Posts Tagged ‘break barrel’

 

G12 FWB Sport 004There is one thing on the FWB Sport that is a bit unusual: on the dovetails on top of the receiver, there are no holes for anti-recoil pins on a scope mount. Instead there are four horizontal grooves like the ones that are on the dovetails on my FWB 150/300 match rifle. You might be able to fit an anti-recoil pin into one of those grooves, but if the scope moves at all, it might mess up the finish on the rifle.

I decided to use a one-piece mount that has four Allen bolts to mount a Vortex scope, and I had not problems with movement of the scope or mount.

G12 FWB Sport 002

The FWB Sport locks up very snugly, so you have to slap the barrel near the front sight with the palm of your hand to get the action to break open. After that you can grab the barrel and crank it down and back to cock the action and open the breech for loading. I estimate the cocking effort is in the mid-30-pound range, and you’ll hear a little bit of spring noise during the process.

Next, slide a .177 pellet into the aft end of the barrel and return it to is original position. Take aim at your target, push the safety forward to the FIRE position (there is a little red indicator for that), and squeeze the trigger. The first stage requires 1 pound 4 ounces of effort, and a 2 pounds even, the shot goes down range. The trigger is very, very crisp.

G12 FWB Sport 006

The action exhibits a little bit of vibration and a little bit of rattle when the shot goes off, but this is heard, not felt, at the shooter’s position. There is no bucking on twisting, and that makes it easy to shoot this air rifle well.

The FWB sport launches 7.9 grain Crosman Premier Pellets at around 900 feet per second. The accuracy is simply excellent. At 13 yards, I put four pellets into a round hole about the size of a .22 caliber pellet and I yanked a fifth shot. At 32 yards, the FWB Sport put five pellets into a group that measured just 5/8 inch from edge to edge or .448 inch center-to-center. This is an air rifle that I would happily campaign in Hunter Class Spring Piston Field Target competition. Based on the way this air rifle shoots and feels, it inspires confidence when you get to the firing line, and that is critically important.

In the end, I think FWB has succeeded in creating a legacy air rifle. It looks and shoots great and should last for years.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

G12 FWB Sport 001

It’s been more than a decade, and I hope that I am recalling this correctly, but I seem to recall reading in print that it was a Feinwerkbau (FWB) 124 or 127 that first opened the eyes of Tom Gaylord to the extraordinary world of adult precision air rifles.

I have never seen, handled or shot an FWB 124 (.177 cal.) or 127 (.22), but it is my understanding that a lot of America airgunners first got the idea that an air rifle could be really something special from their experiences with the FWB 124/127.

It has been a number of years since FWB has manufactured a spring-piston air rifle (they have been concentrating on their match rifles), but now they have come back in style. The new FWB Sport stretches 44.8 inches from end to end and weighs 8.2 pounds. It is also one of the most expensive spring-piston air rifles I have ever shot. I spoke to the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com , and they, in turn, have spoken to the folks at FWB. The intent of FWB in creating the FWB Sport was not to hit a particular price point or to capture a chunk of the breakbarrel springer market, but to create an “heirloom” air rifle.

G12 FWB Sport 003

As such, I think they have succeeded, but first let’s take a walk around the FWB Sport. At the extreme aft end is a brown rubber butt pad, which is attached to the ambidextrous hardwood stock by a black spacer. Forward of that, the butt stock has a modest rise to the comb and a swell for a cheek rest on either side.

G12 FWB Sport 008

Moving forward, the pistol grip is modestly slanted and has fish scale checkering, which I have never seen before but find attractive, on either side. Forward of that, a black trigger guard surrounds an adjustable silver metal trigger. The design of the trigger guard is unusual, composed of three angled sections. When I first looked at it, I thought it might be a piece of folded metal. I must confess that I don’t actually know what it is composed of. It feels warm to the touch, so I suspect it might be plastic, but if it is plastic, it is exceeding sturdy plastic. If it is metal, it must be some alloy, and it is smoothly finished both inside and out.

Moving forward again, there is fish scale checkering on either side of the forestock, and there is a narrow slow for the cocking linkage on the underside of the forestock. The designers at FWB must have a lot of confidence that the cocking linkage will maintain its precise alignment throughout the cocking stroke, because this is narrowest slot I can remember seeing on the underside of a springer.

The far end of the forestock tapers slightly as it reaches the breech block. Forward of that is the .177 caliber barrel and at the muzzle is a hooded blade sight. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a precision, micro-adjustable rear notch sight, which is fitted into a slot machined into the breech block. I’ve never seen an arrangement like this before, but it seems fairly certain that it will not wobble from side to side and cause any sight alignment problems. The rear sight has four notches that the shooter can select for optimal sight picture.

At the aft end of the receiver is a push type automatic safety that is a serrated metal roller. On either side of the receiver Feinwerkbau is embossed in silver lettering. In all, the fit and finish of the FWB Sport are fully befitting an “heirloom” air rifle.

Next time, we’ll take a look at shooting the FWB Sport.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

 

"Varmint cong" at work at El Rancho Elliott. They are undeniably cute, but they can be very destructive.

“Varmint cong” at work at El Rancho Elliott. They are undeniably cute, but they can be very destructive.

Sometimes the subject for a blog comes from the strangest places. My wife and I were on an outing with her sister and our brother-in-law Kyle. Kyle is my best buddy.

My mechanic had informed methat one of our ancient cars had several problems that, when the inevitable failure came, would be too expensive to fix. So we were talking about cars. Kyle was relating how pleased he was with his Honda van, how reliable it was, and how over the years he had spent relatively little for repairs and maintenance. . . except for “The Great Chipmunk Invasion.”

Kyle and his wife’s house are in an older development that was built perhaps 30 years ago in a vast oak forest. Everywhere you look, there are oak trees and vast quantities of acorns are available every year. So why, exactly, chipmunks would choose to crawl into the innards of Kyle’s Honda van and chew on the plastic that insulates the wires, no one knows. What Kyle and his repair shop know, for a certainty, is that the chipmunks did $800 worth of damage in a very short period of time. In addition, chipmunks or squirrels (Kyle can’t be sure which) also ate several important plastic parts on a lawnmower stored in Kyle’s shed. He related all this to me while were chatting about cars. He also said he had begun a war on chipmunks. He calls them “varmint cong.”

What came next, however, surprised the heck out of me. “You know that pistol you gave me?” Kyle said. I nodded. He was referring to an RWS/Diana 5G springer pistol. It launches 7.9 grain pellets at around 530 fps.

He continued, “Well, the other day I killed five chipmunks with it.”

The RWS 5G pistol when it was temporarily rigged with a red dot.

The RWS 5G pistol when it was temporarily rigged with a red dot.

“Holy smokes,” I said. “How far away were you?” In the back of my mind, I was thinking that he must have been pretty close. The eastern chipmunk is not a large animal. It’s about 5-6 inches long and weighs about 3 ounces. Further, since the RWS 5G is a springer pistol, it has typical springer recoil, which makes it challenging to shoot with high accuracy. Beyond that, the 5G is a difficult pistol to mount a scope on, so Kyle was probably shooting with iron sights.

“I was shooting from the deck,” Kyle said. His deck juts off the second story of his house and offers a commanding view of the back yard. “I got three of them by the shed and two by the woodpile.”

I thought about it for a moment. It has to be a good 30-40 feet from the deck to the shed or the woodpile.

“That’s some good shooting,” I said. “How did you do it?”

“I was shooting two-handed,” Kyle replied. “Sometimes, I rested my hands on the deck railing. The fiber optic sights really helped in lining up the shots.”

Kyle related that he dropped four of the chipmunks instantly. Another was hit but crawled under the shed.

So, if you are wondering if spring-piston air pistols can be used for pest control, under the right circumstances, yes they can!

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

You don’t see it talked about much in the airgun forums, but many spring-piston air rifles and air pistols – springers – actually burn some of the lubricants in their compression cylinders during the shot cycle. Don’t worry; it’s a normal thing.

Here’s how G.V. Cardew and G.M. Cardew describe it in their book The Airgun from Trigger to Target: “The combustion phase is the phase in which most high powered sporting spring rifles operate. As the piston comes forward on firing, the temperature of the air in front of it rises with the pressure; this very high temperature causes oil, or any other combustible substance to burn, thereby increasing the pressure further, producing enough energy to drive the pellet up the barrel at a very high velocity.”

Further, they proved that the combustion takes place through an ingenious test that they called “The Nitrogen Experiment.” Starting with a .22 caliber Weihrauch HW35, they stripped it, degreased and rebuilt it with the correct amount of lubrication everywhere. They then fired it through a chronograph until it settled down at 636 fps with a 14.4 grain pellet (12.9 fp of energy at the muzzle).

They then placed the HW35 and a supply of pellets in a long plastic bag and sucked all the air out of it with a vacuum pump, leaving it sitting under vacuum for half an hour to remove all oxygen from within the seals and mechanism. The bag was sealed around the barrel and a rubber bung pressed into the muzzle to prevent oxygen from re-entering the gun. After that, nitrogen, an inert gas that does not support combustion, was blown into the bag to make it a manageable size for shooting the gun. The bung was removed and replaced for each shot, and a number of shots were fired. With the HW35 unable to enter the combustion phase of the shot cycle, the gun managed only 426 fps or 5.8 foot-pounds. The Cardews had proved conclusively that combustion is necessary for the proper operation of a sporting springer.

So, a little bit of lubrication is necessary so that combustion can take place. But what happens when your brand new airgun has a little too much lubrication? Check out the chart below.

WhatIsThis

This is the graph of velocities of an airgun that has too much lubrication and has entered into what the Cardews call the “detonation phase,” or what airgunners generally refer to as “dieseling.” Instead of making normal shot-cycle sounds, the shot goes off with a bang, producing the wild variations in velocity that you see above. Often smoke comes out the barrel and there is a characteristic smell. In severe cases, dieseling can actually bow out the walls of the compression chamber and drive the piston backwards with such force that it kinks the mainspring.

Fortunately, it is usually the case that a handful of shots with extra-heavy pellets will drive the excess lubricant out of the powerplant and settle the airgun back into normal operation. Below is the velocity graph of the same airgun after it was shot enough to settle down.

WeihrauchHW4522

The bottom line: high powered sporting air rifles and air pistols require some combustion of their lubrication to operate properly. But there is such a thing as too much. If you find your air rifle or air pistol dieseling, 5-10 shots with the heaviest pellets you have of the appropriate caliber may help to correct the situation.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

 

Routine Maintenance

To be honest, the jury is still out on routine barrel cleaning for airguns. Many top-notch shooters only clean their barrels when they notice a decrease in accuracy. If you simply must clean your barrel regularly, do so at 500-round intervals, using a pull-through and a cleaner-degreaser.

With a springer, tighten the stock screws, wipe down the finish with a gun rag, and regularly apply a drop of lubricant to the cocking link and cocking slider. Most modern springers do NOT require chamber oil. Older guns with leather seals may benefit from a couple of drops of chamber oil every tin of pellets or so.

With a pneumatic, all you need to do is lubricate the bolt surface with synthetic gun oil and use your normal lube on your pellets, unless the manufacturer’s recommendations say differently.

With springers, store your gun uncocked and never discharge the gun without a pellet. Springers rely on the back pressure provided by the pellet to prevent the piston from slamming into the end of the cylinder and causing damage. If you absolutely must discharge a springer without a pellet, press the muzzle tightly against a phone book and then pull the trigger. On the other hand, pneumatics should be stored uncocked with air in them.

When is it Time to Send Your Gun to the Service Shop?

With precharged pneumatics, usually the only reason for sending a gun to the shop is a leak – you may have an inlet or exhaust valve or o-ring that is bad. The other cause for concern is deteriorating accuracy that isn’t cured by cleaning the barrel.

With spring-piston rifles, there are several symptoms that may suggest sending the gun to the shop: harsh firing behavior (after the gun is broken in), loss in accuracy, noise or increased effort on cocking, loss in velocity, or problems with consistency in velocity. The first thing you should do, however, is check and tighten the stock screws.

If the springer has been sitting around without being fired for a long time, the seals – particularly older synthetic seals – may deteriorate with age. As a result, if you have an old gun that hasn’t been shot and is behaving strangely, it may need to be resealed.

Supplies You‘ll Need to Maintain Your Airgun

Fortunately, the list of necessary equipment for airgun maintenance is short:

  • A quality toolkit, with gunsmith-style bits.
  • A quality cleaning kit with pull-through or coated rod, dictated by your type of rifle.
  • Some cleaner-degreaser.
  • Lubricant for the cocking linkage for springers.
  • Chamber oil for springers – but only if your gun absolutely requires it.
  • Lubricant for the bolt surface for pneumatics.
  • Pellet lube for pneumatics.

If you don’t already have these supplies, order them when you purchase your gun. Then you’ll be ready for many happy years of shooting.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

No matter whether your pride-and-joy is a springer or a precharged pneumatic, CO2 powered or a multi-stroke pneumatic, the very first thing you want to do –before you shoot it for the first time – is give the barrel a good cleaning. That’s because there may be greases and oils left in the barrel from the manufacturing process.

The best way is to use a flexible boresnake-style cleaner – a pull-through. Pull a patch with a cleaner-degreaser like Simple Green or AOA Cleaner/Degreaser through from the breech to muzzle, followed by several dry patches until the patches come through looking clean or almost clean. If you’re still getting a lot of dark stuff out of the barrel, run another patch with Simple Green, followed by more clean patches.

If you can’t use a pull-through, then use a synthetic coated rod. Never use an uncoated metal rod or metal brush in your airgun’s barrel – you can damage the rifling. (If you are cleaning the barrel of a springer that has been stored for a long time, you may have to use a nylon bristle brush and Beeman’s MP-5 oil to clear oil and grease that has congealed and dried.) [A special note to firearms shooters new to airguns: most of what you know about cleaning and maintaining firearms will do you no good when it comes to airguns. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.]

If your new air rifle is a springer, then the other thing that absolutely must do is to tighten the stock screws. These screws may have loosened in transport or because the wood of the stock has compressed or shrunk slightly. Whatever the reason, make sure that the stock screws are snug.

You won’t be wasting money if you invest in good tool kit with gunsmith-style bits. They will allow you to get better purchase on the screw heads in your airgun, so you can tighten them well without stripping the fastener heads or slipping and inadvertently causing damage to your rifle’s stock.

Loose stock screws can cause serious accuracy problems with spring-piston air rifles. In addition, there have been cases, involving high-power springers, in which very loose stock screws have been snapped by the gun’s recoil. So snug those screws down! It’s a good idea to check those screws every hundred rounds or so, particularly when your gun is new.

The other thing you’ll want to do with your springer is put a drop of lubricating oil on the pivot point of a break barrel or underlever air rifle. The factory may have done it, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure.

With a precharged pneumatic, once you have cleaned the barrel, it’s wise to cock the gun before your first fill (some guns will allow air to leak out the muzzle if you don’t). When you fill your precharged pneumatic, do so slowly – take about 30 seconds to fill the gun. Compressed air coming into the gun’s reservoir tends to heat the gun. If you simply open the valve full and allow compressed air to rush into the gun, you can heat the valve and may actually melt it.  Slow and easy is best.

With pneumatics, you’ll probably want to shoot pellets that are lubricated with pellet lube http://airgunsofarizona.com/Napier.html, unless the manufacturer says otherwise.

Breaking In

All airguns need to be broken in. Some require more shots than others, but the initial break in with all guns will be about 30-40 shots. During that time, particularly with springers, you may notice somewhat erratic firing behavior and accuracy, but that is to be expected. Complete serious break in will probably take a full tin of pellets to happen.

With springers, after 30-40 shots, clean the barrel again and check the stock screws. As you go through the rest of the tin of pellets, you’ll notice that the cocking will become easier and smoother; the trigger will smooth out; the gun will get quieter, and the vibration will settle down.

With pneumatics, the break in period is not as critical, but, like a springer, the barrel has to get seasoned as small pockets in the barrel are filled with lead. The trigger and hammer will smooth out; cocking will become easier and smoother; valves with operate with more freedom and faster; the regulator (if there is one) and the entire gun will become smoother and more consistent as you complete that first tin of pellets.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

Walther LGV Composite stock 001

In this week’s blog, we’ll take a look at another in the Walther LGC line of air rifles, the LGV Challenger.

As I have written elsewhere, the LGV was a project conceived in 2010 at Umarex in Germany (Umarex owns Walther) to create a retro-style spring-piston air rifle for the worldwide market. In doing so, they wanted to pay tribute to the original Walther LGV, which was a high-precision ten-meter target rifle introduced in 1964. A breakbarrel rifle, it had a positive barrel latch that insured that the barrel hinge always returned to the same position and remained there during the firing cycle.

Walther LGV Composite stock 002

As far as I have been able to determine, the line consists of five different rifles, and the LGV Challenger is the least expensive of these. It has a matte black polymer stock, stretches 43.1 inches from end to end, and weighs just 8.38 pounds. At the back end of the stock is a soft black rubber butt pad. The ambidextrous stock has a slight comb. The pistol grip, which slopes at a gentle angle, has molded-in checkering on either side. Forward of that, the stock material forms a trigger guard around a black trigger which is adjustable for first stage pull and trigger weight.

Moving forward, the forestock has molded-in “checkering” on either side and a slot underneath that provides clearance for the cocking linkage. At the end of the forestock is a metal tab for releasing the barrel latch. Above that is the 15.7 inch barrel. The LGV Challenger is available in .177 and .22. I tested the .177 version.

Walther LGV Composite stock 005

At the muzzle end of the barrel is a metal fitting that serves as a mount for the hooded red fiber optic front sight and also has a screw-off knurled knob that allows a silencer to be mounted (where legal). On top of the breech block, you’ll find a micro-adjustable green fiber optic rear sight. Moving aft along the receiver, you’ll find dovetails for mounting a scope and three holes for accepting anti-recoil pins. Finally, at the extreme aft end of the receiver is a push-pull safety.

Walther LGV Composite stock 004

To ready the LGV Challenger for shooting (assuming you are right-handed), grab the barrel near the end of the forestock with your left hand. With your thumb, depress the barrel release latch while pulling down. This will break the breech open. Next, slide your left hand to the muzzle end of the barrel, grab the sight mount, and pull down and back until the barrel latches. This takes about 38 pounds of effort. Slide a pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the barrel to its original position.

Take aim, slide the safety off, and squeeze the first stage out of the trigger. This takes about one pound of pressure. Squeeze a bit more, and at about three pounds of pressure, the shot goes down range. The LGV Challenger launches 7 grain RWS Hobby pellets at 985.2 fps, for 15 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. With heavier pellets like Crosman Premier 7.9 grain pellets, I suspect it will shoot around 930 fps.

When the shot goes off, the LGV Challenger exhibits a bit of vibration. My wood stocked LGV Competition Ultra also exhibits some vibration but a bit less than the Challenger. I don’t know if that is because the Challenger is lighter than the other models or because it has a synthetic stock, but there is a definite vibration when the shot goes off.

Accuracy, however, is spot on. At 13 yards, the LGV Challenger was putting pellets through the same hole. At 32 yards, I was battling gusty autumn winds, but I am pretty certain that under optimal conditions, with the right pellet, a good airgunner could shoot dime-sized groups.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The LGV Master is a handsome air rifle.

The LGV Master is a handsome air rifle.

The Walther LGV was created as a kind of modern tribute to the legendary Walther LGV match rifle that was introduced in 1964. The goal in creating the new LGV, according to my contact at Umarex in Germany (Umarex owns Walther) was to develop a break barrel spring-piston air rifle without the disadvantages that a break-barrel normally has, including the twanging spring in the cylinder, the back-and-forth recoil that can kill scopes, the barrel not returning to exactly the same position, and typically an overly heavy trigger. In the examples of the LGV that I have so far, they succeeded.

The LGV line includes several different models of air rifles, and recently Airguns of Arizona sent me a couple samples of models that I have not seen before.

Walther LGV Master wood 002

The LGV Master stretches 43.1 inches from end to end and weighs 8.85 pounds before a scope is mounted. At the extreme aft end of the stock is a soft rubber butt pad, attached to the ambidextrous hardwood stock by a black polymer spacer. Moving forward, the butt stock has a modest comb which I found positioned my eye comfortably behind a scope. The pistol grip is gently slanted, as is typical of sporting air rifles, and is checkered on either side for improved grip.

Forward of that, a black metal trigger guard surrounds a black adjustable trigger. Moving forward again, the forestock is rather flat bottomed and is unadorned with checkering or other decoration. Toward the end of the forestock is a slot that provides clearance for the cocking linkage. At the end of the forestock is a metal tab that the shooter must press to release the barrel for cocking. This latch mechanism also insures that the barrel returns to the same position each time after the gun is cocked.

Walther LGV Master wood 005

Beyond the barrel latch is the barrel itself, which is 15.7 inches long. The LGV Master is available in .177 and .22, and I tested the .22 version. The LGV Master does not have the fancy muzzle brake/sight mount assembly seen on LGV models such as the Master Ultra and Competition Ultra. Instead, at the end of the barrel is a knurled knob that can be unscrewed to allow the mounting of a silencer in those jurisdictions where silencers are legal.

On top of the muzzle end of the barrel is a dovetail that allows the mounting of a globe front sight with black post-type insert. Moving back along the barrel, on top of the breech blot you’ll find a micro-adjustable notch rear sight. Moving back along the receiver, there is a dovetail for scope mounting along with some holes for anti-recoil pins. Finally, at the extreme aft end of the receiver is a forward-and-back slide type safety.

Walther LGV Master wood 004

To ready the LGV Master for shooting, press the barrel release tab and pull the barrel down slightly. This breaks the action open. Slide your hand out to the end of the barrel and pull down and back until it latches. This takes about 38 pounds of effort, according to www.umarexusa.com. Slide a pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the barrel to its original position.

Take aim, slide off the safety and squeeze the first stage of the trigger (this takes about a pound of pressure). Squeeze just a bit more, and at about three pounds, the second stage trips, and the shot goes down range. The .22 LGV Master launches 11.9 grain RWS hobby pellets at 689.8 fps for 12.5 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.

What is truly remarkable about the LGV Master is that the shot cycle is very nearly silent. The sample that I tested was by far and away the quietest spring piston air rifle I have ever shot. It makes a kind of pffft noise, and that’s it.

At 13 yards, the LGV Master delivered 5-shot groups where all the pellet holes touched each other. At 32 yards, I was fighting pre-Halloween gusty autumn winds and got quarter-sized groups, but I am convinced that under optimal conditions, this rifle will deliver groups you could cover with a nickel.

The bottom line: I thoroughly enjoyed shooting the LGV Master in .22. If you are looking for a spring-piston air rifle that will attract very little attention to itself, look no further. I give it my heartiest personal recommendation.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The Umarex Octane looks a bit unusual but feels great in the hand.

The Umarex Octane looks a bit unusual but feels great in the hand.

Over a decade ago, when I was just starting to write about adult precision airguns, a guru in the field told me a thing: “If you want a really sweet shooting springer, you want to get as close as you can to one pound of gun weight (including scope) for each foot-pound of energy that the gun generates at the muzzle.”

He was offering this as an explanation for why the humble Weihrauch HW30 is so enjoyable to shoot and why it is such a tackdriver for its power. And, over the years, his statement has pretty much proven to be true. Hold that thought, we’ll get back to it in a little while.

Recently, I had the opportunity to shoot the Umarex Octane in .22 caliber.  It stretches just a half inch over four feet long, and tips the scales at 10 pounds, four ounces with the 3-9 x 40 adjustable-objective scope that comes with it mounted. The Octane incorporates both a gas piston – the ReAxis Reverse-Axis Gas Piston – and the SilencAir noise dampener.

The matte black polymer stock is ambidextrous.

The matte black polymer stock is ambidextrous.

At the extreme aft end of the Octane is a soft rubber butt pad. The entire stock, including trigger guard, is molded from a matte black polymer. The ambidextrous all-weather stock is a thumbhole design, but there is also a semi-circular notch at the top of the pistol grip where the shooter can rest his or her thumb if desired. The pistol grip has some molded indentations for improved grip, and forward of that, you’ll find the trigger guard surrounds a black metal trigger that is adjustable for first-stage travel and a lever-type safety.

The SilencAir system reduces the report and provides a mount for the front sight.

The SilencAir system reduces the report and provides a mount for the front sight.

Forward of that, there is molded-in checkering on either side of the forestock and a slot underneath the forestock to accommodate the cocking linkage. Beyond the end of the forestock is the 19.5-inch barrel, at the end of which can be found the SilencAir, a five-chamber noise dampener which also serves as a mount for the red fiber optic front sight. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a micro-adjustable green fiber optic rear sight mounted on top of breech block.

The Octane comes with a 3-9 x 40 adjustable-objective scope.

The Octane comes with a 3-9 x 40 adjustable-objective scope.

Moving back again, a custom metal Pictatinny mounting rail is fitted to the top of the receiver, where it provides a secure mount for the scope that comes with the Octane.

To ready the Octane for shooting, grab the SilencAir at the end of the barrel and pull it down and back until it latches. This requires about 42 pounds of effort and is very smooth and noiseless, as is typical of gas-piston systems. Slide a pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the barrel to its original position.

Now here is where things get interesting. As you take aim and flick off the safety, you immediately notice that the lever-type automatic safety works exactly the opposite way of the lever-type safety in many other airguns. To turn the safety off and ready the Octane for firing, you pull the safety lever toward the trigger. It took me a minute or two to become accustomed to this, but it works fine, and after a while I took no notice of it. Squeeze the trigger, and a 1 lb. 13.3 oz., the first stage comes out of the trigger. On the sample that I tested at six pounds even, the second stage trips, and the shot goes downrange. This is heavier than the factory-specified 3.5 lbs., but I did not find it annoying.

Umarex .22 Octane 006

Even more interesting, the Octane is a hammer. It launched 14.3 grain Crosman Premier pellets at an average velocity of 838 fps for a very healthy 22.3 foot-pounds of energy.  This is due in large part to the ReAxis gas piston. Its design reverses the conventional gas-piston design so that more weight is driving the piston down the compression tube. The result is more power.

In addition, because of the SilencAir, the downrange report is reduced. This is a powerful gun, so it is not dead quiet by any means, but it is quieter than it would be otherwise.

And now we get back to that business about one pound of gun weight per foot pound of energy. The Octane obviously violates that rule with more than two foot-pounds of energy for every pound of gun weight. In addition, I am admittedly not the world’s greatest spring-piston air rifle shooter. I found that I could occasionally achieve dime-sized groups with the Octane at 20 yards with Crosman .22 Premiers but it was far more typical for my groups to spread out to the diameter of a quarter at 20 yards. Perhaps a more gifted springer shooter could do better, but I couldn’t.

The Octane is not the gun that I would pick for doing head shots on squirrels at 50 yards, but for an air rifle to deal with the woodchuck in the garden at 50 feet or the raccoon that has been molesting the garbage cans, it would be among my top choices. (And with the gas piston, you can leave cocked all day without fear of damaging the spring, because there isn’t any!)

I genuinely enjoyed shooting the Octane, and I think any airgunner who wants to hunt or control pests at short to medium range will enjoy it too.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Ruger .177 Talon 007I mentioned a while back that I had been shooting some inexpensive – sub-$200, Tier One – air rifles, and today I’d like to share some of my experience with another one of these highly affordable air rifles, the Ruger Talon.

The Ruger Talon came to me through the good folks at Umarex USA. It stretches just under 45 inches from end to end and weighs 8 lbs. 6 oz. with the included scope mounted. The Talon is interesting to look at. The entire rifle is black, with four very small exceptions: the front and rear fiber optic sights and two red circles with the Ruger emblem on either side of the buttstock.

The butt pad slants into the butt stock at an angle.

The butt pad slants into the butt stock at an angle.

At the extreme aft end of the buttstock is a soft rubber butt pad. This soft rubber section extends into the buttstock on a diagonal which is unusual but pleasing to the eye. The rest of the ambidextrous stock is made of matte black finished polymer. Underneath the comb of the stock are three horizontal slots. I suppose it might be possible to store some survival supplies in those slots – firestarter perhaps – and then cover the slots to contain the supplies.

Ruger .177 Talon 006

Forward of that, the pistol grip slants at a modest angle and has checkering for improved grip. Moving forward again, the stock material forms a trigger guard that surrounds a black metal trigger. Just forward of that, there is checking on either side of the forestock. Ahead of that, you’ll find some decorative slots on either side of the forestock and a long slot underneath the forestock that provides clearance for the cocking linkage.

The five-chamber SilencAir helps to reduce the down-range report.

The five-chamber SilencAir helps to reduce the down-range report.

Beyond the forestock is the .177 caliber barrel, which is nearly 19 inches long. At the end of the barrel is the SilencAir noise dampening system that reduces down-range muzzle report. The five-chamber SilencAir also serves as a mount for the front red fiber optic sight. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a micro-adjustable green fiber optic rear sight mounted on top of breech block.

Moving back again along the receiver, a custom metal Picatinny mounting rail is fitted to the top of the receiver and provides secure mounting for the scope. (An aside: I am pretty much a fan of Picatinny scope mounting systems. It provides a very straightforward way of mounting a scope and heavy duty protection against the scope moving under the whiplash recoil of a spring-piston or gas-piston powerplant.) At the aft end of the receiver is a push-pull safety as found on many RWS airguns. The scope that comes with the Ruger Talon is a 4 x 32 with a non-adjustable objective.

To ready the Talon for shooting, grab the muzzle end of the barrel and pull it down and back until it latches. This requires about 30 lbs. of effort. Slide a pellet into the breech and return the barrel to its original position. Now, here’s where the surprise comes in: when I was cocking the Talon, I could hear no spring noise whatsoever. In my experience, it is highly unusual for sub-$200 spring-piston air rifles to be this quiet during the cocking stroke.

Take aim, ease the first stage out of the trigger (this required 1 lb. 13.3 oz. of effort on the sample I tested), and squeeze a bit more. At 4 lbs. 1 oz., the shot goes down range, again with no noticeable twang or spring vibration.

Ruger .177 Talon 007

I was so surprised at this that I called Umarex USA and asked if maybe they were building the Ruger Talon as a gas-ram and hadn’t told anyone. No, they assured me; it really is a spring-piston powerplant, but they have been taking a bit of extra care in their quality control and manufacturing tolerances.

The Ruger Talon sample that I tested launched 7.9 grain Crosman Premier pellets at a sizzling 928 fps average for 15.11 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

I suspect that the four-power non-adjustable objective scope was the limiting factor in my accuracy testing.

I suspect that the four-power non-adjustable objective scope was the limiting factor in my accuracy testing.

I was able to achieve quarter-sized 5-shot groups at 20 yards with Barracuda Green .177 pellets, and I did nearly as well with JSBs. I suspect – but can’t prove – that the limiting factor here was the four-power non-adjustable objective scope. With a non-AO scope, if you don’t put your head in exactly the same spot behind the scope for every single shot, you can get point of impact deviations. This is an air rifle that I think would be improved with the addition of a higher power adjustable objective scope. Note well: the view through the 4x scope was crisp and clear and light years ahead of the terrible scope that was included with the Hatsan 95.

In the end, I liked the Ruger Talon. It’s pleasant to shoot and delivers good value for the price.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott