Waking up the Bear River Sportsman 900

In my last post about the Bear River Sportsman 900, I fixed a intake leak, reduced headspace, and ended up with a rifle that shot on par with a stock Daisy Powerline 880. Kind of disappointing, since I really like the handling characteristics and accuracy of the Sportsman 900. I’m not one to give up, so the story continues here.

I tore down the Sportsman 900 once more, determined to squeeze out the power potential that I know is there. As I mentioned previously, the mods I had done opened up some valve volume. To take up some volume, I took a 3/8″ length of some 3/16″ round stock and placed it inside the spring. This gives enough room for the valve to open and reduces volume allowing pressure to build quicker:

Stuffed the part of the valve inside the spring

I reassembled and got no more velocity than before. There’s foolery at play and I’m going to get to the heart of it. As mentioned in my previous post, I hadn’t done anything with the two dimples in the pump head. This time, the pump head was removed from the piston, chucked in a power drill, and ground down against a belt sander. Once the dimples were gone, I polished the face with a piece of fine sandpaper against some glass.

This further reduces headspace, but not enough to account for the lack of power. I then turned my attention to the rubber bumper between the piston and pump head. It is a very soft material, and I suspect it is giving me grief. In its place, I inserted a nut that was ground down just enough to provide tension against the pump head pin:

There will be minimal play with this setup

I went ahead and replaced all o rings before I put it together once more. Ten pumps were put in and a 7.4 grain wadcutter loaded. This time, I got what I was after!

8.71 FPE with 10 pumps and light pellets

I gained nearly 85 fps and 2 FPE over my previous mods using the same pellet. The shot to shot velocity is very consistent. I haven’t tested heavier pellets yet, but I suspect they’ll produce even more energy than these light ones do. We are now looking at reliable squirrel and rabbit hunting energy.

There are many other things I’d like to do with these rifles. I just might have to pick up another refurb or two!

1322 ACP Squirrel Hunt

I was testing out a LDC on Christmas morning and noticed that there were 7 to 8 squirrels chasing each other in the treetops about 30 yards beyond my targets. With my targets being 45 yards away, I figured I’d better work my way in closer for good clean kills. I sneaked within 30 yards of the squirrels and sat on the path waiting for an opportunity. It didn’t take long – a squirrel ran down a tree and perched on a large vine. I carefully squeezed off the shot, sending the RWS Superpoint into its ear.

You can silence an air rifle, but you can’t silence the impact. Those Superpoints hit really hard! The impact noise scared another squirrel up a tree and I slowly pumped 9 recharge pumps. The tree was 30 yards away and the squirrel was about 30 feet up the tree. Another precise shot to the brain sent this squirrel tumbling to the ground.

Two squirrels down within a minute

I sat for a minute more, then decided two squirrels was enough for now. As I was cleaning them, a couple more squirrels chased each other until they were within 25 yards of my deck, playing in the thick brush. After cleaning the two I had, I grabbed my 1322 once more to see if I could shoot one of these rascals.

Since they were in some thick brush, I crept in closer, getting to about 15 yards from them. They chased each other up into the top of a sapling, giving me a clear shot. I squeezed off a shot between the eyes of the closest one and began my recharge pumps in an attempt to nail them both. The shot one fell motionless to the ground and the other one ran down the sapling to see what had happened to his buddy. A quick sniff later, and he got wise to what was going on, taking off for the woods.

He never knew what hit him

This platform is quickly becoming my favorite squirrel hunting rig. It is rock solid and 9.5 FPE at the muzzle proves to be extremely effective with a mild holdover out to 30 yards. The muzzle report is virtually nonexistent with the 6.5″ LDC on the barrel. I need to work on silencing the pump itself, but I’m still able to get followup shots in spite of its noise. Here’s a couple of the pellets I recovered from these squirrels:

Recovered pellets compared to a fresh one

As you can tell from the above photo, even with only 5.5 FPE on impact, they are fully capable of delivering a fatal dose of lead to the target. Squirrels are tough animals, but extreme accuracy and a complete energy dump into the target are a lethal combo fully capable of humanely harvesting small game. I now have 3 squirrel hides tanning and we had the squirrels last night for dinner after an afternoon of fishing. Life is great!

1322 ACP Carbine Saga Continues

I’ve finally gotten in the parts I was needing to continue working on my 1322 ACP (air conserving pumper). One of those parts was a flat top valve and piston set from Airgunsmith. I highly recommend this setup, as the parts are well machined and thought out. The primary reason I chose this setup was for the felt oiler. Multistroke pneumatic airguns need to maintain a film of oil for consistent powerful results.

I also added a Crosman steel breech. I had to rethread the bolt handle, but aside from that, they make a killer breech for the money. It adds a nice heft to the carbine and gives a rock solid scope mount as well. There was a good deal of bolt flip with each shot, so for now, I’ve added a disc magnet below the bolt handle to correct that. This helped to tighten the extreme spread.

1377 ACP Carbine

Once all the new pieces were installed, performance went up a good deal. With 11 pumps for the initial fill and 8 pumps between shots, it was averaging 505 fps with CPHPs. Accuracy is great when the LDC is properly adjusted and the right pellet for the barrel is selected:

Looks like I need to stock up on RWS Superpoints

H&N Sniper Lights and RWS Superpoints are nearly neck and neck in performance, easily capable of shooting dime sized groups at 20 yards. Since I am building this for hunting at sub 25 yard ranges, I just placed an order for 1750 of the Superpoints to keep the carbine well fed.

I wasn’t satisfied with the performance, as I’d like to be able to hunt squirrels with this rig. To improve performance, I turned my attention to tuning my free flight hammer. The spring guide and everything attached to it is accelerated with the hammer. The more massive this setup is, the more energy it robs from the hammer. I installed a nylock wingnut for the external stop, cut off the wings, and ground it as close to the nylon as I dared. All excess parts of the spring guide were ground down. Here’s the end result:

Lean, mean spring guide

Performance has gone up dramatically. It is now tuned for an initial fill of 15 pumps, with 9 recharge pumps between shots. Average muzzle velocity with H&N Sniper Lights is now 553 fps and muzzle energy is 9.5 FPE. This is good enough for my intended purposes. Combining a quick sip of high pressure air with the LDC makes this carbine super quiet.

An even lighter spring guide combined with a 18″ barrel will probably get me over the 600 fps mark. I’m hoping to achieve that with no more than 10 recharge pumps. I’ll continue to document my progress as time allows.