Archive for September 2009

The BSA Lone Star is one of the few PCP sporting rifles that is available with iron sights.

In the literature that comes with the BSA .25 cal Lone Star is a note that says, with typical British understatement: “Professional Hunting Rifle.”

And it truly is a professional hunting rifle, a big, hairy, powerful hunting rifle. Stretching 41.5 inches from end to end and weighing 7.8 lbs, the .25 Lone Star is capable of generating 35 to 40 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle and delivering a lot of that energy downrange while maintaining commendable accuracy.

It’s one of the few sporting precharged air rifles that is available these days with iron sights. I can picture an English gamekeeper carrying one of these as he goes about his normal duties. When he encounters a pest animal, pah-BOOM!, and it’s lights out.

At the rear of the Lone Star is a soft rubber butt pad emblazoned with the BSA “3-rifle” symbol. Moving forward, the right hand hardwood stock has a high comb and pronounced cheek piece. Moving forward again, the pistol grip is checkered on either side, and the end piece is stamped with the BSA logo. At the top of the pistol grip, just under the end of the receiver, there is a concave indentation for resting your thumb while shooting. The black metal trigger guard has the initials “BSA” on the bottom surface, and it houses and adjustable two-stage trigger.

Ahead of the trigger guard, the forestock is checkered on either side. At the end of the forestock there is a knob that we’ll get back to in just a bit. Above the knob is the air reservoir with a threaded end cap. Above the air reservoir is the barrel with a blade front sight mounted near the muzzle. The muzzle brake has a screw-off ring that allows a silencer to be fitted where legal. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the receiver which has scope grooves fore and aft of the breech. On the forward part of the breech, the rear sight is mounted. On the right side of the breech, toward the rear, are a push button for releasing the bolt and, below that, a lever type safety (forward for fire, back for safe).

That’s it. To get the Lone Star ready for shooting, unscrew the end cap on the air reservoir, fit the filler probe to your SCUBA tank or pump, and charge the Lone Star up to a maximum of 232 bar. Make sure that your SCUBA yoke or high pressure pump has a pressure gauge, because there is no gauge on the Lone Star to tell you “when’s enough.”

To load the Lone Star, press down the “probe release catch” on the right side of the receiver; the bolt will spring backward, opening the breech. Place a pellet in the breech and push the bolt forward until it clicks. The Lone Star is now loaded.

You can walk around with the Lone Star, click off the safety, and squeeze the trigger, and nothing will happen. Why? Because you haven’t cocked the action. To do that, grab the cocking knob at the end of the forestock and press it back toward the pistol grip until it clicks. Anytime you want, you can de-cock the Lone Star by pushing in the cocking knob, pulling the trigger, and slowly releasing the cocking knob.

Next time, we’ll shoot the Lone Star.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

Back in April, I had the opportunity to take a fast early look at Crosman’s new three-position, sporter level PCP match rifle, the Challenger 2009. I was impressed. Based on the Discovery chassis, the Challenger incorporates some goodies – notably the trigger – from Crosman’s Marauder air rifle and some of the Marauder’s tuning capabilities. The result is an entry level match rifle that does a lot of things well.

One of the things that slipped by me when I first looked at the Challenger 2009 is how incredibly versatile this air rifle is. To start, you can shoot three-position air rifle with it, and you can use it as an entry level rifle for shooting Olympic-style ten-meter competition.

But the Challenger also qualifies for the new competition developed by the Civilian Marksmanship Program, called National Match Air Rifle (NMAR). Shot indoors or outdoors on 10-meter ranges, NMAR events simulate highpower rifle shooting and are shot at reduced highpower rifle targets. There are two official NMAR targets. The AR-SR is an exact, proportionate reduction of the standard highpower rifle 200-yard short-range target. The AR-MR is a similarly reduced version of the 600-yard mid-range target.

Three classes of air rifles qualify for NMAR competition: AR Class, Match and Sporter. The AR class – or so-called “clone” rifles – are modified sporter or precision class air rifles with stock systems configured similar to M16/AR15-type rifles. The NMAR Match air rifle class includes any precision air rifle that is ISSF legal. The Sporter class includes air rifles of 7.5 lbs maximum with 1.5 lb minimum trigger pull. That’s where the Challenger 2009 fits in.

There are two basic courses of fire for NMAR. The standing course consists of two sighting shots and 20 shots for record on the AR-SR (200-yard) target in the standing position. The full course/half course consists of 20 (full course) or 10 (half course) shots each in the standing, sitting or kneeling, and prone position, fired in that order of the AR-SR (for sitting and standing) and AR-MR (600-yard) (for prone) targets.

For the UJ Quigley Bucket Challenge, you'll want a post and bead front sight insert like this one.

There are lots of other things you can do with the Challenger. Get yourself some of Lee Shaver’s blackpowder silhouette sight inserts (available from many gun shops), slip the post-and-bead insert into the Challenger’s front globe sight, and make like Matthew Quigley shooting at the UJ Quigley Bucket Challenge.

A Challenger with a scope is an excellent setup for minisniping or NRA air rifle sihouette.

(I feel like one of those silly infomercials here) But wait! There’s more! If you mount a scope on the Challenger, which is really easy to do, thanks to its scope rails, and put some spent 9mm brass out at 35 yards, you can minisnipe with the Challenger. With a scope, you also can (and some folks have already done it very successfully) shoot NRA air rifle silhouette in the “match” category. Beyond that, the engineers at Crosman are also exploring the options for turning the Challenger 2009 into an entry-level field target rifle.

At this point, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out some of the Challenger’s other admirable qualities. First, it’s really, really accurate. With a big scope mounted, I found I could hit the exact spot on the target that I wanted at 20 yards . . . for example, that little spec of white still showing where I had already blown the center out of the bullseye. That’s the kind of accuracy that puts a grin on my face.

Second, the trigger is excellent and makes it easy to shoot well. Third, the Challenger delivers 100 shots from a 2000 psi fill. That means if you fill it with a high pressure hand pump, it will be relatively easy to get it up to pressure (certainly easier than going to 3,000 psi) and you won’t be refilling the Challenger every two seconds. And if you fill the Challenger from a 3,000 psi SCUBA tank, you’ll get a lot of fills before you have to go back to the dive shop for a refill.

In addition, the Challenger is makes very little noise, which if you live close to others, is excellent for maintaining good neighbor relations. Last but not least, the Challenger has a highly adjustable stock, including a length of pull that is adjustable from 12.5 to 16 inches, which means it will fit a wide range of different size shooters.

In short, the Challenger is a very versatile air rifle, offering its owner the ability to compete in many different shooting disciplines, and providing access to a whole lot of fun in formal competition and the back yard.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

Before we get to today’s blog, a couple of quick notes. First, Airguns of Arizona now has JSB Monsters in stock. These .22 cal. pellets weigh 25.4 grains and come in 200-count tins. Second, AoA has a new deal on JSB pellets. Order just 4 tins at the same time and get $1 off on each tin.

The BSA SuperTEN is a handsome and accurate air rifle.

The BSA SuperTEN is an interesting and accurate air rifle. Available in .177 and .22, the SuperTEN is available in three levels of “trim.” The base model has no silencer, the next level up has a full factory non-removable silencer, and the top model has a full bull barrel. All models have a ten-shot rotary magazine, fully adjustable match trigger, and a specially crowned match barrel.

This is why the SuperTEN is called a bottle gun.

The SuperTEN is a so-called “bottle” airgun. That’s because the air reservoir, mounted at the end of the forestock, is in fact a steel bottle for holding the compressed air. To charge the bottle, it must be unscrewed from the air rifle, attached to a SCUBA tank or pump, and charged up to 230 bar (3336 PSI).

One of the things that makes the SuperTEN attractive is that it is a regulated airgun. That means there is a mechanism in the action that, like the diver’s regulator on a SCUBA tank, controls how much air the SuperTEN can sip for each shot. As a result, the SuperTEN is extremely consistent in its velocity from shot to shot until the air pressure in the air reservoir drops so low that it must be refilled.

The SuperTEN is available at two different power levels. The British version keeps the power just below 12 foot pounds (fp) in both .177 and .22 and delivers a large number of shots per fill. The export version produces 22 fp in .177 and 30 fp in .22 and delivers 40 shots per fill. The regulator controls the power, and there are two different regulators: one for Britain and one for export. One of the neat features of the SuperTEN is that, if you own both regulators, called the “cigar” regulator, you can swap between them in just a few minutes. This gives you the flexibility to choose between lower power and lots of shots and higher power and fewer shots.

Starting at the back of the SuperTEN, you find a black rubber buttplate that is adjustable vertically. Just loosen a screw in the middle, slide the buttplate up or down as needed, and retighten the screw. Ahead of that, a thick black plastic spacer attaches to the stock which has a pronounced cheekpiece on the left side. Moving forward, the pistol grip is checkered and has a dark hardwood cap. The top of the pistol grip, just under the receiver, there is a concave spot for resting your thumb while shooting.

Forward of the pistol grip is the black metal trigger guard, inside of which is a very crisp and highly adjustable two-stage trigger. Moving ahead again, you’ll find the forestock, which has checkered grip panels on either side. At the end of the forestock is the air reservoir, which must be unscrewed from the SuperTEN for charging.

Above the air reservoir is the barrel, which is attached to a black metal receiver. On the left side of the receiver is a slot into which the 10-shot rotary magazine is inserted. The magazine also protrudes slightly out of the right side of the receiver. There you’ll also find a slide-action safety (forward to fire, back to safe the action) and the bolt, which rides in a track with two slots. On top of the receiver is a full-length 10.8mm dovetailed scope rail.

When you cycle the SuperTEN, make sure you pull the bolt all the way back and down into the rear slot.

When I shot the .22 cal. base model SuperTEN, I found that it averaged 940 fps with JSB .22 jumbo express pellets and produced a .81 ctc group at 50 yards. Further, the trigger was a pleasure. When you shoot the SuperTEN, be aware of one trick: you have to make sure that you pull the bolt all the way back and down into the rear slot before cycling the bolt forward again. If you don’t, the SuperTEN will not cock and will not shoot. When you work the bolt again, you run the risk of loading two pellets into the barrel.

The SuperTEN enjoys a reputation as one of the most accurate airguns available, but it is being phased out, to be replaced by the BSA R10 which has the features – a quick fill fitting and a pressure gauge – that airgunners are requesting today.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

The S&W pistol, shown here with red dot mounted, is very solidly built.

Except for the grips, the Smith & Wesson 6-inch revolver is entirely made of metal, detailed so that it looks and feels like its powder burning counterpart, and it weighs nearly three-quarters of a pound more than the Crosman 3576 revolver.

To get the S&W ready for shooting, you remove the right side panel on the pistol grip, which reveals the receptacle for the CO2 cartridge. Pull the lever at the base of pistol grip, insert a CO2 cartridge into its receptacle, turn the knurled brass wheel until it makes contact with the bottom of the cartridge, then return the lever at the base of the pistol grip to its original position. That pierces the cartridge.

Press the release below the hammer forward, and the magazine swings out to the left.

To access the magazine on the S&W, press the release (located on the left side of the frame, just below the hammer) forward, and the 10-shot magazine will swing out to the left. You can then load the magazine in place or remove it for loading.

The S&W is equipped with an adjustable rear sight and a blade front sight that work well. In fact, the S&W comes standard with three front sight blades of different widths that can be interchanged to suit your taste. To make sighting easier, though, I mounted a Walther Top Point II Red Dot sight. This required taking the rear sight off the revolver and mounting an optional weaver rail. An 11 mm rail is also available, but since the red dot had weaver mounts, the choice was obvious.

When you look through the red dot sight, it appears that a red dot has been projected on the target, but that is just a trick of the eye. The image of the red dot is only visible when you look through the sight, and the dot is not visible to others. The Walther red dot has 11 brightness settings, and it works well on any target whether in bright sunlight or not. Once you get it sighted in, target acquisition is very fast: swing the gun up, look through the sight, and where the dot appears, that is where the pellet will hit if you are shooting from your sight-in distance.

The combo is a lot of fun to shoot, and it looks very, very professional.

These pellets improved penetration with both the S&W and Crosman revolvers.

When I got both combos sighted in, I experimented with shooting a paper targets and then at a spaghetti sauce can. At seven yards, using Daisy MaxSpeed wadcutter pellets, neither CO2 revolver would punch a hole through the can, although they would dent it. But with RWS HyperMax non-lead pointed pellets, I found either gun would easily punch a hole through the can. That tells me that these revolvers have the potential for defending the bird feeder at short range.

Certainly either one of these combos – the S&W with red dot or the Crosman 3576 with laser – will deliver hours of fun for backyard shooting and practice. Heck, on one of the forums, I read of one fellow competing in air pistol silhouette with his Crosman revolver and doing surprisingly well.

Recently, a ham radio friend asked for a recommendation for a repeater air pistol. I suggested the S&W. He called a couple of weeks later to say he was well pleased with it, but he had a problem: when his brother-in-law came visiting, he couldn’t get the S&W away from him!

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott