Saturday, July 6, 2013

Got a little gunshop time today...

...very little, actually, but I'll take it:  I can store a lot of mental updates in a pretty short time.  A couple things seemed worth documenting, if only for me.

Made note again that Savage has entered what I might call "the Chipmunk market" for kids' starter rifles, with an inexpensive, nifty little scaled-down single-shot turnbolt .22 that features real aperture sights and the "Accu-Trigger" that I've heard so many good things about.  This one appears to be called the "Rascal".

Also I got to meet Baikal's coach gun, which fairly impressed me with its nice basic design and a nifty tang safety that has just the sort of crisp, positive snap! that is music to a 1911 guy's ears.  Mounts were quick and the stock felt shorter than it really was, which always makes me happy (most people still insist on long stocks, for reasons I've heard for years but understand less and less over time).

I'd probably further go against convention by putting something more visible than a bead on the sight rib, but other than that and a buttstock ammo carrier, this unit is ready to go.

Also, I finally got to meet a SIG 938, which I have been contemplating for a while as a potential platform for a kid-sized .22 pistol...and I'll admit the impression was mixed.

The gripframe is simply not as compelling as it should be.  It feels "long" high on the frame, enough so to stick out immediately.  I'd have to see it in a kid's hand, and also under fire, to comment further, but by comparison I was much more impressed by the reduced 1911-22 from Browning.  The SIG's safety was positive enough;  I'll always prefer the 1911 style slide-locking safety, but this isn't a deal-breaker.  The 938's trigger was surprisingly heavy;  a nice, short, and positive reset, but as a single-action trigger it felt...stiff.  Now, I'll be the first to admit that what I'm after here is something deliberately sweet so that it can represent a serious training .22 sized for a kid's hand, but even on a combat pistol, a single-action trigger doesn't have to be quite that lawyer-proof.  In the SIG's distinct favor were the sights (excellent), and the slide manipulation is notably easier on the hands than many tiny guns...  In the end:  I dunno.  It may be that with the addition of a few common accoutrements (read:  better sights, ducktail grip safety and appropriate hammer, and tastefully extended safety lever) and good leather, the 1911-22 will be the way to go for a training and development pistol.  We'll see.

Saw an LCR in .22 rimfire, and it surprised me by being a six-shooter instead of eight or nine.  I wonder what the story is on that?

It appears that Springfield Armory is now making the XD-S in 9mm as well as in .45;  as a 9 it's a 7+1 gun instead of a 5+1, but otherwise it doesn't appear dimensionally different at all.  Call me old-fashioned, but in the same size package I'll take six .45s, thanks.  (Where the 9 makes sense to me is in the luxuriously light 6+1 DB9, at 0.8" thick, eleven ounces empty and with a surprisingly friendly trigger mechanism.)  However, in comparing the two I was again reminded of how amazing a piece that XD-S in .45 is:  how the gun really can be that tiny and yet still fit all your fingers on its gripframe I do not understand, but combine that with a nice short-reset trigger, great sights and excellent ergonomics, and you've got a real winner there.  If I were starting over with a general battery of pistols, I'd probably replace the .40 Kahr with the .45 XD-S to fit the "smaller than a 1911 but still carried on the belt" niche, and be happy with it.

Ammo still seems stoopid, and reloading components stoopider still.  I know it's been a while since I've been a shotshell reloader, but a 25# bag of lead shot for over fifty bucks just nearly causes hyperventilation.  Not only am I carefully designing a plan for skills maintenance with airguns, I'm strongly considering getting set up to cast my own pellets.

Anyway, a few thoughts to set down so I don't forget them.  Would love to go through a more comprehensive review of the state of the industry, but with two small kids in the house even the above whirlwind is appreciated time.

Data points.  Duly noted.


MamaLiberty said...

I'm really disappointed with my pump Crossman pellet/BB rifle. The loading mechanism for the pellets is stupid and the little plastic bar that held the pellets got lost almost immediately when I took it outdoors. Replacements are expensive.. for a two inch perforated piece of plastic, and since it is so easily lost, I see little reason to buy another one.

The BB loading is awkward and time consuming, but at least requires no additional equipment. The BBs are not quite as effective on the rabbits, and I don't know if that's because of the BB or the gun, but I've generally gone back to using the 10/22 and the Ruger pistol with .22lr for my morning rabbit moving target practice. I only shoot a half dozen rounds at a time. I very much prefer to actually hit what I aim for... and I don't even need the scope.

Kevin Wilmeth said...

I've learned a lot since beginning my research adventure into airgunnery, and it does seem that there are airguns and then there are airguns. Price has something to do with it, but not everything: there seem to be lots of good, solid designs out there, but it seems to take a while to find them, and for the most part "my local guy" (meaning every brick and mortar place I've tried) is absolutely no help at all. It's also been a bit jarring to have to let go of so much of what I know about firearms, but if I do that, I'm often rewarded with what happens--and I am learning from this. :-)

I know just the pellet-clip you're talking about, ML; I had one on the only air rifle that ever came through the house growing up. I'd agree that the design seems less than inspired, and the piece it went with always felt more like a toy than something serious. Interestingly, one thing I'm learning now is that the "powerplant" that least excites me is that very design--what is called the "multi-pump pneumatic". Its principal advantage, as I see it, is its easy maintainability and lack of external dependencies. I'll grant that, but from there it just leaves me flat. Maybe there's just something psychologically "wrong" with having to work the action more than once to power a single shot--I dunno, maybe...

That rifle is night and day from my new Bronco, which uses the "spring piston" powerplant, and which feels solid and designed, using real wood and steel, with a minimum of plastic parts and none of those in an offensive way. It has an excellent trigger, ergonomic operation, and great sights. The "breakbarrel" loading operation is a bit weird when you first try it, but it's pretty ingenious, essentially foolproof, and there is no more convenient way to single-load a chamber than that.

The most exciting powerplant for general utility is certainly the "pre-charged pneumatic"; you can think of this as a miniaturized SCUBA tank somewhere on the gun, that provides some number of full-power shots before velocities start to drop below your acceptable minimum. There are some really nifty designs here, both single-shots and repeaters, and spanning the gamut of cheap plastic all the way through beautiful exemplars of wood-and-steel craftsmanship. Their only real drawback is that they are dependent upon external resupply, either from a pressure tank (such as an actual SCUBA tank) or via specialized hand pumps that look like bike pumps but actually pressurize to the 3,000 psi (~200 bar) that the guns handle...eventually. :-)

And then there's the pellets themselves. Rifled pellet guns and BB guns (which are usually smoothbore) seem to be two different animals as well. In learning about hunting with airguns, most folks seem acutely aware of the power limitations, and are quite fastidious about extremely precise shot placement to overcome that. The bias against BBs for hunting (and that seems pretty consistent) may thus have as much to do with a smoothbore BB barrel being incapable of the precision accuracy needed, as to do with any lack of power behind the steel BB projectile itself.

At any rate, it truly is a different world, but I'm learning a lot that I like, and I do think that there is some value both in hunting (where I look at it as trading power for silence), and also in skill maintenance. (To me, "BB guns" seem like they're in the middle, not precise enough to do what rifled pellet guns can do at range, and not "soft" enough to do what Airsoft guns can do indoors...and yet I think there is still a useful place somewhere in there, that will make itself obvious at some point.

In a sane world, a free market would provide ample opportunity to work with centerfires, rimfires, and compressed air one and all. In our world, though--and on my budget--I continue to seek ways to make it stretch further, without sacrificing what's important. :-)

MamaLiberty said...

"real drawback is that they are dependent upon external resupply"

In the long run, that applies to almost everything, at every level. At some point you WILL run into the need for a part or substance you don't have and simply can't manufacture. sigh

I don't begin to expect the same or even close accuracy, convenience or power from my BB rifle as I do from my firearms, of course. The rabbit moving targets are a very interesting challenge using the BBS and I get a few, but I'm glad I don't count on that for groceries.

So, for now at least, I'm not really interested in buying another airgun, regardless of the quality. Seems to me I really need to practice more with the sling shot, but I just can't get up enough enthusiasm or energy for it.

Maybe I'm really dumb, but I do expect that .22lr will once again be available... hopefully before I run out of them.