Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The BSF 55, a one night stand

BSF S 55 Deluxe

Long ago and far away a Wischo 60 / 70 caught my eye in an Air Rifle Headquarters’ catalog. It was given playmate status with a two page centerfold spread. I looked at it longingly for hours, not quite the way I stared at the red swim suit Farrah Fawcett poster, but I still wanted it bad.

Last made in 1986 and once acquired by HW, the BSF's morphed into an R10 eventually..

Unfortunately wants and needs don’t always come to fruition for a young teenager and I would neither date Farrah nor own the Wischo.

Fast forward to 2010 and I find myself at an airgun shop that time forgot, and while I don’t spy a Wischo S 60, I do see a BSF 55 which is a kissing cousin. (Wischo was not a manufacturer, similar to Beeman) It hangs on the wall covered in dust, I would guess unnoticed by the average shopper that wants the latest Gamo, but Volvo is different. There is even a new in the box 55, but Derrick38 is packing it up for Frank B.
The trigger shoe is foreshadowing that the trigger is not so sweet, click on this and the other pics for a better view

I nonchalantly check out the hang tag and see that this 98% example is marked at $155.00. Now that may match the Blue Book value, but in the real world it usually doesn’t work that way.

Tom Gaylord gave these rifles the designation “The Four Horsemen”: the HW 35, Diana 45, BSF 55 and the FWB 124. Picking up any of them in near new condition for well under $200.00 means there is no need to fear losing any money.

Accurate, but hard to shoot without breaking in the trigger with 30,000 pellets first. HW will also improve the sights.

I have a blast at the shop as you may imagine and leave with the 55 under my arm. Once home, I find myself underwhelmed with the rifle. I have to admit it is very similar to when I picked up the Playboy Farrah that posed for in the 90’s. The memory exceeds reality.

While it was a contender for the Crown in the 1970’s it is nothing special now. The shot cycle is jumpy and the trigger is no match for the Rekord and needs 1000’s of shots to smooth it out. It is hotter than the FWB 124 I owned and hits the mid 800’s easily with Silver Bears, but that’s about it.

I like small cuts like this, the R7 and HW50 are the same

It would make a great collectors piece, but it is not the daily driver I am looking for.


I list it for sale the very next day and make a quick $100.00.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The not so Velveteen Rabbit and the .20 caliber pellet

Less plastic than the bunnies in Playboy

Six years ago the yard of my newly built home was comprised of dirt and scattered stone from the temporary drive. Having it rock hounded and grass planted was the first milestone in its development.

Once the lawn came in it was certainly better than the moon-like surface it replaced, but it was an almost sterile environment. That would change quickly with almost weekly plantings, I tried not to go overboard, but admittedly I am a bit of a plant junkie.

The original .20 caliber platform

Now under contrary circumstances, my reaction may have been different, but seeing the first rabbit in my yard I felt joyful, even proud that I turned the former waste land into a habitat worthy of a visit from Peter Cottontail. Shortly after, I would discover a nest of bunnies under a Barberry bush in my front yard. I was like a proud father, and punished the murder of crows that attacked one of my babies.

Soon, I would care for bunny nests in the front yard and back a couple times a year. The backyard nests I would fence off to protect from Petey, who has no hunting skills but a strong prey drive. I still feel bad for Speedy my daughter’s gerbil, but I'll save that story for a later date.

Pretty, but this one would not group even after being sent back to Crosman, because of that I would seek out a .20 caliber R7 to use all the pellets I had stockpiled

Now some of you may see where this is headed. A half a decade of nurturing bunnies led up to my current garden frustration. Previously, I ignored the munched flowers and vegetables as the amount was minor. But this year things changed, I planted my third pack of green beans and was less than happy about it. The planting wasn't due to such a large garden, but the constant eating as soon as they sprouted. The pepper plants were stripped of all leaves and the cabbage was turned into an appetizer. Now this may not seem so bad, but the Irish half of me relishes fresh green beans and potatoes cooked with ham and served with a thick slice of crusty bread slathered in artery clogging butter. Meanwhile, the Italian half demands fried peppers and sausage on a chewy bun.

So I order the hit. Since this is personal, I will take care of it myself. Timing will be the key; my family must know nothing about it due to delicate sensibilities and my desire to not hear their whining. The other piece is that the rabbit must be caught in the act. Of the dozens I have helped raise most stay in the outer perimeter of the property. The garden is very near the house, and this guy displays fearlessness that I respect, but it will also certainly be his downfall.

Now this twenty caliber shoots

I keep a close eye out and spot him chomping on the flowers that dot the outside edge of Eden, but he takes off at full speed when I open my patio door. Score one for the bunny. Another week passes and I peek out the bedroom window as soon as I awake. He is there, stripping the leaves off a new pepper plant. The circumstances are ideal, I am home alone.

According to Dr. Beeman you need 5 ft lbs of energy to kill a rabbit, so starting out at 7 ft lbs the .20 caliber R7 would seem to be up to the task at the modest distance I anticipate this shot to be. But I have to admit I am hesitant, I have always used much greater power when eliminating critters. I walk quickly and determinedly but don't run, being out of breath and shooting a light rifle is not a winning combination.

A quick check before I load shows he is still wreaking havoc on my tender young plants. A single Beeman \ H+N FTS will be the prescription for his illness. I make it out the door unnoticed and get into position. Prior to going outside I dialed in the distance on the AO scope which I estimate at just less than 40 feet, and set the corresponding number for the elevation from memory.

He is facing me sideways and the eye makes a tempting aim point, but I want him to be able to have an open casket so I pick a point about inch behind the eye. I am standing and shooting off hand, but at this close distance I have little doubt about connecting. The R7 pops and sounds so mild outside, I am sure no one is the wiser. I believe this .20 caliber version makes even less noise than the .177.

The rabbit goes down instantly and after a brief bout of back leg twitching has expired. I am happy that the R7 performed so well. On closer examination I find the entrance wound exactly as planned, and no exit wound. I still can't say that I would pick an R7 as a primary hunter, but it certainly can be called on to protect a backyard if needed. I would think that the Eastern Cottontail is at the top end of its limit, with the key being surgical precision. I would deem body shots out of the question. I wipe the Beeman R7 with an old oil stained t-shirt and give it a nod as I stand it up in the rack.

Forgive the lack of an actual kill photo. Perhaps a Jack-a-Lope would need confirmation, but I don't feel the need to show small game once it has been terminated.

In a better place, fyi the Mums to the right should be a foot tall by now...

I find a nice shady spot by a hosta, and say a few simple words, Petey looks on with curiosity. I imagine I hear a bell as the bunny gets his wings and goes off to that endless garden in the sky.

Recap on the .20 caliber R7:

My example shoots just a little faster then these numbers published by Straight Shooters.
I think the FTS are the ideal given the power level; also they are second only to the Beeman Double Gold FTS in accuracy.


I am playing this video non-stop in my garden. I think I can give the R7 a rest.
Not funny to a bunny

Monday, June 7, 2010


Well, it was bound to happen. Endless deadlines, cantankerous editors, and writers block - all the greats have suffered these perils of fame.

I guess I could deal with it like Hemingway, but that is perhaps a tad harsh. Mostly it’s that darn 399 book that keeps distracting me. Anyway, I am going enter a state of semi retirement on the blog. I do foresee numerous well timed come backs, but until then I leave you with this impromptu guest blog from Orin.

His style is unique in that it is written in the form of a comment, and the pictures have little to do with the story line. Utterly brilliant I must say.

So without further ado, here’s Orin:

I think I need to keep adding smiley faces to my sarcastic comments so people know I'm joking. Come on guys... FT scope on a plastic, CO2-powered 1077? I wasn't even able to get a rise out of anyone? S.L. – I might need you to pass me some tips.

Spotted these so grabbed the 1077

The huge scope looks absolutely ridiculous on the 1077, of course. For some reason, I never took the time to find the best pellet for this gun. I went through about 20 different types last night and discovered that it prefers Beeman FTS Double Golds and Kodiaks/Baracudas. Talk about expensive tastes for a $50 gun! Anyway, I was shooting from 20 yards at standard 10m rifle targets. Normally, the black centers make it really hard for me to see hits, even at 3-6x but at 24x, I had no problem making out my groups. As silly as it looks, it was certainly functional for pellet preference testing.

Then saw this and ran back in the house for the Benji XL

As soon as my 30mm Weaver mounts come in, it'll go on the Benji Trail XL for a while so I can do some 100-yard accuracy tests. Then who knows… maybe on a tripod for a spotting scope.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Daisy \ Avanti 747

Stock grips are plastic

Rifles have always out number pistols in my collection by about 10 to 1. Why? I find even the most humble of long guns will out shoot the best pistol in my hands.

This has nothing to do with the accuracy the pistol may be capable of when locked in a vise, what I am referring to are real world situations. I doubt I am alone in this, my smooth bore Daisy 499 will put the rifled Daisy 747 to shame which is the reason pistol targets are enormous in size when compared to rifle cousins.

Side lever is easy to use

So why buy pistols? First it does allow economical practice in the home and can be challenging in a much smaller space. Shooting a scoped rifle at 15 to 21 feet for an extended time would be about as exciting as watching a peeled apple turned brown, whereas you can entertain yourself with a pistol nicely.

In comes the Avanti 747. It is a single stroke pneumatic, and as such its power is derived from a single stroke of a side lever, which I find one of the best power plants for a pistol. This gives it a calm firing cycle without the need for CO2. However as with most benefits, it does have a down side. The power plant needs a good bit of real estate and makes for a fairly large size. If you want to simulate shooting your little .380 this is not the ticket. If I had to compare it with a firearm counterpart I would say the target style .22 rimfires that Browning, Ruger, and others make are closest.

Sized like a .22 rimfire target pistol

It has a solid feel other than the plastic factory grips which I replace with a nice after-market set from RB. I think this also helps the balance, which is a little front heavy in  stock form. As I touched on it is a pleasure to cock, load and shoot. The barrel has a Lothar Walther pedigree, so you can only blame yourself when you miss. With energy at about 2 ft lbs, you should not consider hunting at all and any pest larger than a mouse at 7 feet should be given a pass.

Multi Pump pneumatics will offer more power, but are slow to reload and want to bite fingers, spring power pistols can be hunters but will be more difficult to shoot and louder, CO2 can provide faster action, smaller size and often greater power, but more noise, expense, and the hassle of being at the correct temperature come into play.

So where does the 747 fit in? It can occupy an evening nicely dispatching makeshift targets indoors or out that would be like shooting fish in a barrel with a rifle. Its quiet low power operation also means you will mostly go undetected and the inevitable misses are contained with ease.

Summary: Relaxing target shooting and plinking with the confidence that when you miss it is your fault and not the pistol are its hallmark.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Beeman HW97K - part 1

Need to not miss? Then this is it. Paul Watts tuned HW97K

I had planned on blogging my Daisy 747 next, but AlanL’s fever for serious spring rifles has pulled this one up in the queue.


This is a tricky subject, I would dare say most HW air rifles have a similar potential, the issue is the shooter realizing that potential. That is the key to the 97. First the barrel is less than a foot long. That means the time you need to stay on target is greatly reduced. It is still important to follow through once you squeeze the trigger, but not like one of those 18 inch babies need.

Short and sweet

Next, it is a fixed barrel so lock- up is not a concern. That barrel will be in the exact same spot every time you aim down range.

Heavy weight. While it may benefit humans to carry less poundage, a spring rifle profits from the extra load. Let’s face it, when you pull the trigger you start a mechanical reaction that a lighter rifle will transfer to the shooter. If you doubt this, shoot a BSA Lightning XL, fine little gun but it jumps like a cat that’s had its tail stepped on. The HW97K just lays there.

Way Smooth

Now all of this doesn’t mean squat if the trigger is not up to snuff, but no worries are needed when it comes to the Rekord unit. They are good from the factory and amazing when tuned properly. The key is that they remain predictable at lower settings, so oopies are rare.

I’ll finish this up with one more post, but in the meantime here is video of the latest offering.

Goodies in the box

By the way, sorry about all the background clutter in these photos, but you can click on them for a better look. Just for fun, see if you can spot the FX Whisper’s magazine. One of the FX Cyclone’s magazines sits on its absolute favorite pellets – the discontinued Accupells

FX Whisper

We already know it's quiet, but what else?

The Stock:

So I am at the market and I see dried plums, but I recognize them as prunes. I feel the same way about polymer stocks, just a fancy name for plastic but once I get past the looks I have to admit I like the fit of the Whisper. The thumb hole and light weight are a winning combination. It is much easier to hold on target than the average rifle, and I have to give it one thumb up.

Magazine can be a pain

The Action:

The magazine stands proud of the receiver, perhaps too proud. When this happens you’ll need high scope mounts to clear it and while you’re at it you might as well mount a large scope. The magazine itself is auto indexing and that is a positive since working the bolt only needs to feed the next pellet rather than rotate the magazine also. The downside of this is that the magazine requires a video to learn the operation and spares are over $70.00 each. Here are the official directions: “With the magazine’s clear cover facing you, turn the cover anti-clockwise against spring pressure, all the way round until it stops. Still holding the cover against the spring-loaded mechanism, flip the cover over and load a pellet SKIRT first into the one visible chamber. The cover is now held in place, and the mag can be flipped back again and pellets loaded conventionally, head first into all the remaining chambers in turn; finally closing the cover.”

It also is difficult for thick man fingers to load; one out of every 48 pellets goes in backwards and gives me fits.

What happens next in my first days with the rifle is a negative that turns into a positive. I decide to clean the barrel and loose a patch in the rifle. I cannot retrieve it after numerous attempts and accuracy is shot. The good? It forces me to disassemble the rifle and remove the patch that is in the spring with the baffles. In doing so I learn a good bit about what makes a Whisper whisper quiet.

If you need to go with high mounts, get a big scope


Accuracy is top notch with heavy pellets, but anything less than a Kodiak or a CP heavy is not good due to the power level of over 20 ft lbs in .177. Since the magazine holds 16 shots and the bolt is easy to work, it burns ammo and air quickly.

Overall – very nice.

Here is a video of a guy reviewing one, unfortunately he shoots at a metal pellet trap so you can’t tell how quiet this baby is. This ain’t no Gamo Whisper.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sounds of Silence - part 4

Sounds of Silence
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

Petey bringing in the latest news on airguns

I have to admit I am hesitant to actually post my dB results. I cannot stress enough that you can’t take these numbers and use them to compare the dB ratings Straight Shooters uses, PA posts or anyone else. What you can do hopefully is not be surprised by a future purchase.

That said, I divide my results in categories with a representative example of each.

Group 1

This category hurts in the confines of the basement without hearing protection. I take one for the team to learn this. There is a momentary numbness after you pull the trigger, you hear nothing until your ears recover. Any PCP that has an unaltered barrel and fires at over 20 ft lbs should be assumed to be similar.

CB long from a revolver is 113 dB

Webley Raider at 22 ft lbs is 107 dB

The reason I decide on the CB long in the rimfire category is it has PCP like energy at around 30 ft lbs.

These are on the high end of the scale

Group 2

The Crosman Discovery at 24 ft lbs is at 102 dB

This faction is what I like to call really loud but not painfully so. The Disco sits alone here due to its unique low pressure fill, and is the exception to the above rule in number one. Some high powered CO2 guns come close to this level.

The all in one Disco

Group 3

These are the high powered spring rifles. The range from the mid 80 dB's to just over 90 dB. Keep in mind even the pellet used makes a difference, and since a large part of the sound is mechanical, moderators like the one included by the factory on the RWS 40 make for little change.

The Beeman R1 .22 cal carbine at 18 ft lbs is 91.4 dB

RWS 40 in .177 at 15 ft lbs is at 86.7dB

The RWS 40 came with a factory muzzle brake, but it makes little difference

Group 4

This category is any of the mild shooters under 10 ft lbs that have a spring. I find most Springer’s terribly predictable. More power means more noise. Light for caliber pellets also are louder. A dry fire will bump it up to the next category.

The Beeman R7 at 7-8 ft lbs ranges from 76.1 dB to 76.6 dB

This Diana 27 is in the same group as the R7

Group 5

This is the group I have dreamed of. I mentioned the other day that I asked a few retailers for input, what I left out was that I also asked FX directly. While the English was not perfect, they responded quickly with a recommendation that the FX Whisper in .177 was by far their most quiet air rifle. Since I have posted numerousness photos of it, obviously I took their advice.

OLD STYLE FX Whisper .177 was 69.3 dB at over 21 ft lbs

The FX Whisper accomplishes this with an oversize shroud and built in baffles. With almost 3 times the energy of the R7 and less noise, it is an eerie feeling shooting it. “Ping” is the only sound and then a smack at the target. They even sell “de-pingers” if you want to take it down another notch. I have to speculate that any rifle that is also endowed with a large shroud ending in 6 inches of baffles will be in this group too. That would include some of the BSA's and the relative newcomer from Crosman, the Marauder.

Sadly, the new FX Whispers have a shorter shroud without the baffles, but at a lower price. I think they are missing the mark by changing the rifle in this way; it’s called the Whisper after-all.

Whisper quiet

Group all its own -The FX Cyclone

Because the Cyclone offers 3 power settings and ½ threads on the muzzle it spans groups 3 – 5. It has a small diameter shroud, so once again these results should apply to similar products.

Needless to say power varies with the pellets used, but with Kodiak's I get:

Low – 14.2 ft lbs at 73.5 dB

Medium – 22.3 ft lbs at 84.8dB

High – 31.8 ft lbs at 88.3 dB

High and no pellet is 89.5 dB.

Needless to say, more muzzle energy means more noise.

Cyclone's little shroud helps keep the noise down

As you can see the simple thin factory shroud is effective, the middle setting offers the same power as the Webley Raider with much less noise.

Now if I were to hazard a guess at what an LCD could do for it, I would estimate 68.8, 72.9, and 75.8. WOW. That would be something else to have 30+ ft lbs that comes in with less noise than an R7.

Need really quiet? Just look for a PCP with a fat shroud that extends well beyond the actual barrel and find out if factory included bits and pieces in that extra length.

In the end, nothing beats the PCP noise \ power ratio.