Posts Tagged ‘beeman’

If there is one thing that irritates the dickens out of me, it’s the emphasis on velocity seen so often in mass-market airgun advertising: 1,000 feet per second . . . 1,200 fps . . . 1,500 fps . . . even 1,600 fps. And you can tell it’s getting through to people who don’t know any better.

A couple of years ago, the good folks at Airguns of Arizona very graciously invited me to come out and attend the NRA show being held that year in Phoenix. It was a great time, and I spent a number of hours at the AoA booth. Invariably, someone would come up, eyeball the gorgeous guns in the display, and ask (pointing at a particular gun), “How fast does it shoot?”

After a while I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I began to politely explain how that velocity is really not the primary concern when it comes to air rifles and air pistols, how speeds above 1,000 fps are generally a Bad Idea with airgun pellets because of turbulence in the trans-sonic region, and how air rifles, unlike their powder-burning cousins, can’t drive pellets fast enough to stay supersonic all the way to long-range targets, causing accuracy woes as the pellet drops back into the trans-sonic region. I’m sure you know all that already, but I can tell you it was an eye-opener for some of the folks attending the NRA show.

The plain truth is that I like shooting wimpy-powered air rifles. It all started in my brother-in-laws backyard. He was shooting a humble Beeman R7/HW30, and I was shooting a Venom-tuned HW97. We were trying to hit a small kill zone on a field target 20 yards away, and he was dropping the target more often than I was. This annoyed me, since I had just spent a lot of money on the aforementioned HW97. We switched guns, and I promptly beat him. The truth was evident: his 6 fp breakbarrel air rifle was easier to shoot well than my much higher powered model.

So we decided to do an experiment. At the next field target match, we would each bring a 6 fp gun, on the theory that knowing our guns were easy to shoot well would help us to achieve high scores even though we were giving up power, velocity and flatness of trajectory. It worked. At the end of the day we each shot a personal best.

Lest you think that performance was some sort of freak occurrence, let me share a couple of other tidbits. The first time that I ever won a field target match was with a scoped PCP match rifle shooting just 570 fps. At another match, I saw Ray Apelles shoot a match high score with an FWB 300 match rifle, which was launching pellets at around 600 fps. And on many other occasions, I’ve seen competitors shoot decent scores and have a great time shooting low-powered tack drivers.

This is my lightly customized Beeman R7/HW30.

If you would like to experiment with turning to “the wimpy side of the force,” the king of the low-power tackdrivers is the HW30. It’s just 38.75” long, weights 5.5lbs, and features a very nice adjustable trigger. It launches Crosman Premier 7.9 grain pellets and delivers them at around 620 fps, producing tiny cloverleaf groups at 10 meters. You can check out my full review here:

Two other low-power break barrel air rifles that I have tested in the past are the BSA Meteor and the RWS Model 24.

A BSA Meteor. This is not the most current model.

More than 2,000,000 BSA Meteors have been sold worldwide, making it one of the most popular air rifles of all time. It is just 42 inches long and weighs 5.75 lbs. I tested a used early model that put Daisy Match pellets downrange at 610 fps. The trigger was hard to pull and was not adjustable, but I’m told that the new Mark VI models have an adjustable trigger.

The RWS Model 24.

The RWS Model 24, now available used, is a real sleeper. At 42” inches long and 6 lbs, it is a very plain looking gun, but it sure does shoot. JSB Exact 8.4 grain pellets went through the traps at 578 fps and drilled one-hole groups at 10 meters. The trigger had a bit of creep, but is very predictable, making accurate shooting easy. I understand the Model 24 has been replaced by the 240, and I hope to have a look at one of those in the future.

I have campaigned this FWB150 in field target competition and had a lot of fun doing it.

 Another possibility for the shooter who wants a low-power tackdriver is the FWB 150/300. Available only used, these are recoilless spring-piston match rifles that are easily scoped and a joy to shoot.

 Finally, for the shooter who wants a hyper-accurate low-power air rifle, many of the modern FWB PCP match rifles can be scoped, and, at ten meters, you’ll find nothing on the planet that is more accurate.


Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

A BB gun for adults. It's on steroids!

There have been times when I’ve wondered if I would ever discover an air rifle that would be as much pure fun as my very first BB gun.

With the Marocchi SM45 HP, I’ve found a strong candidate. Think of the SM45 as a BB gun for adults or perhaps a BB gun on steroids.

The SM45 stretches 37.5 inches from end to end and weighs 4.4 lbs. empty. There are two versions, the synthetic and the wood look. I tested the synthetic. At the aft end of the buttstock you’ll find a soft rubber butt pad. Moving forward, the ambidextrous butt stock has a slight cheek piece on either side. The pistol grip has a soft rubber gripping surface, and the Marocchi emblem is displayed in silver on the end of the pistol grip.

The forestock opens to insert an 88-gram CO2 cartridge.

Moving forward, the trigger guard is molded of the same synthetic as the stock and houses a black plastic trigger. Forward of the trigger guard is a knurled wheel that can be unscrewed to open a hatch in the forestock that houses an 88-gram CO2 cartridge. Forward of the forestock is the .177 caliber Lothar-Walther barrel.

This shows where the forward end of the magazine fits into the muzzle brake.

At the end of the barrel is a plastic fitting that serves as a mount for the red fiber-optic front sight and also has a fitting into which the magazine snaps. Moving rearward along the barrel, there is a barrel band, the rear notch sight, and the receiver proper which has an 11mm dovetail. (When I tried to mount a scope on the SM45, I found the rail a bit flimsy. I would suggest using only the lightest scope if you think you really need one.) The rear end of the magazine, which runs the length of the right side of the barrel, snaps into the receiver on the right side. On the right side of the receiver at the rear is a slide safety. Move it right to safe the SM34. Move it to the left position to allow the gun to fire. Finally, at the rear of the SM45 receiver is a knob that can be used for adjusting the power.

To ready the SM45 for shooting, first put the gun on SAFE, then unscrew the knurled knob just forward of the trigger guard. The hatch will automatically open. You can then insert an 88-gram CO2 cartridge into the hatch with the threaded end toward the trigger guard. Screw it in until it is snug.

A partially loaded magazine in position. On the left end, the magazine fits into the magazine housing on the receiver. On the right side, the BB follow provides tension to feed BBS into the SM45.

Next remove the magazine by pulling the knob at the muzzle end of the magazine back toward the receiver until the muzzle end of the magazine can be slipped out the muzzle fitting. Pull the free end of the magazine toward the muzzle, and the other end of the magazine will slip out of the magazine housing on the receiver. Next, push the knob – the BB follower – at the receiver end of the magazine forward in the long slot on the side of the magazine until it can be hooked into the notch at the far end of the slot.

Next, point the muzzle end of the magazine toward the floor and inert up to 80 Marocchi copper-coated lead balls into the magazine. With the muzzle of the SM45 pointed toward the ground, slide the receiver end of the magazine back into the magazine housing on the receiver. Snap the muzzle end of the magazine back into the fitting on the muzzle. Now all that remains is to unhook the BB follower the notch so that it can put tension on the BBs in the magazine.

To fire the SM45, take aim at your target, slide the safety to FIRE, and squeeze the trigger. The trigger pull is long and rolling and tops out at more than 10 pounds, put it feels like the trigger pull in a revolver and is very predictable.

The SM45 launches lead BBs at nearly 650 fps on high power and at around 500 fps on low power. At 88 gram CO2 cartridge will deliver around 200 shots, or about 2.5 magazines full of BBs. With open sights, I found I could easily keep shots inside a 1.5 inch circle at 10 yards.

I went to war on this can with the SM45.

It was wounded in action.

But the real fun came with out-and-out plinking. I dropped a tomato sauce on the ground and absolutely shredded it. The first few shots passed completely through the can. Then it fell over, and I bounced it this way and that, spinning it left and right until it looked like something that been through a war. I suppose in a way it had!

Would I recommend the Marocchi SM45? Absolutely – but only if you want to let the little kid in you out for some can-busting fun.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Every fall, as the temperatures start to drop, uninvited guests show up at El Rancho Elliott. Mice, in particular, decide it’s oh so much more pleasant inside the walls of our house than outside in the freezing cold.

So when the temperature drops below 40, you can expect to hear the occasional scratching in the walls at our house. We become accustomed to it after a while, and our cat thinks it is high quality entertainment. Sometimes he gets sufficiently motivated to go on the hunt. It’s at this point that you have to be careful, because you never know where you will find a “do it yourself mouse kit” left by our cat as a trophy someplace in the house. I can tell you with absolute certainty that if you happen to be padding barefoot across the kitchen floor in the middle of the night, you really don’t want to step on the remains of kitty’s latest victory.

Anyway, from fall through winter to early spring, odd noises in the Elliott house are simply part of our acoustical landscape. As a result, I thought it unremarkable when my wife announced, “I think there’s something in the ceiling over the upstairs bathroom.”

“It’s probably a mouse,” I said absentmindedly while pecking away at an assignment.

“I think it’s bigger than a mouse,” she said. “Maybe you should come up here and have a listen.”

I trudged upstairs and stuck my head in the bathroom. It sounded like Seal Team Six was conducting close quarter combat drills overhead, complete with Pointy Objects of various sorts.

Outwardly, I tried to sound casual: “Yeah, it sounds bigger than your average mouse. I’ll take a look.” Inwardly, I was flipping out. It sounded waaaaaaay bigger than your average mouse.

Now at this point, you need to understand something about the layout of our house. It’s small cottage with two bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor. At the top of the stairs, there’s a small landing with a bedroom to the right, another to the left, and the bathroom dead ahead. To access the attic, there a small hatch directly over the landing. You push the hatch up, slide it to one side, and then, standing on a chair or stepladder, you can look around the attic.

Standing on a chair, I pushed up through the hatch and shined a flashlight toward the attic above the bathroom. There, just under the edge of the roofline, was the culprit: a squirrel. Not just any squirrel, mind you, but a highly successful squirrel, judging from the plumpness of his physique and his glossy coat.

As I trained the flashlight in his direction, Mr. Bushytail stopped what he was doing. He looked at me. I gave him my best Clint Eastwood “this attic ain’t big enough for both of us” stare and slowly retreated back down through the hatch, pulling the cover in place behind me.

My mind was racing. Clearly this squirrel needed a pneumatically-induced “retirement.” An air rifle would be too cumbersome. Getting it through that 2’ x 2’ hatch with me and then drawing a bead on the squirrel would be laborious and time consuming, but at the same time, I didn’t want to take the chance of wound the squirrel and having it go berserk in the attic.

The Beeman P1.

Finally, I grabbed my red-dot-equipped .177 cal Beeman P1 pistol and loaded it with Gamo Raptor PBA ammo. Even though the distance was less than a dozen feet, I wanted a flat trajectory and excellent penetration. I pushed my way back through the attic hatch and flipped on the flashlight.

The squirrel was gone. Now what?

To be continued.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight!

– Jock Elliott

I generally have the most fun when I am shooting an air rifle that is really, really accurate. Whether I am competing in field target competition or simply plinking in the back yard, it’s more fun when the gun is a tackdriver.

And when I say “really, really accurate” I mean three things. First, that, once you find the right pellet for the rifle, it will shoot very tight groups consistently. For me, anyway, in field target competition, I’ve found that confidence in the gun is critical when you get to the shooting line. If I know that the gun will do its job – if I do mine – that gives me assurance I need to do my best. By contrast, I’ve had the experience of having an air rifle produce “mystery shots” that missed the target, but I had no idea why. That is a pure nightmare and no fun at all.

Second, the rifle has to maintain a consistent correlation between point-of-aim (where I am aiming) and point-of-impact (where the pellet actually lands), so that I have confidence that the gun will shoot where it is aimed each time I use it. This is not a trivial matter. I once owned an air rifle that had to be re-sighted-in each time I used it. It drove me nuts. Some guys like to fuss, fiddle around and tweak their equipment all the time. Not me – I’m a shooter. I want take the gun from the case, shoot a couple of shots to confirm it’s still “on,” and get to work.

Third, the air rifle has to be easy to shoot well. Some air rifles (springers in particular) are notorious for requiring that you do everything “just so” for them to deliver their best accuracy. Some folks call this “hold sensitivity” while others insist that there is no such thing as hold sensitivity, there are only “shooter problems.” Okay; I’ll concede the point and rephrase: for an air rifle to be really accurate, it has to be tolerant of my mistakes.

The HW97 MkIII delivers excellent accuracy in a handsome package.

Just a few days ago, I had opportunity to shoot an air rifle that fits my definition of a tackdriver, the Beeman HW97, MkIII. Weighing 9.2 lbs and stretching just over 40 inches long, the HW97 is a fixed barrel, underlever air rifle. It has Weihrauch’s excellent Rekord trigger and a Weihrauch barrel. At the end of the barrel is a handsome muzzlebrake. The righthand hardwood stock has a rubber recoil pad at the back, a raised cheekpiece, and checkering on the pistol grip and forend. The HW97 is available in .177 and .20 cal. I shot the .177 version.

To get the HW97 ready for shooting, you push a button on a latch just under the muzzlebrake. This releases the underlever for cocking. Pull the lever down and back until it latches. The cocking effort is around 35 pounds, and the cocking stroke is very smooth. The cocking stroke slides open the breech and also activates the automatic safety. The sides of the breech are cut down on both sides, so it is easy to slide a pellet into the aft end of the barrel from either side.

All that is left is to return the underlever to its original position (which also closes the breech) and push the button, located at the rear of the receiver, that de-activates the automatic safety. The HW97 is now ready to shoot.

Ease the first stage out of the trigger, and you’ll feel a distinct “wall” where the second stage begins. Squeeze a bit more (how much depends on how you adjust the Rekord trigger) and the shot goes down range. On the sample that I shot, the shot cycle ended with a tiny hint of vibration – tungggg – but it was vibration that was heard and not felt through the gun. As a result, that slight bit of vibration was a non-issue for me.

The HW97 is wickedly accurate. Some time ago, a nationally ranked field target shooter sent me a target he had shot at 50 yards from a sitting position with his HW97. You could cover the five-shot group with a dime! The HW97 launches 7.9 grain Crosman Premier pellets at 847 fps, producing 12.6 foot-pounds of energy.

When I shot the HW97, it had been quite a while since I had launched any pellets with a recoiling spring-piston air rifle. I was delighted to find that HW97 made it easy to produce pleasingly small groups.

In my opinion, the HW97 is an excellent choice for any shooter who wants to have some fun with a bona fide tackdriver.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

About a half mile from me there lives a fellow whose mailbox says “The Lawnmower Guy.” I contacted him about tuning up my mower and when he brought it back, he noticed the pellet trap with a target on it in my garage, so he asked me if I was a member of the gun club outside of town.

I told him I was a member, but what he really needed was an air rifle or an air pistol, and then he could shoot in his back yard whenever he wanted. All he had to do, I told him, was reassure the neighbors that he would shoot safely into a pellet trap and not plink at their cat.

Pretty soon, I started dragging out some air pistols for him to try, and one of them was the new Beeman P11. His eyes nearly bugged out of his head. “Wow, that’s cool,” he said. I loaded it up for him and let him draw bead on a tiny chipmunk target printed on a piece of paper.

The Beeman P11 looks great and is a lot of fun to shoot.

He steadied the P11 in both hands, aligned the sights, squeezed the trigger, and – whap! – nailed the chipmunk dead amidships. “Wow, those sights really light up! Where can I get one of these?” he asked. I wrote on a piece of paper for him, and he scurried off.

The P11 is, indeed, a cool air pistol. It’s the younger brother of the Beeman P1 but sports a two-tone color scheme, snazzier laminated grips, and fiber-optic sights. The P1 is available in .177 and .20 cal, while the P11 is available in .177 and .22. The picture doesn’t really do the P11 justice; the lower half of the ambidextrous laminated grips are stippled for a better grip and the bottom of the grip flares, providing a little bit of a palm shelf. In any event, I like the way the P11 looks and feels. The overall fit and finish of the matte-gray receiver and black “uppers” are, in my opinion, excellent.

If you’ve never handled a Beeman P1 or P11, there’s some stuff you have to know. First, this is a spring-piston air pistol. That means when you trigger the shot, it’s not going to behave like a Daisy 747 or a Crosman CO2 pistol. Instead, you’re going to get the whiplash recoil that is typical of a spring-piston powerplant. So don’t be surprised when it doesn’t act like a docile single-stroke pneumatic match pistol.

In addition, loading the P11 (or P1) is unusual. You start by flipping the safety (accessible from either side of the pistol) on and pulling what appears to be a hammer at the rear of the receiver. This releases the rear upper half of the receiver where the barrel is housed – the black part on the P11. Grasping the loose end, you pull it up and forward until it latches to cock the pistol. The cocking effort requires pulling the barrel assembly away from you as you open the action of the pistol, and it takes about 18 pounds of effort. Once the action is fully open and latched, slide a pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the receiver back to its original position, snapping it locked into place.

Now, you’re ready. Just flip the safety off, ease the first stage out of the trigger, and let the good times roll. And The Lawnmower Guy was right: those fiber optic sights really light up like a neon sight . . . and that makes it sooo much easier to align the sights than the plain-old metallic sights on the P1. The P11 that Airguns of Arizona sent me to play with was the .22 version, and I find it smoother to shoot than the .177 version I once owned. I don’t know why that is. Certainly the velocity of the .22 is lower than the .177. For example, you might expect 415 fps with 14.3 grain .22 Crosman Premier pellets and around 520 fps with 7.9 grain .177 Crosman Premier Light pellets (on high power – the .177 version offers two cocking positions for two different levels of power.)

Whatever the reason, I find the P11 in .22 to be one of those “salted peanuts” guns – you can’t stop with just a few shots. You say to yourself, “Just five more shots, then I’ll go in.” The next thing you know, an hour and a half a tin of pellets has magically disappeared. But somehow you don’t mind.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

PS There will be a follow up Blog on the UJ Challenge in the near future.

Jock Elliott

The Beeman R7 is a classic air rifle well loved by many airgunners.

When I first began to get interested in adult precision airguns nearly 10 years ago, I remember reading a quote from an airgunner who said, in effect, “Of all the airguns I own, the Beeman R7 would be the last one I would sell.”

At the time, I didn’t really “get” what he was saying, but now that I’ve owned an R7 for a few years, I understand what he meant completely. The R7 is a true classic, an air rifle that just about all airgunners love.

Here’s why — the R7 is a relatively small and light air rifle that generates around 6 fp of energy (the same energy level usually found in Olympic match air rifles). The R7 measures a hair over 40 inches from end to end and weighs 6.1 pounds. The upshot is that there is roughly one pound of weight per foot-pound of energy, and that makes the R7 extremely easy to shoot well.

(An aside: there are two versions of the R7, one in .177 cal., the other in .20 cal. I have experience only with the .177 version. A casual survey of some of my shooting friends indicates you can’t believe the 700 fps velocity figure that Beeman puts out for the .177 version; most untuned R7s shoot in the high 500s, say, 560-590 fps, with “normal” weight pellets.)

To get the R7 ready for shooting, you crank the barrel down until it latches (it takes less than 20 pounds of cocking effort), stuff a pellet into the breech, return the barrel to its original position, click off the safety, and you’re good to go. The R7 is equipped with Weihrauch’s famous two-stage Rekord trigger which is very crisp and nicely adjustable.

My experience – and that of many R7 shooters I’ve spoken to – is that the R7 is remarkably UN-finicky about how you shoot it. You can hold it loosely or hold it tight; shoot it off a rest or from a sitting position. Whatever you do, it seems, the R7 shoots well. One shooter I met said, “Why do I pull my R7 tight into my shoulder like a powder-burning rifle? Because I can!”

And there is a whole lot you can do with an R7, like shoot field target or defend the birdfeeder. My brother-in-law won the Hunter Class at a Field Target match while shooting an R7. He beat me, and I was shooting another R7, and so was the fellow who took fourth place. We’ve spent many happy hours doing high-accuracy plinking with our R7s.

Recently Greg at Airguns of Arizona asked me to try some Dynamic SN-1 non-toxic “air bullets.” “I think you’ll like them,” he said. “We’ve had very good luck with them.”

Frankly, I had my doubts. I had tried some ultra-light non-lead pellets previously and while they were very fast (nearly 100 fps faster than CPLs in my R7), the accuracy was dreadful at anything beyond close range.

Nevertheless, the SN-1 pellets arrived, and I brought them with me the next time I visited my brother-in-law to do some shooting with our R7s. I shot for a while with Crosman Premier Lights (CPLs) and then gave the SN-1 pellets a try. The SN-1s weigh (nominally) 7.95 grains, which is roughly the same as the CPLs. I was shocked to find that, at 50 feet, not only did the SN-1 pellets group very well, they were hitting the same point of impact as the CPLs!

Emboldened by this experiment, I tried the SN-1 pellets in an RWS P5 spring-piston pistol. This time, I did get a point of impact change, but the SN-1s grouped very well, better in fact than the pellet the P5 previously “liked.” Casual experimentation with metal cans indicates that the SN-1 pellets deliver much better penetration than conventional lead pellets.

The bottom line is that I was very pleasantly surprised by the Dynamic SN-1 non-lead pellets and plan further experimentation with them.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

Jock Elliott