The Joy of Low Power Tackdrivers

Monday, July 4, 2011

If there is one thing that irritates the dickens out of me, it’s the emphasis on velocity seen so often in mass-market airgun advertising: 1,000 feet per second . . . 1,200 fps . . . 1,500 fps . . . even 1,600 fps. And you can tell it’s getting through to people who don’t know any better.

A couple of years ago, the good folks at Airguns of Arizona very graciously invited me to come out and attend the NRA show being held that year in Phoenix. It was a great time, and I spent a number of hours at the AoA booth. Invariably, someone would come up, eyeball the gorgeous guns in the display, and ask (pointing at a particular gun), “How fast does it shoot?”

After a while I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I began to politely explain how that velocity is really not the primary concern when it comes to air rifles and air pistols, how speeds above 1,000 fps are generally a Bad Idea with airgun pellets because of turbulence in the trans-sonic region, and how air rifles, unlike their powder-burning cousins, can’t drive pellets fast enough to stay supersonic all the way to long-range targets, causing accuracy woes as the pellet drops back into the trans-sonic region. I’m sure you know all that already, but I can tell you it was an eye-opener for some of the folks attending the NRA show.

The plain truth is that I like shooting wimpy-powered air rifles. It all started in my brother-in-laws backyard. He was shooting a humble Beeman R7/HW30, and I was shooting a Venom-tuned HW97. We were trying to hit a small kill zone on a field target 20 yards away, and he was dropping the target more often than I was. This annoyed me, since I had just spent a lot of money on the aforementioned HW97. We switched guns, and I promptly beat him. The truth was evident: his 6 fp breakbarrel air rifle was easier to shoot well than my much higher powered model.

So we decided to do an experiment. At the next field target match, we would each bring a 6 fp gun, on the theory that knowing our guns were easy to shoot well would help us to achieve high scores even though we were giving up power, velocity and flatness of trajectory. It worked. At the end of the day we each shot a personal best.

Lest you think that performance was some sort of freak occurrence, let me share a couple of other tidbits. The first time that I ever won a field target match was with a scoped PCP match rifle shooting just 570 fps. At another match, I saw Ray Apelles shoot a match high score with an FWB 300 match rifle, which was launching pellets at around 600 fps. And on many other occasions, I’ve seen competitors shoot decent scores and have a great time shooting low-powered tack drivers.

This is my lightly customized Beeman R7/HW30.

If you would like to experiment with turning to “the wimpy side of the force,” the king of the low-power tackdrivers is the HW30. It’s just 38.75” long, weights 5.5lbs, and features a very nice adjustable trigger. It launches Crosman Premier 7.9 grain pellets and delivers them at around 620 fps, producing tiny cloverleaf groups at 10 meters. You can check out my full review here: http://198.154.244.69/blog/2010/09/hw30s-de-luxe.html

Two other low-power break barrel air rifles that I have tested in the past are the BSA Meteor and the RWS Model 24.

A BSA Meteor. This is not the most current model.

More than 2,000,000 BSA Meteors have been sold worldwide, making it one of the most popular air rifles of all time. It is just 42 inches long and weighs 5.75 lbs. I tested a used early model that put Daisy Match pellets downrange at 610 fps. The trigger was hard to pull and was not adjustable, but I’m told that the new Mark VI models have an adjustable trigger.

The RWS Model 24.

The RWS Model 24, now available used, is a real sleeper. At 42” inches long and 6 lbs, it is a very plain looking gun, but it sure does shoot. JSB Exact 8.4 grain pellets went through the traps at 578 fps and drilled one-hole groups at 10 meters. The trigger had a bit of creep, but is very predictable, making accurate shooting easy. I understand the Model 24 has been replaced by the 240, and I hope to have a look at one of those in the future.

I have campaigned this FWB150 in field target competition and had a lot of fun doing it.

 Another possibility for the shooter who wants a low-power tackdriver is the FWB 150/300. Available only used, these are recoilless spring-piston match rifles that are easily scoped and a joy to shoot.

 Finally, for the shooter who wants a hyper-accurate low-power air rifle, many of the modern FWB PCP match rifles can be scoped, and, at ten meters, you’ll find nothing on the planet that is more accurate. https://www.airgunsofarizona.com/FWB.htm

 

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

19 Comments

  1. Jim Lowe says:

    How true, great info again Jock as always.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Jim.

  2. M. Albrecht, MD. says:

    Excellent report. I am in complete accord with your observations. My FWB 300[ 600 fps] and HW 55T [570 fps] and recently purchased HW 30S de luxe[ 680fps],scoped, are single hole tack drivers at 10m .
    MA

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Thanks for your comments Dr. Albrecht!

  3. Al Piper says:

    Jock: Right on the money. I slipped the target sights off my FWB-300S and put on a
    Simmons 2-7 WA. It was so much fun that it ought to be outlawed. And what stopped
    me from shoting birds. While setting with my back up against the outside wall of my
    home one day, I saw a hummingbird land on the CATV cable at 25 yards distance. With
    the regular target sights I figured I’d lay a pellet just below the beautiful creature and
    watch him buzz off in thier staight line flight. NO, all I saw was a cloud of feathers. I
    Wanted To Puke! Haven’t shot a single winged creature in over 5 years. And I will go to
    my grave with that record continuing to infinity………….! That happened at 59 years+ of
    age and I hope the Lord spanks me and sends me to the North end of the upper end of
    his north forty for decades. Without supper no less! Just retired and my RX-2 .20 has-
    n’t seen one pellet up the pipe yet! Two many irons, not enough fire. Oh,well…..
    Keep up the excellent work that you do on this blog. An avid reader of your reviews.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Al,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      You’re right: a scoped 300S is way too much fun for mere mortals.

      Enjoy your retirement.

  4. Mike Hess says:

    Another gun that falls in this catagory is the Air Venturi Bronco. Mine averages 505 fps with 7.9 grain premiers and has a very good trigger. An all day shooter and very accurate at 20 yards.

  5. ZVP says:

    Thanks Jock for btinging this topic to light! It makes a lot of sense and there isn’t anything un manily about shooting a low velocity rifle@
    I have around 25 airrifles and only 6 are Magnum Class, the rest range from a “Puffy” 360fps CZ Raven 618 to a 600fps+ HW30S. I even built a 700fps Geco/Diana 25D custom which uses an R7 mainspring and hours of polishing and fitting to get the rifle where I wanted it (Smooth)
    There is a good place for the 1000fps+ rifle in the F/t and hunting fields but for GP use why put your muscles to a strain cocking a Magnum? The relativelly breezy 18-20 lb cocking effores allow all day shooting without exaustion!
    Dave N, (aka: ZVP)

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Dave,

      Thanks for your comments. I’ve had a lot of fun with low-power tackdrivers, including shooting an FWB150/300 in FT.

  6. Steve says:

    I enjoy shooting my arsenal of 10 meter match guns more than the few high powered springers that I own. Cocking effort is easy, recoil is non-existent, and I can call my shots.

    A favorite shooting activity is shooting flies that land on my block wall 50 feet away.

    Over a span of two years, just before I retired, I bought many fine match rifles from Jim E. on American Airgun Ads. He found me two favorites in spectacular condition and in a
    left hand stock–FWB 300U and stunning FWB 300 Mini. I haven’t fired my TX200 or my RWS 460 in many months. I always reach for the tack drivers.

    Loved the article, Jock.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Steve,

      Thanks for the kind words! Love those FWBs . . . but shoot straight . . . nothing more dangerous than a wounded fly!

  7. young gun says:

    Hello Jock,

    Thank you for this blog! I don’t know much about air-rifles, but what I do know is that they are lot’s of fun! About 2 weeks ago I found my grandfathers old Diana Model 16, brushed it, cleaned it and it’s shooting like a charm. Pretty low powered, 20 meters is all the accuracy I can get out of the rifle. I live on the edge of a forest and enjoy teasing the birds that doodoo all over my car. I have no intentions to wound them, just to tease them (show them a lesson, yes the are smarter then they look). I’m looking for a descent air-rifle wich is accurate for up to 50-60 meters, wich will only tease my target (with flat headed .177 pellets). Any suggestions?

    Please reply, and thanks!
    Young Gun.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Young gun,

      I’m not sure what you mean by “teasing” the birds, but I assume that means shooting them non-lethally. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, you’re not going to find an airgun that is accurate at 50-60 meters and is also non-lethal. You might try shooting with felt cleaning pellets, but I don’t think they will be highly accurate at that distance. However, you might try experiments with an airsoft rifle.

  8. Dennis Bartz says:

    Hello,

    I have a Beeman HW30 and have enjoyed it over the years. I am left-handed and would like to find a felt-handed stock for it. Can you offer any suggestions?

    Cheers,

    Dennis

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Dennis,

      The good folks at http://www.airgunsofarizona.com might be able to help or steer you to someone who can. Otherwise, you might try asking on the yellow forum.

  9. David Weber says:

    Looking for a break barrel air gun capable of killing squirrels 15-20 yards out. The higher velocity air rifles are way too loud for suburban use. Some are louder than a 22 caliber rim fire. I don’t want to scare my neighbors or bring about visits from the local police.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      David,

      I would recommend the Walther LGV in .22. Easy to cock, easy to shoot well, enough power for your needs, and very, very quiet.

  10. Bob says:

    Jock , I am currently looking into an FWB 800 FT Basic. It’s advertised at 900 FPS however the FWB 800 basic is listed at 565. Is there a way to up tune the 800 basic to something in between …say 675-725 FPS in a .177 and at a reasonable price. there is as you know almost $800.00 difference I was hoping to buy a basic and tune it up 100FPS or so and use it for the hunter field target class at the local club here in so cal

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Bob,

      Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer. Perhaps the good folks at http://www.airgunsofarizona.com can answer the question or someone on one of the field target forums can.

Leave a Reply

five × 5 =