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Not your grandkid's air rifle!
Discussions related to Guns and Firearms

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SingleShotLover
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2014 6:14 pm    Post subject: Not your grandkid's air rifle! Reply with quote

Recent events having to do with sparrow control have caused me to revisit my childhood experiences with air rifles. Initially I started with a Marksman Biathlon Trainer that had belonged to my kids from years ago. This little .177 caliber rifle is very accurate but is limited by low velocity (300 fps with 7.3 grain pellets) and a truly horrible trigger that cannot be made better. With years of obsessing on accuracy in my cartridge firearms, I decided to see what I could find to approximate the same performance levels in an air rifle. After an intensive internet search the ones that seemed to meet my criteria without breaking the bank were made by RWS. Weighing the pros and cons of each model, I finally settled on the RWS Professional 34 P Compact.

The 34 P is a shorter version of the standard Model 34 .177 caliber break-action single-shot with a 15.75” barrel sporting a “muzzle brake” on the end. A synthetic stock helps hold the weight down a bit, but the rifle still weighs in at over 10 pounds with scope and mount. This version is equipped with RWS’s new T06 trigger adjustable for take-up and break. Out of the box, mine came adjusted with a longish first stage with a second stage that broke cleanly at about 20 ounces. The package came complete with an RWS 3X9 - 40mm scope (Chinese made) and RWS one-piece mount structured to compensate for the “barrel droop” common to break-action rifles.

First impressions upon unpacking was that this is a heavy rifle! Used to the little Marksman, the difference was substantial. Cocking action is certainly not for the weak! Listed cocking effort is 33 pounds…and I can believe it. Though all of the internet information strongly emphasized using Loctite to keep screws and bolts in place, I didn’t want to run into town to get some, figuring I could always do it later. Mounting the scope and de-greasing the barrel, I was ready to shoot.

Many of the reviews I read praised out of the box accuracy. I can’t go that far. Initial groups at 20 yards would group three shots nicely together and then throw the next two vertically either higher or lower than the rest as the group crawled up the target necessitating constant adjustment. I also found quickly that the internet reviewers were right about the Loctite. As few as five shots would cause the two set-screws holding the muzzle brake to loosen and the action screw located just forward of the trigger guard would do the same in as few as ten shots. Surrendering, I went into town and purchased blue Loctite for anything that I might need to disassemble at some date and red Loctite for the scope mounts and etc. Degreasing the screws and holes in question, applying the Loctite and waiting 24 hours for it to set, I started over.

Accuracy didn’t miraculously and instantly improve, but did so over a period of breaking in. After about 150 shots things settled down and groups became consistent. At 30 yards it started putting five shots inside a 1” target dot with all five under .8” and three commonly under .5”. More familiarity with the unique characteristics of air rifles and practice with various holds combined with finding the pellet configuration that it likes best is sure to reduce that somewhat.

Having only two pellet styles at hand, RWS 9.3-grain wad cutters and Crossman 7.3-grain pointed, I chronographed both. The RWS pellets clocked an average of 835 fps with an SD of 5 fps while the Crossmans ran 910 fps with an SD of over 20 fps. I noticed the Crossman pellets fit rather loosely in the chamber which probably contributed to the velocity variations and subsequent mediocre accuracy. Fearing that the pellets weren’t providing sufficient gas seal, I stopped using them for fear that I would damage the piston.

The RWS scope appears to be holding up and the parallax adjustment works well, but if it fails I will replace it with a Hawke scope. I would have liked to have been able to buy the 34 P Compact without scope or mount so I could have chosen my own combination, but it isn’t offered that way.

Bottom line: This is not a kid’s rifle. This is a serious rifle both for accuracy and power. Believe it or not, the recoil force of this rifle coupled with the hard plastic butt-plate can leave bruises on the shoulder after long-term shooting! A soft pad may be in my future. Having spent a part of the day shooting sparrows and starlings out of the mulberry tree located exactly 35 yards from the window of my gun room and running 28 for 30, I think I found a winner.
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slimjim
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2014 8:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Not your grandkid's air rifle! Reply with quote

SSL, thanks for the review. That is impressive to have 28 out of 30. I "inherited" a Gammo .177 after my father didn't want to shoot it anymore. It does ok. It was very accurate initially, then everything started opening up. I think I will go back and locktite everything like you did. I've already dispatched 3 squirrels.

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Aloysius
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:13 am    Post subject: Re: Not your grandkid's air rifle! Reply with quote

On this side of the big water we call them Diane, not RWS. And they are good starters, but for the real work often Weihrauch is chosen (maybe because of their trigger or the tuningkits available for the HW's)
And when you want a small groupe on a bigger distance, you have to use a round-headed pellet. A flat point is a great killer but limited till about 25 yards. A spitser is OK for tough animals at very short distance. The round-headed is here even used in 100 m benchrest matches for airguns.
Maybe you'll have problems to find Air Arm, SJB or H&N pellets, but then I would suggest to try a box of Gamo Pro Magnum or even better the Gamo TS-10. They don't have the same quality as AA, SJB or H&N, but they come close and are much cheaper.

Every airrifle needs its own pellet for its best performance, just like any other rifle, but I can assure you that when you want a nice groupe at 50-60 yards, that pellet is going to have a round head and not a flat point.

By the way: your velocity is OK. I shoot all my rabbits with pellets going between 790 and 860 fps, depending on the caliber and the pelletweight. The closer you come near the velocity of sound, the more unstable the traject. And with an airrifle shotplacement is the only thing that matters. It's easier to kill rabbits with a cal. 177 JSB Exact pellet of 8,44 grs doing 787 fps, than with that same pellet doing more than 1000 fps.
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Elvis
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:23 am    Post subject: Re: Not your grandkid's air rifle! Reply with quote

I still swear by the old school round head "wasted" air rifle pellets you buy in a wee flat plastic flip top pack 500 per pack and usually the cheapest. I found Winchester brand ones earlier in the year while sorting an air rifle for work mate...one thing I found is you have to really hold the fore stock to get consistency as the springers sure do bounce around if you don't.

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SingleShotLover
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 5:31 am    Post subject: Re: Not your grandkid's air rifle! Reply with quote

Thanks for the advice on pellets. I am really new to the world of serious air rifles but had come to the conclusion after more research, as you both mentioned, that the domed pellets were a better choice for my needs. Going to get some ordered soon. I chose the RWS because I didn't want to invest too heavily in something just for bird and rabbit control and the price from Midway was only $242 with very good reviews from most of the air rifle forums. I figured it would serve my purpose. I can always shoot them with any one of my various cartridge rifles, but the cost of pellets is far less than even my reloaded cartridges. Cheap shooting and less worry about stray shoots traveling for a mile or more!
I will probably invest in a Vortek spring kit to quiet the spring twang and increase efficiency, but now that I am used to the trigger it won't need anything more than a gentle tweaking.

Thanks again for the advice.

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If you can't hit it with one, you probably can't with two either!

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whittling
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 7:25 am    Post subject: Re: Not your grandkid's air rifle! Reply with quote

I can't say I'm too familiar with the RWS brand, but It sounds like a pretty nice setup. I know the Gamos work pretty good on squirrels and rabbits, any plans to try the RWS on them?

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Pumpkinslinger
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 7:58 am    Post subject: Re: Not your grandkid's air rifle! Reply with quote

Air rifles can be really hard on scopes, due to the recoil characteristics of the spring/piston. If you change scopes make sure the new one is approved for air rifles.

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SingleShotLover
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:22 am    Post subject: Re: Not your grandkid's air rifle! Reply with quote

whittling wrote:
I can't say I'm too familiar with the RWS brand, but It sounds like a pretty nice setup. I know the Gamos work pretty good on squirrels and rabbits, any plans to try the RWS on them?

Possibly on the rabbits. We do have a problem with them, but I usually use my T-Bolt to deal with them.

The Hawke scope I would use is rated for air rifle use.

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If you can't hit it with one, you probably can't with two either!

The biggest problem with a closed mind is that it never seems to come with a closed mouth.

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Aloysius
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:41 am    Post subject: Re: Not your grandkid's air rifle! Reply with quote

SSL, you seem to love a lot of stuff coming from this side of the big water Smile
when you use your T-bolt on rabbits, do you also flatten the top of your .22 LR rounds? If not, you should try it. I made myself a kind of a die with a hole in the middle where I put my .22 round so that the top is just coming trough. When I rub it like this over a file, I make a flat nose which is nice and perfect 90° to the bullet. Result is a smaller groupe + improved killing effect on small game. Try it and you will be amazed.
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SingleShotLover
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 4:47 am    Post subject: Re: Not your grandkid's air rifle! Reply with quote

I guess it could look that way! Actually, I just find looks to be what might work best for what I want, check reviews and only then even notice where it is made. I'm kind of sold on the Hawke scopes right now since I have one on my T-Bolt. It is the 3X9 rimfire model with the ranging stadia. Really works well. We have all heard the phrase "There's an app for that." Well, the Hawke scopes really do have an app for that. Free download to your smart-phone gives ballistics, ranging info and aiming points for their specific scopes that can be custom tweaked for any load...including rimfire and air-rifle. Seriously thinking about trying one of their varmint series on my 22/250 just for fun.

Thanks for the tip on .22 bullets. I may have to give it a try.

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If you can't hit it with one, you probably can't with two either!

The biggest problem with a closed mind is that it never seems to come with a closed mouth.

SSL
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SingleShotLover
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 4:51 am    Post subject: Re: Not your grandkid's air rifle! Reply with quote

Thanks to Elvis and Aloysius for the pellet advice. I tried some RWS Super Dome pellets at 8.3 grains and they shoot great! They actually shoot a little better than the wadcutters out to 15 yards and really blow the wadcutters away at 30. I haven't had time to work at longer ranges, but I'm pretty sure the accuracy will hold up. Velocity is averaging 856 fps for a five shot string.

Like I said earlier, I'm really new to serious rifles that don't go "bang" when I pull the trigger, so the advice is appreciated!

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If you can't hit it with one, you probably can't with two either!

The biggest problem with a closed mind is that it never seems to come with a closed mouth.

SSL
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