Back in 1974, your Humble Correspondent was recorded picking his banjo on an album entitled “Alternate Plan B” recorded by Bert Mayne. I remember there was a line in the album notes that stuck with me: “Winter has been too long in my hills.”

I can relate. Despite relatively low snow fall, winter has, indeed, been too long in my hills this year. Maybe you have a case of the I-can’t-wait-for-spring mullygrubbs as well. If you do, don’t despair, help is just around the corner.

What you – and I – need is a little quality trigger time with an airgun. And if the weather outside is inclement (here is upstate New York, it has been just plain cold and damp), no problem . . . here’s your recipe for putting a smile on your face.

What you need is an air pistol, some pellets, some paper targets, and a pellet trap. (If you live someplace where folks might complain about noise, get a pellet trap that is lined with putty at the back to absorb the sound of the pellets hitting the trap).

The lovely thing about shooting an air pistol is that you don’t need a lot of space to provide a challenge. If you only have 15 feet to shoot in the basement (or even a hallway . . . make sure that no one can walk into your line of fire), that still can be mighty entertaining. Print out some ten meter pistol targets at half scale, and you’re all set.

What’s that you say? Shooting at 5 yards would be just too easy? Okay, try this: try shooting one-handed with your non-dominant hand. That’s right: if you normally shoot right-handed, try left left-handed. If you want to turn it into a game, try fanning out some playing cards on the face of your target so that only the corners are exposed and now try shooting a winning poker hand for yourself. Or fan out two sets of cards and turn it into a contest with someone else.

The Browning Buck Mark URX fills the bill for a basement plinker at a very reasonable price.

The Browning Buck Mark URX fills the bill for a basement plinker at a very reasonable price.

There are a bunch of pistols that will fill the bill for satisfying indoor shooting at close range. The Browning Buck Mark URX immediately comes to mind. It’s a break-barrel, spring-piston, .177 caliber air pistol that looks like the powder burning Buck Mark URX offered by Browning. You can read my full review of it here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2012/07/browning-buck-mark-urx-the-plinkmeister.html It is a relatively quiet, slow pistol that is just perfect for messing around indoors.

For some additional pistol suggestions, check out this blog: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2012/12/the-greatest-christmas-gift-part-ii.html  The Daisy Avanti 747, the Crosman 2300S, the RWS LP8, and, of course, any of the Weihrauch HW45 series pistols are all excellent candidates for indoor practice that will help to cure those –end-of-the-winter blues.

In addition to a pistol, pellet trap, and some pellets, you will also need some eye protection in case an errant pellet ricochets. Finally, as always, you need to keep safety first and foremost. If you are shooting indoors, take care that no person or pet can inadvertently come between you and your target. I sometimes shoot in the basement at El Rancho Elliott between the washing machine and the workbench. I put my pellet trap on top of the workbench, and everything usually works just fine except one day when I triggered a shot before I had carefully taken aim. One of the drawers in the cabinet where I keep nuts, bolts, and screws now has a .177 caliber hole in it! So be careful . . . please.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Cross dominance at work. Your Humble Correspondent is shooting this pistol right-handed, but I have turned my head slightly so that my left eye lines up behind the red dot sight.

Cross dominance at work. Your Humble Correspondent is shooting this pistol right-handed, but I have turned my head slightly so that my left eye lines up behind the red dot sight.

I am cross-dominant. No, that doesn’t mean that I am engaged in some sort of weird fetish. It means, instead, my dominant hand is on one side of my body but my dominant eye is on the other side. In my case, I am right handed but left eyed.

According to the US Concealed Carry Association website, www.usconcealedcarry.com, a study of 5,000 people in the 1960s found that 28.6 percent were right handed but left eyed, while only 3.9 percent were left handed but right eyed. Less than 1 percent are thought to have no dominance by either eye while the rest presumably have hand and eye dominance on the same side of the body.

I didn’t even know that I was cross dominant until an archery-related shoulder injury forced me to try shooting archery left handed. Part of that experiment involved determining which was my dominant eye, and that’s when I found out that I am cross dominant. To this day, I shoot a bow left-handed.

It easy to determine which is your dominant eye. Point your finger a light switch 20 feet away. Now, close your left eye. If your fingertip stays over the light switch, you are right eye dominant. If the fingertip jumps to the left, you are left eye dominant. If your dominant eye and dominant hand are on the same side of your body, you are not cross dominant.

But what if you are cross dominant, what does that mean for shooting airguns? For shooting air pistols, it is pretty easy to accommodate cross dominance. Simply hold the pistol in your dominant hand and then rotate your head on a vertical axis or tilt your head so that your dominant eye lines up with the sights. That’s how I shoot pistol, and it appears to work pretty well.

But what about shooting air rifle? There is no easy way to get your left eye behind the sights if you are shooting a rifle right-handed. Experts generally agree that it is best to shoot from the same side of your body as your dominant eye, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. I won the New York State Hunter Class Field Target Championship in 2004 shooting a Beeman R1 equipped with peep sights, and I was shooting right-handed and right-eyed. This was before I knew that I was cross dominant. I still shoot rifle right-handed and right-eyed.

Some experts say that if a shooter is young – less than 20 years of age – it is best to force them to shoot from the side that their dominant eye is on. Others report trying to force older shooters to switch the side they shoot from with mixed results. I tried it when I was having problems with a cataract in my right eye and found shooting from my left side to be incredibly awkward, so awkward in fact that I just gave up. Now that I have had a cataract operation on my right eye, I don’t even bother trying.

I have spoken with one shooter who successfully switched from shooting right-handed to shooting left-handed. Hans Apelles, now 78 years old and part of Team Crosman, made the switch in his 60s because of problems with glaucoma in his right eye which is also his dominant eye.

“Over one winter, I decided I needed to shoot left handed,” he says. “You have to teach your brain what you are going to do. For instance, when I was going to take a kneeling shot, I had to think three times what knee to put down for left-handed shooting.”

He adds, “The first year was very awkward, and I have a couple of holes in the basement ceiling from stupid things happening. But as soon as I started competing in the spring, my scores went up because I could see better.”

He says, “You have to put your mind to it when you switch because it doesn’t come automatically in the beginning. It takes many years of shooting to get your brain trained that way. Even now, if I have a lay-off for a while, I will sometimes put my kneepad on the wrong leg.”

So, are you cross dominant? There is about a one in three chance that you might be. Take the simple test above and find out. If you are, you might consider adjusting your shooting style to make best use of your dominant eye.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The business of getting into a new hobby is a curious one. I should know; I’ve started enough of them to have some experience.

At the beginning of a new field of endeavor, it looks appealing, and you’re curious: what’s airgunning all about? What’s fun about it? What are the interesting activities that you might get involved in? And you begin to think about perhaps purchasing your first airgun.

It is precisely at this point that the trouble arises. If you have had any experience at all with starting new hobbies, you know that there are two potential traps you could fall into. The first is buying a really cheap piece of gear because “you’re just trying to get a feel for the hobby without spending too much.” The trap here is that often inexpensive gear often has some deficiency that seriously interferes with enjoyment. With airguns, specifically, that might mean a nasty trigger or a harsh firing cycle.

The other trap is going full-out and buying a really expensive piece of gear that is not the right fit for what you ultimately want to do. In airguns, this might manifest itself in buying a rifle designed for 10 meter Olympic competition or field target competition when ultimately what you want to do is plink in the back yard. On the online forums, occasionally someone will pop up requesting advice on buying an airgun. Often a forum participant will respond, “What do you want to do with it?” It’s not unusual to have the reply come back: “I’m not sure.” It’s a problem: how do you know what you want to get when you don’t know what you want to do with it?

So, having said all that, this blog is an attempt to help those outright newbies who might not know what they want to do with an airgun and don’t want to make a dumb (donkey) mistake in buying their first one.

The Daisy Avanti Triumph 747

If you like the idea of pistols and think you might like to plink in the back yard or maybe even get involved in some competition down the line, but you don’t have a need to kill pests in the garden or defend the bird feeder, I have one solid recommendation for you: the Daisy Avanti Triump 747 . This is a single-stroke pneumatic air pistol that is wickedly accurate out to about 20 yards, doesn’t generate a lot of power (It is completely unsuitable for pest control), and easy to shoot and maintain. All you need is one of these, some pellets, a pellet trap and targets, and some eye protection, and you’re set for years of fun indoors and out.

The Benjamin 392

The Benjamin 392

The Webley Rebel

The Webley Rebel

But suppose you’d like to dip your toe in the waters of airgunning and need to remove pests from the garden or defend the bird feeder, and you don’t want to spend a lot of money? In that case, I would recommend a multi-stroke pneumatic air rifle. These rifles are easy to shoot well and require multiple strokes of the pumping lever before each shot. The power can be adjusted by the number of strokes. If you want to shoot with iron sights, I would recommend the Benjamin 392  with optional Williams peep sight. If you would rather have an air rifle with a scope, I would suggest the Webley Rebel  with an optional scope.

The HW30S

The HW30S

But let’s suppose that you really have no clue what you want to do with an airgun but you want something that is fun to shoot and of decent quality to get started with. In that case, I would recommend the Weihrauch HW30S in .177.  It’s easy to cock, easy to shoot well (for a spring-piston powerplant) and generates enough power for pest control at short range (say, within 50 feet as a rough guideline). You can fit an HW30 with a peep sight or a scope, and with the right pellet, the HW30 is accurate enough that people (me included) have shot them in field target competition with some success. (You won’t be able to compete head to head with the high powered guns, but you’ll still have fun.)

So that’s my friendly advice for outright newbies. Remember, all of these airguns will need a selection of pellets, a pellet trap, targets, and some eye protection. And remember the Number One rule of gun safety: never, ever, point your airgun at anything that you don’t want to see a hole in.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

At the outset, gentle reader, let me reassure you: Your Humble Correspondent has not lost his marbles; this is a serious blog with a serious topic, I promise.

Long time readers of this blog have probably figured out by now that I enjoy movies and television. One of the shows that my son and I really get a charge out of is MythBusters. Thanks to Netflix, we were recently watching MythBusters Collection 9, Episode 12, entitled Operation Valkyrie. In it, the hosts of the show, Adam and Jamie, looked into an attempt to assassinate Hitler while their colleagues Kari, Grant, and Tory investigated whether it is possible to slap sense into someone. It was this second topic that really caught my eye.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept, the idea of “slapping sense into someone” comes from the concept that if you have someone who is really stressed out, slapping their face can bring them back to reality and help them to focus on the situation at hand.  It was a familiar scene from old-school Hollywood, and the MythBusters team set out to see if there was any truth in the notion that the shock and the sting of a slap could help a person to concentrate and perform better.

They consulted a trauma expert, who said, in effect that a slap would stimulate epinephrine production, resulting in increased blood flow to vital organs and the brain for quick decision making, dilation of the eyes for clear and increased vision, and overall preparation of the body for fight or flight. The trauma expert further suggested that one of the ways to stress the body to for the purpose of the experiment would be to subject the individual to hypothermia.

To eliminate one variable, the team created a face slapping robot that would administer uniform slaps to the test participants. They also devised four one-minute tasks  — a shooting gallery, a pattern replication test, a quickfire math quiz, and a challenge to catch dropped objects — to test reflexes, calculation skills, coordination, and visual and communication skills.

Grant, one of the team members, ran through the tests to establish a baseline performance. Then they stuck him in a refrigerated trailer for half an hour to drop his body temperature and had him run the tests again to test his performance while impaired. Finally, they cooled Grant again, subjected him to the face slapping robot, and had him run the tests yet again to see if slapping an impaired person did anything to improve performance.

The results were enlightening. Throughout the tests, Grant’s best performance came in the baseline, his worst during the impaired test, and his performance after slapping was better than impaired but worse than the baseline. For example, in the shooting gallery, he hit 5 out of 6 targets in the baseline, only 3 out of 6 impaired, but returned to 5 out of 6 when slapped.

The MythBusters crew decided to push the concept even farther by putting two of the team members through a Hogan’s alley-style firing range where the object is to shoot the bad guys and to not shoot the good guys. Kari and Tory would each shoot a baseline performance, then shoot another score while impaired by lack of sleep, hunger, and cold, and then yet another score after being slapped while they were tired, hungry, and cold.

Once again, the results were illuminating: Kari score 96% baseline; only 43% impaired; but 72% after slapping while impaired. Tory shot 97% baseline; 87% impaired; and 96% impaired after slapping.

So what does this mean for readers of this blog? Simply this: if you find yourself in a situation where your performance is impaired – for example, if you are cold, tired, and hungry – and you need to make a critical shot (perhaps to get food in survival situation), giving yourself a slap in the face could help you improve your performance. I recall a TV commercial from some years ago where a gentleman slaps aftershave on his own face and then says: “Thanks, I needed that!”

The show MythBusters frequently touches on topics that involve shooting, and I find it informative and entertaining. Remember that old gag from the western movies where a bullet cleans the Stetson off a cowboy’s head? The MythBusters proved it was impossible. I am soooo disappointed!

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Walther LGV 005

Walther makes several “claims to fame” with the new LGV.

The first is zero play in the barrel hinge, thanks to the wedge lock, and cocking rod. The cocking rod is mounted in synthetic material and backed by compression springs so that scraping, abrasion, and scoring of metal parts are eliminated.

A rotary piston eliminates friction losses and also eliminates contact with the cocking rod when the piston moves forward. Piston rings made of low-friction synthetic material ensure that the piston does not touch the compression cylinder wall and ensures smooth, quiet movement. Further, the piston has holes drilled in it to gently brake the piston at the end of the compression stroke and to reduce recoil.

The LGV uses a specially tempered valve spring with ground spring ends to safeguard straight movement. Walther further claims that the LGV will not suffer from spring fatigue if left cocked for a long time. Those are the highlights of the claims made at the LGV website, http://walther-lgv.com/

Now, I’ve come to realize that the readers of this blog are a pretty sharp bunch, and you know as well as I do that all the verbiage in the world and a clever website do not mean squat unless the claims that are made actually come to fruition in the product.

Walther LGV 007

So what’s it like to shoot the new LGV? To cock it, you first have to release the barrel lock lever, which is done easily enough by pushing up with your thumb. Then pull the barrel down and back until it latches. (I estimate this requires slightly less than 30 lbs. of effort). You’ll notice there is absolutely no spring noise, no creaks, no groans, no noise of any sort, until the cocking mechanism clicks into its latch.

Walther LGV 008

Load a pellet into the breech and return the barrel to its original position. Take aim, slide the safety off, and take the first stage out of the trigger (this requires only about 14.2 oz. of pressure). Squeeeeze the trigger. In the sample that I tested, at 3 lbs. 3.9 oz. of pressure, the shot goes down range. The shot cycle is incredibly smooth, making a kind of muted “tunng” sound as the action cycles. The recoil is remarkably subdued, compared to other spring-piston air rifles that I know and like. At the time of this writing, there is no other spring-piston or gas-ram production air rifle that rivals the new LGV for quiet and smoothness.

The LGV launches 14.3-grain .22 caliber Crosman Premier pellets at an average of 622 fps, which works out to 12.29 foot-pounds of energy that the muzzle.  At 13 yards, from a rest, I found that it would allow me to shoot the center out of the target with shot after shot. At 32 yards shooting in January under fitful winds, the LGV delivered a 5-shot group that measured 7/8 inch from edge to edge. That works out to .655 inch from center to center.

The fit and finish of the LGV are excellent. My overall impression of it is that it is incredibly fun, easy, and smooth to shoot. When I was testing it, I didn’t want to stop enjoying the supple pleasure of shooting it.

I have not been this impressed with a new air rifle in a long, long time. I have only one thing to say to the team at Walther that developed this rifle: well done!

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The new Walther LGV with optional scope.

The new Walther LGV with optional scope.

Greg from www.airgunsofarizona.com was on the phone with me, discussing what airguns he was going to send my way for testing. “Walther has come out with a new LGV,” he said.

I got excited. “Really?!! Send me one right away!”

“Whoa,” Greg said. “It’s not the same as the old LGV. It’s more of a sporting rifle, but they’ve put a lot of new technology into it.”

“Oh,” I said, wondering if the latest incarnation of the LGV would be a disappointment.

The airgun industry has been around for quite a while, and airgun manufacturers will, from time to time, bring out a new rifle bearing an old name. The last time this happened (with a manufacturer who shall be nameless), the result was a rifle that was really very disappointing on many levels.

The original Walther LGV, image courtesy of Walther.

The original Walther LGV, image courtesy of Walther.

And to set up this story properly, you need to understand that the Walther LGV was a high-precision ten-meter target rifle introduced in 1964. It was a breakbarrel rifle with a positive barrel lock that insured that the barrel hinge always returned to the same position. Original LGVs are still prized as collector’s items today, and they are still fun to shoot.

Similar to the original LGV, the new LGV also incorporates a positive barrel lock to insure that the break barrel returns to the same position every single time. More about that later. Let’s take a guide tour of the new LGV. There are several different variations of the new LGV, which you can see here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/WaltherLGV.html I tested the LGV Master Ultra in .22 caliber. It stretches 43.25 inches from end to end and weighs 8.85 lbs before mounting a scope.

Walther LGV 009

At the rear of the LGV is a thick ventilated rubber butt pad. It is attached to a fully ambidextrous hardwood stock. There is a slight bulge and rise on either side of the buttstock for a cheek piece. The pistol is sloped at a roughly 45 degree angle and is checkered on either side and engraved with the Walther name. Ahead of the pistol grip is a black metal trigger guard that surrounds a black trigger. I believe the trigger is plastic, although it might be an alloy (a metal “tuning” trigger is available as an option, according the manual), and it is adjustable for first stage travel and for trigger weight.

Ahead of that, the forestock is unadorned and tapers slightly to the end. The underside is fairly flat-bottomed, and toward the end you’ll find a slot for the cocking mechanism. At the far end of the forestock is a lever for releasing the barrel lock. Above that is the barrel (the LGV is available in both .177 and .22) and attached to that is a large metal fitting that serves as a cocking aid, the mount for the globe front sight (which has interchangeable inserts), and a knurled barrel nut which can be unscrewed to allow the mounting of Walther’s proprietary three-chamber silencer (where legal).

Moving back along the barrel, a micro-adjustable notch-type rear sight is mounted on the breech block. Moving further aft, the rear of the receiver has dovetails for mounting a scope and three holes into which anti-recoil pins may be fitted. At the very end of the receiver, you’ll find a push-pull safety which is resettable.

That’s all there is to the Walther LGV . . . or is there? When I took the new LGV out of its box, I notice a couple of symbols on the edge of the manual. One of them said “Vibration reduction system,” and the other said “Super silent technology.”

Curious, I looked up “Walther LGV” on the Internet and found that Walther had created an entire new website devoted to this new series of rifles. Obviously, the good folks at Walther were serious about the technology they had put into this new rifle.

We’ll get into that next time, in addition to shooting the new LGV.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

This should come as no surprise to anyone, but the folks who manufacture match air rifles and match air pistols, like Feinwerkbau are maniacs. That’s right – you heard me correctly – they are maniacs, totally obsessed with accuracy. The folks who engineer and build the air rifles and air pistols that are used in international and Olympic ten-meter competition can, and will, do just about anything to improve the accuracy, consistency, and reliability of their products.

Every year, when new products are announced, there are new tweaks and improvements to their products. And they don’t make these changes to their products just to “update the product line.” No, indeed; the reason they are constantly improving their match rifles and match pistols is because they are in constant communication with world-class shooters, and the engineers and designers listen very closely and take to heart what these shooters have to say.

The result: air rifles and air pistols that are as accurate at 10 meters as human engineering knows how to make them. Everything about these match airguns is incredibly consistent from shot to shot.

So what’s the limiting factor when it comes to shooting these airguns? (Besides the shooter?!!)

Give up? It’s the ammunition . . . that’s right, after you have paid, say, two-and-a-half kilobucks for the most accurate 10-meter air rifle you can buy, what you want is match ammunition that is super consistent in terms of size and weight.

And that’s where part of the good news about pellets comes in. If you have been paying attention, you already know that JSB makes match ammunition in three different weights. Further, by all reports, it is really good.

Good news about pellets 003-001 (Medium)

But now JSB has introduced a line of Premium Match Ammo that is subjected to another higher level of inspection – electronic inspection – for both size and weight. According to the folks at JSB, the new ammo is 99.99% perfect in terms of head size and weight and is available in three different weights.

Each pellet is individually scanned and weighed, and, if it meets the quality criteria, is packed individually in a block of foam to protect it from damage.  Competitive shooters can practice all week with the appropriate weight of ammo from the more reasonably priced tins, and then can shoot the Premium Match ammo in competition.

For those of you who are not competitive 10-meter or silhouette shooters, there is more good news about pellets. Loyal readers of this blog know that I am a strong advocate of shooting groups with different pellets to see which pellet delivers the highest accuracy in a particular air rifle or air pistol.

JSB now offers two domed pellets samplers

JSB now offers two domed pellets samplers

Unfortunately, this can be a bit of a pain because it involves buying several different tins of pellets to find the pellet that your airgun favors. The good folks at JSB have come to the rescue with Domed Exact Test Pellet Samplers. Available in .177 and .22, each sampler contains seven different samples of pellet weights and head sizes.

The back of each tin is keyed to the pellet numbers on the top of the container.

The back of each tin is keyed to the pellet numbers on the top of the container.

The .177 sampler contains:

Exact 8.44 gr. 4.50mm

Exact 8.44 gr. 4.51mm

Exact 8.44 gr. 4.52mm

Exact RS 7.33 gr. 4.52mm

Exact Monster 13.43 gr. 4.52mm

Exact Express 7.87 gr. 4.52mm

Exact Heavy 10.34 gr. 4.52mm

7 x 50 per tin

The .22 sampler contains:

Exact 15.89 gr. 5.51mm

Exact 15.89 gr. 5.52mm

Exact 15.89 gr. 5.53mm

Exact Monster 25.39 gr. 5.52mm

Exact Express 14.35 gr. 5.52mm

Exact Heavy 18.13 gr. 5.52mm

Exact RS 13.43 gr. 5.52mm

7 x 30 per tin

 

With these samplers, you can see which JSB domed pellet works best in your rifle and pistol at a very reasonable price. If you want to test RWS pellets, a sampler pack of them is also available.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

At a holiday gathering toward the end of 2012, I ran into one of my nephews who I hadn’t seen in a while. In the course of the usual catching-up small talk, I mentioned that I write a weekly blog about airguns.

“Really?” he said. “I just bought an airgun.”

He explained that it was his second air rifle, and he likes to hunt squirrels with them. They are both .177 caliber and both break barrel springers. The first one shoots slowly but is very accurate. He bought the second one – which advertises 1,200 feet per second – because he wanted “more knock-down power.”

The problem was, he said, that the more powerful one didn’t seem to be very accurate. Was there anything he could do to improve the accuracy?

He and I chatted for quite some time, and I suggested a number of things that might help.

The first thing was to make sure that the scope mounts and rings were tight. I explained about the weird whiplash recoil that springers generate and that if the scope was loose in the rings or the scope mounts were not securely fastened to the receiver, the recoil was going to make the scope move with every shot, and he wasn’t going to get accuracy that way.

Then he mentioned that he knew the gun was shooting fast, because he could hear the supersonic crack when it fired. Immediately I suggested that he get some heavier pellets to slow the gun down. When varminters use firearms to shoot prairie dogs at 600 yards, I said, they shoot so fast – sometimes in excess of 4,000 fps – that the shot stays supersonic the entire distance to the target. But, I explained, there aren’t any airgun powerplants that will do that. So when you launch a pellet at supersonic speed, it quickly loses velocity and drops through a transonic region where the pellet gets buffeted by turbulence, and the result is poor accuracy. “If you slow the gun down to around 900 fps at the muzzle,” I suggested, “you’ll probably get much better accuracy.”

I also suggested that needed to try a variety of pellets, shooting them for groups off a rest, to see which one delivers that best accuracy. He told me that he usually buys wadcutter pellets because they worked the best in his slower air rifle and they make a bigger wound channel.

“The Olympic shooters use wadcutters,” I said, “but they are shooting their match rifles at around 600 fps. I’m pretty sure those wadcutters will go nuts at the speed that your more powerful air rifle shoots. Your best bet is to stick with round-nose pellets for the greatest accuracy.”

Further I suggested that when he shoots groups, he should steady his rifle on a soft rest like an old cushion or perhaps a folded up jacket. Springers, because of the way they recoil, usually don’t produce best accuracy when rested on a hard surface, I told him.

Finally, I advised him to squeeeeeze the trigger when shooting groups. “If you jerk the trigger, you may well yank the shot to one side or the other. But if you squeeze slowly while maintaining the alignment of the crosshairs on the target, you’ll get better results.”

He thanked me for the suggestions and said he would give them a try. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The Metisse rifle from Milbro incorporates a lifetime our airgun wisdom from Ben Taylor. That's a Huggett moderator on the end.

The Metisse rifle from Milbro incorporates a lifetime our airgun wisdom from Ben Taylor. That’s a Huggett moderator on the end.

The Metisse rifle came to market in the summer of 2012, and all of the initial run of product has been sold. Ben Taylor is the brains behind its design.

 

Ben Taylor doing what he does best -- designing airguns.

Ben Taylor doing what he does best — designing airguns.

JE: What sets the Metisse apart of other air rifles?

BT: There are a lot of things that are special about the Metisse – a smooth twist barrel, a miniature version of my regulator, a received machined from a solid billet of aircraft aluminum, and several key components machine out of solid titanium.

But the key thing that sets the Metisse apart from other air rifles is its efficiency. The Metisse delivers 50-60 30-foot-pound shots from a 180cc air reservoir. Most conventional air rifles would require an air reservoir nearly twice that size to deliver that number of shots at 30 foot-pounds.

JE: How do you achieve that?

BT: The secret is in the patented coaxial valve design. It puts everything – the valve, the hammer, the spring – in a straight line behind the pellet. In a conventional precharged pneumatic, the valve is under the barrel, and the air has to go through two right angle bends – rushing down a tube and slamming into a wall and then rushing down a tube and slamming into another wall — in order to reach the pellet. A lot of energy is lost in making those turns, and what the coaxial valve – which is machined out of titanium nitride – does is to get rid of the energy loss.

JE: Was it difficult to develop?

BT: It was very difficult, because nothing is the same as in other airguns. In fact, the very first prototype that we built produced a whopping three foot-pounds of energy! A lot of subtle tweaking was required, but we went almost immediately from three to 30 foot-pounds.

Andrew Huggett takes Ben's ideas and "turns them into art."

Andrew Huggett takes Ben’s ideas and “turns them into art.”

JE: That’s impressive.

BT: We’re very proud of the Metisse. It shows what can be done with an air rifle and sophisticated engineering. I owe a great deal to Andrew Huggett. He took my ideas and turned them into works of art. This is not a mass production gun; it’s more of a tool-room gun. The first run sold out completely, and we’ll be making more next year. We’re keeping the energy at 30 foot-pounds because that’s where the accuracy is.

JE: Is there anything else that readers of the AoA blog ought to know?

BT: Well, I’ll make a prediction. I think other tuners will attempt to tune the Metisse action, and it won’t work. In fact, it will stop working instantly.

JE: Has that happened already?

BT: We had one fellow who called us and said his rifle had stopped working. We asked if he had been messing around inside of it. He said, “No, I only took off the side plate to look at the trigger mechanism.” He sent it to us, and when I looked inside, I found that someone had taken the guts out of the gun and then reassembled it but not in the right order. Everything is balanced inside the Metisse for efficiency. You can’t go mucking about hoping to make things “better,” because, most assuredly you won’t.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

 

What do these gentlemen have in common? Excellence in airguns.

It all started innocently enough. Greg Glover, my main contact at www.airgunsofarizona.com, called to brief me on the results of the Extreme Benchrest competition. It had gone extremely well, he said. Lot of airgun industry folks had been in attendance, among them Ross Marshall, Ben Taylor, and Andrew Huggett of Milbro. The trio were up to some interesting stuff in the wilds of England and maybe I would like contact them and see if they were willing to grant an interview.

I reached out to Ross Marshall and pretty quick we had a teleconference scheduled. But before we get to the gist of the conversation, you need a bit of background.

Milbro, it turns out, has been making airgun pellets for over 50 years. About four years ago, the owner of Milbro was about ready to hang up his spurs and call it day, allowing Milbro simply to fade away, when David Little, who runs Kynamco, heard about it. Kynamco make Kynoch Nitro Express Cartridges for big game rifles. These are cartridges the size of elephant suppositories, cartridges that throw ounces of lead, the kind of cartridge you want in the chamber when an angry cape buffalo comes charging out of the tall grass with murder on its mind.

Ross Marshall is the general manager of Milbro.

So Little decided that the airgun business had “lots of spritelyness in it,” acquired Milbro, and asked Ross Marshall, who was working at Kynamco, to run it as General Manager. Here begins our interview.

JE:  How was it that Ben Taylor got involved?

RM: It was a combination of factors. The first is that Milbro basically sells to wholesalers. We have about a dozen major customers who buy pellets by the palletload, so that part of the business is relatively low maintenance although we are developing and bringing to market some new pellets. The second is that Ben Taylor – the “Ben” part of Theoben air rifles – had sold up his part of the business and moved on.

He was running his own business out of place in Cambridge (about half an hour from the Milbro facility). We have an underground 100 meter range which is great for testing, and Ben would come over for testing when he was working on his smooth twist barrels, and he and David Little would get to talking. At the same time, Ben’s facility was broken into several times, so eventually we said, “Come work with us and do stuff,” so he did.

JE: What happened next?

RM: Ben had an idea to make an air rifle that incorporated everything that he had learned as an airgun designer, and that gun became the Metisse.

Ross Marshall refers to Ben Taylor (left) and Andrew Huggett as “the two geniuses.”

JE: (In Part II of these series, I’ll be talking with Ben Taylor about the Metisse.) What else?

RM: Andrew Huggett came along with Ben as a supplier to us. Ben had been selling Andrew’s moderators, and they truly are remarkable. Andrew is a CNC engineer and an airgun enthusiast. We believe that he has created the best silencer in the world. What makes it so special is the combination of the design, the quality of the build, and the efficiency of what it does. When we first tested a Huggett moderator, we put it on a Brocock rifle and literally the only thing you could hear was the action cycling.

Quite frankly, it comes in a very high price point, but the shooters just love the Huggett mods, and the engineering that goes into them is just top rate. I was at a trade show in Europe, and there was a fellow who kept quizzing about the technical aspects of the Huggett mod. I got a little frustrated with him, screwed the end off the moderator, and said, “Just take a look inside.” He did, said something like “wow,” and bought two of them!

Next time, we’ll talk to Ben Taylor about the new Metisse rifle.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott