Posts Tagged ‘Hammerli’

G12 Hammerli AR20 005

I’ll tell you what my first thought was when sent me the Hammerli AR-20 to test: “What in the world do they expect to do with this thing?”

My days of attempting to shoot 10-meter match competition are some years behind me, and I wasn’t very good at it even then. (The experience did serve me well for the standing shots in field target, however.) Did the good folks at really expect “Uncle Wobbles” to give this rifle a serious test as a 10-meter machine? I sincerely hoped not.

Sure, the AR-20 has a lot of the goodies that you would expect in a 10-meter competition rifle and it comes with match diopter sights for 10-meter competition. But then I noticed something: it has a scope dovetail that goes from here to Cleveland. Well, actually it extends from fore and aft of the breech and all the way down the length of the barrel shroud. And that gave me an idea. We’ll get back to that notion in just a little while, but first, let’s take a guided tour of the AR-20.

G12 Hammerli AR20 006

The AR-20 stretches nearly 40 inches from end to end and weighs 9 pouncs. Most of the receiver and barrel assemblies on the AR-20 are made of metal. Most of accoutrements – forestock handpiece, pistol grip, buttstock, and so forth – are made of plastic. At the extreme aft end of the AR-20 is a soft rubber butt pad that is adjustable for height and for length of pull. Forward of that, under the buttstock, are a couple of metal weights that can be removed if the shooter sees fit. Forward of that is a cheekpiece that is adjustable for height and that can be reversed for left-handed shooters. Moving forward again, you’ll find a plastic pistol grip that can be rotated to suit the shooter’s preference.

G12 Hammerli AR20 007

Ahead of the pistol grip is the trigger which doesn’t have a trigger shoe but is a ridged rod. It is, however, very comfortable to use. The trigger can be adjusted in a variety of ways – including weight, pressure point, stop and slack – to the shooter’s preference. Ahead of the trigger is a partial metal trigger guard and beyond that is the forestock handpiece which can be slid back and forth along a rail to the shooter’s preference.

The forestock enclosed the compressed air reservoir and above that is the shrouded metal barrel which has a dovetail on the muzzle end to accommodate a globe diopter front sight. Moving back along the barrel, we come to the black metal receiver, which features a generous breech and dovetails aft of the breech for mounting the competition peep sight. At the very end of the receiver is a t-shaped assembly which is the bolt.

G12 Hammerli AR20 004

To ready the AR-20 for shooting, you must unscrew the air reservoir, connect it to a special adaptor (included with the gun), charge it up to 300 bar from a hand pump or SCUBA tank, and then re-attach the reservoir to the gun. Hammerli claims 200 shots per fill when charged to 300 bar.

To load the AR-20, press the bolt release button in the center of the bolt handle, pull the bolt back, drop a .177 pellet into the groove in the center of the breech, and return the bolt to its original position. The trigger is extremely light and crisp. I measured the trigger pull: first stage, 3.8 oz; second stage 5.5 oz. No, that is not a typo – trigger weight was well under half a pound. If that is not light enough for you, I suggest trying a “psychic” trigger.

The AR-20 launches 7 grain match pellets at 577 feet per second. And the accuracy? Well, it’s just plain boring: at 10 meters from a rest, the AR20 will put pellet after pellet through the same hole. The presumption is that a properly trained 10-meter shooter could do pretty well with the AR-20.

G12 Hammerli AR20 001

And now we get back to my idea: what else is it good for? In 1984 Peter Capstick, big game hunter and African Correspondent for Guns & Ammo magazine, published an article that changed the outlook of many shooters. Entitled simply “Minisniping,” it related how Capstick and his fellow big rifle shooters were enjoying the delights of shooting at spent 9mm brass at 35 yards, from a rest, with Olympic style match air rifles.

Capstick and his fellow minisnipers shot with scoped match quality air rifles of their day: the Feinwerkbau 300s and others. These were recoilless spring-powered rifles that launched match pellets downrange at about 560-600 fps. At 35 yards, the velocity is well below 500 fps, and any bit of wind will push the pellet around with impunity. Using a low-powered, scoped, match air rifle at that range made minisniping both challenging and fun.

Capstick calculated that shooting at a ¾” high casing at 35 yards was equivalent to targeting an enemy sniper’s torso at over 1,300 yards. It’s a game that takes just a few minutes to learn and a lifetime to master—and that’s where the true seduction lies. I would like to humbly suggest that the AR-20, which costs slightly less than $1,000 and is very easy to scope, would make a superb air rifle for practicing the fine art of minisniping.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Some years ago the idea crept into my fevered brain that I was a really talented rifle shooter, and I set out to prove it by getting involved in some 10-meter air rifle competition. Both 10-meter air rifle is an Olympic sport.

I found out a couple of things: (1) I am not a really talented rifle shooter and (2) the folks who are shooting high scores in ten meter air rifle wear special shoes, pants, jackets, gloves and even special underwear (no kidding!). I was shooting scores that were so low that it seemed doubtful whether spending hundreds of dollars on all the associated shooting apparel would be a worthwhile investment, so I didn’t bother.

At the same I wondered if there was any Olympic shooting sport that one could get involved in without having to drag around a whole lot of ancillary gear. And there is – 10 meter air pistol. With air pistol all you need is an accurate air pistol, some pellets, and the ability to align the sights, squeeze the trigger, and put some pellets in the 10 ring.

If you want to get started with 10-meter air pistol, the cheapest possible route that I know of is to start with the Daisy Triumph 747 pistol. It’s single-stroke pneumatic pistol that delivers a boatload of accuracy for under two hundred bucks. What you don’t get with the Triumph is a lot of adjustability to meet the needs of your shooting style. In fact, if memory serves, the only thing that is adjustable on the Daisy Triumph is the trigger. For 10-meter air pistol competition, the minimum trigger weight is 500 grams (17.6 oz.).

At the other end of the 10-meter pistol spectrum, you can easily spend two thousand dollars or more for a full-race 10-meter competition air pistol such as a Feinwerkbau. These pistols offer lots of adjustments to meet the ergonomic needs of the shooters.

Hammerli AP20 001_DxO

The Hammerli AP20 falls pretty much in the middle. For under a thousand dollars, it delivers superb accuracy, a crisp trigger, and a number of adjustments to meet the shooter’s needs or preferences.

Hammerli AP20 007

Before we get to what those adjustments are, let’s take a quick tour of the AP20. The main pistol grip is made of molded polymer that is stippled for improved grip. Attached to the grip are a hand rest and a palm rest. Forward of that is a curved, flat-blade metal trigger.

Above the trigger is the main receiver, which is finished is a matte silver finish and to which the cocking lever is attached. Attached to the front end of the receiver is the pressure reducer. As it comes from the factory, the pressure reducer is configured so that the air reservoir (also finished in matte silver) hangs down in front of the trigger assembly.

Hammerli AP20 003

Hammerli AP20 004_DxO

Forward of that is the barrel, which has a lightweight plastic shroud and a ported aluminum compensator at the end that serves as a mount for the front sight. Moving back along the barrel, on top of the receiver is the breech and behind that a microadjustable notch-type rear sight. That’s all there is to the AP20, and the fit and finish are entirely appropriate for a competition air pistol.

Now, let’s take a look at the adjustments that the AP20 offers. Both the palm rest and the hand rest can be adjusted for position to suit the shooter’s hand, and they can be swapped around to configure the pistol for left-hand shooters. The cocking lever can be changed from right- to left-hand configuration. The front sight can be adjusted to one of three different widths, and the rear sight can be adjusted for elevation, windage, and the width of the rear sight opening.

The trigger can be adjusted for weight, travel and stop, and perhaps most surprisingly, the pressure reducer can be configured so that the compressed air reservoir lies parallel to the barrel.

The last adjustment is purely decorative. When I first opened the plastic case for the AP20, I was confronted by five plastic tubes: blue, gray, fluorescent orange, fluorescent pink, and fluorescent green. Frankly, I didn’t know what to make of them. I thought maybe they were 10-meter competition drinking straws. They are, in fact, replacement barrel sleeves. The AP20 comes equipped with a black plastic barrel sleeve, but if you want to distinguish your pistol from others at the range, or if you simply want a different look, it’s easy to change from one barrel sleeve to another.

In the end, the AP20 delivers a lot for a reasonable price in the rarified air of competition air pistols. It launches light hobby pellets at around 510 fps, will put pellet after pellet through nearly the same hole at 10 meters (with the right pellet), delivers around 120 shots per fill, and will put a huge smile on the face of any wannabe 10-meter air pistol shooter.

Now, listen Santa: I’ve been really, really good this year . . .

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The single-shot Hammerli Pneuma has a side lever action.
I like the sidelever action on the Pneuma. It reminds me a bit of the Fortner action that is used so often on Biathlon rifles: pull back to load, push forward to close the breech. Simple, direct, easy, and I found it very easy to use when the gun is on benchrests.

To test the Pneuma for accuracy, I mounted a huge 6-24 x 56 mil-dot scope on 11mm mounts. My digital trigger gauge tells me it take about 1 lb to take the first stage out of the Pneuma’s trigger. At about 5 lbs pressure, the second stage trips, and the shot goes down range. The Pneuma manual says that the trigger is adjustable for trigger travel and trigger pull. I did not attempt to adjust the trigger travel, but I did attempt to lighten the trigger pull. This requires undoing the two screws that hold the trigger guard so that you can access a small screw immediately behind the trigger. Unfortunately, no amount of adjustment seems to have any effect. The trigger sear always seems to trip at around 5 lbs. I queried the folks at UmarexUSA about this, and the factory told them that the trigger should be adjustable down to about 3 pounds. Maybe it was simply a problem with my sample, but I couldn’t detect any adjustability. Nevertheless, as we’ll see, the trigger did not interfere with accurate shooting.

When the shot does go off, though, the Pneuma drives pellets with authority and with a report that is likely to attract the attention of neighbors, although not nearly as raucous as some of the big Korean hunting air rifles I have shot. The .177 Pneuma was pushing Crosman Premier Heavy (10.5 gr) pellets through the chronograph at 988 fps average. That’s 22.7 footpounds of energy. At 50 yards, I was able to put five Crosman Premier Heavy pellets into a group that measured just .61 inches CTC.

I tried JSB heavy pellets, Dynamic TM-1 pellets, and Beeman Kodiaks. All of them flirted with 1,000 fps or faster, and all of them produced much wider groups than the Crosman Premier Heavies. I don’t know if that is because those pellets weren’t a good match for the Pneuma barrel or if the pellets were simply going too fast for accurate shooting.

The .22 version gets about 20 shots before the velocity really starts to drop.

The .177version delivers about 30shots before the velocity drops too low.

I am not an airgun engineer, but my guess is that the Pneuma is wasting a lot of air and could benefit from some tuning that would make it more efficient and probably quiet it down a bit. The .22 version gets about 20 shots between 825-875 fps before the velocity really starts to drop, and the .177 version gets 30 shots per fill.

The sample I tested was 'minute of squirrel's noggin' at 50 yards.

My take on the Pneuma is that it is a worthy entry-level air varminter. It has the power and the accuracy to clobber vermin at 50 yards and beyond. If I were selecting my first air varminter with a close eye on my checkbook, I’d make sure the Hammerli Pneuma was on my short list.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

The Hammerli Pneuma has its own distinctive style.

The Hammerli Pneuma is an interesting newcomer to the entry level category of precharged pneumatic (PCP) airguns. Stretching 39.4 inches long and weighing 7.3 lbs without scope and mounts, it is a single shot, side lever action air rifle fitted with an ambidextrous matte black composite thumbhole stock that gives it a quasi military/tactical look. The Pneuma is available in .22 and .177. I tested the .177 version.

The rubber recoil pad is adjustable vertically.

Starting at the back of the Pneuma, there is a soft rubber butt pad that is adjustable for vertical position. Moving forward, you’ll find the black composite butt stock with the large triangular thumbhole. Just ahead of that is the pistol grip, which is nearly vertical and has checkering molded on each side. Ahead of that is the black metal trigger guard which houses a gold-colored metal trigger.

The gauge is located at the end of the air reservoir.

Moving forward again, there is the forestock. At the end of that is the air reservoir, which has a fill port in the side near the end and a pressure gauge gauge that reads in BAR at the very end. The air reservoir cylinder can be unscrewed and replaced, opening the door for shooters to carry spare cylinders in the field.

The fill port near the end of the reservoir can be seen below the barrel.

Above the air cylinder is the barrel. The muzzle is fitted with a ½ UNF connector for attaching a silencer (where legal), and it comes equipped with a cap to protect the threads. Just behind the UNF connector is the fiber optic front sight which has a knurled wheel for vertical adjustment. Moving rearward long the barrel, you’ll find two barrel bands. Moving back again, you’ll find the receiver which has a rear notch sight and dovetails for both 11mm and 22mm scope mounts. Partway back on the receiver is the breech with a gold-colored metal bolt. On the right side of the receiver is the black side lever, which the shooter pulls back to open the breech.

At the rear of the receiver is an automatic safety that engages whenever the action is cocked. The safety is pushed forward to ready the Pneuma for firing, but it can be pulled back again to safe the action whenever desired. When the safety is pushed in, a red dot appears on either side of the receiver to indicate that the rifle can be fired. At the extreme back end of the receiver is a flat spot in the composite stock that provides a convenient thumb rest for shooters who don’t want to use the thumbhole.

To get the Pneuma ready for shooting, fit the charging probe (included with the Pneuma) to your pump or SCUBA tank, slide the rubber plug out of the fill hole, and insert the charging probe. The Pneuma manual says “make sure the airgun is unloaded and not cocked.” I certainly agree that the Pneuma should not be loaded when charging, but I found that I could not get it to take a charge until the action was cocked. Charge the Pneuma to 200 BAR max.

To get the Pneuma ready for shooting, pull the side lever all the way back. This will open the breech, cock the action, and activate the automatic safety. Insert a pellet into the breech, return the sidelever to its original position, and push the safety in. Now you’re good to go.

Next time, we’ll see how the Pneuma behaves on the range.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott