Monday, May 31, 2010

Sounds of Silence - part three

Obsessive–compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a personality disorder which involves an obsession with perfection – I would guess it may be hereditary. Volvo with one of his older brothers, but more important the plastic on the furniture is perhaps foreshadowing. Will poor Volvo be destined to chase airgun nirvana forever?

As Orin suggested in his comment, this post is a little soap opera like. Please forgive the indulgence. Just try to keep in mind this experiment involved researching and buying the sound meter, purchasing rifles, and hours of testing for the results. This is nothing like grabbing the R7 and spending 10 minutes shooting at a target and then blogging the outcome.

My testing scenario was to place the meter at rifle height and about 3 ½ feet to the side. The muzzle was about a foot behind the meter. The meter had a setting where it would capture and hold the highest level noise until reset. All this was done indoors.

For the purpose of this report, I am only considering unaltered factory rifles. PA has a link about add ons and the possible complications.

Slinging Lead,
Yes we have a pet, meet Petey the fierce Cockapoo

My bench marks were a .22 rimfire on the high side and an R7 on the low side. I want to find out if a straight barreled PCP is as loud as firearm and what if anything makes less noise than a Paul Watts tuned HW30 \ R7.

It's getting late, I guess I will finish this tomorrow.
Stop back to find out how this one does, Beeman R1 .22 cal carbine

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sounds of Silence – part two

Do you hear what I hear?
The best place to start is usually at the beginning, so why am I looking for a quiet air rifle?

Living just outside the city limits, I am allowed to discharge an air gun; however I prefer to draw as little attention to myself as possible. Nothing sinister, just looking to be neighbor friendly as it is often called.

At the time I begin my search, I am a Springer only man, and have learned that an increase in power usually means a like increase in noise level. Pretty simple stuff, but I am considering the dark side, and those rules need not apply.

I begin by e-mailing four of the large on-line retailers and get varying responses. I ask for the quietest without regard to cost. At the time I have yet to hold, let alone shoot a PCP. Unfortunately, when updating my PC, I lost many archived e-mails or I would share the responses.

Magazine is a pain to load

I asked this question on a few occasions that spanned a couple years. The results change along with the rifles in stock. Most humorous answer goes to Pyramid Air for recommending a Sheridan C9.


I think this was probably a result of their expansion, in contrast to the many dealers that are smaller boutique shops that are intimately familiar with the products, PA may have outgrown this for more of a Target type experience. This is further complicatedly by the fact dealers only recommend the brands that they sell.

I decide that apparently, I will need to figure this out for myself.

I'll admit I entered the PCP world like an old lady at a swimming pool. I dipped just a toe in with the oh so safe purchase of the used Webley Raider. At only $395.00 I could not lose. Next in my line up was a Crosman Discovery from FogDog at 50% off with free shipping.

While the two rifles shared very little in common, what they both did have was a loud report. Very loud. I like the PCP idea well enough, but certainly not the accompanying noise. The Raider was the worst, I guess partly due to the fact that it operated at a higher pressure with a shorter barrel.

In any case, liking PCP's but not the noise only further fueled my pursuit.

Little more power than I care for with this scope 

About that time I decide to invest in a sound meter. Now before you start typing some advice about how you need really high tech equipment and a lab or some other wisdom, my goal was to find out how my rifles compared to EACH OTHER because as the shooter it is difficult to tell. I was just looking for a buddy that can stand beside me and listen while I shoot. Having few friends willing to come over and stand in my basement at all hours, I pick this electronic device instead. I am not concerned if my readings cannot be used to compare with someone else’s results.

Sorry if I come off a little harsh, but I have already heard enough negative feedback on using sound meters.

Next comes the results.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Sounds of Silence

Is this the Holy Grail of quiet?

So I forgot to get a blog ready for today.

My plans were to address the noise issue that many airgunners are concerned about, and I will. Part of my testing involved a sound meter like Paul C. uses, but with a different placement during the shot. I reasoned that few people actually hold an ear next to the muzzle.

I get a cleaning patch stuck in the baffles, the new versions lack this feature

In my search for quiet power, the FX Whisper in .177 was on my short list. I’ll let you know how it and several other rifles scored.

Scope is low as it can be

Have a Great Memorial Day Weekend.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Airgun Gizmo’s:

Click click click

“A gadget, especially a mechanical or electrical device considered to be more complicated than necessary”

My mother would tell us “all things in moderation”. Simple advice, but surprisingly truthful. Like most youngsters, I would need to learn for myself. The legal drinking age was 18 at the time. I found a couple drinks made me a much better dancer at the Agora or Urban Cowboy, but when I first partook in a little more than a moderate amount, the results were as expected. One night when I was arriving home at a late hour I took exacting pains to avoid waking the dog which in turn would wake everyone. I held on to the car for support and tried to close the car door with just a thud. It works ok, but the thumb of my right hand has been closed in the door. Not so bad, I can just open the door, but it is locked. If you can picture the scenario I need my keys that are in my right pants pocket.

For fun, hold your kitchen counter with your right hand and try this seemingly simple exercise. To further complicate things this is young Volvo with skin tight Jordache Jeans. I eventually release my throbbing thumb, but not until I first drop the keys trying to unlock the door using my uncoordinated left hand. Too bad there were no remotes for car doors at the time, my thumb is black and blue for about a month and serves as a gentle reminder.

So to summarize the long rambling intro: a Chrony, scale, AO scope, and Chairgun software are all good in moderation. Just don't over indulge, you could hurt your thumb.



• Test any gun on arrival to establish its health

• Find out the results of a tune, good or bad

• Determine pellet energy to learn usable hunting range

• Find the sweet spot quickly for a PCP


• Shoot a PCP from full to empty and publish the results

• Expect the gun to shoot at published velocities and complain when it doesn’t

Good old F-1 is still going strong

The back has taken many hits from long distance shots, but it still works fine! 

This is what saves the Chrony from certain death



• Critical part of the energy calculation ( .25 caliber Rhinos are about 2 grains below advertised weight)

• Judge pellet quality based on consistency


• Weighing everything all the time

JSB Match Diabolo Exact Jumbo Heavy .22 Cal, 18.1 Grains.... close enough



• Spend as much time on it as I do on exercise


• Spend as much time on it as my kids spend on their cell phones

AO Scopes

• It’s all good

Actual view of target

Close up

Click the elevation up to here

No need to change windage

The results.

Now if this was a big Gamo target I would forgive you for yawning, but this is a ten meter bull’s-eye. (they come five to a sheet) You can see the .22 caliber pellet above is larger than the aim point and the numbers are tiny like a pen tip. If this was a 20 + ft lb PCP you should also make faces. But the rifle was my current R7, a .20 caliber with a 3 x 9 Bushy. The shot for this was made last week, the R7 is fantastic for “fake” long distance practice.
Pay no mind to the bird feeder to the left or the fact that the R7 can hit an English Sparrow in the eye at that distance.

Now, give me your good and bad gizmo list

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Webley Raider - two shot - Part two

The Raider with the usual bench clutter, click for a close up

PCP No. 1, day 4 - Thursday

Until the fill probe arrives, I'm at a standstill. I add a board to the bottom of the pump to increase stability. It's an old drawer front sample finished in maple toffee, and I attach it with antique bronze hinges. Any scrap of lumber would work, but I fuss with it like an expectant mother in the nursery.

Since this is downtime, I would like to at least partially explain my purchase of the Webley. The power level is attractive, along with what appears to be a very simple design, so my assumption is that not much can go wrong. The size and weight are also close to my ideals.

My first "adult" spring airgun was a Webley that I ordered directly from England in the '70s. Given the demise of Webley's UK operation, I assume the opportunity for UK-made Webleys will become increasing difficult. Finally, I had two offers to purchase it at the price I paid before I even received it.

Shoots cheap Gamo Hunters well...

PCP No. 1, day 5 - Friday

The fill probe is here. The rifle has 50 bar in it and needs to go to 190 bar. It's apparent that shooting the rifle down so low has its disadvantages. I add air in groups of 20 strokes and find it to not be overly strenuous.

At 150 bar, a knob is turned on the pump to keep the final strokes on par with the first. It seems to work. It takes 103 strokes total before the rifle is fully charged. Eureka! I think many adults would be able to fill a PCP at their own pace with a hand pump. My guess is the scuba tank option probably allows anyone capable of just holding a rifle to shoot.

Note the two shot mag, also feel of this stock is wonderful.
In the future I will wish I could combine it with the FX Cyclone action for the perfect PCP

I check the scope settings by shooting a group at a little over 13 meters. This is the longest indoor range I can accommodate. The 5 shots are fired quickly, and the result is ok but nothing noteworthy. The big upside is that once the rifle is filled, the rest of the procedure is effortless.

Since the Raider is no longer available, I don’t think tons of statistics will be that beneficial, but here are a few.

The manual states that the non-FAC version will provide about 60 12-foot-pound shots. I get 30 shots that range from 21.4 to 23.8 ft lbs with 14.3-grain JSB Exacts.

Each shot requires about 2.7 pumps. That's not too bad, considering the power is at the level of a tuned Beeman R1. For lack of an onboard gauge, I simply count 30 pellets out and put them on deck in the lid of the tin. When they're gone, I know it's time to start pumping. It takes about 81 strokes. I was concerned about variation in velocity, but POI does not seem to change much with a spread of 32 fps.

FX hand pump with Volvo's base

The results of one of the 30-shot strings with .22 caliber JSB Exact Jumbo Express:

Shot 1...839

Shot 10...844

Shot 20...849

Shot 30...806

And just for fun, shot 40 is 742 fps.

I try some Gamo Hunter pellets. At the 36 feet I am shooting, 3 pellets make a single oversized hole. That is better than some of the "quality" pellets I tried. The Gamos are not very pretty, but often give acceptable results. Once again, the scope is an older, inexpensive 3-9s set on 6x.

The 2-shot clip would be appreciated in the field; but from a bench, using it as single shot is actually more efficient.

This may seem odd, but working the bolt is one of my favorite parts. It's very satisfying and something spring rifles don’t offer. Once, toward the end of the session, I instinctively smacked the end of the barrel to break the rifle open. Old habits die hard.

Final thoughts

I think a PCP would be the best way to convert a firearm shooter to airguns. The ability to bench the rifle, not worry about hold, mount a scope with no more difficulty than mounting one on a rimfire and the lack of recoil make for a user-friendly platform. Once you become acquainted with the process, a PCP is not as daunting as many make it sound.

If I could design my own PCP, my priorities in the order of importance would be quiet operation, adjustable power, onboard gauge, multiple shots, less than 7 lbs., about 40" long and easy to refill. (Sounds like an FX Cyclone, I just don't know it at the time)

If you want an air rifle with the power of the magnum spring guns, the feel of a recoilless match rifle, and handy size, it seems a PCP would be hard to beat.

My final conclusion: I would recommend one to a friend.

Rack #3
Five professionally tuned Springer’s, three by Paul Watts and two by Rich in Mich. Could they someday all be replaced by a single PCP?
Left to right: HW97K .177, HW30S .177, HW50S .22, FWB124D .177, BSA Lightning XL .25

Monday, May 24, 2010

Webley Raider - two shot - Part One


This is taken from my notes for a guest blog I wrote for PA a couple years ago. While I would guess the original is lost or will be in the format transition, it is now preserved for prosperity. The topic is my first venture in the PCP world - a Webley Raider.

The stock on this rifle is a perfect shape

PCP No. 1, day 1 - Monday

A late appointment meant I did not get home until about 8:00 pm. I saw the box still on the front stoop. The wife and kids have learned the long boxes are for dad, so they seldom bother to bring one in, much to my chagrin.

After dinner, I opened it up, my wife commented it was different and she liked the looks of it. My youngest said I better not be spending their Christmas present money. (No, I’m not).

BG_Farmer, I would guess you would not approve. It has gold on the trigger guard and fill plug. Also, Webley Raider in gold on the side. I’m guessing that's what attracted the wife to it. I prefer blued, but I ordered it sight-unseen for $395.

An attached 2-shot magazine means you can't check to see if a pellet is loaded, so I fired it to make sure is was empty. "Dad, that's too loud. Go downstairs."

In the confines of the basement, it was even louder. So, a PCP with no shroud means getting the hearing protection out of your range bag. This rifle won't work like the spring guns for late night shooting or suburban backyard critter protection.

I forget this scope is dead, killed by my Webley Patriot years ago

I use the Tibet Almond stick that I apply to the stocks of all used guns. A heavy application hides most scratches. I put it on the entire stock and let it sit overnight. The rifle has nice blue/black on the metal and a wide, flat forearm similar to a centerfire varmint rig. Little over 7 lbs. without a scope and 37" long. Other then “new old stock” this Webley is no longer available. Best I can tell it was offered for about 7 years.

PCP No. 1, day 2 - Tuesday

In the morning, I put a quick coat of wax on the stock. With the 2-shot magazine, I can't run a couple patches down the barrel. I also give it a generous rub down with Beeman MP-5 on the outside metal. A quick wipe with an old white t-shirt reveals no rust, so I'm happy.

That evening, I decide to put a few shots over a Chrony. The rifle has no fill gauge, which means one less part to fail, but it also means I have no clue how much air is in it. The Webley manual says the maximum fill is 200 bar, but they recommend 190 bar. It really doesn’t matter, as I have no hand pump for it yet. 

I try a .22 pellet (14.5 grains according to my scale), and it averages 850 fps. My Chrony lacks the printer, so I just shoot a short string to get an idea of the charge in the rifle and its performance. The basement PC takes me to the energy calculator on the Pyramyd Air site, where I learn that the energy with this pellet is 23.27 foot-pounds.

I picked a 6-18x Bushnell Trophy scope that's too long for most of my current spring rifles but will fit fine on the Webley. It was originally on a Beeman R1, and then moved to a Patriot. My first shot at about 36' misses the Gamo trap altogether, as does the second.

I go to plan "B" old, larger Beeman quiet trap at 24". The round strikes low and left. I dial in as much up and right as I can. No use. It's at the limit of its adjustable range. I then recall the Patriot killed this scope years ago. It was late, so I’ll try again this evening.

Usual deep Webley blue, looks like the JM lubes are watching the newcomer

PCP No. 1, day 3 - Wednesday

The pump has arrived. In my search for a hand pump to fill the PCP, I learned the following:

Limited selections are available, which is further reduced by what is actually in stock. I ended up ordering an FX 4-stage pump that claims to lower the effort needed to fill the rifle. Additionally, I based my decision on not much more than I recognize the FX brand name and the unit is available immediately. Sold.

When I open the shipping box, I quickly surmise that my request for “the piece that connects the rifle to the pump” has been denied. My disappointment is furthered by a non-specific, one-page sheet for assembly and use. I have to thank the yellow forum members as they explain the seemingly extra part is a moisture filter and actually post a link to Pyramyd Air with the fill probe I'll need along with a picture of it.

I ordered the last piece of the puzzle just before midnight.

Earlier in the evening, I replaced the malfunctioning Bushnell Trophy 6-18x with a lesser Bushnell 3-9x that did light duty on a Beeman R7. The first shot is close, and I'm spot on in about 5 shots.

Lots of bling

I start with Crow Magnums. As they drop an inch below the aimpoint, I switch to JSB Exact Jumbo Express, which puts me back on target. Finally, I put H&N Match in the rifle and shoot them, starting at an inch high to more than an inch below the bullseye.

Even with hearing protection, I realize the discharge noise is greatly reduced. I take off my earmuffs, and the rifle now sounds like my Daisy 922. A quick check shows the H&N Match are down to 497 fps. I'm done until I can charge the rifle.

I shoot an HW30S as if to show the Raider the beauty of self-sufficiency.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hammerli 850 AirMagnum - Part Two

12 ft lbs with most pellets in .22 caliber

 I run it through all the normal paces; accuracy-wise it is about a 7 + on a scale of 10. I would venture this is more a result of shooting the CO2 too quickly than the rifle's capability. When CO2 is shot quickly it cools down, and delivers less energy. This means the point of impact will change and become progressively lower. With an eight- shot magazine this is easy to do. I decide to use it for some backyard shooting and bring it outside with me while cutting the lawn. I let it lean against the house while I perform this most important of husbandly duties. It is early spring and less than 70 degrees outside.

I remove the scope and try a red dot plus laser 

After about an hour I return and take aim at a random target and pull the trigger. Nothing. The sun has heated the CO2 and caused the valve to lock up as the pressure is too high for it to work. The best thing to do is to put it back in the basement and allow it to cool. I'm sure it would be fine by tomorrow, yes that would be best, but I start to question myself. Did I mistrack my shots? Did it leak? Hmmm. Let’s see, I start to unscrew the cylinder and I hear just the slightest hiss. Maybe it is almost empty? I give it a big turn and the blast is huge as the entire 88 grams empties out. The smell of CO2 is unmistakable.
I know I have just blown the seal out, but I use a another 88 gram cylinder to confirm it. It empties immediately as soon as it is installed.

I call Greg at Umarex and send the rifle for a vacation in Texas. The repair is free if I pay shipping both ways. Interestingly Umarex blames the Crosman CO2 for the issue stating it is full of dirt. Once back in my hands, I admit I am concerned about using it outside. I give it a try again and the same thing happens, an hour in the sun and she will not shoot. It is then relegated to an indoor shooter only and becomes a platform for laser sights, and all sorts of testing.

Big and pricey, but dirty???

Conclusion, these guns have (or had) a cult- like following, and are commonly converted to hold air instead of CO2, but with the continued price drops on PCP's that comes with greater competition, I think that is less of a strong suit. As far as using them with CO2, care must be taken to keep the rifle within its optimum operating range, which means not too hot or too cold, kinda like Goldilocks’ porridge.

I rate it as an okay and accurate enough plinker, but would still pick a PCP over it for the versatility. Also any economy of the lower initial cost is soon lost with the 88 gram cylinders. Bulk fill would lower the expense. Check here for more info: The 850 Store.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hammerli 850 AirMagnum - Part One

Hammerli 850 AirMagnum

I use it as a test bed for assorted sights...that is one funky stock to my eyes

CO2 has never been my first choice as a power system and polymer stocks don't really do it for me either. As I have said before, I am not a blow-up doll kind of guy. It need not be fancy in grain or species, but I do like the feel of real wood.

So then why would I order an 850 which combines both features that I don't care for?

I am intrigued by the number of shots the 88 gram Crosman Air Source is said to offer, and I am getting lazy in my old age. The 8-shot capacity magazine is also an attraction when compared to all my single-shot rifles. When I pull the trigger the RWS is new to the market and in short supply. Pyramyd Air is out, and having been fooled before by the ever-changing in-stock dates, I look elsewhere and grab one at Airguns of Arizona. When delivery takes a little longer than expected, I am happy to hear they are testing all the rifles first to make sure they hold CO2 before shipping, and the first one for my order was leaking. They also supply their usual Chrony results at no additional cost and throw in a box of .22 caliber Crosman Premiers because of the delay, which was only a week. Very nice touch. .

I do order the optional muzzle brake from PA along with some extra magazines. I pass on the overly expensive 12 gram cylinder adapter. Bulk fill is also an option for these.

This slips over the muzzle and is for looks only

At the time I am working less than two miles away from home and have learned to watch the UPS tracking information on line. As soon as it shows delivered, I hang a sign on the door and run to pick it up. I can't bring it into my workplace with me but I can get a good peak at it in the trunk.

I pass on this 12 gram CO2 adaptor for $99.00

The packaging is attractive with a retail quality and the RWS 850 is nestled in protective foam that makes me shiver when the rifle is removed.
Once home I find it is much louder than a comparable spring rifle with the same power. I attach the muzzle brake but this does not change the sound level.

The metal work is good, but the stock is a disappointment even for plastic. The feeling is hollow like a cheap drug store Easter Bunny. The slip-on cover over the CO2 cylinder does not inspire confidence as to its suspected long term serviceability. The overall stock shape itself is rather odd looking.

The Crosman Premier pellets work well, but the challenge is knowing when to discontinue shooting. I shoot one full cylinder over a Chrony just to decide on an ideal stopping point. I track the number of shots by noting the number of fresh magazines that go in. It is simplistic, but works well. I have four magazines that hold a total of 32 rounds. I can load that set of 32 five times. When I have 5 slashes it is time for a new Air Source container. 160 is far short of the advertised 250 shots. I guess they did not consider the shots should hit the point of aim.

Stay tuned for more...