Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Neat Pellet Key Fob and Zip Attachment

By way of a visit to this blog, my attention has been brought to this really neat accessory. It's a key-fob turned in the shape of an airgun pellet... and my keys - to the car, house and gun safes - now have a 9.5 mm. Air Arms Field dangling from them!

They're made by keen UK airgunner Andy Perkins - and as well as a selection of 'old favourites', he'll even hand-turn a pellet up in your chosen brand. Super-H-Point, AccuPell... no problem for handy Andy!

He makes them in two sizes - 9.5 mm. and 15 mm. - and he got the idea when he couldn't grasp his zip toggles when wearing his shooting gloves. Hey... that's another great idea for these pellet fobs...

For something that's hand-turned, they're certainly excellent value. Inclusive of postage, they cost £4.50 (9.5 version) and £7.00 (15 version). Bargain! (And for a bit more, he'll also post internationally.)

They're pretty much the best 'custom' key-fob holders you'll get - so why not grab one for yourself? Contact Andy via e-mail here.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Great Ratting Combos

Rats are a favourite quarry of airgun hunters - and over the past few weeks, I've had a couple of superb ratting rigs on test. Ultra-light and very compact, this PCP pair is just the ticket for a fast-action scaly-tail op.

Brocock Contour (£375)

I had a great rat session down the farm the other week with this single-shot PCP rifle. It's a tiny affair - an uprated version of their Grand Prix pistol with a longer barrel and dressed in a sumptuous thumbhole walnut stock.

It handles like a dream, though, and is just the ticket for farmyard hunting, when you're scrambling over machinery and shooting in confined spaces. It's also very quick to bring onto target - and you can read how it coped on the trail of a scaly-tail in the next issue of Sporting Shooter.

FX Airguns Verminator (£799)

Another real shorty, this Swedish-built PCP take-down comes to the UK courtesy of Deben - and boy does it have a performance bigger than its appearance!

Filled up at the front, the air's stored in the buddy bottle that doubles up as a butt - so you actually get around 200 full-power shots in .22 calibre, all recoilless.

The aptly-named Verminator runs an eight-shot, autoloading magazine (removable) which indexes with each pull-back of its sidelever cocking action - and the FX is a dream to handly courtesy of its synthetic drop-down grip and adjustable butt.

I think it needs a silencer, though - its eight-inch barrel certainly barks a fair bit! But you won't need a gunbag - this pocket rocket comes with a hard briefcase style case into which the take-down action and butt fit like a glove.

Best of all, though, is the Verminator's three-way power adjustment. At the flick of a switch, you select either Hi, Med or Lo power (approx. 12, 9 or 7 ft. lbs.), making it the perfect tool for ratting or despatching feral pigeon.

Why perfect? Well, as most rat shooting is undertaken at close-quarters, you don't want too much power. For starters, you risk 'overkill' - something you don't want when sabre-toothed rats are the target! And, secondly, 12 ft. lbs. is way too much oomph when you're shooting inside barns and cattle sheds.

Check out my more detailed evaluation of the FX Verminator in my Test Bench report scheduled for May's Air Gunner magazine.

Airgun Blog - Chart Entry

Well... condsidering my airgun hunting blog is in such early days, I was shocked - but pleasantly surprised - to hear from Kelly Sonora informing me that it's just made an entry in "50 Best Blogs for Gun Enthusiasts"!

If you'd like to look at the other 49, go to here.

Which Calibre? The Allen Adage

The debate over which calibre is best for air rifle hunting has raged for yonks - and it will do forever in my opinion. Those who sit on the fence simply advocate ".177 for feather, .22 for fur".

For most of my hunting life, I've been a .22 man. I tried .177 many times, but kept preferring the extra stopping power of the .22. That was until PCP technology got so good that field accuracy became the best it's ever been since the airgun was invented (some time in the late 16th Century).

Around three years ago, I gave .177 another 'go'... and this time I switched. Indeed, I was rather dumbfounded as to why I'd never stuck with it before.

I've enjoyed three years of extra-long-range hunting with .177. (I dropped a woody at 72 yards a few months back - either a hit or total miss shot!) But where I have noticed a weakness is in the short-range stuff. Sub-30 yards.

So now, my choice comes down to range. I know that 50-yard bunnies drop to my .177 Wolf; I also know that I get too many runners at 20-ish yards. Ditto with the woodies - I often don't get to pick up despite a well-executed neck shot under 30 yards.

The .177's flatter trajectory might make hunting at long range easier, but fore close-range work, the .22's stopping power seems to have the edge for me. That's based on a lot of years' past experience.

So, I've updated the old adage for which airgun calibre is best for hunting:

Hunt with both and forget the fuss... but .177 always for

Reflexogy - The Art of Silence

Non-airgunners often laugh at the thought of attaching a sound moderator to the muzzle of an airgun! But most airgun hunters I know do just that - especially if they're using a PCP with a shortish barrel.

Undoubtedly, hushing-up the report can have advantages when you're hunting with an air rifle. From the hidden depths of a hide, I've often been able to take a second, telling shot at my quarry when the first has sailed harmlessly into the dirt.

Most air rifles come with threaded muzzles - usually 1/2-inch UNF, but there are exceptions - and there are plenty of slide-on muzzle adapters if you need them to marry barrel and silencer.

Typically, you'll pay between £35 and £55 for an airgun silencer (which is unlikely to be proofed, so you can't transfer it to a firearm). Most will significantly cut down muzzle crack. The best are considered to be the Weihrauch and the Logun.

Now add Daystate to that pairing. They have just launched a new Mk4 model of the AirStream Silencer and independent tests have shown it to be the best dB buster of them all - although, at £55, it's also the most expensive.

Called the Reflex by virtue of the fact that its chamber sits back along the barrel, it has a carbon fibre casing inside which is a machined aluminium baffle system and the 1/2-in. UNF thread. Daystate only make it to fit their current models, but they will shortly be bringing out a universal variant for other makes of rifle. It's calibre specific, too - though (as has been pointed out to me), that's one of the characteristics that improves a silencer's efficiency.
Although the unit looks normal length, because of its reflex-style fitting, only around 75mm protrudes forward of the muzzle. I like that. For me, adding a long silencer to a rifle can make it 'feel' a bit difficult to control on aim. It also gives it an incredibly efficient length-to-noise reduction ratio.

Being carbon fibre and ally, it's pretty light, too - so it won't upset the balance of your combo.

Having looked at the figures (see below), I just had to screw one onto my Air Wolf. Although its barrel shroud already doubles as a 'stage one' sound suppression system, the addition of the Reflex was simply stunning. It was like I was shooting at 1.1 ft. lbs., not 11!

It may be expensive, but being the best that's out there, why shouldn't it be? Worth the extra, I'd say...


decibel (dB) output from a .177 calibre Daystate Huntsman Classic

  • Reflex - 61.3 dB

  • John Bowkett Long - 63.7 dB

  • Ripley Rifles (9-inch!) - 65.1 dB

  • Weihrauch - 65.5 dB

  • Logun QGS - 66.1 dB

  • Parker-Hale MM1 - 69.5 dB

  • Manders - 69.7 dB