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Crosman 1701p PCP Silhouette pistol part II

In my previous post, I described my initial impression of the Crosman 1701p. It’s a potentially very accurate pistol, but I thought it was held back from achieving its potential by a so-so trigger and simple grips. There wasn’t much I could do about the trigger, but there are a lot of aftermarket grips available. I ordered a set of Steve Corcoran’s adjustable match grips from Woods and Waters.

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Steve’s grips are a classic adjustable Bullseye design, with an adjustable palm rest, thumb rest, and carefully checkered surfaces to improve grip. It’s ergonomically shaped and fit my hand fairly well. I suppose I could  improve the grip even more with some shaping.

The grip produced an immediate improvement in accuracy. I could hold the pistol more more securely, and my groups shrank noticeably. That inspired me to try shooting it with the adjustable Williams leaf sight that Crosman sells as a match sight:

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Scores went up with this combination, too. That leaves only the trigger and the firing mechanism. Like most PCP guns, the 1701p uses a firing system in which a spring loaded bolt is used to open a valve and dump a measured amount of high pressure air into the chamber. Unlike most match pistols, the bolt and spring in the 1701p produce a significant amount of recoil that tends to throw the gun off target. This isn’t a significant problem in Silhouette competition, where pistols are held with two hand, or braced against a leg, but in Bullseye style shooting it’s a significant factor.

I think the 1701p does have potential as a budget match pistol, but it will require some more adjustment to the firing mechanism- and maybe even a lighter bolt.

The Crosman 1701p Silhouette Pistol part I

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Ever since selling my last Crosman CO2 pistol I’ve been thinking about getting one of their PCP pistols. There are basically three: The Marauder pistol, which combines the Marauder action and shrouded barrel in .22with a modified 2400-series pistol grip with a much better trigger, the Field Target pistol, which is pretty much the same thing in .177, and the 1701p silhouette pistol. The first two are fairly big and bulky, and are more carbines than pistols. I don’t have any interest in shooting pistol silhouette, but I was curious as to whether the 1701p might make a decent beginner’s Bullseye pistol.

Taking advantage of some recent eBay housecleaning that refilled the toy buying account, I took advantage of one of Crosman’s periodic 20% off sales, combined with free Christmas holiday shipping, and purchased the normally $375 pistol for $300.

 

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The 1701p has a lot of nice features, like this built in pressure gauge, which is identical to the one found on the Marauder rifle…

 

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…and this simple trigger over-travel limiting screw. These are trivially easy to add to a pistol and a necessity for accurate shooting. They should really be included on any pistol marketed as being for target shooting:

 

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I tried it first with open sights, using a Crosman/LPA rear sight I had on hand, but my old eyes couldn’t hack the extended sight radius. I may try later, using a different sight mounted further forward, but for now I mounted a Millett 20mm red dot sight I found used for $20- they retail for around $59. (I have three of these Millets, and often use them on Bullseye-type pistol where I don’t think a $180 Ultradot is justified.)

Once I got it more or less sighted in, I tried some two handed shooting. The trigger is light and doesn’t have any of the creep you find in the less expensive Crosmans, but at the same time it doesn’t have the crisp “breaking glass rod” feel of a really good match pistol.  Still, I put three shots in a row in the ten ring at 10 meters, which suggests that the gun is a lot more accurate than I am.  Shooting offhand I dropped more than a few of my shots into the 9 and 8 rings, but for now I’ll blame that on the simple plastic grips. I’ve ordered a set of custom made adjustable walnut match grips for the gun from Steve Corcoran, which he estimates should be ready in 3-4 weeks. Watch this space.

Part II, in which I evaluate the Corcoran grips, is here.

Pellet Traps for indoor practice

If you want to improve your marksmanship you’ve got to practice, and unless you have a dedicated outdoor range with a sand berm, like one friend of mine, you’re going to need a pellet trap. Even if you have an outdoor range, if you live in the Northern half of this country you’ll need a way to practice indoors if you want to keep your edge.

The simplest and cheapest trap, suitable for low powered (under 5 foot-pound) guns, is a cardboard box tightly packed with newspapers. That’s what I used when I was a student living in a tiny downtown apartment, practicing with my Daisy 717. The problem with this arrangement is that you have to keep replacing the front of the box and eventually you end up with a box filled with a mix of lead and shredded newspaper that’s hard to sort out for disposal. It’s a good system for BBs, as they don’t ricochet, and you can separate them out for reuse or recycling with a magnet.

Another popular homemade trap is to make or repurpose a wooden or metal box that’s open at one end, and pack a 1″ layer of duct seal compound (also known as electrician’s putty), a non-drying, oil-filled clay mixture, in the back of the box. Some use a large electrical box, others build elegant hardwood boxes. The pellets accumulate as a layer on top of the clay that can be periodically peeled off and disposed of. You can buy  blocks of duct seal at your local big box home store for $2.50, or buy it from Beeman as “ballistic putty” at a healthy markup. Your choice.

if you’d prefer a commercial trap, the cheapest I can recommend is Gamo’s, which can be had for around $15 from Amazon, though some enterprising sellers ask as much as $40.

imageIt’s simply made from a few pieces of spot-welded mild steel, and if you use anything more powerful than a 10 meter match pistol or rifle on it you’ll knock it apart (I took one shot from my Beeman R7 that knocked off pone of the flanges that hold the pellet receptical on the back.) Still,  it’s cheap, it works, it’s easy to empty pellets from, and you can hang it on a screw on the wall. Typically it comes packaged with Gamo’s cardboard “Bone Collector” targets, which look like the above targets but they’re a faded grey and have the image of an elk or some other large ungulate superimposed over the bullseye. They’re pretty worthless for target practice, but you can find the targets pictured with the trap on their own at Amazon, eBay and elsewhere.

A definite step up is Gehmann’s series of pellet traps, available from specialist suppliers like Pilkington Competition and a few eBay suppliers:

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These come in three sizes and are designed to fit standard international targets available from Edelman and Kruger. The largest is the pellet trap, at 17cm X 17cm (6.7″ x 6.7″). I have one of these and I use it a lot with my Alfa Proj PCP match pistol and my Daisy 777.  The smallest is the 10cm X 10cm (4″ x 4″) 10 meter rifle trap. The intermediate sized 14cm x 14cm trap is for both rifle and pistol, but I haven’t seen anyone selling it in this country.

The traps are simple boxes that have a spring-loaded plate ahead of the back of the box. The spring is just spring enough to absorb the energy of a pellet fire from a match pistol or rifle and let it drop to the bottom of the box, where it can easily be emptied. They’re pretty small, but even a  novice shooter with a halfway decent target rifle or pistol should have no trouble keeping their shot son the target at 10 meters.

Targets for the Gehmann can be obtain from Pilkington, eBay sellers, and other specialist in Bullseye shooting supplies. They cost more than the Gamo targets and other inexpensive paper targets, and with good reason. Take a look at this photo of a Gamo target from my basement range, shot with RWS match wadcutter pellets:

 

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The holes made by the pellet are all torn instead of neatly cut. Now take a look at a Kruger target shot at the same range with the same gun:

 

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There’s very little tearing, even with overlapping holes. If you’re serious about target shooting, these are the targets you’ll want to practice with.

 

If you want to practice with higher powered air guns, what you need is a trap designed for .22 caliber cartridges. The oldest and the best is the Champion, available from Amazon and most large shooting sports retailers. There’s also the similar Do-All, which is more lightly constructed and sells for about 30% less, but I’d stick with the Champion. It’ll last a lot longer.

 

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The Beeman P1/ Weirauch HW45

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The P1 is pretty familiar to most air gunners, thanks to Beeman’s agreessive marketing of it as the most powerful spring powered pellet pistol in the world. It isn’t, of course, but it is an interesting and well made gun. Hermann Weirauch, the makers, have a long reputation for making air guns with the kind of careful engineering and construction quality they put into their firearms, and  their revolvers are some of the finest in the world.

My HW30 (aka Beeman R7), for instance, is a lightweight 8 ft-lb air rifle that sells for around $375, when you can get similarly powered rifles from Crosman or Gamo for around $100 or so. What that extra $275 buys you in the R7 is all-metal construction and a gun that will last a lifetime. So it is with the P1. With occasional seal replacement and periodic (every 5-10 years) service, this is an air pistol that will outlast its owner.

Some years ago I picked up a P1 in a trade, and then traded it away a few months later,  as it didn’t seem to fit into any useful airgun niche for me. Then just a week ago I was offered one in a trade so attractive  that I couldn’t turn it down- so I didn’t. It arrived in like-new condition, and had been fired so little it hadn’t even been broken in. There was enough factory lube in the chamber that it blew smoke rings when I fired my first pellet.

Cocking takes some effort, as you’d expect, but it’s nowhere near as difficult as with the old BSA Scorpion, which produced similar levels of  muzzle energy. The grip is based on the classic 1911 grip and fits my large hands well. It’s tempting to put on a set of rubber Pachmyrs for a better grip, but the supplied walnut grips are so pretty it would be a shame to replace them. The trigger dnt. Press me at first, compared to the Rekord trigger found on HW rifles,but hen I discovered how adjustable tons. It’s a two-lever trigger, with adjustments for weight, first stage, and over travel. Recoil is harsh, which can be misleading. What I first thought was a rough trigger was the gun’s behavior after I pulled the trigger. I think my next step, if I decide to make the P1 a permanent part of the collection, will be to research tuning it.

The sights on this pistol are a curious mix of useful and “what were they thinking?” The rear sight is large and has a good range of adjustments. The front sight is a tiny bump machined into the frame, so you’re stuck with it. I’d really like to see a taller and wider post. When I received the gun the rear sight was cranked way over to the left, probably because  jerking the trigger will make it shoot to the right. Curiously, elevation was just about spot on for a sub-six hold at 10 meters.

Initial accuracy tests were not very promising at first. Using a standard ISSF sized target,  7gr match pellets, and firing offhand, my shots were all over the place grouping maybe 3″ at 10 meters. Not very good. But after some experimenting with different pellets and different grips, I fired this three-shot group with Beeman Ram Jets and a two-handed hold:

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At that point I reminded myself spring guns are generally very sensitive to hold, and the harder shooting the gun, the more sensitive it is. I’ve been shooting my Alfa Proj PCP match pistol and using a very firm grip,  in order to minimize disturbing point of aim when i pull the trigger, but you can’t do that with this gun. You need a very light grip. Tighten up, and the pellet spread out unpredictably. With a light grip, low power, and match pellets, things tightened up significantly. Pretty soon I was putting most of them in the 8 ring with a two handed grip.

This gun is growing on me as I learn how to make it shoot properly. Might just keep it after all.

(Update: I decided to sell it after al, and put the money towards the Crosman 1701p Silhouette Pistol I’d been thinking about for some time).