Archive for December 2010

The Brocock Enigma, left view. There's not much the shooter can fiddle with on this side.

You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that the Brocock Enigma in an unusual airgun. The moment I clapped eyes on it in its long slim box from Airguns of Arizona, I knew that whoever had designed this air rifle had started with a clean sheet of paper and not a lot of preconceived ideas.

The Enigma measures just a hair under three feet from muzzle to the tip of the butt pad and weighs just 6 lbs. 13.5 oz. without a scope mounted. At the extreme aft end of the hardwood stock is a thick ventilated rubber butt bad. On either side of the butt stock is a cheek piece, making it suitable for both left and right handed shooters. Underneath the butt stock is a stud for mounting a sling.

The right side of the Enigma. The knob for detaching the butt stock is clearly visible at the rear of the receiver. Above the trigger is the safety, the bolt, and (just forward of the bolt) the magazine.

The pistol grip is nearly vertical and is checkered on either side. At the forward end of the butt stock is a large knob with finger indentations. Turn it counterclockwise, and you can detach the butt stock from the rest of the Enigma, breaking it down so that the longest piece is a little less than two feet long. Forward of the knob, on the right side of the receiver, is a lever type safety. Push it up (so that the red dot is exposed) to fire the gun. Push it down (so that the green down shows) to safe the action. Below the safety, at the bottom of the receiver, are the metal trigger guard and gold-colored metal trigger. Also on the right side of the receiver is the bolt and a slot for inserting the magazine.

There are no shooter-activated parts on the left side of the receiver except for the large stock-connecting knob. On top of the receiver is a dovetail for attaching a scope. At the forward end of the receiver is the .22 caliber barrel, which is roughly 18 inches long and has a screw-off end piece for attaching a silencer where that is legal. Beneath the barrel is the air reservoir, which also has a cap that can be removed to access a male foster fitting for filling the reservoir with a high pressure pump or SCUBA tank to 190 Bar.

Underneath the air reservoir and the forward end of the receiver is the hardwood forestock, which has a stud for attaching a sling or bipod (furnished with the Enigma) and an air gauge.

To ready the Enigma for shooting, pull the bolt all the way back and pull the 9-shot magazine out of its slot in the receiver. To load the magazine, line up the opening in the magazine with the hole in the clear cover and drop a pellet, nose-first, into the opening in the clear cover. I found it necessary to poke the pellets with a ballpoint pen to get them to seat full in the green rotary pellet holder below the clear cover.

When all nine pellets have been loaded, insert the magazine into the slot in the receiver so that (a) the flat side of the magazine is vertical and (b) the clear cover is facing toward the buttstock. There is really only one way that the magazine can be inserted into the rifle, but if you are accustomed to magazines where the flat side must face downwards and try to insert the magazine in that orientation, you’ll spend a minute or two wondering what’s gone wrong.

Next, push the bolt forward. This pushes the first pellet out of the magazine and into the barrel. Flick off the safety and squeeze the trigger. The first stage of the trigger is very short and comes out at 1 lb. At 5 lbs. 14 oz, the second stage trips, and the shot goes down range with a resounding boom! Filled to 2800 psi, the Enigma launches .22 JSB Express pellets with alacrity: 30 shots at 895.5 fps or 25.6 footpounds of energy.

The Enigma delivered this 5-shot group at 32 yards.

Despite a report that is louder than I like and a trigger that is heavier than I prefer, the Enigma acquits itself very well on the range. At 32 yards, it put 5 JSB Exact Express pellets into a group that measured just .5 inch edge to edge. That works out to just .28 inch center to center.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The RWS Meisterschutze Pro Compact is downright sleek in its appearance.

I woke up one morning a few weeks ago with the realization that I had never shot one of the air rifles that so many airgunners purchase as their first “quality” air rifle: the RWS 34. A while ago, I had a neighbor who simply loved to hunt with his RWS 34, but I never got to shoot it, and he has since moved away.

So I asked the folks at umarexusa to send me a sample of the 34 Meisterschutze Pro Compact (MPC) in .177 caliber. It comes with a RWS one-piece “drooper” scope mount, an RWS 3-9x40AO rifle scope and a muzzlebrake. When I pulled it from the box, I was immediately impressed by its businesslike appearance.

There is no cheek piece on either side of the MPC's butt stock.

The long, slim hardwood stock is completely unadorned by any checkering or decoration of any sort. At the end of the stock is a rubber butt pad attached to the stock by a black spacer. There is no cheek piece on either side of the butt stock, making the design completely ambidextrous, and there is only a slight rise in the comb. Forward of the pistol grip is a black plastic trigger guard surrounding a black plastic trigger that is adjustable for first stage travel.

THE MPC is equipped with a substantial muzzlebrake, apparently the same one used on the TH 56.

Forward of that, the forestock reaches out to cover the breech block and cocking linkage. Beyond that is the barrel on which is mount a substantial muzzlebrake. The appeared to be the same muzzlebrake that was mounted on the very accurate RWS 56 TH that I had tested some time ago. The breech block on this model is not designed to take a rear sight but instead has fine horizontal lines molded into it. The receiver is finished in a matte black that appears to match the scope and scope mount. At the aft end of the receiver, there is the familiar push-pull RWS safety which is resettable.

The RWS one-piece scope mount fits exactly over the dovetail on the receiver and provides compensation for barrel droop.

Mounting the scope was straightforward. The one-piece mount fits the RWS dovetails exactly and has two anti-recoil pins that drop into corresponding holes on the receiver. The only trick is to make sure that the arrow on the drooper mount is pointing toward the muzzle. With the scope mounted, the MPC weighs 9 lbs. 12 oz.

To ready the MPC for shooting, grab the muzzlebrake, pull it down and back until it latches. Stuff a pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the barrel to its original position. I estimate the cocking effort to be in the mid-30s, perhaps 36-37 lbs. Next, take aim at the target, flick off the safety, and squeeze the trigger. The first stage requires only 1 lb. 9.8 oz., and at 2 lbs. 10.8 oz., the shot goes downrange. The RWS 34 Pro Compact launches 8.44 gr. JSB Exact pellets at about 840 fps, which works out to 13.22 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

When it came time to test the MPC for accuracy, that’s when life got interesting. As I so often do, as soon as I mounted the scope, I grabbed the MPC, some Crosman Premier 7.9 gr. pellets and went outside to bang off a few shots at 13 yards from a sitting position. My first group measured just .375 inch edge to edge. Not bad, I thought.

A couple of days later, shooting off a rest at 32 yards, the groups opened up tremendously to well over an inch. Then the gun began throwing flyers – a .75 inch group with a flyer 1.5 inches away. I was just starting to work my way through some alternative pellets when I heard a rattle as I cocked the gun. Investigating further, I found that the muzzlebrake was loose.

With the muzzlebrake tightened, the MPC delivered this very satisfying group at 32 yards.

I loosened the end cap on the muzzlebrake, tightened the two grub screws underneath the muzzlebrake that clamp to the barrel, then screwed the end cap in tight. The next group, shot with JSB .177 Exact pellets, was magic: just .5 inch edge to edge at 32 yards, making the MPC one of the most accurate break barrel air rifles I have shot in a long, long time.

The bottom line is that the MPC is an air rifle that does a lot of things well. It has a decent trigger, makes reasonable power, and delivers excellent accuracy. With this air rifle, you could hunt, plink, or shoot hunter class field target and all at a very reasonable price.

I give the 34 Meisterschutze Pro Compact my highest personal recommendation.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The RWS 350 Feuerkraft

You know how a kind word from a friend can change your outlook on an entire day? Well, the RWS 350 Feuerkraft did the same kind of thing for me.

Let me explain: I had been feeling a bit gloomy about my springer shooting skills after testing several .25 models. I simply couldn’t master shooting them really well at longer ranges, and I thought perhaps I had lost my springer shooting “mojo” altogether.

But then came Brown Santa (the UPS guy) with a long slim package with the RWS 350 Feuerkraft in .22 caliber inside. I pulled it out of the box, slapped a scope on it, and went outside to give it a few shots. We’ll get back to what I discovered in just a little while, but first let’s take a walk around the RWS 350 Feuerkraft (350F for short).

The stock is fully ambidextrous.

The 350F is a long air rifle, 48.375 inches from muzzle to butt pad, and it weighs 8 lbs without scope. It has a slim hardwood stock that is fully ambidextrous and unadorned by any checkering on any other decoration. At the extreme aft end of the stock is a black rubber recoil pad attached to the stock by a black plastic spacer. Moving forward, ahead of the pistol grip is the black plastic trigger guard which encloses a black plastic trigger that is adjustable for first stage travel.

The red fiber optic front sight is easy to see.

. . . and so is the green fiber optic rear sight.

Forward of that, the long slim forestock encloses the breech block and cocking linkage, giving the 350F a very clean, finished appearance. Ahead of that is the barrel which has a plastic muzzle brake that serves as a mount for a red fiber optic front sight. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a green fiber optic rear sight mounted on top of the breech block. Moving back again, there is a dovetail on top of the receiver for mounting a scope, and at the extreme aft end of the receiver is the push-pull safety which is resettable.

To ready the 350F for shooting, grab the barrel near the muzzle and pull it down and back until it latches. This takes about 33 lbs of effort. Next insert a pellet into the breech and return the barrel to its original position. Take aim, flick the safety off, and squeeze the trigger. On the sample that I tested, at 1 lb. 5 oz. the first stage came out of the trigger, and at 3 lb. 14.7 oz., the shot went down range. The 350F was launching 14.35 gr. JSB Express pellets at an average of 722 fps, generating 16.6 ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle.

Now we can get back to what I discovered when I went outside to shoot the 350F. The first thing I found out was the 350F has a very nice shot cycle – just a quick snap with no buzz or twang. I heard perhaps a tiny bit of vibration, but I didn’t feel any through the gun. The report is also surprisingly subdued for an air rifle of this power — not dead quiet but not raucous either.

If you plan to scope the 350F, definitely use one of the RWS one-piece drooper mounts.

The second thing I discovered is that if you plan to scope this air rifle, you will definitely need the RWS one-piece “drooper” mount. The first scope I tried had conventional scope mounts, and I simply ran out of elevation adjustment. So I popped back inside, swiped a scope with drooper mount off another RWS rifle, and mounted it on the 350F.

Within a few minutes, I was happily blowing the center out of a target at 13 yards, and I found that I could hit exactly the spot that I wanted. Encouraged by this, I set up a target at 35 yards, and, from a sitting position, was able to put 4 out of 5 shots into a 5/8 inch edge-to-edge group. I yanked the last shot, which opened the group up to 1 inch edge-to-edge, but even so, that’s pretty much minute-of-squirrel’s noggin.

In the end, I found I really liked the 350F. It has no bad manners; it has a decent trigger; it’s commendably accurate, and, like an old friend, it cheered me up about my springer shooting skills. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense air rifle that suitable for hunting or a day afield, the 350F should put a grin on your face.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

As an airgun writer and the guy who puts together the “Airgun Roundup” for the SHOT Show Daily newspaper, I get to talk with quite a few people in the airgun industry. In fact, I probably get to talk to most of the major players at least once a year.

My job, of course, is to gather information from those major players, which I do. But when I get the chance to chat with them, very often I take the opportunity to pitch them on one of my favorite subjects – the need for more highly accurate medium-power springers.

Usually they just listen politely, but today I have more facts to bolster my argument. During a phone call the other day, through a chance remark, I found what the bestselling springers at Airguns of Arizona are. The Weihrauch HW30S/Beeman R7 is the top selling springer, and for second place, it is a neck-and-neck race between the Weihrauch HW50s and the Weihrauch HW97.

An HW30S Deluxe with peep sight mounted.

I am not at all surprised that the HW30S is the most popular. It is a light (5.5 lbs), small (38.78 inches) air rifle that is easy to cock and fun to shoot all day long. The HW30S makes only a modest amount of power (around 6 foot-pounds at the muzzle), but it tends to be a real tackdriver. One of the gurus in the airgun industry says this is because the ration of gun power (in foot-pounds) to gun weight is very nearly 1:1.  It is suitable for assassinating pests at modest ranges, and I have even shot field target with one and finished in the ribbons with it.

The HW50S Stainless with scope mounted.

The HW50S seems to me a slightly bigger (6.8 lbs, 40.5 inches) and more powerful version of the HW30S. Cocking is a bit stiff, but still very manageable, and the HW50S generates 11-12 foot-pounds of energy. It’s the kind of gun that you can shoot all day and still come back for more. It’s accurate as the dickens, and the additional power is welcome for hunting or pest control, no wonder so many shooters like this air rifle.

Any of the HW97s is a tackdriver, but I think the thumbhole version is my favorite.

The addition of the HW97 to the list of Airguns of Arizona’s bestselling springers initially came as a bit of a surprise, because I didn’t know that the underlever HW97 was that popular, but as I thought about it, it make sense. The HW97 is a heavier air rifle (starting at 8.8 lbs, depending on the version), but it is only 40.25 inches long, and it generates only a modest amount of power. The sample that I tested in September, 2008, launched 7.9 grain .177 Crosman Premiers at 847 fps, for about 12.6 foot-pounds of energy.

What all of these air rifles have in common is that they are great fun to shoot, deliver excellent accuracy, benefit from Weihrauch’s outstanding Rekord trigger, and exhibit a very reasonable power-to-weight ratio. If an airgunner had all three of these in his gun closet, I suspect he (or she) would be exceedingly pleased for a very long time.

If I were choosing for myself, here would be my selections: an HW30S in .177 with peep sight for general plinking, an HW50S stainless in .22 for hunting, and an HW97KT (thumbhole) in .177 for field target competition. Santa, are you listening?

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott