For some years after their introduction, many manufacturers promoted gas ram air rifles as being unaffected by changes in temperature. The FPS would be pretty-well the same at any temperature, they said.
Is that true? Well, on the basis of some testing I’ve undertaken, the answer is definitely “no”. At least in the cold weather we have here in up-state New York.
I’ve found that here is definitely a change in FPS for gas ram air rifles at different temperatures. And it’s more than you may have thought!
We shot the ASP20 at a temperatures of both 20 degrees F and at 63 degrees F. In each case, the gun was allowed to “season” at the ambient temperature for several hours before shooting. This meant that gun and ambient temperature were definitely at the same.
Also, we shot the gun slowly – about every 30 seconds – for each test. This was to avoid any effects from the ASP20 heating-up as it was fired. We took 10 shots at both temperatures for each of the six types of pellets. Total 120 shots.
So what did we find?
The answer that – taking the SIG ASP20 as a representative of gas ram air rifles – the gun shot faster, on average, by 1.28 FPS per degree F at the higher temperature.
On average, that means approximately 55 FPS difference when the gun was shot at 20 degrees F and 63 degrees F. That is very definitely enough to make the point of impact on the target very different at most ranges.
So if you’re shooting gas ram air rifles, either on the range or hunting, make sure that your gun is sighted-in at approximately the same temperature as for that critical shot. If not, you could miss the target just due to the change in temperature!
Here’s a chart showing how the Muzzle Velocities changed with temperature for different .177 caliber pellets:
And here’s the average…
So if you’re shooting gas ram air rifles, either on the range or hunting, make sure that your airgun is sighted-in at approximately the same temperature as for that critical shot.
If not, you could miss the target just due to the change in temperature!
The 2019 SHOT Show will be with us very soon now. So, before it happens, I’ll take a risk and make some predictions for what I think we may see there…
THE FUTURE FOR PCP AIR RIFLES.
At the 2017 SHOT Show, everyone was talking about the Umarex Gauntlet, a revolutionary $300, magazine-fed, regulated PCP air rifle with a great shot count. The announcement of this gun created a huge buzz among airgunners and airgun companies across the US and beyond.
What the Umarex Gauntlet established was the $300 price floor for a “good enough” quality, regulated PCP air rifle. During 2017, we saw Gamo, Benjamin and others reducing the prices of their PCPs to get close to that magic $300 number. And at the 2018 SHOT Show, there were more $300 magazine-fed PCPs launched – the Benjamin Fortitude and Hatsan Flash among them. I expect to see more this year.
Furthermore, just about every new $300+ PCP launched since the Gauntlet has been regulated.
Currently, these guns have bolt actions. But semi-autos will become more common in future, I believe. In a few years time, the typical $300 regulated, magazine-fed PCP air rifle will also be semi-automatic. Will that start to happen at the 2019 SHOT Show? We’ll see…
WHAT ABOUT BREAK BARRELS?
As HPA compressors become smaller, lighter and cheaper, the barriers to PCP ownership will clearly be reduced. In fact, I believe that they will cause the traditional, single shot break barrel air rifle – to become an endangered species.
Now I do not think that break barrel, single shot springers (or gas rams) will ever disappear. But I do predict that there will be fewer of them sold in future. Mostly, they will retreat slowly back down to the lowest reaches of the US airgun market at prices of $150 or less. Even there, they will be challenged by multi-shot CO2-powered guns.
I also predict that a few, specialist, break barrel (or underlever) single shot springers will survive at the top end of the market, say $500 and above. But these will be the choice of real enthusiasts and a few diehard traditionalists, those “real men” who want to experience “airguns as they used to be”. Think Weihrauch and SIG SAUER ASP20 (below).
So I predict the current huge range of springers in the $150 – $300 range will fade away and die out over the next few years. They will be steadily squeezed out by increasingly easy-to-use (and cheap) rapid-firing PCP and CO2 guns.
CO2 STRIKES BACK.
CO2-powered airguns are making a big comeback! Many, many airgunners are falling for the charms of rapid-firing firearms replica airguns. Yes, many of these are BB guns and most of them are pistols.
CO2-powered airguns offer “realism” and they offer rapid fire capability. The SIG SAUER MPX and MCX models are a prime example of this trend. They’re hugely successful because they really look the part, fire semi-auto and do not require expensive HPA charging kit. That’s the MPX below.
This interest in CO2 power is driven, I believe, by a new type of airgunner. They don’t want single shot, hard-recoiling, hard-cocking, Zillion FPS, tough-to-shoot break barrel springers. They want a different type of shooting experience that’s closer to that of firearms (or airsoft, for that matter), but at a lower cost, with shorter range potential and less noise.
I expect to see more CO2-powered firearms replica airguns appear in 2019.
BIG BORE. BIG OPPORTUNITY?
My real question is: “How big is that big bore airgun market”?
Big bore airguns – .30 caliber and above – have been big news in the past few years.
Of course, big bore air rifles use air at a huge rate. This means that you’ll certainly need your own HPA compressor and a very large intermediate tank. In money terms, a big bore requires a $800+ tank and $1,000+ home compressor. Oh, and add-in a $400+ scope. That total rapidly climbs North of $4,000 for a functioning big bore hunting air rifle.
Walking around the SHOT Show, it’s very clear that $4,000 will buy any one of a large number of superb firearm hunting rifles. They’re more powerful, less complicated and require just a box of cartridges to shoot.
So, my prediction is that very high power – say over 200 Ft/Lbs Muzzle Energy – big bore air rifles will remain a niche market.
I believe the cost/complexity/performance envelope of big bore airguns will remain a rarified “enthusiast only” world with a very limited number of users. Unless you already have a tank and compressor for your smallbore PCPs.
Such very high power big bore airguns will continue to attract attention. But the economics probably favor smaller, specialist manufacturers than the biggest players. Look no further than the Western Big Bore Bushbuck, for example.
So, there’s my predictions for the future of the airgun market…
Overall I believe that, in the next few years, more people will make more shots, firing faster with airguns. Single-shot airguns will become either very cheap, a specialist’s choice or history. Large volume airgun sales in the future belong to magazine-fed, HPA and CO2 airguns with calibers of about .30 and below. Especially those which look like military firearms.
But there again, I could be wrong. According to my wife, I usually am! What do you think?
The SIG ASP20 was one of the most-anticipated air rifles to be introduced in 2018.
I first shot it at the 2018 SHOT Show in January, then again at the formal SIG Press Launch in July 2018. Now the ASP20 is shipping in both .177 and .22 calibers and you can buy yours from Airguns of Arizona, of course!
So, what’s been happening since the July Press Launch?
Well, SIG has been making a few small tweaks and final testing to ensure that their first in-house developed airgun performs as well as the legions of SIG SAUER firearms owners would expect. SIG Air’s Development Manager Ed Schultz confirmed to me that the company has made over 200,000 shots through multiple ASP20 test guns prior to production commencing.
Yes, over two hundred thousand!
Some individual guns have exceeded 10,000 shots each, he said. And all of this durability testing has been done by hand – no testing machines. Wow! It’s a good job that the cocking effort of the ASP20 is lighter than that of most break barrel air rifles at this power level!
SIG is currently shipping the wood stock ASP20. Synthetic stock guns will follow, as will scope bundles with the SIG Whiskey3 ASP 4-12 x44 AO scope.
The gun I’ve been shooting is .177 caliber with wood stock and Whiskey3 scope. SIG mounted and sighted-in the Whiskey3 scope before shipment, so it was ready to shoot, straight out of the box.
Immediately you shoulder the ASP20, it’s clear that this is a nicely-balanced air rifle. The center of gravity lies exactly where your forward hand naturally rests to support the stock. The forend is not too wide, just comfortable, too.
The test gun weighed-in at 9 Lbs 10 Oz, including the mounted scope. I’d rate that as pleasantly substantial but not too heavy.
The wrist of the stock is nicely-dimensioned. It allowed my trigger finger to engage the blade naturally, with no strain.
Although there’s no adjustable comb to the stock, nor an adjustable buttpad, the cheek weld was immediately pleasant for me. This means that the ASP20 is a new addition to that select group of air rifles – like the Weihrauch HW100 – that feel “just right” as they come from the factory, with no need for the stock adjustments they don’t have.
However, SIG expects to have an adjustable cheekpiece available with the ASP20 synthetic stock model in the forseeable future. Just in case…
Easy, foolproof, trigger adjustment was a design goal for the ASP20. Unusually, the trigger pull weight is adjusted from the rear of the compression tube, using a click-adjustable system. You push in then rotate clockwise to increase the trigger pull weight. Anti-clockwise reduces it.
This adjustment can be made using a Phillips head screwdriver. However, if a scope is mounted, you’ll need to use the special adjustment tool provided by SIG with the gun, as the scope blocks screwdriver access.
As received from the factory, the test gun had a trigger pull weight of 2.5 Lbs. So the trigger is light. It’s also very pleasant to pull. However, there’s not that “glass break” sensation as the sear releases, it’s a softer, slightly more gentle feeling – at least as received from the factory.
SIG gives you some control over the trigger release characteristics, too. Turning the small Allen key supplied with the gun in the setscrew located behind the trigger, allows single stage operation, two stage, or somewhere in between.
Another key focus for the SIG design team was easy cocking. The test ASP20 has a cocking effort of right around 32 Lbs – that’s the SIG Glidelite cocking mechanism at work. This is definitely low for a break barrel gun of this power level.
Cocking action is smooth and even. There’s no feeling of jerkiness and no grinding or grating of the lever against the stock in operation. Again. it’s good.
Lockup is very positive and this reassuring solidity is a testament to SIG’s Keystone breech design and the match-drilling of the pivot pin holes.
H&N Field Target Trophy pellets showed-up well for accuracy. A consistent 1035 FPS – plus or minus – showed on the Chrony for these pellets at 63 degrees F. That’s 20.59 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy, slightly exceeding SIG’s claim.
It’s clear that the SIG Air ASP20 is a capable, powerful and accurate new air rifle!
With the SIG name on it, the ASP20 appeals not only to airgunners, but also firearms shooters. That’s a HUGE potential market and SIG Air is well-placed to benefit from their growing interest in non powder-burning pellet launchers!
Serial numbers for the SIG ASP20 all begin with the initials JDH. This unusual prefix is a memorial to Justin Daniel Heckert, one of the gun’s key design engineers. Sadly, Justin died unexpectedly before the ASP20 entered production. Serial number one of the SIG Air ASP20 was presented to Justin’s family as a mark of respect by the company.
It’s PCP airgun corrosion – this is what moisture does to your air rifle…
It’s widely known – or at least fairly widely – that PCP airgun corrosion is caused by moisture in the air that’s used to fill an air rifle. But what does this PCP airgun corrosion look like and how bad really is the damage?
These photographs show how bad the corrosion actually can be. Look and be warned!
Above. There’s plenty of corrosion on this Marauder fill adapter. You can also see oxidization build-up on the sintered filter.
Note that our photographs happen to show corrosion in Benjamin and Crosman airguns. That’s because these are examples seen at a Crosman Repair Center. But every PCP airgun – not just Crosman/Benjamin models – suffers from this problem.
You can find PCP airgun corrosion in any make of airgun!
Every time you fill your PCP airgun without a dessicant system of some sort, you are causing this problem. You’re actually pumping water vapor – moisture – into the gun every time you fill it with High Pressure Air.
The result is long-term damage to your gun and an expensive repair bill just waiting for you in the future!
Above. Here’s corrosion on a Discovery gauge port. It’s even inside the gauge adapter (arrow)…
Over the long-term – say 3 years or more – PCP airgun corrosion will be the number one cause of failure for PCP air rifles.
First, you find that your favorite PCP is starting to loose pressure between uses. Then the pressure loss becomes more rapid. Then, finally, the gun will no longer hold pressure.
If you have been filling with “wet” air – that is air that has not been passed through some sort of moisture-removal system – it’s guaranteed that this problem will be caused by PCP airgun corrosion.
Over the course of time, that water vapor inside your air rifle will cause corrosion.
The problem will be worse if you live in a naturally-humid area. It will be worse still if you live by the ocean – think salt water corrosion now. So if you live in – say – Florida and you’re filling your PCP with a hand pump and no dessicant system, your PCP air rifle WILL suffer from this PCP airgun corrosion!
There’s some evidence that PCPs with higher fill pressures – say 3,000 PSI and above – tend to suffer from this PCP airgun corrosion more than those with lower pressures – say 2,000 PSI. That makes sense, as the onset and progress of PCP airgun corrosion will most likely be worse the higher the pressure.
But what actually happens?
Yes, rusting of the HPA pressure tube is one obvious result. If a pressure tube shows any signs of internal rusting, it should be replaced immediately!
Below we have a view looking down a Marauder pressure tube.
You see, the O rings inside the gun seem to attract moisture like a magnet. The result is that rust occurs between the O ring and steel tube – usually in a circular pattern, exactly matching the location of the O ring.
I may be a coward, but the prospect of holding a rusty steel tube containing 3,000 PSI of air right next to my face every time I shoot doesn’t sound too clever. DON’T DO IT!
More surprisingly, perhaps, the majority of PCP airgun corrosion happens on Aluminum parts inside the gun, rather than the steel tube itself.
The high pressure moisture-bearing air causes the Aluminum to oxidize into a white substance. This white oxide then builds-up underneath the O ring seals inside the gun. But it doesn’t build up evenly!
Because the Aluminum oxide builds-up in peaks and troughs, eventually the rubber O rings inside the gun can no longer fill the gaps and leaking starts. It’s downhill all the way from there…
Prevention is better than cure.
The way to prevent – or at least massively reduce – PCP airgun corrosion is to ALWAYS fill your gun with “dry air”.
If you use a hand pump, make sure it is filled with a dessicant system such as this Hill pump has.
Alternatively, if you fill HPA tanks from a compressor, use a dessicant system – such as this Omega inline filter – between the compressor and the tank.
Or if you have your air tanks filled by a paintball store or dive shop, make absolutely sure that they are giving you dry air.
PCP airgun corrosion WILL happen to your air rifle unless you always fill it with dry air. Make sure that you only use dry air in your PCP.
At the time of writing, there is a variety of upgrade possibilities available for the Diana Outlaw air rifle or soon will be…
Diana has taken a very enthusiast-friendly approach to their new regulated PCP air rifle. And you can benefit from it to make your Outlaw really your own. Some of these accessories are not available yet. However, check with AoA to find out the latest information on availability.
One. A Complete Manual For The Diana Outlaw.
Hard Air Magazine has produced a complete manual for the Outlaw that contains just about everything you want to know about your new air rifle. It’s available from Airguns of Arizona!
“Choosing and Shooting the Diana Outlaw” is a 94-page book full of useful information. It includes tips on filling, scope mounting and choosing pellets. In addition, the book covers maintenance and re-building details.
Now you will know what to do with all those tools and O rings that were included with your Outlaw!
Two. The Outlaw Enthusiast’s Kit
Precision Airgun Distribution – the US distributor of the Outlaw – has also developed an interesting upgrade kit for this air rifle.
The Diana Outlaw Enthusiast’s Kit comprises no less than 32 upgraded parts and tools. It allows the enthusiastic Outlaw owner to make a number of improvements to his/her gun. And all the information you need to use it are included in the “Choosing and Shooting the Diana Outlaw” book.
All parts are higher quality replacements for those shipped on the gun. The screws and pins are all stainless steel and the O rings, US-made of VITON material. All parts are matched to original Diana Part Numbers for easy identification.
Using this kit you can…
– Upgrade the trigger and cocking lever pins. These precision-ground, oversize pins replace the factory parts and are much less likely to fall out by accident. The trigger pins also provide more consistent operation.
– Upgrade the stock bolt and other assembly screws throughout the gun with high quality stainless steel replacements for a more pleasing, professional appearance.
– Install a non-rotating cocking handle upgrade. Simply cut the rubber tube to length. This reduces double-loading problems caused by fingers slipping off of the cocking lever.
– Replace the barrel seal – two sets for each caliber are included. In addition, superior pointed, barrel adapter setscrews are provides, together with replacement barrel adapter O rings.
Three. Upgrade The Buttstock.
Diana plans to offer an alternative buttstock for the Outlaw. This stock is manufactured in Italy by Minelli and offers a more sophisticated design than the standard factory part. It will also be completely interchangeable, with no modifications required to fit it to the Outlaw’s action.
Diana’s replacement buttstock has a more rounded, flowing design. It’s stylish and offers possibilities for a more comfortable and consistent hold for the shooter.
The rake of the stock’s wrist gives improved positioning the the trigger hand. The swelled, checkered forend will be easier and more comfortable to grasp, while the higher comb will give a better and more consistent cheek weld.
These are important benefits!
Anything that gives you a more comfortable shooting experience leads to greater consistency of positioning yourself against the gun every time you take a shot. And greater shot-to-shot consistency on your part increases the practical accuracy of your shooting. This can make a stock upgrade an important benefit for many shooters.
Four. Check Out The Trigger.
Many owners will be happy with the feel and operation of their Outlaw’s trigger.
However, a trigger upgrade is being developed by Diana and this will be regarded as a welcome improvement for owners using their gun for Field Target and other competitive shooting.
However Diana has designed a Match Trigger for the Outlaw. Again, this is a direct, drop-in replacement for the trigger that shipped with your Outlaw. It’s a significant difference!
Diana’s Match Trigger includes setscrew adjustments for both first and second stages of the trigger travel. These are the tiny setscrews visible just ahead of the trigger blade.
Another adjustment possible with the Match Trigger is that it’s possible to move the trigger blade itself forwards or backwards. This provides flexibility for you to select the most comfortable and convenient trigger position. After all, we don’t all have fingers of the same length!
Adjusting the trigger blade position is a simple affair. Just use a thin-bladed standard screwdriver to slightly loosen the trigger blade. Adjust the position to your liking and re-tighten.
In testing, I found the Match Trigger to be a valuable improvement to the Diana Outlaw. The greater number of adjustments helped me tune trigger release exactly to my liking. It also provided a lower and more consistent pull weight.
Five. Add A Huma Regulator.
Understanding the Outlaw’s popularity, the Dutch regulator specialist company Huma has introduced an upgrade for the Outlaw’s regulator.
The Huma regulator is a high-precision assembly, made largely of stainless steel and brass. It provides you with the ability to adjust the regulator pressure of your Outlaw to match the requirements of you, or your favorite pellets, or both.
The factory regulator is pre-set at a pressure of between 130 and 150 Bar (1,880 to 2,170 PSI).
The Huma regulator upgrade comes pre-set at a pressure setting of 135 Bar (1,958 PSI). However, this setting can be changed easily and – unlike the factory part – the Huma regulator gives you a scale showing the different output pressures. Rotating a setscrew allows you to set a specific regulator output pressure.
Setting a higher regulator pressure will give you higher FPS and less consistent shots per fill. Within reason, of course.
To install this forthcoming Huma regulator, you’ll find full details in the “Choosing and Using The Diana Outlaw” book, of course!
I first saw this interesting new air rifle at the annual IWA exhibition in Nuremberg, Germany, in 2017. Then it was called the Nova Vista HP-M1000. It impressed me as one of the two most innovative airguns introduced at that show. The other was the FX Crown!
Below, that’s Mr Zhu, the designer of the Nova Freedom, showing me “his baby” at that show.
Of course, the idea of a PCP air rifle with a built-in hand pump is not new. Other air rifles have been produced in the past with a similar basic benefit – not needing to carry a separate tank or pump with you to refill your PCP air rifle in the field. The FX Independence springs to mind, of course.
However, the American Tactical Nova Freedom is a new model with some distinctly different engineering and it’s selling for just $379.95. Both .22 cal and .177 caliber models are available.
The manufacturer is claiming some pretty impressive specifications for this air rifle. Apart from the built-in handpump, the American Tactical Nova Freedom can be filled from a HPA tank. Maximum fill pressure is 3,600 PSI.
There’s an adjustable, two-stage trigger and two power levels settable by a rotating knob.
Pellet feed is via a Marauder-style 10-shot magazine or single shot tray with side lever cocking. And yes, the 10-shot magazine is very similar to that found on the Benjamin Marauder and Umarex Gauntlet. In fact, they’re interchangeable.
Muzzle velocity for the .22 cal version is given as 900 fps or 700 fps – depending on power adjuster setting. In .177 cal, the claim is 1,000 fps or 800 fps.
Before Going Any Further…
Yes, the Nova Vista is inexpensive.
Yes, it’s rather “blocky-looking”.
Yes, it’s not designed or manufactured in Europe.
But don’t knock this one until you have tried it!
It is in fact a very capable all-round air rifle that – I believe – will surprise you with its capabilities.
Real World Shooting.
As supplied, the Nova Freedom is hard-hitting and accurate with mid-weight and above lead pellets.
If you’re hunting, set the gun to High Power and be prepared to pump every 5 or 6 shots. We found it produced 29.7 Ft/Lbs in .22 caliber with JSB Jumbo Exact pellets. That’s 965 FPS, higher than the manufacturer’s claims and very decent power!
Before shooting it, I expected the Nova Freedom to be rather “clunky” and unsatisfactory to shoot – entirely because of the built-in pump. But that’s actually not the case.
In fact, I found it comfortable and very stable to shoot offhand by holding on to the pump handle and bracing my upper arm against my chest, as shown in the photographs. The pump handle can be locked closed to avoid inadvertent operation in this kind of of use.
For target shooting or plinking, Low Power still gives plenty of FPS and a remarkable 20 good shots between pumping.
Pump And Trigger.
The built-in hand pump definitely works!
This means that owners of the American Tactical Nova Freedom can do without the cost and inconvenience of a separate HPA hand pump. In addition, it can be filled from an external tank or HPA hand pump if required, however, if you prefer.
It also means that the user is able to re-fill the Nova Freedom while in the field. This overcomes the inevitable air anxiety (“Do I have enough air?”) that every PCP owner has experienced at one time or another.
The American Tactical Nova Freedom we tested had a trigger pull averaging 2 Lbs 10 Oz.
This trigger is a two-stage design, but the first stage was almost undetectable, feeling more like a little slack on a single-stage trigger. However, the trigger release was quite predictable and consistent. And it can be adjusted…
Adjustments for sear engagement, pull weight and pull length are all accessed from outside the gun using an Allen wrench. The instruction manual supplied with the Nova Freedom gives clear instructions for making trigger adjustments.
If you like this concept, there’s nothing else to touch the Nova Vista in the market at anywhere near the price. The only downside is a slight increase in bulk and weight compared to a conventional PCP.
Around a year ago, the Umarex Gauntlet started shipping. That was a big deal because – for the first time – a regulated, magazine-fed, shrouded PCP air rifle was available at the ground-breaking price of $300. Well, actually $299.99.
Cue for some rapid developments in the low-price PCP airgun world!
Now we see one of the first responses to the Gauntlet thrown down by Umarex. It’s the Benjamin Fortitude air rifle.
As with the Gauntlet, we have a $300, regulated PCP which delivers 60+ shots per fill, uses a 10-shot magazine feed and offers backyard friendly sound levels. Both have similar muzzle velocity capabilities and reassuring multi-year warranties.
So which should you choose? That’s a great question!
Let’s Look At The Fortitude In More Detail…
The Fortitude looks something like a cross between a Benjamin Maximus and a Marauder air pistol, with a regulator built-in. You can see how it compares to the Maximus in the photograph below. (Both air rifles are the same length, perspective makes that look less obvious).
The breech looks very similar to that of the Marauder air pistol. However, there’s clearly some differences as the Fortitude uses the 10-shot Marauder rifle magazine, rather than the 8-shot mag from the Marauder pistol.
Crosman has always had a core competency in re-using existing parts to build new products. Why design something new when there’s a perfectly satisfactory part already in existence? That’s very sensible engineering, so it would be no surprise to find that the new Fortitude uses many parts that have been proven in previous models. Doing so reduces development time and risk, while keeping costs down.
Compared to the familiar Marauder air rifle, the Benjamin Fortitude is a much lighter, less bulky air rifle. It weighs about 2 Lbs less than the Marauder rifle and just 5 Ozs more than the single-shot, unregulated Maximus. This means that it feels light and handy to shoot.
As with all other Crosman and Benjamin PCPs, the Benjamin Fortitude is manufactured in the USA at the Velocity Outdoor headquarters in Bloomfield, New York.
Velocity Outdoor? That’s the new name for the company formerly known as Crosman Corporation. Don’t worry about it, the Crosman and Benjamin airguns you know and love are still the same…
The Benjamin Fortitude we tested shot at around 750 FPS with 14.35 Grain JSB Jumbo Exact 14.35 Grain pellets – in .22 caliber, of course. That’s just under 18 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy. The gauntlet we tested gave 805 FPS, 20.75 Ft/Lbs with the same pellets.
These JSB pellets also gave the best accuracy of any we tried. Few will find that a surprising result!
And the Benjamin Fortitude was impressively consistent. In fact it gave the lowest average Standard Deviation FPS of any air rifle we’ve ever tested. At any price!
So does that make it better than the Gauntlet? Well, that depends…
First The Fortitude.
The Fortitude is a much smaller, lighter air rifle than the Gauntlet. It has much better natural pointing capability and is a breeze to carry on a hunt.
The Fortitude is manufactured in the USA. The Gauntlet is built in China. For some that will be a big deal, for others not so much.
The Benjamin also has a 5-year warranty, compared to the 3-year coverage of the Gauntlet.
The Gauntlet Strikes Back.
Unfortunately the Fortitude needs a stock with an adjustable cheek piece. I got a chin weld, not a cheek weld when shooting it! The Gauntlet has an adjustable comb to the stock which is much better.
And the Gauntlet’s trigger is also superior. True, it needs some adjustment but this is easily done with setscrew adjustment of pull weight, sear engagement and overtravel all available once you pop off the stock.
The Fortitude’s trigger is non-adjustable and the sample I tested had an average pull weight of five and a half Pounds. Ouch! Yes, there are some fixes for this to be found online, but it’s starting waaaay behind the Gauntlet.
And then – although both have heavy bolt actions – the Gauntlet’s is much easier to operate. The bolt handle is longer and larger, there’s more space to avoid skinning your knuckles on the scope and the pull effort is less.
The Gauntlet is slightly more powerful also.
So Where Does This Leave Us?
For $300, both the Fortitude and the Gauntlet are great choices. It’s almost too close to call. Your decision will depend on which features are most important to you.
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.
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 damncivilized. 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?”
This weeks article brings yet another treat! As one of the largest airgun stores in the world, we get a lot of local foot traffic and get to see many airguns of all varieties. As you may already have learned, Airguns of Arizona is owned and operated by mostly airgunners. Whenever particularly old or interesting airguns come along for sale or trade in, it is not uncommon for an AOA crew member to snag one up. Over time we have a combined collection that is fun to see and to share with others. From our office walls and display racks around the shop, to our showroom centerpiece, interesting models are around to see for all who enter. But what about you, our distant reader who may not get an opportunity to come by and see our store? Don’t feel too left out, we will continue to bring the collection to your monitors in creative and fun ways.
In previous blogs we showed photos and fun stories behind some classic treasures, like the Weihrauch HW35L from the AOA owner’s collection, or the vintage Crosman 600 that Jock reviewed a couple of years back!
But today is different again! Today we give you a video showcase of an interesting oldie! The Benjamin Sterling HR-83, a fixed-barrel, spring piston airgun produced in the USA with history dating back to an English design from 1982. Production (unfortunately) ceased on this model in 1994. Our example in the AOA collection is a .20 caliber model, making it even more unique and rare. We hope that you enjoy our video!
Boy, some guys just don’t get the word. What word? You know: the typical narrative involved in an airgunners career. It usually goes something like this: “Well, I started out with a Daisy (or an inexpensive) Crosman, and after many years of scrimping and saving, I finally got an adult precision airgun.”
Shane Kellar, whose chief responsibilities encompass working with dealers and setting up the Extreme Benchrest competition every year, has a vastly different story to tell. “I’ve known the owners of Airguns of Arizona – Robert and Steve – my entire life. When Robert first started selling airguns, my Dad bought me a German made spring gun. I would shoot a hundred to two hundred pellets a day. At 12 years old, I was dropping little green army men in the backyard with that springer and a 3-9 scope. I didn’t know the difference between a good air rifle and a bad air rifle, but I knew I could shoot it well.”
My reaction: HOLY SMOKES! A German springer at 12 years old? Wow!
Kellar adds, “When I graduated from high school, I got a Beeman rifle from Robert. That was my only knowledge of air rifles. I wasn’t familiar with precharged, and I didn’t know that there were different qualities of air rifles.”
He says, “I was working in the banking industry, doing mortgages and home equity loans, when the crash came, and I was laid off. Robert was looking for someone to do shipping, so I started to do that. The phones got really busy, so I started helping the guys out. They said: if you don’t know, just ask – so I started asking lots of questions. And of course I had lots of opportunities to shoot different air rifles”
“Within a month, I bought a Daystate Huntsman left hand and an FX pump. Within six months, I had three precharged rifles, the Huntsman, an Air Wolf, and an FX Cyclone. I did lots of reading about airguns, learning about them, and eventually I began to take them apart, so now I know how to fix just about any of them.”
Today, Kellar’s favorite precharged rifles are the FX Royale and the Daystate Regal. And when it comes to springers, he is right back to his roots; the last springer he would part with is an HW35e.
When he isn’t on the phone with dealers across the country and thinking about next year’s Extreme Benchrest competition, Kellar enjoys competing in air rifle bench rest whenever he can get the opportunity. He helped to start the Phoenix Benchrest Club, and he participates with them on a monthly basis.
Perhaps his favorite thing, though, is “going out with a couple of my cousins to one of the local dairies and helping them to eliminate their pigeon problem. It’s a win-win: the dairies appreciate getting rid of a pest, and we have a heck of a lot of fun.”