Posts Tagged ‘pcp’

The left side of the Gladiator Mk II

To ready the Gladiator Mk II for shooting, attach the filling probe to a SCUBA tank or high pressure pump, slide it into the filling port at the end of the forward air tube, and slowly fill the Mk II to 220 bar.

The spring-loaded 12-shot magazine is self-indexing.

Next, load the rotary magazine. You’ll notice that the Gladiator now uses the same magazines as the FX Royale. Start by turning the transparent lid to the magazine counterclockwise until it stops. Put one pellet in the open slot on the rear side of the magazine so that the tip of the pellet is pointing out of the hole. This locks the magazine spring in place.

Turn the magazine so that the transparent lid is facing you. Turn the lid clockwise one slot at a time and fill the slots with pellets with the tip of the pellets facing into the hole. Lock the lid in its starting position.

When selecting scope mounts, make sure they are high enough to provide clearance for the magazine.

Next, pull the bolt lever all the way back and insert the magazine, black side toward the muzzle, into the breech from the right side. Now, this is where life got interesting for me while testing the Gladiator Mk II. When I mounted the first scope, the magazine hit the “saddle” of the scope (the bulge where the elevation and windage knobs are mounted) when I tried to slide the magazine into the breech. So, down into the workshop again and I mounted another scope. This one slide into the breech slot, but I couldn’t get the bolt to work properly. I called Airguns of Arizona, and Kip helpfully walked me through the process until I could finally figure out that the magazine was hitting the tube of the scope so that it couldn’t be seated all the way home (almost, but not quite). Finally, a third scope with higher mounts fit properly, and the magazine slid into place.

Push the bolt forward, flick off the safety, and squeeze the trigger. The first stage required only 9 ounces on the sample that I tested. At 1 lb. 2.2 oz., the shot went down range. This a phenomenal trigger, light and crisp, that feels a lot like a match trigger.

On high power, the Mk II launches 18.1 gr. JSB pellets at average of 855 fps, or 29.38 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle; medium power, 655 fps and 17.24 fp, and low power, 499 fps and 14.42 fp. The good folks at Airguns of Arizona tell me that the Mk II will deliver 95 shots per fill on high power and an astonishing 190 shots on lower power.

At 30 yards, shooting from a casual rest, the Mk II delivered this nice group.

And the accuracy? Well, the accuracy is just fine. At 30 yards with JSB Jumbo pellets, I put 5 shots into a group that measured just .625 inch edge to edge. That works out to well under half an inch center to center.

Yup, if I were in the vermin control business and needed an air rifle that required a minimum of ancillary equipment for a day’s shooting, I think the FX Gladiator Mk II would be number one on my list.

Til Next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The Gladiator Mk II is a tackdriver and, thanks to two air reservoirs, delivers an enormous number of shots.

If I were a professional pest controller who needed an airgun to do his job, I think I have just found the air rifle that would be Numero Uno on my list: the FX Gladiator Mk II.

Before we take a look at the Mk II, a couple of items. First, I reviewed the FX Gladiator Tactical a while back, and if you want to check out those blogs for comparison, you can find them here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/10/the-outstanding-gladiator-tactical-%e2%80%93-part-i.html and here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/10/the-outstanding-gladiator-tactical-%e2%80%93-part-ii.html.

Second, I love shooting precharged pneumatic (PCP) air rifles. They have, as a group, a bunch of admirable qualities. Most will shoot one inch edge-to-edge groups at 50 yards with the right pellet, and often they will do substantial better than that. They have no nasty whiplash recoil to deal with, as do springers and gas-piston guns. Many offer a very neighbor-friendly report, and they are just plain easy to shoot well. Buuut, most require the shooter to have a SCUBA tank or a high-pressure hand pump handy to refill the air reservoir when all the usuable shots have been consumed. For me, that diminishes the pleasure of shooting a PCP air rifle; the less ancillary gear I have to drag out the door when I got shooting, the better.

The new FX Gladiator Mk II gets around the ancillary gear problem with a couple of slick tricks: a very easy-to-use power adjustor and two – count ‘em! – air reservoirs. As a result, the Mk II delivers a shot count that should allow the overwhelming majority of shooters to go out the door with the Mk II and a tin of pellets and not have to worry about refilling the Gladiator until they get back home from a day’s shooting. We’ll talk about that some more in a while, but first let’s take a walk around the Gladiator Mk II.

The Gladiator Mk II stretches 44.25 inches from end to end. With the rear air reservoir/buttstock unscrewed, the receiver and barrel assembly measure about 34 inches. Without a scope or rings attached, the Mk II weighs 8.5 lbs, and it looks – to my eye, anyway – just great. With the exception of a couple of teensy spots where dots of red paint appear, the Mk II is a symphony of matte black metal and matte black engineering polymer.

The rear air reservoir angles downward and makes for a comfortable shooting position.

At the extreme aft end of the Mk II, you’ll find a soft rubber butt pad (which can be adjusted vertically) attached to a polymer cheek piece assembly that slides over the rear air reservoir. The good folks from FX have wisely designed the Gladiator so that the rear air reservoir angles down slightly from the line of the receiver. This allows for a comfortable shooting position.

Just ahead of the trigger guard is an easy-to-read air gauge.

Moving forward, most of the rear half of the receiver and barrel assembly is swaddled in another engineering polymer molding that provides a pistol grip, trigger guard, and forestock all in one piece. This assembly secures to the receiver with a single allen bolt. The pistol grip has grooves on either side for better gripping and so does the forestock. Inside the trigger guard is a black metal two-stage trigger that can be adjusted for first stage length of pull and second stage weight of pull. Forward of that, you’ll find an easy-to-read air gauge on the underside of the forestock.

The power adjustor on the lowest setting.

At the end of the forestock is the forward air reservoir with a filling port at the end. Above that is a fully shrouded .22 caliber barrel. At the rear end of the barrel is the breech assembly, which is the same breech assembly used in the FX Royale air rifle. On the left hand side of the breech is a black metal wheel which is the power adjustor. Turn it to change the power setting: one red dot means low power, two dots means medium power, and three dots is high power.

In in the middle of the breech is a slot for receiving the 12-shot rotary magazine, and on the right side of the breech, you’ll find the breech lever and a lever style safety. That’s all there is to it.

Next time, we’ll take a look at how the Gladiator Mk II shoots.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The Air Force TalonP with a red dot mounted.

Folks who have read this blog for even a little while realize pretty quickly that Your Humble Correspondent has hardly ever met a pneumatic projectile launcher that he didn’t like. The new Air Force TalonP .25 caliber pistol is no exception. I like this diminutive powerhouse, but I will admit to not knowing entirely what to make of it.

Air Force says the TalonP is “for the serious hunter wanting a compact yet powerful hunting tool” and adds that it “sets a new standard in air pistol power levels.” It truly is astonishingly powerful. The sample I tested was launching 31 grain Barracuda pellets at 862 fps, generating nearly 52 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. That’s enough power, with proper shot placement, to kill almost anything you might reasonably want to kill with an airgun.

The TalonP stretches 23.25 inches from the end of the air reservoir to the muzzle (with the air tank unscrewed, the main receiver stretches just 18 inches from end to end). It weighs just 3 lbs. 10.5 oz. without a scope or red dot. At the extreme aft end of the TalonP, you’ll find a matte black metal air reservoir with a volume of 213 cc (by comparison, the Talon rifle has an air tank volume of 490 cc).

Moving forward, you’ll find a matte black metal receiver that houses a .25 caliber Lothar Walther barrel. Above the breech is a long dovetail rail for mounting a scope, red dot, or accessories. Below the breech is the pistol grip which had nubbly plastic grips. Forward of the grips is the trigger guard which surrounds the trigger and a red push-pull safety.

The power adjustment wheel is just above the forestock on the left side of the receiver.

About three inches forward of the trigger guard is a matte black plastic forearm. Above that on the left side is the power adjustment wheel and forward of that is the muzzle. Above and below the barrel are rails that can be used for mounting accessories.

When I started setting up the TalonP is when life started to get interesting. At nearly two feet long and over three-and-half pounds, I didn’t want to hold the pistol in front of me, Weaver-style, because I thought that might be too ungainly. As a result, I didn’t want to mount a pistol scope. At the same time, the air tank doesn’t reach back far enough to provide a buttstock for my lanky 6’1” frame, so I didn’t want to mount a rifle scope.

So I mounted a red dot scope on the top rail and held the TalonP with two hands while using the air reservoir as a kind of cheek piece with no buttstock.

It’s easy enough to get the TalonP ready for shooting. After charging the air tank to 3,000 psi and re-attaching it to the receiver, push the cocking knob on top of the bolt all the way forward until it latches. Next, push a pellet all the way into the breech with your thumb or a pellet seating tool. Pull the bolt back to its original position and rotate it into either notch at the rear of the cocking slot (this indicates that the bolt is all the way back).

Take aim, push the red safety lever forward until it clicks off and squeeze the trigger. Just 1 lb. of pressure takes the first stage out of the trigger. At 1 lb., 10.5 oz. the shot goes down range with a loud BOOM. As a shooter, I could feel the recoil and the tug of the muzzle as it wanted to lift. This is one powerful air pistol, and it lets you know it. The TalonP manual says you’ll get about 10 shots per fill at full power. You need to count those shots, because there is no gauge to tell you how much air is left.

The Air Force folks say 10 shots per fill, but if you turn a power down a bit, you'll get a shot curve that looks like this.

Shooting from a casual rest with the red dot, I was able to shoot groups with Benjamin .25 caliber pellets that were roughly 1 inch edge to edge at 13 yards. I strongly suspect that a shooter with a bipod and a rifle scope could do substantially better at longer ranges.

So, in the end, what is the TalonP? The airgun equivalent of an elephant gun for short people? A funky hunting pistol? An ultra-carbine? I think it may find its greatest acceptance among two groups: hunters who want a powerful airgun that can fit in a backpack and farmers and ranchers who want a powerful pest control tool they can slip behind the seats of their pickup trucks.

Til next time, aim true and shoot 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

To ready the Air Range for shooting, you first have to load the magazine, and, fortunately, it is one of the easiest loading magazines I’ve seen in a long time. Here’s the drill: hold the magazine so that the side with the multiple holes is facing toward you. Insert a pellet, nose-first, into the first pellet bay through the large hole at the bottom of the magazine. You will probably have to use something to push the pellet fully into the pellet bay. I used a ballpoint pen with the point retracted. Rotate the silver part of the magazine counter-clockwise until it clicks and the next empty pellet bay is visible. Insert the next pellet into that bay, and so forth. Just keep doing that until the magazine if full. It’s quick, easy, and straightforward.

To insert the magazine into the action, pull the bolt back and slide the magazine in from the left side with the multi-hole face pointed toward the buttstock. Note well: when you pull the bolt back, pull it all the way back until it clicks. Why? Because it is possible to pull the bolt back far enough that you can insert the magazine but not far enough that the action is cocked.

That happened to me the first time I attempted to shoot the Air Ranger. There I was – the magazine inserted into the rifle, the bolt forward so that a pellet had been pushed into the barrel, the safety off, and I couldn’t get the rifle to fire! That sort of situation makes me very, very nervous. After a quick phone call to Airguns of Arizona, I was instructed to pull the bolt back fully until it clicked. Unfortunately, that also cycled the magazine again, so now I had two pellets in the barrel. That happened to me three times while I was testing the Air Ranger, and the only cure (besides prevention) is to pull the trigger, send two pellets downrange at the same time, and try again.

So, having inserted the magazine and pulled the bolt back until it clicks, push the bolt forward to slide a pellet out of the magazine and into the barrel. Take aim at your target, flick off the safety, and squeeze the trigger. On the sample that I tested, the first stage came out at l lb , 1.4 oz. At 1 lb, 12.7 oz, the shot went downrange – with a tremendous bang and crack.

Okay, I know that's not a dime, but I literally didn't have a dime in my pocket when I was taking the picture.

I had not realized it at first, but I was shooting the 50 foot-pound version of the .22 Air Ranger. The light JSB .22 Express pellets were clearly going supersonic. I emptied the magazine and loaded some JSB .22 Jumbo pellets. There was no more supersonic crack, but the gun was still loud, although significantly subdued compared to some other very high powered air rifles I have shot. Even though the Jumbo pellets were ripping downrange at around 1076 fps (41 foot-pounds), at 30 yards I was able to shoot a pretty shamrock-shaped group that you could cover with a dime.

The folks at AoA tell me that most of the guys who own the 50 fp .22 Air Ranger are shooting Exact 18 gr heavy pellets (1041 fps, 44 fp) or Baracuda Match 21.1 gr pellets (1000 fps, 47 fp). You can expect around 45 usable shots from a fill to 230 bar.

The bottom line: the 50-fp .22 Air Ranger is a big, hairy, powerful air rifle that, aside from being louder than your neighbors might enjoy, does many things well. If you need an air rifle capable of taking down large pests with a single shot, the Air Ranger has all the goodies, and it’s nice to look at as well.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The Daystate Air Ranger is a beautiful air rifle.

I guess the good folks at Airguns of Arizona got tired of my whining: “How come you never send me any of the really nice airguns, huh?” (The real answer is that they can hardly keep them in stock. Commander in Chief Robert Buchanan tells me that the most expensive airguns they stock are also their best sellers.)

So, to quiet me for a while, they sent me a Daystate Air Ranger. Not just any old Air Ranger, mind you, (It’s available in four different calibers: .177, .20, .22 and .25.) but a 50 foot-pound .22 caliber model.

My first impression of it is that it is just flat gorgeous. And this is not just an opinion of one – my wife wandered by while I was writing this review. She stopped. “Is that real wood?” she asked. “Yes,” I said. She said: “And a compass in the stock . . . ooh, I’m getting goosebumps!”

Okay, it doesn’t really have a compass in the stock, but the Daystate symbol — crosshairs through two concentric circles with stars around the perimeter – really resembles one at first glance. Even without a real compass, you’d have to be pretty jaded not to recognize that the Air Range is a nice looking rifle in a 40.5-inch, 8.6-lb package.

Starting at the back, you’ll find a soft rubber ventilated butt pad. Forward of that is the ambidextrous, oiled-walnut thumbhole stock. Moving forward again, just ahead of the thumbhole itself, the pistol grip is knurled on either side and finished on the bottom with a dark hardwood cap separated from the pistol grip itself by a thin white spacer. Above the pistol grip on either side is a shelf for parking your thumb while shooting.

Ahead of the pistol grip, a black metal trigger guard surrounds a silver metal trigger that is adjustable for second stage weight, trigger angle, and first stage travel. Moving forward again, the walnut stock overlaps the trigger guard somewhat. The forestock has a groove on either side that I found quite handy for pulling the Air Ranger down onto my knee while shooting from the sitting position.

Next, underneath the forestock you’ll find a single allen bolt that secures the action in the stock and black cap that can be slipped off to expose a quick fill fitting (a male Foster fitting) for charging the Air Ranger. Above the quick fill fitting on the left side is a gauge to show how much pressure is left in the air reservoir.

Beyond the end of the forestock is a 500cc non-removable air reservoir. Above the air bottle is the barrel, which has a full-length shroud. The aft end of the barrel attaches to the matte black receiver. The top of the receiver has dovetails fore and aft of the breech for mounting a scope. On the left side of the receiver, you’ll find the serial number, the words “Air Ranger” and the Daystate “compass” – all in white. (On the right side of the receiver, you’ll find “Air Ranger,” “Harper Patent,” and “Daystate England.) In the middle of the receiver is a slot for inserting a 10-shot rotary magazine.

At the aft end of the receiver, you’ll find a black metal righthanded bolt, and, to the left of the bolt, the rotary safety. Flick it up to fire and down to SAFE the action.

That’s all there is to the Daystate Air Ranger. Next time, we’ll see how it shoots.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

If you have never tried field target competition, you really owe it to yourself, as an airgun enthusiast, to give it a go. It’s a lot of fun.

On May 1, 2011, I attended and competed in a field target match put on by the Eastern Field Target Competitors Club (EFTCC) at the Dutchess County Pistol Association in Wappingers Falls, NY.

Field target is the fine art of shooting at metallic silhouettes of squirrels, rabbits, birds, and the like. These silhouettes are generally 4-12 inches high. There is a hole, called the kill zone, in the silhouette, and behind the hole is a paddle. If you put a pellet cleanly through the hole, it hits the paddle, and the target falls down. If you hit the face plate of the target or split a pellet on the edge of the kill zone, the target stays upright. What makes field target challenging is that the range to the target can vary from 7 to 55 yards, and the size of the kill zone can range from .25 inches to 1.875 inches. Further – and this is key – there is no correlation between the range to the target and the size of the kill zone. A one-inch kill zone at 10 yards is fairly easy to hit, but a one-inch kill zone at 50 yards can be downright challenging.

Normally, you score one point for each target you knock down (and no points if you fail to drop the target), but the May 1 EFTCC match was scored on a risk/reward system: you got one point if you knocked the target down from a sitting, prone, or kneeling position, but you scored two points if you dropped the target from a standing position. 

The catch in all this is that it is harder to shoot from a standing – or offhand – position. Most lanes had two targets, and you could take two shots at each, four shots in all in each lane. If you were successful with all four shots from, say, a sitting position, you would get four points for that lane, but if you were successful with all four shots from a standing position, you would get eight points. So, is it worth the risk to attempt the more difficult by higher scoring standing shots? That was the question facing the competitors.

Six classes were available for competition at EFTCC: Hunter, WFTF (World Field Target Federation), Pistol, PCP, Spring Gun, and Junior. There were entrants in all classes but Pistol.

Below is my attempt to capture the day in pictures.

The day was gorgeous: mid-70s and low wind. It started with signing up for a class to compete in.

The shooting lanes are along the left edge of the photo, the check-in table on the right.

A couple of typical field targets. Hit the yellow kill zone, and the target goes down.

Can you spot the field target on the tree?

Here it is up close.

 You could spot just about any type of air rifle in the competition.

Tom Holland took first in the WFTF class with this Steyr LG110FT.

Michael Arroyo finished second in Hunter with this Beeman R11.

Glenn Thomas campaigned a Gamo CFX.

Hector Medina took second in Spring Gun Division with a Diana 54.

Veronica Ruf competed with an HW95.

Brian Williams goes prone in Hunter class with his .20 caliber Daystate Air Wolf.

In Hunter class, Greg Shirhall reloads his custom-stocked Marauder.

Robert Bidwell shot a QB78PCP in Junior Class.

Paul Bishop won Spring Gun Division with this custom-stocked HW98.

Jerry LaRocca won Hunter class with his .22 caliber Diana 56TH.

Ron Zeman shot an Air Arms S300 in PCP Division.

Art Deuel finished second in the PCP Division with this customized Marauder.

Nathan Thomas sights in a Marauder. He won the PCP Division with it.

Your Humble Correspondent with his trusty FWB150.

Match Director and Team Crosman member Ray Apelles shot a Marauder Hybrid bullpup that was specially built for ease of transportation to the FT World Champsionship in Italy.

Ray's father Hans is co-Match Director and the other half of Team Crosman. Here he is shooting his lefthanded Marauder Hybrid Bullpup.

And a good time was had by all!

The FT match was a lot of fun. You get to meet a lot of nice people, enjoy shooting for half a day, and see some interesting equipment. What’s not to like?

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

You don’t have to read this blog for very long to figure out that Your Humble Correspondent is a beady-eyed, slavering, unrepentant, not-in-the-twelve-step-program, airgun junkie. Put an airgun in my hand and chances are that I’ll find something to like about it. I just plain love airguns. I love that they cost just pennies a round to shoot, that by and large they don’t generally make much noise, that I can shoot them in my back yard, and that they are just plain fun.

In many ways, I think we are living in the Golden Age of airguns right now. So many manufacturers are making such great stuff that we airgunners have really a wide selection of excellent air rifles and air pistols to chose from.

What follows are some of my current favorites.

The RWS 34 Meisterschutze Pro Compact. This air rifle surprised me by turning out to be one of the most accurate break barrel air rifles I have shot in a long, long time. With one of these, a shooter could hunt, plink, shoot air rifle silhouette or field target without breaking the family budget. You can read more about it here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/12/the-tackdriving-rws-34-meisterschutze-pro-compact.html

The RWS Model 56 TH. This is a big, heavy, wickedly-accurate sidelever springer air rifle with an excellent trigger and a recoilless action. If you can put up with the weight, it is a certified tackdriver. You can read more about it here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/03/big-kahuna-rws-model-56-th-part-i.html and here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/03/big-kahuna-rws-model-56-th-part-ii.html

The HW35E is an absolute classic break barrel springer, available new today. What sets it apart from all other break barrels currently available – apart from its euro styling – is the breech latch that makes sure the barrel and breech have returned to the same position after loading for greater accuracy. The HW35E shoots great and looks terrific. For more info, look here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/08/hw35e.html

When it comes to precharged pneumatic rifles, two spring readily to mind. The first is the Gladiator Tactical. It has enormous storage capacity, gets a huge number of shots between fills, has power levels that can be adjusted at the flick of a lever, is a fast repeater, has a very neighbor-friendly report, and is satisfyingly accurate. You can check out more here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/10/the-outstanding-gladiator-tactical-%e2%80%93-part-i.html and here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/10/the-outstanding-gladiator-tactical-%e2%80%93-part-ii.html

For a PCP rifle that you could use to hunt just about anything you might reasonably want to hunt with an airgun, I’d pick the .25 caliber Marauder. It delivers over 40 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle and, with its Green Mountain barrel, will deliver dime-sized groups at well beyond 50 yards. You can get more info here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/08/25-caliber-marauder.html

When it comes to pistols, I am very fond of the RWS LP8. You can learn more about it here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2009/06/rws-lp8-classic-in-making.html But any of the HW45 pistols are enormous fun to shoot and extremely well made. You can check out one example here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2009/04/hw45-stl-looker-and-shooter.html

If you want a rifle that embodies everything I prize most in an air rifle: accuracy, quiet, fully self-contained, repeater, and powerful enough to dispatch any small game or pests you might want to take with a pneumatic rifle, the FX Independence has it all. Here’s a link to my review: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/06/independence-day.html

Finally, if you absolutely forced me to choose just one airgun as my overall favorite, the one that would be the absolute last one I would be willing to give up, I think it would be an HW30. It’s light, easy to cock, fully self-contained, a delight to shoot, nicely accurate and capable of taking small game out to about 30 yards or so with proper shot placement. Here’s a link to my review of the HW30 De Luxe http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/09/hw30s-de-luxe.html

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Recently, I received a response to the blog from Sean, who said:

I need an air rifle to kill some roosting pigeons and feral cats at a commercial property in Tucson. I want to limit the distance of the shot as much as possible in case I miss my shot.

Any suggestions for an appropriate rifle would be helpful.

Thanks,

Sean

Thanks for the question, Sean. I’ll do my best to provide a useful response.

Your first big concern should be to determine the legality of your situation. Is it legal for you to be discharging an air rifle at this commercial property and is it also legal for you to be killing pigeons and feral cats? The last thing you want is a legal hassle because someone saw you terminating pigeons or feral cats and decided to make an issue of it. That is not the time to discover that you are on the wrong side of the law. So check it out first. If legality is a problem, you might want to see what your options are with a pest control professional.

You mention “I want to limit the distance of the shot as much as possible in case I miss my shot.” Safety is your second big concern. You really have to take a critical look at the area where you intend to shoot. What, indeed, will happen if you miss your shot? Where will your shot go? Will you hit adjoining properties, possibly critical or sensitive equipment, or will your shot go into the air and you have no idea where it will land? (Understand, Sean, that I am not getting on your case here, but simply pointing out that it is your responsibility to be sure of the background where your shot is going to land.)

Study your field of fire and look for alternative shooting positions. If you can arrange a position where you are shooting downward into the ground or into a backstop you devise, that could be very helpful.

One of the unknown variables in the question you pose is the distance at which you will be shooting. That will influence what type of air rifle you choose. You also don’t mention what type of commercial property is involved, and that may make a difference as well.

Scoped HW30.

Some years ago, I did a profile on pest control professional Alan Becker. He is called frequently to kill birds in grocery stores, and one of his concerns is over-penetration. “If he pellet goes through the bird, I have to find it. I don’t want to take the risk that it might be in a food product.” For that reason, Becker uses a Beeman R9 in .177 that launches .177 pellets at 875-900 fps, and a CZ630, also a .177, with a velocity around 600 fps (a readily available equivalent would be the Beeman R7 or HW30). With an HW30 or R7, you should be able to kill pigeons out to about 25 yards.

Here's an older Benjamin 392 set up Scout rifle style with a red dot sight.

If you are forced to shoot upward at roosting pigeons and don’t want to risk damaging the roof, you might consider a Benjamin 392 pump-up rifle. By varying the number of pumps, you can vary the power and velocity of the shot. At as little as 3 pumps, you might be able to kill the pigeon without “killing” the roof.  The 392 can be difficult to scope, but can be outfitted with a peep sight or a pistol scope mounted out on the barrel in “scout rifle” fashion.

The Benjamin Marauder Pistol, outfitted with shoulder stock and scope.

Another good candidate is the Benjamin Marauder pistol/carbine, the power of which can be adjusted, but it’s a bit of a hassle.

The FX Gladiator offers tons of shots, super easy power adjustment, and a high degree of stealth.

Another consideration is noise. Some pest control situations require the utmost in stealth. The .177 Marauder rifle is very, very quiet, and the power can be adjusted, but it isn’t quick and easy. If you want a PCP rifle that offers a lot of shots per fill, power that is adjustable at the flick of a switch, very muted report, and excellent accuracy, the FX Gladiator Tactical is an outstanding choice.

Finally, Sean, whatever you choose, be certain that you practice, practice, practice until your shot placement is precise and sure.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

To ready the P-rod for shooting, fill the air reservoir with a high pressure pump or SCUBA tank to 3,000 psi and load the magazine. For details on how to load the magazine, check out this blog: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2009/05/marauder-part-i.html Pull the bolt all the way back, slide the magazine into the breech slot from the right until it clicks, and push the bolt hand forward and down.

Take aim, push the safety off, and ease the first stage out of the trigger. On the sample I tested, the first stage required only 1 lb. 5.4 oz. At 1 lb., 14 oz., the shot went down range. The Crosman folks have done a wonderful job of designing an excellent new trigger for the P-rod, and I could find no fault with it.

Now here’s where life got interesting in the testing process for me. Check out the picture below. These were the shooting conditions on January 1, 2011 when I first shot the P-rod here in the wilds of upstate New York.

That white rectangle waaaaay in the distance is the pellet trap.

I had loaded the magazine with Crosman .22 Premier pellets. Look at the target below. The first two shots cut the inner most ring of the bullseye at 35 yards. The next shot was just slightly outside the inner ring at about 10 o’clock. At this point, I need to talk about something that I have never seen mentioned in the shooting forums: the psychology aspect of shooting groups.

The truth is that when I saw how tight those first three shots were, I started to get excited. I could feel my heart rate go up. I tried to calm myself by exhaling. Some of my breath landed on the eyepiece, which started to get a bit fogged up. My next shot landed to the right at about 3 o’clock, so I tried several calming breaths so settle myself down. That’s when the eyepiece got considerably fogged, with the result that the last shot landed near the outer ring. Unfortunately, I was under time pressure, so I had to accept the results I got. Nevertheless, I am convinced that .25-.375 inch groups are achievable with the P-rod at 35 yards.

The report of the P-rod, thanks to its shrouded barrel, is very mild. It is not as quiet as, say, a .177 Marauder rifle, but it is certainly no louder than a very quiet springer air rifle like the Beeman R7/HW30.  I think it is the kind of airgun that can be shot in the back yard without irritating the neighbors, but if you want something that is dead quiet for ultra-stealthy pest control, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

In factory tune, the P-rod will deliver around 30 shots from a fill, averaging about 660 fps, which works out to 13.8 foot-pounds of energy (average) with 14.3 grain Crosman .22 Premier pellets. For an actual string shot by Steve, owner of the “Yellow” forum, check out: http://www.network54.com/Forum/79537/message/1293414891/Forum+Owner%27s+First+Review+of+the+Crosman+Marauder+Pistol-+Graphic

Also, if you want to see how the P-rod can be adjusted for various parameters, check out this work by “Airgun Enthusiast: http://www.network54.com/Forum/79537/message/1294258894/The+Benjamin+Marauder+Pistol+At+Various+Fills+%26amp%3B+Settings

In case you haven’t figured it out already, the upshot is that I really liked the Benjamin Marauder Pistol. It is light, easy to handy, accurate, admirably quiet, highly adjustable and has a great trigger. I can see many airgunners starting with the P-rod as their first PCP airgun and being satisfied with it for a very long time.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott