Posts Tagged ‘RWS’

Just last night I had an encounter with a fellow who is an experienced hunter, firearms user, and sportsman, and he knows very little about airguns. His lack of knowledge of about airguns about airguns isn’t a rare thing. Most of the experienced sportsmen that I know have very little conception of the world of adult precision airguns. Their knowledge is pretty much limited to what can be found on the shelves of the big-box stores, and there the packaging screams: 1200 feet per second, 1300 feet per second, 1500 feet per second! This leaves the consumer to assume that more feet per second is somehow better, and it does the consumer a gross dis-service in making a buying decision.

So let’s suppose that you think maybe it would be neat to try airgunning, but you really don’t have a clue what to buy.


First on my list would be a Benjamin 392. This is a solidly made single-shot, bolt-action, .22 caliber, multi-stroke pneumatic air rifle. It is easy to shoot well, delivers enough power for small game hunting or pest control, and with care should last for decades. I would buy one with a Williams peep sight. Scoping the 392, or its .177 caliber brother the 397, is difficult.


Next up would be the highly respected RWS Model 34. This is a single-shot, break-barrel air rifle available in .177 or .22 with power enough for hunting or field targe. Like all spring-piston air rifles, it requires some care to shoot well. The build quality is excellent, and the trigger is far better than you will find in the typical big-box break-barrel springer. In addition, the Model 34 is easy to mount a scope on.


Third is the Weihrauch HW30S. This is a lower-power break-air rifle that is easy to cock, offers excellent accuracy, and is perhaps the easiest springer to shoot well. Many airgunners I know say it is the last air rifle they would sell. It can be readily scoped, the build quality is outstanding, and it will deliver decades of service with the occasional rebuild. It can be used for pest control and garden defense with careful shot placement at close range.


My favorite springer is the Walther LGV. These are break-barrel, single-shot spring-piston air rifles that are easy to cock and incredibly smooth to shoot. With a scope mounted, you could hunt, plink, shoot field target with a huge grin on your face. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend one to a friend.

When it comes to pre-charged pneumatic rifles, it’s hard to go wrong. Virtually all of them will deliver one-inch groups at fifty yards under good conditions with the right pellet.


Turning to air pistols, the Crosman 1377c is an excellent starter pistol that people love to customize. It’s a single-shot, bolt-action, .177 caliber pistol that is fun to shoot and can be used for small pest control at close range. The rear sight, however, requires a safecracker’s touch to adjust.


If you want pure, accurate, air pistol shooting fun, the Daisy Avanti Triumph 747 can’t be beat. It’s a single-stroke pneumatic pistol that’s wimpy in power and no good for pest control or hunting but highly accurate, and people use them all the time in air pistol silhouette matches.


If you want more power and a challenge, I suggest any of the Weihrauch HW45 pistols. These are spring-pistol air pistols that are tricky to shoot well but are fun to shoot and master. They also offer enough power for defending the birdfeeder at short range.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott




Sometimes the most important part of this business of writing a weekly airgun blog is waiting . . . waiting for the weather to clear . . . waiting for equipment to arrive, and so forth.

Right now I am waiting for both the weather to clear and some equipment to show up, and my wife suggested that it might be useful to answer some questions. I thought about this for a moment and decided it was an excellent suggestion. So here goes . . .

This is a question I get fairly often in the comments section of the blog: Where can I buy a (insert name of product here)?

Answer: The first thing you need to know is that I am not an employee of I work under a handshake arrangement with them to write a blog about airguns once a week. As such, I do not have an intimate knowledge of AoA’s inventory, order plans, and such like. However, in the past I have been a customer of AoA, and I have first-hand knowledge that they pride themselves on providing excellent customer service. Basically, they try to treat their customers in the way that they themselves would like to be treated. They have long ago realized that if they do a good job of matching an airgun to a customer’s needs and wants, they will have more repeat business and fewer customer satisfaction issues. In addition, Airguns of Arizona does not “spiff” its staff. Spiffing is the common practice of offering a monetary bonus to sales people if they sell a particular product. Spiffing, where practiced, leads sales people to recommend products to customers solely on the basis that they will make more money, not on the basis that it is the best choice for the customer. I was a victim of spiffing once when I purchased a ham radio, and I think that spiffing is vile. Bottom line: if you need an airgun or airgun accessory, reach out to the good folks at AoA. They will do their best to steer you right.

Question: Recently Kelton, a reader of the blog, wrote in with the follow question: “How long do you think the discovery will last if I shoot about 2000 pellets through it every month? I have had many spring guns and none have lasted more than six months. I think because I shoot so much I wear out the spring and seals.”

Answer: Well, Kelton, there are really two answers to your question. The first is that I have no idea how long a Discovery, with its precharged pneumatic powerplant, will last if you shoot about 2000 pellets through it a month. The second regards your troubles with springers. Springers are among the most durable and reliable airgun powerplants. I once asked Robert Buchanan, president of Airguns of Arizona, which was the most reliable airgun powerplant. He didn’t hesitate for even an instant: “Springers,” he said. “We never get them back.” Check out this blog “Just how durable are those springers anyway?” My best suggestion to you is that you purchase a high-quality springer such as an RWS, Weihrauch, or Walther that is backed by a good warranty. Sure, occasionally you may need to have the spring or seals replaced, but with high-quality springers, it is worth doing; you’ll have a rifle that, with proper care and infrequent rebuilds, will provide a lifetime of shooting service.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

This week’s blog contains a couple of things.

The new black kink-free hose can be tied in a knot much tighter than this one without kinking.

The new black kink-free hose can be tied in a knot much tighter than this one without kinking.

First, now has kink-free hose for PCP filling assemblies. It’s available as a complete filling assembly or just the hose alone. Greg at Airguns of Arizona tells me you can tie an actual knot in the hose, pull it tight, and it will still work just fine. For prices and availability, contact the good folks at AoA.

Second, I have been up to no good, again, thinking about air pistols, survival situations, and such like.

First, some background: back in 2008 or 2009, I discovered an outfit called the United States Rescue & Special Operations Group, or USRSOG. You can find their website at On the introduction page, it says: “This site was created specifically for military personnel that could easily find themselves in a foreign country, without the vast assets of the United States military’s tactical or logistical support. In places where not only the people are a threat but maybe the weather and terrain conditions are as well.” USRSOG offers a nifty survival and evasion manual called “Six Ways In And Twelve Ways Out.” You can find out more about it if you click on the Field Manual section of the Training page.

For their survival firearm, USRSOG recommends a heavy barrel match grade .22 caliber pistol equipped with a red dot. An impressive list of game has been taken with these pistols, including Coon, deer, turtles, fish, quail, squirrel, turkey, rabbits, possum, frogs, snakes, ducks, geese, fox, muskrat, birds, beaver and that’s just in North America.

The 1377 with steel breech and red dot on top and the Trail NP pistol on bottom.

The 1377 with steel breech and red dot on top and the Trail NP pistol on bottom.

This inspired me to consider whether any of the current crop of self-contained air pistols might make a useful tool for, say, a hiker or canoeist who was thrust into a survival situation. I decided to experiment with three pistols: an RWS Model LP8 Magnum fitted with a red dot, a Crosman 1377 fitted with a metal breech and red dot, and a Benjamin Trail NP (NitroPiston) pistol with iron sights.

The LP8 pistol with red dot at left and the Kip Karbine at right.

The LP8 pistol with red dot at left and the Kip Karbine at right.

I printed out a groundhog target from my collection and set it at 20 yards. Then, using a fresh target each time, I fired five shots at the target from a sitting position. I hit the woodchuck image three out of five times with the LP8 pistol, three out of five times with the 1377, and only once out of five times with the Trail NP. From this I concluded that I might be able to hit small game at least some of the time with an air pistol at 20 yards, shooting from a steady position that I might assume in the woods.

The woodchuck target I used, printed on an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper, with a pellet tin for scale.

The woodchuck target I used, printed on an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper, with a pellet tin for scale.

Next I wanted to discover what kind of penetration these air pistols would deliver at 20 yards. I set out a “tin” can – a Dole pineapple can, to be exact – and shot at it with the three pistols. The 1377 penetrated one side of the can; the Trail NP penetrated one side of the can, and the LP8 penetrated one side of the can. (I had to make several tries with the LP8 before I hit the can.)

The much abused can.

The much abused can.

I tried the Kip Karbine (a 1377 built up in .22 to be a short carbine) and it penetrated one side of the can on one shot and dented it on another shot. I pulled out my tuned Beeman R7 (HW30 equivalent), and it penetrated only one side of the can. Finally I tried a Benjamin 392 multi-stroke pumper and a Sheridan MSP, and, at eight pumps, they both blew through both sides of the can.

I repeated the experiment at 13 yards with all three pistols, and still they penetrated only one side of the can.

So what was my takeaway as a result of all this fooling around? First, I think the air pistols I tested are powerful enough to take small game out to 20 yards with proper shot placement. Even though the LP8 and NP pistols are a lot of fun to shoot, it is more difficult to shoot accurately with their spring-piston/nitro-piston powerplants than with the multi-stroke pneumatic 1377. In addition, in stock form, 1377 is well over a pound lighter than the LP8 and NP pistols.

As a result, the 1377 with a steel breech and red dot would be my first choice, among these three pistols, for a potential game-getter on a backpacking or canoeing trip. I would, however, test the 1377 before each outing because I once had the seals fail on an MSP airgun while it was stored in a gun cabinet.

In addition, it seems abundantly clear that if you plan on using an air pistol as a possible survival tool, you (and me) would be well advised to practice with it sufficiently to be proficient. Finally, in general it is a lot easier to shoot accurately with an air rifle than it is with an air pistol.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

From last week’s blog, remember that Blair wrote in, asking:

  1. In your experience, what would you recommend as the best gun (top 3 in order) and caliber to purchase in order to maintain a regular food supply? I live in Georgia in a suburban area with woods all around. (squirrels, turkey & smaller deer) I don’t plan on being a collector of numerous airguns however, price is not a limiting factor.
  2. What are your preferred scopes and range finders?
  3. Since, in theory, the electricity may be out, I will need to hand pump the rifle. What is the best (most efficient, easiest to use and reliable) pump available?

Until recently, Blair, I would have recommended a multi-stroke pneumatic rifle as your first choice since they are self-contained and easy to shoot well, but my thinking has changed. The reason? One of my favorite MSP rifles failed simply by being stored in a gun closet. One of the seals failed, and the rifle would not pump and hold air.

And that is a problem with all MSP, SSP, CO2, and PCP airguns – they are seal dependent. If a single seal fails, the air rifle may quit functioning entirely, ruining its ability to gather food for your family. So unless you intend to stock a spare seal kit and learn how to repair the air rifle you choose, I would not recommend for your purposes an airgun with an MSP, SSP, CO2 or PCP powerplant. Don’t get me wrong: there are many wonderful MSP, SSP, CO2 and PCP airguns out there, and it gives me great joy to shoot them, but in the scenario that you describe, Blair, with the lights out and the need to gather food urgent, I would go with the most reliable airgun powerplant I could find.

Spring-piston air rifles (springers), on the other hand, tend to be fail-soft. You can burn a piston seal, kink or break a spring, and they will continue to launch pellets, albeit at lower velocity. I once asked Robert Buchanan, maximum leader at Airguns of Arizona which was the most reliable airgun powerplant, and he said, “Springers. We never get them back for service.”

So I would recommend a medium-power springer in .22 caliber. Specifically, an RWS34 in .22, a Weihrauch HW95 in .22, or, if you want a somewhat lighter, less powerful air rifle, the Weihrauch HW50 (the Brits, after all, have taken a lot of game with 12 foot-pound air rifles). As to scopes, the good folks at have more experience with the reliability of different kinds of scopes than I do, but I can tell you that my very first high-quality airgun scope, a Bushnell Trophy 3-12 x 40 is still alive and well after more than a decade of airgun testing. I use a Bushnell rangefinder, but I recommend that you learn to estimate range for yourself because you may need to do it quite rapidly in a hunting situation.

In addition, Blair, I reached out to Jim Chapman, who also blogs for Airguns of Arizona on hunting topics: . He is a knowledgeable and enthusiast hunter, and I deeply respect his opinion, so I asked for his take on your questions.

Here, verbatim, is his response:

Hi Jock;

This subject comes up quite a bit, my thought is that the airgun in this situation has a limited and specific role. If I could only have one gun in a true survival situation, it would not be an airgun, but rather a .22 rimfire that I could use for small game, head shoot a deer for food, and in a last ditch effort use for defense. Ammo is cheap and you could store vast quantities and high capacity magazines if you had to use it for defense.

The role I’d have for an airgun in a survival situation would be for stealth hunting to take small game without generating a lot of noise. Plus you could store thousands of pellets that cost relatively little and take almost no room to store. If the lights went out for good, this would be invaluable for harvesting plentiful small game.

The gun I’d choose for this would be a mid powered (circa 16 fpe) spring piston airgun in .22 caliber. I find that squirrels go down faster with a .22 than a .177 with a head or body shot, and if you need the food the last thing you’d want to see is your mortally wounded squirrel disappearing into its den to die.

My personal home survival kit is a supply of food and water to last my family for some time, appropriate centerfire rifles, pistols, and shotguns for hunting and defense, my bow for stealth hunting big game, and many airguns (I have a big collection after all) for small game. We live in a suburban are bordering lots of farmland and woods, and hunting for food might come into play, but mostly I’d want firepower to defend what we have.

Maybe not what folks would like to hear from an admitted airgun fanatic, but it’s the way I see things.



PS; If I was stuck on an island with no dangerous game and no need for defense, the same airgun discussed above would be my first choice. In the right situations an airgun could keep you fed indefinitely.

Finally, Blair, whatever airgun you choose for food gathering, it’s important that you practice your skills before the need arises. You didn’t say anything about your hunting skills, so if you are inexperienced, you need to learn how to hunt and prepare game before you are forced to learn under duress.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott



The RWS 240 is simplicity itself.

The RWS 240 is simplicity itself.

A short while ago, I suggested that if you’re suffering from the wintertime blues and want to get  rid of the I-can’t-wait-for-spring grumpies, a little trigger time with some pistols indoors might be just the medicine that will soothe your soul while you wait just a bit longer for the temperatures to rise and the buds to appear.

Some folks are, by personal preference, training, or genetic proclivity, pistol freaks. I have a pal who wouldn’t walk across the street to shoot the best long gun in the world, but would put himself at considerable trouble to shooting an interesting new air pistol.

I realize, though, that pistols are not everyone’s cup of tea. So, what to do if you are a long gun enthusiast and seriously can’t whack up the ginger to shoot air pistols indoors?

Fortunately, I just recently shoot the answer: the RWS Model 240 Schutze. This is a small, light, low-powered air rifle that is just the ticket for low noise, high fun shooting indoors, even at very limited range.

RWS 240 004-001

The 240 stretches 41 inches from end to end and weighs just 5.7 pounds. At the aft end, you’ll find a soft rubber butt plate that is separated from the ambidextrous hardwood stock by a black plastic spacer. The stock is entirely free of any adornment such as checkering or grooves. The pistol grip is slanted at about a 45 degree angle and forward of that, a black polymer trigger guard surrounds a folded sheet metal trigger that can be adjusted for first-stage travel.

RWS 240 007

RWS 240 005

Moving forward, the slim forestock tapers slightly and has a slot underneath to provide clearance for the cocking linkage. Forward of that, you’ll find the barrel, which has a plastic fitting on the muzzle end that serves as a mount for the fiber-optic front sight. The front sight looks like a classic globe sight but has cut-outs on the sides to allow light to illuminate the red optical fiber. Moving back along the barrel, a notch-type rear sight is mounted on the breech block. It has green optical fibers on either side so that a proper sight picture looks like green-red-green dots inside the front globe. I found the buttstock has just enough rise in the comb to provide perfect alignment for my head behind the sights.

The receiver is fitted with dovetails for mounting a scope but no holes for anti-recoil pins. I am guessing that is because this air rifle generates very little recoil. The factory manual rates the velocity at only 490 feet per second (without specifying the pellet weight), and speeds of 565 fps can be generated only by shooting very light – 7.0 grain – RWS Hobby pellets. That works out to only 4.9 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.  At the extreme aft end of the receiver is an automatic push-pull safety. That’s all there is to the 240. This is an air rifle of extreme simplicity.

To ready the 240 for shooting, grab the end of the barrel and pull it down and back until it latches. This requires only about 19 pounds of effort and opens the breech for loading. Slide a pellet into the breech, return the barrel to its original position, take aim, slide the safety off, and squeeeeze the trigger. The first stage comes out of the trigger at 12.9 ounces, and the shot goes downrange at 5 pounds, 2 ounces. While the trigger is a wee bit heavier than I would prefer, still I found the 240 a pleasure to shoot. It easily produced dime-sized groups at 13 yards with open sights.

This is a gun you could shoot all day in the basement, and the report is very mild. It is also a low-powered air rifle, so I wouldn’t recommend it for hunting or pest control, unless it is small game at close range, and you are very confident of your shot placement. In my casual testing of penetration with the 240, I found that, at 5 yards, a 7.9 grain pellet would blow through both sides of a tin can, but at 13 yards, it would penetrate only one side of the can.

But as a plinker or an indoor practice tool, this is a lovely gun, and it would make a wonderful gift for a youngster who wants to move up from a BB gun to his or her first “serious” airgun or an adult looking for something to do while waiting for spring.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Last time I suggested that if you really want to put a grin on someone’s face this holiday season, you might want to make them the gift of an air rifle, combined with the gift of your time shooting with them.

The excellent Daisy Avanti 747 pistol.

But for some folks, an air pistol might be a better choice. If you want an air pistol that is suitable for casual plinking and backyard shooting yet could be used for silhouette competition or club-level ten-meter competition, the Daisy Avanti 747 is an excellent choice. It is a single-stroke pneumatic that is completely self-contained, is easy to cock and shoot, make a mild “pop” when it goes off, has virtually no recoil, and is wickedly accurate with the right pellet. The 747 is so mild-mannered that it probably could be shot in an apartment with a silent pellet trap and a little covering music. About the only thing that the 747 is not good for is pest control. It is simply too low powered to be used for humane pest control.

The CO2-powered Crosman 2300S has excellent sights.

If you want an air pistol that doesn’t even require a cocking stroke, consider the CO2-powered Crosman 2300S. It has a Lothar-Walther choked match barrel and meets IHMSA rules for “production class” silhouette competition. It uses 12-gram CO2 cartridges but delivers around 60 shots per cartridge. This pistol features a Williams rear notch sight with target knobs for easy adjustment and is extremely accurate with the right pellet. I would not recommend the 2300S for pest control, except for very small pests at close range.

An LP8 pistol equipped with an optional red dot sight.

If you want an air pistol that recoils, there are two really good choices that immediately come to mind. The RWS LP8 is a break-barrel springer pistol that can be readily fitted with a red dot, and is powerful enough for defending the bird feeder at close range.

An HW45 in the Black Star configuration.

Any of the HW45 series of pistols are also excellent. They are slightly more difficult to fit with a red dot, but they are extremely well made and deliver enough power for pest control at close range. I have personally terminated a squirrel using a .177 HW45, and I have heard stories of folks killing much possum-sized game with an HW45 at close range.

One of the interesting things about the HW45 is that the piston works backwards. A pistol like the RWS LP8 is like a scaled down breakbarrel rifle. You crank the barrel down to cock the gun, and you’re driving the piston and spring back, toward the palm of your shooting hand. When you trigger the shot, the spring and piston rocket forward, just like a break barrel rifle.

But cocking the HW45 is totally different. You pull back the ‘hammer’ to release the rear of the upper, and then you pull the rear part of the upper up and forward to cock the pistol. While you’re doing that, you’re actually dragging the spring and piston toward the muzzle of the pistol until they latch. When you trigger the shot, the spring and piston leap toward your hand. The shot cycle feels different than the LP8, but both the LP8 and HW45 are a lot of fun to shoot, and I have spoken to several airgunners who really enjoy the challenge of learning to shoot these spring-piston air pistols well.

With any of these air pistols, you’ll likely need a pellet trap, a selection of pellets, some eye protection, and perhaps a red dot sight. Ask the good folks at, and they’ll fix you up with what you need.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

From time to time the good folks at send me a care package of guns and other goodies that they think I might like to play with and test. Usually the package contains the latest offering from various airguns manufacturers.

Recently, though, the AoA gang surprised me by sending an air rifle that I had been aware of ever since I became interested in adult precision air rifles over a decade ago but had never seen or shot . . . the RWS Model 48.

Now that I have handled and shot an RWS 48, I must admit that I am really astonished that there isn’t more buzz about this air rifle on the online forums. It really is a very nice gun that performs quite well. More about that in a little while. First, let’s take a walk around the RWS Model 48.

The cocking lever is mounted on the right side of the receiver.

The RWS Model 48 is a sidelever single shot spring piston air rifle. Available in .177 or .22, it stretches 42 inches from end to end and weighs 8.5 lbs without a scope. At the extreme aft end of the 48 is a soft rubber recoil pad that is attached to the ambidextrous hardwood stock with a white plastic spacer. The stock is completely unadorned with any checkering, slots, grooves, or other decorations. The fit and finish is very pleasing to my eye, and with the exception of the cocking lever being mounted on the right side of the rifle, it looks like it could be shot equally well by right or left handed shooters.

The pistol grip has a moderate slope to it and forward of that is a black trigger guard that surrounds the black metal T06 trigger. Forward of that, the forestock is smooth and tapered. Underneath, toward the end, a large screw helps to secure the action in the stock. Forward of that is the barrel, at the end of which is a molded plastic muzzle brake that also serves as a mount for the blade-type front sight.

Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the receiver and a notch-type microadjustable rear sight. Behind that is the breech. A silver metal breech block slides back when the cocking lever is pulled back to allow loading of pellets. Further back is a dovetail for mounting a scope, and at the back end of the receiver is a push-pull safety. That’s it – the RWS Model 48 is simplicity itself.

Before you can return the cocking level to its original position, you have to press down this small metal tab on the left hand side of the breech.

To ready the Model 48 for shooting, grab the end of the side cocking lever (I usually prop the gun on my thigh with the muzzle pointed vertically) and pull it down and back until it latches (it takes just under 40 pounds of effort). Insert a pellet in the breech. At this point, the cocking lever is locked in the full back position to prevent the breech from inadvertently snapping forward and injuring your fingers. Before you can return the cocking level to its original position, you have to press down a small metal tab on the left hand side of the breech, otherwise you can’t close the breech.

Take aim at your target, ease the first stage out of the trigger (this takes about 1 lb. 8 oz. of pressure), and begin squeezing the second stage. At about 2 lb. 9 oz., the shot is goes down range.

The RWS Model 48 delivers a serious turn of speed, launching .177 JSB Exact RS 7.33 gr. pellets at 1058 fps average (18.22 foot-pounds of energy) and JSB Exact Heavy 10.34 gr. pellets at 853 fps average (16.7 foot-pounds).  The report is about what you would expect from a springer of this power: a WHACK that sounds a bit like someone hitting a board with a hammer.

The accuracy is also what you might expect from a springer of this power. From a rest, at 25 meters (27 yards), I put five JSB Exact pellets into a group that measured .875 inch edge to edge, or just under .7 inch center to center. That’s certainly good enough for defending the garden.

The Vortex Crossfire II 4-12 x 40 AO scope seems very solidly built and has a terrific warranty.

I tested the RWS Model 48 with the Vortex Crossfire II 4-12 x 40 AO scope aboard, and I’ve got to say that I continue to be impressed with these Vortex scopes. They are bright, clear, and appear to be very solidly built. The model I tested features the Dead-Hold BDC reticle, which provides multiple aiming points. Even more impressive than the construction and the reticle of this Vortex scope is the warranty: an unlimited, unconditional lifetime warranty through Vortex Optics. Clearly, the folks at Vortex believe their scopes can withstand whatever punishment we airgunners can dish out.

I mounted the Vortex using an RWS 1-inch Lock Down Mount that is specifically designed for RWS air rifles. It offers two anti-recoil pins, a very secure grip on the scope rail, and .025 inch elevation to compensate for the barrel deflection in RWS rifles. If you’re going to mount a scope on an RWS rifle, I highly recommend this mount.

In the end, I liked the combination of the RWS Model 48 and the Vortex Crossfire II scope. It’s a flat-shooting no-frills fixed-barrel combo that should provide years of shooting fun.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Every once in a while, you’ll see on the Yellow Forum a topic centering around the topic: “What would be the best survival air rifle?”

I always read these forum threads with great interest because the topic of survival in the wilds has always fascinated me. I remember reading the tale of a group of young men who made an exceptional canoe passage on a Canadian river in high northern latitudes. The passage of the full length of this particular river had never been done before; they had a limited time window in the arctic summer, and they would be beyond communication and beyond outside help, completely on their own. As I recall, they had some accidents, lost some of their supplies, and scarcity of food became an issue.

As I read the account, I began to wonder: if I had to select an airgun to take with me on such a trip – one that would be suitable for collecting food – what would it be?

A while back in this blog, I came up with a list of characteristics that I would like to see in a survival airgun. Looking back at it, I have decided to modify some of my thinking, and I have noted the changes in italics.

1. Portability. That means either a pistol or a rifle than can be readily broken down or at least a rifle that is not overly heavy.
2. Self-contained.

3. Sufficient power for taking small game.

4. Stealthy report to minimize scaring game.

5. Easy to shoot well. Spring-piston powerplants are the hardest to shoot well because of their whiplash forward and back recoil. Multi-stroke pneumatics are easy to shoot well.

6. Reliability. Airguns dealers tell me that springers are the most reliable powerplant. You can usually put at least a couple of thousand rounds through one before a rebuild is needed, and some are far more reliable. Further, springers tend to be “fail soft,” that is, you can break a mainspring, burn a piston seal, and many springers will continue to launch pellets, albeit much less efficiently. By contrast, some multi-stroke pneumatics can fail in storage simply because the seals dry out or lose flexibility.

7. Ease of maintenance. Spring piston powerplants typically require a spring compressor for assembly and disassembly. MSPs usually can be taken apart with hand tools. Also, a high level of weather resistance.

You’ll notice that some of these characteristics are at odds with each other, so you have to make your gun selection based on what’s most important to you.

A couple of weeks ago, the folks at UmarexUSA sent me an air rifle that would make my short list for a survival airgun – the RWS Model 34 P.

The 34 P, a variant of the classic Model 34 breakbarrel air rifle, stretches 46 inches from end to end and weighs just 7.7 lbs with its fiber-optic iron sights. At the aft end of the buttstock is a black plastic butt pad with “Diana” (the name of the German manufacturer) and some horizontal ridges molded into it. Moving forward, the entire stock – buttstock, forestock, and trigger guard – is molded of an all-weather engineering polymer that has a very fine-grain pebble finish. At the pistol grip and foregrip, there are high-profile ridges molded into the polymer that do an admirable job of providing grip.

The red fiber optic front sight.The green fiber optic rear sight.

The molded trigger guard houses the new metal TO6 trigger which is adjustable only for length of first-stage travel. Underneath the forestock is a long slot that provides clearance for the linkage when cocking the 34 P. At the end of the barrel, a molded polymer muzzlebrake serves as a mount for a globe-type front sight which houses a red fiber optic rod. The sight “hood” has slots in it that allow sunlight to reach and illuminate the optic fiber. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the notch-type rear sight which has green fiber optics on either side of the notch. The result is that the correct sight picture will show one green dot on either side of a red dot. Moving further back, you’ll find a dovetail for mounting a scope and, at the extreme aft end of the receiver, a push-pull resettable safety.

To ready the 34 P at the muzzle break and crank the barrel down and back until it latches. This will take about 30 lbs. of effort. Stuff a pellet into the breech and return the barrel to its original position. Take aim at your target, take aim at your target, and squeeze the trigger. On the sample that I tested, the first stage came out at about 1 lb. 9 oz. At 2 lb. 4.6 oz., the shot went down range with alacrity – the 34 P was launching .177 caliber 7.9 gr. Crosman Premier Light pellets at 905 fps. With a scope mounted, I was able to put 5 JSB Exact pellets into a group at 30 yards that you could easily cover with a dime.

In the end, I find the RWS Model 34 P to be a worthy candidate for a survival air rifle. It is highly weather resistant, the fiber optics sights are easy to see and provide an excellent sight picture, and the accuracy is commendable.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott



If there is one thing that irritates the dickens out of me, it’s the emphasis on velocity seen so often in mass-market airgun advertising: 1,000 feet per second . . . 1,200 fps . . . 1,500 fps . . . even 1,600 fps. And you can tell it’s getting through to people who don’t know any better.

A couple of years ago, the good folks at Airguns of Arizona very graciously invited me to come out and attend the NRA show being held that year in Phoenix. It was a great time, and I spent a number of hours at the AoA booth. Invariably, someone would come up, eyeball the gorgeous guns in the display, and ask (pointing at a particular gun), “How fast does it shoot?”

After a while I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I began to politely explain how that velocity is really not the primary concern when it comes to air rifles and air pistols, how speeds above 1,000 fps are generally a Bad Idea with airgun pellets because of turbulence in the trans-sonic region, and how air rifles, unlike their powder-burning cousins, can’t drive pellets fast enough to stay supersonic all the way to long-range targets, causing accuracy woes as the pellet drops back into the trans-sonic region. I’m sure you know all that already, but I can tell you it was an eye-opener for some of the folks attending the NRA show.

The plain truth is that I like shooting wimpy-powered air rifles. It all started in my brother-in-laws backyard. He was shooting a humble Beeman R7/HW30, and I was shooting a Venom-tuned HW97. We were trying to hit a small kill zone on a field target 20 yards away, and he was dropping the target more often than I was. This annoyed me, since I had just spent a lot of money on the aforementioned HW97. We switched guns, and I promptly beat him. The truth was evident: his 6 fp breakbarrel air rifle was easier to shoot well than my much higher powered model.

So we decided to do an experiment. At the next field target match, we would each bring a 6 fp gun, on the theory that knowing our guns were easy to shoot well would help us to achieve high scores even though we were giving up power, velocity and flatness of trajectory. It worked. At the end of the day we each shot a personal best.

Lest you think that performance was some sort of freak occurrence, let me share a couple of other tidbits. The first time that I ever won a field target match was with a scoped PCP match rifle shooting just 570 fps. At another match, I saw Ray Apelles shoot a match high score with an FWB 300 match rifle, which was launching pellets at around 600 fps. And on many other occasions, I’ve seen competitors shoot decent scores and have a great time shooting low-powered tack drivers.

This is my lightly customized Beeman R7/HW30.

If you would like to experiment with turning to “the wimpy side of the force,” the king of the low-power tackdrivers is the HW30. It’s just 38.75” long, weights 5.5lbs, and features a very nice adjustable trigger. It launches Crosman Premier 7.9 grain pellets and delivers them at around 620 fps, producing tiny cloverleaf groups at 10 meters. You can check out my full review here:

Two other low-power break barrel air rifles that I have tested in the past are the BSA Meteor and the RWS Model 24.

A BSA Meteor. This is not the most current model.

More than 2,000,000 BSA Meteors have been sold worldwide, making it one of the most popular air rifles of all time. It is just 42 inches long and weighs 5.75 lbs. I tested a used early model that put Daisy Match pellets downrange at 610 fps. The trigger was hard to pull and was not adjustable, but I’m told that the new Mark VI models have an adjustable trigger.

The RWS Model 24.

The RWS Model 24, now available used, is a real sleeper. At 42” inches long and 6 lbs, it is a very plain looking gun, but it sure does shoot. JSB Exact 8.4 grain pellets went through the traps at 578 fps and drilled one-hole groups at 10 meters. The trigger had a bit of creep, but is very predictable, making accurate shooting easy. I understand the Model 24 has been replaced by the 240, and I hope to have a look at one of those in the future.

I have campaigned this FWB150 in field target competition and had a lot of fun doing it.

 Another possibility for the shooter who wants a low-power tackdriver is the FWB 150/300. Available only used, these are recoilless spring-piston match rifles that are easily scoped and a joy to shoot.

 Finally, for the shooter who wants a hyper-accurate low-power air rifle, many of the modern FWB PCP match rifles can be scoped, and, at ten meters, you’ll find nothing on the planet that is more accurate.


Til next time, 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