Posts Tagged ‘review’

Let’s Talk Pellets - A Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 Cal Pellet Review

It’s my strong conviction that – even now – people spend too little time thinking about pellets!

Many airgunners I know spend endless time and effort on their air rifle, but more-or-less take the pellets for granted. In fact, there’s much to be gained by a careful choice of pellets, as we’ll read in this post…

They’re Great Value.

Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign 15.9 Grain .22 caliber pellets are manufactured by JSB in the Czech Republic specifically for Daystate.

These dome head pellets have been selected and tested to work reliably in Daystate PCP air rifles without further selection. They are intended for use in high-powered, long range PCPs fitted with Lothar Walther barrels.

As these pellets are used to test guns at the Daystate factory, that would clearly seem to be an strong validation of that claim!

However, as you would expect, they also work well in many other air rifles, too.

Let’s Talk Pellets - A Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 Cal Pellet Review

Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 caliber pellets are priced at $16.95 for a tin of 500. This makes the cost of each pellet 3.4 cents. This is surprisingly cheap and makes these pellets an absolute bargain!

As a heavy domed pellet, these Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign pellets are normally used for hunting and other general shooting. Of course, JSB has an outstanding reputation for producing quality pellets. So – combined with the Daystate name – expectations are high for the Rangemasters.

Detailed Test Results.

We tested these pellets in considerable detail and here’s the results…

Achieving a consistent head size is a major aim for most pellet manufacturers. For the Sovereigns we tested, it was extremely well controlled. No less than 88% of the tested pellets had a head diameter of 5.52 mm, with a very few outliers – only 0.01 mm (that’s less than 4 Thou) smaller or larger – on either side of this as you can see from the chart below.

Let’s Talk Pellets - A Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 Cal Pellet Review

The actual average weight of the pellets we tested was 15.88 Grains. This is within 0.02% of the claimed weight of 15.9 Grains. Very close indeed!

So, the average weight of the Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign 15.9 Grain .22 caliber pellets we tested was very, very close to the claim at 15.88 Grains. However, only 6% of the tested pellets actually weighed 15.90 Grains.

Ten percent of the tested pellets weighed 15.91 Grains. This was the most common weight, as we can see from the chart below.

Let’s Talk Pellets - A Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 Cal Pellet Review

The lightest pellets tested using our “laboratory grade” milligram balance weighed 15.65 Grains. The heaviest 16.07 Grains. That’s a variation of 2.7%.

Twenty percent of the Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign 15.9 Grain .22 caliber pellets we tested measured 7.46 mm in length. The shortest pellets measured 7.41 mm, the longest 7.59 mm, that’s a spread of 2.4%.

Let’s Talk Pellets - A Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 Cal Pellet Review

Such consistency in manufacturing is a major cause of both consistent muzzle velocity and accuracy.

As a  part of this comprehensive pellet-testing procedure, we washed the pellets and weigh the amount of dust that’s an inevitable by-product in the manufacture of lead pellets.

The tin of Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign 15.9 Grain .22 caliber pellets we tested contained 0.23 Grains of dirt. That’s 0.046 Grains per 100 pellets, or 0.00266% of the pellet weight. That’s extremely low and another indication of quality manufacturing!

Downrange Performance.

We tested the actual Ballistic Coefficient for these pellets using a Labradar Doppler radar system and found it to be 0.029. This is exactly the same figure as claimed by Daystate. It’s also relatively high for a .22 caliber domed pellet and indicates strong downrange performance.

Due to the high BC of these pellets, they retain 70% of that initial Muzzle Energy out at 45 Yards. So, it’s clear that the Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign 15.9 Grain .22 caliber pellets are suitable for hunting at long ranges, especially when fired from a powerful PCP air rifle, as intended.

Packaging.

Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign 15.9 Grain .22 caliber pellets are packed in a push top tin. There’s a disk of foam inside the tin so provide protective padding during transport. The large diameter tin matches the volume of the pellets and padding well, so no rattling is heard when the full tin is shaken.

Let’s Talk Pellets - A Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 Cal Pellet Review

I’ll go on record as saying that I much prefer screw-top pellet tins. I tend to have unintended disasters when opening push-top tins and one happened to me during this test!

Of course, that’s the reason to decant your pellets into one of those beautiful leather Wilkins pellet pouches before you go shooting…

Let’s Talk Pellets - A Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 Cal Pellet Review

And, of course, the Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign pellets are, of course, very far from the only ones that ship in push-top tins!

Summary.

Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign 15.9 grain .22 caliber pellets combine good manufacturing consistency with a below-average price.

The head diameter, in particular, was extremely consistent. These are also very clean pellets.

That’s a great combination. If you’re shooting .22 caliber and not using these pellets, they’re definitely worth trying.

But even with such good manufacturing quality, it’s clear that all pellets are not absolutely identical. If you’re looking for match-winning performance, it’s definitely worth washing and sorting your pellets, even when you’ve found the “perfect” pellet for your gun.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

I first saw this interesting new air rifle at the annual IWA exhibition in Nuremberg, Germany, in 2017. Then it was called the Nova Vista HP-M1000. It impressed me as one of the two most innovative airguns introduced at that show. The other was the FX Crown!

Below, that’s Mr Zhu, the designer of the Nova Freedom, showing me “his baby” at that show.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

Now this multi-pump PCP air rifle is available in the USA. It’s being imported by the distributor American Tactical and you can buy it from Airguns of Arizona. Its name is the Nova Freedom.

Firstly An Overview.

Of course, the idea of a PCP air rifle with a built-in hand pump is not new. Other air rifles have been produced in the past with a similar basic benefit – not needing to carry a separate tank or pump with you to refill your PCP air rifle in the field. The FX Independence springs to mind, of course.

However, the American Tactical Nova Freedom is a new model with some distinctly different engineering and it’s selling for just $379.95. Both .22 cal and .177 caliber models are available.

Below a Leapers Bugbuster scope is a good match for the Nova Freedom.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

The manufacturer is claiming some pretty impressive specifications for this air rifle. Apart from the built-in handpump, the American Tactical Nova Freedom can be filled from a HPA tank. Maximum fill pressure is 3,600 PSI.

There’s an adjustable, two-stage trigger and two power levels settable by a rotating knob.

Pellet feed is via a Marauder-style 10-shot magazine or single shot tray with side lever cocking. And yes, the 10-shot magazine is very similar to that found on the Benjamin Marauder and Umarex Gauntlet. In fact, they’re interchangeable.

Muzzle velocity for the .22 cal version is given as 900 fps or 700 fps – depending on power adjuster setting. In .177 cal, the claim is 1,000 fps or 800 fps.

 

Before Going Any Further…

Yes, the Nova Vista is inexpensive.

Yes, it’s rather “blocky-looking”.

Yes, it’s not designed or manufactured in Europe.

But don’t knock this one until you have tried it!

It is in fact a very capable all-round air rifle that – I believe – will surprise you with its capabilities.

Real World Shooting.

As supplied, the Nova Freedom is hard-hitting and accurate with mid-weight and above lead pellets.

If you’re hunting, set the gun to High Power and be prepared to pump every 5 or 6 shots. We found it produced 29.7 Ft/Lbs in .22 caliber with JSB Jumbo Exact pellets. That’s 965 FPS, higher than the manufacturer’s claims and very decent power!

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

Before shooting it, I expected the Nova Freedom to be rather “clunky” and unsatisfactory to shoot – entirely because of the built-in pump. But that’s actually not the case.

In fact, I found it comfortable and very stable to shoot offhand by holding on to the pump handle and bracing my upper arm against my chest, as shown in the photographs. The pump handle can be locked closed to avoid inadvertent operation in this kind of of use.

For target shooting or plinking, Low Power still gives plenty of FPS and a remarkable 20 good shots between pumping.

 

Pump And Trigger.

The built-in hand pump definitely works!

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

This means that owners of the American Tactical Nova Freedom can do without the cost and inconvenience of a separate HPA hand pump. In addition, it can be filled from an external tank or HPA hand pump if required, however, if you prefer.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

It also means that the user is able to re-fill the Nova Freedom while in the field. This overcomes the inevitable air anxiety (“Do I have enough air?”) that every PCP owner has experienced at one time or another.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom we tested had a trigger pull averaging 2 Lbs 10 Oz.

This trigger is a two-stage design, but the first stage was almost undetectable, feeling more like a little slack on a single-stage trigger. However, the trigger release was quite predictable and consistent. And it can be adjusted…

Adjustments for sear engagement, pull weight and pull length are all accessed from outside the gun using an Allen wrench. The instruction manual supplied with the Nova Freedom gives clear instructions for making trigger adjustments.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

 

I’m Convinced!

If you like this concept, there’s nothing else to touch the Nova Vista in the market at anywhere near the price. The only downside is a slight increase in bulk and weight compared to a conventional PCP.

Try it. I think you’ll be impressed too!

Stephen Archer is the Publisher of Hard Air Magazine.

 

G12 FWB Sport 004There is one thing on the FWB Sport that is a bit unusual: on the dovetails on top of the receiver, there are no holes for anti-recoil pins on a scope mount. Instead there are four horizontal grooves like the ones that are on the dovetails on my FWB 150/300 match rifle. You might be able to fit an anti-recoil pin into one of those grooves, but if the scope moves at all, it might mess up the finish on the rifle.

I decided to use a one-piece mount that has four Allen bolts to mount a Vortex scope, and I had not problems with movement of the scope or mount.

G12 FWB Sport 002

The FWB Sport locks up very snugly, so you have to slap the barrel near the front sight with the palm of your hand to get the action to break open. After that you can grab the barrel and crank it down and back to cock the action and open the breech for loading. I estimate the cocking effort is in the mid-30-pound range, and you’ll hear a little bit of spring noise during the process.

Next, slide a .177 pellet into the aft end of the barrel and return it to is original position. Take aim at your target, push the safety forward to the FIRE position (there is a little red indicator for that), and squeeze the trigger. The first stage requires 1 pound 4 ounces of effort, and a 2 pounds even, the shot goes down range. The trigger is very, very crisp.

G12 FWB Sport 006

The action exhibits a little bit of vibration and a little bit of rattle when the shot goes off, but this is heard, not felt, at the shooter’s position. There is no bucking on twisting, and that makes it easy to shoot this air rifle well.

The FWB sport launches 7.9 grain Crosman Premier Pellets at around 900 feet per second. The accuracy is simply excellent. At 13 yards, I put four pellets into a round hole about the size of a .22 caliber pellet and I yanked a fifth shot. At 32 yards, the FWB Sport put five pellets into a group that measured just 5/8 inch from edge to edge or .448 inch center-to-center. This is an air rifle that I would happily campaign in Hunter Class Spring Piston Field Target competition. Based on the way this air rifle shoots and feels, it inspires confidence when you get to the firing line, and that is critically important.

In the end, I think FWB has succeeded in creating a legacy air rifle. It looks and shoots great and should last for years.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

G12 FWB Sport 001

It’s been more than a decade, and I hope that I am recalling this correctly, but I seem to recall reading in print that it was a Feinwerkbau (FWB) 124 or 127 that first opened the eyes of Tom Gaylord to the extraordinary world of adult precision air rifles.

I have never seen, handled or shot an FWB 124 (.177 cal.) or 127 (.22), but it is my understanding that a lot of America airgunners first got the idea that an air rifle could be really something special from their experiences with the FWB 124/127.

It has been a number of years since FWB has manufactured a spring-piston air rifle (they have been concentrating on their match rifles), but now they have come back in style. The new FWB Sport stretches 44.8 inches from end to end and weighs 8.2 pounds. It is also one of the most expensive spring-piston air rifles I have ever shot. I spoke to the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com , and they, in turn, have spoken to the folks at FWB. The intent of FWB in creating the FWB Sport was not to hit a particular price point or to capture a chunk of the breakbarrel springer market, but to create an “heirloom” air rifle.

G12 FWB Sport 003

As such, I think they have succeeded, but first let’s take a walk around the FWB Sport. At the extreme aft end is a brown rubber butt pad, which is attached to the ambidextrous hardwood stock by a black spacer. Forward of that, the butt stock has a modest rise to the comb and a swell for a cheek rest on either side.

G12 FWB Sport 008

Moving forward, the pistol grip is modestly slanted and has fish scale checkering, which I have never seen before but find attractive, on either side. Forward of that, a black trigger guard surrounds an adjustable silver metal trigger. The design of the trigger guard is unusual, composed of three angled sections. When I first looked at it, I thought it might be a piece of folded metal. I must confess that I don’t actually know what it is composed of. It feels warm to the touch, so I suspect it might be plastic, but if it is plastic, it is exceeding sturdy plastic. If it is metal, it must be some alloy, and it is smoothly finished both inside and out.

Moving forward again, there is fish scale checkering on either side of the forestock, and there is a narrow slow for the cocking linkage on the underside of the forestock. The designers at FWB must have a lot of confidence that the cocking linkage will maintain its precise alignment throughout the cocking stroke, because this is narrowest slot I can remember seeing on the underside of a springer.

The far end of the forestock tapers slightly as it reaches the breech block. Forward of that is the .177 caliber barrel and at the muzzle is a hooded blade sight. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a precision, micro-adjustable rear notch sight, which is fitted into a slot machined into the breech block. I’ve never seen an arrangement like this before, but it seems fairly certain that it will not wobble from side to side and cause any sight alignment problems. The rear sight has four notches that the shooter can select for optimal sight picture.

At the aft end of the receiver is a push type automatic safety that is a serrated metal roller. On either side of the receiver Feinwerkbau is embossed in silver lettering. In all, the fit and finish of the FWB Sport are fully befitting an “heirloom” air rifle.

Next time, we’ll take a look at shooting the FWB Sport.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

G12 FX t12 001

To ready the T12 400 for shooting, slide the cap off the foster fitting, connect a SCUBA tank or high pressure pump, and fill the reservoir to 220 bar. Replace the cap, fill the rotary magazine and slide it into place, and you’re good to go. Or you can do what I did (since I was feeling lazy) and load a pellet at a time into the aft end of the barrel. The beech is deep enough to allow single pellet loading, but a single-shot tray would have made it easier.

G12 FX t12 007

To load a pellet or index the rotary magazine, you have to pull the bolt back until it clicks. This requires a fair amount of effort. I was not able to measure exactly how much effort is required, but I am fairly certain that it is above the 12 pounds that my digital trigger gauge could measure. It is enough effort that I had to take the T12 400 off my casual rests, cradle the air rifle in my lap, grip it with my left hand and pull back hard with my right hand.

Once the action clicks, the bolt will stay in the back position until you push it forward, or you can lock it in the aft position to prevent it from moving forward. This is the only form of safety on this rifle, and you need to remember whether you have inserted a pellet into the breech.

G12 FX t12 004

With the T12 400 loaded, take aim and squeeze the trigger. The first stage requires only 7.9 oz of pressure, and at 12.6 oz, the shot goes off. The report is remarkably subdued, considering the power of this air rifle. It doesn’t boom and it is not raucous, but it is noticeable. This would not be my first choice for shooting repeatedly in a quiet neighborhood, but I suspect that a handful of shots for pest control would be tolerated.

The T12 400 launches 25.39 grain JSB King .25 caliber pellets at 824 fps (average), generating a touch over 38 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. In my mind, that is certainly enough power for hunting anything (raccoons, for example) that I might reasonably want to take with an air rifle.

The T12 400 is equipped with a smooth twist barrel. They enjoy a reputation for being relatively pellet in-sensitive. The barrel on the sample that I tested was decided unhappy with JSB pellets, but gave me a very nice 5-shot group at 32 yards – one-half inch, center to center – with Gamo Pro Magnum pellets.

In the end, if I wanted to hunt small to medium sized game or control small to medium sized pests, the FZ T12 400 in .25 caliber would be very high on my list.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight,

–          Jock Elliott

G12 FX t12 005

Over the years as an airgun writer, I’ve heard or read or seen some wild and wooly tales relating to wound ballistics and airgun lethality. An airgun manufacturer had a video showing a wild pig being killed by a .177 magnum breakbarrel springer. On one of the forums, a fellow claimed to have killed a coyote instantly by putting a .177 pellet in the coyote’s ear canal. A trusted source told me that he had inadvertently killed a deer with a cheap Chinese springer. He was trying to shoot the deer in the behind, to chase it off his ornamental plants. The deer turned, the pellet went between the ribs, a pneumothorax resulted, and he found the deer dead in the flowers the next morning. So, yeah, you can kill really big game with really small pellets. (Along the same lines, archer Howard Hill once killed an elephant with a long bow.)

But then you have to ask the next questions: Is it a good idea? Is it recommended? Is it a “best practice?” The answer, in my view, is emphatically: NO! (If you are the Howard Hill of airguns, then you already know what you can and cannot accomplish with various calibers and power levels of airguns; this blog is addressed to the rest of us ordinary mortals.)

In general, if you want to hunt small to medium sized game and/or do pest control with an airgun, you want enough power to penetrate deeply into your quarry and a wound channel that is big enough to damage organs and cause lots of bleeding. Incidentally, the only sure way to cause instantaneous death in any creature is to disrupt the central nervous system. That’s why police snipers will, in general, aim for the brain stem – the spot where the brain connects to the rest of the nervous system.

And that brings us to this week’s airgun, the FX T12 400 Synthetic. www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me one to test, and I have to say that I am impressed. First, I just plain like the way this air rifle looks. It’s clean, purposeful. No frills, no foofaraw – just the stuff you need and everything in its place. It stretches 39.75 inches from end to end and weighs just 6.5 pounds before you mount a scope. It’s available in .22 or .25 caliber. I tested the .25 version. The T12 400 is a “bottle” gun, that is, it has a large bottle-type air reservoir that, in this case, holds 400 ccs of air. That’s where the “400” designation comes from.

G12 FX t12 003

At the extreme aft end is a thick rubber butt pad that can be adjusted vertically after loosening a screw. Forward of that is a matte black ambidextrous synthetic stock that has a fairly vertical pistol grip and thumb rests on either side at the top of the pistol grip. The finish on the entire stock has a soft rubbery feel that is pleasant to touch and easy to keep a secure grip on.

Forward of the pistol grip is a black metal trigger guard that surrounds a black metal adjustable trigger. Forward of that, on the underside of the forestock, is a pressure gauge to let you know how much pressure is left in the air reservoir. Moving forward again, at the end of the forestock you’ll find the air reservoir. Above that is the barrel, finished in black with a sound moderator permanently affixed to the muzzle end.

G12 FX t12 006

Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a steel sleeve that brings additional rigidity to the barrel for improved accuracy. Aft of that is the receiver which has a large breech slot that accepts a rotary magazine. On top of the receiver are dovetails fore and aft of the breech for mounting a scope. On the right side of receiver is a large bolt handle which has two positions: locked closed and locked open. Also on the right side of the receiver, forward of a breech, is a male foster fitting that is used for filling the reservoir.

Next time, we’ll look at how well the T12 400 shoots.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight,

–          Jock Elliott

G12 Hammerli AR20 005

I’ll tell you what my first thought was when www.airgunsofarizona.com 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 www.airgunsofarizona.com 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

G12 HW45 177 004I love movies. One of my favorites is “Jeremiah Johnson.” In it there is a scene in which Bear claw Chris Lapp (an experienced mountain man) says to Jeremiah Johnson (a tenderfoot who has nearly starved to death trying to learn to be a mountain man): “Mountain’s got its own ways, pilgrim . . .” Meaning you have to deal with the mountain as it is, not how you wish it was.

Around El Rancho Elliott “Mountain’s got its own ways, pilgrim” has become a code phrase for having to deal with the peculiarities or eccentricities of an individual, organization, or piece of machinery.

The same could be said of the Weihrauch HW45 http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/Weihrauch.htm#WeihrauchHW45 . It is a singular air pistol, and it does, indeed, have its own ways. Nevertheless, you need to know right up front that the HW45 is simply a whale of a lot of fun to shoot.

Greg Glover at www.airgunsofarizona.com calls the HW45 “Old Smokey” because “I can instantly recognize when anyone is testing an HW45 in the shop. I can smell the dieseling and see the smoke.”

G12 HW45 177 005

Recently I tested a new HW45 in .177 caliber and right out of the box it dieseled and smoked just like Greg said it would. The HW45 stretches 11 inches from end to end and weighs 2.54 pounds. At the extreme aft end of the receiver is what appears to be a hammer but is actually a release that allows the back half of the “upper” to be moved for cocking. The pistol grip is scaled like that on a 1911 Colt automatic, and there are ambidextrous walnut grips with diamond checkering on either side.

G12 HW45 177 009

Just forward of the grip is a lever type safety. Forward of that, a black metal trigger guard surrounds a black metal adjustable two-stage trigger. Forward of that is the muzzle and the upper part of the receiver which houses a red fiber optic front sight. The top of the receiver has dovetails so that a scope or red dot sight can be mounted. On top of the receiver, at the extreme aft end is a green fiber optic rear sight that is adjustable for windage and elevation.

What makes the HW45 really interesting is that, compared to other spring-piston air pistols, it is built backwards. If you look at the RWS LP8 pistol http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/rws.html#LP8 for example, you’ll see that it is longer and heavier than the HW45 and built essentially like a scaled-down breakbarrel air rifle. When you cock the LP8, you pull the barrel down and back toward the pistol grip. The process shoves the piston and spring back, toward the rear sight. When you pull the trigger on the LP8, the piston rockets forward and then bounces back off the cushion of compressed air at the end of the compression chamber near the front of the LP8. The muzzle tends to kick up in the air.

G12 HW45 177 006

When you are cocking the HW45, however, you are pulling the rear of the upper part of the receiver up and forward, toward the front sight. This pulls the spring and piston toward the front sight. When you trigger the shot, the spring and piston rush toward the back of the gun and then bounce off the compressed air near the transfer port at the rear of the HW45, which tends to rotate the muzzle downward.

In either pistol, the whole forward and back recoil cycle happens very quickly. But if you shoot with a tight grip on the pistol at first and then loosen it with subsequent shots, what you will tend to notice is that, with the LP8 as you loosen your grip the point of impact will tend to rise, but with the HW45 as you loosen your grip, the point of impact will tend to drop.

The HW45 has a crisp, clean trigger and it kicks hard (for an air pistol) when the shot goes off. (First stage of the trigger on the sample that I tested measured 1 lb. 5.3 oz. Second stage measured 2 lb. 7 oz.) But that, quite frankly, is part of the fun. The HW45 launches 7.9 grain pellets at 451 fps average, and that is hard enough to be useful for defending the bird feeder or the garden at short range. I have successfully used the HW45 to dispatch a squirrel that was causing problems in our attic. See http://198.154.244.69/blog/2008/10/noise-in-attic.html and http://198.154.244.69/blog/2008/10/noise-in-attic-part-ii.html

The HW45 is a fun and challenging air pistol to shoot. Sure, it’s got its own ways, pilgrim, but over time I’ve come to really enjoy this unique pistol.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

G12 Remington resettable target 002

It was Leigh Wilcox, proprietor of the now-defunct Airgun Express, who memorably said to me several years ago: “Fun targets fall down, break, or bleed.”

And he was right. While I enjoy shooting at paper targets, there are times when I just crave to shoot at a target that does something when a pellet clobbers it fair and square.

Recently the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me a large box with a bunch of goodies in it. In addition to a bunch of packing peanuts, there were several air pistols and, at the very bottom, a largish green box that said “Remington Airgun Target.” It also said, “Auto reset,” which I don’t think is exactly correct, but we’ll get to that in a little while.

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Remington manufactures a line of airgun targets. The one that I was sent was a metal silhouette of a wild boar with a 12-inch heavy metal spike attached. The target is very similar to the targets used in field target competition, but it isn’t quite the same. Field targets are designed with a hole – the kill zone – at some location on the face plate of the target. There is a paddle behind the hole, and when a pellet passes through the kill zone and hits the paddle, the target falls down. The target must then be pulled upright using a long string that is attached to the face plate of the target.

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The Remington wild boar resettable target that I was sent has a metal face plate with a hole in it, and behind the kill zone is a paddle. But when a pellet hits the paddle, the entire target does not fall down. Instead, the paddle tilts backwards, and it is clearly visible to the shooter that the paddle is no longer behind the kill zone. To reset the target, the airgunner must shoot the second paddle which is hanging below the face plate. When that paddle is struck with a pellet, it causes the first paddle – the one behind the kill zone – to pop back up to its upright position.

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So while the Remington resettable target is not exactly “automatic” – that is, it doesn’t reset itself without any intervention from the shooter – it does reset without having to pull a string. As another part of the package says, it is a “shoot-to-reset target.” As such, it saves the shooter from the hassle of having to lay out up to 50 yards of string (depending, of course, on the distance) and having to wind it all back up again, as you would with a conventional field target.

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What makes the Remington resettable target particularly appealing is that offers the shooter the ability to vary the size of the kill zone. The basic size of the kill zone is 1.5 inches, but there are two metal inserts that can be rotated into the kill zone to reduce its size to 1 inch or .5 inch.

This target is intended only for use with lead pellets, and several places on the package it says that it is not to be used with non-lead pellets or BBs because of the risk of ricochet. There is one very curious note on the package. It says: “Minimum distance: .177 cal 1000+ fps 25 yards, .22 cal 800+ fps 35 yards. Presumably this is to prevent damage to the target which would probably take the form of dents to the metal. I would guess that most airgunners would find hitting a half-inch kill zone at 35 yards pretty challenging. I know that I would.

The Remington resettable target doesn’t come with any written instructions that I could find, but its use is pretty straightforward. After a while, however, the face plate and the paddles will become smeared with gray lead from the pellets so that eventually it will become difficult to see the paddle clearly behind the kill zone. When that happens, a little spray paint – flat black for the faceplate and yellow for the paddles – will make everything visible again.

The Remington resettable target is simply a lot of fun. If you are an airgunner, you need one of these. It will put a grin on your face.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

G12 S&W CO2 revolver 005

This week we are continuing our exploration of replica air pistols with one of my personal favorites, the Smith & Wesson 6″ revolver. This .177 caliber revolver is a replica of the Smith & Wesson powder-burning revolver, and it looks and feels like the real thing.

The 6-inch Smith weighs 2 pounds 12 ounces and is 11.5 inches long. It has a 6-inch rifle barrel, a 10-shot rotary magazine and is powered by a 12-grain CO2 cartridge hidden in the pistol grip. The Smith can shoot both double action (where you pull the trigger to cock the hammer and discharge the shot) and single action (where you cock the hammer first, then discharge the shot by pulling the trigger.

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The entire pistol is polished, blued metal, with the exception of the rubber grips (it also comes in a nickel finish). On the left side of the frame, below the hammer and just forward of the pistol grip, is the pellet clip release lever. To ready the pistol for shooting, press the pellet clip release forward. This will release the pellet clip, allowing you to swing the 10-shot magazine out to the left. Remove the magazine from the shaft. Set it aside for the moment.

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Next remove the right hand grip by prying it up at the forward edge near the trigger guard. This reveals a chamber into which you will insert a 12-gram CO2 cartridge with the small end pointed toward the hammer. Pull the cartridge lock lever at the bottom of the pistol grip down as far as it will go. Loosen the gold-colored cylinder screw by turning it clockwise. Insert a new CO2 cartridge into the chamber. Tighten the cylinder screw by rotating it gently counterclockwise until snug. Return the cartridge lock lever to its original position by pushing it upward – this may require considerable effort. This should pierce the CO2 cartridge. To confirm this, point the pistol in a safe direction, and squeeze the trigger. You should be rewarded with a “pop.”

If you don’t hear a pop, swing the cylinder lock downward, tighten the cylinder screw a bit more, and try again. Once you are certain that the pistol is discharging CO2, it’s time to load the rotary magazine. With the ratchet teeth facing you, insert pellets headfirst into the ten pellet bays, taking care that the pellet skirt is level with or slightly below the edge of the pellet bay.

Slide the magazine back onto its shaft with the ratchet teeth facing toward the hammer, and swing the magazine back into position. You are good to go, and you can shoot the S&W either double action or single.

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And this is the point in the testing process where I was mightily surprised. This is my favorite replica pistol, and I enjoy shooting it a fair amount. My personal pistol is tricked out with a red dot sight but otherwise it is unmodified. Further, I never found it particular bothersome to shoot double action, although I prefer to shoot it single action because the trigger is lighter.

So imagine my surprise when I tested the Smith with my electronic trigger gauge and found that double-action shooting required an astonishing 9 pounds 4 ounces of effort on the trigger. Shooting in single-action mode, the trigger weight is considerably less but still required 6 pounds 4 ounces of effort. Before I made the measurement, I would have guessed that double-action mode required about 6 pounds of effort and single action, maybe 2.5 pounds. I tested both my pistol and the sample that www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me and got similar results with both.

So why doesn’t the S&W feel heavier to shoot? My theory is that the ergonomics of the grip and the trigger work together especially well (at least for my hands), particularly when shooting with a two-handed weaver grip.

The factory says that the Smith will deliver up to 426 fps, and I believe it. At 10 feet, I found that it would punch through a soup can most of the time, and, if you loaded the magazine with ultralight non-lead pellets, it would blow through one side of the can all the time and very often punch an exit hole through the other side. Of course, like other 12-gram CO2 powered air pistols, if you shoot very fast, the velocity and the penetration force will drop. Nevertheless, I think that the Smith packs enough wallop that it could be used for control of small pests (for example, a rat trapped in a garage) at short range.

In the end, I like the S&W 6-inch revolver a whole lot and can recommend it for pistol shooting fun.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott