This week’s blog contains a couple of things.
First, www.airgunsofarizona.com 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 www.usrsog.org 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.
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.
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.
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.)
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