G12 FWB Sport 001

It’s been more than a decade, and I hope that I am recalling this correctly, but I seem to recall reading in print that it was a Feinwerkbau (FWB) 124 or 127 that first opened the eyes of Tom Gaylord to the extraordinary world of adult precision air rifles.

I have never seen, handled or shot an FWB 124 (.177 cal.) or 127 (.22), but it is my understanding that a lot of America airgunners first got the idea that an air rifle could be really something special from their experiences with the FWB 124/127.

It has been a number of years since FWB has manufactured a spring-piston air rifle (they have been concentrating on their match rifles), but now they have come back in style. The new FWB Sport stretches 44.8 inches from end to end and weighs 8.2 pounds. It is also one of the most expensive spring-piston air rifles I have ever shot. I spoke to the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com , and they, in turn, have spoken to the folks at FWB. The intent of FWB in creating the FWB Sport was not to hit a particular price point or to capture a chunk of the breakbarrel springer market, but to create an “heirloom” air rifle.

G12 FWB Sport 003

As such, I think they have succeeded, but first let’s take a walk around the FWB Sport. At the extreme aft end is a brown rubber butt pad, which is attached to the ambidextrous hardwood stock by a black spacer. Forward of that, the butt stock has a modest rise to the comb and a swell for a cheek rest on either side.

G12 FWB Sport 008

Moving forward, the pistol grip is modestly slanted and has fish scale checkering, which I have never seen before but find attractive, on either side. Forward of that, a black trigger guard surrounds an adjustable silver metal trigger. The design of the trigger guard is unusual, composed of three angled sections. When I first looked at it, I thought it might be a piece of folded metal. I must confess that I don’t actually know what it is composed of. It feels warm to the touch, so I suspect it might be plastic, but if it is plastic, it is exceeding sturdy plastic. If it is metal, it must be some alloy, and it is smoothly finished both inside and out.

Moving forward again, there is fish scale checkering on either side of the forestock, and there is a narrow slow for the cocking linkage on the underside of the forestock. The designers at FWB must have a lot of confidence that the cocking linkage will maintain its precise alignment throughout the cocking stroke, because this is narrowest slot I can remember seeing on the underside of a springer.

The far end of the forestock tapers slightly as it reaches the breech block. Forward of that is the .177 caliber barrel and at the muzzle is a hooded blade sight. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a precision, micro-adjustable rear notch sight, which is fitted into a slot machined into the breech block. I’ve never seen an arrangement like this before, but it seems fairly certain that it will not wobble from side to side and cause any sight alignment problems. The rear sight has four notches that the shooter can select for optimal sight picture.

At the aft end of the receiver is a push type automatic safety that is a serrated metal roller. On either side of the receiver Feinwerkbau is embossed in silver lettering. In all, the fit and finish of the FWB Sport are fully befitting an “heirloom” air rifle.

Next time, we’ll take a look at shooting the FWB Sport.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

G12 FX t12 001

To ready the T12 400 for shooting, slide the cap off the foster fitting, connect a SCUBA tank or high pressure pump, and fill the reservoir to 220 bar. Replace the cap, fill the rotary magazine and slide it into place, and you’re good to go. Or you can do what I did (since I was feeling lazy) and load a pellet at a time into the aft end of the barrel. The beech is deep enough to allow single pellet loading, but a single-shot tray would have made it easier.

G12 FX t12 007

To load a pellet or index the rotary magazine, you have to pull the bolt back until it clicks. This requires a fair amount of effort. I was not able to measure exactly how much effort is required, but I am fairly certain that it is above the 12 pounds that my digital trigger gauge could measure. It is enough effort that I had to take the T12 400 off my casual rests, cradle the air rifle in my lap, grip it with my left hand and pull back hard with my right hand.

Once the action clicks, the bolt will stay in the back position until you push it forward, or you can lock it in the aft position to prevent it from moving forward. This is the only form of safety on this rifle, and you need to remember whether you have inserted a pellet into the breech.

G12 FX t12 004

With the T12 400 loaded, take aim and squeeze the trigger. The first stage requires only 7.9 oz of pressure, and at 12.6 oz, the shot goes off. The report is remarkably subdued, considering the power of this air rifle. It doesn’t boom and it is not raucous, but it is noticeable. This would not be my first choice for shooting repeatedly in a quiet neighborhood, but I suspect that a handful of shots for pest control would be tolerated.

The T12 400 launches 25.39 grain JSB King .25 caliber pellets at 824 fps (average), generating a touch over 38 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. In my mind, that is certainly enough power for hunting anything (raccoons, for example) that I might reasonably want to take with an air rifle.

The T12 400 is equipped with a smooth twist barrel. They enjoy a reputation for being relatively pellet in-sensitive. The barrel on the sample that I tested was decided unhappy with JSB pellets, but gave me a very nice 5-shot group at 32 yards – one-half inch, center to center – with Gamo Pro Magnum pellets.

In the end, if I wanted to hunt small to medium sized game or control small to medium sized pests, the FZ T12 400 in .25 caliber would be very high on my list.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight,

-          Jock Elliott

G12 FX t12 005

Over the years as an airgun writer, I’ve heard or read or seen some wild and wooly tales relating to wound ballistics and airgun lethality. An airgun manufacturer had a video showing a wild pig being killed by a .177 magnum breakbarrel springer. On one of the forums, a fellow claimed to have killed a coyote instantly by putting a .177 pellet in the coyote’s ear canal. A trusted source told me that he had inadvertently killed a deer with a cheap Chinese springer. He was trying to shoot the deer in the behind, to chase it off his ornamental plants. The deer turned, the pellet went between the ribs, a pneumothorax resulted, and he found the deer dead in the flowers the next morning. So, yeah, you can kill really big game with really small pellets. (Along the same lines, archer Howard Hill once killed an elephant with a long bow.)

But then you have to ask the next questions: Is it a good idea? Is it recommended? Is it a “best practice?” The answer, in my view, is emphatically: NO! (If you are the Howard Hill of airguns, then you already know what you can and cannot accomplish with various calibers and power levels of airguns; this blog is addressed to the rest of us ordinary mortals.)

In general, if you want to hunt small to medium sized game and/or do pest control with an airgun, you want enough power to penetrate deeply into your quarry and a wound channel that is big enough to damage organs and cause lots of bleeding. Incidentally, the only sure way to cause instantaneous death in any creature is to disrupt the central nervous system. That’s why police snipers will, in general, aim for the brain stem – the spot where the brain connects to the rest of the nervous system.

And that brings us to this week’s airgun, the FX T12 400 Synthetic. www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me one to test, and I have to say that I am impressed. First, I just plain like the way this air rifle looks. It’s clean, purposeful. No frills, no foofaraw – just the stuff you need and everything in its place. It stretches 39.75 inches from end to end and weighs just 6.5 pounds before you mount a scope. It’s available in .22 or .25 caliber. I tested the .25 version. The T12 400 is a “bottle” gun, that is, it has a large bottle-type air reservoir that, in this case, holds 400 ccs of air. That’s where the “400” designation comes from.

G12 FX t12 003

At the extreme aft end is a thick rubber butt pad that can be adjusted vertically after loosening a screw. Forward of that is a matte black ambidextrous synthetic stock that has a fairly vertical pistol grip and thumb rests on either side at the top of the pistol grip. The finish on the entire stock has a soft rubbery feel that is pleasant to touch and easy to keep a secure grip on.

Forward of the pistol grip is a black metal trigger guard that surrounds a black metal adjustable trigger. Forward of that, on the underside of the forestock, is a pressure gauge to let you know how much pressure is left in the air reservoir. Moving forward again, at the end of the forestock you’ll find the air reservoir. Above that is the barrel, finished in black with a sound moderator permanently affixed to the muzzle end.

G12 FX t12 006

Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a steel sleeve that brings additional rigidity to the barrel for improved accuracy. Aft of that is the receiver which has a large breech slot that accepts a rotary magazine. On top of the receiver are dovetails fore and aft of the breech for mounting a scope. On the right side of receiver is a large bolt handle which has two positions: locked closed and locked open. Also on the right side of the receiver, forward of a breech, is a male foster fitting that is used for filling the reservoir.

Next time, we’ll look at how well the T12 400 shoots.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight,

-          Jock Elliott

G12 Hammerli AR20 005

I’ll tell you what my first thought was when www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me the Hammerli AR-20 to test: “What in the world do they expect to do with this thing?”

My days of attempting to shoot 10-meter match competition are some years behind me, and I wasn’t very good at it even then. (The experience did serve me well for the standing shots in field target, however.) Did the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com really expect “Uncle Wobbles” to give this rifle a serious test as a 10-meter machine? I sincerely hoped not.

Sure, the AR-20 has a lot of the goodies that you would expect in a 10-meter competition rifle and it comes with match diopter sights for 10-meter competition. But then I noticed something: it has a scope dovetail that goes from here to Cleveland. Well, actually it extends from fore and aft of the breech and all the way down the length of the barrel shroud. And that gave me an idea. We’ll get back to that notion in just a little while, but first, let’s take a guided tour of the AR-20.

G12 Hammerli AR20 006

The AR-20 stretches nearly 40 inches from end to end and weighs 9 pouncs. Most of the receiver and barrel assemblies on the AR-20 are made of metal. Most of accoutrements – forestock handpiece, pistol grip, buttstock, and so forth – are made of plastic. At the extreme aft end of the AR-20 is a soft rubber butt pad that is adjustable for height and for length of pull. Forward of that, under the buttstock, are a couple of metal weights that can be removed if the shooter sees fit. Forward of that is a cheekpiece that is adjustable for height and that can be reversed for left-handed shooters. Moving forward again, you’ll find a plastic pistol grip that can be rotated to suit the shooter’s preference.

G12 Hammerli AR20 007

Ahead of the pistol grip is the trigger which doesn’t have a trigger shoe but is a ridged rod. It is, however, very comfortable to use. The trigger can be adjusted in a variety of ways – including weight, pressure point, stop and slack – to the shooter’s preference. Ahead of the trigger is a partial metal trigger guard and beyond that is the forestock handpiece which can be slid back and forth along a rail to the shooter’s preference.

The forestock enclosed the compressed air reservoir and above that is the shrouded metal barrel which has a dovetail on the muzzle end to accommodate a globe diopter front sight. Moving back along the barrel, we come to the black metal receiver, which features a generous breech and dovetails aft of the breech for mounting the competition peep sight. At the very end of the receiver is a t-shaped assembly which is the bolt.

G12 Hammerli AR20 004

To ready the AR-20 for shooting, you must unscrew the air reservoir, connect it to a special adaptor (included with the gun), charge it up to 300 bar from a hand pump or SCUBA tank, and then re-attach the reservoir to the gun. Hammerli claims 200 shots per fill when charged to 300 bar.

To load the AR-20, press the bolt release button in the center of the bolt handle, pull the bolt back, drop a .177 pellet into the groove in the center of the breech, and return the bolt to its original position. The trigger is extremely light and crisp. I measured the trigger pull: first stage, 3.8 oz; second stage 5.5 oz. No, that is not a typo – trigger weight was well under half a pound. If that is not light enough for you, I suggest trying a “psychic” trigger.

The AR-20 launches 7 grain match pellets at 577 feet per second. And the accuracy? Well, it’s just plain boring: at 10 meters from a rest, the AR20 will put pellet after pellet through the same hole. The presumption is that a properly trained 10-meter shooter could do pretty well with the AR-20.

G12 Hammerli AR20 001

And now we get back to my idea: what else is it good for? In 1984 Peter Capstick, big game hunter and African Correspondent for Guns & Ammo magazine, published an article that changed the outlook of many shooters. Entitled simply “Minisniping,” it related how Capstick and his fellow big rifle shooters were enjoying the delights of shooting at spent 9mm brass at 35 yards, from a rest, with Olympic style match air rifles.

Capstick and his fellow minisnipers shot with scoped match quality air rifles of their day: the Feinwerkbau 300s and others. These were recoilless spring-powered rifles that launched match pellets downrange at about 560-600 fps. At 35 yards, the velocity is well below 500 fps, and any bit of wind will push the pellet around with impunity. Using a low-powered, scoped, match air rifle at that range made minisniping both challenging and fun.

Capstick calculated that shooting at a ¾” high casing at 35 yards was equivalent to targeting an enemy sniper’s torso at over 1,300 yards. It’s a game that takes just a few minutes to learn and a lifetime to master—and that’s where the true seduction lies. I would like to humbly suggest that the AR-20, which costs slightly less than $1,000 and is very easy to scope, would make a superb air rifle for practicing the fine art of minisniping.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

G12 HW45 177 004I love movies. One of my favorites is “Jeremiah Johnson.” In it there is a scene in which Bear claw Chris Lapp (an experienced mountain man) says to Jeremiah Johnson (a tenderfoot who has nearly starved to death trying to learn to be a mountain man): “Mountain’s got its own ways, pilgrim . . .” Meaning you have to deal with the mountain as it is, not how you wish it was.

Around El Rancho Elliott “Mountain’s got its own ways, pilgrim” has become a code phrase for having to deal with the peculiarities or eccentricities of an individual, organization, or piece of machinery.

The same could be said of the Weihrauch HW45 http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/Weihrauch.htm#WeihrauchHW45 . It is a singular air pistol, and it does, indeed, have its own ways. Nevertheless, you need to know right up front that the HW45 is simply a whale of a lot of fun to shoot.

Greg Glover at www.airgunsofarizona.com calls the HW45 “Old Smokey” because “I can instantly recognize when anyone is testing an HW45 in the shop. I can smell the dieseling and see the smoke.”

G12 HW45 177 005

Recently I tested a new HW45 in .177 caliber and right out of the box it dieseled and smoked just like Greg said it would. The HW45 stretches 11 inches from end to end and weighs 2.54 pounds. At the extreme aft end of the receiver is what appears to be a hammer but is actually a release that allows the back half of the “upper” to be moved for cocking. The pistol grip is scaled like that on a 1911 Colt automatic, and there are ambidextrous walnut grips with diamond checkering on either side.

G12 HW45 177 009

Just forward of the grip is a lever type safety. Forward of that, a black metal trigger guard surrounds a black metal adjustable two-stage trigger. Forward of that is the muzzle and the upper part of the receiver which houses a red fiber optic front sight. The top of the receiver has dovetails so that a scope or red dot sight can be mounted. On top of the receiver, at the extreme aft end is a green fiber optic rear sight that is adjustable for windage and elevation.

What makes the HW45 really interesting is that, compared to other spring-piston air pistols, it is built backwards. If you look at the RWS LP8 pistol http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/rws.html#LP8 for example, you’ll see that it is longer and heavier than the HW45 and built essentially like a scaled-down breakbarrel air rifle. When you cock the LP8, you pull the barrel down and back toward the pistol grip. The process shoves the piston and spring back, toward the rear sight. When you pull the trigger on the LP8, the piston rockets forward and then bounces back off the cushion of compressed air at the end of the compression chamber near the front of the LP8. The muzzle tends to kick up in the air.

G12 HW45 177 006

When you are cocking the HW45, however, you are pulling the rear of the upper part of the receiver up and forward, toward the front sight. This pulls the spring and piston toward the front sight. When you trigger the shot, the spring and piston rush toward the back of the gun and then bounce off the compressed air near the transfer port at the rear of the HW45, which tends to rotate the muzzle downward.

In either pistol, the whole forward and back recoil cycle happens very quickly. But if you shoot with a tight grip on the pistol at first and then loosen it with subsequent shots, what you will tend to notice is that, with the LP8 as you loosen your grip the point of impact will tend to rise, but with the HW45 as you loosen your grip, the point of impact will tend to drop.

The HW45 has a crisp, clean trigger and it kicks hard (for an air pistol) when the shot goes off. (First stage of the trigger on the sample that I tested measured 1 lb. 5.3 oz. Second stage measured 2 lb. 7 oz.) But that, quite frankly, is part of the fun. The HW45 launches 7.9 grain pellets at 451 fps average, and that is hard enough to be useful for defending the bird feeder or the garden at short range. I have successfully used the HW45 to dispatch a squirrel that was causing problems in our attic. See http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2008/10/noise-in-attic.html and http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2008/10/noise-in-attic-part-ii.html

The HW45 is a fun and challenging air pistol to shoot. Sure, it’s got its own ways, pilgrim, but over time I’ve come to really enjoy this unique pistol.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

G12 Remington resettable target 002

It was Leigh Wilcox, proprietor of the now-defunct Airgun Express, who memorably said to me several years ago: “Fun targets fall down, break, or bleed.”

And he was right. While I enjoy shooting at paper targets, there are times when I just crave to shoot at a target that does something when a pellet clobbers it fair and square.

Recently the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me a large box with a bunch of goodies in it. In addition to a bunch of packing peanuts, there were several air pistols and, at the very bottom, a largish green box that said “Remington Airgun Target.” It also said, “Auto reset,” which I don’t think is exactly correct, but we’ll get to that in a little while.

G12 Remington resettable target 003

Remington manufactures a line of airgun targets. The one that I was sent was a metal silhouette of a wild boar with a 12-inch heavy metal spike attached. The target is very similar to the targets used in field target competition, but it isn’t quite the same. Field targets are designed with a hole – the kill zone – at some location on the face plate of the target. There is a paddle behind the hole, and when a pellet passes through the kill zone and hits the paddle, the target falls down. The target must then be pulled upright using a long string that is attached to the face plate of the target.

G12 Remington resettable target 004

The Remington wild boar resettable target that I was sent has a metal face plate with a hole in it, and behind the kill zone is a paddle. But when a pellet hits the paddle, the entire target does not fall down. Instead, the paddle tilts backwards, and it is clearly visible to the shooter that the paddle is no longer behind the kill zone. To reset the target, the airgunner must shoot the second paddle which is hanging below the face plate. When that paddle is struck with a pellet, it causes the first paddle – the one behind the kill zone – to pop back up to its upright position.

G12 Remington resettable target 005

So while the Remington resettable target is not exactly “automatic” – that is, it doesn’t reset itself without any intervention from the shooter – it does reset without having to pull a string. As another part of the package says, it is a “shoot-to-reset target.” As such, it saves the shooter from the hassle of having to lay out up to 50 yards of string (depending, of course, on the distance) and having to wind it all back up again, as you would with a conventional field target.

G12 Remington resettable target 007

What makes the Remington resettable target particularly appealing is that offers the shooter the ability to vary the size of the kill zone. The basic size of the kill zone is 1.5 inches, but there are two metal inserts that can be rotated into the kill zone to reduce its size to 1 inch or .5 inch.

This target is intended only for use with lead pellets, and several places on the package it says that it is not to be used with non-lead pellets or BBs because of the risk of ricochet. There is one very curious note on the package. It says: “Minimum distance: .177 cal 1000+ fps 25 yards, .22 cal 800+ fps 35 yards. Presumably this is to prevent damage to the target which would probably take the form of dents to the metal. I would guess that most airgunners would find hitting a half-inch kill zone at 35 yards pretty challenging. I know that I would.

The Remington resettable target doesn’t come with any written instructions that I could find, but its use is pretty straightforward. After a while, however, the face plate and the paddles will become smeared with gray lead from the pellets so that eventually it will become difficult to see the paddle clearly behind the kill zone. When that happens, a little spray paint – flat black for the faceplate and yellow for the paddles – will make everything visible again.

The Remington resettable target is simply a lot of fun. If you are an airgunner, you need one of these. It will put a grin on your face.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

G12 S&W CO2 revolver 005

This week we are continuing our exploration of replica air pistols with one of my personal favorites, the Smith & Wesson 6″ revolver. This .177 caliber revolver is a replica of the Smith & Wesson powder-burning revolver, and it looks and feels like the real thing.

The 6-inch Smith weighs 2 pounds 12 ounces and is 11.5 inches long. It has a 6-inch rifle barrel, a 10-shot rotary magazine and is powered by a 12-grain CO2 cartridge hidden in the pistol grip. The Smith can shoot both double action (where you pull the trigger to cock the hammer and discharge the shot) and single action (where you cock the hammer first, then discharge the shot by pulling the trigger.

G12 S&W CO2 revolver 006

The entire pistol is polished, blued metal, with the exception of the rubber grips (it also comes in a nickel finish). On the left side of the frame, below the hammer and just forward of the pistol grip, is the pellet clip release lever. To ready the pistol for shooting, press the pellet clip release forward. This will release the pellet clip, allowing you to swing the 10-shot magazine out to the left. Remove the magazine from the shaft. Set it aside for the moment.

G12 S&W CO2 revolver 008

Next remove the right hand grip by prying it up at the forward edge near the trigger guard. This reveals a chamber into which you will insert a 12-gram CO2 cartridge with the small end pointed toward the hammer. 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. 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 may require considerable effort. This should pierce the CO2 cartridge. To confirm this, point the pistol in a safe direction, 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 certain that the pistol is discharging CO2, it’s time to load the rotary magazine. With the ratchet teeth facing you, insert pellets headfirst into the ten pellet bays, taking care that the pellet skirt is level with or slightly below the edge of the pellet bay.

Slide the magazine back onto its shaft with the ratchet teeth facing toward the hammer, and swing the magazine back into position. You are good to go, and you can shoot the S&W either double action or single.

G12 S&W CO2 revolver 007

And this is the point in the testing process where I was mightily surprised. This is my favorite replica pistol, and I enjoy shooting it a fair amount. My personal pistol is tricked out with a red dot sight but otherwise it is unmodified. Further, I never found it particular bothersome to shoot double action, although I prefer to shoot it single action because the trigger is lighter.

So imagine my surprise when I tested the Smith with my electronic trigger gauge and found that double-action shooting required an astonishing 9 pounds 4 ounces of effort on the trigger. Shooting in single-action mode, the trigger weight is considerably less but still required 6 pounds 4 ounces of effort. Before I made the measurement, I would have guessed that double-action mode required about 6 pounds of effort and single action, maybe 2.5 pounds. I tested both my pistol and the sample that www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me and got similar results with both.

So why doesn’t the S&W feel heavier to shoot? My theory is that the ergonomics of the grip and the trigger work together especially well (at least for my hands), particularly when shooting with a two-handed weaver grip.

The factory says that the Smith will deliver up to 426 fps, and I believe it. At 10 feet, I found that it would punch through a soup can most of the time, and, if you loaded the magazine with ultralight non-lead pellets, it would blow through one side of the can all the time and very often punch an exit hole through the other side. Of course, like other 12-gram CO2 powered air pistols, if you shoot very fast, the velocity and the penetration force will drop. Nevertheless, I think that the Smith packs enough wallop that it could be used for control of small pests (for example, a rat trapped in a garage) at short range.

In the end, I like the S&W 6-inch revolver a whole lot and can recommend it for pistol shooting fun.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

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

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

m4s0n501

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