When you do a career 180 and begin to spend your work week reviewing airguns, there’s a certain phenomena and awareness that quickly turns to clarity… when seeking the one, you’ve got to try all brands and offshoots of a manufacturer’s pellet and you’ve got to cull with 10 shot groups. Yesterday for example, I spent the day getting familiar with the new Benjamin Maximus Euro, the 12fpe variant that our brethren in the U.K. have access to (and us as well). As always before shooting video, I’ll spend 2-3 days familiarizing myself with the gun’s tendencies & preferences in order to streamline my time come video day. What did I learn this week? … the branding phenomena is reality and my above discovery is true.

Take the below for example:

These are 5 shot groups at 25 yards experimenting with 6 different brands of pellet. I came away from the session thinking the Maximus Euro was a shooter across 4 of the 6 pellet types and in my mind, I’m starting down the path of, “This rifle isn’t pellet fussy at all… but I need to run some more brands through it to confirm.”

But is it?…

I spat all of the above through the Euro and confirmed that I could scratch them off the list. 1-2” groups at 25 certainly wouldn’t work for YouTube land… I’d be leaving this rifle’s reputation permanently scared and forever lost in the airgun graveyard. Having used up the day working through several rounds of culling and cleaning, I finally came away with 9, most of which I felt shot well enough to be consistently dangerous.

Check it out:

Now if you take a moment and study the above, you’re probably feeling fairly confident in a few of these groups, right? Don’t feel bad if you do, I did… that was until this morning when I funneled the assortment one final time and discovered the below takeaways:

Lesson 1: This rifle (and maybe yours) can keep to dime-sized groups 5 maybe 6 times across a good variety of pellets, but when you change the rules of the game, the picture begins to tell a different story. If you truly want to know what pellets your gun will be most consistent with, begin experimenting repeatedly with 10 shot groups and with lots of barrel cleaning in between batches. It’s clear to me now that Maximus Euro .177 is a dagger with the 8.4 gr Air Arms Diabolo Fields… 9/10 landed within .35” of one another. It also performed pretty well with the Diana Magnum and JSB 10.34… all three of which will accompany me on video day tomorrow.

This brings me to lesson 2: Have a another look at the above. The 8.4 gr Diana Exact is supposedly the same pellet as the 8.4 gr Air Arms Diabolo Field. JSB manufactures both and the forums will tell you they’re the same thing just re-branded… but I beg to differ. To me, it’s clear that this rifle performs better with one than the other. If that’s not enough to convince ya, have a look at the Diana Magnum and H&N Baracuda. This is the same scenario… H&N manufactures both brands and to the eye, they look the same… however, they clearly don’t perform the same out of this rifle. In yours, the reverse may be true.

What this means to us airheads is that before you give up on your rifle and call it a lemon, try all the brands and offshoots of a pellet manufacturer. JSB and H&N make most of them, and while seemingly disguised as the same thing, they are not. You’ve got to try them all. Then, once you think you’ve got things narrowed down, make your final decisions with 10 shot groups.

You’ll have a better time shooting & your prey will appreciate it.

YouTuber & Columnist
Steve Scialli

The 39th Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades show is now in the record books.  Almost 65,000 of my closest friends attended, plus more than a few canines sporting the latest in working dog accessories!  SHOT is the largest trade show of its type and is only open to members of the trade or media.  It is held in Las Vegas each January and is the showcase for new products.

A couple of years ago most of the major airgun manufacturers came out with a big bore of some type (.35 caliber or larger).  This year seems to be the year of the compressor to accompany the increasing number of PCPs available on the market.  Our friends at www.arigunsofarizona.com carry the new Omega Turbo Charger compressor which has some nice features including a dual piston design for faster charging and larger grease reservoir with a timer for indication of when to dispense the grease.  Other companies introducing compressors were Air Venturi and Sun Optics with Airforce Airguns to follow later this year.  Some new, less expensive hand pumps are also available this year which should help to bring new PCP shooters into the fold even if their budget is modest.

Big bore airguns continue to be a draw for a segment of the airgun shooting public and some new ones were being introduced at the show as well.  Airforce airguns introduced a TexanSS, their single shot .45 caliber big bore now features suppression.  Umarex showed off their new Hammer, a .50 caliber pump action 3-shot arm estimated to develop 700 foot pounds of energy.  It should be available later this summer.  This new air rifle uses a patented sabot round that has the sabot permanently attached to the base of the PolyCase copper/polymer matrix bullet.  However, it can also fire .50 caliber lead slugs.  Being a “nifty-fifty” it should also be able to handle the new AirBolt from Air Venturi.  The AirBolt turns an airgun into a very accurate arrow launcher. Several companies have invested in airgun/arrow launcher technology in the past couple of years and lobbying continues to make airgun hunting seasons more commonplace in this country.  Hatsan showed the Hercules QE dual tank pellet launcher in several different calibers all the way up to .45.  In .45 the Hercules can generate up to 250 fpe.

Other news on the PCP front includes several “entry level” rifles designed to allow those new to pre-charged pneumatics to put their toes into the water without a huge capital layout.  Umarex offers the Gauntlet, a bolt action repeater using a rotary magazine; it is available in .22 or .177 and uses a removable cylinder able to handle 3000psi.  It will be available later this spring for an MSRP of $299.00.  Crosman released their Wildfire model PCP, a bolt action using a 2000 psi reservoir and retailing for approximately $150.00.  Gamo introduced their Urban PCP multi-shot in .22 caliber which retails for $399.00.  Toward the other end of the price spectrum were the Hatsan Bullboss QE bullpup configuration PCP, a synthetic stocked side lever cocking multi-shot in .177, .22 and .25 calibers and you can check out the latest offerings from Daystate and FX airguns by switching over to the newly designed Airguns of Arizona website: www.airgunsofarizona.com.  Daystate has the new Tsar in .177 for precision shooting disciplines and FX introduced the Wildcat bullpup in .177, .22 and .25.  Both are beautiful and both are of the highest quality you are going to find.

Other cool things seen: a faithful BB gun copy of the German MP40 submachine gun from Umarex that fires in both semi/full auto.  SIGArms airgun division showed a copy of professional shooter Max Michel’s .45  and the Spartan 1911 in BB CO2 repeaters.  Also new, the P320 blowback pellet pistol which utilizes the 30-round RPM belt-feed system like the one used on its larger, pellet firing copy of the MCX.  Crosman has a copy of the Remington 1875 single action revolver that will fire pellets or BBs and it was a good looking replica!

Of course, there were many other new airguns and related accessories introduced at the show; too many to cover here.  Also, many of the items mentioned here will not be available for months, but I hope I whetted your appetite for more and we’ll have some reviews in future editions of this blog.

I recently spent some time with Jake Hindman, the driving force behind this new concept in bringing airgun competition to our youth in the place where they spend a big portion of their time – school.  With all of the anti-gun rhetoric usually appearing in mainstream media, those of us in the pro-gun camp might have been feeling that there wasn’t much hope of turning things around.  However, even before the recent resounding political defeat of the anti-gunners, there was a ray of hope appearing in the form of programs starting up at a number of high schools and colleges that were bringing back shotgun and rifle shooting sports to the school campus.  That was good news, but only worked at the higher grade levels due to costs and requirement that students go to a shooting range.  Enter the Student Air Rifle Program, designed from the ground up to be a teacher/school friendly activity with a solid curriculum aimed at younger students as part of their physical education classes and not requiring range facilities.

SAR sprang from an already successful model that had been created to expand archery as part of the physical education curriculum in elementary and junior high schools known as NASP – the National Archery in the Schools Program.  I found out about SAR through my good friend Dick at Predator International.  Predator supplies the lead-free SAR Journey pellets that allow these programs to shoot indoors in gyms and cafeterias where lead pellets would definitely not be welcome.

The SAR Mission Statement reads:  The mission of the Student Air Rifle Program is to facilitate an introduction to the lifetime sport of target shooting to school-aged youth in grades 4 through 12.  Its curriculum is designed for a one or two week teaching unit that teachers can adapt to meet their needs.  Of course, safety of everyone involved during shooting sessions is paramount and the first lesson covers the 4 main safety rules regarding handling guns and tests the students’ knowledge before moving on.  Next, students are introduced to the air rifle: what it is, how it works and how to operate and maintain one.  The air rifles used in SAR were a collaborative effort between the folks behind the program and UmarexUSA out of Fort Smith, Arkansas.  The concept rifle they came up with, the Embark, is a break barrel springer in .177 caliber sporting a unique green color that makes it a standout from anything else out there on the market.  Best of all, these new guns are available from UmarexUSA to the general public!  That means if a student wanted to pursue the shooting sports outside of the school setting, he or she would be able to purchase the same rifle shot in school competition.  It is a cool little single shot that will also appeal to many airgunners.

AofA (www.airgunsofarizona.com) is supportive of programs such as this and encouraged me to introduce SAR to the viewership of this blog.  They know promoting youth shooting sports is good for all shooting sports and helps introduce safe firearms handling.  It also instills a positive political view in future voters.  It is the hope of this new Student Air Rifle program that it will grow to reach all 50 states just as its sister archery program is close to doing (47 and counting).  If you want to help promote this curriculum in your state or just want additional information, reply to me or head over to the website: www.studentairrifleprogram.org.

So you’re thinking about an airgun. However you go about it, chances are good you’re relying on past experience, budget, and perceived value to guide your buying decision and for most, that’s where the trouble begins. Airguns don’t play by the same rules we grew up on. They’re not powder burners and in most instances don’t behave as such. There’s quicksand and lion’s dens all over the place and unless you’ve a guide to walk you through these perils, chances are good you’ll wind up making an expensive mistake.

Take the modern spring gun for instance. It’s a tragic mismatch for many but it also happens to be the most affordable way in. Don’t get me wrong, they’re wonderful if you pick the right one for your needs, patience, & physical ability but if you don’t, be prepared for some level of disappointment. Spring guns in a large part have gone down a path of overpowering and with overpowering comes some issues. Ever try cocking one? Many of these guns take 25+ lbs of cocking force to break the barrel & compress the spring and while that doesn’t seem like a lot, try doing it a few hundred times for an afternoon of pellet sorting and see how long it takes to get jelly arm. The firing cycle may also be a surprise to ya. It won’t have the clean, sharp snap of the powder burner you’ve come to love. If the springer is classified as a “magnum”, be prepared for that bone jarring gong that you’d get as a kid when you’d hit the ball wrong. Then by the time you finally get to working on those groups, you’re spraying pellets all over the place because powerful springers require the skillful mastering of a special hold before you’ll see any consistent accuracy out of them. Frustrated, soar, and tired, you’re left scratching your head in bewilderment trying to figure out what went wrong and what it is people like about these things.

Don’t worry, so it isn’t all bad. Spring guns are for the most part are a great way to enjoy airgunning, if that is, you are wise enough to pick one that’s right for you. Forget big power. It means nothing without accuracy and if your knees are knocking after enduring the cocking experience, you’re not going to be able to hit anything. Instead, focus on a moderately powered break barrel that benefits from a smooth firing cycle, clean trigger break, and reduced size & weight. Your selection will shoot straighter, be more pleasant to cock, and you’ll have a better time learning to master its tendencies. What’s more, your friends & family will be much more likely to join ya for a day of fun if you put something with manners in their hands. Regarding their moderate power output, dead is dead. Any size pellet traveling at 500-600 fps is going to clobber most anything inside of 50 yards into the afterlife so if ya want to hunt with it, have at it. Be sure to avoid the whole gas-ram/conventional spring distraction as well. I’ve shot both that perform great & I’ve shot both that cycle & shoot terrible. The smoothness, accuracy, & reliability chases the moderate power & dollars invested more than it does one spring or the other. Focus there.

If you’re down with a grander investment, the Precharged Pneumatic (PCP) will reward. True, support items such as a fill device and recharge source will add to your cargo but they also add to the fun. The PCP airgun is for the person who seeks easy operation, easy coming accuracy, and a lustrous firing cycle. It’s also for those who enjoy relying on one toy to make another work. If you’re good with the added hardware to make it go boom, you can enjoy not having to exert yourself and compress a mechanical spring with each shot. The PCP stores compressed air on board and with a single charge from an external fill source like an SCBA tank or hand pump, will get ya 30-100 shots depending on the model & caliber. What that means to ya is that you can load up a magazine of 8-12 shots or more & let em’ fly without having to work in between. In the field, all this luxury translates into more downed pigeons and greater precision in your match events. It also means that since there’s no spring release, there’s no recoil and that my good friends, is priceless on so many levels.

YouTuber & Columnist

Steve Scialli

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Looking for an air rifle that is handy, light and accurate with multiple shot capability and yields around 200 shots before needing to refill?  Check out the Hammerli 850 from UmarexUSA and available through Airguns of Arizona.  This German made little gem is lightweight at 5 ½ pounds thanks to the black polymer ambidextrous stock with molded in Monte Carlo style cheekpiece.   The steel barrel and receiver are also black, making for a striking and solid little rifle.  It is a bolt action repeater fed by an 8 round rotary magazine.  The barrel is 23.5 inches and overall the 850 A.M. measures 41 inches.  It is powered by an 88 gram CO2 cylinder that is neatly hidden by a removable section of the forearm.

My example was in .177 and a .22 caliber version is also available.  The bolt action was smooth and required little effort plus there is no recoil so this rifle would be great for a young shooter.  Although the German engineers decided to forego adding baffles or sound dampening to the barrel, it is relatively quiet when fired outdoors.  It sent the various pellets I tried on their way with authority and definitely liked the Predator GTO lead-frees (5.5 gr.) for paper punching.   I put some heavier (10.65 gr.) H&N Baracuda Match pellets through it as well.  The AirMagnum generated over 11 foot pounds of energy with the Baracudas and the groupings were adequate for taking small pests and critters at reasonable ranges.

dsc_0002The AirMagnum comes with adjustable front and rear sights as well as providing an 11 mm dovetail rail on the receiver for scope mounting.  The sights have built-in fiber optics — green in the rear, red in the front.  The front sight is drift adjustable and covered with a steel hood, the rear sight is adjustable for elevation by moving it along the incline ramp it rides on.  The two-stage trigger is adjustable for travel.  The trigger is plastic but I can forgive that because it was not gritty and broke at 1lb. 6.9 oz.  The automatic safety engages as the bolt is pulled back.  It is easily disengaged by the shooter’s thumb by simply push in and down on the thin vertical button in the face of the safety and continue pushing forward until disengaged.  A large red dot shows when the safety is disengaged.  To engage it manually, simply pull the large button straight back and the trigger is blocked.  The rotary magazine is easy to load and can only be inserted one way.  A rubber “O” ring retains the pellets by closing in on their waists.  One drawback appeared with pointed pellets like the Predator Polymags which did not always feed smoothly.  Predator makes a shorter Polymag for magazine fed guns and those might work well.

I found the AirMagnum’s stock a bit short for a full sized adult shooter and even though a motivated shooter might go to the trouble of making their own spacers, it would be great if Hammerli provided an adjustable stock or easy to add spacers.  A potential negative for some is there is no provision for removing the CO2 cylinder before it is spent.  Conventional teaching says that you shouldn’t store a CO2 powered gun with a pressurized cylinder installed.  So if your shooting session lasts less than the approximately 200 rounds normally provided by the 88 gram cylinder; prior to storing the gun for a period of time (longer than a couple of weeks) go ahead and slowly unscrew the cylinder (wear safety glasses) and allow the carbon dioxide to slowly escape.  Be careful to avoid all skin contact with the freezing cold gas!

Overall I really enjoyed this little Hammerli.  The MSRP comes in at $329.99 and you can get more information or order one from the knowledgeable folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com.  The rifle is covered by a one year limited warranty protecting you against defects in workmanship and materials.

When it comes to pellets, there is a plethora of choices and prices out there.  The line of Predator International Polymag™ pellets is the subject of this blog and to find them on the Airguns of Arizona website, (www.airgunsofarizona.com) navigate to the “Ammo” section.

The patented Polymag is a premium quality hunting pellet combining a hollow head with the sharp polymer tip to make a devastatingly effective pellet for use on small-to-medium sized game.  The concept of the Polymag polymer tipped pellets originated in Buena Vista, Colorado back in the 1990s.  At that time the inventor, Tom May, obtained the hollow headed pellets from JSB of the Czech Republic and built a special machine in Colorado for installing the tips.  He created small batches and started selling them in 2000 via mail order and by 2007 Mr. May decided he wanted to sell the company.  Enter two friends with many years’ experience in sales and manufacturing, Dick Dixon and Jay Cogswell, who purchased the company and opened their doors in Englewood, Colorado as Predator International, Incorporated.  Once the company changed hands, Dick and Jay realized their plan to grow the company would require increased production capability.  There were some challenges with the “tipping” machine invented by Tom May, so Hungarian engineers were given a chance to work through the problems by moving the machine to Hungary.  Hungary is in close proximity to the Czech Republic and the Hungarian engineers worked closely with JSB.  It was enough of a challenge that it took several years to completely work out the kinks.  Luckily for us, they were very successful and now there is an entire line of Polymags to satisfy any airgun hunter.  Still made by JSB, the demand has increased over time and in the last 18 months, demand has outstripped supply capabilities.  JSB has added additional manufacturing lines and they operate 24 hours a day, 7 days per week except on Christmas.  Additional expansion is also underway at this time in order to increase production to meet the demand.  The Predator International operation continues to be the single biggest distributor of JSB products in the United States.

Predator International’s signature red polymer-tipped hunting pellets were the seminal product in .177 and .22 caliber.  Now, Polymag’s are offered in several sizes and styles:

The Original Polymag Pellet in .177, .22, .20, .25 and .30 caliber. They all feature the polymer tip in the head of the pellet which implodes into the rest of the pellet upon impact, making for a devastating wound channel. They are also lighter due to the polymer tip.

Polymag Shorts: Offered in .177 and .22 caliber. The shorts were designed to fit airguns with a magazine. They are identical in every other way to the original Polymag with the exception of being shorter.

There is also a Metalmag Pellet offered in .177 and .22 caliber. This pellet features a metal tip rather than polymer, making the pellet slightly heavier, but provides for deep impact and penetration.

What’s next?  Watch for a .35 caliber Polymag and contact www.airgunsofarizona.com to order up some because you won’t find them in the big box stores at the present time.30-predator-600x474

Like you guys, I love to spend time on the forums learning all I can about airguns, the people that enjoy them, and their experiences. For years I’ve been a member of several forums, and one thing they’ve all got in spades is fact, fiction, and opinion. This is a good thing, right? Well, yes… but not always. Ya see, it’s human nature to want to be a part of something special and to be heard, but to knowingly sacrifice truth for acceptance is also what it means to be human. That’s where the line gets blurred and that’s where we all have a responsibility to one another to do a better job with our airgun evangelism.

When I was new to all of this, if it was in print, I was taking it as gospel… even some of the preposterous stuff. At that time I just didn’t have the experience to know any better. As my involvement developed, I began to build my own repository and it was then I realized that smart, seasoned airgunners were rampantly spreading misinformation to a very credulous audience. Born out of social responsibility and a passion for airgunning, two things swiftly happened: One, I woke up and two, I started sharing my own experiences. It was in this moment of realization that my mission was laid before me… truth.

Myth # 1: Never clean your airgun barrel

Arguably this one of the most popular debates in the history of airgunning… to clean or not to clean. Some don’t ever and still claim good accuracy. Back in the old days, most were of the opinion that airgun barrels were soft… in fact, so soft were these bores that word on the street was, don’t ever clean!At one time that may have been quite true, but in my experience it isn’t any longer and may not have been as big a concern in the first place. As a teen (25+ years ago) I would sometimes scrub out my Crosmans & RWS’ with a brass bore brush and automotive valve lapping compound. I’d finish with a bore mop, more lapping compound, and finally a good cleaning… and it was these tabooed practices that eventually got em’ shooting exceptionally well.

Today, the barrel manufacturing process across all price points is much improved. It’s rare that I ever need to put the old cane down one anymore but if I do, we’ve been blessed with wonder cleaners like JB bore paste and Dewey plastic coated cleaning rods. Together with Otis brass brushes, they work like a charm to deburr breeches, transfer ports, riffling, and crowns. In fact it was the use of these techniques that got my Kalibrgun .22 shooting straight… so don’t be afraid to experiment, just be gentle and remove the barrel and any o-rings before you begin.

Outside of general tuneup, I thoroughly clean my personal airgun barrels and those that are about to be reviewed on the channel. It’s been my experience that a dirty barrel can still perform well at 20-30 yards yards but never at 100. My methodology is simple… using a Patchworm, I’ll pull Ballistol soaked patches through the bore from breech to muzzle until they come out clean, dry-fire ten times to clear the transfer port and valving of any oil (PCP only), then begin to pull dry patches through until they emerge clean and oil free. It takes some time but in doing so, I can get most every gun shooting well at great distances… regardless of price. If nothing else, it’s a good practice to get the anti corrosion shipping grease out of the bore before you get to shooting for groups, or coat the bore in preservative before you shelf it long term.

So if you want better accuracy out past 50 yards and aren’t seeing it, try thoroughly cleaning your barrel and see what happens… break barrels included. Start with gentle patches and if need be, move to more aggressive methods. If there’s not immediate improvement, be patient. It’s not uncommon for some guns to require 25-50 shots to re-season the bore before you’ll see your groups come together.

Myth #2: My airgun isn’t accurate

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, especially if you’re already at the juncture of disappointment & frustration but it’s almost never the gun. Hey, I’ve been there… ya just can’t get the darn thing to group no matter what you do and it never shoots as well as the ones you see on YouTube. I used to wonder if the social media sharing system was rigged and if the mainstream reviewers were given only the very best performing rigs to put out there in front of the world. Then… I became one. Years ago, I wrote over 20 reviews for Airgun Depot, and I was surprised to find that there was no screening of the product before they sent it off for me to evaluate. Occasionally the shipping companies would destroy one and the replacement would drop ship from the out-of-state warehouse, to arrive with the barrel still coated in the overseas preservative we all see on new airguns today. I’m not picking on AGD. They’re a solid organization and their practices are on par with the industry standards I’ve experienced through other sponsors on the channel. The point is that what you get is what I get, and that is a good thing.

Rather than going back to the vendor for a replacement, start by getting the barrel good and clean and once done, make sure it’s dry of any residual oil or cleaner. Then go to town finding the right pellet for it. You don’t need every brand of lead out there but as a general rule you’ll always find a winner by having on hand all the weights & offshoots of the JSB brand (Air Arms, Falcon, Straton, Predator International) etc. You’ll also want to have around all the variants of H&N Sports‘ Baracuda and Field Target, to include their Hunter and Hunter Extreme lines. On occasion, Crosman Premiers will be the one, but in my experience, aren’t as consistent as the above mentioned.

From here, we fine tune. Once you narrow it down to the best 2-3 pellets, clean the barrel again and get it good & dry of any residual. Season if necessary and test at a good distance like 50 yards or more. Poor pellet choices for your airgun will corkscrew into a single ragged hole inside of 35 yards but will open up considerably out past 50, so move your target back to make sure. Shoot your top picks again, this time experimenting with pellet lube. An incredibly small amount lightly misted into a baggie with a handful of pellets is all you need. There are several good ones out there but I’ve done well with Slick50 Supercharged 1-Lube. When you repeat the exercise with your lubed pellets, re-season the bore so it gets good & oiled up before you get to taking the the micrometer to those groups.

If by now you still haven’t been able to turn your off the shelf airgun into a one of a kind wonder-gun then something is likely off with your setup, shooting technique, gun’s mechanics, or pellet condition. These are all topics that warrant their own blogs but for you springer guys & gals, just be sure that your stock screws are tight and that your scope hasn’t jarred loose or bit the dust. For the PCP crowd, be sure you haven’t maxed out your scope’s turrets and that you haven’t a burr on the breech opening, transfer port, or crown, or have a torn breech seal. Embrace the above folks and you’ll be surprised at just how rare & glamorous a team you and your popgun can become.

Myth #3 More expensive equals greater accuracy

As with automobiles, more money doesn’t necessarily equal more speed but the increased investment can buy you a more fulfilling journey.

“$1,750 for that… my $250 blah-blah-blah is just as accurate.”

This misunderstanding is one of the more common chirps I see on my YouTube channel. I used to scratch my head and wonder why someone would feel that accuracy was the only variable to consider when choosing an airgun… after all, most airguns today are accurate, no matter what the cost. Then it occurred to me… perhaps they’ve no frame of reference. Maybe they haven’t had an opportunity or need to experience better so haven’t cause to try and get comfortable with the extra dollars.

So what’s all that extra cheddar gettin’ spent on? Are the hi-line manufacturers just padding their pockets and giggling all the way to the Yacht Club? I don’t think so. Airguns that cost more, cost more to make. I’ve only had the privilege of visiting one high end airgun manufacturer but what I came away with was that an insane amount of resources had been committed to trial and erroring their way to an exquisitely balanced union between shooter & shootie. The first time I handled one, I was immediately taken aback by how different it sounded… not the muzzle report but rather everything else. The cycling of the arm or lever, the rotation of the magazine, the movements of the trigger… they all had a timepiece-like precision and the sounds & vibrations reminded me of a watchmaker’s symphony. It felt different in hand too. Light, balanced, and smooth in all the right places; to embrace one was to slow down time & pay deeper attention to the senses. Then there was the shooting experience and extra performance. Firing & cycling was like taking a sip of a drink you just discovered you loved for the very first time… there’s the initial “Mmm,” then you right away want to go back for more and just can’t seem to ever get enough. Wrap it all up in a box and garnish it with an incredible amount of regulated shots, adjustable power, super silencing, superb triggers, and repeatable accuracy… and you’ve now got a general understanding of why people are willing to pay a premium for them.

At the end of the day, if you want to own an accurate airgun, fear not… there are plenty of options in all price points. Align with a good manufacturer, break it in, get the barrel clean, find the right pellet and enjoy. If you’ve been there and done that, and find yourself yearning for more… raise your sights and get comfortable parting with those dollars. There’s a whole other level of gentility available that will have your more reasonably priced pieces collecting dust.

YouTuber & Columnist,

Steve Scialli

AEAC

Airguns are touted as a great way to keep your shooting skills sharp during the winter months or off-season if you are a firearms shooter.  Part of the reason for this is because manufacturers strive for as much realism as possible, making for airguns that closely mimic their firearm counterparts.  This makes for an easy transition to consistent training at low cost.  Even if you don’t own firearms you may still desire a training tool that does not even require you to burn CO2 and allows you to practice with your airguns right in your living room.

Interactive targets ready to go

Interactive targets ready to go

Laser Ammo’s i-M.T.T.S. and their Spider accessory for use with either BB/Pellet airguns or Airsofts is the answer.  This system of three electronic targets is highly interactive and provides multiple modes for various types of training drills; the targets are even capable of communicating with each other during certain drills.  With the addition of their Spider module attached to the accessory rail of your airgun or airsoft, you have a red laser beam that is activated by vibration.  It sends a pulse toward the targets each time the external or internal hammer falls.  The system is intended for indoor training as too much ambient light can overpower the optic sensor.  It is simple to set up and comes with everything needed, including batteries that power the units so it is ready to go right out of the box.

The Spider unit containing the laser module

The Spider unit containing the laser module

The Spider unit consists of the small external housing that clamps to the accessory rail, a screw-in cartridge that holds the laser module, vibration cap and three button batteries as well as 4 small set screws that control windage and elevation adjustments.  The electronic target units consist of a base containing the controls and optic sensor (powered by 3 AAA batteries).  Several durable white target cards are also provided with each base.  One target is a ¼ scale version of an IPSC target, another is a 1/5th scale silhouette style and a 5 inch and 3 inch target face are also included.  Up to 10 units will work together at the same time as long as they are all set to the same operating mode.  Training drills available to the shooter include: Stand Alone – Each target responds to any hit and no communication occurs between targets.  Steel-Plate Shooting – All targets light up, extinguish when hit, then automatically reset after the last target is hit.  Chase the Ball – A random target lights with a bright green color.  Hitting that target will cause another random target to light and so on.  Shoot/No-Shoot – Targets will light up green or red for two seconds.  If the shooter hits the target while it is green, another random target will light.  Hitting the target while red causes it to flash, meaning the shot should not have been taken.  The instructions are well done with clear photos so you’ll have no trouble getting started and can quickly and easily setup a practice session any time you have a few spare minutes.

The Umarex Px4 and S&W M&P models used

The Umarex Px4 and S&W M&P models used

I used two Umarex CO2 pistols for my practice sessions; a copy of the Smith & Wesson M&P 45 and the Beretta Px4 Storm blowback model.  It was not necessary to have the blowback operation in order to make the laser module pulse, so no need for CO2 cartridges.  The Px4 has an external hammer and the laser module is sensitive enough that just the falling of the external hammer was enough vibration to cause the pulse.  That meant I could use single-action mode for slow fire drills.  Both pistols worked great and switching the Spider module between them took mere seconds.  Aligning the laser pulse with the Px4 and M&P sights was quickly done with the supplied hex key.

The drills were fun and challenging while also allowing me to work on trigger and breath control as well as eye-hand-target coordination.  The targets can have a maximal spread of 20 feet and still communicate with each other reliably.  They should not be closer than 8 inches and be 3 feet or more above the floor.  Avoid putting them against a wall or other object.  I was able to practice early in the morning in my living room by putting the targets in the “silent” mode (no beep when scoring a hit) without disturbing the sleeping family member in the nearby bedroom.

Laser AmmoUSA is based out of Great Neck, NY and owned by former Israeli and U.S. military combat veterans.  Their products are developed in Israel and used by military, law enforcement and civilians all over the world.  If you are also a firearms shooter, they have a complete line of training technologies that will work in your powder-burners, allowing you to safely dry-fire your favorite arms.  Their products carry a one year limited warranty.

Total costs for the 3 electronic targets, Spider module, vibration cap and laser module ran $359.00.  If you are in the market for training equipment and are looking for a challenging and engaging way to do it, I recommend you reach out to Laser Ammo.  Their website:  www.laser-ammo.com.  Our friends at www.airgunsofarizona.com can be of assistance in obtaining any of the well-made Umarex products like the ones I used for this post.

Details on construction and features of the Big Bore Carnivore were discussed in last month’s blog. In this installment I’ll give some impressions and details of my shooting sessions.

The rifle initially had some cocking issues when I received it so I had the opportunity to engage with their technical support staff.  I had heard from other airgunners that Hatsan’s support was quite good and their staff knowledgeable and that was my experience as well.   After some minor tweaking recommendations did not resolve the issue, a color photo of the trigger group was emailed to me.  It showed the factory settings for each of the three trigger adjustment screws and I was able to approximate the settings, which resolved my issue.  A little further tuning from that point got me to a trigger pull just under two pounds — excellent for my purposes.Left angle_markings

The rifle deserved a better scope than the big box store 3×9-32mm unit I  used for this session.  However, results were good and I’m certain more accuracy could have been wrung from this rifle if mother nature had not cut my shooting session short with some nice dust laden gale force winds.  Keep in mind that your rotary magazine sits high when installed and will require extra clearance when mounting a scope.   Speaking of the magazine sitting high, an interesting feature is that the shooter can insert single rounds into the magazine without removing it.

Results with the 95 grain Hunters Supply hollow points averaging a velocity of 653 fps yielded an energy equivalent of slightly over 90 fpe.  The 105 grain flat points launched at an average of 610 fps to yield an energy of 86.83 fpe.  At least two full 6 round magazines could be fired before a top off of the cylinder would be in order.

Three round string at 75 yards

Three round string at 75 yards

Overall, I found the Big Bore Carnivore very pleasurable to shoot.  While it is  a hefty air rifle, it is well balanced and Hatsan includes a sling with the rifle which would make it easier on the shooter taking it afield.  Hatsan’s tagline reads: Serious. Solid. Impact. and what I see coming out of the company is innovative and lives up to that tagline.  I’ll add “Value” to it as the Carnivore in .35 has a retail value of $799.  All Hatsan airguns are warrantied for a period of one year.  Please reach out to the folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com to order one if you are in the market for a big bore air rifle.

My thanks go out to Hunter’s Supply (www.hunters-supply.com) for providing their superb Flat Point and Hollow Point bullets in .356.  I understand they have collaborated with airgun manufacturers to formulate an alloy for their bullets/pellets that has the best Brinell hardness for air propelled projectiles.  Also, I’d like to thank Thompson Targets (www.thompsontarget.com) for their American made quality targets used for this review.

Business end of the Big Bore Carnivore

Business end of the Big Bore Carnivore

Today’s article comes from a new writer to this BLOG, but a known person in the airgun community.  We are proud to have on board, Steven Scialli from the Airgun Exploration & Advancement Channel on YouTube.

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Without further delay we give you Steve’s first entry:

I can remember a time not long ago when it seemed like not much shot well without a tune up and word on the street was that airguns were for kids. A lots changed in 15 years. Before the arrival of the internet sensationalizing the long range airgun kill, most of us were perfectly content to spend our winters plunking away in our basements or across the backyard come summer. To dispatch the occasional feeder-burglar without the neighbors finding out was to declare airgun victory… and afterwords, the rifle would go right back into the hallway closet. After all, with the rimfire touting hundreds of 50 yard rabbit dinners and firmly rooted at the front of the safe, it never even occurred to most of us to try with the old windgun… that just wasn’t the culture here in the States back then. So what happened?

We’re evolving. With costs of powder burning ammunition on the rise and background checks & special permissions becoming evermore obstructive, some of us began to look for a better way and although we didn’t know it then, collectively we were seeking the same light. Luckily for us, industry entrepreneurs were counting on it and were already well along in the development of economical, powerful, good handling, good looking, quiet, and insanely accurate airguns. With our methodology & second amendment rights never in question until recently, many of us hadn’t looked up but for those that did, are today enjoying a world of performance & value without the headache.

Still looked upon by the masses as a stocking stuffer, these machines of excellence have migrated firmly into; “can kill your ass at 100 yards” territory and most Americans still have no idea. For those of you that don’t live stateside, we are of a gun culture but unlike our friends across the oceans, the word gun is always synonymous with gun powder. Powder burners are everywhere here, transcending age & gender, and apart from the lobbyists & current administration, are a part of Americana held in high regard. I own them myself and being a police officer by trade, I was sourced of it’s allure. But I sense a change in the wind… a shift in acceptance if you will, and we’re right on top of it. America has begun to furrow a brow at real guns and it’s become fashionable for White House administrations to do as they please without the support of Congress. My advise is that if you like your shooting lifestyle, you may want to get involved or at the very least, take a harder look at air power.

I get it all the time on my YouTube channel… “$1,800 for that? Why not just buy a real gun?” I make it a point never to answer.. not out of laziness or arrogance, but because the answer was in the video they just watched and they didn’t even realize. Pneumatic newcomers take note: airguns are more fun to own… it’s really that simple. Our popgun crowd all seem to be cut from the same cloth. We like our toys sophisticated, reliable, handsome, hi-performing, and above all… we like them damn civilized. Tall order, right? Nope. Enter the modern airgun.

Invest $100 to $500 and you’re taking home a more primitive degree of civility, granted, but virtues common to the price point are power, accuracy, reliability, good looks, and darn good triggers. Raise your sights to over $1,000 and you’ve entered a realm of lavish air-power pampering that’s hard to put into words until you’ve tried it. For those of you previously propelling via chemical reaction and whom have already been assimilated into the gang, you know what I’m talking about. These guns generate 20-40 foot pounds of energy with ease, and are more than accurate enough to take head shots on 10 pound critters out past 100 yards. They’re well made and while of course you can get one with issues now & then, by and large they’ll last long enough to pass down through generations. The glory isn’t in the performance though… not really. It’s in the shooting experience. These guns are generally recoil-less, are often fitted with silencers from the factory, fit ya like hand in glove, transmit super slick firing cycles, and can even be had with enough chutzpah to take down wild game like bear & elk. The fact that competition barrels & triggers are also the norm is only triumphed by the piece of lumber or polymer that gun calls home. Sure there are some pieces of support equipment that you’ll need to make it all go boom but that’s all part of the fun… fun we’ll save for another day.

Although modern airgunning is in it’s infancy in America, over the past decade it’s gained great momentum in variety and sophistication. Perhaps shooting enthusiasts are being pushed there, perhaps they’re bored with powder and just want a change, but one thing’s for certain… EVERYONE that picks one up and shoots it for the very first time says the exact same thing, “that’s an airgun?”

So go grab a friend and show em’ a better way.

YouTuber & Columnist,

Steve Scialli

AEAC