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The Beeman P1/ Weirauch HW45



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:


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.

Scoping the Beeman R7




After installing the Vortek tune kit in my R7 and turning it once again into a smooth, accurate, shooter, I decided it deserved a better scope than the cheap 4×32 that’s been mounted on it for the past few years, and so  I chose a reasonably priced 2-7×32 BSA Airgun scope. I was a bit concerned by some reports of rotating reticles, but those seemed to be mainly from users who mounted them  on high-recoiling guns. It should be fine on the R7, particularly in its newly Vortek-tuned state. The close focusing (under 7 yards) and low magnification is ideal for a gun best used at under 30 yards, and the large target-type turrets are easy to adjust.




At under $65 it’s a decent value in an inexpensive scope, but the R7 really deserves a high quality scope. It’s a pity Beeman doesn’t sell their Japanese-made (Hakko) SS-1 and SS-2 short scopes anymore. The first scope I mounted on my R7 was an SS1, which I foolishly sold. They’re real collectors items now and go for several times what they originally sold for. Another no longer made favorite that would be a natural for this gun was the Burris Mini 4x, which featured rugged construction, an adjustable objective and very sharp and contrasty optics. I have Burris’ mini 6x mounted on my Thoeben, another gun I’ve owned for decades, and it’s a great combination.

Beeman R7/HW30 upgrade: Vortek tune kit

My Beeman R7 is the first quality airgun I ever bought, way back in the early 1980s. It  was a smooth shooting, highly accurate gun when new. When it was about 20 years old the original spring had lost a lot of its power, so I replaced the spring with an aftermarket spring. That restored the power, but not the smoothness. Since then it’s mostly stayed in the safe.



A few months ago I started thinking about giving it a serious tune, with new spring, piston seal, spring guides, and so forth. There are two main sources in this country for the DIY airgun tunes, Jim Maccari, who has assumed the old Air Rifle Headquarters name, and Vortek, run by an engineer by the name of Tom Gore. I had a Maccabi-tune Air Arms TX-200 that was a fantastic gun, and I’d purchased various parts and a stock from Maccabi,  but I’d never tried any Vortek parts aside from a muzzle brake they used to make back in the 1990s. I’ve been reading a lot of good things about Tom’s scientific approach to air gun tuning, so I ordered one of his kits. It arrived last Thursday and that evening I set about installing it.

First piece of business, of course, was to disassemble the gun. Three screw release it from the stock, and the first part removed from the receiver is the end ca, which is just a press fit:



Drive out the two roll pins that hold the trigger assembly in place with a punch. This only takes a few light taps:



Place the receiver  in your handy homemade spring vise and tighten it up to contain the spring you’re about to release. Mine is built on a few thicknesses of plywood and uses a pipe clamp for compression and a few basswood blocks to center and hold the barrel and action:



Now you can remove the screw that holds the tube that retains the spring:



…back off the clamp on your spring compressor to ease the tension…




And remove the tube and spring. If you’re just replacing the spring and guides you can stop here, but to clean out the old lubrication and relubricate the seal, or to replace the compression seal, you’ll need to remove the piston, and that takes a bit more work. You’ll need to disconnect the cocking arm or take apart the barrel pivot, which was the route I took:



What looks like a pair of slotted screws, one on each side, is actually a bolt that shreds through from the left side, and a slotted capscrew on the right side. Remove the right side first, then the left. Reverse that order when putting the gun back together.

You’ll also have to drive out the pin that keeps the cocking arm in place:



Slide the barrel pivot enough to line up the end of the cocking arm with the enlarged part of the slot, and lift it clear. When you do this, you’ll notice that there are one or more paper-thin steel washers that are used to get rid of any play when the gun was assembled. Try not to damage them, especially when you’re reassembling the gun.

Now you can slide out the piston assembly:



Here you can see I’ve already pried the old seal off but haven’t yet installed the new one. It’s often recommended that you soften the new seal with gentle heat- hot water or a hair drier- but I had no problem just snapping it on, after wiping off the old lube with a cloth lightly moistened with solvent.



Clean the cylinder with a rag wrapped around a dowel, and lubricate the new seal, piston, spring, and guides per the instructions included with the kit. Insert the piston and seal, being careful to the line the slot in the piston up with the slot in the receiver, followed by the spring assembly.

Here’s the new assembly from Vortek (bottom) next to the original. Instead of a steel spring guided washer, the Vortek kit uses a synthetic sleeve and machined synthetic inserts at either end. The spring is shorter, too.



As long as I was replacing the seal, I also replaced the breech seal with a Vortek unit:



After the first few shots you might see some  dieseling, as excess lube is pushed into the barrel and ignited. I got a few smoke rings on my first shot, a few whisps on the next two, and that was about it. From the very first shot, the gun was easier to cock and a lot smoother than it had been. I fired a total of about 40 shots to break it in.

I’m really impressed with the Vortek kit. It’s just about foolproof to install, if you take your time and follow instructions closely. It’s turned my R7 back from being a safe queen into one of my favorite air guns again- I’ve even order a new scope for it. More on that later.

Alfa-Proj PCP Match Air Pistol




I’ve been looking for a reasonably priced better-quality match air pistol for a while. Used FWB 65s are now going for over $600, and parts are getting harder to find. The Hammerli A20 is almost a thousand bucks, and sized for a junior hand. But Air Arms’ PCP-modified Alfa Proj, at $749, is almost up there with the top PCP guns and cost around half as much. When Pyramyd Arms put reconditioned  models on sale at $595 I decided it was time to buy.

Operation is simple. Pull back the bolt- which is on the left side of the gun, so right-handers can operate it with their free hand- insert a pellet, and close the bolt. Pull the cocking knob(s) back and you’re ready to fire. There’s a simple but clever dual purpose safety lever that, if engaged while the gun is uncocked, prevents it from being cocked. If it’s engaged while the gun is cocked, it limits the travel of the hammer. This prevents the gun from discharging, and allows it to be dry fired. When you pull the trigger with the safety on, the cocking knobs move perhaps an eighth of an inch, and are easily reset afterwards for the next shot.




The trigger is adjustable for height, angle, weight, and first and second stage travel. I left it mostly alone, other than moving it back a fraction of an inch to accommodate my finger length. The gun arrived with the trigger post loose (despite paying an extra $10 for pre-shipment testing) and I had to fuss a bit to realign and tighten it. The grip was also loose- easily fixed with the supplied tool- but still a bit of a bother. The cocking knobs kept unscrewing after a few shots, and checking the exploded  diagram in the manual, it looks like one of the washers is missing. One more thing they should have caught.  I used a drop of low-strength (Purple) Loctite to stop the knob from loosening, and  Pyramid tells me that they’re sending a replacement washer.)

Firing behavior is very smooth and absolutely recoiless. I did my first tests at just 5 yards to make sure I would be hitting the target and not my wall. At that range, adjusted for point of aim, it was trivially easy to put every pellet (RWS Meisterkugeln) in the 10 ring. Backing off to 10 meters my shots spread out significantly but I was still keeping them all in the black.

The rear sight is easily adjustable, and according to one reviewer requires 4 clicks to move the width of one ring on a standard 10M target. The front sight is triangular and can be rotated to vary the width. The rear sight leaf has two slots of different widths, but even with the front sight set at its narrowest width the widest gap in rear leaf isn’t wide enough for me. That’s what you get for being tall and having long arms. I prefer at least a 1-2-1 ratio in gap and post width, but right now it’s about 1-3-1 with the front sight at its narrowest setting. There  isn’t enough of a gap to get enough light either side of the post.

The Alfa-Proj actually started out as a CO2 gun that sells for around $550, if you can find one. Air Arms modifies the gun with an in-grip air reservoir and their push-on coupling:



Air Arms and Alfa-Proj also take away the fitted case the CO2 gun comes in (I assume it won’t fit with the PCP mod) and replace the adjustable grip with an ambidextrous one. I’ve ordered a quality hard case to keep the gun in and I’m contemplating buying the better grip.

The pistol comes with a charging coupling that terminates in a standard 1/8″ BSPP high-pressure fitting, so I added a Foster-type quick connect male adapter to the coupling in order that I could use the pistol with my Foster-equipped Hill pump. It also comes with a set of Allen wrenches for trigger adjustment, a special tubular wrench for the threaded ring that holds the grip in place, and a sliding weight:




The weight is heavier than I’d like at, if I recall, 9 ounces. I’d prefer one or two 4 ounce weights.

The supplied grips are ambidextrous, and the general opinion out there is that they’re not very good. I found them tolerable, although the position of the shelf prevents me from wrapping my pinky around the grip. That’s not a fatal flaw, as the second and third fingers should do most of the gripping. Adjustable right and left handed grips are available for another $99, and while I’m considering buying a set, I’ve read that they run on the small side. Accommodating large hands requires removing most of the wood on the palm shelf, or perhaps making your own. If I could find a second set of ambidextrous grips, cheap, I’d try modifying them with epoxy wood putty into something that would custom fit my hand.


While the Alfa-Proj may not be as refined or as well made as the $1400 FWBs, Hammerlis, Steyrs, Morinis and other top line match air pistols , I think it’s still a good value, particularly if you can find a used or reconditioned one. I see the CMP is selling them new to clubs with CMP junior shooting programs for $595.