Big news from Extreme Benchrest 2019 is that Airguns of Arizona will be selling the American Air Arms range of PCPs!
American Air Arms is a relatively new company that has been steadily growing its range of PCP air rifles. As is implied by the company name, these are completely designed and manufactured in the USA. Precision CNC manufacturing systems are used to create most parts and US-produced materials are utilized wherever possible.
For example, the receivers are made from 7075 high strength Aluminum. The HPA tubes (max fill pressure 4,000 PSI) are manufactured from Titanium.
The aim is to produce a durable, high quality product that really performs and which really is Made in America!
At this year’s Extreme Benchrest competition, a number of American Air Arms EVOL 22 air rifles were to be found down the firing line.
For example, last year’s Extreme Benchrest Pro Class winner Claudio Flores was shooting one. That’s Claudio, above.
AAA’s President, Tom Costan was out there too, making holes in paper at long range and scoring well (below).
I spoke to Tom and he explained that his idea for AAA airguns is to make a really solid, heavy duty product that’s able to take a huge amount of use – both for competition and hunting.
Tom also confirmed to me that Airguns of Arizona is carrying the EVOL Line, with the Slayer planned to be added in future. At first both companies will concentrate their efforts on the EVOL 22 mini and TAC 30 models, he said, to avoid being spread too thin by demand.
In the meantime, you can phone AoA to find out more information about their new EVOL line. The number’s 480-461-1113, if it’s not already memorized on your phone for some reason!
Tom also explained that he designed the EVOL with a robust, regulated sidelever repeater action in .22, .25 and .30 calibers. He has matched this with a high precision, hammer forged chrome moly tensioned barrel system. The whole gun is perfectly matched, he said, providing the most consistent velocities required for extreme accuracy.
Tom is particularly proud that the EVOL’s barrel is firmly threaded into the receiver for maximum rigidity. Unlike other designs that use set-screws for barrel location, the EVOL’s threaded barrel can’t be knocked out of alignment during demanding field use, he says.
American Air Arms also had a demo range slot at EBR. This gave any shooter the opportunity to examine and try out the EVOL 22 and TAC 30 models. I tried one myself and found it very pleasant to shoot.
These EVOL guns certainly gave me a feeling of durability. They’re lighter than they look. I particularly liked the way that the HPA pressure gauge at the end of the tube is faced to one side. (The left, actually). Now you can check the pressure on an end gauge without having to “look down the barrel”!
The AAA Slayer big bore guns were also performing well in the Production Big Bore Class. Terry Eanetta placed second using one, while Stephen Marsh (below) secured third place.
So – with this development – we can expect to see EVOL air rifles become much more common among shooters. Look out for them at Extreme Benchrest 2020!
Those familiar with airguns probably already know something
about the Swiss-German-American conglomerate SIG SAUER coming to the table in a
big way just three short years ago with their Advanced Sport Pellet (ASP)
line. SIG made a full commitment to
produce high quality, fully functioning replicas of their world-famous
firearms. That commitment hasn’t waned and they have gone whole hog by
introducing their SIGAIR division and are now bringing all airgun production
in-house to their New Hampshire plant.
If you are familiar with SIGAIR products, you may know about the ASP20 break-barrel rifle, SIG’s first foray into the break-barrel realm. As usual with a new product introduction, there is a lot of build-up and hype and this air rifle really lives up to the hype. Purpose built from the ground up, being designed and built entirely in the U.S., engineers from SIG’s firearms division helped on it and the final product utilizes a trigger that came out of SIG firearm technology. It is a magnum class air rifle generating 23 foot-pounds of energy and one parameter the engineers were tasked with was making the cocking force more like a non-magnum break-barrel. The goal was accomplished with their proprietary GuideLight mechanism. The cocking force averages about 33 pounds as opposed to 40 or more in other magnums. Another unique feature came out of the mandate to make the lockup more solid and prevent barrel droop – an inherent break-barrel problem. The result was a keystone shaped design to the breech with tapered wings on each side of the receiver. They come together to form a solid lock-up like no other. To further aid accuracy, both parts are drilled for the pivot pin as one unit. SIG still wasn’t done. The MatchLite trigger used in the ASP20 is optimized at the factory to a three to four-pound pull. My sample averaged slightly under that at two pounds, 11.9 ounces out of the box. It is still user-adjustable and the tools are provided with the rifle. The trigger is straight with a smooth face, reminiscent of the trend in modern long-range precision rifles.
On top of all this, the finish on
the ASP20 is the same matte-back Nitron as used on SIG firearms. The wood
stocked model tested would best be described as striking; finished in a grey
color that compliments the matte-black. The fit and finish were some of the
best you’ll find with laser stippling in all the right places. The ambidextrous
stock also features a straight pistol grip. It is a bit heavy at nine pounds
without optics, but balances so well it doesn’t feel that heavy in the hands.
SIG is striving to be a “complete
solution provider”, that is, supply the marketplace with the entire package
from ammunition to training (through the SIG SAUER Academy) and everything in
between. If their name is on it, then they control the quality all the way
through. To this end, SIG sells their own branded pellets and CO2,
targets, safety gear and the Whiskey3 ASP 4-12x44mm airgun scope. This gun is
meant to be scoped as it only comes with a section of picatinny rail and no
It performed as expected with excellent
accuracy using everything from lightweight alloys to pellets weighing 34 grains,
only requiring adjustment to holdunder or holdover. Of course, SIG pellets are
recommended and the rifle liked their Wraith Pb pellets the best.
Being a magnum springer, the kick
was strong and it is somewhat loud even with a suppressor permanently mounted on
the muzzle. It was not obnoxious, nor does it require hearing protection if
Warranted for five years, the ASP20 carries an MSRP of $429.99 in wood. Check it out over at the AofA website.
Crosman has been a fixture of the Rochester, New York, area for nearly 180 years – although at first not as an airgun company. Back in 1838, when Rochester was still on the wild frontier of New York State, and 23 years before the start of the American Civil War, a certain Fred Crosman founded a seed company in the city. Amazingly, the Crosman Seed Company is still alive and well, operating successfully in the area.
However, in 1923, Bertram Fenner, then the Operations Manager of the Crosman Brothers Seed Company, reached an agreement with one William McLean to produce pellets and an air rifle based on McLean’s designs. In 1924 the Crosman Rifle Company was formed and, with several changes of name and ownership since, has become the company we know today as Crosman Corporation.
Over the course of time, Crosman has grown from a 6-person company in 1940, to the large corporation we see today. In 1992, Crosman acquired Benjamin Sheridan – another major US airgun manufacturer and cemented its position as by far the largest American manufacturer of airguns. Of course, the Benjamin name is now used as the brand for Crosman’s adult hunting and high performance models.
From the early days, Crosman specialised in multi-pump and CO2-powered airguns. This line of development has been pretty well unbroken to the current day, with the addition of PCP models and breakbarrel air rifles.
The Company Today
In 1971, Crosman moved to a large new, purpose-built location in the rural village of East Bloomfield. This has been the company’s headquarters and manufacturing centre ever since.
And if you think Crosman’s 250,000 Square Foot headquarters is big – it really is!
You also then need to add a huge, separate Finished Goods warehouse a few miles away that itself is certainly as large as any other in the airgun industry. Well over 200 people work at Crosman. Like many companies with seasonal swings in manufacturing, the number varies with manufacturing demand.
Both Crosman, as a corporation, and its employees are very proud of the fact that the majority of its products are actually manufactured in the USA. You can read that as “not manufactured in China”.
Like any large manufacturing operation, Crosman sources products from multiple different suppliers in different countries. For example, it makes no sense for it to manufacture the screws and O rings used in its guns (no-one else does, either). But it designs most products in-house and manufactures many parts, too, including barrels, breeches and pressure tubes.
Here’s another part of the assembly floor…
Yes, there are Chinese-manufactured Crosman (and Benjamin) airguns, these are mainly the spring/piston and gas ram breakbarrel models. But even here, the company has been steadily bringing assembly back to the USA over recent years, on a model-by model basis.
Below, huge numbers of 760 barrels line up awaiting assembly.
Crosman’s longest-running model – the 760 multi-pump air rifle – has always been manufactured in-house. Since 1966, 17 Million 760s have been sold in the USA and – incredibly – every one is test-fired before shipping to ensure quality control. There’s not many airgunners in the US who have not owned a 760 in their youth and had their enthusiasm for airguns fired by it
The Benjamin Marauder – long the most popular PCP air rifle in the US – is also manufactured in the East Bloomfield factory. And again, every one is tested for accuracy and muzzle velocity before it’s shipped out on the test fixture below.
All-in-all, Crosman produces about 1.1 Million airguns every year and claims to be the US market leader in numbers of airguns sold. With numbers like that, I’m ready to believe it…
There’s Much More Than Airguns
Although airguns are the sexy products in our world, there’s lots more going on at Crosman’s factory than that.
The company is a major manufacturer of airgun pellets. And when we say “major”, we actually mean “MAJOR!” as the Bloomfield factory pumps out around 3 Million pellets every day – seven days a week. That’s over a BILLION pellets a year and explains why Crosman pellets are found at just about every shop across the USA where you can buy airguns and in many other countries around the world.
Don’t forget that the Crosman factory also bangs-out a massive number of BBs a day, too. In fact, you can make that ten times more BBs than pellets. I lost count of the number of zeroes involved at that point…
Crosman introduced the now-ubiquitous 12 Gram CO2 capsule in 1954. They’ve been making them ever since and currently produce around 140,000 CO2 “Powerlets” every day. That’s a lot of gas!
Quality And Efficiency
Crosman is also focussing hard on quality. The company’s Manufacturing Engineer Nic Hargarther took me through many of the improvements Crosman is making to barrels and pellet quality, in particular. That’s part of their barrel inspection system seen above.
The culture of continuous improvement is very striking on the production floor, with great emphasis on parts quality and efficient manufacturing practices.
Although Crosman uses many automated manufacturing systems – how else could they make so many pellets, BBs and Powerlets? – it’s interesting to see that the airguns themselves are all still assembled by hand. The factory is full of multiple small production cells, each one focussed on a specific product (or range of products), with dedicated operators who take pride in their work yet still made time to good-naturedly tease me for “speaking funny”!
Back To The Future
Looking back over nearly 100 years of airgun history, it’s clear that, although Crosman has successfully stuck to its knitting over the years, the company has not been afraid to innovate and enter new markets. Walking around the company’s airgun museum at the factory makes that clear.
Below, there’s a substantial museum at the plant containing examples of just about every model the manufacturer has produced.
Crosman was involved in paintball when that was hot and has been a large player in the airsoft market for years. It also produced an early, electronically-controlled big bore airgun – the Benjamin Rogue – that was arguably ahead its time.
More recently, the Benjamin Airbow is an innovative PCP “airgun” that shoots arrows with the power of a crossbow – make that a cool 168 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy – and opens-up a whole new field of hunting large game with air power.
Last, but not least, I’d like to thank everyone at Crosman for their help in compiling this story. They were all very generous with their time and information. And they gave me access to every part of the company I wanted to look at – and more…
The American Tactical Nova Freedom is a sophisticated, unusual airgun, and it’s clear that it offers plenty of opportunities for power tuning. We’ll look at some of them in this article.
Note that I used a .22 caliber gun for this work.
Pumping and Fill Pressure
The Nova Freedom has a maximum fill pressure specification of 3,600 PSI. However, in testing it’s clear that the first shot was always slower than subsequent shots.
This is an indication that 3,600 PSI is really slightly too high a fill pressure for consistent shots. Filling to 3,400 or 3,500 PSI will actually give a faster first shot, even though it’s at a lower pressure.
This is important to understand because the Nova Freedom is – of course – a multi-pump air rifle. Just about everyone assumes that they will achieve higher FPS from any multi-pump airgun if they just pump it more.
It’s rarely true and it’s definitely NOT true with the Nova Freedom.
In fact it’s the reverse. Filling the Nova Freedom to above about 3,500 PSI, either by pumping or from a tank, will actually reduce the FPS for the first shots. Over-pumping is not a way of power tuning the Nova Freedom air rifle!
Power Adjustment Knob
The Nova Freedom is fitted with a power adjustment knob on the left side of the breech. With two settings – High and Low – and no intermediate setting possible, this is almost certainly a transfer port changer. (I promised not to take the gun apart and don’t have a parts diagram).
What we have here are two alternative transfer ports which regulate the air supply between the valve and pellet. The larger port allows the air through faster and gives the highest FPS – High Power.
A smaller port restricts the airflow somewhat and gives lower FPS.
It’s clear that this power adjustment knob works and that it provides an easy, simple way of power tuning the Nova Freedom.
Hammer Spring Tension
However there’s a third method of power tuning the Nova Freedom using the built-in controls.
This is actually found on page 11 of the user’s manual, described as a maintenance adjustment.
For there is a built-in hammer spring tensioner available at the rear of the Freedom’s breech. It’s obviously not designed for regular use, requiring the 2.5mm Allen (hex) wrench supplied with the gun to operate.
The manual explains that it may need to be turned after about 3,000 shots to maintain factory FPS. “One turn equals to 100 FPS”, it says.
Now here’s something really interesting, with real potential for power tuning the Nova Freedom air rifle! In other airguns it would be called a power adjuster. Let’s investigate what it can do…
Power Tuning By Adjusting The Hammer Spring
To gain some idea of the potential for power tuning the Nova Freedom by adjusting the hammer spring tension, I ran a series of tests.
Firstly I decided to use 14.35 Grain JSB Jumbo Express pellets for all tests as we had already used them for the shootdown test in the full HAM review.
I ran the same test with the hammer spring adjuster one turn back out. Then I did the same with the adjuster one turn in from the factory setting and two turns in.
This gave eight sets of data, four on High power and four on Low. The expectation was that the “one turn out” setting would give more, slower shots. The other settings would give less shots but with more power.
Did it work out like that? The answer is “yes-ish”.
Please note that these results are based on the sample gun I tested. In these charts, the factory setting is shown in green. One turn more on the power adjuster is shown in orange, two turns more in red. One turn less than the factory setting is blue.
As always, your mileage may vary with another individual Nova Freedom.
Power Tuning on High Power Setting
Most people will probably want to gain more power from their Nova Freedom. As you can see, one turn more on the hammer spring gave slower FPS for the first 4 shots. After that, the FPS increased for shots 5 – 8, before falling again. All in all, this setting gave similar results to the factory hammer spring setting but with the addition of 3 additional usable shots per fill.
Setting the power adjuster two turns in gave a notably slower first shot. However this was followed by a series of significantly more powerful shots, particularly the second, third and fourth.
The greatest increase in FPS achieved was on shot 2, where we gained 22.3 FPS from the adjustment. That way of power tuning the Nova Freedom increased the Muzzle Energy from 30.59 Ft/Lbs to 32.00 Ft/Lbs, a very significant increase of nearly 1.5 Ft/Lbs.
Some shooters value a larger number of more consistent shots over sheer power, however. As the blue line shows, power tuning the Nova Freedom by reducing the hammer spring tension one turn gives a much flatter shot curve. It also gives 18 usable shots on one fill at High power, compared to 12 shots at the factory setting.
Power Tuning on Low Power Setting
By selecting Low power, it’s clear that a user values more shots per fill rather than higher FPS for a few shots.
Here the results of our tests are quite different. As you can see, cranking in the hammer spring screw does no good for either FPS or shot count. In fact, you actually get less shots of, generally, less FPS.
Reducing spring tension by one turn gave the possibility of two additional usable shots. However, the real benefit here was the considerably flatter (blue) shot curve. Yes, the FPS is less than at the factory hammer spring setting, but it gives you 25 or 26 shots with a surprisingly tight extreme spread. This is the setting to use for consistent accuracy in target shooting with the Nova Freedom!
Power Tuning And Air Efficiency
We can obtain a good indication of the air efficiency of the Nova Freedom in these various hammer spring settings by comparing the TOTAL Muzzle Energy of the “good” shots at each setting.
To do this, we simply add the Ft/Lbs figure for each shot in the string and make a total. Comparing these totals at each setting gives us the following chart. Here High power settings are in blue, Low power in green. The numbers in each column indicate the sum total Ft/Lbs at that setting.
There are some very obvious conclusions to be drawn from this analysis…
Clearly, the Nova Freedom has considerably greater air efficiency on Low power setting than on High power. Also, it is much more efficient with the hammer spring adjusted one turn back out.
Maximum air efficiency is obtained on Low power with the power adjuster one turn out. That gives, by far, the most total Muzzle Energy for your pumping effort.
Setting the power adjuster two turns in on High power gives not only the highest FPS, it also gives 16% more total Ft/Lbs than the factory setting.
Don’t over pump the gun. In fact, best FPS for the first shot will always be achieved with sightly less than a maximum pressure fill, or if the gun is filled full and then the first shot taken as a blank.
The built-in power adjustment knob works well. High power setting gives higher FPS but less shots per fill. Low power gives many more, somewhat slower shots per fill.
For maximum power, set the hammer spring adjuster one turn in. Either slightly underfill the pressure or fire the first shot as a blank. Pump up to 3,400 – 3,500 PSI after every 3 or 4 shots for maximum consistency at full power.
For the flattest shot curve when target shooting, set the hammer spring adjuster one turn out on Low power. Pump up again after 25 – 26 shots.
Because airguns fall into a subjective area of the law when it
comes to detachable suppressors, we airgunners can currently take advantage of the
availability of quality items in the marketplace without jumping through
bureaucratic hoops. Keep in mind this information
is just that, informational only, and never to be construed as legal advice related
to the ownership and use of suppressors designed solely for use with airguns.
Airguns are not firearms, obviously, and it is this
distinction that creates the “gray area” being capitalized on by airgun
manufacturers and accessory makers. Some
manufacturers are fine with permanently attached suppressors on their air
rifles because their legal teams interpret the law as allowing it. However, they will not even consider models
with removeable suppressors for the American market. Others interpret it to mean that airgun
suppressors do not fall under the National Firearms Act whether or not they are
permanently attached. To attempt to stay
within the current understanding of the law, airgun suppressors are clearly
marked “For Airgun Use Only”, have different threads than what is standard on a
firearm (1/2 inch by 20 TPI vs 1/2 inch by 28 TPI; there can be variations),
and usually have internal components that are not able to withstand even one
discharge of a firearm round.
AofA stocks multiple suppressor brands and this article highlights two of the newest offerings; the 0dB (zero decibel) and the Ramus Technologies Trident. The 0dB sports an aggressive name as no suppressor can really bring a gunshot down to zero decibels except maybe in the vacuum of space or a Hollywood movie. Made in Great Britain by Daystate using Italian components, the 0dB is available in two lengths and five colors. The Cerakote tan runs an additional cost and all have a matte finish to avoid glare. The short can is 110 millimeters long (4.3 inches) and the long can is 160 millimeters (6.3 inches). They are sleek with a diamond groove pattern around the circumference and angled open channels allowing mesh to show through for an aesthetically pleasing look. The internal design lowers turbulence and the exit orifice design helps eliminate “clipping” of the pellet skirt as it leaves the can. Calibers available for this suppressor are denoted by asterisks on the muzzle end with one asterisk representing .177 and .22 caliber combined, two represents .25, and three represents .30. MSRPs on the 0dB in black run $119.99 for the 110C and $189.99 for the 160S model. The Cerakote version runs $139.99 and $209.99 respectively. The website does not list the availability of other colors at this time.
The Ramus Technologies Trident with Flip Compensator is an American made suppressor that is exclusively available from AofA. It utilizes a 3D printed proprietary monocore internal component which is user replaceable in case of damage or a different caliber option is desired. Extremely light thanks to the outer can being of aircraft grade alloy, the unit is pleasing to the eye with six flats and multiple small ports drilled around the circumference that add to its effectiveness. The black finish is a bit shiny, but even and well done. The compensator, as its name implies, is designed to improve accuracy and control by reducing muzzle flip. Available in calibers from .177 up to .30, there is an option for 20mm metric threads as well. The MSRP is $249.99.
Either model would be an excellent addition to rifles in your collection that are not quite backyard friendly. Even models already having shrouded barrels will benefit as long as the muzzle is threaded and the additional length isn’t a problem for you. These are quality items that are very effective without adding a bunch of weight to the end of your barrel and won’t change the point of impact when installed. Our friends are currently running a sale on all of the suppressors they stock and could answer any questions you may have.
The Diana Outlaw is a sophisticated entrant in the mid range PCP air rifle market. Its good regulated shot count, pleasant side lever cocking and consistent trigger make the gun a strong performer. It looks good and feels good in the hand too.
At $499.99, the Diana Outlaw is priced between the rash of $300 PCPs and the more traditional $1,000-ish starting point for the premium brands. It’s available in .177, .22 and .25 calibers.
Probably the Benjamin Marauder is the gun to beat at the price. Compared to the Outlaw, the Marauder has a better trigger, is quieter and can’t be blank-fired with a magazine in place. But the Diana has a far more consistent regulated shot count, side lever action and more sophisticated looks.
This comparison to the Marauder means that the Diana Outlaw offers very good value for money. That’s always been the Marauder’s strong suit and the Outlaw clearly trades punches with the long-established champion in performance, value and quality. Here they are together.
The Diana Outlaw I tested was in .22 caliber. It achieved a maximum Muzzle Energy of 31.11 Ft/Lbs with the heavy, 21.14 Grain H&N Baracuda Match pellets.
The Baracudas also delivered excellent accuracy. At 25 Yards, the 10-shot test group was very respectable at about 0.3-Inches center-to-center using a scope at 9X magnification.
The Outlaw has a two-stage trigger. However, the first stage is considerably heavier than is normal and it feels rather more like a single stage trigger with a degree of creep. Sear release is predictable, however, and the overall effect quite pleasant. Pull weight averaged a comfortable 1 Lb 11 Oz.
It’s quite possible that the trigger would respond well to a little careful tuning. It is adjustable for pull length and sear engagement. Both adjustments are achieved by using hex wrenches inserted through appropriate holes in the trigger guard.
The Diana Outlaw has a manual trigger block safety. It’s actually in the trigger blade and has a side-to-side action. This safety has a red indicator for “off safe”. When engaged, the other side of the safety projects and prevents movement of the trigger by striking against the trigger guard itself.
This safety is simple to operate for a right-handed shooter. It’s less convenient for a left-hander, however, as a change of hold is required to operate by left-handers. It’s also too small for effective use in cold weather when wearing gloves.
The cocking lever works well and easily. It’s less slick than that of more expensive PCPs, but it’s definitely better than any bolt action I can think of.
The Outlaw has a regulated action. This produces a good, consistent Muzzle Velocity for 49 shots, as you can see from the graph below. From shot 50, pressure had fallen sufficiently that the regulator was no longer activated. The FPS then dropped steadily from shot-to-shot, as is expected.
The Outlaw is supplied with a fully-shrouded barrel. This gives a fairly quiet report. It’s not “Marauder quiet”, however, it’s certainly backyard-friendly.
An interesting design feature is the series of tiny holes drilled in the rear of the shroud. Air can be felt exhausting from these holes whenever a shot is taken. It’s not a strong rush of air, but you can detect it with a hand in the right place.
As expected, the Outlaw is not fitted with any iron sights. In common with most higher-end air rifles, it’s not bundled with a scope either, thus leaving the choice of optics to the owner. I found the Aztec Emerald scopes to be a good partner for the Outlaw.
The top of the breech is grooved with standard airgun dovetails. The magazine does protrude above the top of the breech. However, there’s still sufficient clearance for the scope above the clip, even when using medium height rings.
One issue is that the magazine is loaded from the left side of the gun. This may cause issues with large diameter scope sidewheels, so the new owner should check this aspect before selecting a scope.
The magazine is of an interesting, quite complex design. Capacity is 13 pellets in .177 cal, 11 in .22 and 9 pellets in .25 caliber.
It’s easy to load without the need to hold back a sprung cover plate, as is often the case with other rotary magazines, due to an internal ratcheting system.
However, it does not block the action when all pellets are used and there’s no pellet counter. This means that it’s necessary to keep count of the shots fired to avoid a blank discharge.
The magazine slides easily and slickly into the breech, being retained in place by a magnet. There are flats on the side of the rotating pellet holder in the magazine. When a flat is in the vertical position for the second time, it’s a visual indication that the magazine is empty.
The Diana Outlaw is also fairly light. The weight of the sample I tested was 6 Lbs 10 Oz without scope. This compares to the 7 Lbs 5 Oz of a synthetic Marauder.
Machining finish is very good, with most metal parts having a uniform, black matt finish.
The stock has a simple design with no unnecessary curves or shaping. Wood finish is generally good and smooth, with areas of machine-made “checkering” on the forend and pistol grip to aid a good grip. The expected rubber buttpad seemed well-shaped and comfortable against the shoulder.
I found the Diana Outlaw very easy and comfortable to shoot. The stock design worked well for me, even though there is no adjustable buttpad or cheekpiece, as is common in more expensive PCP air rifles.
The Diana Outlaw uses a probe filling system to charge it with High Pressure Air. This probe has a standard “Foster” quick disconnect on the other end.
This design enables it to be connected directly to the standard female quick disconnect fitting found on HPA tanks and pumps without the usual, annoying need for an additional adapter. This makes it quick and easy to use, particularly for owners with other PCPs having a standard male fill nipple.
The cover for the fill port is spring-loaded. It’s pulled forward to insert the fill probe, then released back after filling. This is a far better solution than the more common separate screw-thread or push-in cover for the fill port.
Now there’s no chance of losing or dropping the cover and the fill port itself is automatically protected from the possible ingress of dirt. This is a first-rate feature that we have not seen on other PCP air rifles.
As you can tell, I liked the Diana Outlaw a lot. I think you will too!
The Brocock Concept Lite is positioned as a ‘modular gun platform” – that’s a concept that started with assault rifles, and has now spread to airguns.
Brocock claims that the Concept Lite is the most solid platform available for building a true tactical, firearm-grade air rifle system. The full-length backbone “chassis” machined from a solid piece of aircraft-grade Aluminum has a lot yo do with that.
To check this out, I spent some time working with a Concept Lite and customizing it to my taste. Above, you can see some of the additions I made. Now we’ll look at them in more detail…
Alternatively, the Leapers Bugbuster could be a compact choice to match the small dimensions of the Concept Lite. (It’s particularly compact when that stock is collapsed into the closed position).
A bipod is a natural accessory to mount to the lower Picatinny rail.
There’s horizontal and vertical sling slots in the sliding buttstock. Then all you need is a Picatinny-fitting sling swivel for the front and the Concept Lite is ready for comfortable carry in the field. (If you have no need for the side accessory rails, they’re easily removed using the visible machine screws).
The shrouded barrel is tipped with a removable barrel nut. Removing this, the very cool-looking Brocock ported Muzzle Brake would be an ideal upgrade!
Brocock says that the pistol grip accepts standard AK47-type replacements, should you wish. So, using a 5 mm Allen wrench, I removed the very nice factory pistol grip.
Just to prove the point, I then installed a Chicom grip from an old AK47 firearm. Yip, it fits, but I much prefer the look of the Brocock factory part!
And there’s many more possibilities for this versatile, compact, yet solid-feeling air rifle.
Great things come
in small packages is an old adage that rings true for this little rifle. Introduced
about a year ago, it is the first dedicated PCP for youthful shooters. BSA had their thinking caps on when looking
at the market and realizing that if an adult is already shooting PCPs and has
kids, then the infrastructure (tanks, hand pumps, compressor) is already in
place so getting this PCP for junior is a natural step.
This .177 version
is available in two power ranges: 6 ft-lb. or 12 ft-lb. It is purpose-built to introduce youth or small
statured folks to PCP shooting and does an admirable job. Based off of the BSA Ultra series of guns, and
even utilizing some parts from the big brother, it has an overall length of 27
inches. The barrel length is 11.8 inches
of cold hammer forged steel made in-house at the Birmingham factory and comes with
½ UNF threaded muzzle with protective cap.
The scaled down sporter style Beech stock is made by Minelli and exudes
class. Nicely finished, it has laser cut
checkering on the pistol grip and fore-end. As a bonus, as your young shooter
grows, the Ultra JSR stock can be swapped into a full-sized Ultra model
synthetic stock. The metal is done in a matte
finish. The weight, without optics,
comes in at 5.7 pounds. Adding the MTC
Mamba Lite 4-16x42mm scope and a Trident suppressor brought the package up to
7.1 pounds, a tad heavy for a child, but it balanced very well. Of course, in .177 the Ultra JSR is pretty
backyard friendly without a suppressor if the additional weight is a factor. Assuming it will be used to introduce junior
shooters to PCPs, most likely that will be done from a shooting bench so weight
would not be as important as ease of loading and shooting, which the Ultra JSR
excels at. It is supplied with an easy
to load spring loaded 10-round magazine. The bolt action is smooth and does not
require a lot of force so kids will have no problems there. An adjustable 2-stage
trigger is smooth and crisp and broke at 1 pound, 4.6 ounces after a long first
stage takeup. There is no anti-double feed capability so don’t work the bolt
more than once with a loaded magazine. The
safety is a lever on the left side of the receiver, with a large “S” and “F” so
it is easy for the shooter to quickly tell which mode the airgun is in. The rearmost position is safe and blocks the
trigger. It was a bit stiff at first and can’t easily be manipulated without changing
the shooting grip.
The under-barrel reservoir
fills to a maximum of 232 bar, or 3365psi, and should give up to 40 shots per
fill in the 12 ft-lb. version. More than twice that could be expected from the
6 ft-lb. model, thanks to the proprietary “StrikeFast” valve.
Although a bit
unwieldy for me to shoot as a 6-foot adult, I managed to put 5 Crosman 7.5
grain pointed pellets into a ragged 2-hole grouping at 20 yards. The pellets were travelling at an average of
537fps. Imagine what a kid with good
coaching and this air rifle could do!
All-in-all a sweet little package that really delivers on everything you would expect for an air rifle designed to start youths in the world of PCP shooting. You can thank Robert Buchanan, owner of Airguns of Arizona for bringing these quality air rifles to our shores through his company Precision Airgun Distribution; as BSA imports and support were lacking here in the colonies. Although quality doesn’t come cheap at an MSRP of $599.99 for the 6 ft-lb. model and $699.99 for the 12 ft-lb., you are getting the 150+ year BSA know-how along with all the modern steels, alloys and technology benefits backed by a 2-year, nontransferable warranty. If adding a suppressor is of interest, AofA can help there as well with the Trident and 0dB lines they carry.
With a minimum focusing range of 5 Yards, this MTC rangefinder has a claimed maximum range of 1,300 Yards. We tested it out measuring ranges in comparison to a long surveyor’s tape out to 50 Yards. The readings were spot on!
Like most laser rangefinders, the MTC Optics Rapier Ballistic Laser Rangefinder is a small, portable unit. It’s not much larger than a tin of pellets, as you can see from our photograph above. It also comes complete with a comprehensive range of accessories.
The clamshell case can be fixed to your belt by the included carabiner. There’s also a wrist strap which can be attached to the rangefinder for security.
The MTC Optics Rapier Ballistic Laser Rangefinder can be used in two ways. As a stand-alone rangefinder, or as a complete, computerized, ballistic correction system.
1. Using the MTC Laser Rangefinder as a stand alone device.
The first is to simply take it out of the box, install the battery and press the red button on top. Looking through the viewfinder eyepiece, the rangefinder immediately springs to life and records the range of the target you aim at using the reticle.
If you want to select a different reticle pattern, or change measurements from Yards to Meters, this is achieved by pressing the two buttons on top, as explained by the instruction manual.
But this MTC rangefinder can be used in a different way, too…
2. Using it as a complete ballistic correction system.
While the MTC Optics Rapier Ballistic Laser Rangefinder can be used “just” as a simple rangefinder, it has huge capabilities beyond this.
To discover and use these capabilities requires you to use a smartphone – iPhone or Android. Download the free Rapier Ballistic Calculator App onto your phone and get ready for a whole new world of computerized shooting assistance!
First it’s essential to understand that once the MTC Laser Rangefinder has been connected to the Rapier Ballistic Calculator App, the rangefinder will be controlled by the phone. You will press the red “fire” button on the rangefinder itself, but everything else will happen on your phone, including turning the rangefinder off after use.
Next, check that the MTC Rapier App has correctly downloaded onto your phone (below, left). Then you MUST go through the “Using The Rangefinder” setup steps, as described on pages 5 and 6 of the manual, even if you are happy with the way the MTC Optics Rapier Ballistic Laser Rangefinder works out of the box.
This allows you to make a Bluetooth pairing between the rangefinder and your phone.
Having achieved Bluetooth pairing, you need to tell the MTC App the type of air rifle, scope and pellet you are using. The screen below left shows how to do this. As part of this setup, you’ll need to input the Ballistic Coefficient for the pellet. Time to find that from the Hard Air Magazine Ballistic Coefficients page , for example…
Repeat the same process to tell the App about the other airgun/pellet/scope combinations you will be using. (Hit the + button on the right screen, below). You can select the one you want when you’re ready to shoot.
The App will provide details of holdover based on the sighted-in (Zero) distance and other details you fed into the phone. Obviously they will be visible on your phone’s screen (we’ll see the display screen below), but they are also given audibly as well.
That’s a great feature, but what about if you’re hunting? Simply pair the included earpiece with your phone and you can listen to the instructions. That way the prey is not spooked and you don’t even have to look at the phone to understand the holdover required.
The Audio menu can be configured to speak just the range, or any other combination of information the MTC Optics Rapier Ballistic Laser Rangefinder generates. (See below, left).
Other settings include the angular units for your scope’s reticle (above right) and the environmental settings at the time you’re shooting (screens below). As you can see, the MTC App can even retrieve current weather automatically from the Internet if you wish!
So, finally, let’s look at the output display screen of the App (below). The range, target angle and appropriate holdover corrections are all indicated on this screen – and can be spoken to you as we discussed above.
You can also see if your rangefinder has been discovered by the App (the top bar) and the output selection you have made (next bar down). The third bar confirms the scope unit settings you selected and the one below shows the gun.scope/pellet combination profile you’re using now.
Below that is the graphic display for holdover, range, weather etc. That 10 min indicator shows the time before the rangefinder will automatically be switched off. You can change it, naturally.
If you choose to “go the whole hog” and benefit from this great App, it will take a little set-up time, of course. However the results are well worth it for the excellent, comprehensive and immediate results you will achieve when using the MTC Optics Rapier Ballistic Laser Rangefinder in the field.
And did we mention that AoA has this rangefinder at a close to a $100 saving right now?
Labradar is a system that measures the velocity of multiple projectiles, including airgun pellets as well as bullets fired from firearms. It measures pellet velocities to an accuracy of 0.1% and offers some interesting benefits for airgunners!
Most serious air rifle shooters are familiar with the benefits of a chronograph – being able to measure the velocity of a fired pellet. Labradar takes this one stage further. It uses a different technology to chronographs and offers the potential benefit of being able to monitor the pellet’s velocity at more than one point during its flight.
Traditional chronographs measure a pellet’s speed using photo electric sensors. Labradar does it using a Doppler radar system.
This means Labrador is the ideal tool to determine those Ballistic Coefficient values for your specific airgun, pellet and location. It can also aid the hunter by indicating exactly how much kinetic energy is available at specific distances downrange.
Alternatively, it can be attached to a Bench Mount, which is sold as a separate item. The Labradar unit screws into the 1/4-inch x 20 thread on top of the ball mount.
In order to be used with an airgun, there’s an accessory microphone kit that amplifies the sound. This is particularly necessary with silenced air rifles and allows the unit to sense the shot being fired. The Airgun Trigger Adapter clips to the side of the main unit in use.
For power, Labradar requires 6 x AA batteries. Alternatively it can be powered by a portable cellphone battery pack.
Labradar provides a readout of velocity on the built-in LCD screen. But the power of the system is really utilized to the full if it’s connected to a computer. In that way, a large amount of data can be downloaded into a spreadsheet for subsequent analysis and manipulation.
If you plan to use the computer download capability, you’ll also need to add additional memory. This takes the form of a SDHC card. This is the type of card that’s used to record photographs in digital cameras. Only a small capacity card is required for Labradar.
We found it possible to use an old, redundant, SDHC card from a disused digital camera. You may find the same. Just plug the card into the port in Labradar. After use, remove the card and insert it into a computer. (You may need an additional adapter to do this).
For airgun use, set your Labradar and Airgun Trigger Adapter microphone kit to one side of the muzzle. This records the Muzzle Velocity, as indicated by the instructions.
Because Labradar uses reflected radar waves from the pellet to determine its velocity, it can also be troubled by reflections from the walls and ceiling of a room. So this is a system best suited for outdoor use.
Our testing was undertaken in the open and also on an outdoor 55-yard rifle range. Like most rifle ranges, this one had a system of overhead baffles downrange to prevent wayward shooting. These baffles are supported by posts.
We tested Labradar in a lane next to the post supports. The system worked perfectly and was not disturbed by the baffles or posts, as we had suspected it might be. Our concern was that the radar waves would be reflected back from the baffles and posts, giving false readings. This did not happen!
Another concern we had for Labradar to record airgun pellet velocities was that it would not be able to detect the noise of a silenced air rifle. For this test, we used a Benjamin Marauder in .177 caliber – our “gold standard” for low noise levels. Again, no problem!
Even without being set to its most sensitive setting, we were able to get Labradar to record airgun pellet velocities from the Marauder without any issues.
The manufacturer’s specifications for Labradar to record airgun pellet velocities say that the maximum range is 30 yards. This is due to the small size of the pellet, not being able to reflect back enough of the radar waves at longer distances.
However, we had no problems with Labradar to record airgun pellet velocities at ranges out to 55 Yards. That’s nearly twice the manufacturer’s claims. Maybe it could even have functioned at even greater distances, but this was the length of the range at which we were shooting the test.
Labradar recorded the distance to the target on the 55 Yard range as being exactly 55.0 Yards. We double-checked this by using a digital rangefinder. This confirmed the range as being 55.0 Yards.
Incidentally, the system needs to be preset to record certain maximum and minimum velocities. There’s no specific “airgun” setting for muzzle velocities in Labradar, but the “Handgun” setting is ideal for our purposes covered the range from 246 FPS to 1,722 FPS.
The system’s display screen will show the Muzzle Velocity, plus pellet velocities at the other distances you have preset.
The built-in menu system works well. For example, you can preset distances to be 10, 20, 50, 40 50 Yards.
If you want to use Labradar to record airgun pellet velocities at almost foot-by-foot distances downrange, it can do that too. Labradar has the capability to record the data for each shot on the SDHC storage card. Using the SD card, the data for hundreds – or even thousands – of shots can be recorded and stored.
Again, we found that the SD card functionality worked well. We were able to take the Labradar data and download it into a PC. It then opened-up easily in the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program, allowing for easy analysis and charting of the data, if required.
Not being PC users, we also tried to download the SD card data onto one of our Mac computers. This was less successful. Although the Mac could see the SD card, we were not able to download the data into the Apple Numbers spreadsheet program.
However, we did find a simple workaround. We copied the Excel file from the PC, loaded it into the Mac and were able to use the data in Apple Numbers by that route.
Really the only downsides to Labradar are the fact that it cannot be used in most indoor situations and that we found it will not detect .177 caliber alloy pellets. Why? Don’t ask us, it just doesn’t…
But neither of these downsides will be real limitations for most users. This is a great product!