Archive for December 2008

It never ceases to amaze me when I read in an online forum how some airgunner got himself crossways with a neighbor and then a Very Great Unpleasantness ensues. With a little forethought, it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you are planning to shoot an airgun in your back yard for the first time, or if you have been shooting in your back yard for some time, but now you suddenly have a new neighbor, here are some things to think about.

Know the law. Find out from a reputable source – like the local police, the town clerk, or perhaps the local library – what the law is regarding shooting airguns where you live.

Prepare a safe shooting range. Make sure you have a clear lane of fire and a safe backstop for your pellets. Further, make sure that your shooting lane appears safe to the neighbors. You may be shooting at a pellet trap, and you may know that you never miss the pellet trap, but if your air rifle or air pistol is pointed directly at the neighbor’s house, you would be well advised to have some additional protection (hay bales or some other pellet-stopping barrier) between you and them.

Prepare the neighbors. One of the smartest things you can do is to visit your neighbors and let them know that they might see you shooting an air rifle in your back yard. Let them know that you are shooting into a safe backstop, that there will be no ricochets, and that their kids, property and pets are absolutely safe, even if they inadvertently wander into your yard.

Do not take your air rifle or air pistol with you when you go to talk to them. Above all, they want reassurance that you take safety seriously. If your neighbors are receptive or even enthusiastic about the subject of airgun shooting, you might want to consider inviting them to participate.

Be considerate. If you know your neighbor works nights and sleeps until noon, mornings are not the time to be banging away with a big, booming precharged rifle. If you absolutely have to shoot in the mornings, you might want to use the quietest air rifle or air pistol you can find.

Be smart. If you have checked the law, and it’s legal to shoot airguns where you live, and if at the same time you notice a lot of anti-gun bumper stickers on your neighbor’s car, it would be smart to (a) not approach the neighbor about shooting in your yard and (b) shoot at unobtrusively as possible. I heard of one fellow who shoots a fully shrouded pre-charged rifle from his fully enclosed back porch into a pellet trap in his garden shed. Nobody knows what he is up to, and he is delighted to keep it that way.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

If you have rabbits in the garden, squirrels in the bird feeder, or perhaps a youngster or a young person you would like to introduce to the joys of marksmanship, the Powerline 22SG combo may be just what you are looking for.

The 22SG (the SG stands for Small Game) is a.22 caliber multi-stroke pneumatic air rifle that is 37 inches long and weighs 4.5 lbs. It has a wooden buttstock with plastic buttplate, wood forearm, metal receiver with dovetail for mounting a scope, and a 20 inch rifled steel barrel.

The Powerline 22SG combo includes a Powerline 4×32 rifle scope that has mounting rings already fastened in place. Just remove the 22X and the scope from its blister package, loosen the large knobs at the bottom of the scope mounts, slip the mounts over the scope rail on top of the receiver, and tighten the knobs. That’s all that is required for setup. Now, you’re ready for sight-in. The hardest thing in the whole process is getting the blister pack open!

The action of the 22SG is charged using the pumping lever which sits between the two halves of the forearm. The pumping effort is remarkable light, and the air rifle can be pumped up to a maximum of 10 times to deliver maximum velocity of 550 feet per second with light pellets. The pumping effort increases very little during the pumping process.

To load the 22SG, first open the breech by pulling back the bolt on the right side of the receiver. This also cocks the action. With the scope mounted on top of the receiver, loading requires placing the pellet in the slot on the top of the receiver just to the right of the breech and rolling the pellet into the breech. It’s pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it.

Now you’re good to go. Take aim, squeeze the trigger, and you’ll discover that the 22SG has a remarkably light and crisp trigger for an inexpensive air rifle. There is a muted “pop” as the shot discharges, and the pellet goes down range. At 10 pumps and 11 yards, the Daisy 22X will readily shoot nickel-sized groups (edge to edge) with the right pellet, and at 20 yards, the 22SG has the power and the accuracy to protect the garden or the bird feeder.

In his fine book American Air Rifles, James E. House said this of the 22X: “ . . . it represents a fine balance of size and weight with power and accuracy. Because of the easy pumping action of the 22X and its overall size and weight, it would be a good choice for a youngster accompanied by an adult who wants to hunt small game or shoot pests. It is a favorite of my wife . . . “

He adds, “[it] is an ideal choice for a light, trim .22 caliber pellet rifle.” I agree.

— end —

If you want to provoke a “spirited discussion” among airgunners, just raise the question: “Which caliber is best?” Pretty quick you’ll find yourself surrounded by enthusiasts, each passionately pleading the case of their favorite.

Right off, I’m going to defuse all that by saying there is no “best” caliber; there is only the caliber that works best for your intended purpose at the time. Right now, the four main calibers in airguns are .177, .20, .22 and .25. Further, I’m going to run the risk of annoying some big bore aficionados by saying that I regard calibers above .25 as really specialty items. Certainly large bore airguns have their uses and their proponents, but overall they are a small fraction of the four main calibers.

Having said that, here are some of the things you might want to think about regarding caliber.

Accuracy — Accuracy is everything as far as I’m concerned; it’s one of the main reasons I shoot airguns. Robert Buchanan, owner of Airguns of Arizona, put it very neatly: “If you miss, it doesn’t matter if you missed faster or with more power, you still missed!”

Now, here’s a trick question: what increases the odds of achieving high accuracy? Stumped? Here’s a hint – every airgun will have a particular pellet that it “likes” and will produce the best accuracy. As a result, having a wide spectrum of pellets from which to choose increases the odds of finding at least one pellet that will work well in your airgun.

So, if accuracy is your sole criterion, .177 would be the best caliber, because it offers the greatest variety of pellets. Twenty-two caliber would be close behind with the next best selection of pellets from which to choose.

Another thing to remember when considering accuracy is the range at which you plan to shoot. If you are competing in 10-meter air rifle or air pistol, the behavior of the pellet beyond 10 meters isn’t really a concern. But if you are trying to knock down field targets at 55 yards or clobber varmints at 90 yards, accuracy at long range is a clearly a factor.

Weight and weight within caliber – The lightest pellets (between 4 and 5 grains) available are .177, but it is rare to find a .177 pellet heavier than about 16 grains. By contrast, .25 caliber pellets are available as heavy as 34.9 grains and usually not lighter than 17.7 grains. To understand why this makes a difference, see the next item.

Speed and trajectory – Shot from the same airgun powerplant, a light pellet will generally fly faster than a heavy pellet. But at any given velocity, a heavier pellet will carry more energy down range and will usually retain it longer than a light pellet that was launched at the same initial speed. Because of these considerations, for a really fast, flat trajectory out to, say, 50 yards or so, you might want to select .177. But beyond that, you might want to go for a bigger caliber with heavier pellets. I have noticed, for example, that airgunners who are engaged in high-accuracy long-range shooting at 100 yards usually select .22 caliber.

Power and impact – Launched at equal velocities, a heavy pellet will typically deliver more foot-pounds of energy to the target than a light pellet. If you want hitting power and if velocity and accuracy are equal, chose the heaviest pellet and largest caliber.

Wound ballistics – Bigger pellets produce bigger holes, but smaller diameter pellets may penetrate deeper.

Availability – In local retail establishments, you’re likely to find .177 pellets are more readily available than any other caliber, with .22 coming in a close second. .20 pellets are rarely available in ordinary retail outlets, and I’ve never seen .25 caliber pellets available anywhere except for in an online airgun store. Airguns of Arizona tells me that the bulk of their pellet sales are split roughly equally between .177 and .22. They add that sales of .20 appear to be waning, while demand for .25 pellets is rising.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

Before we get started this time, there is a new video in the Airguns of Arizona video showcase. You might want to check it out.

Okay, now down to business. Brown Santa (the UPS guy) showed up the other day with a small box. In it was a Benjamin EB22 air pistol, and I’ve got to tell you that after playing with it for a little while, it is my new favorite pistol.

The EB22 is a .22 caliber, single-shot, bolt-action, CO2 powered pistol. Overall length is just nine inches, and the weight is 28 ounces. Let’s take a brief tour. The fit and finish are, I think, just right for a pistol in this price range. All the metal is black with the exception of the silver metal trigger and silver bolt at the back of the receiver. Under the receiver is the metal pistol grip frame, which is fitted with a couple of dark-colored hardwood grips. Ahead of the grips is a safety button. Push it full left to allow the EB22 to fire. Just forward of that is the silver metal trigger inside the black metal trigger guard.

Above the trigger guard is the tube that holds the 12-gram CO2 Powerlet that powers the EB22. At the end of the tube is a black knurled metal knob, the filler cap. Above that are the muzzle of the 6.38-inch brass barrel and the front sight. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the breech and the loading port. Behind that are the rear sight and the bolt.

To get the EB22 ready for shooting, remove the filler cap and insert a CO2 Powerlet small-end-first into the tube under the barrel. To ease removal of spent Powerlets, it’s helpful if you smear a dab of Pellgunoil on the end and around the neck of the Powerlet. Replace the filler cap and make sure it is completely screwed into place. Cock the action by rotating the bolt knob ¼ turn counterclockwise and pull it full back until you hear two clicks and it stays back. Put the EB22 off “safe” and pull the trigger. This should puncture the CO2 Powerlet, and you should hear a “pop.” If not, reactivate the safety, tighten the filler cap, and repeat the procedure.

Once the CO2 cartridge has been punctured, safe the pistol, cock the action again, insert a pellet into the breech, close the bolt and rotate it clockwise until it locks. Now you’re good to go. Take aim at your target, click off the safety, and squeeze the trigger. At around 2.5 pounds pull, the shot goes down range at velocities up to 430 fps, depending upon the pellet weight. You can expect 25 to perhaps 35 shots per cartridge before the velocity really starts to die.

There a bunch of things I like about this pistol. First is how well made it is – it’s all brass, metal, and hardwood; you won’t find a scrap of plastic on it. The second is its handy, compact size. Third, the EB22 appears to have sufficient power for defending the bird feeder or garden at short range. Crosman rates the EB22 as useful for target shooting, small pest control, and large pest control. Based on my casual tests on inanimate objects, I believe it. Fourth, the accuracy is decent – a bit better, at 7-10 yards, than what I can achieve shooting a Beeman P1 standing and two-handed. Fifth, the EB22 is just plain fun. Thanks to the CO2 powerplant, it’s a low-effort pistol. No pumping, no heavy cocking effort; just load and shoot.

To me, it’s a wonderful pistol for an afternoon of “competitive plinking” in the back yard.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

Well, it’s that time of year again. Time for peace on earth, goodwill toward men, and the exchange of presents.

And so it is with visions of shiny airguns dancing in my head that I got to thinking about Christmas presents for airgunners. Then I got to thinking about presents we could give each other as airgunners, and I’ve come up with some that are low cost and … THERE ARE NO PAYMENTS UNTIL JUNE 2009! (Sorry, I’ve seen just one too many holiday commercials.)

The first present that we can give each other is to try to be more courteous in the online forums. And one way to do that is to “pause on the reply.” Put simply, it means, when you’re checking out a post on a forum, and you’ve just seen something that tweaks your sensibilities (for whatever reason, it could be a misspelling, an outright stupidity, a misstatement of fact, arrogance or whatever), giving a little extra pause and reread the post before you reply. You may find the thing you found offensive wasn’t so bad the second time around, or that this is an obvious newbie whose ignorance should be forgiven, or – Heaven forfend – that you misread the post the first time around. Pausing on the reply provides a moment or two of reflection before we jump in with our thoughts.

It might be just me, but I’ve found there are very few times when I have regretted what I didn’t say, but many times when I have regretted not holding my tongue. Besides, a well-considered reply is very, VERY classy.

Another gift we could give to our hobby would be to spread the word about how neat airgunning is. Consider addressing a group at a local gun or archery club or a group of boy or girl scouts. Show up with a few of your prize pneumatic tackdrivers, show them how they work, and tell them how much fun they are. A small amount of your time could plant a seed that could later become a proud new airgun aficionado. (You might also consider donating guns, ammo, or other equipment to youth shooting organizations.)

Another great present to give is to be a mentor for someone who is just getting into airgunning. It doesn’t matter if they are young or old. all that matters is that, if they have an interest and you can help, you can provide a great introduction to this wonderful hobby of ours.

Another gift is the contribution of your physical help with airgunning projects. If there is an airgunning club near you, offer to help with clearing lanes, setting up targets, or whatever else needs doing. All too often, a ton of work falls on a very few people. Step up. Help out. And when you do, don’t be surprised if, in the end, you find you’ve received far more than you have given.

Until the next time, I hope your and yours enjoy the peace and joy of the holidays.

— Jock Elliott