I came upon the subject for this blog quite by accident, and it was all my fault.
A while back I had been whining to Greg, my chief contact at Airguns of Arizona, about how winter was coming in big, bad upstate New York, and if the winter was anything like last year, there was going to be a period – maybe a long period — when I would be unable to test airguns. So would they please – please, please, PLEASE! – send me some guns to test in a big hurry!
Greg, being an excellent fellow, in great haste dispatched a large package containing several guns, which I then proceeded to test. When I got to the last gun, disaster struck. The bolt would not cycle properly, after which I could not get the fully loaded magazine out of the breech.
So here I was with a fully loaded, fully charged PCP air rifle that I could not unload. This makes me really uncomfortable, and I was borderline freaking out when I called AoA and got Shane on the line. He immediately gave me the procedure for getting the magazine out of the breech. I tried it, and it worked. Next, Shane wanted me to run a cleaning rod down the barrel to make sure that that there wasn’t a pellet jammed in there.
Dutifully, I slid the rod down the barrel and a mashed pellet and a machined brass cylinder came out. I reported this to Shane (we were doing this in real time on the phone), and he said, “Oh, you must have a gun that wasn’t prepped.”
“Wasn’t prepped,” I said. “Whaddya mean?”
“We prep almost every air rifle we ship,” Shane said. “You need to talk to Darren. He’s our primary prep guy.”
So I interviewed Darren, and what follows is the real and true story of how Airguns of Arizona preps air rifles before you get them.
When it comes to prepping precharged air rifles, the first is the removal of any special fittings that are attached to the gun for shipping. Some PCPs have a barrel plug and a special restrictor screw that are fitted so that the gun can be legally exported from the country of origin. (The barrel plug is what I ran into when the magazine jammed in the gun.)
After any shipping fittings are removed, the gun is visually inspected for any dings or pressure marks in the stock, any rust, signs of damage, any molding issues on synthetic stocks.
“After that,” Darren says, “we test most precharged guns for accuracy and velocity.” (There are some exceptions to this: there are some models that come shipped in well-sealed factory packaging, and AOA allows the manufacturer/distributor to deal with any quality issues on these models. It is too easy for a customer to confuse AOA’s testing with supplying of a used gun due to the torn packaging.)
“We’ll mount a scope and benchrest the gun at 18 yards,” he says. “If the customer is purchasing a scope with the gun, we’ll mount the customer’s scope and sight it in. We’ll test up to five different pellets to find the best pellets for that gun, and we’ll generally test with a heavy pellet to make sure that it is generating the proper amount of foot pounds.”
If there is a problem with the accuracy of the gun, AoA investigates why – looking for problems like perhaps a bad barrel or clipping issues. AoA will also hold up shipment on a gun if there is a dramatic spread in velocities. When everything checks out properly, Darren will print out chronograph receipt and the test target, sign off on the gun, and include those with the gun as it is shipped to the customer.
All spring-piston air rifles are tested for velocity, usually for 5-10 shots to make sure that it is consistent. “We don’t generally test for accuracy,” Darren says, “but if a customer buys a scope with their springer, we will mount it, sight it in, and shoot a five-shoot group with it.”
He adds, “I test so many airguns that very often I will know if there is an issue with a gun simply by the way it sounds and feels when I shoot it. Sometimes when we’re shipping several of the same model gun, I’ll test them side-by-side to give me an additional check on quality and consistency.”
With the exception of a few isolated models, Airguns of Arizona routinely preps the air rifles it sends to customers – at no additional charge. “It makes sense to do that,” Darren says. “It ensures customer satisfaction, reduces hassles at our end, and, if a gun arrives at a customer with a problem, we know that something happened to it between here and there.”
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.