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by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


My Sheridan Blue Streak dates back to 1978 when I bought it new.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Lots of pellets
  • Test plan
  • Crosman Premiers
  • Huh?
  • Consistency
  • Last test — Benjamin Cylindricals
  • Pump effort
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today I test my Sheridan Blue Streak’s velocity. If you read the test I did in 2016 you know that I had the rifle resealed by Jeff Cloud at that time. Up to that point it still had the seals that were installed at the factory in 1977 when the rifle was made, so that’s 39 years on the first set of seals.

Before resealing the rifle, .20 caliber 14.3-grain Crosman Premiers (a pellet that’s no longer available) made 462 f.p.s. on 8 pumps, where the manual says to stop, and it went 476 f.p.s. on 10 pumps with no air remaining in the gun after the shot.

After resealing the rifle, the same Crosman Premier pellet went 582 f.p.s. on 8 pumps and 609 f.p.s. on 9 pumps. After 9 pumps were shot there was air left over in the gun, so 8 pumps was the effective maximum after resealing. That is a gain of 120 f.p.s. or 86 f.p.s., depending on which former velocity you accept as the top.

Following Part 4 of that series, which published on October, 2016, I put two pumps of air in the rifle and never touched it again until this report started on July 15 of this year. Actually that wasJuly 13, because I usually have to test my guns before writing about them. Still, almost three years had passed and the rifle was still holding air when I got it out.

Lots of pellets

I have plenty of .20 caliber pellets for this test. They range from the older Sheridan cylindrical pellets that came from a yellow plastic box that was purchased in the 1990s to several cardboard boxes of Crosman Premiers I have saved over the years. For modern pellets I have the following.

.20 caliber H&N Baracuda
.20 caliber H&N Field Target Trophy
.20 caliber Predator Polymag
.20 caliber JSB Exact
.20 caliber Benjamin Cylindrical

That’s all the .20 caliber lead pellets Pyramyd Air stocks except for the JSB Exact Heavy. I plan to test all of those on hand for accuracy, but not for velocity. Their weights should tell us how fast they want to go, give or take a little. What I’m interested in testing is where the rifle is today, so we know where we stand going into the accuracy test.

Test plan

Today I will test the Blue Streak with Crosman Premiers in the same way I tested it in 2016, so we can compare. I will test velocity with 3 through 9 pumps and then I will test consistency with 5 pumps. Let’s get started

Crosman Premiers

This first test is with the Crosman Premier pellet that’s now obsolete.

Pumps……..Velocity
3……………..453
4……………..516
5……………..557
6……………..600
7……………..626 (no air remained)
8……………..651 (no air remained)
9……………..665 (no air remained)

Huh?

Okay — what just happened? I don’t know, but after sitting for 3 years with 2 pumps of air inside, my Blue Streak is now either 83 f.p.s. faster on 8 pumps than immediately following the reseal in 2016 (if you go with what 8 pumps did back then), or 56 f.p.s. faster (if you go with what 9 pumps did back then). Either way, it has picked up some real velocity!

Consistency

Now let’s look at how consistent the rifle is when pumped the same number of times. I will fire 5 Premiers on 5 pumps each for this test.

Shot………..Velocity
1……………..562
2……………..552
3……………..553
4……………..556
5……………..543

Across 5 shots with 5 pumps each, the Blue Streak shot Premiers within 19 f.p.s. of each other. And only shot 5 was slow. The other 4 are within 10 f.p.s. of each other.

Back in 2016 after the reseal during this same test the rifle stayed within 73 f.p.s. for this same test with the same pellet. But it seemed to be warming up as I shot that first string, so I ran the test a second time.

The second time the rifle delivered the same 19 f.p.s. velocity variation for 5 shots on 5 pumps each that we see in today’s test. The same Premier pellet was used and the average velocity for the second run was around 543 f.p.s. I attributed that to the new seals warming up as the gun was shot. But they may have just been breaking in. At any rate, the gun is faster now than it was 3 years ago. Apparently multi-pumps do need a short break-in period after a rebuild before achieving top performance.

Last test — Benjamin Cylindricals

I know the Premier pellet I’m using for the tests is obsolete and unobtainable. So, to bring this test into the modern timeframe, I also tested it with variable pumps while shooting the new Benjamin Cylindrical pellet.

Pumps……..Velocity
3……………..456
4……………..509
5……………..548
6……………..560
7……………..590 (no air remained)
8……………..621 (no air remained)
9……………..634 (no air remained)

Pump effort

Now I measured the effort needed for each of the effective pump strokes.

Pumps….Effort lbs……2016 lbs.
3………….30…………..30
4………….34…………..32
5………….36…………..35
6………….39…………..35
7………….42…………..37
8………….42…………..37

The effort to pump has gone up up a bit. That may indicate that the rifle is pumping more efficiently today than it was in 2016.

Discussion

Now we have a good baseline for the rifle and are ready to proceed to accuracy testing. I will start with the Crosman Premier pellet that proved so accurate three years ago. I may test that pellet with a different number of pumps to see if there is a best number. But with all those other pellets I will certainly see what it will do with each one. Perhaps 5-shots groups for most of them, because this is a multi-pump?

Summary

This Blue Streak continues to surprise me. I have owned it for 41 years and I’m still learning things about it. What will come next?

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by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


Daisy Buck BB gun.

This report covers:

  • The plan
  • Blue Book correction
  • The Buck
  • Made in China
  • Sights
  • Trigger
  • Power
  • Ratchet safety cocking lever — the anti-beartrap mechanism!
  • Common sense
  • Summary

Today I begin looking at the Daisy model 105 Buck BB gun. That’s quite a difference from $1,000+ PCPs — no? But this is a basic BB gun, perhaps the most basic there is. And I am testing it for two very good reasons. First, this BB gun is more suitable for younger kids than even that icon, the Daisy Red Ryder. It’s better because it’s smaller, shorter and costs less.

The second reason I’m reviewing this BB gun is because reader Terry Harman has sent me a scope base for one! It’s called the Little Buck Rail Scope Mount. Now, a scope on a BB gun isn’t a mainstream thing, but there are lots of people who like the idea of scoping them. You may recall that I reported on the Brice scope base for the Red Ryder back in 2016. And much to my surprise, using a scope on a Red Ryder did improve the accuracy measurably.

The plan

I want to report on the BB gun first of all, but that can go faster than a normal report. BBs don’t vary in velocity that much — certainly not like pellets, so I can combine the velocity test and the first accuracy test in one report. Then we will look at this new scope base and mount a scope.

Blue Book correction

I looked in the Blue Book of Airguns to find the history of the Daisy 105 because I thought it was generations old like the Red Ryder. What I discovered is there are several models of smaller BB guns and the 105 Buck is just one of them. The Blue Book also says the sights are fiberoptic, but thankfully that’s incorrect. The front sight is a squared-off plain post and the rear sight is a plain squared notch. More on the sights in a bit.

The Buck

The Buck is a very small lever action repeating BB gun. It holds 400 BBs in a gravity-fed reservoir that feeds BBs as the gun is cocked. The gun is 35.4 inches overall and the test gun weighs 1 lb. 13 oz. which is about 1.8 lbs. They do vary because of the variable weight of the wood butt.

The pull of the stock (the distance between the end of the butt and the trigger) is 10.75-inches. That measurement is the one parents deal with all the time when getting a BB gun for their children. As I recall, the Red Ryder comes with instructions for cutting off the buttstock to fit your child. I’m not saying the Buck will fit all children, but it will come a lot closer from the start.

The gun is blackened steel with a genuine wood buttstock. The front sight, lever, trigger and safety mechanism are black plastic that does not detract from the appearance, in my opinion. There is no buttplate — just rounded-off wood.

There is also no forearm, which seems like the cost-reduction step that it is. But this one isn’t new. It dates way back to almost the dawn of folded-metal BBs guns. Plenty of vintage and even antique (over 100 years) BB guns lack forearms.

Made in China

This BB gun is made in China, as many BB guns are today. The overall quality looks fine and seems no different than when the guns were made in America. We know that most of the world’s premium BBs are made in China, so it should surprise no one that the guns are made there, as well. Yes, the U.S. and China are in a tariff war right now, but the retail price of the Buck remains around $30.

Sights

The front sight is a squared-off post that at first glance appears to be attached with a Phillips screw. But that screw head is simply molded into the plastic sight that is itself a part of the muzzle cap of the gun.


The Buck’s front sight is a crisp post that has a fake Phillips screw. The sight is actually a part of the muzzle cap.

The rear sight is an extension of the steel spring anchor of the gun. Lift it out and the mainspring can be removed from the gun — though a lot of other steps are necessary, before you get to that.


The steel rear sight is the top of the mainspring anchor. It does not adjust.

Trigger

The trigger is plastic, as mentioned. It is combined with the crossbolt safety that is entirely manual, thank you, Daisy! The listed pull weight is 8 lbs. and I can tell you that when a gun’s trigger pull is 4 times the gun’s weight, it won’t be easy to shoot with full accuracy. I’ll measure the trigger pull in the next report, but I can tell you right now it’s heavy. Many kids will need two fingers to fire this gun.


The trigger is plastic and heavy to pull. Note the crossbolt safety behind the trigger. It’s 100 percent manual!

Power

On the outside of the lithographed box Daisy says the Buck is capable of 350 f.p.s. I really doubt that number. Pyramyd Air lists the velocity as 275 f.p.s. which I think is a lot closer to reality. Even the Red Ryder of today doesn’t get 350 f.p.s. I got 280 f.p.s. when I tested my 60-year-old Red Ryder with Daisy Premium Grade BBs. Then I got a brand-new Red Ryder and it averaged 281 f.p.s. with the same BB. I don’t think there is any way this smaller BB gun is going to exceed that!

Ratchet safety cocking lever — the anti-beartrap mechanism!

Uncharacteristically I read the owner’s manual for the gun, just in case they slipped in something special. “And after every 50,000 shots or every 5 years, whichever comes first, give the longevity screw a quarter turn clockwise. There is enough adjustment to prolong the life of the BB gun 2 million shots or 500 years before rebuilding.” And that was when I spotted the separate orange instruction sheet that tells how to cock the gun!

Daisy has installed a ratchet safety in the lever cocking mechanism. This does away with the childhood rite of passage of having the lever slap your bare knuckles. What some nasty little boys used to do was have another kid cock their gun, then leave the lever down and pull the trigger. It was sort of the kid’s “M1 thumb.” Ha, ha! Well the lever on the Buck has a ratchet mechanism that catches the lever 7 times through the cocking arc until the gun is cocked. Once cocked the trigger cannot fire the gun until the lever is brought all the way back home.

I am sure the design committee was proud of this change for the safety it brings. Little did they expect that buyers would pull the lever down until they heard a click and then assume the gun was cocked! Oh, my! Lucy, you got some ’splainin’ to do!

The current Red Ryder also has this ratchet cocking safety mechanism.

Common sense

Finally some engineer has used some common sense in the design of this BB gun. The screws that pass through the sides of the receiver all have nuts on them. Daisy always punched the sheet steel to form a screw thread on the side opposite the screw head, and when that failed, fathers all around the world found nuts that fit the screws. Now the factory is building them that way and there is no need to ever strip a screw again.

Summary

I am looking forward to this test because it’s one I never thought I would do. A Daisy Buck? Come on! That’s like taste-testing water!

But look at how water is sold today. I guess it’s past time for this test!

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by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


Remington 1875 pellet and BB pistol.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • The test
  • RWS Hobby
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • “Poof”
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • Falcon pellets
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today I test the 1875 Remington BB and pellet revolver with pellets. I switched to the shells that are specifically designed for pellets and loaded a fresh CO2 cartridge into the gun.

The test

Using a 2-hand hold, I shot off a bench for this test, resting the butt of the pistol on a sandbag. I shot at 25 feet and used a 10-meter pistol target. I shot 6 rounds at each target and used a 6 o’clock hold for greatest precision.

RWS Hobby

I don’t sight in when the target is this close and I’m shooting the sights that came on the gun. The first RWS Hobby pellet landed a little more than an inch below the bull and was fairly well centered. Six Hobby pellets went into 1.527-inches at 25 feet. In all I’d say you wouldn’t have any reason to miss a soda can with Hobbys at this distance.


Six RWS Hobbys went into 1.527-inches at 25 feet. The bottom of the bull was the aim point.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

The next pellet I shot was the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy wadcutter. These were both the best pellet and the worst pellet of the test. Four of the six pellets went into 0.424-inches at 25 feet. The 5th shot landed high and near the center of the bullseye. That opened the group to 1.214-inches.


Four Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets went into 0.424-inches at 25 feet. They are right at the aim point. The fifth shot struck high, opening the group to 1.214-inches. A sixth shot was low and off to the right, but there was something wrong with that shot.

“Poof”

The first time I fired the 6th shot it didn’t come out of the barrel! I checked the cartridge and it had only moved a eighth of an inch forward inside the cartridge. So I indexed the cartridge again and the result was the same. The pellet did move a little farther inside the cartridge but it remained inside and didn’t come out. This is the dreaded “poof monster” that first visited us in the pellet velocity test in Part 3.

So I loaded a different Sig pellet into a different cartridge and this time it did come out, though the velocity was very low. Fortunately the pellet did strike the target paper at 25 feet. It hit about an inch and a half below and 2 and a half inches to the right of the main group. I didn’t include it in the photo or in the group measurement because it was clearly not shooting like the rest of the pellets.

I think the Sig pellets are slightly too large for the cartridges and because they are so hard they don’t pass through as they should. Maybe when the cartridges wear in this will change. If that’s not it, the revolver is malfunctioning. We should see that either way as this test progresses.

RWS R10 Match Pistol

Next I tested the RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet in the 1875 Remington revolver. Six of them landed in a 1.474-inch group at 25 feet. This group is also right at the aim point.


Six RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets went into 1.474-inches at 25 feet.

Falcon pellets

I wanted to test a domed pellet, so the next up was the Air Arms Falcon pellet. Six of them went into 1.245-inches at 25 feet. Once more the pellets hit the target at or near the aim point.


Six Falcon pellets went into 1.245-inches at 25 feet.

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

The last pellet I tried was the 8.2-grain RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle wadcutter. This was the heaviest pellet I tested in the 1875 revolver. Six pellets went into 1.428-inches at 25 feet. They did hit a little lower on the paper, but were still in line with the center of the bull.


Six RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets went into 1.428-inches at 25 feet.

Discussion

We have five groups from different pellets before us today. The Sig Match Ballistic Alloy could easily have been the best one, except for some reason they had a problem that I attribute to their size and hardness. The other four pellets gave groups that ranged from 1.245-inches to 1.527 inches. That’s a narrow range! And all of the groups were at or near the aim point. I think the conclusion has to be that the 1875 revolver is very good with pellets to 25 feet.

There were no more “poofs,” so I think I was right about the Sig pellets either being too big or too hard or a bit of both.

Summary

This has been a thorough test of Crosman’s 1875 Remington revolver. We did see that a few of the cartridges were reluctant to fire pellets — at first. But given time they seemed to wear in. And then the “poof” monster hit us again today. I think the air pistol just needs a heck of a lot more shooting than I am able to give it!

As far as realism goes, this revolver is spot on! I don’t think you could ask for an air pistol to come any closer to the firearm at this price.

So get one if you like the realism. Just understand that the revolver does better with pellets than with BB.

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by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


Ataman BP17 Soft Touch bullpup PCP air rifle.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Ambidextrous
  • Wood stock
  • Regulator
  • Lothar Walther barrel
  • Fill the reservoir
  • Velocity test
  • The test
  • JSB Exact Jumbo
  • JSB Exact Monsters
  • Shot count
  • Why it’s a clip and not a magazine
  • Back to JSB Exact Jumbo, shots 22 through 28
  • Trigger pull
  • Discharge
  • Summary

Today we look at the power/velocity of the Ataman BP17 PCP bullpup air rifle. But before I begin testing, there are several things I need to clarify.

Ambidextrous

The cocking lever comes to you mounted on the left side of the airgun, but it can be switched to the right by the user. I normally catch those things, but it isn’t mentioned in the manual anywhere. I watched Tyler Patner’s Insyder review that can be seen on the BP-17 product page. If you can watch it I recommend it; it’s excellent! He mentioned switching the cocking lever to the other side of the rifle for lefties. In all other ways except the safety the rifle is ambidextrous, and moving the lever completes it.

Wood stock

This is another design feature the manual doesn’t mention, though it’s in the product description online. Tyler does mention it, and apparently Ataman does this with several of their airguns. All you feel is rubber that I have already told you is very grippy.

Regulator

Yes, the BP17 has a regulator. It is regulated down to 130 bar, and the fill is 300 bar, so between those pressures are the useful shots. How many we will discover today.

Lothar Walther barrel

Here is a third feature the manual fails to mention — the Lothar Walther barrel. This is as big as the ambi cocking lever, because Lother Walther has a deserved reputation for making great airgun barrels.

Wow! You would think I didn’t do Part 1 with all those things missing. This makes a point that airgun manufacturers need to put more information into their manuals — though I will say this manual is pretty darn good as it is. The LW barrel and wood stock aren’t things that will help you operate the rifle, so perhaps they don’t belong in the book, but the other two things do.

Fill the reservoir

The rifle had 170 bar, according to its onboard gauge, when I started the review. It needs to be filled to 300 bar. I still have the Nomad II air compressor, so I hooked it up in less than a minute and started it. Then I started writing. In less than three full minutes the compressor stopped and the rifle was full! Is that impressive or what? And we know from my test of the compressor that the Nomad II can go wherever your car goes, so you can take it with you on trips. As small and lightweight as the Nomad II is, it’s the perfect companion to this precharged air rifle!

Velocity test

Tyler got superb accuracy from the .22 caliber JSB Exact Jumbo, so that’s the first pellet I tested for velocity. I won’t test the velocity of the JSB Hades pellet because it weighs the same 15.89-grains as the Jumbo Heavy, but when we test accuracy I will surely test it.

The test

The clip holds 7 pellets, so all my testing will be based on 7 shots. First up is the JSB Exact Jumbo.

JSB Exact Jumbo

This pellet gave an average 852 f.p.s. velocity for 7 shots. At that speed this pellet generates 25.62 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. So Ataman’s claim of 25 foot-pounds is on the nose. The spread for 7 pellets was 14 f.p.s., ranging from 848 to 862 f.p.s.

RWS Superdome

Next pellet to be tested was the RWS Superdome. This 14.5-grain domed pellet averaged 871 f.p.s. in the BP17. At that speed it’s generating 24.43 foot-pounds at the muzzle. The spread for Superdomes was 9 f.p.s., ranging from 866 to 875 f.p.s. That’s the regulator at work.

JSB Exact Monsters

I tested the JSB Exact Monster dome next. I did it for 2 important reasons. First, because the BP17 has a rotary clip, the length of the pellets that will fit the gun is constrained to the width of the clip. Any wider and the pellet will stick out on either end and hang up the feed mechanism. Well, these 25.39-grain pellets just fit, so now you know. The second reason for testing with Monsters is that heavier pellets always generate more muzzle energy in pneumatics and gas guns. So this one will test the limit.

Seven Monsters averaged 700 f.p.s. on the nose. Since the “magic number” is 671 f.p.s., we know this pellet produces more than 25.39 foot-pounds at the muzzle. The magic number is the velocity at which the weight of the pellet in grains equals the energy it produces in foot pounds. At 700 f.p.s. the Monster produces 27.63 foot-pounds at the muzzle. That makes the Ataman estimate of energy a bit conservative.

The spread for this super-heavyweight pellet was 5 f.p.s. Yep, that regulator is really working!

Shot count

After watching Tyler’s video report I knew he had gotten 26 shots before his rifle fell off the reg. With the three 7-shot clips I just fired there were 21 shots on the fill. Why don’t I load 7 more shots of JSB Exact Jumbos into the clip and shoot them so you can see the velocity of each one? I will number them shots 22 through 28. I will also explain why I keep calling this round thing that holds the pellets a clip instead of a magazine. In fact, I’ll do that now.

Why it’s a clip and not a magazine

A clip just holds ammunition. A magazine assists with the feeding of the ammunition. A clip is just a place to store rounds, and, when moved by the rifle, positions them to be loaded or fired or both. A magazine is an entire mechanism. What everyone calls the clip in an M1911A1 pistol is actually a magazine because it contains the spring that pushes the follower up to align the cartridge that is next to be fed. It also moves the slide lock up to lock the slide in the open position after the last round has been fired.

The clip in a TR5 does not lock the firing mechanism. After all the pellets have been fired you can still pull the cocking handle back, cock the rifle and dry-fire it.

When you shoot the BP17, if you cock it and fire it after the 7th shot, it will continue to fire, even though nothing comes out of the gun. If it had a circular magazine, it could stop functioning after the last shot. That is what a magazine does that a clip usually can’t do.

Back to JSB Exact Jumbo, shots 22 through 28

Shot……..Velocity
22………….847
23………….848
24………….847
25………….845
26………….848
27………….846
28………….841 fell off the reg?

I would bet that the BR17 under test fell off the reg (the regulator no longer functions because the minimum air pressure in the reservoir was too low) at shot number 28. Yes, its velocity is very close to shot 27 and the others, but looking at the 26 shots Tyler got in his test I think we are now at the end of the useful air supply.

I stopped for lunch and did not resume writing for about 75 minutes, so the rifle has been sitting around all that time. If the reg is the slightest bit slow, I have given it more than enough time to refill the firing valve.

The pressure on the built-in gauge now reads exactly 150 bar. If that gauge is reading correctly and if the regulator is set to spec, the next few shots should be faster than 841 f.p.s. As I write this I have no idea of what we are about to see.

Shot……..Velocity
29………….836
30………….837
31………….826
32………….821
33………….805
34………….798
35………….781

I think it’s clear that I was correct. Shot number 28 was the point at which this test rifle fell off the reg. This rifle is just a smidgeon faster and gets one more shot while it’s on the reg than the rifle Tyler tested. Across the 27 good shots, this rifle varied by a total of 17 f.p.s. That is a fantastic number of good shots. I would use shot 28, as well, so the variance grows to 21 f.p.s. on a fill. That’s 4 full clips.

At the end of these 7 shots the onboard gauge read 120 bar, so there is a large discrepancy in the gauge right at 150 bar. It’s more like 130 bar when the needle reads 150. I refilled the gun from 120 bar with the Nomad II and this time it took 4 minutes 37 seconds, start to finish.

Forget the fact that you don’t have a carbon fiber air tank. Get a Nomad II compressor and go with it.

Trigger pull

Tyler’s trigger broke at an average 5.6 ounces and he noted the same thing that I did about the lack of a positive stage two stop on the BP17’s trigger. I knew my trigger was breaking light. It broke at an average 6.1 ounces with no hint of a stage 2 stop. All I can say is keepa your finger offa da trigger until you want the gun to shoot!

Discharge

The BP17 is not a quiet backyard airgun. It’s louder than a Benjamin 392 (or Sheridan Blue Streak) fired dry on 8 pumps. It’s not ear-splitting, but smaller urban backyards are off limits.

Are aftermarket silencers available? Yes, but they are expensive, plus I am not sure if they go over the line as far as the ATF is concerned.

Summary

So far there is much to like and nothing to dislike about the Ataman BP17. I noted that Tyler was able to fit the Aeon 8-32X50 SF scope to the rifle without hanging over the muzzle, so that is the scope I have selected for my accuracy test. It’s short for the power but has superior optics for the price range.

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by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


My Sheridan Blue Streak dates back to 1978 when I bought it new.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • History
  • Clean sheet of paper
  • Changes
  • What remained?
  • The Blue Streak
  • Thumb safety
  • Rocker safety
  • Accuracy
  • Trigger
  • Sights
  • Benjamin-Sheridan
  • Summary

Oh, my! You know you’re getting old when airguns you bought brand-new are the topics of the history section of this blog. Such is the case with my Sheridan Blue Streak. I bought it at a gun store in California in 1978 after returning from Germany. I had wanted one all my life but until I had money of my own I couldn’t afford one. As I recall the price at the time was around $39. A check of the serial number shows my rifle was made in 1977.

History

E.H. Wackerhagen had a dream of building the finest multi-pump pneumatic air rifle in the world. He had the desire and the money but not the skill to realize his dream. But at some point in the mid 1940s he found and linked up with Robert Kraus whose technical skill completed the equation. Sheridan started making airguns in 1947. Their first product was called the model A and is the airgun we know today as the Supergrade.


Sheridan Supergrade.

The Supergrade was an airgun in which nothing was spared to achieve perfection. Its barrel and pump tube was made of phosphor bronze, a metal with great lubricity. The receiver was an aluminum casting. The stock and pump arm that served as the firearm were both walnut, and the buttstock had a raised cheekpiece like sporting rifles of the period. The valve was an exotic ball bearing sitting in a seat of Hycar — a then-modern synthetic that promised reliability and long service life.

The working prototype rifle was made in .22 caliber, but Wackerhagen felt that the pellets of the day would let it down, so all production guns were built in .20 caliber. Sheridan took the bold step of producing their airgun in a proprietary caliber, probably thinking if they controlled the quality of their ammunition they ensure their rifle’s success. And never forget that a proprietary pellet means only Sheridan can provide it — at least in the beginning. But don’t overlook the flip side of that — if the airgun isn’t standard how many stores will want to stock it? Let me put it this way — what if an electric car had to be charged from a 440 volt connection?

When new the model A sold for $56.50, which was $11.50 more than a .22 rimfire Winchester model 61 pump! As good as it was, American shooters of the 1940s were not into perfection — especially not in pellet guns!

Sales were slow, so in 1948 the Sheridan company revised the design of the model A to produce a model B that had fewer frills but still retained an air of quality. That gun retailed for $35. And customers still stayed away in droves. In fact only half as many model Bs were produced, compared to model As.

Clean sheet of paper

By 1949 the handwriting was on the wall and it didn’t say, “MENE, MENE, TEKEL UPHARSIN.” It said, “Either innovate now or get ready for your Going Out Of Business sale.” Kraus and Wackerhagen started with a clean sheet of paper and designed a gun they could manufacture for a lot less than either the model A or B. Phosphor bronze was replaced with red brass and, while walnut remained the stock material, the design that was created minimized wood waste. They ceased asking ,”What’s the best there is?” and started asking, “How can we make…for as little as possible?” The ubiquitous model C that we know as the Blue and Silver Streak was born.

Changes

The model C was slimmer, lacked any embellishments on the plain walnut stock, had a cheaper stamped metal adjustable open rear sight to replace the more expensive and fully adjustable peep sight that came on both the model A and B. The massive aluminum cast receiver became a small brass part that was soldered to the tube that held the pump mechanism the firing valve and the hammer with its spring.

What remained?

What is most interesting is all that remained. The model C weighed the same, was just as accurate and just as powerful. It did everything the model A did; it just wasn’t as impressive. Oh, and it saved the company! That is the airgun we will now look at.

The Blue Streak

The rifle I am reviewing is from the second major design of the model C. The first design had numerous differences that I won’t get into, but if that’s something you want to learn more about I recommend that you purchase Ron Elbe’s book, Know your Sheridan Rifles and Pistols, second edition, which is available on Amazon.

Thumb safety

The biggest feature of the first model C was the thumb safety button. A spring-loaded “button” at the top of the pistol grip had to be pressed down in order for the cocked rifle to fire. It was supposed to operate like the grip safety on an M1911A1, but it was positioned so far from where the thumb wanted to rest that it was clumsy to depress. So shooters held it down in a variety of ways, with the most common being to wedge a toothpick in the slot with the safety depressed and to break it off flush with the stock. In other words no safety — ever!


The thumb safety (arrow) has to be depressed or the cocked gun cannot fire.

Rocker safety

The rifle I bought in 1978 has what we now call the rocker safety. There are two buttons — one on either side of the pistol grip. Press down on the S on the right side and the rifle is safe. The F on the left makes the rifle ready to fire. These buttons are not spring-loaded and do not have to be held down while shooting. Once a button is pushed the rifle remains in that state until the other button is pushed. The safety can only be applied when the rifle is cocked.


Buttons on either side of the pistol grip determine whether the rifle is safe or ready to fire on the Sheridan C with the rocker safety.

The rocker safety model is considered the most desirable of all the Cs, though a nice example of the thumb safety may command more money due to its age. Rocker safeties were produced from 1963 to 1991. The Benjamin Air Rifle Co. acquired Sheridan in 1977. They moved their Benjamin production from St. Louis (home of Benjamin) to Racine, Wisconsin from 1986 to 1994. In 1991 Benjamin began blending their 392 and 397 rifles with the Sheridan Blue and Silver Streaks and before long it was difficult to distinguish one from another by anything except the caliber. The rocker safety went away, replaced by the single sliding safety lever of the Benjamin rifles.

The Blue Streak and its nickel-plated sibling, the Silver Streak, operate on between 3 and 8 strokes of the movable forearm. I have tested them at a greater number of strokes and confirmed that the power diminishes after 8 strokes, however older guns sometimes gain a little with a ninth stroke. A rifle that’s operating at spec, though, tops out at 8 strokes. At that level you get a medium-weight .20 pellet traveling in the mid- to upper-600 f.p.s. range. Each rifle will be different. My 1978 rifle was old and tired until reader Jeff Cloud rebuilt it in 2016. It now now goes about 609 f.p.s. with the Crosman Premiers that are no longer available in .20 caliber. I say they’re not available, but 14.3-grain Benjamin diabolos are Crosman Premiers in everything but name. Of course I will test the velocity for you in Part 2.

The Blue and Silver Streaks are small, lightweight air rifles that pack more power than their size indicates. Only PCPs have greater power in packages of similar size. The overall length is just over 36.5 inches and the weight of my rifle is an ounce and a fraction under 5 lbs. Yet the pull is a decent 13.25-inches and the barrel is 19-3/8-inches long. That’s adult dimensions in a pint-sized package.

Pump effort starts low and builds into the final couple strokes that are in the 35-lb. region. Beeman used to add up the effort for all of 8 pump strokes to demonstrate how much work shooters had to do. That’s like counting the number of times your bicycle pedals go around for a one-mile trip. In my mind, the figure is without merit. You either will or will not like to pump the gun for each shot — it’s not something that, when measured or put on a spreadsheet, has any real meaning.

I like pumping because it slows the shooting down. It’s relaxing — like shooting a flintlock rifle. But if you like an AR and hi-cap mags, a multi-pump may not be for you.

Accuracy

I will test the Blue Streak in the usual fashion for you, so accuracy will get defined. But I’ll say right now that a Blue Streak is not as accurate as what can be obtained from some of the better spring rifles like the RWS 34.

Trigger

The rocker safety Blue and Silver Streaks have triggers that were designed before the corporate lawyers were allowed to voice an opinion. They aren’t light, but they are nice for what they are — simple direct-sear trigger mechanisms. And they can be made nicer with simple fixes like lubricating and removing the slop in all the parts.

Sights

Besides the thumb safety, the rear sight is the second-quirkiest thing about the Blue Streak. It does adjust in both directions, but the vertical is just a simple screw and the horizontal is a weird arrangement of a push-pull set of opposed screws. Up and down is via a straightforward screw in the leaf.


The rear sight moves sideways by loosening a screw on one side and tightening the screw on the other side (arrows). Up and down is via the screw in the rear that’s blurry in this picture.

I’ll have more to say about the design of the airgun in future reports. For now I want to discuss something different.

Benjamin-Sheridan

Soon after Crosman acquired the Benjamin company, who already owned Sheridan, they began marketing airguns with the name Benjamin-Sheridan. This has caused a lot of confusion in the collector market — similar to the “Benjamin Franklin” play on words that Benjamin stamped on some of their airguns. Now there are airgunners who think Sheridan is only half the name of an airgun and that anything Benjamin is also Sheridan. As a result of this, Ron Elbe ends his book in the mid-1980s, with no reference to the guns that were made during the Crosman years. It sort of means that Sheridan didn’t go out with a bang but a whimper. For collectors who are serious about the brand, the Sheridan Blue and Silver Streaks are iconic air rifles.

Summary

I have reviewed the Blue Streak in the past, but over the last three years this blog has had such a great influx of new readers that I thought it was time to look at the gun again.

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by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


My S&W model 77A rifle. The black paint is flaking off the aluminum receiver, but the steel and wood parts are both in good condition.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Number of pumps?
  • Scope
  • Bug Buster?
  • Rings
  • Sight-in
  • The test
  • First Hobby group
  • Second Hobby group
  • Discussion
  • Eley Wasps
  • “Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright…”
  • Summary

I have what will be a quick report today, but it will also be one of great interest, I think. This will be my last look at the Smith & Wesson 77A multi-pump pneumatic unless I refinish it.

Number of pumps?

Reader Pgray said he had found a manual for this rifle online that said not to exceed 20 pumps. We were already hearing from several sources that 20 was the maximum, but this came from a manual, so I felt I had to test it for you.

Remember, the RWS Hobby pellet had gone 631 f.p.s. with 14 pumps. So today I tested the same pellet with 20 pump strokes. I only shot three shots, because I still think 20 pumps is a lot for a rifle as old as this. Here is what I got.

Shot……Velocity
1………….684
2………….690
3………….700

I checked the gun after each shot and no air remained in the reservoir. Looking at that short string, it seems to me the pump seals are warming up. I bet if I was to shoot 10 shots the average would be in the low 700s. But I’m not going to do that. Now we know, and that’s enough.

Scope

Several of you felt the rifle deserved a scope, so I mounted one and that’s what I will shoot today. The scope I mounted is one you cannot buy today. I have found it to be a superior scope for many special applications, including scoping this 77A. It’s a UTG 1.5-4X28 scope with a 100-yard fixed parallax. But with just 4-power who cares where the parallax is set?

The closest you can get to the scope I used is the UTG 1.5-6X44 scope. Both scopes have a generous eye relief that allows flexible scope positioning on the rifle.

Bug Buster?

Why didn’t I mount a Bug Buster scope? Simple — it didn’t fit. The places on the scope where the rings have to attach are much closer together than the 11mm dovetails on the rifle. I might have been able to make it work with offset scope rings, but I didn’t want the fuss. And the scope I selected is one of my better optics.

Rings

The scope has a 30mm tube, so I selected UTG POI rings with 11mm bases. I shimmed the rear ring with a piece of credit card to elevate the rear and I didn’t tighten the rings too tight to keep from damaging the scope tube.


The 77A scoped. I didn’t have to use high rings, but when it was time to shoot the scope eyepiece was where I wanted it to be.

Sight-in

The first shot from 12 feet hit the target at 6 o’clock on the bull. So I backed up to 10 meters and shot again. It took a total of 5 shots to sight in the scope. However, I felt the Hobby pellets might no be accurate enough to sight in with less than 5 shots (in other words, shoot a group). I just got that feeling while sighting in.

The test

I shot from a rested position at 10 meters. I pumped the rifle 6 times for each shot. The rifle was rested directly on a long sandbag rest with a second rest under the buttstock. So the rifle was absolutely still for every shot.

With the scope mounted it was impossible to hold the rifle the way I wanted during pumping. I held it back at the top of the pistol grip. If it wasn’t so easy to pump this would have been a problem.

First Hobby group

The first group of Hobbys showed me the rifle was still shooting a little to the right after sight in, though the elevation seemed okay. Five Hobbys went into 0.75-inches at 10 meters. That’s three-quarters of an inch.


The 77A put 5 RWS Hobbys into 0.75-inches at 10 meters when scoped.

After seeing that first group I adjusted the reticle three clicks to the left and shot a second group.

Second Hobby group

The second group of Hobbys measures 1.134-inches between centers, with four of the five in 0.613-inches. That one high shot was the third in the series of five and I watched it fly up there with a mind of its own. So, in my mind the closeness of the other 4 shots is pure luck.


The second time five more Hobbys made this 1.134-inch group at 10 meters, with four in 0.613-inches.

Discussion

At this point it was obvious that a scope didn’t really make any difference. I had gotten all the accuracy from the rifle and this pellet with iron sights. And that’s good because I don’t like scopes on multi-pumps. Unless they are something special like the Daystate Sportsman Mark II I once owned or a Seneca Aspen that is made for a scope, multi-pumps don’t need scopes.

Eley Wasps

I wondered whether a different pellet would help? Now that there was no question about the sights was the perfect time to see. I had thought after Part 3 testing that an oversized pellet might grab the rifling better. What is the largest .22-caliber pellet I have? The 5.6mm Eley Wasp. The next group would be shot with Wasps.

“Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright…”

The first Wasp went into the bull at 7 o’clock. How about that? I was right! Then shot number two hit at two o’clock, an inch and a quarter from the bull. No, I wasn’t right. In the end, five Wasp pellets crowded into a tight 2.234-inches at 10 meters. I could probably do better with a slingshot while spinning on a barstool!


Where is the inside of that barn when I need it? Five Eley Wasp 5.6mm pellets are in a super-tight 2.234-inches at 10 meters.

But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out!

Summary

In the end what we have in the S&W 77A multi-pump is a horse of a different color. For a multi-pump it’s solidly built, powerful and unique. But this one isn’t accurate — at least not with the pellets I have tested. I remember that at the same time this rifle was produced some of the Crosman barrels were also a lottery. The barrels on their 120 and 180 CO2 rifles were usually pretty good, but the tubes on the 140 and 1400 multi-pumps were always a gamble.

I could keep on testing different pellets, and perhaps I will, but unless one proves stunning, I won’t show it to you. I am finished testing this rifle.

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by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


Ataman BP17 Soft Touch bullpup PCP air rifle.

This report covers:

  • Reasons to rejoice
  • The rifle
  • Repeater
  • The accessories
  • Trigger
  • Barrel
  • Manual
  • Fill
  • Scope
  • Summary

Today we begin looking at the Ataman BP17 PCP Soft Touch bullpup air rifle. It comes in .22 caliber only and I am testing the black one.

Reasons to rejoice

You readers should be glad I’m looking at this one. It’s a full bullpup that many of you say you like. It’s a PCP in .22 caliber and most of you like that. It’s compact, yet delivers a muzzle energy of 25 foot-pounds. I think a lot of you will like this report.

The rifle

The rifle is just under 24 inches long. It weighs 5.1 lbs. according to the description online, yet my postal scale says the test rifle weighs 5 lbs. 15 oz, which is more like 5.9 lbs.

The Soft Touch title relates to the smooth black rubber that covers nearly all of the airgun. It’s firm yet grippy, which seems perfect for a hunter. And because it is synthetic it shouldn’t feel as cold when the temperature drops.

Repeater

The rifle is a 7-shot repeater, It’s cocked via a sidelever on the left front of the gun.


Tyler Patner operates the sidelever located on the left side of the gun.

It has a circular clip seated in the comb, below the top of the surrounding material. It is nowhere near the Picatinney rail that accepts the scope mounts. Additional circular clips stow in slots under the rail, where there is room for 4 more.


Ataman circular clip in the rifle.


Ataman circular clip stored under the rail. There is room for a total of 4 stored clips, plus the one in the gun.

I say “clip” for this part, because the entire mechanism for advancing the pellets is inside the rifle. All this part does is hold the pellets. It has a spring-loaded ball bearing on either side to hold it steady and aligned in the rifle and also when stored. The rifle comes with 2 clips.


The BP17 clip just holds the pellets. It has a spring-loaded ball-bearing on either side.

Ataman even includes a tool to adjust the fit of the clip to the rifle. What I am calling a clip they call a magazine, and the tool allows the user to adjust the tension of the axle to best fit the slot in the receiver.


Adjust the fit of the clip/magazine with the brass tool provided.

The accessories

When I saw the accessory package I knew this rifle was going to be put together right. There are TWO fill probes! One has 1/8 BSPP threads and, for the bulk of the airgun world, the other one has a male Foster fill adaptor. If the Russians understand this why don’t the Brits and Swedes?

Trigger

Because this is a bullpup rifle, this is where I would usually get on my soapbox and complain that bullpup triggers can’t possibly be good because of all the linkage they require. Well, this one isn’t that crisp, but it is super light. Maybe it is crisp, as well, and my trigger finger just hasn’t learned how it works yet. It goes off with stunning lightness, giving little cause to complain.

The pull is 13-1/2 inches long. Remembering that this is a full bullpup, the pull feels good to me so far. The thumbhole pistol grip is very vertical and thicker, front to back, than an AR grip, so your trigger finger doesn’t feel so cramped.

Barrel

The barrel is 14.5 inches long and is encased inside a shroud that has a silencer mounted on the end. It’s one without baffles and sounds loud when I dry fire the rifle. I will have more to say about it when I do the velocity test.

The barrel and shroud/silencer are separated from the forearm and floating. I think that should help accuracy.

Manual

The manual that came with the BP17 is about that rifle and nothing else. It even has an illustrated parts breakdown that’s an exploded isometric projection of how the gun goes together! All the parts are illustrated and given names and numbers on a list!


The manual has a parts list and this illustrated parts breakdown that’s an isometric projection.

Fill

As I mentioned you have a choice of fill probes to use. The probe is inserted from the right side of the rifle, only. Fill the 100cc reservoir to 300 bar (4,350 psi), so it will be best to fill this rifle from a carbon fiber tank that starts out with 310 bar (4.500 psi). You’ll get more full fills that way.

The specs say you get 25 shots per fill. I will test that in Part 2.

Scope

There are no sights on the rifle so I am obviously going to mount a scope. HOWEVER — the BP17 is a bullpup of extremely short length. I’m not going to install the Hubble Space Telescope on it! I’m thinking of all the appropriate scopes I could use. I’m sure you will all help me!

Summary

We have a really different and interesting PCP to test here. Tell me what I should be looking for and why.

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by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • For example
  • All the wrong choices
  • More
  • Example 1
  • Example 2
  • Example 3
  • Summary

Today I have something I need to say. It was brought up by yesterday’s report on the FX-Dreamlite. The Dreamlite is a fine precharged air rifle that has many good qualities, but there are some things buyers should know before they make the purchase. First, because it has a magazine that sticks up above the top of the receiver you’re going to have to use 2-piece scope mounts. A lot of shooters aren’t prepared to do that — or at least it doesn’t occur to them until it’s too late.

Two-piece scope mounts are my preferred type, but I’m definitely in the minority on that. If a rifle has severe barrel droop, like the Dreamlite I’m testing, then you also will need adjustable scope mounts, and not very many adjustable mounts come in 2 pieces.

Yesterday’s test started me thinking. The Dreamlite seemed so promising, and it delivered on all of the promises — but that turned out not to be the whole story. What do you say to a shooter who says he wants to get a certain airgun that you are sure he will not like? Trying to answer that question is what has motivated me to write about airguns for the past 25 years.

For example

Case number one. A new airgunner tells me he has decided to buy a Diana 52 sidelever spring rifle because he knows that a rifle with a fixed barrel is more accurate than one whose barrel breaks to cock the gun. A statement like that tears at me in so many ways!

First of all, the Diana 52 is a marvelous air rifle. It’s powerful, accurate and well-made. But it is also heavy, twists to the right when it fires and has been known to break its mainspring early. If you know all that going in, buy the rifle. But, if you are basing your decision of the false assumption that a breakbarrel rifle isn’t as accurate as one with a fixed barrel, you are setting yourself up for a big disappointment. Don’t overlook the Sig ASP20.

When I hear statements like this, and I get them every week from people who don’t read this blog, I think of the hundreds of blog reports that address this issue in so much detail. But the guy doesn’t want to read; he wants to buy an airgun!

All the wrong choices

Then there is the guy who wants the mostest-powerfulest airgun he can buy! That’s mistake number one. He wants a spring rifle because he doesn’t want to be bothered with all the stuff you need for a PCP. Mistake two. And he wants to pay as little as possible for what he gets. Mistake three and the deal is doomed!

Power in a spring rifle normally means hard cocking and heavy vibration and recoil. Buy an ASP20 and the cocking gets lighter, the vibration goes away but the price goes up.

Here’s the deal — spring guns are normally best at power levels under 20 foot-pounds. Go over 30 and they are hard to cock and recoil heavily. Oh, if you have a time machine you could go back and buy a Whiscombe, but then you would have paid a lot and it’s also hard to cock. So, keep your spring guns in the power ballpark. If you want power, go PCP.

And a spring rifle at less than $150 better be used if you want it to be good. ‘Cause there ain’t no new ones at that price that are any good. Be prepared to spend more or to buy used.

“Yeah, ” they say, “but that’s not what I want!” So they start asking around until they find the right guy who knows how to say the right things that tickle their ears. Him they trust because he says things they want to hear. Usually I never hear from them or about them again. I think they get fed up with airguns and move on.

More

I could go on and on.

The guys who say they want the foot-powered hand pump. They will put it next to their stair-stepper that’s gathering dust in the corner.
Guys who say they want a scoped BB gun.
Guys who want guns to shoot solid “pellets” because they have a better ballistic coefficient.
Guys who say they will go precharged the minute air compressors drop below $500.

Etcetra, etcetra…

Great opportunities!

Whine, whine, whine. Oh, woe is me!

Okay, no more negative stuff. All positive from here on.

What these complaints tell me is that people aren’t getting the guns they want. Some of that can be chalked up to not being able to please everyone, but a lot of it is true. And, within the twisted thoughts of these customers are nuggets of value.

Example 1

For example — can a spring rifle with good power also be easier to cock? Sig sort of proved it was possible with the ASP20, didn’t they? Can it be done even better?

Example 2

Does a spring rifle HAVE to vibrate? Again, the ASP20 proves it doesn’t. But can a less expensive rifle that doesn’t vibrate be built? I not only think it is possible, I have ideas how to do it. Many shooters can’t spend $350 for an air rifle. Can we give them one that’s nearly as nice for less than $250? Not in a corporate setting, perhaps, but when Value Engineering is applied it could be possible. Value Whaaaat? they asked. Well, if you don’t know what it is, the chances are pretty strong you’ll never do it.

Example 3

Can a precharged airgun be built with a built-in air pump for less than $500? Oh, wait — one already has! The Seneca Aspen.

Summary

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. The point for shooters is to stop shopping for your expectations and use your common sense instead.

And for manufacturers it’s to stop building what the marketing department tells you they can sell. How many of them are airgunners? If the weekend comes and they reach for their golf bags, let them tell you how to make drivers and putters. And go elsewhere to learn what airgunners want.

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by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


FX Dreamlite PCP.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • The Dreamlite
  • Drooper!
  • Another issue
  • Pellet sensitive
  • Suggestions, suggestions!
  • Sight in
  • 5-shot group
  • Discussion
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Air Arms Falcon
  • The 10th chamber
  • Say hello to my little friend
  • Discussion and summary

Before I begin today’s report I think I need to tell everyone what it is that I do with this blog. I look at airguns just as though I bought them — the same as you. I’m not here to fix design flaws or manufacturing faults, though I often have to do that to proceed with the tests.

I tell you this because today’s rifle, the FX-Dreamlite, retails for $1,180. At that price it should come from the box ready to go. For that matter, so should any airgun, though, like everyone, I tend to cut the less expensive airguns a little more slack.

Now, sometimes the “problem” isn’t with the gun itself. For example, if it is an extreme drooper like this Dreamlite I’m testing, then the scope can be adjusted up too high for accuracy. That happens with firearms as well as airguns, but people shooting firearms don’t shoot as close as we do so they seldom mention it. But AR-15s are notorious for drooping.

The Dreamlite

In the first accuracy test the FX Dreamlite let us down with groups that were much larger than expected. II have resolved that today, and found that it was a combination of several things I’ll address in turn. Let’s get on with it.

Drooper!

First of all, the test rifle is a severe drooper and that has to be corrected before anything will work. Because it has a magazine that sticks up way above the plane of the receiver, only 2-piece scope mounts can be used. Years ago we had B-Square adjustable rings for this problem, but that company is no longer in business. So I had to find a good replacement.

The 30mm FX No Limit scope mounts look similar to the older B-Square mounts and are probably what I need, but they are out of stock. So, for today’s test I shimmed the UTG Max Strength 30mm rings I have been using. They already had a shim, so I doubled it. That isn’t a good way to proceed, but it will get us through today’s testing. Since the Dreamlite is a PCP with no recoil I didn’t tighten the ring cap screws very tight. That will keep from denting or bending the scope tube.

Another issue

In the first test the magazine chamber for the 10th pellet came under suspicion, because any pellet that was shot from it was always a flyer. So today I did not load a pellet into that chamber. Instead of 21 pellets this mag now holds just 20. I will also specifically test that chamber at the end of the test to determine whether I’m right to suspect it, but for the bulk of today’s testing, it was left empty.

Pellet sensitive

It seemed in the first accuracy test that this Dreamlite is very sensitive to what pellet is being used. I already have a list of heavier pellets the rifle doesn’t like. Today I will test some lighter ones. But before we do that I need to find out whether this rifle can be more accurate than we have see thus far. And there is one pellet that seemed to work okay last time — the 8.44-grain JSB Exact. So that was the one I concentrated on.

Suggestions, suggestions!

You readers have had many suggestions for me, regarding this rifle. Remove the barrel shroud. Remove the silencer. Well, the barrel shroud has nothing to do with accuracy, because it’s not what you think. It’s simply a sleeve or jacket around what FX calls the barrel liner.

The silencer is also unconventional. I don’t see any baffles inside. Instead there is a screen that probably has sound-deadening material behind it. The only place where the pellet can clip this silencer is at the muzzle and there are no marks to indicate that it has.

A couple of you told me to remove the barrel because it was perhaps misaligned with the breech in some way. That I could do and did do. Just two screws on top of the receiver hold it in the action. Loosen them and it comes off.


Loosen the two screws on top of the receiver (arrows) and the barrel slides out.


The Dreamlite barrel fits into the breech only one way. A slot in the breech (arrow) indexes the barrel with the receiver. It also aligns the air transfer port as you can see.

I detected nothing wrong with the way the barrel had been installed by the factory. But perhaps removing and reinstalling it will make some slight difference. Now it was time to test the rifle again.

I loaded the magazine with 20 pellets like I described above. Pellet chamber 10 was left blank, so when the spring-loaded magazine wheel gets to that slot, it skips past it and stops at chamber 11. For the first few tests I am shooting the JSB Exact 8.44-grain dome.


For nearly all testing today I left the pellet chamber number 10 (arrow) empty.

Sight in

The scope had been off the rifle since the last test (to remove the barrel) so it was necessary to sight in again. But I found that it was very close to being zeroed when I shot. Only the elevation had changed because of the additional shim that was installed. It took three shots to get on target at 25 yards. Unfortunately I zeroed the scope to hit the aim point, so when I shot the first group I blew my aim point away! I had to guess where the center of the bull was for most of the 10 shots! That potentially introduced a 1/8-inch (0.125-inch) aiming error into the group.

Nevertheless, the Dreamlite managed to put 10 JSB domes into 0.284-inches at 25 yards. This was the kind of accuracy I had been hoping for!


The first group with the two sight-in shots. As you can see, the aim point was blown away. The Dreamlite still managed to put 10 pellets into 0.284-inches between centers.

Okay, the rifle can shoot. Now we are seeing the level of accuracy others have shown. But nearly every other shooter shows 5-shot groups instead of 10, so let me show you what one of them looks like.

5-shot group

I adjusted the scope to hit higher on the target, to preserve the aim point. Then I shot 5 shots with the 8.44 grain JSBs, being as careful as I could be. The group measures 0.204-inches between centers, so I photographed it for you before shooting the other 5 shots to complete it.


That’s the trime, taped next to the 0.204-inch 5-shot group that was shot at 25 yards. I left the target on the pellet trap for this picture and had to use tape to hold the trime. This photo was taken with a flash and hand-held, plus greatly enlarged and both the coin and group are under tape, so it’s very blurry.

That’s the sort of group people are showing online for Dreamline rifles. Its possible because there are only 5 shots. Ten shots would tend to be at least 40 percent larger. I went back to the bench and shot another 5 rounds at the same target. This time 10 shots are in 0.425-inches at 25 yards. That’s more than double the 5-shot group size.


This is what happens when 5 more shots are fired at that same bull with the great group. Ten JSB Exacts are in 0.425-inches at 25 yards. It’s a good group; just not great. Aren’t you glad I showed you the first 5 shots before completing the group?

Discussion

Now we know that the Dreamlite rifle can shoot. But only with one pellet. I have heard that FX purposely rifles their barrels for JSB pellets, and I think that is very wise. Shooters spending this kind of money for a rifle have no problem buying the right pellets for it, even if they are pricy.

But are there other pellets that will perform in this rifle? It would be nice to find some.

JSB Exact RS

Since I knew that FX designs their barrels for JSB pellet, or at least that’s the word on the street, I tried the JSB Exact RS pellet next. Weighing just 7.33 grains, this dome is even lighter than the one I have been shooting. Once again I skipped the 10th pellet chamber in the magazine when I loaded it. And the scope zero remained the same.

This time 10 pellets went into 0.563-inches at 25 yards. It’s okay, but nothing to shout about. Especially not for a rifle at this level.


Ten JSB Exact RS pellets went into 0.563-inches at 25 yards.

Air Arms Falcon

I tried the Air Arms Falcon pellet next. We know that JSB produces this pellet on dies belonging to Air Arms, so it is similar to, but not the same as the RS pellet. This time 10 pellets went into 0.798-inches at 25 yards, with 9 of them in 0.572-inches. Once again it’s okay but not great.


Ten Air Arms Falcons are in 0.798-inches at 25 yards, with 9 of them in 0.572-inches.

So far I have found just one pellet the Dreamlite likes — the 8.44-grain JSB Exact. I will try one more time to find some other good pellets and then I am through testing this rifle. It has been given every chance to perform, and has been shown to be extremely accurate, but just with one pellet.

The 10th chamber

Now that we know the rifle can shoot the 8.44 grain JSB, it’s time to test that 10th magazine chamber. I fired the first 5 shots and was surprised by what I saw. It’s time to introduce a new standard for accuracy.

Say hello to my little friend

You are comfortable with the dime I place next to groups for relative size and over time you have gotten to know the silver three-cent piece (trime) that I occasionally bring out when the group is very small. But there is one more American coin that’s even smaller. It’s the Type One gold dollar that was minted from 1849 through 1854. The trime is 14mm in diameter. This coin is 13mm. In the future when groups get exceptionally small, I will place the dollar next to them. So, given that introduction — guess what is about to happen?


The 1853 Type One gold dollar coin (right) is the smallest coin ever minted for general circulation by the United States of America. It will be my new gold standard.

Back to the 10th Chamber test

Okay, what did I see after 5 shots from the Dreamlite? Well, I saw a group so small that I took the target and its backer off the trap and photographed it. Five pellets went into a group measuring 0.158-inches between centers at 25 yards!


Five JSB Exact pellets went into 0.158-inches at 25 yards. That is a group, my friends!

After photographing this group I remounted the target and returned to the bench to fire the next 4 shots. The first 9 shots went into 0.242-inches at 25 yards. This is great! I photographed that group for you while it was still mounted in the trap.


When I fired 4 more shots at that 5-shot group, this is what happened. Nine shots in 0.242-inches at 25 yards. Blurry from hand-holding.

And now it was time to shoot the 10th shot. This time the pellet was sitting in the 10th magazine chamber — the one we have suspected is misaligned with the breech and have avoided loading until now. This shot opened the 0.242-inch group to 0.463-inches at 25 yards. It’s a good group, but not when you consider how great it could have been if that chamber had not been used!


And there it is! The pellet from the 10th chamber landed to the lower right and outside the main group, opening the group from 0.262-inches to 0.463-inches a 0.201-inch increase in group size from one shot. That’s more than one full pellet diameter of group growth!

Discussion and summary

Well, I got the FX Dreamlite to shoot. In fact, the results were stunning for the one and only pellet it handles well. I did learn in the process than the barrel is quick and easy to swap.

The new owner’s manual is good. It’s much better than the marketing brochure that passed for a manual before!

The 10th pellet chamber in the one magazine I have is now very suspect. I will not use it in accuracy testing again.

The rifle cocks easily, has a gorgeous trigger and gets a nice number of shots, though the fill is to 250 bar. All of the power adjustments work as they should and the regulator is quite easy to adjust. And the Dreamlite is very quiet.

The power is not up to the 20 foot-pound rating, though I haven’t tried the heaviest pellets that might get it. But if they aren’t accurate nobody will shoot them, because missing with a lot of energy isn’t as effective as hitting with less.

I still want to test the accuracy of the rifle with several other pellets. I can shoot 5-shot groups that will allow me to test with a lot of different pellets.

I also want to test the accuracy after bumping the barrel, because many readers have expressed concern over such a long free-floated barrel. There is at least one more test to come, so stay tuned.

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by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


My S&W model 77A rifle. The black paint is flaking off the aluminum receiver, but the steel and wood parts are both in good condition.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The experiment
  • Accuracy test
  • Sight-in
  • Crosman Premiers
  • RWS Superdomes
  • RWS Hobby
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Now what?
  • Zero the dot sight
  • Stuff happens
  • Summary

Today we test the accuracy of the Smith & Wesson 77A multi-pump pneumatic air rifle, but first we have an experiment to do. On Friday I told you I had added ATF sealant to the rifle’s pump cup, and during shooting it got blown through the valve to get onto every internal seal.

At the end of the Friday velocity test the rifle was shooting a lot faster than it had in the beginning. I said it could have been due to the pumping that had heated the seals, making them more flexible and efficient. Or it could have been the ATF sealant, which does the same thing. Or it could have been a combination of both.

The experiment

Here is the deal. If the ATF sealant was the cause of the velocity increase, the velocity with Crosman Premiers from a cold rifle with 13 pumps would be close to 594 f.p.s. If it was just due to the seals heating while operation the velocity would be closer to, well, I don’t have a velocity from a cold gun shooting Premiers on 13 pumps, but with 12 pumps it shot 545 f.p.s. So perhaps 555 or 560 f.p.s. from a cold gun, if heated seals were the main cause. But, if it was a combination of the ATF sealant and the heated seals, then a cold gun might give me around 575 f.p.s. or so. That’s faster than it gave before when cold, but not as fast as it gave at the end of testing last time.

All it takes is one shot on a rifle that hasn’t been pumped or shot in 20 hours to tell us whether the sealant, or heating the seals or both are what’s behind the velocity increase. And the shot registered 580 f.p.s. That is pretty convincing evidence that the ATF sealant did a lot of the work, but heating the seals through operation was also involved. This is one more proof that AFT sealant is a benefit for the seals in pneumatic and CO2 airguns.

Accuracy test

Now it was time to test the rifle for accuracy. S&W has not established a reputation for airgun barrels, apart from the 78G and 79G pistols, so I didn’t know what the expect. Obviously I hoped for the best. Company ads claimed dime-sized groups at 33 feet, and we decided they were talking about 5-shot groups. Well, I decided but nobody argued with me.

I shot the rifle from 10 meters (32.8 feet) rested directly on a long sandbag. I decided to pump the gun 6 times per shot, and you have already seen how easy the 77A is to pump. I used the open sights that come on the rifle, though they have no windage adjustment, so I hope they are on. I shot 5-shot groups, just because this is a multi-pump pneumatic and I wanted to finish shooting before the morning was over.

Sight-in

The first shot was fired from 10 meters. It was a gamble, but I find when I use factory open sights they are usually pretty close to right on at that distance.

Crosman Premiers

I fired the first shot with Crosman Premiers. Shot one hit the target paper an inch from the bull I aimed at, at 1:30. Okay, it wasn’t on target, but it was close enough to finish the group — I thought. Wow, was I in for a surprise! Five Premiers landed in 2.24-inches at 10 meters. The target is a poster-child for demonstrating when pellets aren’t suited to air rifles! No more Premiers for this gun!


Holy cow! You don’t have to tell me twice — Premiers don’t work in the 77A! From 10 meters 5 went into 2.24-inches.

RWS Superdomes

Next up were RWS Superdomes. They went into 0.758-inches at 10 meters, which is a lot better than the Premiers. I wasn’t pleased with this group, but I was relieved.


From 10 meters the 77A put 5 Superdome pellets into 0.758-inches.

RWS Hobby

The next pellet I tried was the ubiquitous RWS Hobby. Five of them went into 0.465-inches at 10 meters. Now, we are talking! This is a group that will just barely hide under an American dime, so the S&W ad was proved correct.


Now, that’s a group! Five RWS Hobbys are in 0.465-inches at 10 meters. I guess the 77A can shoot, after all!

JSB Exact RS

The last pellet I shot was the JSB Exact RS dome. I though they might be the ones, but alas, the best-laid plans… Five pellets went into 0.856-inches at 10 meters. It’s the second-largest group of the test to this point.


Five JSB Exact RS pellets went into a 0.856-inch group at 10 meters.

Now what?

I wasn’t satisfied that I had found the best pellet, but of the four I tested, which one was worth testing with the UTG Reflex Micro dot sight? Duhhhhhh — Hobbys?

It didn’t take much to convince me that of the four pellets I had tested, Hobbys were the best. So I mounted the dot sight on the front 11mm dovetail and I would like to say here and now — yes, the 77A does accept 11mm scope mounts!

Zero the dot sight

I had the dot sight on the gun in less than two minutes, but a quick look at the alignment told me the sight wasn’t on the paper at 10 meters. Put the dot in the center of a bull then pick your head up and see where the barrel is pointing. In this case it was low and to the left. I moved up to 12 feet and shot a pellet that hit the target paper two inches below and two inches to the left of the aim point. That’s at 12 feet. At 10 meters it wouldn’t have hit the backstop.

A quick adjustment and the sight was on target. Back to 10 meters and 4 more shots to refine the zero. Now I was ready to shoot a group. Five shots (yes, it looks like 6 shots to me, too, but I remember distinctly pulling 5 pellets from the tin) went into 0.925-inches at 10 meters. That’s worse than what the JSB Exact RS pellets did with open sights. What gives?


Yeah, I don’t know what happened, either. Five Hobbys (not six like it appears) went into 0.925-inches at 10 meters when the UTG Reflex Micro Dot sight was used.

Stuff happens

I have no idea what happened! I just shot worse with a dot sight than I did with the open iron sights that came with the rifle. Was the dot sight on tight? Is the barrel loose? Were there gremlins in the room? Sorry guys, I don’t know — about the gremlins, that is. I do know the dot sight was tight and so was the barrel.

Hey, sometimes when riding into the sunset your horse throws you and you land in a cactus! There is a solution — don’t let it be the last time you test the rifle!

Summary

I like the S&W 77A multi-pump for several reasons. It pumps easy, has good repeatable power and feels great in the hands. I just haven’t found the best pellet yet. I found a couple of the worst ones — just not the best.

I have a thought about that. Premiers were horrible. Premiers are undersized and very hard. Hobbys were the best. Hobbys are oversized and made from soft pure lead. Maybe I need to shoot fatter pellets that are made from pure lead. H&N Field Target Trophys and Eley 5.6mm wasps both fit that description. So I’m not done yet.

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