About a half mile from me there lives a fellow whose mailbox says “The Lawnmower Guy.” I contacted him about tuning up my mower and when he brought it back, he noticed the pellet trap with a target on it in my garage, so he asked me if I was a member of the gun club outside of town.
I told him I was a member, but what he really needed was an air rifle or an air pistol, and then he could shoot in his back yard whenever he wanted. All he had to do, I told him, was reassure the neighbors that he would shoot safely into a pellet trap and not plink at their cat.
Pretty soon, I started dragging out some air pistols for him to try, and one of them was the new Beeman P11. His eyes nearly bugged out of his head. “Wow, that’s cool,” he said. I loaded it up for him and let him draw bead on a tiny chipmunk target printed on a piece of paper.
He steadied the P11 in both hands, aligned the sights, squeezed the trigger, and – whap! – nailed the chipmunk dead amidships. “Wow, those sights really light up! Where can I get one of these?” he asked. I wrote http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/ on a piece of paper for him, and he scurried off.
The P11 is, indeed, a cool air pistol. It’s the younger brother of the Beeman P1 but sports a two-tone color scheme, snazzier laminated grips, and fiber-optic sights. The P1 is available in .177 and .20 cal, while the P11 is available in .177 and .22. The picture doesn’t really do the P11 justice; the lower half of the ambidextrous laminated grips are stippled for a better grip and the bottom of the grip flares, providing a little bit of a palm shelf. In any event, I like the way the P11 looks and feels. The overall fit and finish of the matte-gray receiver and black “uppers” are, in my opinion, excellent.
If you’ve never handled a Beeman P1 or P11, there’s some stuff you have to know. First, this is a spring-piston air pistol. That means when you trigger the shot, it’s not going to behave like a Daisy 747 or a Crosman CO2 pistol. Instead, you’re going to get the whiplash recoil that is typical of a spring-piston powerplant. So don’t be surprised when it doesn’t act like a docile single-stroke pneumatic match pistol.
In addition, loading the P11 (or P1) is unusual. You start by flipping the safety (accessible from either side of the pistol) on and pulling what appears to be a hammer at the rear of the receiver. This releases the rear upper half of the receiver where the barrel is housed – the black part on the P11. Grasping the loose end, you pull it up and forward until it latches to cock the pistol. The cocking effort requires pulling the barrel assembly away from you as you open the action of the pistol, and it takes about 18 pounds of effort. Once the action is fully open and latched, slide a pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the receiver back to its original position, snapping it locked into place.
Now, you’re ready. Just flip the safety off, ease the first stage out of the trigger, and let the good times roll. And The Lawnmower Guy was right: those fiber optic sights really light up like a neon sight . . . and that makes it sooo much easier to align the sights than the plain-old metallic sights on the P1. The P11 that Airguns of Arizona sent me to play with was the .22 version, and I find it smoother to shoot than the .177 version I once owned. I don’t know why that is. Certainly the velocity of the .22 is lower than the .177. For example, you might expect 415 fps with 14.3 grain .22 Crosman Premier pellets and around 520 fps with 7.9 grain .177 Crosman Premier Light pellets (on high power – the .177 version offers two cocking positions for two different levels of power.)
Whatever the reason, I find the P11 in .22 to be one of those “salted peanuts” guns – you can’t stop with just a few shots. You say to yourself, “Just five more shots, then I’ll go in.” The next thing you know, an hour and a half a tin of pellets has magically disappeared. But somehow you don’t mind.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
PS There will be a follow up Blog on the UJ Challenge in the near future.