Posts Tagged ‘Airguns’

AoA: We asked a good airgunning friend of ours, who lives in the UK, out in the wilds of East Anglia, to give us a regular flavour of life there. Here is his latest post.

Old friends re-appear after a long absence.

Summer 2017. It’s been a week of sweltering 90F temperatures by UK standards, particularly as our houses don’t have air conditioning.

Meals are taken outside, under the shade of our decades-old Allington Pippin apple tree. This is especially enjoyable when friends drop round for a bite to eat.

So, it was in this dappled shade, that we were delighted to meet up again with Ben Taylor, airgun guru and, of course, half of the original Theoben airgun company. Theoben rifles are still much sought after today. I used to work alongside Ben but, since he’s retired, he’s spent a lot of time on his BMW 1300 motorbike. He was just back from attending the Moto GP in Spain.

And that was the starting point for an amazing story. While in Spain, Ben met a British airgunner who lives there. They had been chatting previously about airguns, and 2 had piqued Ben’s interest quite considerably. One of them was Ben’s very own engraved Sirocco .20 calibre that he had used around 1985/86. Its condition was ‘almost as new’; its serial number is #1000. The other rifle was one of his famous and rare Metisse air rifles: No.8, in .177 calibre.

Ben then told us the fantastic tale of the Sirocco. Many years ago, when the company was at its base in Cambridgeshire in Britain, Ben was just closing up for the day when an Aston Martin swept into the car park and a man leapt out. He said he wanted an air rifle. “I’m afraid they’re all built to order and we have none spare.” Undaunted, the visitor said, “what about that one then?” pointing to Ben’s own rifle on the rack. Ben said, “It’s mine, and anyway you can’t afford it”. But Aston Martin drivers are a determined bunch! “I’ll give you a thousand pounds for it,” ($1800 in those days and about 5 times the going rate for a rifle then). The reply was typical of the Ben we know and love! “Would you like it in a box or a bag?” That was the last Ben saw of the rifle for over 30 years. Ben's Taylor's Sirocco

Ben Taylor with SiroccoSo, it’s astonishing that the Sirocco has re-surfaced after all these years, purely by chance. And of course, Ben couldn’t resist buying it. The Metisse looks like it has never been shot, and Ben bought that too.

Ben Taylor's Metisse

But it’s also typical of Ben, that when he got home to the UK with the rifles, and when he had done admiring them, that, as he said to us, “I’m not really sure why I bought them, as I really, truly, have retired from air rifles.”

So, we’re not surprised that they’re now up both for sale at over £2,000 for Sirocco and over £3,000 for the Metisse. As for retirement from airguns? Somehow, we’re not surprised he’s planning on coming to Extreme Benchrest this year!

Until next time,

Get out and shoot!

Late June 2017. We’ve had a week of glorious sunshine in the South … temperatures in the 80s and a real feeling that we’ve shaken off the cold and blue skies, and summer is heading for Home Farm.

Rain or shine, our bird feeders are mobbed from dawn to dusk. They all take their turn, and, apart from the blackbirds, there’s not too much squabbling. It’s all very British. Then in drops a gang of long tailed tits. Everyone else scatters as they attack the food, hanging every which way on the fat-balls and peanut holders. Then, they are off before you have time to wipe your nose and pull your ear.

Last weekend it was sunny and warm enough to bring out butterflies, bees and a magnificent 4ft long female grass snake which made her way across the front of the house towards an old compost heap where she must have some eggs. It was also warm enough to have a barbecue with some friends. We set up targets in the garden for a bit of airgun fun (airfun?). In pride of place on the ‘range’ was my old Webley Hurricane pistol, handed down by neighbour Stan, a retired Polish WW2 fighter pilot who lived 3 fields’ distance away. Stan was a hoot, There were always laughs, stir, commotion and tales from his old Spitfire days! Stan would concoct his own lemon vodka at home. It was the best. So was he. Anyway, we crowded round the air pistols to choose our ammunition. I’m a big fan of airgun darts at gatherings like these as they’re great fun for all ages. I always buy a minimum of 5 packs of 10 multi coloured darts so I end up with 10 red, 10 blue, and the same numbers of green, black and yellow. It makes it easier for people to have a decent number of their own single competition colour. There’s talk, as usual, of ‘darts affect barrel rifling’ – this is a myth in my opinion. Ask anyone who claims this just how they know it and you’ll hear something vague such as “Oh, well, everyone knows that…”. Well, I’ve never found the slightest damage to barrels which, after all, are made to withstand all manner of wear and tear. It’s the mohair flights which have most contact with the barrel. So, I say load up – and take aim. Our visitors found them a lot more accurate than they thought…and a lot more fun!

Until next time,

Get out and shoot!

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

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.

youtube+homepage+8

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

We asked a good airgunning friend of ours, who lives in the UK out in the wilds of East Anglia, to give us a regular flavor of life there. Here is his latest post.

Farm

Mid April 2016. There’s been warmer weather at Home Farm in Norfolk. It’s party time in the garden for our visitors who have been buzzing with excitement recently. The birds, who visit our feeding stations around the garden, are in a frenzy. All through the winter we have tried to understand why some feeding points are so much more popular than others, when the same mix of seed and suet goes into each. Some are emptied immediately; others take all day to be finished. “You need an Avian Feng Shui Consultant to explain it” laughs one of our more human visitors. Well, to be frank, I would think that an AFSC, if such exists, is the last person whom I would sit down with to learn the mysteries of the natural world. Whichever restaurant our birds prefer, they are always welcome here. So many regulars: yellow hammers (ten or more); green finches; blue tits; great tits; sparrows; starlings; blackbirds; collared doves; moorhens; lesser spotted woodpecker, Mr & Mrs Jay, the robin and El Magnifico (our friendly cock pheasant who lives at #1 the Ditch) – they are all here, waiting for us, half an hour after sunrise. Meanwhile, somewhere in the tall ash tree, our thrush is singing, as bright, loud and as sweet as you can possibly imagine, saying to us “Welcome. It’s another great day”.

Our winged guests are messy eaters. The smaller birds throw out a lot of grain on the ground as they sift for the tastier morsels. Alas, this attracts in rats from the adjoining the fields. This is where airgunning comes into its own. I don’t even need to leave the farmhouse to make sure I have a good and safe shot. The rat may see the back door of the house slowly swing ajar, spot a shadowy shape inside hunching over slightly… “but, hey, let’s not worry too much when there’s so much food around here, right beneath my nose”. The rat’s eagerness gives me my opportunity and –wham– the airgun has done what it was made for. The FX Verminator has lived up to its name. Time for me to tidy up the corpse, wash my hands and have a mug of hot tea on this sunny, uplifting, Spring day.

Yellowhammer taking off

Yellowhammer taking off

Until next time,

Get out and shoot!

We asked a good airgunning friend of ours, who lives in the UK out in the wilds of East Anglia, to give us a regular flavor of life there. Here is his latest post.

Farm

Easter 2016. It’s been chilly weather at Home Farm in Norfolk. The winds have been blowing in from the south with an unexpected vengeance, cutting straight across the county’s flat fields, skimming across the huddled backs of wood pigeon which have flocked down onto the fields. Yesterday we had a hailstorm. The oil seed rape has been growing well, but this has drawn in pigeon to feast on the burgeoning crop. They have been devastating field after field. One of our neighbours, a farmer, knocked on our door in the last week – “Airgun or shotgun, don’t really care. Please just spare some time to take out some of those pesky pigeon.” So midweek finds me trudging across wide open fields to one of three very small woods which will afford me enough cover to take some shots. I have a trusty old FX Verminator (I really should upgrade to something more 2016) and an Italian Fabarm 12 gauge, over and under. This was my first ever shotgun bought 26 years ago and still going strong.

Snuggled down in the wood, facing the wind, with a few pigeon decoys tucked in the lee of a hedge 70 yards away, the waiting begins. As the pigeon drop in, I keep a keen eye but a still hand. Finally, I have around 40 or so in sight. With the airgun, I pick out several single birds on the outer edge of the group, closest to me. The noise of the wind and the excellent Huggett moderator on the airgun combine to mask the shots. After 10 minutes, I have enough pigeon for the pot and it’s time to do my proper job and move them all on. The shotgun is readied. My movement disturbs a ‘sentry’ who, unseen by me, has flown into a nearby tree. The flock lifts and my two last-gasp shots miss, but still, I scare them off. Switching between rifle and shotgun is not so easy as it was in earlier days.

As the light starts to fade, I head for Home. By now the fire will be lit and a strong cup of tea will warm me up. But there is one last treat as the great indoors beckons. I walk quietly past Home Meadow, and there, with her back to me, is our wild barn owl, getting ready for her hunting time.

owl

Until next time,

Get out and shoot!

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!

Like so many of the Airguns of Arizona team, Jared Clark wears multiple hats. He answers the phone and talks to people about their airgunning needs, deals with all incoming shipments, and manages the warehouse and inventory.Jared1

He got into airguns through a somewhat unusual route. “We lived in the city, so we didn’t have a lot of room,” Clark says. “I got into airsoft with a bunch of friends, and we used to put on our goggles and shoot each other in the back yard.”

He adds, “My family knew the Buchanans. Robert gave me a Beeman .177 airgun, and I started shooting lemons off my mom’s lemon tree. I sometimes shot birds, but mainly I am a target shooter.

“Airguns of Arizona hired me as a shipper when I was 14 years old,” Clark says. “Steve was covering shipping, and they wanted to get a part-time guy to do the shipping and handling. That was in 2004.”

“Except for one year after high school when I went to junior college and played baseball, I’ve been there ever since, and my job has been constantly evolving. I do a bit of everything. We all cover for each other, although I try to stay away from repairs. One of the great things is that I get to test airguns every day.”

Now Clark is in charge of the warehouse – keeping track of inventory, labeling things, keeping it clean, and informing Greg what needs to be ordered. Since he is in charge of incoming shipments, if you send to Airguns of Arizona, Clark will see it first.

Two years ago at the Extreme Benchrest competition, a fellow named Giles from a YouTube airgun channel wanted to interview someone from AoA, and Clark was nominated.

Jared2“They thought it went pretty well,” Clark says, “so now I have done five or six video productions that involve unboxing, touring the product, shooting for accuracy and velocity strings. The first one was a Daystate Wolverine B. It was intimidating at first, but the guy who does the camera work helped me to feel at ease, and it has been growing on me. I actually kind of like doing it now.”

For his after-hours airgunning, Clark likes to compete in airgun benchrest, and he is keen to try his hand at field target. He owns an FX Superswift and is enthusiastic about it. “I love the balance, the light weight, and the simplicity of the magazine.”

Whenever he gets the opportunity, he enjoys dove hunting at the local dairy farms. “It’s a lot of fun, and a service to the farmers,” Clark says.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

  • Jock Elliott

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.”

Shane1Shane 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.Shane2

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.”

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

FZ200 Frear Park 008

Has it really been nearly seven years and over 350 blogs? That can’t be true. It seems like just yesterday I got a phone call from www.airgunsofarizona.com They had seen my writing in one of the magazines – perhaps it was Precision Shooting or The Accurate Rifle – and they wondered if I would like to do a weekly blog for them.

It didn’t take long to say “Yes,” and a wonderful partnership was born. Airguns of Arizona would send me air rifles, air pistols, and various accessories, and I would write about them. The good folks at AoA were remarkably light-handed. Not once – ever – did they ask me to change how I wrote about something. Their attitude was always: “tell the truth,” and that policy, I think, has served everyone well.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to write about hundreds of air rifles and air pistols. I’ve also written repeatedly about safety – a big thing in my universe. Make no mistake about it: airguns should be handled with all the care and respect you would give a firearm. You owe it do yourself and those around you, at all times and without exception.

Along the way, I’ve also had the opportunity to talk to airgun designers and manufacturers and to interview airgunning champions about how they shoot and train. Exploring the previous years of posts in the blog will uncover a wealth of useful information. For those who are new to airgunning, checkout Airguns 101 — http://198.154.244.69/blog/airguns-101 . It comprises a basic course in the essentials of airgunning. Originally the material there was destined to be included in a book, but last year, faced with a tough winter and little opportunity to shoot, I turned the chapters in the book-to-be into a series of blogs.

And that brings me to a common misconception about the blog. Many people assumed that, because I was writing for Airguns of Arizona, that I am located in Arizona. Nope. I’m in upstate New York, where we have winter. As a write this, there is snow on the ground and the wind is howling. Some years, we had “open” winters which allowed me to keep shooting. Other years, I concentrated on pistols during the snowy months. Last year, it was Airguns 101 that kept the blog going.

The folks at Airguns of Arizona have been absolutely wonderful to deal with: kind, patient, and helpful. I couldn’t ask for better partners in doing a blog. And the readers have been wonderful as well, offering useful comments and asking insightful questions.

Early in 2014, however, I found out that sometime during 2013 or late 2012, I had a heart attack. I didn’t know that I had a heart attack, but it left me with permanent scar tissue on the heart muscle. So I’ve decided to slow down and give up doing a regular weekly blog. I will still show up here from time to time, testing guns and interviewing people. So I won’t be gone from the blog, just not here as often.

In meantime, I am continuing to pursue my passion for combining my Christian faith with photographing the sky. After all, “the Heavens declare the Glory of God.” Here’s a link to my free e-book with the same name: http://198.154.244.69/blog/about-jock-elliott You don’t have to sign up or give your email. You’ll also find a link to my one-and-only YouTube video.

LX100 Pickering Lane Sunset 007

So am I riding off into the sunset? Actually, it’s more like I’m riding off to photograph the sunset. But I’ll be back from time to time, and I wish all of you my very best.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott