Barra Cowboy Series 1866

It has been awhile since we’ve seen a new multipump rifle hit the market. Barra Airguns has changed that with their new Cowboy Series rifle called the 1866. It is inspired by the old lever action rifles:

As you can see, the 1866 looks really sharp. Even though the receiver is plastic, the gold colored plating makes it look and feel metallic. The overall heft and balance of the gun makes it feel like the real deal. Looks are only part of the story, here’s my range video that demonstrates how well it can shoot:

I’ve gotten even better 10 shot groups when the weather was better, here’s a sampling of pellets shot at 25 yards:

Shoots really well!

Comparing these groups to the ones in my video leads me to my biggest complaint – the butt plate is slippery when held against my coat. My plan to remedy this is to get a leather recoil pad to slip over the butt stock. It will look good and should prevent slipping.

Power is excellent and it is one of the few multipumps that I have tested that could not only meet, but also beat the advertised claims. There is plenty of power for close range small game hunting and pest control.

There is no scope rail, so you will be limited to open sight shooting only. If I can find the time, I would like to develop a tang style peep sight for even more precise shooting.

At any rate, if you like multipump guns, I would highly recommend adding this one to your collection. In spite of the couple of drawbacks I mentioned, overall it is an excellent, quality piece. In addition, the all metal pump handle should lend itself well to power modifications. Stay tuned for more on this rifle, as I have been doing a bit of hunting with it.

Beeman P17 Pistol Project

I’m not one to make a huge todo about my own birthdays, but when I saw a Beeman P17 for sale at a local store, my birthday was all the excuse I needed to justify another airgun purchase. It has been about 2.5 years since I bought one of these, and I was kind of surprised to see it lubricated with something that reminded me of cosmoline. I cleaned up all the nasty lubrication, replaced the pison o-ring, and lightly lubed it with some air tool oil. At this point, it was shooting 7.4 grain wadcutters at 410 fps, just as the package said it would.

I’ve decided to leave this one as a pistol, but I wanted a longer barrel for a little added speed. My original 880 has gotten worn out from being taken apart and stressed to the limit, so I decided to take its barrel and use it for my new P17. I cut it to 10″, polished the barrel and ends, recrowned and added a leade to the barrel. Six applications of cold blue were made, finishing a beautiful barrel.

Barrel stays in place with 220 grit wet/dry sandpaper

Barrel retention was a problem that had an easy solution – 220 grit sandpaper applied with grit facing barrel. The stock clamp is then applied, locking the barrel in tight for good accuracy and a tight seal. Here’s how I secured the barrel toward the muzzle end:

Note the silicone tubing

A .25″ length of 3/16″ x 5/16″ silicone tubing was stretched over the barrel and pressed into the end of the “slide”. It provides a tight fit and keeps everything centered. From the above picture, you can see the custom 65mm long LDC that I built to make this even quieter for indoor target practice. The P17 has quite a pop even with the longer barrel and this LDC turns it into a mouse fart.

Silent but deadly

With the trigger adjustment screw backed out a bit, it has a nice long first stage, hits a wall, and the second stage breaks almost like glass. Combined with a new muzzle velocity of 450 fps with 7.4 grain pellets and 400 fps with 10 grain pellets, this is a accurate, quiet shooter, perfect for target practice or hunting very small pests.

The beautiful thing about this build is that the P17 can be cocked without the need to backdraft or make major modifications to the frame. It can be done with a very limited supply of tools and an assortment of sandpaper and steel wool. If you have any questions on this build or would like to purchase a LDC for your P17, head over to my contact page and I’ll be happy to answer your questions or build you a LDC.

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!