Where I live in upstate New York, this is the time of year when the window of opportunity for 50-yard airgun testing begins to close, at least for me. The days are shortening; the weather is cold and damp; and once the serious snow flies, I won’t be able to get to get to the 50-yard range at the gun club at all. Once that happens, the longest range that I can conveniently manage at home is about 39 yards. (Besides, I rarely do my best work when my teeth are chattering.)
But every once in a while in November, we get a nice warm day like last Friday (November 14, 2008). As the temperature headed toward 60, I called my friend Dick Johnson (an excellent centerfire benchrest competitor). We agree to meet at the range at 2 pm. He brought his Oehler printing chronometer and his “professional” bench rests, and I brought three .22 air rifles.
The first, which I won’t mention here until I get some more time to sort it out, didn’t do so hot. The second was an RWS54 in .22. It turned in entirely worthy performance, and I will be writing about it here in a future blog. But the big surprise of the day was the Benjamin Discovery in .22.
The Discovery is Crosman Corporation’s inexpensive pre-charged pneumatic air rifle. By inexpensive, I mean it can be purchased with a pump for less than $400, and without a pump for less than $250.
Weighing just 5 lbs 2 oz and stretching 39 inches end to end, the Discovery is a bolt-action, single-shot rifle that is available in either .177 or .22. It has the capability to run off either compressed air or CO2. You can fill it with compressed air from a hand pump or tank or with CO2 from a paintball tank using an optional filler hose. In addition, the Discovery is a low-pressure PCP, which means you have to fill it only to 2,000 psi, not 3,000 psi or higher, as is common with other pre-charged pneumatic air rifles.
After mounting a Leaper 6-24 x 56 scope and sighting it in, I pumped the Discovery up to 2,000 psi and settled it onto the rests. I tried 5-shot groups with Discovery .22 hollow points, Dynamic SN-2 pellets, and JSB Jumbo Express Exacts and got mediocre results. Admittedly by this point in the afternoon, conditions were deteriorating. A front was moving into the area; the wind was gusting intermittently; the temperature was beginning to drop; and the sun was dropping toward the horizon.
Then I switched to .22 Crosman Premiers, and magic happened. Five shots landed in a group measuring 1 inch edge to edge (that works out to .78 inch ctc). After the first two shots, there was a lull in the wind. The next three shots really got my attention: they created a single hole in the target measuring .375 edge to edge. That’s .155 ctc. Not too shabby.
Considering that this was an absolutely box-stock, unmodified, factory fresh .22 Discovery, I am very impressed with the results.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott