Archive for April 2009

The left side of the Crosman 600, showing the built-in magazine just forward of the rear sight and the cocking slide just below the magazine.

For years I had been hearing about the Crosman 600 pistol, how neat it is, how it is a classic. I had seen pictures of the 600, and I had read rave reviews of them in the online forums, but I had never shot one until just the other day.

The good folks at Airguns of Arizona had picked up a 600 as part of a massive buy of vintage airguns. This particular 600 had some seal problems that needed to be sorted out. When the repair was completed, AoA asked me if I’d like to give it a try before it went on to its rightful owner.

Sure, I said, and a few days later Brown Santa delivered a box containing the Crosman 600. The 600 stretches about 9.l75 inches from muzzle to the end of the receiver and 5.5 inches from the top of the receiver to the bottom of the pistol grip. The sample I played with weighed 2 lbs 10 oz unloaded. The entire 600 is amazingly solidly constructed out of metal. The only plastic that I could detect are the target-style grips.

The 600 was introduced in 1960, and, according to DT Fletcher’s book, 75 Years of Crosman Airguns, was produced until 1970. A flyer or advertisement from 1960 reproduced in his book calls the 600 “the world’s most advanced pellet pistol. . . Revolutionary! . . . 10 shots in less than 3 seconds . . . with match target accuracy.”

It goes on to say: “Patented, fast, boltless Swing-Feed loading . . . Gun holds on target; no lag, no sticking, no jump . . . Top target accuracy.”

The built-in magazine with the slide back, reading for loading.

Having now shot the Crosman 600, I can only say that it lives up to the marketing material. To get it ready for shooting. Unscrew the cap on the end of the air tube under the muzzle. Insert a CO2 powerlet with the neck facing outward. Screw in the cap which has a piercing pin. Next, push the slide on the built in magazine all the way back and lock it in place. Carefully feed in 10 .22 caliber flat nose pellets (I used Beeman .22 H&N match wadcutter pellets) so that the head of pellet faces toward the muzzle. Release the magazine slide and pull back the cocking slide just below it until it latches.

The righthand side of the Crosman 600.

Now you’re good to go. Ease the first stage out of the trigger. Squeeze a bit more, and at 2 lbs 3 oz, the shot goes down range with a solid “Pop!” In the same instant, the action cycles, readying the next shot and cocking the action. Squeeze the trigger as fast as you like, and the pellets go effortlessly down range. This is quite simply the fastest, easiest rapid-fire air pistol I’ve ever shot. (Although, of the modern crop of repeater air pistols, the Beretta PX4 Storm acquits itself very well. I’ll be writing about it in another blog.)

The Crosman 600 truly is a classic. If you are luck enough to own one, take good care of it and enjoy it often, because it is absolutely a pleasure to shoot.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

First of all, you need to know my wife thinks I’m sick. If there’s any kind of disaster movie on TV or an account of how someone survived in the wilds after a plane crash or other misadventure, I’m all over it, drinking in the details. I’m not entirely sure what drives this curiosity, but over the years, I’ve amassed a fair amount of material about survival skills, and there is a great deal of it on the world wide web.

A couple of years ago, I ran across the U.S. Rescue & Special Operations Group. In their own words, “This site was created specifically for military personnel that could easily find themselves in a foreign country, without the vast assets of the United States military’s tactical or logistical support. In places where not only the people are a threat but maybe the weather and terrain conditions are as well. Those places that are referred to as the “Wild Places” of the world that a human being is moved down a few notches on the food chain (some times literally). . .” And: “Although this site was put together with SOCOM units in mind, any one can utilize this site and gain some type of information that may save their lives or their buddy’s life in a moment of life threatening chaos. . .”

One of the things that USRSOG offers is a terrific training manual called “Six Ways in and Twelve Ways Out.” Anyone can buy it for just $13, and I recommend it as an excellent resource. One of the recommendations made in the manual is for a survival firearm: a .22 target pistol equipped with a red dot because it is small, light, easily transportable, and “Every mammal on this planet has been taken with a .22 caliber bullet at one time or another. Not to mention the reptiles and some aquatic species as well. A.K.A “ED” rendered a deer to possession with his 5 inch heavy barreled S&W, at 65 yards.”

The folks at USRSOG recommend practicing on golf ball-sized balloons or balloons blown up no bigger than a tennis ball. Now, my neighbors are going to get cranky, cranky, cranky if I start shooting a .22LR pistol in my yard. So I thought: why not get in some inexpensive practice time with an air pistol?

So here’s Uncle Jock’s recipe for a whole lot of fun and good practice at a very reasonable price:

– an air pistol
– a red dot
– some suitable pellets
– a bag of wiffle golf balls

Sprinkle the golf balls around the yard and have at it! I tried it, and all I can say is, don’t blame me if you’re still out there popping wiffle golf balls while someone is yelling that you’re late for dinner. And if you don’t think this is fun, see a doctor; your fun gland needs some help.

Below is my Gamo Compact single-stroke pneumatic pistol equipped with a CenterPoint red dot (I had to change the rings to clamp the red dot to the pistol), but if you want to trick out your Beeman P1 or Crosman Silhouette pistol with a red dot, they will work just fine.

The Gamo Compact with a red dot mounted is docile to shoot and wickedly accurate.

Another option is the Beretta PX4 Storm. It’s a full blowback semiautomatic that shoots pellets or BBs. Fire eight shots, eject the clip, and fire eight more. With a weapon like this in your hands, those golf balls better watch out!

The PX4 Storm is a rapid-firing repeater and lots of fun.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

Let’s suppose, just for fun, that in a moment of high spiritedness you decided you’d like to really turn some heads the next time you visit the range or go out slinging lead with your airgunning pals.

The HW45 STL is just flat gorgeous.

Let me humbly suggest that an HW45 STL might just be the item you need to do the trick. The STL is the two-tone version of the HW45/Beeman P1 pistol, and – to my eye, anyway – with its black upper, stainless-look lower, and black grips, is one gorgeous piece of goods. In addition, the STL has those micro-adjustable fiber optic sights that I found so useful on the .20 cal P1 pistol.

The STL is available only in .177 caliber and is functionally identical to the Beeman P1 and P11 in .177. That means you can probably expect an STL to launch Crosman Premier 7.9 gr. pellets at around 520 fps. With Beeman Laser 6.5 gr. pellets, you might see velocities around 550 fps and with Dynamic SN1 7.95 gr. non-lead pellets, about 490 fps.

I was chatting with classic airgun collector Mike Driskill, and he pointed out some things about the HW45/P1 and its variants that I hadn’t really thought about before.

“If you look at the HW45,” he says, “the piston works backwards. A pistol like the RWS P5 is like a scaled down breakbarrel rifle. You crank the barrel down to cock the gun, and you’re driving the piston and spring back, toward the palm of your shooting hand. When you trigger the shot, the spring and piston rocket forward, just like a break barrel rifle.”

Driskill added, “But cocking the HW45 or P1 is totally different. You pull back the ‘hammer’ to release the rear of the upper, and then you pull the rear part of the upper up and forward to cock the pistol. While you’re doing that, you’re actually dragging the spring and piston toward the muzzle of the pistol until they latch.”

Here's the HW45 STL at the end of the cocking stroke.

“Now, here comes the really interesting part,” Driskill says. “When you trigger the shot, the spring and piston leap toward your hand . . . and you remember what Newton said about equal and opposite reactions . . . that means this will tend to push the nose of the HW45 forward. Since the action sits above your gripping hand, this in turn rotates the muzzle downward. When the piston comes to a stop, the nose of the gun pops up, which is all you really notice when firing since it all happens so quickly. But the pellet already left the muzzle when it was being shoved down.”

He adds, “If you view the HW45 from the side, you’ll notice that the rear sight is higher than the front sight. That’s to compensate for the pistol’s tendency to shove the nose down. And if you happen to have one of the Beeman P1s with the two cocking slots for dual power levels, you’ll notice that it shoots higher . . . a lot higher . . . if you use the lower power cocking position. That’s because, at lower power, the nose of the pistol isn’t being pushed down so much. So be careful, very careful, if you decide to experiment with lower power.”

While we were on the phone, Driskill told me an anecdote that underscores the need to respect the power of the HW45. A friend of Mike’s one day discovered he had a possum in his attic that was in urgent need of removal. He figured he would use his HW45 to stun the possum, thereby making the eviction process easier. He took careful aim at the shoulder, triggered the shot, and killed the possum instantly.

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not recommending the HW45 STL for routine possum hunting, but it’s worth remembering it can pack quite a wallop.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

My minisniper of choice, an FWB 150 in an FWB 300 stock.

I wish I could tell you that I had to crawl with great stealth to my shooting position, but it simply isn’t true. The insertion point was unguarded, and I was able walk to where I would put my quarry in my sights. I rested my weapon and looked through the twelve power scope. The targets were there – five of them – standing as if they didn’t have a care in the world. Little did they know that someone stalked them at a distance.

Centering the crosshairs on the sentry on the right, I took note of the movement of the wind in the grass, the rustle in the leaves, so I held a little to the left. The first stage of the trigger disappeared under my finger. Then, just a little more pressure, the shot was gone. The round knocked the sentry down, but his companions remained unaware of his fate.

I slid the scope over to the next target and repeated the process, but the shot missed. I tried three more times and bagged three out of five targets, but two escaped. Nevermind, I thought: I’ll be back, and next time I won’t miss.

Now, before you conclude that I was engaged in perpetrating some sort of crime, let me that I was engaged in minisniping, a shooting sport that will drive you nuts in a delightful, I-can’t-wait-to-try-this-again sort of way.

The world found out about minisniping when Peter Capstick published an article in the October, 1984, issue of Guns & Ammo magazine. In it, he laid out the rules for a competition that had seduced Capstick and his shooting buddies: get some used 9mm casings, stick them primer end down on a bit of modeling clay, back off 35 yards, and shoot at them off a rest with a scoped 10 meter match air rifle.

The thing that makes the game so much fun and so frustrating at the same time is the combination of the small target, the distance, and the nature of the match air rifles. Olympic match air rifles are wickedly accurate at 10 meters, the distance at which Olympians compete. But match rifles are also slow – generally launching pellets at around 550-600 feet per second. When the pellet gets 105 feet down range (35 yards), the wind has had (relatively speaking) a lot of time to play with the projectile, taking your carefully aimed shot and knocking it into a cocked hat.

If you want to minisnipe well, you better learn to read the wind. It’s easy to create wind flags by sticking some wooden dowels in the ground and taping some toilet paper to the top of each. Put some backing paper behind your 9mm targets so you can see where your shots landed, and maybe you’ll be able to compensate for your misses. Of course, if you want to be a purist, forget the wind flags and dope the wind by reading the environmental clues such as the movement of leaves and grass.

When it comes to airguns to use for minisniping, Capstick and his friends used the classic match rifles of the day like the FWB 300. My minisniper of choice is an FWB 150 in an FWB 300 stock. Any of the modern match rifles will make a superb (but expensive) minisniper so long as it can be easily scoped.

If you don’t already own a match air rifle, the Beeman R7 is a relatively low cost alternative that launches pellets in the 550-600 fps range (you’ll need a scope). The Daisy Avanti series entry level match rifles can be easily scoped and work well, although they shoot slower at around 500 fps. If you want to try minisniping with an air pistol, the Crosman 2300S or 2300T both are very accurate and can be easily fitted with a scope. A bipod is a useful addition to the Crosman pistols as well.

For additional information about minisniping, including downloadable targets, visit www.minisniping.org. You’ll also find two articles about minisniping in my book Elliott on Airguns.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott