Posts Tagged ‘pellet gun’

FZ200 FX Bobcat 001

If you have been reading this blog for any time at all, you know that I like airguns. Airguns deliver potloads of shooting fun in a package that can be shot in a lot of places where discharging a firearm will get you in a world of trouble. Lately, I have been particularly enamored of smaller air rifles that aren’t too long, and are relatively light and easy to handle

The FX Bobcat fills the bill on all counts. A bullpup design, it stretches just 29.5 inches from end to end, weighs just 7.8 pounds before a scope is mounted, and is available in .22 caliber, .25 caliber, or .30 caliber. The factory says the .22 version will generate 30 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle on high power; the .25 caliber version, 46 fp, and the .30 version, 75 fp. The good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me the .22 version to test.

FZ200 FX Bobcat 004

At the extreme aft end of the Bobcat is a soft rubber butt pad that can be adjusted vertically. It is attached to a one-piece matte black stock that is molded from engineering polymer. Just forward of the butt pad, there is a hole in the stock. It can be accessed from the righthand side and used to store extra magazines. Forward of that on the left side of the stock is another hole which contains a clearly marked air gauge. Forward of that on the bottom of the stock is a male Foster fitting for filling the on-board air reservoir with a SCUBA tank or high pressure pump.

FZ200 FX Bobcat 005

Forward of that is a pistol grip with finger indentations and the trigger guard which surrounds a black metal trigger. Forward of that, the forestock is unadorned except for the extreme forward end, underneath which is a flat spot that looks like it could be set up with a Picatinny rail for mounting accessories. Above the forestock is the air reservoir, and above that, the shrouded smooth twist barrel.

At the end of the barrel is a fitting that can be unscrewed, allowing the attachment of a barrel shroud extension. Moving back on top of the barrel, you’ll find a long dovetail assembly for mounting a scope.

On the left side of the receiver forward of the breech, there is a wheel that allows the power to be set at one of three levels. Just to the rear of that is the breech, into which a rotary magazine is inserted. Aft of that, on the left side, the rear of the receiver is covered with a smooth metal cheek rest. The Bobcat is a decidedly right-handed air rifle.

Just aft of the breech on the right side of the receiver, you’ll find the breech lever and a lever type safety. That’s it.

I liked the fit and finish of the Bobcat. I particularly liked its no-nonsense, all-business looks and smooth matte black finish on the stock.

Next time, we’ll take a look at how the Bobcat shoots.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

pie plate massacree 001

Recently I heard from a reader who was responding to my attempt to test the claims made for the Predator Polymag pellet. You can read that blog and the comments that follow here: http://198.154.244.69/blog/2011/08/shooting-household-objects-%E2%80%93-a-test-of-the-predator-polymag-pellet.html

In a nice note, Mark, who says he is a professional shooter with over 20 years’ experience, made a number of comments, among them: “Simply if hunting small game you don’t want to punch a little hole through you want a pellet that goes in expands uses all its kinetic energy in the animal and that gives much better quicker kills. I’ve tested these poly pellets along others in .22 and have seen the results they do penetrate and unleash more kinetic energy than most …”

He also said, in effect, that he didn’t think my tests on inanimate objects really proved anything and that if I did some testing on actual rabbit heads I might be surprised at the results. Now, I take Mark’s point: maybe my tests on inanimate objects really don’t prove anything. And, if Mark or anyone is getting really good results with Predator Polymag pellets in the field, that’s all that really matters. If the Polymags deliver the accuracy and lethality you need, the defense calls no further witnesses. Read the original blog carefully and you’ll see that at no point did I say that the Predator Polymag pellets were bad pellets. Instead, I simply couldn’t prove – in my tests – the claims of “incomparable penetration and expansion.”

As to the suggestion that I test on actual rabbit heads, in theory it is a good one, but the practical problems seem daunting: I don’t have a supply of rabbit head available for testing and – even more importantly – I lack the dissection skills to make sense of the results. Nevertheless, Mark had planted the seed of an idea: maybe I should give the Polymag Predator pellets another test to see if I had got it wrong the first time.

So I decided to do some more testing, again on inanimate objects. For outright penetration – the ability to crack a skull – I decided to use a metal pie plate my wife gracious donated to the cause. For penetration in somewhat softer material, I selected a piece of 5/8-inch-thick hard wood. And for penetration and expansion, a thick paperback book that I had purchased at a used bookstore and didn’t care to finish.

The pie plate was thick, enameled, and looked to be pretty tough. To get calibrated as to its ability to withstand penetration, I set it up at 13 yards and launched a 7.9 grain Crosman Premier at it from my high-power .177 caliber Walther LGV. With a clang, the pellet punched through the plate, so I decided to step down in power and brought out my 6-foot-pound FWB 150. Typically, it launches pellets in the mid-600 feet per second range.

The first shot with the FWB150, with a Crosman 7.9 grain premier, dented but failed to punch through the plate. The same thing happened with the Predator Polymag and an RWS Superpoint Extra. An RWS Hypermax alloy pellet, however, punched through the plate with authority.

On the thin wood, the 7.9 Premier, the Polymag, and the Hypermax, when shot from the FWB 150, all lodged themselves near the surface of the wood. When I tried the same pellets launched from the LGV, measuring with a toothpick down the pellet holes, the Crosman Premier apparently penetrated the deepest.

Special note here: shot from the high powered .177 LGV, the Hypermax pellet went supersonic with a loud CRACK! I once kinked the mainspring in a nice German break barrel air rifle while shooting ultralight pellets that went supersonic and caused the rifle to diesel. So unless your air rifle manufacture specifically makes claims for high velocity with alloy pellets (1,200 fps and above), I would avoid shooting ultralight alloy pellets in high power spring-piston airguns.

The one place I can really recommend shooting lightweight alloy pellets is in low-power airguns (such as the Weihrauch HW 30 rifle or RWS LP8 pistol) for pest control at short range where you might want lots of penetration and then have the shot “die” very quickly. And – this should go without saying – only if the pellet delivers the accuracy you need.

Shooting the paperback book with the FWB, the Crosman Premier penetrated to page 131. The Hypermax drilled its way to page 173. I found the red plastic tip of the Predator Polymag at page 198 and the body of the pellet at page 179. The RWS Superpoint penetrated to page 206. All of the pellets caused deformation in the paper pages well beyond where the pellet was found, and none of them – including the Polymag – exhibited any significant deformation or expansion of the pellet body itself.

Just for fun, I also tried shooting the book with a 7-foot-pound .22 caliber pumper rifle that Tim Smith put together for me. Launching a Gamo Hunter round-nose pellet, it penetrated to page 98 in the book.

I sacrificed another thick paperback book to the angry gods of airgun testing, Predator Polymag head-to-head against the RWS hollowpoint. Shooting them through the FWB 150 at 13 yards, I found that the body of the Polymag out-penetrated the RWS hollowpoint by some 34 pages, and the red point of the Polymag penetrated another 12 pages beyond that. There was little deformation to the body of the Polymag while the nose of the RWS pellet had flattened so that it looked like a wadcutter.

Shooting with the high power LGV, both pellets penetrated more than twice as far. The Polymag penetrated 16 pages deeper with the red point three pages beyond that. Both pellets were approximately equally mangled and flattened by their passage through the book. Why the pellets were more flattened by this book than by the first book, I can’t say.

So where does that leave us? First of all, there are clearly more variables to the business of testing pellet penetration and expansion than I have a good handle on. The Predator Polymag may not deliver “incomparable” performance in all cases, but it fares pretty well. So if you are using the Predator Polymag, and if it delivers the accuracy and hunting performance you need, by all means keep using it . . . and, if you like, share with me some of your experiences in the comments section of this blog.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

 

G12 Wolverine 004

To ready the Wolverine B for shooting, pop the cover off the foster fitting under the forestock and fill the 500cc reservoir (that’s the displacement of a decent-sized motorcycle engine!) up to bar using a high-pressure hand pump or a SCUBA tank.

The underside of he forestock showing the Wolverine insignia and the cap over the foster fitting.

The underside of he forestock showing the Wolverine insignia and the cap over the foster fitting.

Next, pull the bolt all the way back so that you can slide the rotary magazine out to the left. Loading the magazine is pretty straightforward. On the back side of the magazine (if you see a full width horizontal groove, you’re looking at the front side of the magazine), there is an indentation at the bottom through which a pellet bay is visible. Push a pellet nose-first into the hole and then rotate the pellet holder portion of the magazine one click to the left (about a quarter of an inch). Load another pellet, click the magazine to the left again, and so forth. Pretty soon, you will have ten pellets loaded (they will be visible through small holes on the back of the magazine).

Slide the magazine into the receiver from the left side, slide the bolt handle all the way forward (this pushes a pellet out of the magazine and into the barrel), and you’re good to go. Take careful aim, flick the safety off, and ease the first stage out of the trigger. This requires just 8.3 ounces of effort. At 1 lb. 15.7 oz., the shot goes down range.

The Wolverine B with the shroud/moderator assembly dismounted.

The Wolverine B with the shroud/moderator assembly dismounted.

Now, before we get to what happens next, an enormous digression. You’ll remember that I mentioned the Wolverine B arrived with the shroud/moderator assembly not mounted on the air rifle. Further, I had heard very good things about the Huggett moderator. What better opportunity to find out how effective the Huggett moderator is than to shoot the Wolverine B with just the naked barrel, then mount the shroud/moderator and shoot it again to observe the difference.

The Huggett moderator is extraordinarily effective.

The Huggett moderator is extraordinarily effective.

So I shot the Wolverine B without the shroud/moderator, and all I can say is: DON’T! Without the moderator in place, this is one loud airgun. Even though Harper valve is efficient at metering the air through the action, the report is loud (not as loud as some of the Korean pre-charged pneumatics that I have shot), and it has a sharp crack to it that reminds me of a .22 long rifle shooting high-speed ammunition.

Slide the shroud/moderator over the barrel and screw it into place and shoot again, and you’ll find all that noise simply goes away. What was a loud and neighbor-annoying report becomes a soft “ping.” It is remarkable, and even more remarkable in an air rifle of the Wolverine B’s power. Take a look at the chart below. The .22 Wolverine gets at least 85 shots out of a fill-up and generates over 30 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. That’s more than enough power to take whatever game you might reasonably want to take with a .22 caliber air rifle.

WolvB22

The Wolverine easily produces dime-sized groups at 100 feet, and I’m willing to bet that, with care and optimal conditions, it will produce similar size groups at 50 yards. The state of the art in today’s pre-charged pneumatic air rifles is so high that it is fairly rare to find a PCP rifle that won’t do dime-sized groups at 32-33 yards and well under an inch at 50 yards.

In the end, I liked the .22 Wolverine a whole lot. It is a big, powerful, accurate, and incredibly quiet air rifle that would make any airgunner proud.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

 

 

 

 

The Daystate Wolverine is an air rifle that does a lot of things well.

The Daystate Wolverine is an air rifle that does a lot of things well.

What technology is doing with the latest generation of airguns is pretty amazing.

Recently, the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me a .22 caliber Daystate Wolverine B for testing. The gun arrived with the barrel shroud, which incorporates a permanently-bonded Huggett moderator, uninstalled. The user has to slip the shroud/moderator assembly over the naked barrel and screw them together. And what the Huggett moderator does for the Wolverine B is pretty spectacular.

The walnut stock is ambidextrous.

The walnut stock is ambidextrous.

We’ll get to that in a little while, but first let’s take a guided tour of the Wolverine B which stretches nearly 44 inches long and weighs 8.1 lbs. without a scope. At the extreme aft end is a soft rubber butt pad which is attached to an ambidextrous Walnut stock crafted by Minnelli in Italy. The hand-finished thumbhole stock features a cheek piece on either side, a nearly vertical pistol grip with the Wolverine insignia on both sides, and a landing pad for the shooter’s thumb on either side in case you want to shoot with your thumb in opposition to your trigger finger.

The trigger, bolt, and breech.

The trigger, bolt, and breech.

Just forward of the pistol grip, there is a black metal trigger guard that surrounds an adjustable silver metal trigger. Forward of that, the underside of the forestock is adorned with the Wolverine insignia, and forward of that, there is an inlet in the stock that contains a black metal knob. Remove the knob, and you’ll find a male foster fitting for filling the air reservoir. Above the foster fitting on the left side of the stock is an air gauge that tells how much pressure remains in the tank. On either side of the stock, just below the receiver, you’ll find the Daystate name and logo embossed into the wood.

At the front end of the forestock is the air reservoir, a 500cc black metal bottle. Above that is the barrel, which is silver metal, and the matte black shroud and moderator assembly slides over it. At the aft end of the barrel is the matte black receiver. The breech, which holds a ten-shot rotary magazine is located roughly in the middle, and there are dovetails fore and aft of the breech on top of the receiver for mounting a scope. At the aft end of the receiver is the silver metal bolt handle, which can be mounted to the right or left side according to the shooter’s preference. Just under the bolt handle is a sliding-switch type safety.

The Wolverine B is equipped with the Steve Harper designed patented “slingshot” hammer and valve train. It uses inertia to mimic the operation of a solenoid-powered valve hammer and, therefore, eliminates the phenomenon known as “hammer bounce.” Hammer bounce is common in conventional PCPs and involves the valve opening and closing after the main discharge, wasting air long after the pellet has zipped down the bore. The Harper valve delivers extremely efficient use of air, a very high number of shots per charge, a flat power curve, an ultra-fast firing cycle and a relatively quiet (for the power level) muzzle discharge. The slingshot system is also remarkably simple and reliable. As a result, Daystate offers the Wolverine B with a three-year warranty.

Next time, we’ll take a look at how the Wolverine B shoots.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

G12 Brocock Super 6 008

To ready the Elite for shooting, charge the air reservoir to 200 bar. Pull the bolt back all the way and move it down to lock it in the rear position. Slide the rotary magazine out of the breech and examine it. You’ll see that it is a very simple mechanism: a piece of machined steel with an o-ring around the perimeter. You’ll notice that at the center of the magazine there is a small bump on one side and a larger bump on the other side. With the big bump facing you, slide six .22 caliber pellets into the holes provided for them.

An aside: I love the simplicity of this magazine. There are no mechanisms to hold, no plates to rotate, nothing to fool around with; just make sure you are loading the pellets in the proper direction, and it’s easy. I realize that there are two philosophies when it comes to designing repeater air rifles with rotary magazines. One says keep the magazine simple and have the rifle do the job of rotating the magazine. The other says keep the rifle simple and have the magazine, usually with the help of an internal spring, do the job of rotating the pellets into position. Brocock has chosen the first approach, and it certainly makes life easy for the shooter.

Next, lift the bolt handle out of the rear locking position, push the bolt forward and push down to lock it in the forward position. This pushes the bolt forward and slides the pellet out of the magazine and into the barrel. Take aim, ease the first stage out of the trigger (this takes 1 lb. 10.8 oz. of effort) and squeeze the trigger. At 3 lb. 12 oz., the shot goes down range. The Elite launches 16 grain JSB pellets at an average velocity of 857 fps. That works out to 26 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle, more than enough to harvest lots of small game.

BrocockConceptElite22

The accuracy is outstanding. The Elite easily delivers dime-sized groups at 32 yards.

The standard muzzle end fitting that Comes with the Brocock Contour Elite.

The standard muzzle end fitting that Comes with the Brocock Concept Elite.

The report, however, is a bit booming as you might expect from a pre-charged pneumatic delivering this kind of power. It is not the kind of report that will keep you in good stead if you have neighbors living nearby.

The modular moderator fitted.

The modular moderator fitted.

There is, though, a happy alternative. The good folks at FX have come up with something called the modular moderator, and you can have it fitted to your Brocock Concept Elite when you order it from www.airgunsofarizona.com Mounting it involves removing the fitting at the muzzle end of the barrel and then permanently bonding to it the base section of the modular moderator. You can then screw on as many baffle sections as you like, followed by an end piece. Any time you need to, you can unscrew the baffle and end sections for maintenance and barrel cleaning.

The modular moderator unscrewed to allow access to the barrel for cleaning.

The modular moderator unscrewed to allow access to the barrel for cleaning.

I tried the Brocock Concept Elite with a very modest modular moderator on it (one base section, one baffle section, and one end piece), and it reduced the sound level very considerably. It wasn’t dead quiet by any means, but certainly much more neighbor-friendly. (I rather expect the good folks at Airguns of Arizona can probably tell you how many baffles sections are needed to render the Elite almost silent.)

Yet another aside: you can also order a Walther LGV with an FX modular moderator. It tried a high-power .177 LGV fitted with a modest (base, baffle and end piece) moderator and found it made the LGV almost dead quiet.

In the end, I liked the Brocock Concept Elite a whole lot. It’s light, short, handsome, accurate, and can be made pleasingly quiet.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

 

The Brocock Contour Elite

The Brocock Concept Elite

The good folks at Brocock seem to have a different philosophy when it comes to designing air rifles, a philosophy that aims at light, nimble guns that would be easy to carry for a full day afield.

And they seem to be spot on target with the new Brocock Concept Elite, a six-shot .22 caliber pre-charged pneumatic air rifle. The Elite (as I will call it) stretches barely 38 inches from end to end, and with an FX scope and mounts aboard, weighes exactly seven-and-a-half pounds. Naked, the Elite tips the scales at just six pounds 12 ounces.

G12 Brocock Super 6 005

At the extreme aft end of the Elite is a soft rubber recoil pad. It is attached to a decided right-handed thumbhole stock with a raised cheek piece on the left side of the buttstock. Moving forward, there is a landing area for your thumb on the right side just under the aft end of the receiver in case you want to shoot with your thumb in opposition to your trigger finger.

G12 Brocock Super 6 004

The pistol grip is nearly vertical, and there is checkering on either side. Ahead of the pistol grip, hardwood forms a guard around the metal trigger blade. Moving forward again, the slim forestock had checkering on either side.

Above the forestock and extending beyond it is the air reservoir which has a port in the bottom for filling with a special filler probe. The air reservoir ends in an air pressure gauge and is surrounded by a barrel band that clamps to the reservoir and the barrel above. At the muzzle end of the barrel is a screw fitting that can be removed. More about this later. There are no iron sights on the Elite; this is an air rifle that is designed to be scoped.

Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the receiver. It has dovetails on top, in front of and behind the breech, for mounting a scope. On the left side of the receiver is a rectangular protuberance, which I presume houses some of the mechanism for advancing the rotary magazine. On the right side of the receiver is the breech which allows the rotary magazine to be slid in from the right side and the bolt, which can be locked into either a forward (closed) or aft (open) position.

The overall fit and finish of the Brocock Concept Elite is, in my opinion, simply outstanding. With the exception of the silver-colored rotary magazine and bolt handle, all the metal parts are finished in semi-gloss or matte black, and the rest (with the exception of the butt pad) is handsome hardwood. This is an air rifle that I think any airgunner would be proud to own and shoot.

There is no safety that I can find on the Elite. Shooters can, of course, keep the gun safe by never, ever, pointing the muzzle at anything that they don’t want to see perforated by a pellet and by keeping their fingers well clear of the trigger except when they are ready to shoot. In addition, a shooter may render the Elite unable to shoot by locking the bolt in the rearward position. With the bolt in that position, it feels to me that there is a magnet that keeps the rotary magazine from falling out of the breech when the bolt probe is pulled all the way back.

Next time, we’ll take a look at how the Brocock Concept Elite shoots.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The new FX No Limit Mounts. Notice the big Allen screw just above the two main mounting screws.

The new FX No Limit Mounts. Notice the big Allen screw just above the two main mounting screws.

Unless you decide that you are going to shoot exclusively with non-glass sights such as iron sights or peep-and-globe target sights, eventually you are going to have to deal with the issue of scopes, including mounting and adjusting them.

For some basic background information, check this blog on mounting scopes — http://198.154.244.69/blog/2009/03/mounting-scope.html — and this blog on adjusting them — http://198.154.244.69/blog/2010/04/how-scopes-really-work-and-what-not-to.html .

At some point, however, whether you encounter a springer that has built-in barrel droop or find yourself with the desire to shoot a pre-charged pneumatic air rifle at really long range, you are likely to run into a problem: lack of sufficient elevation adjustment in your scope.

I have faced that problem several times in my airgunning career, and, to my knowledge, there are only a handful of ways of addressing it. The first is to use a different scope, one that has a greater range of adjustment. This can work fine but is generally the most expensive option.

Another option is to switch to a special “drooper” mount for the scope. Some manufacturers offer special drooper mounts that are designed to work with their airguns that have barrel droop built in. I have used these special mounts successfully but they lack flexibility beyond their built-in droop compensation because they cannot be adjusted.

Alternatively, some airgunners opt to raise the back end of the scope by placing metal or plastic shims between the underside of the scope tube and the top of the rear mount. The danger with shims – especially if you are trying to achieve a large amount of vertical adjustment — is that by raising the scope tube at the rear and providing no compensation at the front mount, you raise the possibility of putting mechanical stress on the scope tube that could bend the tube or damage the scope. I have successfully shimmed scopes in the past, but it is not an optimal solution and doesn’t work well when you need a lot of adjustment.

Another option is to “lap” the scope mount rings to angle the scope downward as it passes through the rings. I have never personally used this method of providing for additional elevation.

Finally, I have in the past seen scope mounts that could be adjusted fore and aft to provide additional elevation adjustment, but most of these (a) looked flimsy to me and (b) required dis-mounting the scope to make adjustments.

But now the good folks from FX airguns have introduced something called “No Limit” mounts. They look like ordinary scope mounts, but there is an extra Allen screw above the foot of the scope mount.

Loosen the big Allen screw and the No Limit Mounts can be raised.

Loosen the big Allen screw and the No Limit Mounts can be raised.

With the scope mounted straight and true, you can loosen those Allen screws and adjust the elevation by lifting the front and rear mounts to different heights.  Because the mounts go up and down while tilting forward or back, the scope can maintain a stress-free and relaxing hold.  This allows you to optically center the scope without having to custom lap or shim the rings, and it also allows the long range shooter to re-position his scope angle for a better range of adjustment at extreme distance.

Best of all, the No Limit Mounts can be tilted to provide stress-free elevation adjust of the scope to compensate for barrel droop or long-range shooting needs.

Best of all, the No Limit Mounts can be tilted to provide stress-free elevation adjust of the scope to compensate for barrel droop or long-range shooting needs.

With springers with droop in their barrels, the No Limit mounts allow you to customize your scope angle to align with barrel angle.  The folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com tell me pcps have different angles too.  They see it when moving one test scope from rifle to rifle.  No Limit mounts allow the shooter to “tune” the scope to the rifle before cranking on the elevation turret.  Even if you don’t have a barrel droop problem or lack of elevation range issue, the No Limit mounts can raise or lower the scope to fine-tune its alignment to your eye.

No Limit mounts do not offer any windage adjustment.  The designers at FX felt that if they allowed left/right movement, it would be difficult to keep the mount stable, so they steered clear of that feature.

In my view, FX has come up with an excellent solution to a problem that is bound to vex every airgunner sooner or later.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The Fusion with the included scope mounted.

The Fusion with the included scope mounted.

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

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

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

The butt stock and pad.

The butt stock and pad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

silhout2

Proponents of air rifle silhouette will tell you enthusiastically that air rifle silhouette is the most fun as you can have standing up. In involves shooting at four types of metallic animal shapes: chickens, pigs, turkeys and rams. The targets are the same size as the silhouettes used in air pistol silhouette, but you shoot at them at longer distances: chickens, 20 yards; pigs, 30 yards; turkeys, 36 yards, and rams, 45 yards. Generally, you shoot at 10 of each target, and when you hit them, they fall down (in the case of resettable targets) or go flying.

What makes air rifle silhouette even more challenging is that all shooting is done from the standing (offhand position), and unlike 10 meter air rifle competition, the use of special shooting jackets, pants, shoes, and so forth is forbidden. Competitors must shoot in ordinary street clothing. The irregular shape of the targets adds to the challenge and the fun.

If you want to get involved in air rifle silhouette, you will need an air rifle capable of shooting, at a minimum, dime-sized groups from a rest at 20 yards. Since during competition  you will not be shooting from a rest but will be shooting from a standing position, you – like all humans – will wobble. Given that all of the silhouette targets have narrow elements (the legs for example), you want an accurate rifle that will hit what it is pointing at, should you inadvertently wobble your aim over a small portion of the target. Naturally, whatever air rifle you use, you will want to shoot groups with a variety of pellets to discover which pellet is the most accurate in your rifle. You’ll want to check to make sure that the pellets you select group well at 20 yards and at the longest distance, 45 yards.

You’ll also want a scope. Although selecting scope magnification can be tricky – low magnification diminishes your apparent wobble but makes it harder to view the targets, and high magnification increases wobble while making the silhouettes appear larger – but folks in the know tell me that a 6-12x or 6-18x scope is a good place to start. You’ll want a scope with an adjustable objective to reduce parallax error, and, if you are shooting a springer, you’ll need a scope that is springer rated. In addition, because the trajectory of your air rifle can vary from 20 to 45 yards, you will want some means to compensate for the differing trajectory. Some shooters use target knobs to change the elevation of the crosshairs and others use mil-dot scopes, selecting the appropriate dot for different ranges.

Many air rifle venues offer different classes of competition. Target class is for any unaltered 10 meter target air rifle. Since many 10 meter target air rifles launch pellets at around 600fps, compensating for the wind, particularly at the longer distance, can be pretty “entertaining.”  Sporter class is where you will find spring-piston, gas-ram, and CO2 powered air rifles. All air rifles and scopes must meet an 11 pound weight limit. Open class is where you’ll find precharged pneumatic air rifles that do not fall into the target class. There are other specifications for each class so always check the current NRA silhouette rules to make sure your air rifle will be legal to use. You can find the rules on the NRA web site here: http://compete.nra.org/documents/pdf/compete/RuleBooks/Sil-r/sil-r-book.pdf

For practice, I can recommend this target: https://www.airgunsofarizona.com/Beeman%20Targets.html

The last thing you’ll need is a place to compete. You can find out about air rifle silhouette matches by contacting the National Rifle Association. This website — http://www.nra.org/nralocal.aspx — will help you find local NRA-affiliated clubs in your area. Unfortunately, you will have to contact them individually to see which ones offer air rifle silhouette competition.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

A typical field target attached to a tree in the woods.

A typical field target attached to a tree in the woods.

Targets that react when hit by an air rifle pellet are just plain more fun than those that don’t. That’s why I enjoy air rifle field target.

This is what it looks like before the shooter puts his eye to the scope.

This is what it looks like before the shooter puts his eye to the scope.

At first glance, it’s a pretty simple game. It involves shooting metallic silhouettes of birds and small game Each silhouette has a hole – or kill zone – in it, and behind the hole is a paddle. If you put a pellet cleanly through the hole and hit the paddle, the target falls down – with a gratifying clang – and you get a point. If the pellet hits the faceplate of the target or splits on the edge of the hole, the target does not fall down, and you don’t get a point.

As they say in the infomercials, but wait, there’s more: the distance to the target can vary from 10 to 55 yards, and the size of the kill zone, or hole in the target, can vary from 3/8 inch to 1 7/8 inch. Depending on the whim of the match director, you may face any size kill zone at any distance. Trust me: that one-inch kill zone that appears dead easy at 10 yards looks downright microscopic at 50 yards.

Hector Medina shooting a custom tuned RWS 54 springer.

Hector Medina shooting a custom tuned RWS 54 springer.

In addition, air rifles used in field target competition generally shoot at sub-sonic velocities,. As a result, you will need to compensate for the trajectory of the pellet at various ranges. On top of that, the wind will also tend to deflect your pellet as it moves from muzzle to target.

Mix all of these factors together, and you get a sport that requires (1) figuring out the distance to the target, (2) compensating for your gun’s trajectory at that distance, (3) doping the wind, and (4) executing the shot with enough precision to put the pellet cleanly through the hole. What makes it fun, beyond the clang and bang of the targets when they fall, is that field target is never the same twice. Each match is a little different, depending upon the layout of the course and the environmental conditions on any given day.

Hans Apelles of Team Crosman shooting a precharged pneumatic rifle of bullpup configuration.

Hans Apelles of Team Crosman shooting a precharged pneumatic rifle of bullpup configuration.

A typical match may consist of 2 or 3 targets per lane, two shots per target, and 10 shooting lanes, resulting in a 40-60 shot match. Most shots are taken from a sitting position, although some match directors will mix in some standing and kneeling shots as well. Most field target competitions take place outdoors, although some clubs host offhand-only matches in the winter in which shooters stand in a heated building and shoot at outside targets.

At present, there are dozens of field target clubs spread across the United States and more around the world. At most U.S. matches, you’ll find two classes: PCP and Piston. Some clubs also have classes for Junior shooters, Offhand shooters, WFTF (World Field Target Federation, limited to 12 foot-pounds) shooters, and Hunter Class, which limits scopes to 12X and allows the use of shooting sticks and seats. A typical entry fee for a match is $10 or less.

So what do you need to compete in field target? First, an air rifle. You can enter with almost any .177, .20 or .22 air rifle that generates less than 20 foot pounds at the muzzle, but to be competitive, you’ll want a rifle capable of shooting one-hole groups at 10 yards and holding a half-inch 5-shot group at 30-35 yards.

There are two basic classes of gun used in field target. PCP class guns are “pre-charged” pneumatic air rifles. They are powered by compressed air stored in a cylinder usually located below the barrel of the gun and charged using a SCUBA tank or a high-pressure hand pump. PCP field target guns can run from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending the level of sophistication.

Piston Class rifles rely on a spring or a gas ram that is cocked, usually by a lever under the barrel, to supply the energy to drive the pellet. When the trigger is pulled, the spring or ram is released, driving the piston forward and the pellet down the barrel. Because a lot of machinery is moving inside the gun before the pellet leaves the muzzle, piston air rifles are more difficult to shoot accurately. Highly accurate piston air rifles suitable for field target can be purchased for $500-600.

Second, you’ll need high quality optics. Many field target shooters favor very high power scopes – a minimum of 24X – because they use them to range-find on the targets. They use the adjustable objective to get the target clearly in focus, and then read the distance off the front bell or side wheel of the scope. In Hunter Class, however, shooters are limited to 12X optics.

Third, you’ll need some good ammunition. You’ll have to test to see with which pellet your gun groups the best. Group size can shrink dramatically simply by choosing the right pellet.

The final thing you will need is something to sit on, since the majority of field target shooting lanes are designed for the sitting position. I use a field target “bum bag,” but whatever gets your rump off the dirt and is comfortable ought to work just fine.

You’ll also need a place to shoot, the American Airgun Field Target Association website www.aafta.org. AAFTA has a list of field target clubs in the United States as well as a resource page of suppliers of field target air rifles, scopes, ammunition, etc.

Field target offers fun, great camaraderie, and the challenge of a high-accuracy sport at a reasonable price. I recommend it highly.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott