Posts Tagged ‘Crosman’

On July 6, 7, and 8, I spent three days in Bloomfield, NY, at the Crosman facilities attending the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship, and I thought I share some of my thoughts, photos, and impressions of the experience. (If you simply want to see the results, you can check them out here: http://www.crosman.com/croswords/?p=2704 )

The shooter’s meeting under the large tent.

To start, the match was incredibly well run and organized. It was as if Crosman were conducting a clinic on how to host a field target match. Red shirts, worn by Crosman folks, were in evidence everywhere, helping out, making sure things went well. And they did. The Regional Field Target Match was scheduled to start at 9 am Saturday morning, and by 8:50 am, everything was in place and ready to go.

By the time I arrived shortly after noon on Friday, a number of shooters were already on the sight-in range. It was very warm and humid, and the Crosman folks had large coolers filled with ice and bottled water available next to the sight-in range and also under a large tent where shooters could escape from the sun. By the end of the day on Friday, there was a 55-gallon drum filled with empty water bottles.

The two field target courses were about 1/3 of a mile apart. Many shooters drove from one to another, but Crosman also had an ATV and trailer for transportation between the two courses.

Almost every type of field target rig imaginable was in evidence, from Remington Nitro-Piston break barrel rifles being shot off shooting sticks to multi-kilobuck full race match rifles.

Hans Apelles’ rig featured a very tall scope mount.

Hans Apelles was shooting in Hunter Division with a very tall scope mount. When I asked about it, he pointed to his son, Ray. Ray explained, “Dad’s shooting in Hunter. Scopes are limited to 12x. That makes it hard to range-find beyond 35 yards. With this setup, everything from 33 to 55 yards is basically the same mil-dot.”

Here’s what Hans’ mil-dot chart looked like.

When I spoke to Kevin Yee, who had flown in from California to shoot in the Open Division, Piston Class, he complained that he wasn’t doing so well, but he posted a 50 out of a possible 60 on both days and beat the highest score in Open PCP.

Kevin Yee has, easily, the world’s funkiest sidewheel scope knob. It’s built that was so he can adjust it with his trigger hand while shooting offhand.

 

Larry Bowne shot the entire match offhand.

The match on Saturday was interrupted by a spectacular but short-lived storm.

Dan Finney shot prone most of the time in Hunter PCP.

Ray Apelles designed the championship courses with 1.5 inch killzones throughout, but no one cleaned the course.

In the middle of the WFTF shoot-off for first place, Greg Sauve grins for the camera while Ray Apelles focuses on a shot.

The pistol match featured almost every imaginable style of pistol shooter.

The B course (lanes 16-30) was cooler under the trees, but all shooters agreed that it was harder to dope the wind there.

Hector Medina (white hat with neck cloth) won Hunter Piston by nearly 20 points. That’s Art Deuel shooting an HW98 in the foreground.

Richard Bassett (tan hat) is congratulated by Hans Apelles for winning the Quigley Bucket Challenge. Over 40 shooters took a crack at the 1.75 inch bucket at 55 yards with non-glass sights.

Dan Brown not only took third in WFTF and won Hunter Pistol, but gets the “Nice Guy of the Year” award for providing much needed navigational help to Your Humble Blogger.

In all it was a wonderful match!

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

I have written elsewhere that I think the Crosman 1377 is the most widely customized airgun in the world. It’s a .177 caliber multi-stroke pneumatic pistol that is surprisingly affordable and quite easy to customize or upgrade on an incremental basis. Crosman introduced the 1377 in 1977 and it has been in continuous production ever since.

The Crosman is a handsome and very affortable air pistol.

What some folks don’t realize is that the 1377 has a bigger brother, the 1322. The 1322 was also introduced by Crosman in 1977 and was produced until 2004.

Now, starting in January, 2012, the 1322 has been brought back by Crosman so that both the 1377 and 1322 are now in production. Both guns are virtually identical. The only differences are that the 1322 has black grips and forearm (the 1377 has brown), and the 1322 is .22 caliber.

The 1322 measures just a bit over 13 inches from end to end and weighs 2 lbs 1.5 oz.  At the aft end of the 1322 you’ll find molded ambidextrous black polymer grips on either side of the pistol grip. These grips are textured to make the pistol easy to hold, and there is a groove at the top of each grip that serves as a rest for either the shooter’s thumb or forefinger. Forward of the pistol grip you find a pushbutton safety that displays a red stripe when the safety is turned off.

Moving forward again, the black metal of the lower grip frame forms a guard around a black metal trigger. Ahead of that is the black polymer forearm which is used for pumping up the 1322. Beyond the end of the forearm is the pivot point for the pumping arm and above that is the barrel and the polymer blade-type front sight.

The rear sight is fiddly to adjust and can be flipped to select between notch and peep sight.

Moving back along the barrel, you’ll come to the black polymer breech which houses a gold-colored bolt and bolt handle. Finally, at the extreme aft end of the receiver, you’ll discover the rear sight.

The main body of the sight is made of black polymer. There is a screw on top of the sight that, when loosened, allows the body of the sight to be moved from side to side for windage adjustments. There are some lines molded into the front edge of the sight body and a small line molded into the top of the receiver so that the shooter can see how much adjustment he or she is applying to the sight. There are no click-stops for adjusting the sight, but the molded-in lines help. On the back of the sight there is another screw which, when loosened, allows one of two things to happen: (1) a metal tab on the rear of the sight can be flipped to select either a notch-type rear sight or a peep sight and (2) the metal tab can be slid up and down to make elevation adjustments.

Intermounts can be clamped to the barrel for mounting a scope or red dot.

The rear sight on the 1322 is ticklish to adjust, and I would love it if one day Crosman would choose to include a click-adjustable rear sight on the 1322/1377. Having said that, I have interviewed IHMSA silhouette shooters who have done quite well with the 1322/1377 in stock configuration. If you would prefer a different aiming system, PC77 intermounts can be clamped to the barrel, allowing a red dot or a scope to be mounted.

Before each shooting session, it's a good idea to lubricate the pivot points on the pumping arm.

To ready the 1322 for shooting the first time, put a drop of Crosman Pellgun Oil the pivot points on the pumping arm and the pump cup. The manual included with the 1322 shows where. If you don’t have Pellgun oil, a dab of NON-detergent 30 weight motor oil can be used for lubrication.

The 1322 pumping arm, fully extended.

Next, put the pistol on safe, pump the 1322 3-10 times, cock the bolt to open the breech, insert a pellet, close the bolt, and squeeze the trigger. At about 6 lbs effort the shot goes down range. At 10 pumps, the 1322 launches 14.3 Crosman Premier .22 pellets at around 420 fps, which works out to about 5.6 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle and could be used for hunting small game and pest control at short range. With the right pellet, you can expect roughly nickle-sized groups at 10 yards.

In all, I am well pleased with Crosman 1322. I like its stealthy all-black good looks, and there is a lot to like for an air pistol that retails for just under $60.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

My first job was to check out the guns for 10-meter accuracy. While all of them come equipped with iron sights, I decided to test them with optional scope or peep sight mounted. As you might expect from telescopic sights that cost less than $30, neither the Crosman nor the Daisy scope would make any of your shooting friends insanely envious, but at the same time, if what you are looking for is a sighting device that is adequate to the task of removing vermin from the garden at relatively short range, these scopes are up to the job.

When it got down to the actual evaluation, I decided to test the air rifles at two pumping strokes less than the maximum the factory allows. Experience has shown that the extra two strokes add only a little to the velocity. Incidentally, despite what you might have heard from other sources, pump up airguns are extremely consistent in their velocity. You can even pump one up, let it sit for half an hour or more, and still get very consistent results.

At eight pumps, the Daisy 22X happily shot 1-inch (edge-to-edge) groups at 10 meters with most pellets, including Daisy MaxSpeed .22 wadcutters and Crosman .22 Premiers. Group size dropped to 3/4 inch with RW Meisterkugeln flat-nosed .22 pellets.

At 8 pumps, the Crosman 2200B was extremely finicky about pellets. It shot huge groups – some over three inches — with every pellet but the RWS Meisterkuglns. With these pellets, groups settled down to 1 1/16th inch, not a great showing, but sufficient to the job. (Crosman tells me that its quality standard for the 2200B is 1 1/2 inch groups at 10 yards, with 1 inch being typical.)

The Benjamin 392, at 6 pumps, was the least pellet-sensitive gun tested, shooting half-inch groups with almost any pellet I fed it.

Then it was time for the can test. Shooting from a sitting position at 20 meters, I shot at steel soup cans with each gun, using Meisterkugln pellets and the same number of pumps as I had used at 10 meters. All three guns easily hit the can in the center mass and punched through one side. The 392 dimpled the backside of the can trying to make an exit hole.

At 15 meters, the Benjamin 392 went in one side and out the other. The Crosman 2200B went in one side and made a large dimple on the back side. The Daisy 22X pierced on side and made a smaller dimple on the back side.

At 10 meters, both the 392 and the 2200B blew through both sides of the can like a hot knife through butter. The Daisy 22X pellet lodged in the exit hole on the backside. Note well: these shots were made with wadcutter pellets. They generally do not penetrate well, but when they do, the typically leave large wound tunnels. Dome-headed pellets certainly would penetrate more efficiently.

It is also important to note that two air rifles of the same model, but two serial numbers apart, can perform better with radically different pellets. So, just because my Crosman 2200B achieved a certain level of performance with Meisterkugln pellets, that doesn’t mean your 2200B will perform similarly with the same pellets. Testing with different pellets is the only way to find out what works in your gun.

The bottom line: The Daisy 22X pumps the easiest, offers moderate accuracy, but penetrated the least on the can test. The Crosman 2200B offers moderate pumping effort, good penetration in the can test, but the lowest accuracy. The Benjamin 392 pumps hardest, hits the hardest, and offers the most accuracy, but costs nearly twice as much as the others. As the man said: “Ya pays yer money, and ya takes yer choice.” Any of these guns could be used for defending garden at 60 feet or less, but my first choice would be the Benjamin 392 if my wallet could stand it.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

But before I get to my take on the actual air rifles, some words about my selection. I decided to go with American pump-up .22 caliber air rifles for several reasons. The first, quite frankly, is that I have a weak spot for pump-up air guns. I own several, and I enjoy shooting them frequently. In addition, pump-up guns are generally easy to shoot; they don’t jump and buck the way many spring-piston air rifles do. Pump-up rifles are also typically less expensive than their spring-piston counterparts, and they are usually a fraction the cost of pre-charged air rifles which are filled from a SCUBA tank or high pressure pump.

Lastly, I was inspired. Recently I received a copy of an excellent book American Air Rifles by James E. House (Krause Publications). In it, he evaluates more than a dozen American-made air rifles. His words reminded me that you don’t need an expensive European or Asian model to enjoy a great deal of shooting satisfaction – and utility — with an air rifle. Thanks, Mr. House.

One of the first challenges that I faced was generating some sort of performance standard. What kind of performance would be necessary to send Jabba the Chuck to that Big Salad Bar in the Sky? Since I didn’t have three equal National Institute of Standards-certified pest animals lining up to be shot for evaluation purposes, and at that time I did not have a chronograph, I chose the next best thing . . . soup cans. Yup, good oldCampbell’s to the rescue.

My reasoning was thus: a steel soup can is small enough and tough enough that, if you can hit it and cleanly pierce at least one side, you can probably hit and punch through the skull of a varmint. I have killed animals with air guns that wouldn’t pass this test, but I wouldn’t recommend it. If possible, I prefer to drop ‘em where they stand. (I chose .22 caliber for all three guns for the same reason.)

So let’s have a look at our three candidates.

Daisy 22X.

The Daisy 22X is 37.75 inches long and weights 4.5 lbs. It is the lightest of the three guns. It has 20.8 in rifled steel barrel. The manual says it can be pumped up to 10 times and claims 530 fps with 8.6 fp energy but doesn’t specify what weight pellets are involved. The 22X is a handsome gun with a wooden buttstock (with plastic buttplate) and wooden forearm. The receiver is metal.

The 22X is loaded by dropping pellets into the breech on top of the receiver. The bolt is opened by pulling a plastic lever on the right side of the receiver. Opening the bolt also cocks the action. With a scope attached to the rail on top of the receiver, loading requires placing the pellet in the slot on the top of the receiver just to the right of the breech and rolling the pellet into the breech. The 22X is the easiest to pump of the three rifles, but, as we’ll see in a bit, it comes at a price.

In 2002, the suggested retail price of the 22X was $73.95. The Daisy 2-7x scope that I used for testing carried an SRP of $29.95.

Crosman 2200B

The Crosman 2200B measures 39 inches long and weighs 4 lbs. 12 oz., just a few ounces more than the Daisy. The 2200B has a 20.79 inch rifled steel barrel, and the factory manual claims 525-595 fps at 10 pumps with 14.3 gr. pellets. The buttstock and forearm are plastic, and the receiver is metal and is equipped with a scope rail. Overall, the appearance is clean and appealing, and it looks like a “real” rifle. The entire plastic forearm moves to pump up the gun, and the 2200B requires only slightly more pumping effort than the Daisy.

The 2200B loads by dropping pellets into the breech on the right side of the receiver. A plastic lever opens the breech and cocks the action. Loading requires tipping the gun on its side. The slot leading to the breech is somewhat deep, and there is no elegant way to control the descent of a pellet to the breech itself. As a result, sometimes nose-heavy domed pellets arrive at the breech sideways or backwards. Sometimes jiggling the gun or dumping the pellet out and starting over is necessary to set things right.

The suggested retail price of the 2200B was $69.95, and the 4x Crosman scope that was used during testing was $9.95.

Benjamin 392

Benjamin 392, manufactured by Crosman Corporation, is 36.25 inches long and weighs 5.5 lbs, making it both the shortest and the heaviest of our three candidates. The 392 manual states this gun will produce velocities of 685 fps at 8 pumps but does not reveal the weight of the pellets used in making that determination.

It doesn’t take Holmesian powers of observation to figure out the 392 is solidly built. The only plastic used on this air rifle is the buttplate. The buttstock is solid wood, and so is the forearm which also serves as the pumping lever. (The 392 is also the hardest of the three guns to pump.) The breech and bolt are made of metal, but unlike the Daisy and the Crosman, there is no scope rail on top of the receiver. Holes for attaching a Williams peep sight are tapped into the side of the receiver, and that’s what I used for a sighting system.

The 392 can be scoped using intermounts from Crosman for around $15.00 and attach a scope (or a red dot sighting device) forward of the receiver. In the case of a scope, this requires either a long eye relief scope (a la Colonel Jeff Cooper’s scout rifle concept) or putting both scope rings forward of the turrets and letting the body of the scope hang over the receive.

The suggested retail price of the Benjamin 392 was $149.95, and the Williams peep was $27.95, making this combo by far and away the most expensive of the three guns tested.

Next time, we’ll see how these three rifles perform.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Back in 2002, my wife and I decided that we would like to grow some fresh veggies. The next couple of blogs recall what happened then and make some recommendations in case you need to defend your garden.

There is no way to confirm this with rock-solid certainty, but according to my back-of-the-ammo-box calculations, it was the most expensive salad bar ever. And I had not tasted so much as a single bite of it – not a morsel of wax bean, not a sliver of tomato.

My wife and I had labored hard through sun and rain over the darn thing. We hired the roto-tiller guy (who showed up with a commercial-grade Troy-Bilt tiller and a business card that read “I dig my work.”) to pulverize a section of our lawn. Then we raked, picked rocks (lots of ‘em), ran strings and pegs, and planted: tomatoes, corn, squash, a couple of kinds of beans, peppers. It was a work of art. We were regular Arlo Guthries out there: “inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow . . .”

Then, by the sweat of our brow, we surrounded it with steel fence posts and sturdy critter-proof wire fencing. And we watched it grow and tended it. Then, just as the tender new plants were seriously establishing themselves, we went away for a weekend.

When we came back . . . someone . . . something . . . had given our garden a crew cut. Where once there had been vibrant plants bursting with the promise nature’s bounty, there was stubble. I was in utter shock: for the amount of money, sweat and effort we had put into this thing, we could have had veggies FEDEXed to us fromChile. Who was the culprit?

Then I saw him. Not one of the deer that wander through the yard. No, this was smaller, more insidious – good old Marmota monax, a woodchuck. And what a woodchuck this was! Round, firm, fully packed, he was so swollen and porcine he could barely wriggle through the hole he had dug under the fence. He was so fat he had a roll behind his neck. I had worked my butt off all spring so this groundhog could enjoy some mitey fine gourmet meals at my expense.

I wanted to shoot him so baaaaad! “Honey, call the supermarket and see if they got any Woodchuck Shake ‘N’ Bake, will ya?” (I never did terminate this particular woodchuck with extreme prejudice. Instead I took my revenge in laughter – he was so obscenely corpulent, likeGarfieldthe cat, his legs barely reached the ground. I referred to him as Jabba the Chuck.)

If you’ve got a problem with a woodchuck, a rabbit, a squirrel or other varmint munching on your garden or prize azaleas, and you live in or near a populated area, there is a problem. The law generally takes a very dim view of popping off any kind of firearm near dwellings, and many jurisdictions have specific prohibitions about shooting guns. Besides, any reader of this blog worth his or her salt will naturally be conscious of the safety of neighbors and their property.

In my case, I live within one-half mile of a major technical university. Shooting any kind of powder is strictly verboten. There is hope, though. Many places have absolutely nothing to say about shooting airguns. Recently, I’ve had my hands on three vintage American .22 caliber pump-up airguns that will dispatch vermin quite well at short ranges.

Next time, we’ll talk about them.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The M4-177 with the stock collapsed.

Recently Crosman Corporation brought out a new air rifle – the Crosman M4-177 Pneumatic Air Rifle. As the “M4” in the name strongly implies, this new rifle looks like a tactical carbine, the same look that a lot of powder-burning varmint rifles have adopted in recent years.

The M4-177 is a .177 caliber multi-stroke pneumatic air rifle capable of launching both .177 pellets and .177 BBs. Almost all the visible parts of the M4-177 are molded of engineering polymer. Not surprisingly, it weighs just 3 lbs 9 oz and stretches just 30.3 inches from end to end with the stock collapsed, and 33.75 inches with the stock fully extended.

The M4-177 with the stock extended.

At the extreme aft end of the M4-177 is corrugated butt plate that has slots top and bottom for attaching a shoulder strap. A lever underneath the adjustable stock allows to be slid in and out to adjust the length of pull (LOP – from trigger blade to butt plate) to the shooter’s preference. The LOP can be as short as 9.75 inches or as long as 13 inches.

Forward of the butt stock is the black polymer receiver which has a black polymer pistol grip attached below it at roughly a 45 degree angle. On the left side of the receiver is a tab that can be rotated sideways to allow a generous supply of BBs to be poured into the M4-177 and a BB retainer button.

The hole into which up to 350 BBs can be poured.

Ahead of the pistol grip is the trigger guard which surrounds a black plastic trigger and which houses a push-button safety. Forward of that is a magazine housing. The faux magazine can be dropped out of the housing, and serves as a storage place for the 5-shot pellet clip and the tool for adjusting the front sight.

The faux magazine serves as a storage place for the pellet clip and the front sight adjustment tool.

Forward of the magazine is the forearm, which serves as a grip for holding the M4-177 while shooting and also as a pumping arm for charging the multi-stroke pneumatic action. Toward the front end of the forearm, on the underside, there is a short section of Picatinny rail which could be used for attaching accessories such as a laser or a flashlight.

The front sight attaches to the Picatinny rail near the muzzle.

Beyond the end of the forearm, you’ll find the barrel, which has a plastic molding on it that provide Picatinny rail sections top and bottom. The post type front sight clamps to the top section of Picatinny rail. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find another section of Picatinny rail on top of the receiver. The peep type rear sight (which has two different apertures and flips from one to another) clamps to this section of rail or a scope can be mounted. On the right side of the receiver, you’ll find the bolt for cocking the action and a slot for inserting the 5-shot pellet clip.

The right side of the receiver, showing the bolt (pulled to the rear) and the slot for inserting the pellet clip.

Adjusting the sights on the M4-177 is a bit unusual. For elevation adjustment, use the special tool stored in faux magazine to move the sight up or down as needed. For windage adjustment, you’ll need a screwdriver to move the rear sight left or right as required.

The rear sight attaches to the Picatinny rail on top of the receiver.

To load BBs into the M4-177, slide the BB loading port cover to one side, pour in up to 350 steel BBs, and slide the port cover back to its original position. Next, push the BB retainer button forward (toward the muzzle), point the barrel at the ground and twist and shake the air rifle to until the “visual magazine” on the left side of the receiver is filled. Push the BB retainer button back toward the butt stock to keep the BBs in the magazine. Insert the empty pellet clip into the breech slot so that the bolt will pass through one of the pellet chambers. Pump the M4-177 at least 3 times but not more than 10. Pull the bolt all the way back (two clicks) and push it forward again. The magnet on the end of the bolt will pick up a BB from the BB magazine and slide it into the barrel.

Squeeze the trigger. The first stage comes out at 3 lb. 13.4 oz. At about 4 lb. 14 oz., the shot goes down range. At ten pumps, the M4-177 launches steel BBs at around 650 fps. I found that’s enough to blow through both sides of a soup can at 13 yards.

Loading pellets requires inserting 5 pellets into the 5-shot clip (make sure the M4-177 is empty of BBs first). Pump the M4-177 up to ten times, pull the bolt back, slide the clip into the breech until it reaches the first detent, and slide the bolt forward again. Pull the trigger. At 10 pumps, the M4-177 launches Crosman Premier 7.9 gr pellets at about 625 fps and delivered a one-inch edge to edge 5 shot group at 13 yards from a sitting position under relatively lousy conditions. Good enough, I think, for terminating pests in the garden at short range.

In the end, I liked the M4-177. It’s fun to shoot and will definitely put a smile on someone’s face on Christmas morning. For an airgun that will probably sell for under a hundred bucks, that seems like a pretty good deal to me.

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

One of the nice things about being an airgun writer is that occasionally I get news releases from various airgun manufacturers and distributors concerning new things that they have going on.

On Monday, Sept. 12, 2011, I received an email from Crosman announcing “CROSMAN CORPORATION® LAUNCHES WEBSITE REDESIGN.” Now, normally I don’t get too excited about website redesigns, but I also know that Crosman has set a pretty high standard in coming out with interesting new products, so I thought I would poke around the new website to see if anything caught my eye.

And, sure enough, something did. On the home page, if you scroll to the bottom of the page and look at the lefthand side, you’ll see a section entitled “Croswords Blog.” Run your eye down the column a ways and you’re likely to run into a link entitled “Crosman Releases Hunting Capabilities Guide. (If the link has disappeared from view by the time you read this, here’s the direct link: http://www.crosman.com/croswords/?p=1955 )

The upshot is this: apparently a bunch of folks at Crosman got together to determine the proper hunting distances for their full line of hunting rifles. You can download the chart here: http://www.crosman.com/mediacenter2/Guides/Crosman_Airgun_and_Pellet_Capabilities_Chart.pdf

To be perfectly candid, I found the chart intriguing. (A warning: at the time of this writing, if you try to print the chart on 8.5 x 11 paper, you will need an electron microscope to read it. It is designed to be printed on 11 x 17 paper.  The best plan is to download the chart to your computer, open the chart with the PDF reader, magnify it to 100%, and print “current view.” This will allow you to print half of the chart at a readable scale. Then magnify the other half of the chart, print “current view” and tape the two halves of the chart together.)

At the top left of the chart, in red, you’ll find a box that says: “Recommended kill zone for all species is a head shot.” Across the top of the chart, you’ll find categories such as: powerplant, caliber, velocity, energy, pellet type, pellet weight, estimated effective maximum ranges (with sub categories of smaller-sized game, medium-sized game, and larger sized game), sound scale, and suggested optics. Down the lefthand side of the chart, you’ll find categories for powerplants (and specific gun models underneath them): multi-pump, break barrel – spring piston, break barrel – nitro piston, pre-charged pneumatic, electronic pre-charged pneumatic variable power.

Taken altogether, the chart is a cornucopia of interesting data. For example, you’ll find out that a Benjamin 392 multi-stroke rifle, launching a 14.9 gr pellet at 685 fps is generating 14.9 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle and might be used to shoot a prairie dog or woodchuck at 25 yards. A .177 Benjamin Trail NP XL1500 could be handy for popping turkeys at 20 yards.  The .25 caliber Benjamin Trail NP XL 725 might be used to hunt coyotes at 20 yards while the .25 Marauder could be used for Coyotes at 30 yards. Only the .357 Benjamin Rogue is recommended for hunting hogs, out to 60 yards, depending upon what weight projectile is used.

I was curious about the genesis of the chart, so I called Laura Evans, marketing coordinator for Crosman.

“About a year ago, we began to get into television advertising to promote adult airguns for hunting, and we realized that some education needed to take place,” Evans said. “A lot of potential airgun hunters are unfamiliar with airgun powerplants and energy and simply didn’t know what to expect from them. Education and safety are the driving forces behind this chart.”

So Crosman put together an informal committee of engineering, marketing, sales personnel and industry sources, as well as anyone else at Crosman who hunts with an airgun and wanted to have input. The goal was to pull together a kind of spreadsheet of conservative suggestions of the ethical effective range at which Crosman’s various hunting air rifles could be used. 

Evans says, “We must have gone through 20 revisions before publishing the chart. It’s a living document that will be continually revised as appropriate when new models are introduced and more data and input are gathered. We’re recommending a head shot on all species because we feel that is the best and most ethical way to hunt with an airgun.”

I think Crosman has done well in publishing this chart. It’s my belief that both newcomers and old timers will find it instructive and useful.

Oh, yeah, one final note: as an airgun hunter, it is up to you to know and understand the legalities of hunting with an airgun in the jurisdiction in which you plan to hunt. Don’t give our sport by doing something illegal, even if through ignorance.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

There is now incontrovertible evidence that I should not be allowed to watch television late at night. And certainly not without serious supervision, the kind of high-level supervision that involves electrodes, neurologists, and technicians squinting at readouts.

Why? Because I blew the hindquarters off a camel today with an air pistol, that’s why. But I get ahead of myself. Let’s hit the rewind button for a minute and get back to the beginning.

It all started innocently enough. Some months back, El Rancho Elliott decided that we would subscribe to the online streaming version of Netflix. Then one day my Better Half discovered that the first season of Top Shot was available for instant viewing.

If you’re unfamiliar with Top Shot, here’s a quick synopsis. It’s a History Channel show that each season brings together 16 shooters to compete in a series of challenges. The challenges might involve shooting a .50 caliber Barrett, a .22 Ruger, throwing a tomahawk, shooting sporting clays, popping balloons with a blowgun, or nailing targets while hanging upsidedown. The challenges are fun, often difficult, and frequently involve not just accuracy but strategy. Week by week competitors are eliminated until there is just one remaining – the Top Shot – and he or she goes home with $100,000

Both my wife and I got hooked on Top Shot pretty quick.  By the time we had finished watching the second season (I had been staying up late so I could see what happened in the next episode, and the next, you get the picture), my wife asked if we couldn’t create some similar challenges using airguns. Sure, I said.

Then, for some reason known only to the Powers That Be, the following popped into my head: why not go to the grocery store and buy some targets that the wildlife in the neighborhood could eat when we were done destroying them?

So I trundled off to my local supermarket and purchased the following: some big round crackers, some medium-sized round crackers, some cheese puff balls, and some animal crackers. I was on a roll now, but how was I going to secure the aforementioned targets to a board in front of my pellet trap?

Out of my fertile brain came the answer: frosting! Spread a generous portion of frosting on the edge the board and then stick the crackers into it. It would work, I thought; it had to work. I decided to get chocolate frosting for contrast in the photograph and also because I like chocolate frosting.

Arriving home with the goodies, I clipped a fresh target into the holder on my pellet trap and grabbed a hunk of 2 x 6 board that I usually use to support cans in front of my pellet trap. I buttered the thin edge of the board liberally with the chocolate frosting and then began sticking crackers into the goo. They stood up pretty well. You can see the results in the picture below.

The scene of the great grocery store shootout.

Next I needed to select a pneumatic weapon. I didn’t want to make it too easy, but neither did I want to make it too difficult either for my first experiment.  So I chose the Smith & Wesson 6” revolver in black. Mine has a red dot mounted, I figured at 10 meters, I ought to be able to hit the large round crackers easily, but the cheese puff balls and the animal crackers might be difficult.

My weapon of choice: the Smith & Wesson 6" revolver with a red dot..

I inserted a fresh CO2 cartridge, loaded Crosman 7.9 Premier pellets into the rotary magazine, and let fly. Bang! My first shot was obviously high. I steadied my grip and fired again and again. No telltale holes appeared in the paper behind the targets, and none of the edibles had moved.  I strolled up to have a peek, and I could see there were holes in the big crackers.

Aiming a bit lower, I knocked one of the big crackers off its perch. Next, I blew the hindquarters off one of the animal crackers, the camel. Aiming lower, I found it was easier to break the targets or send them flying.

In all, I used up some 40 pellets before just one of the cheese puff balls and some fragments were left.

The aftermath of the great grocery store shootout.

Who knew that chocolate frosting splattered so easily? It cleans up fairly easily with a little soap and water. Maybe peanut butter will work better next time.

Still more evidence of the carnage.

Bottom line: It was a lot of fun but messy, and definitely worth doing. And it wasn’t bad eating the leftovers.

So now, dear reader, it’s your turn: how about sharing some of your favorite fun targets? You can post a response to this blog or email jock.elliott@gmail.com.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Ever since I was a kid reading Boy’s Life magazine, I have been fascinated by stories of people who got themselves in a tough spot and how they survived the ordeal. As a result, it is my habit to check out www.survivalblog.com almost every day. It is a fascinating website with lots of information about survival and preparedness.

On August 6, 2010, I was checking out survivalblog when I ran across a post by “D.M.” on “Pellet Rifle Hunting.”  In it, D.M. claims that, due to economic circumstances, he found himself living out of his pickup truck on public lands in the Southwest. During that period, he hunted extensively with a pellet rifle, and it “put at least 70% of the meat on the spit over my fire throughout that summer.”

Further, he adds that “Living in the field for a while really proved out my gear. Sadly and expensively, most fell to the way side, but the [pellet rifle] turned out to be an unlikely sleeper candidate for one of my personal top 10 gear awards!”

So what was his pellet rifle . . . a Weihrauch, an RWS, perhaps a PCP with a pump or maybe a Sheridan? Wrong! – none of the above. The air rifle that sustained D.M. in putting game on the spit was the humble Crosman 2100. The 2100 is a multi-stroke pneumatic (MSP) air rifle that shoots both BBs and .177 pellets and that can be purchased for well under $70.

D.M. has a number of reasons why he favors the 2100:

  • Reliability. He figures he put 3,000 BBs through it at an average of 6 pumps per shot with no failures.
  • Accuracy. He was easily able connect with game within 25 yards.
  • Handling. Just a bit over 5 lbs fully loaded and scaled to be handled by adults.
  • Critter “bagability.” Birds at 50 yards, rabbits at 30 yards, turkeys at 25 yards, raccoons at 10 yards.
  • Variable power. Birds at 5-6 pumps; 10 pumps on bigger game.
  • Stealth. A modest report means greater opportunity for a second shot if needed.

I was fascinated by what D.M. had to say. (You can read his entire report on the survivalblog here: http://www.survivalblog.com/2010/08/pellet_rifle_hunting_by_dm.html). So I called up the folks at Crosman and asked them to send me a 2100 for testing, which they did.

The 2100 stretches 39.75 inches long and weighs 4 lbs, 13 oz. The buttstock is made of brown plastic with a wood grain finish. At the extreme aft end is a hard black plastic butt plate, attached to the stock with a white spacer. There is a black cap on the pistol grip with a white space. If you slide the black plastic cap toward the buttstock, a hole is revealed into which you can pour BBS. More about this in just a bit.

Moving forward, you’ll find a black metal receiver, metal trigger guard, and metal trigger with pushbutton safety. Moving forward again, there is the brown plastic forearm which serves as a pumping arm for pumping up the MSP action. Ahead of that is the black plastic pivot housing and barrel clamp. Above that is the barrel which has a fiber optic sight on the muzzle end. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the rear sight mounted on the barrel just forward of the receiver.

Slide the grip cap at the end of the pistol grip toward the rear of the air rifle to load BBs through this hole into the BB reservoir.

This shows the "visual magazine" with the BB follower stem in the forward position.

The BB follower stem in the rear position for loading BBs into the visual magazine.

To load BBs into the 2100, slide the black plastic cap at the end of the pistol grip back and pour up to 200 BBs into the hole. Next, slide the “BB follower stem” on the left side of the receiver toward the buttstock and hook it in the slot. Next, point the barrel at the ground and twist and shake the air rifle to fill the “visual magazine” on the left side of the receiver. Now unhook the BB stem follower and allow it to move forward to hold the BBs in place. Next, pump the 2100 up to ten times, pull the bolt back (it will pick up a BB from the visual magazine on the magnetic tip of the bolt. Slide the bolt forward to its original position.

Now, you’re good to go. Squeeze the trigger. The first stage comes out at 1 lb. 5.7 oz. At about 4 lb. 14 oz., the shot goes down range. At ten pumps, the 2100 launches steel BBs at an average of about 650 fps. But the speed is highly variable. The high was 670 fps, and the low was 637 fps.

The breech closed.

The breech open, ready for loading a pellet.

Loading pellets is much simpler. Pump the 2100 up to ten times, pull the bolt back, roll a pellet laterally into the breech, and close the breech again. Note well: if you plan to shoot pellets, you can’t have any BBs in the visual magazine. Otherwise, the 2100 may try to load both a pellet and a BB. You can, however, have BBs in the buttstock reservoir and shoot pellets at the same time. I found that, at 10 pumps, the 2100 launches Crosman Premier 7.9 gr pellets at an average of 620 fps (high 627, low 616).

So how does the 2100 stack up as a survival tool? I found I could shoot half-inch groups (edge to edge) at 13 yards with Crosman Premier 7.9 pellets, and they would penetrate one and sometimes both sides of a baked beans can at that distance. Groups with BBs were problematic, possibly because of the variation in speed, but the BBs always penetrated both sides of the can at 13 yards. Still, I think the BBs could be effective for ambushing game at close range at places where they come to feed or drink.

The clack-clack-clack sound the gun makes while pumping is non-stealthy and could frighten off game, but gluing a piece of felt inside the pump arm might solve that problem. Nevertheless, the pumping effort was easy.

The iron sights that come with the 2100 work well enough, particularly with the fiber-optic front sight, but older folks (like me) will want some sort of scope. Still, I liked the light weight of the “naked” 2100, and in that form, it makes a dandy plinking rifle.

So, could the Crosman 2100 be used as a small game getter in hard times? I certainly think so. If D.M.’s comments about the reliability of the 2100 are correct, and when you factor in its very modest cost, it makes sense to have a 2100 tucked away, just in case.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott