Archive for March 2011

The FX Royale 400 Synthetic from the righthand side.

Wow, it has been a long, hard winter here in Upstate New York. In fact, we had the fifth snowiest winter since they have been keeping records. Last winter was different – I was able to get out and shoot every few weeks. But not this year: from November to March, there was enough snow to prevent me from shooting. Most of the time, my shooting lane was under nearly four feet of snow.

Before the snow flew, Airguns of Arizona and I had conspired to beat Old Man Winter. Near the beginning of November, AoA sent me a “CARE” package with four guns in it. The notion was that I would test them really quickly and then write them up at my leisure, but it was not to be. The snow arrived too soon, and like an uninvited guest, stayed waaaaay too long

But on March 17, the snow had melted enough that I could actually set my pellet trap down in the shooting lane without it disappearing under the snow, so I pulled out the gun that I was most curious about, the FX Royale 400 Synthetic in .177 caliber.

The soft rubber butt pad can be adjusted vertically.

I’ll say it right at the outset: this is a very likeable gun. It weighs just 6.8 lbs without scope and stretches 40.25 inches from muzzle to butt pad. At the extreme aft end is a soft rubber butt pad that is adjustable for vertical position. Just loosen a single screw and slide it up or down to the position you like. Ahead of that is a black synthetic thumbhole stock that is decidedly right handed. There is a raised cheek piece on the left side of the buttstock that is complemented by somewhat of a hollow on the right side of the buttstock. The hand grip is fashioned with a thumb shelf on the left side. In short, I don’t think this is a stock design that lefthanders would feel comfortable shooting.

The buttstock and pistol grip are clearly molded for a righthanded shooter.

The base of the pistol grip has molded-in “checkering.” The back synthetic stock material forms a guard around the black metal trigger, which is adjustable for first stage length of pull and second stage weight of pull. Moving forward again, underneath for forestock ahead of the trigger guard, you’ll find a single allen bolt that secures the action into the stock, a one-inch pressure gauge, and a male foster quick fill fitting for the charging the air rifle. On either side of the forestock, the FX Royale Synthetic is adorned with additional molded-in “checkering” in which can been seen the letters “FX.”

The breech lever and safety lever are visible on the right side of the receiver.

 The forestock extends as a kind of shelf beneath the first half of the large air reservoir. Beyond the air reservoir is the free-floated barrel which is equipped with a very effective, permanently-attached moderator. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the receiver for the FX Royale Synthetic. It has a shiny black finish and reads “FXroyale” in white letters. The top of receiver, both fore and aft of the breech, has dovetails for mounting a scope. On the right side is the bolt lever and, below that, a lever-type safety. Push it forward to take the gun off “Safe.”

 In Part II, we’ll see how the FX Royale 400 Synthetic shoots.

 Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

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You don’t have to read this blog for very long to figure out that Your Humble Correspondent is a beady-eyed, slavering, unrepentant, not-in-the-twelve-step-program, airgun junkie. Put an airgun in my hand and chances are that I’ll find something to like about it. I just plain love airguns. I love that they cost just pennies a round to shoot, that by and large they don’t generally make much noise, that I can shoot them in my back yard, and that they are just plain fun.

In many ways, I think we are living in the Golden Age of airguns right now. So many manufacturers are making such great stuff that we airgunners have really a wide selection of excellent air rifles and air pistols to chose from.

What follows are some of my current favorites.

The RWS 34 Meisterschutze Pro Compact. This air rifle surprised me by turning out to be one of the most accurate break barrel air rifles I have shot in a long, long time. With one of these, a shooter could hunt, plink, shoot air rifle silhouette or field target without breaking the family budget. You can read more about it here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/12/the-tackdriving-rws-34-meisterschutze-pro-compact.html

The RWS Model 56 TH. This is a big, heavy, wickedly-accurate sidelever springer air rifle with an excellent trigger and a recoilless action. If you can put up with the weight, it is a certified tackdriver. You can read more about it here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/03/big-kahuna-rws-model-56-th-part-i.html and here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/03/big-kahuna-rws-model-56-th-part-ii.html

The HW35E is an absolute classic break barrel springer, available new today. What sets it apart from all other break barrels currently available – apart from its euro styling – is the breech latch that makes sure the barrel and breech have returned to the same position after loading for greater accuracy. The HW35E shoots great and looks terrific. For more info, look here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/08/hw35e.html

When it comes to precharged pneumatic rifles, two spring readily to mind. The first is the Gladiator Tactical. It has enormous storage capacity, gets a huge number of shots between fills, has power levels that can be adjusted at the flick of a lever, is a fast repeater, has a very neighbor-friendly report, and is satisfyingly accurate. You can check out more here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/10/the-outstanding-gladiator-tactical-%e2%80%93-part-i.html and here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/10/the-outstanding-gladiator-tactical-%e2%80%93-part-ii.html

For a PCP rifle that you could use to hunt just about anything you might reasonably want to hunt with an airgun, I’d pick the .25 caliber Marauder. It delivers over 40 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle and, with its Green Mountain barrel, will deliver dime-sized groups at well beyond 50 yards. You can get more info here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/08/25-caliber-marauder.html

When it comes to pistols, I am very fond of the RWS LP8. You can learn more about it here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2009/06/rws-lp8-classic-in-making.html But any of the HW45 pistols are enormous fun to shoot and extremely well made. You can check out one example here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2009/04/hw45-stl-looker-and-shooter.html

If you want a rifle that embodies everything I prize most in an air rifle: accuracy, quiet, fully self-contained, repeater, and powerful enough to dispatch any small game or pests you might want to take with a pneumatic rifle, the FX Independence has it all. Here’s a link to my review: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/06/independence-day.html

Finally, if you absolutely forced me to choose just one airgun as my overall favorite, the one that would be the absolute last one I would be willing to give up, I think it would be an HW30. It’s light, easy to cock, fully self-contained, a delight to shoot, nicely accurate and capable of taking small game out to about 30 yards or so with proper shot placement. Here’s a link to my review of the HW30 De Luxe http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/09/hw30s-de-luxe.html

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott

As I mentioned when I announced the winners of the the amazing Uncle Jock reader appreciation free gun contest, there were a lot of great entries, making it hard to choose the winner of the gun.

Here are some of the other entries which are also excellent.

From Erik Scott: Vivian’s First Shot

I have been an airgun shooter all my life and it is only recently that I have had my most memorable experience with an airgun.  The funny thing is that I wasn’t the one doing the shooting.  For seven long years, ever since she was born, I have waited patiently for the day that I would introduce my daughter Vivian to shooting.  Searching through the numerous websites, I tried desperately to find the right rifle for her to start with.  I have to admit that I found many little rifles that would have probably worked fine for her but being the dad that I am, I wanted something nice.  It came down to making something custom for her.   It would have to be small enough to fit her and accurate as well.  Nothing is as rewarding as an accurate gun.  The search lead me to a precharged pistol which I was going to convert to a pint size rifle using some rough cut maple from a tree in our yard.  The gun came and I immediately went to work.  I explained to her as I measured and fit the wood stock to her, that this was going to be her gun.  I could detect a little apprehension in her voice and, quite frankly, it worried me a bit.  Would a kid who loves princess dolls like to shoot a gun?  I didn’t know.   For two solid weeks, every bit of spare time I had was spent sculpting and fitting the wood to the gun and to her.  Finally it was ready.  We loaded up the truck and headed out into the woods for the first session.  I explained to her about safety on the way there and that is important to always make sure the gun is pointed in a safe direction.  At our shooting spot I had her strap the sling on her shoulder and walk in with her rifle.  Again I went over safety as I set up some cans and clay pigeons.  We walked back ten or so yards and sat down and and I showed her how to load and hold the rifle.  I also explained how to squeeze the trigger.  Now was the time. That first shot.  How is this going to turn out?  Crack!  I watched in disbelief as the first shot smashed a clay bird.  Immediately, a smile formed on her face and she yelled,  “Dad!  I got it!”  I will always remember that moment.  She was hooked.  I was the proud dad, trying to hold back tears and watching as his child finds joy in something that he enjoys so much.  I look forward to many more times like this one.

 From Jim Guidici: Why I am Thankful for Airguns

Airguns have been an elixir for me over the years.
In my career building years, airgunning was a way for me to decompress from the stresses of work.   As time went on, I was in and out of airguns, due to the challenges of raising a family.  But whenever it got overly stressful, I always found relief with my airgun.  It relaxed me and allowed me to break away from the challenges of life.
Speeding ahead about 21 years, I found myself in a “forced” retirement situation.  At 60 years old, timing was not the best.  In fact, probably the worst time, given this was compounded by the worldwide economic crash.  I had never intended to retire.  Trying to find another job was impossible for an old guy.   I was very depressed.     Once again, airguns to the rescue.  I found the Yellow Forum, which introduced me to new friends worldwide.  I have joined an airgun club, and shoot weekly with my newfound friends.  I am now spending more time with my grandchildren.  I have introduced them to airguns, and purchased a BB gun for each of them.
It could be said that airguns have been a prescription, without the need for drugs, to help me survive difficult times, and enjoy what life provides, given it sometimes does not go as planned.
Airgunning has now become an addiction.  But considering what one can be addicted to, I believe I have found an addiction that has been a positive contribution to my life.

From Mark Stangl: Why I am thankful for airguns

I was first exposed to airguns at the age of 5, when my father gave me a Daisy BB gun for my birthday. After the safety talks, we worked on shooting positions, learning sight picture, and how to keep one eye closed while shooting. Then, once I was comfortable in those positions and could hold a sight picture, we were finally shooting. We spent hours together shooting targets and my working on my shooting skills. The basics I learned during those shooting sessions with my trusty BB gun carried me through a life of shooting enjoyment. As I grew older, there were other airguns added to my arsenal, including a Daisy Model 25, a Crosman 1300 Medalist II pistol, and a Benjamin .22 pumper. I started shooting firearms when I got to hunting age, but always went back to the airguns for practice and serious target shooting.  I enlisted in the Marine Corps at 20, and was stationed in Scotland for 3 1/2 years. I found a new type of airgun I hadn’t been familiar with growing up, namely the spring gun. I bought a Relum Rapide because it was all I could afford, and I was hooked. It also gave me an inroad to tuning spring guns, and with the help of  British airgun magazines, I was able to tune the Rapide into a good shooter. I later sold it to a friend to fund another rifle, and he soon was hunting successfully with the rest of us. I eventually worked my way up to an HW80 and a Diana Firebird 52, both in .22, which I tuned also. I spent much of my free time shooting and hunting the hills and farms in Scotland, with landowner permission of course. It was a rabbit hunters paradise, as there was no season, no limit, and could be hunted day or night. When I finished my enlistment, I moved back to the states and brought my airguns with me. I gave my HW80 to my brother, and a Titan Mohawk I had aquired to my father. We would spend many hours shooting together, giving friendly competition along the way. When my oldest son turned 5, I gave him my first Daisy BB gun and taught him the basics my father had given me. Airguns have not only given me much enjoyment in my life, they have also allowed me to spend good quality time with my Dad, my brother, friends, and my wife and children. I now have five children, with my oldest son being 20, and they all shoot airguns. Whether we’re shooting the Daisy Red Ryders, Beeman R7, or a Marauder, they all enjoy airgun shooting. But airgunning has always been about more than shooting and hunting, it’s been about spending quality time with some great people in my life. And it’s my thanks to airguns for that.

 From Bob Schlund: Why I am thankful for air guns

 A long time ago “Winter of 1958/59″ Santa Clause gave me the best Christmas present a young boy could ever ask for.
A brand spanking new Daisy Model 25 BB Gun.
 
As I opened this present with eyes wide open in wonder but well knowing what it was,,,pictures of hunters and cowboys raced thru my 9 year old head.
Geez I thought,,, I held in my hands a dream come true,my very own hunting rifle.
As I pulled it out of the box I was in total awe of what a thing of beauty it was !
 
All the while my father was explaining to me we have some learning to do son,,,Don’t cock it or point it at anything,and keep your finger off the trigger,,,that is not a toy gun or a pop gun it will shoot real ammo.
 
OK Dad ! ! I know,I know,, but when can I start learning about this thing??I want to try it real bad.
 
I almost fell over when he said right now son,lets go to the basement.
 
He had made a make shift BB Trap out of cardboard boxes stuffed with old Detroit Times newspapers.
 
He asked me to give him the rifle and have a seat and pay attention to “everything I say”
 
He proceeded to show me everything about this rifle.He then handed me the 25 asked me to remove the shot tube and load it up with BB’s.
Once full he asked for the barrel/shot tube.
 
He then asked me to demonstrate taking a shot at the target,keeping in mind everything he had just told me.As I swung the rifle around he said “You Didn’t Listen to Me Very Well Did You???”  Huh??? Keep that gosh darn  barrel in the air ALWAYS and your hand away from the trigger!!! OK Dad sorry!
 
We went thru this a few times before handing me the shot tube,,”this is it son load it up and if you make a mistake we’ll try this another day.”This is not a toy and can kill or injure someone if you do not follow gun safety rules at all times.
 
I managed to get it right,and took my first shot!
That was it I was forever hooked on air guns with out even knowing it at the time!!!
 
The combination of recoil,the whack of the BB hitting its mark and seeing the hole it left after impact,it was a WHOA factor I had never experienced .
 
Although my Dad has now left this earth ,,, that Daisy 25 is still with me.
 
It still brings joy to my heart everytime I pick it up! It somehow has the ability to take me back in time and spend a few minuets or even hours with my long departed Father ” Bless his Sole”.
 
Something no other object can do !

From Robert Schmit: Favorite Airgunning Experience

Back when I was a kid, my parents bought an old 100 acre dairy farm about 35  miles south of Buffalo,NY . My father was a forenisic chemist , who also was an avid upland bird hunter. Back in the late sixties and early seventies that area was one of the best pheasant covers in the state. As for me and my younger brother, that point was over-shadowed by a couple other features that were far more important to us. One ,was our large 3 story barn, the other a huge mulberry tree which sat in the side yard.
        My father  always had an interest in airguns. He had an early Walther LP53 pistol he’d brought back from a trip to Europe back in the mid-fifties, and had bought a Crosman 99 lever action CO2 rifle when we lived back in the city. He had taught us to shoot it in the basement. I had also received a Daisy 25 for a birthday before the move. Not being old enough for a real hunting license , my brother and I set about hunting the millions of english sparrows that inhabited the place with my daisy.
       It wasn’t soon after this that Dad bought my brother a Benjamin pump in .22 , and me a Crosman 1300 medalist pistol. I had wanted a pistol because of my Dad’s Walther ,which he had let us shoot a couple times, but it was off limits to us. I thought ,and still think,it is the most elegant air pistol that was ever made.The 99 was jammer with the old ashcan pellets and it took CO2  cartridges, so we didn’t use it either. Anyways,the new guns opened up new opportunities for us . Now we went after the big game , which for us ,were the rats and pidgeons that inhabited the barn. We spent hours stalking rats (which get VERY smart when they are hunted) , and pidgeons in the barn. We soon found that the Benji was the best gun, easily taking pidgeons at the top of the 45 foot barn, and stopping rats with any center body hit. The ammo of choice were the old English made “Bulldog” brand .22 cal pellets. They were much better than the Crosman ashcan wadcutters.We would toss the un-loaded  Benji up into the loft, and climb the ladder ,which were just scrap boards nailed to the face of the  beam that held the loft up. We would often lean the gun againist a bale of hay to get the leverage to get in the last couple pumps. Once it didn’t quite make it up into the loft when tossed , and it fell back down cracking the stock slightly. Didn’t affect its  working capibilities any. It’s durability has endeared MSP’s  to me to  this day.
       We also built a tree house in that mulberry tree mentioned earlier, and shot hundereds of starlings from it. Now, Dad ,the mulberry tree, which was struck and killed by lighting, and the old barn are all gone. We still have the property and I live only a couple counties away.  My brother has still got the Benji, and it still works. I’ve still got the 1300, the 99 , and Dad’s old Walther. I also have two small boys and my brother has a son, which we are building new airgun hunting and shooting memories with. Hopefully, they will remember their early shooting experiences, and keep them close to their hearts as I have.

And now you know why I had such a hard time choosing a winner.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

- Jock Elliott

Wow, the amazing Uncle Jock reader appreciation free gun contest has turned out to be, well, an amazing experience. The response, I think, was pretty spectacular. Some 34 individuals entered the contest, some with more than one entry. And the quality of the entries was high, which made deciding on a winner very difficult.

Ultimately, I did pick a winner, but before we get to that, I have made a decision that the quality of entries was so high that I have decided that everyone who entered the amazing Uncle Jock reader appreciation free gun contest will receive a copy of my book “Elliott on Airguns” on CD. Now, lest you get confused, this is NOT an audio book. It is a collection of thirty of my articles written for Precision Shooting magazine or The Accurate Rifle magazine and presented in pdf files on the CD. You can read the stories on the disk, or you can print them out and read them that way. In any event, I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did writing them.

And now, the envelope please . . . the winner of the Benjamin Trail NP XL 725 is Robert Weaver from Fort Washington, MD.

Here is his winning entry:

“What I like best about airguns is…well, that they’re air GUNS.  They’re not air toys, not air pellet launchers, they’re guns and when I do what I’m supposed to, the pellets go where I intend.

Disclaimer: I generally shoot outdoor conventional (bullseye) pistol – a lot.  And the only two things that count in bullseye pistol are sight alignment and trigger control. And I’m painfully aware that when I don’t do what I’m supposed to do with my .22 and .45 pistols, the holes in the paper aren’t where I want them to be – and that holds true for my airgun, too.

I can practice with my airgun in my basement all winter – all, cold, rainy, snowy, wind-out-of-the-north-and-I-couldn’t-get-to-the-range-if-I-wanted-to winter with the confidence that when the weather warms up, everything that I’ve practiced all winter transitions to my bullseye guns.  What do I practice?  Sight alignment and trigger control.

I like it that my airgun shoots better than I can.  I know those holes in the seven (and yes, six and sometimes five-ring) are NOT the guns’ fault, that they’re indicators that something I did between picking the gun up and setting it down again wasn’t done properly, and I need to work on whatever it was.  Sometime I actually know what that is.

I like it that I can practice for pennies on the dollar compared to what I spend on .22 and reloading components for .45 ammunition, and that that practice is every bit as meaningful.  I like it that I can shoot indoors without hearing protection and without having the house smell like a mixture of my favorite gun-cleaning chemistry mixed with primers and gunpowder.  OK, my wife likes that more than I do, but still…

And I like it that when I step up to the firing line at my club’s matches, I’m with a whole bunch of men and women, from all walks of life, of all ages, and I’m not competing with any of them. I compete against me, and sometimes I win, and sometimes I don’t, but I ALWAYS have a good time competing, and I always manage to both learn something from one of the better shooters, and teach something to one of the newer shooters.  It’s just me and my airgun, and I like it.”

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

-          Jock Elliott