Posts Tagged ‘CO2’

G12 S&W CO2 revolver 005

This week we are continuing our exploration of replica air pistols with one of my personal favorites, the Smith & Wesson 6″ revolver. This .177 caliber revolver is a replica of the Smith & Wesson powder-burning revolver, and it looks and feels like the real thing.

The 6-inch Smith weighs 2 pounds 12 ounces and is 11.5 inches long. It has a 6-inch rifle barrel, a 10-shot rotary magazine and is powered by a 12-grain CO2 cartridge hidden in the pistol grip. The Smith can shoot both double action (where you pull the trigger to cock the hammer and discharge the shot) and single action (where you cock the hammer first, then discharge the shot by pulling the trigger.

G12 S&W CO2 revolver 006

The entire pistol is polished, blued metal, with the exception of the rubber grips (it also comes in a nickel finish). On the left side of the frame, below the hammer and just forward of the pistol grip, is the pellet clip release lever. To ready the pistol for shooting, press the pellet clip release forward. This will release the pellet clip, allowing you to swing the 10-shot magazine out to the left. Remove the magazine from the shaft. Set it aside for the moment.

G12 S&W CO2 revolver 008

Next remove the right hand grip by prying it up at the forward edge near the trigger guard. This reveals a chamber into which you will insert a 12-gram CO2 cartridge with the small end pointed toward the hammer. Pull the cartridge lock lever at the bottom of the pistol grip down as far as it will go. Loosen the gold-colored cylinder screw by turning it clockwise. Insert a new CO2 cartridge into the chamber. Tighten the cylinder screw by rotating it gently counterclockwise until snug. Return the cartridge lock lever to its original position by pushing it upward – this may require considerable effort. This should pierce the CO2 cartridge. To confirm this, point the pistol in a safe direction, and squeeze the trigger. You should be rewarded with a “pop.”

If you don’t hear a pop, swing the cylinder lock downward, tighten the cylinder screw a bit more, and try again. Once you are certain that the pistol is discharging CO2, it’s time to load the rotary magazine. With the ratchet teeth facing you, insert pellets headfirst into the ten pellet bays, taking care that the pellet skirt is level with or slightly below the edge of the pellet bay.

Slide the magazine back onto its shaft with the ratchet teeth facing toward the hammer, and swing the magazine back into position. You are good to go, and you can shoot the S&W either double action or single.

G12 S&W CO2 revolver 007

And this is the point in the testing process where I was mightily surprised. This is my favorite replica pistol, and I enjoy shooting it a fair amount. My personal pistol is tricked out with a red dot sight but otherwise it is unmodified. Further, I never found it particular bothersome to shoot double action, although I prefer to shoot it single action because the trigger is lighter.

So imagine my surprise when I tested the Smith with my electronic trigger gauge and found that double-action shooting required an astonishing 9 pounds 4 ounces of effort on the trigger. Shooting in single-action mode, the trigger weight is considerably less but still required 6 pounds 4 ounces of effort. Before I made the measurement, I would have guessed that double-action mode required about 6 pounds of effort and single action, maybe 2.5 pounds. I tested both my pistol and the sample that www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me and got similar results with both.

So why doesn’t the S&W feel heavier to shoot? My theory is that the ergonomics of the grip and the trigger work together especially well (at least for my hands), particularly when shooting with a two-handed weaver grip.

The factory says that the Smith will deliver up to 426 fps, and I believe it. At 10 feet, I found that it would punch through a soup can most of the time, and, if you loaded the magazine with ultralight non-lead pellets, it would blow through one side of the can all the time and very often punch an exit hole through the other side. Of course, like other 12-gram CO2 powered air pistols, if you shoot very fast, the velocity and the penetration force will drop. Nevertheless, I think that the Smith packs enough wallop that it could be used for control of small pests (for example, a rat trapped in a garage) at short range.

In the end, I like the S&W 6-inch revolver a whole lot and can recommend it for pistol shooting fun.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 007

The Beretta 92FS is another CO2-powered replica air pistol. It looks and feel like the Beretta pistol used by so many military forces and law enforcement agencies. The air pistol (there is some disagreement about what it should be called. The www.airgunsofarizona.com website has it as the Beretta 92 FS, the printed manual that comes with it calls it the Beretta 92FS, and the label on the side of its case says Beretta M 92 FS) weighs 2 pounds 12.2 ounces, and its length is 8.27 inches.

Everything on this pistol appears to be made of metal except for the checkered plastic grips. There are several models, including a blued finish with black grips, blued with walnut grips, nickel with black grips, nickel with walnut grips, and an all-black XX-Treme model with false silencer and dot sight. I tested the nickel finish version with black grips.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 009

What all of them have in common is that, while they look like their semi-automatic firearms counterparts, they are, in fact, double-action revolvers. Press the slide release lever on the side of the receiver, and the front of the slide moves forward to reveal the slot for the 8-shot rotary magazine.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 012

The procedure for loading the CO2 cartridge and for loading the magazine is exactly the same as it was for the Colt 1911 replica CO2 pistol that I tested last week, so I won’t go through that again here. And like the 1911 that I tested last week, the Beretta suffers from the same malady: if you shoot it in double action mode, the trigger pull is very high – over 10 pounds – but when you shoot it in single-action mode, the trigger pull drops to 5 pounds 5 ounces (which is still higher than I would like to see). And, like the 1911, the wallop that the Beretta packs is sufficient at 10 feet to dent and bounce tin cans but not enough to punch holes in them.

And that leads, naturally enough, to a question: what exactly are guns like the Beretta 92FS and the Colt 1911 from last week good for? They are not as accurate as match pistols, and they are not powerful enough for pest control at short range. And yet they are fun to shoot.

So what is needed, in my not so humble opinion, is a really good game to play with these pistols, and I think an airgun version of IPSC – the course of fire offered by the International Practical Shooting Confederation – would be just the ticket. Here’s what the IPSC website (www.ipsc.org) says: “IPSC shooters need to blend accuracy, power, and speed into a winning combination. Multiple targets, moving targets, targets that react when hit, penalty targets, or even partially covered targets, obstacles, movement, competitive strategies, and other techniques are all a part of IPSC to keep shooters challenged and spectators engaged.”

I think it would be absolutely terrific if the folks who manufacture replica air pistols would offer a line of targets that would allow shooters of these replica pistols to set up their own “backyard IPSC” courses. Check out this video of airsoft IPSC shooters in Asia — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABhkFTO4cp4 – I don’t see why a similar thing couldn’t be done with replica air pistols . . . and it looks like an enormous amount of fun to me.

If anyone knows of an effort in the US to put together something like IPSC for air pistols or air soft, please let me know.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 013

I’ve been seeing a lot of replica air pistols lately. By replica, I mean air pistols that look and feel like their firearms counterparts.

This week’s example is the Colt Government 1911 A1 pellet pistol from Umarex. It stretches 9 inches from end to end and weighs 2 pounds 6 ounces. Everything except the checkered grips (plastic) is made of metal in a handsome blued steel finish. Powered by a 12-gram CO2 cartridge, it features a slide release latch, a manual safety on the left side, a functioning grip safety at the back of the pistol grip, non-adjustable front and rear sights, a lanyard loop, and a working hammer.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 014

It looks like a semi-automatic, but in actuality the 1911 A1 is a double-action revolver that houses a small rotary magazine inside what looks like the 1911’s slide.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 015

To ready the 1911 for shooting, first press the slide release lever just above the trigger assembly on the left side of the pistol. This will allow the front section of the slide to move forward, opening a gap to reveal the rotary magazine. Remove the rotary magazine. Next, press the magazine release button on the left side of the receiver between the trigger guard and the pistol grip. This releases the grip panel on the right side of the pistol which you must finish removing with your fingers. Beneath the grip panel is a chamber to hold the 12-gram CO2 pistol.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 018

Pull the cartridge lock lever at the bottom of the pistol grip down as far as it will go. Loosen the gold-colored cylinder screw by turning it clockwise. Insert a new CO2 cartridge into the chamber with the small end point toward the top of the pistol. Tighten the cylinder screw by rotating it gently counterclockwise until snug. Return the cartridge lock lever to its original position by pushing it upward. This should pierce the CO2 cartridge. To confirm this, point the pistol in a safe direction, flip the safety to FIRE, push in the grip safety, and squeeze the trigger. You should be rewarded with a “pop.”

If you don’t hear a pop, swing the cylinder lock downward, tighten the cylinder screw a bit more, and try again. Once you are sure that the pistol is discharging CO2, it’s time to load the rotary magazine by inserting pellets headfirst into the eight pellet bays. The back of the magazine has a small eight-point star-shaped assembly at the center. Once the magazine is loaded, drop it into the slot between the front and rear sections of the slide with the front of the magazine facing the muzzle and close the slide by pulling the front section of the slide back until it locks.

You can chose to shoot the 1911 A1 in one of two ways. In double action mode, you pull the trigger back, back, back, driving the hammer backward until the shot fires. In single action mode, you pull the hammer back until it locks and then you pull the trigger to discharge the shot.

Theoretically, double action mode is faster because you don’t have to pause between shots to cock the hammer. I found, however, that the effort to pull the trigger in double action mode is high . . . very high . . . 8 pounds 12 ounces, in fact. That’s high enough to be no-fun-at-all, in my view.

However, if you shoot in single action mode and cock the hammer first, the effort to trigger the shot is much more reasonable: only 2 pounds, 13.5 ounces. As a result, I highly recommend shooting this pistol in single action mode.

On a 75-degree day (velocities from CO2-powered airguns can vary considerably with temperature), the 1911 1A launched its first 7.9 grain pellet at around 400 feet per second. I shot slowly, taking a few seconds to align the pistol over the chronograph sensors, and every subsequent shot was slower, until the last shot registered around 353 fps. This is typical of CO2 powered airguns unless you give them sufficient time to recover CO2 pressure between shots.

I tried a few shots at a soup can at a distance of about 10 feet and found the 1911 A1 didn’t have enough oomph to punch holes in the can. It would dent the can and bounce around, but no holes.

In the end, I found the 1911 A1 is well made and fun to shoot. What this air pistol really needs is a fun game to play with it, and we’ll get into that a little bit next week when I take a look at Beretta 92FS pellet air pistol.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 019

Back in the very late 1800s and early 1900s, the US Army had a problem. From 1899 to 1902, US Soldiers were fighting the Philippine-American War, and this involved facing Moro tribal insurgents who are alleged to have rendered themselves insensible to pain through a combination of body binding with leather, narcotics, and religious ritual.

When the Moro charged, they just kept on coming, and the soldiers’ .38 caliber service revolvers were not adequate to deterring the Moros. According to the Internet sources I have read, the Army tried reverting to the .45 caliber single-action Colt revolver. The heavier bullet was effective, but the single-action Colt simply wasn’t fast enough. A higher rate of fire was needed.

Enter John Moses Browning, prolific firearm inventor. In addition to a lever action rifle, a pump action shotgun, a machine gun, and an automatic rifle, Browning invented the M1911 semi-automatic magazine-fed pistol, which served as the standard-issue sidearm for the US Armed Forces from 1911 to 1985. This pistol has an illustrious history and is still widely used by military, law enforcement, firearms competitors, and private citizens throughout the world.

Recently, the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me the Colt 1911 WWII Commemorative Edition air pistol. It is a limited edition model, with just 500 made. I was immediately struck by the appearance of the box for the WWII Commemorative. At first glance, it looks like an ancient corrugated cardboard box that has been lying neglected in some warehouse for decades – stained by the dirt, dust and grease of not being disturbed for years. In short, the box looks like it might have been made during World War II and somehow “fell through the cracks” until now. Closer inspection reveals that the box actually has the shiny finish of modern printing, but nevertheless, it is a very cool effect.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 022

Open the box, and the appearance of the pistol is even more striking: as the antiques folks put it, it has been “distressed,” given an aged look that suggests the pistol you are holding is a veteran of World War II. Normally I am not much of a fan of “faux” this or faux that, but in this case I am more than willing to make an exception. Whoever at Umerex designed this commemorative pistol did a really nice job, and it absolutely looks the part. I think would be interesting to put one of these in front of a 1911 firearms enthusiast and see how long it takes them to figure out that this is a modern replica and an air pistol at that.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 020

The WWII Commemorative stretches 8.5 inches from end to end and weighs two pounds, one ounce. The frame is metal and the grips are wood. Press the magazine release button and a magazine that holds a 12-gram CO2 cartridge and 20 BBs drops out of the pistol grip. The pistol features a full blow-back slide, a slide release latch, a manual safety on the left side, a functioning grip safety at the back of the pistol grip, non-adjustable front and rear sights, a lanyard loop, and a working hammer.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 021

To ready the Commemorative for shooting, release the magazine and turn the cartridge piercing screw counter-clockwise with the allen wrench that is provided. Slide a CO2 cartridge into the magazine and slide the magazine back into the pistol grip. Now turn the cartridge piercing screw clockwise until the CO2 cartridge is pierced and stops hissing. Eject the magazine again and slide the BB follower down until it locks. Load up to 20 BBs into the magazine through the loading port, press the BB follower to unlock it and re-insert the magazine into the pistol grip.

Now, here’s the really cool part: as the last step before shooting, you have to “rack the slide” – pull the slide back so that it cocks the hammer. Take aim at your target, and a mere 2 lbs. 4.8 oz. of pressure on the trigger will send the shot downrange. As it does so, the Commemorative emits a “pop,” and the slide blows back, cocking the hammer for the next shot, just like the real deal. When the last shot is fired, the slide locks in the back position, just like the real deal.

The Commemorative launches BBs at around 300 fps. That’s not enough to punch a hole in a tin can at 10 feet, but it is enough to bounce the can around pretty well. I can imagine setting up a backyard practical shooting course and having a whale of a lot of fun with this interesting commemorative pistol.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The Fusion with the included scope mounted.

The Fusion with the included scope mounted.

Recently the nice people at UmarexUSA sent me a sample of the new Fusion. It’s a single-shot, bolt-action, CO2-powered, .177 caliber air rifle that will probably sell in the neighborhood of around $200.

As I have said before, airguns that sell for $200 and below can be a decidedly mixed bag. Many, while having appealing features, also have some flaw that diminishes the joy of shooting them. The Fusion, in my experience, does a number of things pretty decently and doesn’t appear to have any terrible flaws in my view. As a result, I like the Fusion a whole lot and really enjoyed shooting it.

The Fusion stretches just shy of 40 inches from end to end and weighs 6 lbs. 1 oz. with the included scope mounted and a couple of 12-gram CO2 cartridges inserted. The entire color scheme of the rifle, with the exception of the silver lettering on either side of the receiver, can be summed up in one word: black.

The butt stock and pad.

The butt stock and pad.

At the extreme aft end is a soft rubber butt pad that is attached to a matte finish black polymer stock. The stock is symmetrical from side to side, which is good news for left-handed shooters, but the bolt protrudes from the right side and there is no provision for switching it to the opposite side. The butt stock on either side has grooves for a kind of faux cheek piece, but it is not moveable or adjustable. The pistol grip comes down at a shallow angle typical of sporting-type rifle and it has a couple of finger indentations on the forward edge.

The safety, visible just above the trigger, looks for all the world like an electrical switch.

The safety, visible just above the trigger, looks for all the world like an electrical switch.

Forward of that is a black plastic trigger guard which encloses a folded metal trigger. Forward of that is the forestock, at the end of which is a black relief valve assembly for the air tube into which the CO2 cartridges are loaded. Above that is the black metal barrel. At the muzzle end of the barrel is a polymer assembly that the package calls the “SilencAir” airgun silencing system. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a polymer barrel band, followed by the metal receiver which includes the breech, the bolt, and the bolt handle. On the right-hand side of the receiver, just above the trigger guard, is the slide-type safety, which looks for all the world like an electrical switch.

The Fusion also comes with a 4x scope and rings that must be mounted onto the Fusion by the buyer. While this is a relatively inexpensive, non-AO scope, it is adequate to the task. I found that I could see through it clearly and shoot decent groups with it.

The relief valve assembly, just below the barrel at the end of the forestock, must be removed to insert two 12-gram CO2 cartridges.

The relief valve assembly, just below the barrel at the end of the forestock, must be removed to insert two 12-gram CO2 cartridges.

To ready the Fusion for shooting, you must remove the relief valve assembly and insert two CO2 cartridges. The first one goes in small end first; the second goes in big end first. Umarex recommends putting a drop of RWS Chamber Lube on the small end of each CO2 cartridge and on the o-ring of the relief valve assembly. In section 3 of the Fusion Operation Manual, there are detailed instructions for charging the Fusion and adjusting the relief valve assembly. Anyone who owns the Fusion will do well to read them and heed them.

After loading the CO2 cartridges, pull the bolt back to cock the action and open the breech for loading. This also activates the automatic safety. Load a .177 pellet into the breech, return the bolt to its original position, and move the safety to the FIRE position by sliding the switch toward you. Squeeze the trigger. The first stage comes out at 9.1 oz. After a long pull, the shot goes down range at 4 lbs. 1.3 oz.

The package claims that the Fusion will make 700 fps with lead pellets and 750 fps with alloy pellets. I chronographed the Fusion on a day that was only 58 degrees F. outside, and the gun had been stored in a 55 F. basement. The Fusion launched 7.9 grain Crosman Premier pellets at 612 fps for 6.5 foot-pounds of energy. What’s more, the Fusion was extremely consistent: the high velocity was 613 fps and the low velocity was 612 fps. Since CO2-powered airgun powerplants are sensitive to temperature, I would expect that the Fusion would provide more speed and power on, say, an 80-degree day.

The SilencAir device, at the end of the barrel, reduces the report considerably but does not render the Fusion dead quiet.

The SilencAir device, at the end of the barrel, reduces the report considerably but does not render the Fusion dead quiet.

The package also says the Fusion is “incredibly quiet.” I found this to be a bit of an overstatement. It is certainly a neighbor-friendly report – a muted pop – but it is not dead quiet. I think it is the kind of air rifle you could shoot in a suburban backyard without raising the ire of the neighbors, but it is not perfectly stealthy. It is certainly quieter than other CO2 air rifles I have shot that were not equipped with the SilencAir technology.

I found that I could easily shoot nickel-sized groups at 13 yards with the scope provided with the Fusion, and that it had sufficient power to blow through both sides of a tomato can at 20 yards.

In the end, I can happily recommend the Fusion. It has sufficient power for light pest control duty in the garden, enough accuracy to make backyard plinking fun, and ease of shooting that should please most members of the family.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Go to virtually any fast food restaurant, and you can witness people creating and using airguns. No, I’m not kidding. Wait a little while, and you’ll see a kid tear one end off the paper wrapper on a soda straw, blow air through the straw, and launch the paper wrapper at someone. That’s an airgun, plain and simple. All airguns use the same principle – gas (air or CO2) moving down a tube – to launch a projectile.

There are a variety of powerplants that are used in modern airguns to get the air moving and send a pellet or a BB down range. There really is no such thing as a “perfect” airgun powerplant. All of them have advantages, and all of them have disadvantages. The one that will work best for you depends on which performance characteristics are top priorities for you.

In case you think airguns are a modern development, they’re not. Folks were experimenting with pneumatic airguns in the late 1500s, and by the 1700s, gentry were using them regularly for hunting. Lewis and Clark carried an air rifle with them on their historical journey of exploration of 1804-1806.

So let’s take a look at those powerplants.

Multi-stroke pneumatic

 

The 1377c is a classic multi-stroke pneumatic pistol.

The 1377c is a classic multi-stroke pneumatic pistol.

Multi-stroke pneumatic (also known as MSP or pump-up) airguns require multiple strokes (usually 2-8, but sometimes more) of an on-board lever (very often, the forestock) to store compressed air in the powerplant. The more you pump, the more air is stored and at higher pressure, which means the faster the pellet will be driven down range when the shot is triggered.

Advantages: MSPs are virtually recoilless, which means that they are easy to shoot well; you don’t have to worry about how you hold or rest the gun to get the best possible accuracy out of it. In addition, pump-up airguns are completely self-contained, so all you need for a day afield is the gun and a tin of pellets. In addition, the velocity of the pellet (and consequently the power with which it hits the target) can be varied with the number of strokes. Fewer strokes generally result in a quieter shot.

Disadvantages: The main downside of a multi-stroke pneumatic is that once it has been fired, it must be pumped up all over again. While some shooters find all that pumping very tedious, other liken it to shooting a blackpowder muzzle loader. Another consideration: when pumped up to the max, a multi-stroke pneumatic can be loud.

Single-stroke pneumatic

Single-stroke pneumatic airguns also use a lever to compress air in the powerplant, but – as the name implies – require only a single stroke to fully charge the gun. This is the powerplant that was used on many Olympic 10-meter match guns and is still used on some entry-level match rifles as well as some air pistols.

Advantages: Single stroke pneumatics are fully self-contained, easy to cock, highly consistent and often incredibly accurate.

Disadvantages: There is a limit to how much air you can compress in a single stroke. As a result, the power and speed of these guns is usually low, shooting relatively light match-grade .177 pellets at 500-600 fps.

Precharged Pneumatic

The Cricket is a pre-charged pneumatic rifle in a bullpup configuration.

The Cricket is a pre-charged pneumatic rifle in a bullpup configuration.

Precharged pneumatic airguns are similar to similar to single and multi-stroke pneumatics in that the shot is driven by compressed air stored in a reservoir on the rifle or pistol. But precharged pneumatics (also known as PCP guns) are charged not from an on-board pump, but with air from a SCUBA tank or high-pressure pump. This is powerplant of choice for high-energy hunting guns, Olympic 10-meter rifles and pistols, and top-echelon field target rifles.

Advantages: Pre-charged pneumatics are virtually recoil-free, very consistent, and typically superbly accurate. They can also been extremely powerful. (This powerplant has been used to create big bore air rifles used for hunting large game.) In addition, some manufacturers have broken the “high-price barrier” with the introduction of PCP rifles that cost roughly as much as a magnum spring-piston rifle.

Disadvantages: Until recently, precharged airguns have been generally expensive. In addition, they are not self-contained – you need a SCUBA tank or high-pressure hand pump available to recharge the gun – as a result, they are sometimes viewed somewhat complicated to operate.

Spring-Piston/Gas Ram

The Weihrauch HW80 is a fine example of a breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle.

The Weihrauch HW80 is a fine example of a breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle.

Spring-piston airguns – also called “springers” – use a lever (normally the barrel or a lever under or to the side of the barrel) to cock a spring and piston (or a gas cylinder “gas spring” in the case of a gas-ram powerplant). When the trigger is pulled, the spring (or ram) is released, pushing the piston forward (and the gun backward) and compressing a powerful blast of air behind the pellet. As the piston nears the end of its stroke, it slams into the wall of air at the end of the compression cylinder and recoils in the opposite direction. All this happens before the pellet leaves the barrel. (In effect, the springer creates a short blast of compressed air on demand.) The recoil effect is the same for a gas ram.

Advantages: Springers are a favorite of many airgunners because they are self-contained, often relatively quiet and can be very accurate.

Disadvantages: The Dark Side of springers is that, because their unique whiplash recoil, these guns often require considerable practice to shoot them at their highest accuracy. In addition, the unique recoil of springers demands airgun-rated scopes that can withstand the forward-and-back recoil.

CO2

The Walther Lever Action is a CO2 powered repeater rifle.

The Walther Lever Action is a CO2 powered repeater rifle.

CO2 airguns are powered by 12-gram cartridges, 88-gram AirSource cartridges, paintball tanks, or CO2 transferred from a bulk tank into the gun’s on-board reservoir. These cartridges and tanks actually contain CO2 liquid some of which vaporizes in the tank at very low temperatures, producing a high-pressure gas which is then used to propel pellets or BBs down the barrel. The gas pressure produced when the liquid vaporizes depends on the ambient temperature: the lower the temperature, the lower the gas pressure, and therefore the lower the velocity of the pellets.

Advantages: CO2 airguns are recoilless, and (in high quality models) extremely accurate. They are also very convenient; it’s easy to carry a handful of 12-gram cartridges in a jacket pocket. The convenience of the cartridges has also made CO2 a popular propellant for air pistols. Noise levels vary from model to model. Cocking effort is usually very low, making these guns a favorite for family shooting.

Disadvantages: CO2 airguns require periodic refilling and performance will vary with temperature. Velocity will drop considerably in wintry conditions, and CO2 airguns will shoot faster than normal in very warm conditions. In addition, CO2 airguns should not be stored in temperatures above 120 degrees F.

What’s the Best Choice?

So which airgun powerplant is right for you? If you want a gun that is self-contained, choose a spring gun, multi-stroke pneumatic, or single-stroke pneumatic. If you want a neighbor-friendly report, a spring powerplant is most likely to deliver it, and there are quiet pre-charged, multi-stroke, and CO2 models. If you demand the highest accuracy, a single-stroke pneumatic match rifle or a precharged gun is the way to go. Usually the shortest range airguns will be the single-stroke pneumatics, while some of the precharged rifles are suitable for varminting at rimfire distances.

There is no single powerplant type that will satisfy every requirement. This accounts for why so many airgun enthusiasts acquire several airguns and enjoy the unique advantages of each one.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

At top, the HB17; the EB22 in the middle, and the HB22 at bottom. Classic pistols that have been discontinued.

At top, the HB17; the EB22 in the middle, and the HB22 at bottom. Classic pistols that have been discontinued.

Well, it’s official: three Benjamin air pistols – the EB22, the HB22, and the HB17 – have been “obsoleted” according to a Crosman Corporation spokesperson and will be dropped from the line.

The EB22 is a .22 caliber, single-shot, bolt-action, CO2 powered pistol. Overall length is just nine inches, and the weight is 28 ounces. All the metal is black with the exception of the silver metal trigger and silver bolt at the back of the receiver. Under the receiver is the metal pistol grip frame, which is fitted with a couple of dark-colored hardwood grips. Ahead of the grips is a safety button. Push it full left to allow the EB22 to fire. Just forward of that is the silver metal trigger inside the black metal trigger guard.

Above the trigger guard is the tube that holds the 12-gram CO2 Powerlet that powers the EB22. At the end of the tube is a black knurled metal knob, the filler cap. Above that are the muzzle of the 6.38-inch brass barrel and the front sight. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the breech and the loading port. Behind them are the rear sight and the bolt.

To ready the EB22 for shooting, remove the filler cap and insert a CO2 Powerlet small-end-first into the tube under the barrel. To ease removal of spent Powerlets, it’s helpful if you smear a dab of Pellgunoil on the end and around the neck of the Powerlet. Replace the filler cap and make sure it is completely screwed into place. Cock the action by rotating the bolt knob ¼ turn counterclockwise and pull it full back until you hear two clicks and it stays back. Put the EB22 off “safe” and pull the trigger. This usually punctures the CO2 Powerlet, and you should hear a “pop.” If not, reactivate the safety, tighten the filler cap, and repeat the procedure.

Next, cock the action again, insert a pellet into the breech, close the bolt and rotate it clockwise until it locks. Now you’re good to go. Take aim at your target, click off the safety, and squeeze the trigger. At around 2.5 pounds pull, the shot goes down range at velocities up to 430 fps, depending upon the pellet weight. That’s enough power to punch through one side of a soup can at 10 yards. You can expect 25 to 35 shots per cartridge before the velocity really starts to die.

I like that the EB22 is solidly made of brass, metal, and hardwood, is its handy and compact, has enough power to defend the bird feeder or garden at short range, and is just plain fun to shoot..

The Benjamin HB17 and HB22 are multi-stroke pneumatic pistols that are outward identical. Both weigh two-and-a-half pounds, stretch 12.25 inches overall, are single-shot bolt action, and are made of metal (including a brass barrel) and American hardwood. The only difference between the two is that one is .177 caliber (the HB17), and the other is .22. With 8 pumps in them, the HB17 will launch pellets a little over 500 fps, and the HB22 will propel them a bit more than 400 fps. The HB17 will punch through both sides of a soup can at 10 yards, and the HB22 will punch through one side. Like the EB22, they are solidly built.

If you are fortunate enough to acquire either of these MSP pistols, there are a couple of tricks that make life easier. First, lubricate the gun before you shoot it the first time. The manual recommends Crosman Pellgunoil, but you could use some light machine oil or non-detergent 20 or 30 weight motor oil. Put a drop of oil at each spot recommended in the owner’s manual. This will ease the pumping effort a bit and extend longevity, since the guns are shipped nearly bone-dry in their factory packaging. Be sure to give your pistol a little lubrication before each shooting session.

Second, when pumping the HB17 or HB22, make sure that you don’t grip the forend so that the heel of your pumping hand is over the trigger guard. If you do, you’ll whack the heel of your hand on the trigger guard with every stroke, and this becomes annoying very quickly. Instead, grab the forend so that the heel of your hand rests on it just forward of the trigger guard. Wrap your other hand around the barrel and the trigger guard so the heel of your hand is resting on the breech. Open the forend all the way, then return it to its original position by driving your two hands together. When the pumping stroke nears completion, wrap the fingers of your forend hand around the barrel to help finish the stroke.

It saddens me to see these classic air pistols go out of production. I suspect that many airgunners will treasure the ones that they own. I know I will.

Til next time,

Aim true and shoot straight.

Jock Elliott

The E.B.O.S. is a BB rifle like no other.

The E.B.O.S. is a BB rifle like no other.

Once a year, after the SHOT Show, airgun manufacturers will frequently send me their latest catalog as part of their press kit announcing what’s new and interesting. These catalogs prove invaluable because, as the year wears on and I am looking for something to write about, I’ll pull out a catalog or two to see what might be a fun subject for a blog.

So that was the scene a few weeks ago as I paged though the catalog from UmarexUSA. When I got to page 35, I noticed something called the E.B.O.S. It is a BB gun that boasts 540 fps and “8 shot burst!” Could be interesting, I thought, so I called the nice people at www.umarexusa.com and asked them to send me an E.B.O.S.

One arrived a few days later in a deceptively small box. When I first pulled it out, it looked like a two-handed air pistol, but I soon realized that there is a buttstock that attaches to the main receiver. E.B.O.S. is an acronym that stands for Electronic Burst Of Steel. The EBOS is 24.75 inches long and weighs 3 pounds. It shoots .177 steel BBs and is powered by an electronic action and an 88 gr. CO2 cartridge (not included).

 

Under the pistol grip is a hatch for loading six AA batteries.

Under the pistol grip is a hatch for loading six AA batteries.

The entire EBOS appears to be made of matte black engineering polymer. Under the pistol grip there is a slide-off hatch into which you insert 6 AA batteries (not included) that provide power for the electronic trigger and firing mechanisms. Forward of the pistol grip, the engineering polymer forms a guard around a black polymer trigger. Forward of that is an additional grip that can be moved fore and aft along a rail under the receiver.

The safety (right) and selector switch for number of shots.

The safety (right) and selector switch for number of shots.

Above the rail on the left side of the receiver are two selector switches. One allows the shooter to SAFE the action so that it won’t fire, and the other allows the shooter to select 1, 4, or 8 shots to go down range when you pull the trigger. Above the two switches on the left side is a 24-shot BB magazine and a bb follower that pushes the BBs into the breech as they are needed.

The BB magazine with BB follower and (above to the left) the BB reservoir.

The BB magazine with BB follower and (above to the left) the BB reservoir.

At the extreme front end of the EBOS is the plastic muzzle which has threads that could possibly be used for mounting a barrel extension or faux silencer. On top of the receiver at the front end is a large capacity reservoir that can hold 360 BBs and the back edge of which incorporate the front sight.

Below the reservoir on the right side of the EBOS is another switch that can be used for selecting 300, 400, or 500 shots per minute. Moving back along the top of the receiver, you’ll find a Weaver/Picatinny type rail that can be used for mounting a red dot or scope. At the aft end of the rail is the notch-type rear sight which can be adjusted for windage.

The buttstock removed, showing the 88 gr CO2 cartridge underneath.

The buttstock removed, showing the 88 gr CO2 cartridge underneath.

To ready the EBOS for shooting, open the hatch under the pistol grip and insert 6 AA batteries in correct orientation. Next, screw an 88 gr CO2 cartridge into the back of the receiver. Slide the buttstock over the CO2 cartridge until it latches. Finally, having made sure the EBOS is on SAFE, slide the hatch back on the BB reservoir and pour in a generous supply. Pull the BB follower toward the muzzle and lock it in place. Shake the EBOS until 24 BBs load into the BB magazine and gently release the BB follower. The EBOS is now good to go.

Take aim at your target, slide the safety off, and squeeze the trigger. In single shot mode, I found the EBOS would launch steel BBs at around 525 fps. If you begin to shoot quickly, the velocity drops to around 449 fps average (on a 70 degree day). If you change the selector switch, you will indeed get 4 or 8 shots bursts.

I discovered the purpose of the EBOS while collecting my pellet trap from the garage. One of the empty soup cans that I keep for penetration tests made a smart remark to me, and I decided then and there to teach it a lesson. I tossed it into the driveway, flipped the selector to single shot and cut loose. The first couple of shots blew cleanly through the sides of the can.

Then I put the selector on 4-shot burst: pow-pow-pow-pow! The can fell over and began rolling around in an effort to escape. I flipped into 8-shot mode: pow-pow-pow-pow-pow-pow-pow-pow. I walked over to inspect the shredded can. “I’m sorry,” it said. “You should know better,” I said as I consigned it to the trash.

The EBOS is simply excellent for bouncing cans around, and I imagine it would be great fun with whiffle golf balls or a bag full of dollar store dinosaurs. If you decide to indulge yourself, make sure everyone on the firing line is wearing eye protection because BBs will ricochet, and, as always, be sure that you are firing in a safe direction where no people, pets, or property will be damaged.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The Walther Lever Action in all its glory.

The Walther Lever Action in all its glory.

When I was a youngster, cowboys were Big Time, Big Deal. Early on, it was Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry. Later on, it was Maverick, Gunsmoke, and The Rifleman. Even now, any of the many fine books by Louis L’Amour are among my favorite reading materials. Part of me remains a ten year old boy who roamed the summer woods and fields of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont with his Daisy Pump 25. My constant companion, the kid from across the road, carried a Daisy Red Ryder. High adventure usually included a nickel tube of BBs and a popsicle from the general store.

Recently, I had in my hands an airgun that made all of that come flashing back to me in the twinkling of an eye. The gun in question is the Walther Lever Action. Finished in blued steel and wood, the Walther Lever Action answers in my mind the question: “What would happen if the Daisy Red Ryder grew to maturity?”

That thick butt pad detaches to allow inserting an 88-gr. CO2 cartridge.

That thick butt pad detaches to allow inserting an 88-gr. CO2 cartridge.

The Lever Action is a eight-shot, .177 caliber repeating air rifle powered by an 88 gr. CO2 cartridge. It stretches 39.2 inches from butt pad to muzzle and weighs 6.2 pounds. At the extreme aft end, you’ll find a thick plastic butt pad that has a large screw in the end (More about that in a while). Ahead of that is a hardwood buttstock that is ambidextrous. Ahead of that, underneath the stock and receiver, is the lever which cocks the air rifle and advances the magazine and also serves as a trigger guard.

There is a saddle ring on the left-hand side of the receiver.

There is a saddle ring on the left-hand side of the receiver.

Forward of that is the hardwood forestock which has a polymer band at the end. Protruding from the end of the forestock is a false tubular magazine made of metal which is connected to the barrel above by another polymer band. On top of the barrel at the muzzle end is a hooded blade-type front sight. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a notch type rear sight on top of the rear portion of the barrel, and moving further back you’ll find the receiver proper. The front sight is moved to adjust for windage, and the rear sight is adjusted for elevation.

Press in the cartridge loading gate on the right side of the receiver, and the magazine pops out.

Press in the cartridge loading gate on the right side of the receiver, and the magazine pops out.

On the left side of the receiver, there is a saddle ring and one end of the push-button safety. On the right side of the receiver is the other end of the push-button safety and what appears to be a loading gate for feeding cartridges into the magazine as well as a small rectangular hatch. At the back end of the receiver is the hammer. The Walther Lever Action is made in Germany, and I think the fit and finish are spot on for an air rifle in this price range.

The magazine, ready for loading. It can be removed from its pivot for easier pellet insertion.

The magazine, ready for loading. It can be removed from its pivot for easier pellet insertion.

To ready the Walther Lever Action for shooting, undo the large screw in the butt plate using the tool that is supplied with the gun. The butt plate comes off, revealing a chamber into which an 88-gr. CO2 cartridge can be inserted. Screw the cartridge into the receptacle and tighten it using the special pliers that are also supplied. Reattach the butt plate.

Next press in the loading gate on the right side of the receiver. This will cause the magazine arm to swivel out, revealing the eight-shot rotary magazine. Slide the rotary magazine off its axel. Load eight pellets into the magazine by pushing them in nose-first from the back side of the magazine. (The back side of the magazine has what looks like a small toothed gear in the middle.) Put the magazine back on its axel and close the magazine arm.

Pull the lever all the way down and back up again to cock the action and index the magazine. This requires very little effort. Take aim at your target and squeeze the trigger. The first stage comes out at 1 lb. 6.1 oz. At 4 lb. 11 oz., the shot goes down range with a muted “pop.” At ten yards, from a sitting position, I found I could put eight shots into a ragged one-hole group that you could cover with a dime.

I chronographed the Walther Lever Action on a day that was barely 58 degrees here in upstate New York, and I found that it averaged 528 fps with Crosman 7.9 gr Premier pellets. The factory specifies that that the Lever Action will deliver 630 fps, but they don’t say what weight pellets will do that. Since CO2 powered airguns will vary in velocity with temperature, I would expect that the Lever Action would certainly launch pellets faster than 528 fps average at 70 or 80 degrees. I also tried Crosman non-lead SSP Pointed pellets and got 654 fps average. Certainly this airgun delivers enough oomph for defending the bird feeder at short range. UmarexUSA tells me you can expect 150-200 shots from an 88-gr. CO2 cartridge.

What's not to like?

What’s not to like?

In the end, I liked the Walther Lever Action a whole lot. It’s accurate, is easy to shoot well, has a neighbor-friendly report and repeats with a flick of a lever. Heck, if you have any cowboy in you, you need one of these airguns.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

Jock Elliott

First things first: my heartfelt thanks to the folks who read this blog. If you didn’t read it, then the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com would have no reason to sponsor it. In addition, although you probably don’t realize it, the readers have frequently come to my rescue with interesting questions that would be fun and informative to write about in this blog. For example, recently, I received this email:

Dear Mr. Elliott:

I am new to airguns and think they would be a great asset to have for putting food on the table for my family in case the electricity ever went out for any period of time.

  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?

Thanks for your time.

Blair

Well, Blair, the questions that you pose are interesting and ones that I have thought about from time to time over the years. In addition, my answer to the question of an airgun for reliable game getting has changed recently.

We’ll get to that in a little while, but since you said you are new to airguns, first let’s take a brief survey of airgun powerplants to see which types are available.

Multi-stroke pneumatic (MSP) airguns –require multiple strokes (usually 2-10) of a lever to store compressed air in an on-board cylinder. These guns are virtually recoilless, are relatively easy to shoot well, are completely self-contained, and are suitable to taking small game. In addition, the velocity and power of the shot can be varied with the number of pumping strokes (from, say, 300 fps to 800 fps, depending upon the gun). Once it is fired, a multi-stroke pneumatic must be pumped up again.

Single-stroke pneumatic (SSP) airguns require just a single stroke to charge the gun. Single stroke pneumatics are self-contained, easy to cock, and highly consistent. They are often very accurate over distances up to 20 meters. The power of SSP rifles is usually low, shooting relatively light match-grade .177 pellets at 500-600 fps. SSP pistols are even less powerful.

Pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) airguns use air from a SCUBA tank or a high-pressure hand pump that is stored a high-pressure reservoir on the gun. Many long-range varmint air rifles use this powerplant. These guns are powerful, virtually recoil-free, very consistent, highly accurate and, in some cases, offer on-the-fly adjustable power. They are not, however, self-contained. When the compressed air in the on-board reservoir runs out, you need a SCUBA tank or high-pressure hand pump to charge the gun again.

Spring-piston airguns use a lever (sometimes the barrel, sometimes a lever under the barrel or on the side of the receiver) to cock a spring. When the trigger is pulled, the spring is released, propelling a piston forward and pushing a powerful blast of air behind the pellet. This is the same operating principle behind the beloved Red Ryder. Spring-piston guns are self-contained, often powerful, and can be very accurate as well as relatively quiet. The cocking effort – sometimes as high as 60 lbs — can be challenging in more powerful guns. In addition, the movement of the action when released can make these guns difficult to shoot with consistent accuracy. There are also gas spring guns which use a gas strut instead of a spring to store energy. In my experience, the more powerful a spring-piston air rifle, the more difficult it will be to shoot it with high accuracy.

CO2 airguns use either 12-gram cartridges or transferred from a bulk tank into the gun’s on-board reservoir. They are recoilless, convenient, and (in high quality models) very accurate, and CO2 cartridges are easy to carry in a pocket. But these guns are not self-contained and velocities can sag at lower temperatures.

Okay, Blair, that’s the background information you need to make a sensible choice of an airgun to meet your needs. Next time, we’ll get to the specific answers to your questions.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott