Archive for the ‘Airguns’ Category

Walther LGV Composite stock 001

In this week’s blog, we’ll take a look at another in the Walther LGC line of air rifles, the LGV Challenger.

As I have written elsewhere, the LGV was a project conceived in 2010 at Umarex in Germany (Umarex owns Walther) to create a retro-style spring-piston air rifle for the worldwide market. In doing so, they wanted to pay tribute to the original Walther LGV, which was a high-precision ten-meter target rifle introduced in 1964. A breakbarrel rifle, it had a positive barrel latch that insured that the barrel hinge always returned to the same position and remained there during the firing cycle.

Walther LGV Composite stock 002

As far as I have been able to determine, the line consists of five different rifles, and the LGV Challenger is the least expensive of these. It has a matte black polymer stock, stretches 43.1 inches from end to end, and weighs just 8.38 pounds. At the back end of the stock is a soft black rubber butt pad. The ambidextrous stock has a slight comb. The pistol grip, which slopes at a gentle angle, has molded-in checkering on either side. Forward of that, the stock material forms a trigger guard around a black trigger which is adjustable for first stage pull and trigger weight.

Moving forward, the forestock has molded-in “checkering” on either side and a slot underneath that provides clearance for the cocking linkage. At the end of the forestock is a metal tab for releasing the barrel latch. Above that is the 15.7 inch barrel. The LGV Challenger is available in .177 and .22. I tested the .177 version.

Walther LGV Composite stock 005

At the muzzle end of the barrel is a metal fitting that serves as a mount for the hooded red fiber optic front sight and also has a screw-off knurled knob that allows a silencer to be mounted (where legal). On top of the breech block, you’ll find a micro-adjustable green fiber optic rear sight. Moving aft along the receiver, you’ll find dovetails for mounting a scope and three holes for accepting anti-recoil pins. Finally, at the extreme aft end of the receiver is a push-pull safety.

Walther LGV Composite stock 004

To ready the LGV Challenger for shooting (assuming you are right-handed), grab the barrel near the end of the forestock with your left hand. With your thumb, depress the barrel release latch while pulling down. This will break the breech open. Next, slide your left hand to the muzzle end of the barrel, grab the sight mount, and pull down and back until the barrel latches. This takes about 38 pounds of effort. Slide a pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the barrel to its original position.

Take aim, slide the safety off, and squeeze the first stage out of the trigger. This takes about one pound of pressure. Squeeze a bit more, and at about three pounds of pressure, the shot goes down range. The LGV Challenger launches 7 grain RWS Hobby pellets at 985.2 fps, for 15 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. With heavier pellets like Crosman Premier 7.9 grain pellets, I suspect it will shoot around 930 fps.

When the shot goes off, the LGV Challenger exhibits a bit of vibration. My wood stocked LGV Competition Ultra also exhibits some vibration but a bit less than the Challenger. I don’t know if that is because the Challenger is lighter than the other models or because it has a synthetic stock, but there is a definite vibration when the shot goes off.

Accuracy, however, is spot on. At 13 yards, the LGV Challenger was putting pellets through the same hole. At 32 yards, I was battling gusty autumn winds, but I am pretty certain that under optimal conditions, with the right pellet, a good airgunner could shoot dime-sized groups.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The LGV Master is a handsome air rifle.

The LGV Master is a handsome air rifle.

The Walther LGV was created as a kind of modern tribute to the legendary Walther LGV match rifle that was introduced in 1964. The goal in creating the new LGV, according to my contact at Umarex in Germany (Umarex owns Walther) was to develop a break barrel spring-piston air rifle without the disadvantages that a break-barrel normally has, including the twanging spring in the cylinder, the back-and-forth recoil that can kill scopes, the barrel not returning to exactly the same position, and typically an overly heavy trigger. In the examples of the LGV that I have so far, they succeeded.

The LGV line includes several different models of air rifles, and recently Airguns of Arizona sent me a couple samples of models that I have not seen before.

Walther LGV Master wood 002

The LGV Master stretches 43.1 inches from end to end and weighs 8.85 pounds before a scope is mounted. At the extreme aft end of the stock is a soft rubber butt pad, attached to the ambidextrous hardwood stock by a black polymer spacer. Moving forward, the butt stock has a modest comb which I found positioned my eye comfortably behind a scope. The pistol grip is gently slanted, as is typical of sporting air rifles, and is checkered on either side for improved grip.

Forward of that, a black metal trigger guard surrounds a black adjustable trigger. Moving forward again, the forestock is rather flat bottomed and is unadorned with checkering or other decoration. Toward the end of the forestock is a slot that provides clearance for the cocking linkage. At the end of the forestock is a metal tab that the shooter must press to release the barrel for cocking. This latch mechanism also insures that the barrel returns to the same position each time after the gun is cocked.

Walther LGV Master wood 005

Beyond the barrel latch is the barrel itself, which is 15.7 inches long. The LGV Master is available in .177 and .22, and I tested the .22 version. The LGV Master does not have the fancy muzzle brake/sight mount assembly seen on LGV models such as the Master Ultra and Competition Ultra. Instead, at the end of the barrel is a knurled knob that can be unscrewed to allow the mounting of a silencer in those jurisdictions where silencers are legal.

On top of the muzzle end of the barrel is a dovetail that allows the mounting of a globe front sight with black post-type insert. Moving back along the barrel, on top of the breech blot you’ll find a micro-adjustable notch rear sight. Moving back along the receiver, there is a dovetail for scope mounting along with some holes for anti-recoil pins. Finally, at the extreme aft end of the receiver is a forward-and-back slide type safety.

Walther LGV Master wood 004

To ready the LGV Master for shooting, press the barrel release tab and pull the barrel down slightly. This breaks the action open. Slide your hand out to the end of the barrel and pull down and back until it latches. This takes about 38 pounds of effort, according to www.umarexusa.com. Slide a pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the barrel to its original position.

Take aim, slide off the safety and squeeze the first stage of the trigger (this takes about a pound of pressure). Squeeze just a bit more, and at about three pounds, the second stage trips, and the shot goes down range. The .22 LGV Master launches 11.9 grain RWS hobby pellets at 689.8 fps for 12.5 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.

What is truly remarkable about the LGV Master is that the shot cycle is very nearly silent. The sample that I tested was by far and away the quietest spring piston air rifle I have ever shot. It makes a kind of pffft noise, and that’s it.

At 13 yards, the LGV Master delivered 5-shot groups where all the pellet holes touched each other. At 32 yards, I was fighting pre-Halloween gusty autumn winds and got quarter-sized groups, but I am convinced that under optimal conditions, this rifle will deliver groups you could cover with a nickel.

The bottom line: I thoroughly enjoyed shooting the LGV Master in .22. If you are looking for a spring-piston air rifle that will attract very little attention to itself, look no further. I give it my heartiest personal recommendation.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The Umarex Octane looks a bit unusual but feels great in the hand.

The Umarex Octane looks a bit unusual but feels great in the hand.

Over a decade ago, when I was just starting to write about adult precision airguns, a guru in the field told me a thing: “If you want a really sweet shooting springer, you want to get as close as you can to one pound of gun weight (including scope) for each foot-pound of energy that the gun generates at the muzzle.”

He was offering this as an explanation for why the humble Weihrauch HW30 is so enjoyable to shoot and why it is such a tackdriver for its power. And, over the years, his statement has pretty much proven to be true. Hold that thought, we’ll get back to it in a little while.

Recently, I had the opportunity to shoot the Umarex Octane in .22 caliber.  It stretches just a half inch over four feet long, and tips the scales at 10 pounds, four ounces with the 3-9 x 40 adjustable-objective scope that comes with it mounted. The Octane incorporates both a gas piston – the ReAxis Reverse-Axis Gas Piston – and the SilencAir noise dampener.

The matte black polymer stock is ambidextrous.

The matte black polymer stock is ambidextrous.

At the extreme aft end of the Octane is a soft rubber butt pad. The entire stock, including trigger guard, is molded from a matte black polymer. The ambidextrous all-weather stock is a thumbhole design, but there is also a semi-circular notch at the top of the pistol grip where the shooter can rest his or her thumb if desired. The pistol grip has some molded indentations for improved grip, and forward of that, you’ll find the trigger guard surrounds a black metal trigger that is adjustable for first-stage travel and a lever-type safety.

The SilencAir system reduces the report and provides a mount for the front sight.

The SilencAir system reduces the report and provides a mount for the front sight.

Forward of that, there is molded-in checkering on either side of the forestock and a slot underneath the forestock to accommodate the cocking linkage. Beyond the end of the forestock is the 19.5-inch barrel, at the end of which can be found the SilencAir, a five-chamber noise dampener which also serves as a mount for the red fiber optic front sight. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a micro-adjustable green fiber optic rear sight mounted on top of breech block.

The Octane comes with a 3-9 x 40 adjustable-objective scope.

The Octane comes with a 3-9 x 40 adjustable-objective scope.

Moving back again, a custom metal Pictatinny mounting rail is fitted to the top of the receiver, where it provides a secure mount for the scope that comes with the Octane.

To ready the Octane for shooting, grab the SilencAir at the end of the barrel and pull it down and back until it latches. This requires about 42 pounds of effort and is very smooth and noiseless, as is typical of gas-piston systems. Slide a pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the barrel to its original position.

Now here is where things get interesting. As you take aim and flick off the safety, you immediately notice that the lever-type automatic safety works exactly the opposite way of the lever-type safety in many other airguns. To turn the safety off and ready the Octane for firing, you pull the safety lever toward the trigger. It took me a minute or two to become accustomed to this, but it works fine, and after a while I took no notice of it. Squeeze the trigger, and a 1 lb. 13.3 oz., the first stage comes out of the trigger. On the sample that I tested at six pounds even, the second stage trips, and the shot goes downrange. This is heavier than the factory-specified 3.5 lbs., but I did not find it annoying.

Umarex .22 Octane 006

Even more interesting, the Octane is a hammer. It launched 14.3 grain Crosman Premier pellets at an average velocity of 838 fps for a very healthy 22.3 foot-pounds of energy.  This is due in large part to the ReAxis gas piston. Its design reverses the conventional gas-piston design so that more weight is driving the piston down the compression tube. The result is more power.

In addition, because of the SilencAir, the downrange report is reduced. This is a powerful gun, so it is not dead quiet by any means, but it is quieter than it would be otherwise.

And now we get back to that business about one pound of gun weight per foot pound of energy. The Octane obviously violates that rule with more than two foot-pounds of energy for every pound of gun weight. In addition, I am admittedly not the world’s greatest spring-piston air rifle shooter. I found that I could occasionally achieve dime-sized groups with the Octane at 20 yards with Crosman .22 Premiers but it was far more typical for my groups to spread out to the diameter of a quarter at 20 yards. Perhaps a more gifted springer shooter could do better, but I couldn’t.

The Octane is not the gun that I would pick for doing head shots on squirrels at 50 yards, but for an air rifle to deal with the woodchuck in the garden at 50 feet or the raccoon that has been molesting the garbage cans, it would be among my top choices. (And with the gas piston, you can leave cocked all day without fear of damaging the spring, because there isn’t any!)

I genuinely enjoyed shooting the Octane, and I think any airgunner who wants to hunt or control pests at short to medium range will enjoy it too.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Ruger .177 Talon 007I mentioned a while back that I had been shooting some inexpensive – sub-$200, Tier One – air rifles, and today I’d like to share some of my experience with another one of these highly affordable air rifles, the Ruger Talon.

The Ruger Talon came to me through the good folks at Umarex USA. It stretches just under 45 inches from end to end and weighs 8 lbs. 6 oz. with the included scope mounted. The Talon is interesting to look at. The entire rifle is black, with four very small exceptions: the front and rear fiber optic sights and two red circles with the Ruger emblem on either side of the buttstock.

The butt pad slants into the butt stock at an angle.

The butt pad slants into the butt stock at an angle.

At the extreme aft end of the buttstock is a soft rubber butt pad. This soft rubber section extends into the buttstock on a diagonal which is unusual but pleasing to the eye. The rest of the ambidextrous stock is made of matte black finished polymer. Underneath the comb of the stock are three horizontal slots. I suppose it might be possible to store some survival supplies in those slots – firestarter perhaps – and then cover the slots to contain the supplies.

Ruger .177 Talon 006

Forward of that, the pistol grip slants at a modest angle and has checkering for improved grip. Moving forward again, the stock material forms a trigger guard that surrounds a black metal trigger. Just forward of that, there is checking on either side of the forestock. Ahead of that, you’ll find some decorative slots on either side of the forestock and a long slot underneath the forestock that provides clearance for the cocking linkage.

The five-chamber SilencAir helps to reduce the down-range report.

The five-chamber SilencAir helps to reduce the down-range report.

Beyond the forestock is the .177 caliber barrel, which is nearly 19 inches long. At the end of the barrel is the SilencAir noise dampening system that reduces down-range muzzle report. The five-chamber SilencAir also serves as a mount for the front red fiber optic sight. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a micro-adjustable green fiber optic rear sight mounted on top of breech block.

Moving back again along the receiver, a custom metal Picatinny mounting rail is fitted to the top of the receiver and provides secure mounting for the scope. (An aside: I am pretty much a fan of Picatinny scope mounting systems. It provides a very straightforward way of mounting a scope and heavy duty protection against the scope moving under the whiplash recoil of a spring-piston or gas-piston powerplant.) At the aft end of the receiver is a push-pull safety as found on many RWS airguns. The scope that comes with the Ruger Talon is a 4 x 32 with a non-adjustable objective.

To ready the Talon for shooting, grab the muzzle end of the barrel and pull it down and back until it latches. This requires about 30 lbs. of effort. Slide a pellet into the breech and return the barrel to its original position. Now, here’s where the surprise comes in: when I was cocking the Talon, I could hear no spring noise whatsoever. In my experience, it is highly unusual for sub-$200 spring-piston air rifles to be this quiet during the cocking stroke.

Take aim, ease the first stage out of the trigger (this required 1 lb. 13.3 oz. of effort on the sample I tested), and squeeze a bit more. At 4 lbs. 1 oz., the shot goes down range, again with no noticeable twang or spring vibration.

Ruger .177 Talon 007

I was so surprised at this that I called Umarex USA and asked if maybe they were building the Ruger Talon as a gas-ram and hadn’t told anyone. No, they assured me; it really is a spring-piston powerplant, but they have been taking a bit of extra care in their quality control and manufacturing tolerances.

The Ruger Talon sample that I tested launched 7.9 grain Crosman Premier pellets at a sizzling 928 fps average for 15.11 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

I suspect that the four-power non-adjustable objective scope was the limiting factor in my accuracy testing.

I suspect that the four-power non-adjustable objective scope was the limiting factor in my accuracy testing.

I was able to achieve quarter-sized 5-shot groups at 20 yards with Barracuda Green .177 pellets, and I did nearly as well with JSBs. I suspect – but can’t prove – that the limiting factor here was the four-power non-adjustable objective scope. With a non-AO scope, if you don’t put your head in exactly the same spot behind the scope for every single shot, you can get point of impact deviations. This is an air rifle that I think would be improved with the addition of a higher power adjustable objective scope. Note well: the view through the 4x scope was crisp and clear and light years ahead of the terrible scope that was included with the Hatsan 95.

In the end, I liked the Ruger Talon. It’s pleasant to shoot and delivers good value for the price.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

hW80 .22 caliber 001

The HW80 is a true classic. I just love the way it looks, feels, handles, and shoots. It stretches 45.3 inches from muzzle to butt pad and weighs 8.8 pounds.

hW80 .22 caliber 002

At the extreme aft end is a brown rubber butt pad that connects to the hardwood stock with a black space. Forward of that, the stock is righthanded with a cheek piece on the left side of the butt stock, but I believe that it can be shot comfortably by lefthanders. The cheek piece is also low enough that the HW80 can be shot comfortably with iron sights. The pistol grips slopes gently and has checkering on either side.

hW80 .22 caliber 007

Forward of the pistol grip is a black metal trigger guard that surrounds a silver colored metal trigger and a silver colored metal post that can be screwed in and out (through a hole in the trigger guard) to adjust the weight of the Rekord trigger. Forward of the trigger guard, the forestock is smooth and unadorned except for a slot for the cocking mechanism on the underside and a couple of black metal screws on either side.

hW80 .22 caliber 004

Forward of the forestock, the front half of the breech block and cocking mechanism are visible. Beyond that is the 20 inch barrel. At the muzzle end of the barrel, on top, is a small dovetail that is used to mount a globe front sight with interchangeable inserts. Moving back along the barrel, a notch micro-adjustable rear sight is mounted on top of the breech block.

hW80 .22 caliber 003

Moving back along the receiver, there are dovetails for mounting a scope and three holes for accepting anti-recoil pins. At the extreme aft end of the receiver, there is push-button safety that is automatically activated whenever the gun is cocked.

To ready the HW80 for shooting, grab the barrel near the muzzle and pull it down and back toward the pistol grip until the mechanism latches. Cocking effort is around 34 pounds. Slide a pellet into the breech and return the barrel to its original position. Take aim, snap off the automatic safety, and ease the first stage out of the trigger. Squeeze a bit harder, and the shot goes down range. The Rekord trigger is crisp and clean and can be adjusted from over four pounds to less than a pound.

The shot cycle of the HW80 is very relaxed. The gun goes ka-chunggg and that’s it. There is a slight bit of spring twang that is heard but not felt, and the report is audible – what you would expect from a spring gun of this power – but certainly not raucous. In all, the HW80 is a very pleasant air rifle to shoot.

The sample that I tested was launching 11.9 grain .22 RWS Hobby pellets at 850 fps, generating just a hair over 19 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. With Crosman Premier pellets, I found I could shoot 5-shot groups at 32 yards that you could cover with a quarter.

The .22 HW80 can be used for hunting, pest control, or just general shooting. Mount a peep sight instead of a scope (and be sure to remove the notch sight mounted on the breech block), and you can make like Matthew Quigley.

I liked the HW80 a whole lot, and I think it would put a grin on the face of any adult airgunner. With proper care and the occasional rebuild, it will last a lifetime and you can leave it in your will. What’s not to like?

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

hW80 .22 caliber 006Recently I had the opportunity to shoot classic air rifle that I had never shot before, the Weihrauch HW80 in .22 caliber. We’ll get to a description of this rifle and how it shoots in Part II of this blog, but first let’s consider the somewhat unusual history of the Weihrauch HW80.

To start, we have to go back, all the way back to 1978.  Robert Beeman and his wife – the owners of Beeman Precision Arms and pioneers in bringing adult precision airguns to Americans – were puzzled. Why was it that the 8-pound Beeman/Weihrauch 35 would shoot at only 755 fps in .177 caliber while 7.2 pound Feinwerkbau 124 could crank out 800-830 fps? It appeared that the HW 35 should be more powerful; it had a larger diameter compression chamber and a more massive mainspring, but it couldn’t match the easier to cock FWB 124.

The Beemans had a very practical motive for their curiosity. Their dream was to create the first true “magnum” airgun with a spring-piston powerplant for the U.S. market. English and German airgun manufacturers weren’t generally interested in answering the question because of power limitations on airguns in their countries. So the Beemans enlisted the help of university engineer E.H. Epperson, an airgun enthusiast, to simulate on a computer the interrelationship of some of the variables in airgun powerplants.

Early in 1979, the Beemans presented the results to Hans Weihrauch and his wife (who was also his business partner; they were owners of the Hermann Weihrauch Company). Together, the Beemans and Weihrauchs agreed to collaborate – with Robert Beeman as the prime mover behind the big concept as well as the final details – on a new rifle for the American market. The new rifle was the first air rifle to be based on computer simulations. Previously, airgun prototype development and experimentation had been done on the “try it and see what happens” basis. Beeman also worked with custom stock maker Gary Goudy to produce several prototype stocks for the new rifle.

In an article on his website, Robert Beeman says, “As the primary development grew to a close, Hans Sr. gave us a choice: we could pay for the execution and tooling and have the exclusive worldwide rights to our model or the Weihrauchs would pay these costs on the agreement that the Beemans would have exclusive rights to the gun in the United States, and anywhere else that it was marketed as the Beeman Rl, and that the Weihrauchs could market other versions, with specifications appropriate to other markets, under the HW 80 label, outside the United States. In the interest of cost and cooperation, we chose the latter.”

In his book The Beeman R1 – Supermagnum Air Rifle, Tom Gaylord said, “the Beeman R1 is the rifle that brought America fully into the world of adult airguns.” The plainer Weihrauch HW80, designed for the European market where power and style were not so important, would be an offspring from the development of the R1.

Eventually the new rifle, called the Beeman R1 for Rifle Number One, made its debut in the United States in late 1981. In Robert Beeman’s words, “The resulting rifle was handsome, beautifully balanced at 8.5 pounds, and easy to fire accurately. It was engineered with an understressed, straight-forward powerplant, and the most solid, well-machined mechanism on the market. Muzzle velocities were in an astonishing new range: 900 to almost 1,000 fps in the then-most-popular caliber, .177.”

Beeman adds, “Ironically, delays in the production of the R1 stock, which required larger stock blanks than the shorter, rather Germanic HW 80 stock design of that time, resulted in the HW 80 being introduced a little before the U.S. debut of the Beeman R1 in late 1981. In any case, just as the Beeman P1 pistol was not developed from the HW45, the Beeman R1 rifle definitely was not developed from the HW 80. Both rifles were developed from our concept of the R1.”

Next time, we’ll take a tour of the HW80 in .22 and see how it shoots.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

I love it when somebody comes up with a list of rules or laws that somehow explain the operation of the universe.

Probably the best known of these is Murphy’s Law, which states: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”.

There are a couple of interesting corollaries to Murphy’s Law. (1) “Even if anything can’t go wrong, it still will.” (2) “It will go wrong at the worst possible time and in the worst possible place.”

My favorite corollary to Murphy’s Law is the most dire: “Murphy was an optimist.”

Along this line, I have come up with Uncle Jock’s Laws of Airgunning.

1. Safety is job one, so keep your gun pointed in a safe direction. I am dead serious about this. Do not – ever – point your airgun (loaded or unloaded) at any person, place, thing, object, direction, or animal where you don’t want to see a pellet hitting. Guns can only shoot where they are pointed, so keep them pointed in a safe direction always.

I was once approached by a lawyer to be an expert witness in a case where, off the paintball field, a gentleman had shot a friend in the eye with his paintball gun. “Then gun went off accidentally and was therefore defective,” was the claim. I pointed out that the shooter had violated rule one by pointing his paintball gun at his friend when the firiend’s protective gear had been removed. I declined to participate in the lawsuit.

The corollary: keep your finger out of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot. This is doubly true when you are shooting a strange gun, a gun with a newly tuned trigger or a newly installed aftermarket trigger.

2. Even champions can blow easy shots. On several occasions, I have heard nationally ranked field target shooters relate how they missed a really big kill zone at 10 yards. Figuring the shot was a “gimme,” they hadn’t put all the care they should into executing the shot. The lesson: when you’re shooting, pay full attention and concentrate.

3. The Principle of Pellet Preference Perversion. I bet I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that I tested an airgun and shot the most accurately with ammunition offered by the manufacturer of the airgun. It’s just weird. Crosman guns will “prefer” anything but Crosman pellets. Gamo guns won’t like Gamo pellets, and so on. The bottom line, though, is let the airgun choose the ammunition. It doesn’t matter what somebody said on the forum or that your brother-in-law has the same gun and it likes a particular pellet – you have to do the testing and let your gun choose the pellet that works best. There is one semi-exception. If you order your gun from www.airgunsofarizona.com, ask them what pellet they would recommend. They shoot the guns they stock a lot and can probably recommend two or three pellets that are likely to work well. I once borrowed a gun from AoA for a field target match. It arrived the day before the match. There was barely time to get a scope mounted, let alone test pellets. I called them, asked what pellet they recommended. I used their recommendation and won my class.

4. Make nice with the neighbors. It’s generally a good policy at any time to maintain good – or at least neutral – relationships with the neighbors. If you are planning to start shooting airguns in your yard for the first time, it’s a good idea to (A) make sure that it is legal to do so. Check with your local law enforcement and make certain that you are on firm legal footing. (B) Approach your neighbor at some convenient time (don’t bring your gun), tell them that they may see you shooting your airgun, that you will be shooting in a safe direction, and that you are as concerned about safety as they are. Tell them that you just wanted to let them know so they would not be concerned. (C) Shoot at a time when it will not disturb the neighbor. In short, treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Total weight: 3 pounds, 14.9 ounces.

Total weight: 3 pounds, 14.9 ounces.

For me, one of the best ways of spending an afternoon – besides shooting airguns with a friend – is reading, or watching, a man-on-the-run thriller. I have a particular fondness for some of the older ones, like The 39 Steps by John Buchan which first appeared as a magazine serial in 1915. In it, an ordinary guy – Richard Hannay – finds himself thrust into international intrigue and on the run from sinister forces. Buchan was both the 15th Governor General of Canada and the author of dozens of books, both novels and non-fiction. Talk about an overachiever! The 39 Steps is available as a book and has been turned into a film several times. I recommend it.

RogueMaleNovel

Recently I had the opportunity to watch another man-on-the-run thriller that I had not seen in several years: Rogue Male. Based on the 1939 novel by Geoffrey Household, the 1976 film stars Peter O’Toole as Sir Robert Hunter, a British sportsman who stalks and takes aim at Adolph Hitler with a high-powered rifle. He misses and is captured and tortured by the Gestapo, who make up a fanciful story about why he is missing, throw him off a cliff, and leave him for dead. But Hunter doesn’t die, and he makes his way back to England only to find that the Gestapo is still after him. To escape his pursuers, he literally “takes to ground,” burrowing into a hillside in far out in the countryside.

As I watched Rogue Male, I couldn’t help but think, “Sir Robert really would have benefitted from having a small, light air rifle for collecting small game. And that’s where the trouble began.

I got to thinking about what would be the smallest, lightest air rifle that could be reasonably counted on for taking small game, at say, 20 yards. I’m not aware of any really featherweight springers. The venerable Benjamin 392 tips the scales at 5.5 pounds. The Crosman 2100 weighs 4.8 pounds. The Crosman 760 weighs only 2.75 pounds, but I would want something that breaks down easily to a smaller size for easy transport. The 1377 pistol with a steel breech and red dot weighs 3 lbs. 6 oz., and as I have written before — http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2013/08/various-and-sundry.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=various-and-sundry — can be challenging to shoot accurately to harvest small game (even though it is a lot of fun to shoot).

The Kip Karbine in its original configuration.

The Kip Karbine in its original configuration.

Then it came to me: what about the Kip Karbine? Some years ago, Kip at www.airgunsofarizona.com built for me a tiny air rifle based on the 1377 multi-stroke pneumatic pistol. It featured a pumping forearm from the backbacker rifle, a plastic detachable shoulder stock, a steel breech and a .22 barrel. When it arrived at El Rancho Elliott, I mounted a muzzle brake from a Daisy target rifle (mainly because I liked the look of it, and it protected the muzzle) and a diminutive Bug Buster scope. The whole rig weighed about five-and-a-half pounds, and I used it that way for some time.

 

I mounted a globe front sight.

I mounted a globe front sight.

But as I looked at the Kip Karbine and thought about Rogue Male, I wondered what I could do to reduce the weight even more. I took off the Bug Buster scope and mounts. They were surprisingly heavy – 1 lb. 5.8 ounces. The Daisy muzzle brake already had dovetails for mounting a front globe sight, so I clamped one to the rail with a post-and-bead insert mounted inside.

The rear peep sight clamps to the scope rail.

The rear peep sight clamps to the scope rail.

The rear sight was more of a problem. I couldn’t use any sort of peep sight that hung over the rear of the breech because a screw got in the way. A Williams peep sight looked like it would interfere with the operation of the bolt. But while rummaging through my parts drawers, I came upon a peep sight – I believe it is from Mendoza airguns – that looked like it would clamp to the dovetail on the breech. It worked! Even better, when I went outside, I found that it had sufficient vertical travel that it would sight in.

Here's what the finished Kip Karbine Ultralight looks like compared to a Sheridan (the same size as a Benjamin 392).

Here’s what the finished Kip Karbine Ultralight looks like compared to a Sheridan (the same size as a Benjamin 392).

The final question was: would it generate enough power for reliably taking small game at 20 yards? I began banging away at a tin can at 20 yards, increasing the number of pumps until it penetrated both sides of the can. At twelve pumps, the Crosman Premier pellets punched through with authority. I chronographed the gun – which I have no dubbed the “Kip Karbine Ultralight” – and found that it was launching 14.3 grain .22 caliber Crosman Premier pellets at 484 feet per second. That works out to 7.4 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle, and ought to be enough to get the job done. I really like shooting it, and since there are no custom parts, it ought to be possible for readers of this blog to put together their own version of the Kip Karbine Ultralight if they so desire.

Kip Karbine Ultralight 007-001

For those who would like a much higher quality way of traveling light, I understand that FX airguns makes a sight attachment accessory which allows most FX’s (or anything with a standard threaded muzzle) to have a front sight rail: http://www.fxairguns.com/2011/09/foresight-mount/

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The Hatsan Model 95 is a handsome air rifle.

The Hatsan Model 95 is a handsome air rifle.

Lately I have been testing some inexpensive air rifle/scope combos. The Hatsan 95 Combo is one of those. But before we get into that, let’s back up for a moment and take the 30,000-foot view.

In the online forums, it would appear that some airgunners simply don’t “get” the idea of the price/performance curve. It can be thought of as a graph in which you plot the price of a product on one axis and the performance of the product along the other axis. For almost every single product I can think of, the price/performance curve shows that, in general, you get what you pay for; that is, the more you pay, the more performance you get.  (There are, of course, occasional exceptions, products that provide exceptional performance at a modest price, but these are rarities.)

Another way to look at this concept is in terms of tiers (this is quoted from a recent issue of SHOT Business magazine, if you want to read the whole article, you can see it here: http://shotbusiness.org/the-new-world-of-airguns/ ):

  • Tier 1, $20-$200 – These are the pump-up, spring-piston, and CO2 air rifles and pistols you are likely to find in big-box discount retailers and the airguns the public is most likely to know about. Familiar brand names in this category include Crosman, Daisy, Sheridan, and Gamo.
  • Tier 2, $200-$500 – These are the better made pump-up and spring-piston air rifles as well as less expensive PCP airguns that are sometimes carried by independent sporting goods shops. These are, by and large, “legacy” airguns that get passed from generation to generation.  Familiar brands in this tier include Benjamin, BSA, Gamo, RWS, and Weihrauch.
  • Tier 3, $500-$3000 – These are the top echelon, elite performers of the airgun world. Comprised mainly of PCP rifles and pistols, this category also includes very high end spring-piston rifles. These airguns that will have the guys at the gun club drooling with envy, especially when your airgun customers outshoot them. Familiar brands in this tier include Air Arms, Air Force, Anschutz, Benjamin, Brocock, BSA, Daystate, FWB, FX, RWS, and Weihrauch.

Bear in mind that these tiers are generalities, designed to help independent gun dealers get their heads around why they should carry airguns, but typically in Tiers 2 and 3, you can expect very good to outstanding quality, and you can expect to pay commensurately for the privilege.

The Hatsan 95 features a Turkish walnut stock and a gold colored metal trigger.

The Hatsan 95 features a Turkish walnut stock and a gold colored metal trigger.

Tier 1, however, is much more of a mixed bag, and it’s in Tier 1 that we find the Hatsan Model 95. Available in three calibers (.177, .22, and .25), this is a single-shot spring piston air rifle that stretches 44.3 inches from end to end and weighs 9 lbs. 1 oz. with the scope that comes as part of the combo attached.  I tested the .177 version. Two things struck my eye when I pulled the Model 95 out of the box: the Turkish walnut stock and the gold-colored metal trigger. The result is a very nice looking air rifle.

The butt pad is a soft rubber-like material.

The butt pad is a soft rubber-like material.

At the back end of the Model 95 is a soft rubber butt pad which is attached to an ambidextrous walnut stock. The modestly-slanted pistol grip has checkering on either side. Forward of that, a black trigger guard surrounds the trigger. Moving forward again, the forestock is checkered on either side, and underneath you’ll find a slot to provide clearance for the break barrel cocking linkage.

The polymer muzzle brake serves as a mount for the fiber optic front sight.

The polymer muzzle brake serves as a mount for the fiber optic front sight.

At the muzzle end of the barrel is a molded polymer muzzle brake which also serves as a mount for the red fiber optic front sight. Moving aft, you’ll find a green fiber optic micro adjustable rear sight on top of the breech block. Moving back again, the receiver has dovetails to allow mounting a scope, and near the aft end of the dovetails is a metallic scope stop that prevents the scope from moving backward along the scope rail when the shot goes off. Finally, at the extreme aft end of the receiver is a push-pull type safety. Other than the 3-9 x 32 non-adjustable-objective scope, that’s all there is to the Model 95.

To get the Model 95 ready to for shooting, grab the muzzle break and pull it down and back until the cocking mechanism latches. I estimate this takes a bit over 30 lbs of effort. Next, insert a pellet into the breech and return the barrel to its original position. Take aim, click off the safety, and squeeze the trigger. At 1 lb. 3.3 oz. the first stage comes out of the trigger, at 4 lb. 14.2 oz., the shot goes down range. The Model 95 launches 7 grain hobby pellets at 995 fps for 15.4 fp of energy at the muzzle.

The report is typical for a springer of this power, and the powerplant generates some vibration, but it is more heard than felt by the shooter. Hatsan says that the Model 95 is equipped with something called the Shock Absorber System, but I was unable to find out more about this system from the factory website. While it does not make the Model 95 recoilless, it certainly is not an unpleasant springer to shoot.

The Model 95 Combo, though, it not without problems. The scope and its mounts are basically junk. I had two scope mounts fail while testing the Model 95 (www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me replacements), but that is not the crucial problem. The scope, being non-adjustable-objective, cannot be focused. At 3 power, I could not see clearly at 13 yards, at 9 power, I could not see clearly at 20 yards. This made accuracy testing extremely problematic. I might have been the victim of unit-to-unit variation, but the scope that came with this sample was – flatly – useless. I would recommend either mounting a better scope or going the simple route and use the fiber optic open sights that come with the Model 95. (For the record, the good folks at Airguns of Arizona recommended to Hatsan that they either include a decent scope in the combo or don’t include a scope at all.)

I mounted a good scope – a Vortex – and tested the Model 95 for accuracy. Eventually, I was able to achieve at 5-shot group, shot with JSB Express pellets, at 32 yards that measured 1.1875 inch from edge to edge. That’s just a hair over 1 inch CTC. Now while that is hardly superb accuracy for a springer at that range, it is certainly sufficient for clearing the garden of pests at 100 feet.

In the end, the Hatsan 95 is a decidedly mixed bag. The scope and mounts are dreadful. The rifle itself, however, is nice looking and pleasant to shoot. The accuracy is not stellar but sufficient for plinking and pest control in the back yard at modest ranges. I’ve heard rumors that the .22 version is more accurate than the .177. Perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to test one in the future.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Okay, Butch, here’s the practical stuff you can do to extract the most accuracy out of your springer.

  1. Make sure the stock screws are snug. They don’t have to be as tight as humanly possible, but if they are not snug, they can produce very erratic accuracy. Recheck them from time to time.
  2. Make sure that your scope mounts are snug to the dovetail on top of the receiver and around the scope tube. Recheck these also from time to time.
  3. Let your springer choose the ammunition. Test for accuracy off a rest at close range with several different round-nose pellets – 10 to 15 yards to start – and when you find some pellets that group well, move to longer range and test again.
  4. Use a soft rest like a rolled up jacket, towel, or even a pillow. I often use my field target bum bag on top of a couple of old boat cushions. Try to place the rest just in front of the trigger guard. Use the same rest all the time. Springers generally do not like hard rests and can display dramatic changes in point of impact if you change the type of rest that you use. I had a nicely tuned springer that was dialed in perfectly for shooting from a sitting position with the gun resting in the crook of my arms. When I tried shooting the same gun with my elbows resting on a bench, the point of impact jumped up by an inch and a half at just ten yards. In another dramatic example, a fellow beat me by a couple of points with his springer. I asked him if I could try his gun. Sure, he said. I could not drop a large target at ten yards with half a dozen attempts. He thought there was something wrong with the gun. He tried it and dropped the target immediately. Obviously, the way you hold a springer makes a big difference in the point of impact.
  5. Don’t pull the gun hard into your shoulder. Let it rest easy.
  6. Try to make sure that the gun in its rest is naturally pointed at the target. If you have to force the gun to get on target, adjust your rest until, as much as possible, your air rifle is aimed at the target without you having to “muscle” it into position.
  7. Stay focused on the target. If possible, rest the thumb of your trigger hand on the top of the buttstock and pull your trigger finger straight back toward it. The object is to make your trigger pull as straight back as possible and not to either side. Suck in a breath, let half of it out, and pull steadily, keeping the crosshairs exactly where you want them on the target until the shot breaks. Don’t yank the trigger.
  8. If, as you are aiming, you find yourself running out of breath and getting desperate to release the shot, stop, reset yourself, take a couple of breaths, and start over again.
  9. Follow through. Don’t move anything until you see the pellet hit the target. Maintain laser focus of yourself on the target throughout the entire shot cycle.
  10.  Finally, if possible, move closer to the target. Nothing improves accuracy like getting closer! If you can reduce the distance to your pest birds by 15 yards, I think you’ll find it easier to hit the mark. (Butch, this is no reflection on your shooting skill, but a practical observation.)

Well, I hope this helps.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott