Posts Tagged ‘break barrel’

In the top half of the case, Agent X's rifle with the new scope mounted. The old scope is in the bottom half of the case.

In the top half of the case, Agent X’s rifle with the new scope mounted. The old scope is in the bottom half of the case.

I was on my way to a meeting when an acquaintance and colleague of some 20 years – who shall henceforth be known as Agent X – motioned me into his office.

“You know about airguns, right?” he said.

“Yes, a bit.”

“What would you recommend in .22 caliber for killing squirrels?” he asked.

“How far are you shooting?”

“Oh, maybe twenty yards,” Agent X said.

I recommended a pump-up Benjamin 392 or Webley Rebel, on the basis that they are very easy to shoot well, but as we chatted, it became apparent to me that Agent X had more on his mind. After further conversation, it developed that he had already purchased a Nitro Piston rifle from one of the big box stores, and he wasn’t having very good success with it.

Had he tested it with different pellets? Yes. Had he tested it for accuracy. Yes. What kind of results was he getting? “At twenty feet, I’m getting groups that you couldn’t cover with a quarter,” he said.

That’s terrible, I told him. At twenty feet, you ought to be able to stack one pellet on top of another, or very close to it.  I made him an offer: the next time you get a free day, give me a call. If the weather’s decent, and I’m free, we’ll get together at my place and see if we can sort out your rifle. Deal, he said.

On the appointed day, Agent X arrived with his gun case containing a Benjamin Titan GP. He pointed at the scope. “I changed the scope because the one that came with it wasn’t very good.” I looked at the new scope. It was a Leapers 4 power non-adjustable objective.

Using my usual test rig – a bum bag and some old boat cushions on top of a WorkMate – I banged off a few shots with Crosman Premier pellets at a target 13 yards away. Two shots grouped together pretty well, but the third jumped away by half an inch.

“Let’s change to a scope with an adjustable objective,” I said. “I want to eliminate parallax as a possible source of accuracy problems.” If you would like to know more about parallax as a source of shooting error, check out this blog: http://198.154.244.69/blog/2009/07/parallax.html

So we switched to a Leapers 3-12 Mini Tactical sidewheel scope. I tried a few more shots with Crosman Premier pellets and got decent results but perhaps we could do better. So I tried JSB pellets. Nope, this rifle didn’t like them.

These are the pellets that worked best.

These are the pellets that worked best.

Then Agent X said, “Would you like to try the pellets I had hoped to shoot?” He waggled a tin of H&N Baracuda Green lead free pellets. I started feeding them to the Benjamin Titan GP, and it liked them! But as I was cocking the Benjamin Titan, I felt a subtle movement, as if something were loose. I check the scope rings and the scope mount, and all were snug. Then I check the two screws on either side of the forestock and, while they weren’t outright loose, I found I could snug them up a bit more. Finally, I checked the screw at the rear of the trigger guard. It was very loose, and I snugged it up.

After tightening the stock screws, we got dime-sized groups at 13 yards with the Baracuda Green pellets. “Looks like we have a winner,” I said.

We put a woodchuck paper target in the pellet trap and moved it out to 20 yards. After adjusting the elevation, I asked Agent X to shoot the chuck. He did just that, plugging him in the chest and in the head. It looked to me like he was ready to send some squirrels to that Big Acorn Patch in the Sky.

“But what if I want to shoot indoors at 20 feet? How do I adjust the scope?” he said.

“That’s the beauty of the mil-dot scope we mounted on your rifle. You can use the mil-dots as different aiming points for different ranges,” I said. Then I asked him what kind of pellet trap he was using. “A Boston phone book, backed by a piece of ply wood,” came the answer.

That’s not good enough, I said. “You start putting pellet after pellet in the same hole, you’re going to blow through the phone book and the plywood.”

To demonstrate, I drew a cross on a seasoned piece of 2 x 6 board and shot it at 13 yards. The pellet penetrated more than three-quarters of an inch. Agent X made immediate plans to build or obtain a more substantial pellet trap.

So what did we accomplish? By swapping scopes, tightening stock screws, and finding the right pellet, we were able to shrink Agent X’s groups from “larger than a quarter at 20 feet” to nickel-sized at 20 yards. He should be in good shape to take care of his squirrel problem, and I’m pretty sure that he was smiling as he drove away.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The blog that I wrote on installing the GTX aftermarket trigger in the Benjamin Trail NP All Weather has proven to be one of the most commented-upon items in all the time that I have been writing this blog. You can find the original posting here: http://198.154.244.69/blog/2011/04/installing-the-gtx-trigger-in-the-benjamin-trail-np-all-weather.html

Recently reader Don Swyers wrote: “I upgraded my nitro trail trigger to the gtx generation 2 and my safety hasn’t worked since.. I tried adjusting the secondary, and it still doesn’t work…”

I contacted Steve Woodward, inventor of the GTX trigger, to answer Swyers’s question and some other common queries regarding the GTX trigger.

Woodward: In addition to correct adjustment of the GTX Secondary screw (you can find the directions for adjustment here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.​com/GTX.htm Just click on the blue “Installation Guide” button), proper operation of the Crosman “Gamo-Style” safety depends on a number of things. (Note: the picture below shows the trigger assembly with the trigger pointed up and the receiver pointed to the left.)

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

One of those things is Correct installation of the Safety “hairpin” spring, including alignment with the Safety Toggle index notches (#1) and retaining tab (#2).  The leg that engages the index notches (#1) should press against the trigger housing and should be underneath the outer tab labeled “1”. It curls around the pivot pin and is held in place with an e-clip. The other leg should be clipped firmly behind the retaining tab (#2). It is the anchor for the free end of the spring.

Also, these springs are sometimes made of poor quality wire, resulting in inadequate tension.  This can sometimes be improved by removing the spring, bending the two ends together, and then reinstalling.

Finally, the profile of the sheet-metal Toggle (#3)  is sometimes malformed, and can be improved by minor reshaping to better conform to the face of the trigger blade.

These factors are especially important with the GTX, due to its machined anodized aluminum fabrication, which is smoother and has a lower coefficient of friction than the stock steel trigger blade.

Another common Question: Why doesn’t the GTX trigger reset when I pull halfway and then let go without firing?

Woodward: The stock trigger does the same thing, but you probably never noticed before because it hides the fact from your trigger finger. After the gun is cocked, the mating surfaces of the sear hold the piston back against hundreds of pounds of force from the compressed mainspring or ram. When you pull the trigger, moving the mating surfaces toward break, there’s such a lot of friction; the spring that returns the sears to the original position while the gun is being cocked, is not strong enough to overcome the friction. The behavior of the GTX trigger is the same, but with the stock trigger, the trigger spring makes the trigger blade return to the original position, while the sear is still partially disengaged.  By contrast, the GTX trigger tracks the true position of the sear and reports that to your trigger finger. In both cases, with the stock trigger and the GTX, what the prudent shooter needs to do is adopt the habit of always recocking the gun whenever the trigger is touched without firing. Incidentally, this applies to almost all inexpensive airgun triggers, not just springers.

Question: The GTX trigger feels really light. Is it safe?

Woodward: Any trigger that will never fire unless it is being touched at the time is a safe trigger. The GTX satisfies that criterion just as well as the stock trigger does. The safety of the trigger depends on the engagement of the sear. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. We recommend practicing with your GTX trigger until you are familiar with the feel of the first and second stages.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

From last week’s blog, remember that Blair wrote in, asking:

  1. In your experience, what would you recommend as the best gun (top 3 in order) and caliber to purchase in order to maintain a regular food supply? I live in Georgia in a suburban area with woods all around. (squirrels, turkey & smaller deer) I don’t plan on being a collector of numerous airguns however, price is not a limiting factor.
  2. What are your preferred scopes and range finders?
  3. Since, in theory, the electricity may be out, I will need to hand pump the rifle. What is the best (most efficient, easiest to use and reliable) pump available?

Until recently, Blair, I would have recommended a multi-stroke pneumatic rifle as your first choice since they are self-contained and easy to shoot well, but my thinking has changed. The reason? One of my favorite MSP rifles failed simply by being stored in a gun closet. One of the seals failed, and the rifle would not pump and hold air.

And that is a problem with all MSP, SSP, CO2, and PCP airguns – they are seal dependent. If a single seal fails, the air rifle may quit functioning entirely, ruining its ability to gather food for your family. So unless you intend to stock a spare seal kit and learn how to repair the air rifle you choose, I would not recommend for your purposes an airgun with an MSP, SSP, CO2 or PCP powerplant. Don’t get me wrong: there are many wonderful MSP, SSP, CO2 and PCP airguns out there, and it gives me great joy to shoot them, but in the scenario that you describe, Blair, with the lights out and the need to gather food urgent, I would go with the most reliable airgun powerplant I could find.

Spring-piston air rifles (springers), on the other hand, tend to be fail-soft. You can burn a piston seal, kink or break a spring, and they will continue to launch pellets, albeit at lower velocity. I once asked Robert Buchanan, maximum leader at Airguns of Arizona which was the most reliable airgun powerplant, and he said, “Springers. We never get them back for service.”

So I would recommend a medium-power springer in .22 caliber. Specifically, an RWS34 in .22, a Weihrauch HW95 in .22, or, if you want a somewhat lighter, less powerful air rifle, the Weihrauch HW50 (the Brits, after all, have taken a lot of game with 12 foot-pound air rifles). As to scopes, the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com have more experience with the reliability of different kinds of scopes than I do, but I can tell you that my very first high-quality airgun scope, a Bushnell Trophy 3-12 x 40 is still alive and well after more than a decade of airgun testing. I use a Bushnell rangefinder, but I recommend that you learn to estimate range for yourself because you may need to do it quite rapidly in a hunting situation.

In addition, Blair, I reached out to Jim Chapman, who also blogs for Airguns of Arizona on hunting topics: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/hunting/ . He is a knowledgeable and enthusiast hunter, and I deeply respect his opinion, so I asked for his take on your questions.

Here, verbatim, is his response:

Hi Jock;

This subject comes up quite a bit, my thought is that the airgun in this situation has a limited and specific role. If I could only have one gun in a true survival situation, it would not be an airgun, but rather a .22 rimfire that I could use for small game, head shoot a deer for food, and in a last ditch effort use for defense. Ammo is cheap and you could store vast quantities and high capacity magazines if you had to use it for defense.

The role I’d have for an airgun in a survival situation would be for stealth hunting to take small game without generating a lot of noise. Plus you could store thousands of pellets that cost relatively little and take almost no room to store. If the lights went out for good, this would be invaluable for harvesting plentiful small game.

The gun I’d choose for this would be a mid powered (circa 16 fpe) spring piston airgun in .22 caliber. I find that squirrels go down faster with a .22 than a .177 with a head or body shot, and if you need the food the last thing you’d want to see is your mortally wounded squirrel disappearing into its den to die.

My personal home survival kit is a supply of food and water to last my family for some time, appropriate centerfire rifles, pistols, and shotguns for hunting and defense, my bow for stealth hunting big game, and many airguns (I have a big collection after all) for small game. We live in a suburban are bordering lots of farmland and woods, and hunting for food might come into play, but mostly I’d want firepower to defend what we have.

Maybe not what folks would like to hear from an admitted airgun fanatic, but it’s the way I see things.

Regards,

Jim

PS; If I was stuck on an island with no dangerous game and no need for defense, the same airgun discussed above would be my first choice. In the right situations an airgun could keep you fed indefinitely.

Finally, Blair, whatever airgun you choose for food gathering, it’s important that you practice your skills before the need arises. You didn’t say anything about your hunting skills, so if you are inexperienced, you need to learn how to hunt and prepare game before you are forced to learn under duress.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

 

 

The RWS 240 is simplicity itself.

The RWS 240 is simplicity itself.

A short while ago, I suggested that if you’re suffering from the wintertime blues and want to get  rid of the I-can’t-wait-for-spring grumpies, a little trigger time with some pistols indoors might be just the medicine that will soothe your soul while you wait just a bit longer for the temperatures to rise and the buds to appear.

Some folks are, by personal preference, training, or genetic proclivity, pistol freaks. I have a pal who wouldn’t walk across the street to shoot the best long gun in the world, but would put himself at considerable trouble to shooting an interesting new air pistol.

I realize, though, that pistols are not everyone’s cup of tea. So, what to do if you are a long gun enthusiast and seriously can’t whack up the ginger to shoot air pistols indoors?

Fortunately, I just recently shoot the answer: the RWS Model 240 Schutze. This is a small, light, low-powered air rifle that is just the ticket for low noise, high fun shooting indoors, even at very limited range.

RWS 240 004-001

The 240 stretches 41 inches from end to end and weighs just 5.7 pounds. At the aft end, you’ll find a soft rubber butt plate that is separated from the ambidextrous hardwood stock by a black plastic spacer. The stock is entirely free of any adornment such as checkering or grooves. The pistol grip is slanted at about a 45 degree angle and forward of that, a black polymer trigger guard surrounds a folded sheet metal trigger that can be adjusted for first-stage travel.

RWS 240 007

RWS 240 005

Moving forward, the slim forestock tapers slightly and has a slot underneath to provide clearance for the cocking linkage. Forward of that, you’ll find the barrel, which has a plastic fitting on the muzzle end that serves as a mount for the fiber-optic front sight. The front sight looks like a classic globe sight but has cut-outs on the sides to allow light to illuminate the red optical fiber. Moving back along the barrel, a notch-type rear sight is mounted on the breech block. It has green optical fibers on either side so that a proper sight picture looks like green-red-green dots inside the front globe. I found the buttstock has just enough rise in the comb to provide perfect alignment for my head behind the sights.

The receiver is fitted with dovetails for mounting a scope but no holes for anti-recoil pins. I am guessing that is because this air rifle generates very little recoil. The factory manual rates the velocity at only 490 feet per second (without specifying the pellet weight), and speeds of 565 fps can be generated only by shooting very light – 7.0 grain – RWS Hobby pellets. That works out to only 4.9 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.  At the extreme aft end of the receiver is an automatic push-pull safety. That’s all there is to the 240. This is an air rifle of extreme simplicity.

To ready the 240 for shooting, grab the end of the barrel and pull it down and back until it latches. This requires only about 19 pounds of effort and opens the breech for loading. Slide a pellet into the breech, return the barrel to its original position, take aim, slide the safety off, and squeeeeze the trigger. The first stage comes out of the trigger at 12.9 ounces, and the shot goes downrange at 5 pounds, 2 ounces. While the trigger is a wee bit heavier than I would prefer, still I found the 240 a pleasure to shoot. It easily produced dime-sized groups at 13 yards with open sights.

This is a gun you could shoot all day in the basement, and the report is very mild. It is also a low-powered air rifle, so I wouldn’t recommend it for hunting or pest control, unless it is small game at close range, and you are very confident of your shot placement. In my casual testing of penetration with the 240, I found that, at 5 yards, a 7.9 grain pellet would blow through both sides of a tin can, but at 13 yards, it would penetrate only one side of the can.

But as a plinker or an indoor practice tool, this is a lovely gun, and it would make a wonderful gift for a youngster who wants to move up from a BB gun to his or her first “serious” airgun or an adult looking for something to do while waiting for spring.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Walther LGV 005

Walther makes several “claims to fame” with the new LGV.

The first is zero play in the barrel hinge, thanks to the wedge lock, and cocking rod. The cocking rod is mounted in synthetic material and backed by compression springs so that scraping, abrasion, and scoring of metal parts are eliminated.

A rotary piston eliminates friction losses and also eliminates contact with the cocking rod when the piston moves forward. Piston rings made of low-friction synthetic material ensure that the piston does not touch the compression cylinder wall and ensures smooth, quiet movement. Further, the piston has holes drilled in it to gently brake the piston at the end of the compression stroke and to reduce recoil.

The LGV uses a specially tempered valve spring with ground spring ends to safeguard straight movement. Walther further claims that the LGV will not suffer from spring fatigue if left cocked for a long time. Those are the highlights of the claims made at the LGV website, http://walther-lgv.com/

Now, I’ve come to realize that the readers of this blog are a pretty sharp bunch, and you know as well as I do that all the verbiage in the world and a clever website do not mean squat unless the claims that are made actually come to fruition in the product.

Walther LGV 007

So what’s it like to shoot the new LGV? To cock it, you first have to release the barrel lock lever, which is done easily enough by pushing up with your thumb. Then pull the barrel down and back until it latches. (I estimate this requires slightly less than 30 lbs. of effort). You’ll notice there is absolutely no spring noise, no creaks, no groans, no noise of any sort, until the cocking mechanism clicks into its latch.

Walther LGV 008

Load a pellet into the breech and return the barrel to its original position. Take aim, slide the safety off, and take the first stage out of the trigger (this requires only about 14.2 oz. of pressure). Squeeeeze the trigger. In the sample that I tested, at 3 lbs. 3.9 oz. of pressure, the shot goes down range. The shot cycle is incredibly smooth, making a kind of muted “tunng” sound as the action cycles. The recoil is remarkably subdued, compared to other spring-piston air rifles that I know and like. At the time of this writing, there is no other spring-piston or gas-ram production air rifle that rivals the new LGV for quiet and smoothness.

The LGV launches 14.3-grain .22 caliber Crosman Premier pellets at an average of 622 fps, which works out to 12.29 foot-pounds of energy that the muzzle.  At 13 yards, from a rest, I found that it would allow me to shoot the center out of the target with shot after shot. At 32 yards shooting in January under fitful winds, the LGV delivered a 5-shot group that measured 7/8 inch from edge to edge. That works out to .655 inch from center to center.

The fit and finish of the LGV are excellent. My overall impression of it is that it is incredibly fun, easy, and smooth to shoot. When I was testing it, I didn’t want to stop enjoying the supple pleasure of shooting it.

I have not been this impressed with a new air rifle in a long, long time. I have only one thing to say to the team at Walther that developed this rifle: well done!

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The new Walther LGV with optional scope.

The new Walther LGV with optional scope.

Greg from www.airgunsofarizona.com was on the phone with me, discussing what airguns he was going to send my way for testing. “Walther has come out with a new LGV,” he said.

I got excited. “Really?!! Send me one right away!”

“Whoa,” Greg said. “It’s not the same as the old LGV. It’s more of a sporting rifle, but they’ve put a lot of new technology into it.”

“Oh,” I said, wondering if the latest incarnation of the LGV would be a disappointment.

The airgun industry has been around for quite a while, and airgun manufacturers will, from time to time, bring out a new rifle bearing an old name. The last time this happened (with a manufacturer who shall be nameless), the result was a rifle that was really very disappointing on many levels.

The original Walther LGV, image courtesy of Walther.

The original Walther LGV, image courtesy of Walther.

And to set up this story properly, you need to understand that the Walther LGV was a high-precision ten-meter target rifle introduced in 1964. It was a breakbarrel rifle with a positive barrel lock that insured that the barrel hinge always returned to the same position. Original LGVs are still prized as collector’s items today, and they are still fun to shoot.

Similar to the original LGV, the new LGV also incorporates a positive barrel lock to insure that the break barrel returns to the same position every single time. More about that later. Let’s take a guide tour of the new LGV. There are several different variations of the new LGV, which you can see here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/WaltherLGV.html I tested the LGV Master Ultra in .22 caliber. It stretches 43.25 inches from end to end and weighs 8.85 lbs before mounting a scope.

Walther LGV 009

At the rear of the LGV is a thick ventilated rubber butt pad. It is attached to a fully ambidextrous hardwood stock. There is a slight bulge and rise on either side of the buttstock for a cheek piece. The pistol is sloped at a roughly 45 degree angle and is checkered on either side and engraved with the Walther name. Ahead of the pistol grip is a black metal trigger guard that surrounds a black trigger. I believe the trigger is plastic, although it might be an alloy (a metal “tuning” trigger is available as an option, according the manual), and it is adjustable for first stage travel and for trigger weight.

Ahead of that, the forestock is unadorned and tapers slightly to the end. The underside is fairly flat-bottomed, and toward the end you’ll find a slot for the cocking mechanism. At the far end of the forestock is a lever for releasing the barrel lock. Above that is the barrel (the LGV is available in both .177 and .22) and attached to that is a large metal fitting that serves as a cocking aid, the mount for the globe front sight (which has interchangeable inserts), and a knurled barrel nut which can be unscrewed to allow the mounting of Walther’s proprietary three-chamber silencer (where legal).

Moving back along the barrel, a micro-adjustable notch-type rear sight is mounted on the breech block. Moving further aft, the rear of the receiver has dovetails for mounting a scope and three holes into which anti-recoil pins may be fitted. At the very end of the receiver, you’ll find a push-pull safety which is resettable.

That’s all there is to the Walther LGV . . . or is there? When I took the new LGV out of its box, I notice a couple of symbols on the edge of the manual. One of them said “Vibration reduction system,” and the other said “Super silent technology.”

Curious, I looked up “Walther LGV” on the Internet and found that Walther had created an entire new website devoted to this new series of rifles. Obviously, the good folks at Walther were serious about the technology they had put into this new rifle.

We’ll get into that next time, in addition to shooting the new LGV.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

At a holiday gathering toward the end of 2012, I ran into one of my nephews who I hadn’t seen in a while. In the course of the usual catching-up small talk, I mentioned that I write a weekly blog about airguns.

“Really?” he said. “I just bought an airgun.”

He explained that it was his second air rifle, and he likes to hunt squirrels with them. They are both .177 caliber and both break barrel springers. The first one shoots slowly but is very accurate. He bought the second one – which advertises 1,200 feet per second – because he wanted “more knock-down power.”

The problem was, he said, that the more powerful one didn’t seem to be very accurate. Was there anything he could do to improve the accuracy?

He and I chatted for quite some time, and I suggested a number of things that might help.

The first thing was to make sure that the scope mounts and rings were tight. I explained about the weird whiplash recoil that springers generate and that if the scope was loose in the rings or the scope mounts were not securely fastened to the receiver, the recoil was going to make the scope move with every shot, and he wasn’t going to get accuracy that way.

Then he mentioned that he knew the gun was shooting fast, because he could hear the supersonic crack when it fired. Immediately I suggested that he get some heavier pellets to slow the gun down. When varminters use firearms to shoot prairie dogs at 600 yards, I said, they shoot so fast – sometimes in excess of 4,000 fps – that the shot stays supersonic the entire distance to the target. But, I explained, there aren’t any airgun powerplants that will do that. So when you launch a pellet at supersonic speed, it quickly loses velocity and drops through a transonic region where the pellet gets buffeted by turbulence, and the result is poor accuracy. “If you slow the gun down to around 900 fps at the muzzle,” I suggested, “you’ll probably get much better accuracy.”

I also suggested that needed to try a variety of pellets, shooting them for groups off a rest, to see which one delivers that best accuracy. He told me that he usually buys wadcutter pellets because they worked the best in his slower air rifle and they make a bigger wound channel.

“The Olympic shooters use wadcutters,” I said, “but they are shooting their match rifles at around 600 fps. I’m pretty sure those wadcutters will go nuts at the speed that your more powerful air rifle shoots. Your best bet is to stick with round-nose pellets for the greatest accuracy.”

Further I suggested that when he shoots groups, he should steady his rifle on a soft rest like an old cushion or perhaps a folded up jacket. Springers, because of the way they recoil, usually don’t produce best accuracy when rested on a hard surface, I told him.

Finally, I advised him to squeeeeeze the trigger when shooting groups. “If you jerk the trigger, you may well yank the shot to one side or the other. But if you squeeze slowly while maintaining the alignment of the crosshairs on the target, you’ll get better results.”

He thanked me for the suggestions and said he would give them a try. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The Webley Value Max, a real work horse of an air rifle.

Anyone who is over 20 years old and who has been paying attention should have learned – or should learn very soon – to regard anything said by a marketer with deep suspicion. Marketers, it seems, are continually in the process of naming things in such a way as to convince us of something or appeal to our emotions or tagging on slogans designed somehow to get us to buy.

With the exception of Bernie Madoff (who made-off with a lot of people’s money), it’s fairly rare for things to be honestly named. You don’t hear of “Mostly Honest John’s Used Cars” or the “(Not Really) Harbor View Estates” housing development.

The Webley Value Max air rifle, however, is an exception to this trend. In my view, this single-shot, break barrel, spring piston air rifle is aptly named because it delivers a high return on the buyer’s hard-earned money. The Value Max is available in three different calibers — .177, .20, and .22 – and three different colors: black, green, and camo. The black and green models cost just a penny shy of $150 while the camo model commands a $20 premium. All of them stretch 43 inches long and weigh 6.4 lbs. I tested the .20 cal. green version.

The ambidextrous synthetic stock is equipped with a ventilated butt pad.

At the aft end of the Value Max is a soft rubber ventilated butt pad that is attached to an ambidextrous synthetic stock. The entire stock, with the exception of the pistol grip and forestock which have molded-in checkering, is done up in a flat slightly roughened finish. I found it easy to grip no matter how sweaty my hands got, and it’s the kind of stock that you won’t worry about treating badly in the field.

The muzzle brake serves as a cocking handle and mount for the fiber optic front sight.

Ahead of the pistol grip is a black synthetic trigger guard which surrounds a black metal trigger which appears to be made of a folded piece of sheet metal. Forward of that, there are checkered panels on either side of the forestock and a long slot underneath the forestock to provide clearance for the cocking mechanism. Ahead of that is the 17.7 inch rifled steel barrel which is fitted with a synthetic cocking handle that also serves as a mount for the red fiber optic front sight.

Here you can see the scope stop and the safety.

Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the breech block, on top of which sits a micro-adjustable green fiber optic notch rear sight. Further back, the receiver has dovetails for mounting a scope and a removable scope stop. At the extreme aft end of the receiver is a push-pull resettable safety. And that’s it – the Value Max is almost Zen-like in its simplicity.

The green fiber optic rear sight is click-stop adjustable.

To ready the Value Max for shooting, grab the cocking handle and pull the barrel down and back until it latches (I estimate this takes about 35 lbs 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 trigger. I measured the first stage at 2 lb. 1.6 oz., and the second stage at 4 lb. 10.8 oz. The second stage has a long pull, but I quickly became accustomed to it. At 32 yards, I was able to put 5 pellets (H&N FTS) into a group that measured 1.25 inches from edge to edge. That works out to just a hair over 1 inch center to center. While that isn’t spectacularly great, it is perfectly adequate for defending the garden at 100 feet.

The Value Max launched .20 cal JSB Exact pellets at 731.5 fps average, generating 16.32 foot-pounds of energy. The report, from the shooter’s position, is a resounding WOK! I am suspicious that the shot sounds louder to the shooter than to a bystander because (again, an unconfirmed suspicion) I think the butt stock may be hollow and may have the effect of amplifying the sound in the shooter’s ear. Perhaps some brave soul will experiment with injecting some sort of sound-deadening foam into the stock to see what effect that has.

Despite the somewhat creepy trigger and apparently louder-than-normal report, I liked the Value Max. I liked its utilitarian appearance and yeoman performance. It delivers solid value at a reasonable price. What’s not to like about that?

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

 

The layout of the HW50S is simplicity itself.

I think perhaps I have finally figured it out . . . what my favorite Weihrauch air rifle is – the HW50S in .177. Over the years, I have owned (and still own) a variety of Weihrauch air rifles, from the big, hairy HW80 to the tackdriving but heavy HW97 to the diminutive HW30S.

Each has its advantages and its charms, but as the years roll on (hey, maybe I’m getting old and creaky), I find that I turn increasingly to lighter air rifles for a day afield. The lovely HW30S measures just 38.78 inches end to end and weighs just 5.1 lbs, but there are times when I am shooting it that I wish it had just a wee bit more velocity and power.

Enter the HW50S. It’s just 40.5 inches long weighs only 6.8 lbs. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to test a couple of samples in .22 caliber (the standard and the Stainless versions), but I’ve never shot the HW50S in .177 until recently.

The is a slight swell of a cheek piece on the left side of the buttstock for righthanded shooters, but lefties should have no problem with the HW50S.

This is not an air rifle that is out to impress anyone with its glitz; there is no checkering or other adornment anywhere. At the extreme aft end, there is a brown rubber butt pad with a black spacer and a slight swell for a cheek piece on the left-hand side of the stock, but the buttstock is so nearly symmetrical that lefties should have no problem shooting this rifle. The forestock extends over the two-piece cocking linkage and breech block. The two-piece cocking linkage increases cocking effort (more about this later) but allows the action to be anchored by a single big screw in a steel seat underneath the forestock.

The Rekord trigger is crisp and adjustable.

The trigger guard is black metal. It fastens to the stock with two screws. Inside the trigger guard is a typical Rekord trigger setup: a silver metal trigger and a silver adjustment screw.

The front sight has interchangeable inserts.

The barrel is 15.5 inches long, and on top of it at the muzzle end you’ll find a globe sight with interchangeable inserts. The receiver has three holes for anti-recoil pins and a push-button safety at the rear. That’s it; the HW50S is a statement in simplicity.

With the two .22 versions of the HW50S that I tested in the past, I found the cocking effort to be pretty “stout,” between 30-35 lbs., but the .177 version I’m testing this time seemed easier. Maybe it is just unit-to-unit variation; I don’t know. In any event, you should realize, going in, that the HW50S is not going to be as easy to cock as an HW30S.

To ready the HW50S for shooting, grab the end of the barrel and crank it down and back until it latches, stuff a pellet in the breech, and return the barrel to its original position. Click off the safety, take aim, and squeeze the trigger. The Rekord trigger is crisp and clean and can be easily adjusted. With the factory adjustments, the first stage comes out between 1-2 lbs, and the second stage at 3-4 lbs.

The shot cycle is very subdued, kind of a muted “tunk,” and there is a just a hint of vibration that is heard more than felt. In all this is a very pleasant air rifle to shoot, and its subdued report ought to keep the neighbors happy. It is, in fact, to my ears one of the quietest springer air rifles that I have ever shot.

The HW50S launches 8.44 grain JSB Exact pellets at around 740 fps. I found it put five pellets into a group at 13 yards that you could cover with a pencil eraser. Overall, I have found the HW50S accurate enough to shoot in Hunter Class field target, and I actually took 2nd in a match with a .22 HW50S a few years ago.

I liked the .177 HW50S a whole lot, and I think it would put a huge grin on any airgunner’s face. Santa, are you listening?

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

The .22 Remington NPSS in digital camo.

When I reviewed the Crosman Airgun and Pellet Capabilities Chart discussed in last week’s blog, I was struck by the fact that, aside from the .25 caliber  Benjamin Trail NP XL 725 (which I had written about a while back), only one of the breakbarrel air rifles listed on the chart consistently offers the longest estimated effective maximum range.

That rifle is the .22 caliber Remington NPSS. The chart suggests that it is capable of taking pigeons and squirrels at 42 yards, prairie dogs at 45 yards, raccoons at 15 yards, and turkeys at 30 yards. That’s quite a resume. And while I had reviewed the original Crosman NPSS in .177 a couple of years ago, I decided I needed to have a look at the Remington version in .22.

The Remington NPSS comes with a 3-9 x 40 scope and one-piece mount.

The good folks at Crosman were kind enough to send me one, and here’s the skinny. The Remington NPSS, which proudly displays “Made in the USA” on the receiver, stretches 43.75 inches from end to end and weighs 9 lbs exactly with the 3-9 x 40 CenterPoint scope mounted. Physically, the Remington NPSS is identical to its Crosman-branded predecessor. It has a weatherproof ambidextrous polymer thumbhole stock that features a soft rubber cheek piece and “nubbly” texturing at both the pistol grip and the forestock. It’s available in a digital camo finish (on the sample I tested) and a carbon fiber look, neither of which affect the performance of the gun.

The Remington NPSS is fitted with a soft rubber butt pad and cheek piece.

What really sets the Remington apart from other breakbarrel air rifles you may have shot is the NPSS powerplant. That stands for Nitro Piston Short Stroke. Unlike conventional breakbarrel air rifles, it has no spring. Instead it has a gas ram – much like the gas strut in the liftback of an SUV. When you break the barrel of the Remington NPSS to cock it, instead of compressing a spring, you’re driving back a piston which compresses gas in a cylinder. When the cocking mechanism latches, it holds the gas under pressure until you pull the trigger, allowing the piston to shoot forward, compressing air in front of it and launching the pellet down the barrel.

It works exactly the same as a conventional “springer,” except there is no spring, and that gives the NPSS some advantages. For example, you can leave it cocked for long periods without worrying that the spring will take “a set” and weaken the power of the air rifle. In addition, cocking is generally smoother, and there is no torque or vibration when the shot goes off. Crosman also claims that the NPSS powerplant is quieter than a conventional springer. From the shooter’s position behind the receiver, that is difficult to prove, and I’ve found that trying to measure the relative loudness of various airgun powerplants can be fiendishly difficult. Bottom line: if the NPSS didn’t seem especially quiet to me, it didn’t seem particularly loud either, which in my mind works out to “average” loudness.

Getting the Remington NPSS ready to shoot is straightforward. Grab the barrel near the muzzle and pull it down and back until it latches. This takes about 23-24 pounds of effort, according to Crosman. The cocking stroke is incredibly smooth, with no spring noise or creaking. Insert a pellet into the aft end of the breech and return the barrel to its original position.

Take aim. Flick off the safety (The Remington NPSS has a lever-style non-automatic safety inside the trigger guard). Squeeze the trigger. At 3 lb, 15 oz, the first stage comes out; at 6 lb, 8 oz, the shot goes down range. That’s heavier than I would like, but the trigger seemed very consistent and didn’t appear to interfere with accurate shooting.

With .22 Crosman Premier pellets, which went down range at about 850 fps and generated around 22.9 foot-pounds of energy, I was able to shoot essentially one-hole groups at 13 yards, but the groups opened up to 1.25 inches (edge to edge) at 30 yards. I also noticed that the point of impact would shift if I moved from sitting position to shooting off a rest to shooting offhand. It seems to me that the big trick with this air rifle is either (a) to learn where the point of impact will be from various shooting positions or (b) shoot consistently from only one position such as offhand.

In the end, I liked the .22 Remington NPSS. It seems to me to be a solid, workhorse air rifle that would serve many shooters well for pest control and hunting duties.

Til next time, aim true and shooting straight.

–          Jock Elliott