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Airgunwerks

A few months ago I noticed that my Theoben Sirocco was no longer holding pressure in the gas strut. I’d bought this gun from my friend Tom Ciemiega, who had purchased it directly from Theoben in the early 90s. It was one of the very first generation Siroccos, and had been converted by Tom to Theoben’s improved HE strut and improved breech seal. It was actually Tom who had suggested the improved breech seal to Theoben  after experiencing some problems with his gun. (More about the gun here.)

I tried recharging the gas strut with my hand pump, but it wouldn’t hold pressure.  The modified high-pressure Schrader valve that Theoben uses as a fill valve seemed okay. It looked like it needed a proper rebuild, with new internal seals, and maybe a new piston seal, given the age of the gun. Well, it’s a 21 year old gun, and I suppose it couldn’t last forever without some maintenance.  All the dealers I talked to suggested Dave Slade at Airgunwerks as the only man for the job. Dave trained at Webley, Theoben, Air Arms, Daystate, and Falcon, and spent many years at Beeman as their senior airgunsmith after emigrating to the US. Dave said his turnaround was currently about ten weeks for the work I’d requested, and so I sent my gun off to Dave in Tennessee.

Six days ago  I got a call from Dave describing what needed to be replaced,  telling me the charge for the repair and return shipping ($196) and telling me he’d already ordered the parts he didn’t have on hand. Given the cost of a comparable replacement- around $1100- this seemed eminently reasonable. I headed over to the PO and mailed a USPS money order off to Dave.

My Sirocco arrived back home today, almost ten weeks to the day since I sent it. Even before I remounted the scope (a 6x Burris  compact Rimfire/Airgun scope) I fired a few pellets into my steel pellet trap.  It’s shooting like new, and I can’t wait to take it afield.

n.b.: If you’re looking for one of these Burris 6x compact scopes- they stopped making it. Who knows why? Maybe it wasn’t a big seller. A lot of airgunners want really big zoom scopes these days. And yet I’m constantly reading of airgunners looking for one of these compacts, and paying as much as I paid new for a used one.

Crosman Rogue PCP in .357

Crosman Rogue .357

The Crosman Rogue PCP rifle in .357 Caliber

Crosman has just announced a big bore version of the microcomputer controlled Rogue PCP rifle. The big news is that it’s in .357 or 9mm caliber. This turns the Rogue into a real hunting rifle, with muzzle energies of between 180 and 280 foot-pounds. This may not seem like a lot, but it’s .38 special territory, and the .38 special is sufficient for most medium-sized game. A careful marksman might even use it to take small deer sized game, although that’s not something I’d recommend. Still, a lot of deer were taken in the early history of this country with muzzle loaders that produced similar energy levels.

Crosman offers three bullets for this gun: A 127gr flat nose, a 145gr Nosler with Ballistic Tip, and a 158gr hollow point. All three are designed specifically for airgun use, with narrow driving bands molded in.  I suspect various swaged lead bullets in .357 might work as well, as swaged bullets are usually made of a mush softer alloy than cast bullets and would be able to engage the rifling. Of course you’d expect that Crosman has done a lot of testing to come up with optimum bullets for this gun, but shooters are a creative lot. I’m already wondering about the use of saboted projectiles made of copper or aother dense, non-lead material.

The basic gun is $1,299, but there’s a Limited Edition package available for $1,500 that includes a 3-12×44 scope,  bipod and a soft case in the same sand color as the gun. We’re seeing a lot of military styled guns and pack equipment in this color lately, no doubt due to the ongoing wars. (The same goes for the M4-styled buttstock). It’s a poor color for hunting camouflage anywhere except a desert environment, where shots of several hundred yards are the rule, and this really is a sub-100 yard gun. But I suspect most will be used for plinking and target shooting where camouflage is not terribly important 😉

I am a little concerned about the introduction of a large caliber airgun with energies in this range into the mass market; this will make them a lot more visible to the BATF, who so far have been happy to ignore airguns, which allows us to buy them by mail, attach moderators and fire them within city limits. But the proliferation of guns in this caliber and range might result in sweeping changes to the law that would at best define airgun above a certain power level as firearms, and at worst, define all airgun as firearms- and that would pretty much destroy the sport as we know it. Crosman says that these guns are “recommended” for adult use, which strikes me as a very weak caution. Would you say that a .38 Special is “recommended” for adult use only?A miss from even a 20 foot-pound gun in .22 isn’t going to penetrate the external walls of a house. This gun can do so easily.

Neither Pyramid Air nor Cabelas, the two current retailers, offer any particular cautions about the power of this gun in their listings. I’d like to see both Crosman and the retailers  work to make sure prospective buyers understand that this is a very powerful weapon that must be treated like a firearm. (Yes, all airguns should be handled like firearms, but you know what I mean.) Hopefully the $1,299 price tag will keep these out of the hands of children and others who might misuse them.

Update: Crosman sent out an email the other day saying that the gun is now available at Cabelas and other select retailers.

Prospero Pellets

Something new I discovered via one of the airgun BBSs- a brand new pellet label. Even more interesting, they appear to be American made, which would make them the first new American pellet maker in a long time. Right now their web site offers just three pellets: A round 0.177 ball for CO2 repeaters, an 8.3gr 0.177 pellet designed for Field Target use, and a 13.8gr 0.177 pellet for magnum guns. This is the heaviest 0.177 pellet I’ve seen, over 30% heavier than the Crosman 10.5gr Premier.

Prospero recommends their heavy pellet for guns of over 12 foot-pounds, but I my own feeling is that  it should be reserved for PCP guns in that category. Most spring guns are more efficient at getting maximum energy with pellets under 9gr in weight. Not everyone agrees with me; a lot of FT shooters use the 10.5gr Premier in spring guns for their wind bucking ability.

There are two interesting things I noticed right off about these pellets, aside from the mass. One is the shape- these pellets are more barrel shaped and less wasp-waited than the typical pellet. Another is the packaging- Prospero pellets come in a very handy package with a clip that can be attached to your belt or perhaps to a sling. It looks very handy, particularly for hunting.

Their web site currently allows you to purchase pellet cases online, at $3.50 each (or 12/$40), but not the pellets. I plan on ordering an assortment once they’re available, and comparing them against the Crosman Premier and Air Arms pellets that have been my standards for accuracy in FT guns.

A Miniature Break Barrel Air Rifle

 

I’m a huge fan of miniature mechanical objects of all sorts, so a miniature airgun is something that really appeals to me. This particular gun, found at waynedriskillminiatures.com, is a 1/3rd scale rifle by Ron DeWalt.  Yours for only $1,850. Looks like an early BSA to me, but there were a lot of guns with that basic appearance.

If this sort of thing interests you as much as it does me, I strongly recommend you take a look at Wayne Driskill’s web site. He’s even got a few books on the subject for sale.