Posts Tagged ‘Browning’

Back in 1974, your Humble Correspondent was recorded picking his banjo on an album entitled “Alternate Plan B” recorded by Bert Mayne. I remember there was a line in the album notes that stuck with me: “Winter has been too long in my hills.”

I can relate. Despite relatively low snow fall, winter has, indeed, been too long in my hills this year. Maybe you have a case of the I-can’t-wait-for-spring mullygrubbs as well. If you do, don’t despair, help is just around the corner.

What you – and I – need is a little quality trigger time with an airgun. And if the weather outside is inclement (here is upstate New York, it has been just plain cold and damp), no problem . . . here’s your recipe for putting a smile on your face.

What you need is an air pistol, some pellets, some paper targets, and a pellet trap. (If you live someplace where folks might complain about noise, get a pellet trap that is lined with putty at the back to absorb the sound of the pellets hitting the trap).

The lovely thing about shooting an air pistol is that you don’t need a lot of space to provide a challenge. If you only have 15 feet to shoot in the basement (or even a hallway . . . make sure that no one can walk into your line of fire), that still can be mighty entertaining. Print out some ten meter pistol targets at half scale, and you’re all set.

What’s that you say? Shooting at 5 yards would be just too easy? Okay, try this: try shooting one-handed with your non-dominant hand. That’s right: if you normally shoot right-handed, try left left-handed. If you want to turn it into a game, try fanning out some playing cards on the face of your target so that only the corners are exposed and now try shooting a winning poker hand for yourself. Or fan out two sets of cards and turn it into a contest with someone else.

The Browning Buck Mark URX fills the bill for a basement plinker at a very reasonable price.

The Browning Buck Mark URX fills the bill for a basement plinker at a very reasonable price.

There are a bunch of pistols that will fill the bill for satisfying indoor shooting at close range. The Browning Buck Mark URX immediately comes to mind. It’s a break-barrel, spring-piston, .177 caliber air pistol that looks like the powder burning Buck Mark URX offered by Browning. You can read my full review of it here: It is a relatively quiet, slow pistol that is just perfect for messing around indoors.

For some additional pistol suggestions, check out this blog:  The Daisy Avanti 747, the Crosman 2300S, the RWS LP8, and, of course, any of the Weihrauch HW45 series pistols are all excellent candidates for indoor practice that will help to cure those –end-of-the-winter blues.

In addition to a pistol, pellet trap, and some pellets, you will also need some eye protection in case an errant pellet ricochets. Finally, as always, you need to keep safety first and foremost. If you are shooting indoors, take care that no person or pet can inadvertently come between you and your target. I sometimes shoot in the basement at El Rancho Elliott between the washing machine and the workbench. I put my pellet trap on top of the workbench, and everything usually works just fine except one day when I triggered a shot before I had carefully taken aim. One of the drawers in the cabinet where I keep nuts, bolts, and screws now has a .177 caliber hole in it! So be careful . . . please.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Every once in a while someone on one of the airgun, survival or preparedness forums raises the question: “What would be a good choice of airgun for a survival-type situation in which you need to shoot small game for food?”

I love to watch disaster movies and read books about people suddenly thrust into survival situations (when I’m in this mode, my wife just looks at me, shakes her head, and sighs), and I’ve thought about the question of which airgun would be best.

For a survival airgun, here are the characteristics that I would prefer:

1. Portability. That means either a pistol or a rifle than can be readily broken down. That eliminates many air rifles.

2. Self-contained. I want to reduce the need for ancillary equipment and consumables. That eliminates all CO2 airguns (which don’t work well in cold weather) and pre-charged airguns which require a tank or pump for recharging.

3. Sufficient power for taking small game. Target air pistols won’t get it done. Some springer pistols make 6 foot-pounds of energy, which is sufficient if you skills allow to stalk within 10-15 yards on small game. Some multi-stroke pneumatic pistols make 8-10 foot pounds of energy. Most air rifles generate enough energy to do the job. I have reliable reports of one shooter killing a feral goat with a multi-stroke pneumatic rifle, and another shooter inadvertently killing a deer with a cheap Chinese spring-piston rifle (he was trying to chase it away from the plants in his yard and caused a pneumo-thorax).

4. Stealthy report. I don’t want to be noticed. Spring-piston powerplants are inherently quieter than most others because of the smaller quantity of air used to drive the pellet. Multi-stroke pneumatics tend to generate more noise than springers, but can be quieted with barrel shrouds or by reducing the number of pumps (which reduces the power).

5. Easy to shoot well. Spring-piston powerplants are the hardest to shoot well because of their whiplash forward and back recoil. Multi-stroke pneumatics are easy to shoot well.

6. Reliability. Airguns dealers tell me that springers are the most reliable powerplant. You can usually put at least a couple of thousand rounds through one before a rebuild is needed, and some are far more reliable.

7. Ease of maintenance. Spring piston powerplants typically require a spring compressor for assembly and disassembly. MSPs usually can be taken apart with hand tools.

The careful reader will have noticed that sometimes these characteristics are at odds with each other, so you have to make your gun selection based on what’s most important to you.

Recently, the folks at UmarexUSA sent me a sample of the Browning 800 pistol in .22 caliber and it appears that it meets many of the criteria above. The 800 Mag is a large air pistol. It stretches 18 inches from the muzzle to the end of the receiver, weighs 3.9 lbs., and has an anti-recoil rail system that reduces felt recoil and makes it easier to shoot well. For a more detailed physical description of the Browning 800, please check out my blog on the .177 version here.

What makes the .22 version of the Browning 800 of particular interest is that launches .22 cal Crosman Premier 14.3 gr. pellets at an average velocity of 501 fps (516 high; 485 low), for just about 8 foot-pounds of energy, which ought to be sufficient for dispatching small game at modest ranges. Further, the .22 version seems to shoot much smoother than the .177 model, making it easier to hit what you’re pointed at. From a Creedmore position outdoors with a red dot mounted, I shot a .65 inch CTC 5-shot group at 13 yards with Gamo Hunter .22 pellets. Because of the energy transmitted to the sighting system by the anti-recoil setup, you will still need a high-quality scope or red-dot if you plan to mount one.

In all, I found the Browning 800 in .22 has a lot going for it: portability, self-contained, sufficient power for taking small game, stealthy report, easy to shoot well (for a springer pistol), and probably highly reliable (although only time will verify that). I keep one with a Bushnell Trophy red dot handy by my desk in case the bird feeder needs defending.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight,

– Jock Elliott

The Browning 800 Mag air pistol is big and powerful.

The new Browning 800 Mag air pistol truly fits the definition of “an air rifle you can hold in one hand.” The 800 Mag is a .177 caliber break barrel spring-piston air pistol that generates velocities with standard weight pellets (i.e., not flyweight pellets) that are faster than a Beeman R7 air rifle and faster than 99% of air pistols that I can think of.

The 800 Mag is a large air pistol. It stretches 18 inches from the muzzle to the end of the receiver and weighs 3.9 lbs. The main receiver tube is made of metal. On top of the receiver is an 11mm dovetail for mounting a scope or red dot sight. To the rear of the dovetail is a green fiber optic rear sight that is adjustable for elevation and windage. At the extreme aft end of the receiver is a matte black plastic cap.

Below the receiver tube is matte black plastic assembly that extends the full length of the receiver. This plastic assembly, in turn, mates to the matte black pistol grip through a sliding rail system (we’ll get back to this rail system in just a little while). The pistol grip is ambidextrous, has indents for fingers, and incorporates a plastic trigger guard. Inside the trigger guard you’ll find a black plastic trigger which is adjustable for first stage travel only and a metal Gamo-style automatic safety (push away from the trigger to fire and pull toward the trigger to safe the action.)

Underneath the 800 Mag, just forward of the trigger guard, is a slot for accommodating the cocking linkage when the barrel is broken for cocking and loading. Forward of that is the barrel and at the end of that, a muzzle weight that incorporates a mount for the red fiber optic front sight. That’s all there is to the Browning 800 Mag . . . almost.

Here's the 800 Mag with the 'cocking assist handle' mounted.

To get the 800 Mag ready to shoot you need an additional part – you have to first slide the “cocking assist handle” over the muzzle. The front sight fits in the slot of the cocking assist handle. I estimate the cocking effort for the 800 Mag to be in the low-thirty-pounds range. It is definitely “stout” for an air pistol. The cocking assist handle does two thing for you: (1) it gives you additional leverage for cocking the break barrel action and (2) it lets you avoid stabbing the palm of your hand with the front sight. With the assist handle in place, cocking the 800 Mag is pretty straight forward: pull the muzzle down and toward the pistol grip until it latches. (When you do this, the safety automatically activates.) Insert a .177 pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the barrel to its original position.

Now, at this point you can remove the cocking assist handle, but you don’t have to. Why? Because the cocking assist handle is hollow, and you can shoot right through it. Take aim at your target and squeeze the trigger. The first stage comes out at about 2.5 lbs. The second stage trips at about 5 pounds (the box says 4 lb trigger pull weight but the sample I tested didn’t deliver that), and the shot goes down range. There is a distinct “thwack” when the shot goes off, and the shooter feels very little recoil because the receiver can slide on the anti-recoil rail system relative to the pistol grip. I suspect the 800 Mag would be a real handful if it didn’t have the anti-recoil system. But it does, so it is surprisingly docile to shoot considering it is a spring-piston air pistol.

It is evident, however, that the Mag 800 transmits a great deal of recoil shock to anything mounted on the upper part of the receiver. During my tests with this pistol, the Mag 800 destroyed an RWS Red Dot sight. After several dozen shots, the brightness control became so loose that it rattled. I had no problems with a Bushnell Trophy red dot, though.

When it comes to accuracy, at 13 yards from a Creedmoor position and using a red dot sight, I put five pellets into a group that measured .57 ctc. I suspect that even better results could be achieved with persistence and practice.

When I chronographed the 800 Mag with CPLs, the very first shot went 730 fps, but subsequent shots settled down to a 658 average with about 30 fps difference between high and low. A couple of minutes later I did a second string, got a high of 651 and a low of 618 (that’s 33 fps variance) with an average of 631. I asked Airguns of Arizona to chronograph a sample they had there in the shop, and they got a high of 494, a low of 463, and an average of 477. I have no idea why there is such variance between samples of the same pistol or why I am seeing such variation in velocity in the sample that I was sent. Neither do I know whether these variations will settle down as the 800 Mag gets several hundred pellets put through it.

One blog reader asked for a head-to-head comparison between the 800 Mag and the RWS LP8. I tried shooting the 800 Mag and the RWS LP8 at a tomato can at 13 yards with the same 8.4 grain pellet, and I found the LP8 pistol will penetrate one side of the can, and the 800 Mag will penetrate both sides of the can. The LP8 launches CPL pellets at an average of 558 fps with less than 10 fps variation from low to high.

The Browning 800 Mag (top) and the RWS LP8 are about the same size, but there is considerable difference between them. Neither comes standard with a red dot sight.

The Browning 800 Mag generates more power, cocks harder, is about a half pound heavier, and has significantly more variation in velocity than the LP8. The LP8 shoots slower, has a nicer trigger and fit and finish, is more consistent in velocity and costs significantly more. The LP8 is smoother and more sophisticated, but the Browning delivers a heck of a punch for not a lot of money.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott