little “piece of kit” (as the brits say) hard to beat!

I put together a youtube video about this little gem! If you’d like to see and hear it working, follow the link and check it out!

Happy Shooting!

Tom Adams