LX100 creche 001

It has become, it appears, a tradition – every year one of the cable TV stations runs a marathon of the 1983 movie A Christmas Story. Based on Jean’s Shepherd’s wonderful book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, it tells the story of a young boy who wanted for Christmas “a Red Ryder range model carbine with a compass in the stock and a thing that tells time.” Every time he expresses his heartfelt desire to an adult, he receives the rejoinder: “you’ll shoot your eye out.”

If you haven’t seen A Christmas Story, do your utmost to see it. You’re in for a treat.

It’s been said that life imitates art, and that’s certainly true of A Christmas Story. When Shepherd consulted with folks at Daisy about the film, they told him that he had not remembered correctly, that he had confused the Red Ryder and the model 107 Buck Jones, which had the compass and sundial. Shepherd insisted he was right. Daisy made a sample for him and then decided to actually produce Red Ryder air rifles with the compass and sundial in 1983 and 1984. If you’re lucky enough to have one of these rare models, just remember: it came after the movie.

There is a scene near the end of the movie in which Christmas has come, all the presents have been opened, and Ralphie has not received his BB gun. Then his Dad says, “What’s that over there?” It turns out to be the Red Ryder, what Ralphie says is “the best present I have ever gotten.”

The same thing happened to me, well before the movie was ever made. I was ten, sitting in the living room with my Dad. The opening of presents was over, and I was disappointed. I hadn’t gotten my BB gun. But, just like in the movie, my Dad said, “Wait a minute, there’s another present over here.”

And he pulled a long, slim box from behind the couch. In it was my first Daisy. It was beginning of many happy hours for me and my Dad. It was a Daisy Pump 25. We shot it into cardboard boxes in the basement of the apartment building where we lived. I remember the thrill when I smacked a small, pocket-sized matchbox with a BB and got it to tumble through the air.

I took that BB gun with me went I spent summers in Vermont with my grandparents. The boy across the road had a Daisy Red Ryder, and we spent many a happy day roaming the woods and fields with our BB guns. I can’t even begin to count how many tubes of BBs I ran through that Pump 25, but eventually the internal parts became so worn that it would automatically discharge a BB as soon as the pump handle was returned to its original position. This, however, did not deter me: I would make like The Rifleman – bang-bang-bang-bang!

Eventually that Pump 25 was retired, but it was beginning of a lifetime of shooting enjoyment and – eventually – to me writing this blog.

If you have any great airgunning memories – from the holidays or otherwise – and would like to share them for possible use in this blog, you can reach me at jock(dot)Elliott(at)gmail(dot)com I would love to hear from you.

It is my heartfelt wish that all the readers of this blog find peace, love, and joy with family and friends this holiday season. Here at El Rancho Elliott, we celebrate Christmas, but whatever tradition you celebrate, may you and yours be blessed.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

shane

By all accounts, the 2014 Extreme Benchrest match was a rip-roaring success. More than 100 shooters from 16 states and 6 countries came to Arizona to compete in Extreme Benchrest (75 yards!), 25-meter benchrest, outdoor speed silhouette, field target and a 10-yard indoor pistol match.

The event, which has been held the last 4 years, is a team effort by the staff of www.airgunsofarizona.com and bolstered by a number of clubs that helped to make all of it possible: Phoenix Benchrest for running the 25 Meter event, Precision Airguns and Supplies for sponsoring the Speed Silhouette event, Quail Creek Airgun club for running the Dirty Bird and Milbro dart events and the Airgunners of Arizona FT club for running the Field Target event.

Shane Kellar was match director for Extreme Benchrest. “My biggest concern was that something would go wrong and throw the timing off. We were running from sun up to sun down – from 6:30 am to 5:30 pm – and any glitch would result in the last relay of shooters running out of daylight.”

You might well think that the responsibility to run the match might take all the competitive spirit out of a person, but not Kellar. He entered and won both the speed silhouette match and the 25 meter benchrest.

The speed silhouette is, in my view, a fascinating competition. The objective is to knock down 16 silhouettes in the shortest time possible. Competitors shoot from front rests only and must shoot either single shot rifles or, in the case of repeaters, with magazines empty. They can’t stage any pellets; they have to start with them in a tin. They shoot at chickens at 30 yards, pigs at 40 yards, turkeys at 50 yards, and rams at 60 yards. At the starter’s signal, shooters begin loading their guns or their magazines, and the match is on.

In years past, individuals with stop watches would stand by the benches, start the watches at the beginning of the match and then click the watches off as the individual shooters finished the course. But as shooters got better and better, and times got closer and closer, it became obvious that a better timing system was needed.

So Kellar and Greg Glover of Airguns of Arizona developed a new timing system. The rangemaster punches a button and a master clock starts for all 20 benches. As each shooter finishes, they punch a button to stop the clock for their shooting position. It’s very similar to the timing system used for Olympic swimmers. “Greg and I were pretty stressed, hoping the new system would behave flawlessly,” Kellar says. It did, and after the first relay, he was able to relax.

Shooting an FX Verminator that was launching JSB .22 15.89 gr pellets at around 850 fps and loading pellets directly into the breech, Kellar was able to drop the 16 silhouette targets in just over a minute: 1:07.34. “I missed two shots and dry fired once,” he says.

In the 25 meter benchrest match, he shot an FX Royale BR, which was sending .22 caliber JSB 18 gr pellets downrange at 885 fps. After three relays, his total score was 736 (out of 750) with 25Xs. He was tied for scores and Xs with another shooter, so the tie was decided by look at the first card. The first person not to shoot a 10 comes in second.

He says, “Obviously I wanted to shoot well, but even more important, I wanted to make sure that the 100 people who showed up had a great experience. I am deeply grateful to all the folks from AoA and all the clubs who bent over backwards to make that happen.”

“It’s very gratifying to have shooters come up to us after the match and say they had a great time. We listen to their feedback and plan on incorporating a lot of their suggestions into next year’s match.”

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

 

It was my wife who interrupted my train of thought. “Did you see this thing on the news? A boy got shot in Cleveland, and they say he had a pellet gun.”

“Oh boy,” I thought. “This sucks.”

The facts of the case, as reported by the Associated Press on Nov. 26, appear to be as follows: “Tamir Rice was shot Saturday (Nov. 22, 2014) by an officer responding to a call about someone with a gun near a playground. Police say the boy’s airsoft gun looked like a real firearm and was missing an orange safety indicator. Police say Tamir pulled it from his waistband after being told to raise his hands.”

A couple of Crosman airsoft pistols showing the orange indicator tip.

A couple of Crosman airsoft pistols showing the orange indicator tip.

What was originally reported to be a pellet gun turned out to be an airsoft pistol. Airsoft rifles and pistols are replicas of firearms that shoot 6 mm plastic BBs. Airsoft guns are considered to be non-lethal and, for the most part, non-injurious (eye protection is required and the only other airsoft injury that I have heard of is a chipped tooth), and they are used for target shooting, scenario play, firearms practice, and force-on-force training by various government agencies. By law, all airsoft pistols and rifles sold in the United States are equipped with an orange safety tip that indicates that they are not actual firearms. A Wikipedia report on the shooting says that the orange safety tip on Rice’s airsoft pistol was “removed.”

This is a lamentable situation; any way you play it, it is a tragedy for everyone involved: for Tamir Rice, his family, and for the officers involved in the shooting.

My daughter, a grown woman with a career of her own, said emphatically, “He (meaning Tamir Rice) shouldn’t be dead.”

I spoke with a friend who is a gun-carrying sworn officer to find out some of the basics of police training. Police are trained to regard any situation with a firearm as serious and to regard any report of a weapon as a real weapon until proven otherwise. They are also trained to consider “context.” A person with a gun in the woods may have a reason to be there (he’s hunting), whereas a person with a gun outside a grocery store or on a playground is a far different situation.

“Perception is incredibly important,” my friend said. “If you point an airsoft gun out a window and someone sees it and thinks it is a real gun, people are going to treat you like it is a real gun. It doesn’t matter what you intended, what matters is what the other person perceives.”

Further, police are trained to address the threat – that’s their job. If someone reports “a person with a gun,” the police have to deal with it. To do otherwise, is to risk that the “person with a gun” may kill or injure others.

If the police perceive that they are under threat of deadly physical force – for example, by a person reaching for a gun or pointing a gun at them – they are trained to respond to the threat of deadly physical force with deadly physical force to defend themselves or someone else. Further, they are trained to shoot until the threat is neutralized. A kid who is taking an airsoft gun to a place where it may be perceived as a real weapon is putting himself in harm’s way, and you can’t hit reset afterwards and play the game again.

So what does that mean for the readers of this blog? First, don’t walk around in public areas with an airsoft gun, air rifle or air pistol. Don’t show it and don’t point it at people you don’t know. Keep it on private property (or other areas where it is proper to have it, like a gun range), and don’t leave the property with it. If traveling in a car, make sure that it can’t be seen. And don’t remove, cover, paint or tape over the orange safety tip on airsoft pistols and rifles; it could make a misunderstanding over whether an airsoft “weapon” is real even more dangerous.

If you are a parent, drill these principles into your kid’s heads. Make sure that they understand that’s it is not what they intend, but what others perceive, that can make the difference between fun and tragedy in handling airsoft guns and pellet and BB guns.

Further, if you will be shooting on your property, and there is the possibility that the neighbor may see “a person with a gun,” talk to them ahead of time, and make sure they understand what you are doing, and that you are concerned for everyone’s safety.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

 

If someone were to back at the more than 300 blogs I have written for www.airgunsofarizona and ask “What were the most important ones?” My answer might surprise you.

I have been extremely fortunate in my tenure here. I’ve had the opportunity to test literally hundreds of really neat air rifles and air pistols, to interview champions about their shooting skills and practice routines, to talk with airgun manufacturers, and to do some admittedly zany experiments. It has been, for the most part, a lot of fun.

Sure, not every day has been a trip to Santa’s lap; there have been days when I couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn, when airguns have misbehaved, or when scope mounts were in active rebellion, but those times have been rare. And I have been blessed to work with the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com, although at a distance of a couple of thousand miles. It is a common misunderstanding among the people who respond to the blog. They think I am in close proximity to Airguns of Arizona; I am not. Airguns of Arizona is just where it is supposed to be – in Arizona. I am in upstate New York.

But if you press me about which blogs have I written that were truly important, I would have to say there is no contest: the important blogs were the ones about safety. When first started writing about airguns well over a decade ago, I mistakenly thought that it had been years since anyone had been killed by misadventure with an airgun. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Deaths from airguns do occur.

In my view, there shouldn’t be any deaths or injuries from airguns because they are completely preventable. Here’s how: never, ever point an airgun or an air pistol at anything you don’t want to see perforated, broken, injured, destroyed, or killed.

That’s the Big Secret of airgun safety (in fact, all gun safety): always, always, ALWAYS keep your air rifle or air pistol pointed in a safe direction. If it is pointed in a safe direction, even if somehow, magically, the airgun goes off by itself without human intervention, it can only shoot where it is pointed. It can’t hurt a person or animal or destroy property if it is not pointed at them. And don’t point the airgun someplace where it could ricochet and cause damage that way.

All the other rules of gun safety – treat every gun as if it were loaded, and so forth – follow from rule one: never, ever point an airgun or an air pistol at anything you don’t want to see perforated, broken, injured, destroyed, or killed.

Another good rule to follow is to make sure that everyone on the firing line has eye protection.

Kids generally need adult supervision to make sure that they follow rule one. Check that — let me put it a bit stronger: if you are not 100% totally certain that the kids in question will follow rule one all of the time, they need adult supervision.

Now, what does adult supervision entail? Watching from the kitchen window to make sure the kids don’t shoot each other? No. Telling the kids as they go out the door to “be safe?” No.

Adult supervision means being close enough to redirect the muzzle of the airgun if that becomes necessary. Some kids are great at following the rules while others have extremely poor impulse control. Further, kids these days have grown up in general playing video games where they can get away with extremely dangerous behavior, hit reset afterwards, and everything is fine. Unfortunately, in the real world, things can go from fine to disastrous in a few thoughtless moments.

So do the right thing: read about airgun safety in detail here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2013/12/airguns-101-the-basics-safety.html and supervise the kids!

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

 

 

G12 FWB Sport 004There is one thing on the FWB Sport that is a bit unusual: on the dovetails on top of the receiver, there are no holes for anti-recoil pins on a scope mount. Instead there are four horizontal grooves like the ones that are on the dovetails on my FWB 150/300 match rifle. You might be able to fit an anti-recoil pin into one of those grooves, but if the scope moves at all, it might mess up the finish on the rifle.

I decided to use a one-piece mount that has four Allen bolts to mount a Vortex scope, and I had not problems with movement of the scope or mount.

G12 FWB Sport 002

The FWB Sport locks up very snugly, so you have to slap the barrel near the front sight with the palm of your hand to get the action to break open. After that you can grab the barrel and crank it down and back to cock the action and open the breech for loading. I estimate the cocking effort is in the mid-30-pound range, and you’ll hear a little bit of spring noise during the process.

Next, slide a .177 pellet into the aft end of the barrel and return it to is original position. Take aim at your target, push the safety forward to the FIRE position (there is a little red indicator for that), and squeeze the trigger. The first stage requires 1 pound 4 ounces of effort, and a 2 pounds even, the shot goes down range. The trigger is very, very crisp.

G12 FWB Sport 006

The action exhibits a little bit of vibration and a little bit of rattle when the shot goes off, but this is heard, not felt, at the shooter’s position. There is no bucking on twisting, and that makes it easy to shoot this air rifle well.

The FWB sport launches 7.9 grain Crosman Premier Pellets at around 900 feet per second. The accuracy is simply excellent. At 13 yards, I put four pellets into a round hole about the size of a .22 caliber pellet and I yanked a fifth shot. At 32 yards, the FWB Sport put five pellets into a group that measured just 5/8 inch from edge to edge or .448 inch center-to-center. This is an air rifle that I would happily campaign in Hunter Class Spring Piston Field Target competition. Based on the way this air rifle shoots and feels, it inspires confidence when you get to the firing line, and that is critically important.

In the end, I think FWB has succeeded in creating a legacy air rifle. It looks and shoots great and should last for years.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

m4s0n501

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