AIRGUNNING US

Jim Chap­man has a new toy in the form of a dou­ble-bar­rel, air-pow­ered shot­gun

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Jim Chap­man’s af­ter jackrab­bits – with a dou­ble-bar­relled, air-pow­ered shot­gun!

Afew years ago, I had the op­por­tu­nity to eval­u­ate an air- pow­ered, sin­gle- shot shot­gun un­der de­vel­op­ment. Be­sides ini­tial range work test­ing the early pro­to­types of the guns, along with the pur­pose de­signed shot shells, I took th­ese guns into the field, hunt­ing cot­ton­tail rab­bits, squir­rels, and wing- shoot­ing Eurasian col­lared doves and feral pi­geons. An in­ter­est­ing aside is that many of the early it­er­a­tions of the air shot shells were pro­duced with a 3D prin­ter.

Last Jan­uary at the SHOT Show, the GM of Air Ven­turi showed me a pre-re­lease ex­am­ple of the next evo­lu­tion­ary step for their Seneca shot­gun line, ap­pro­pri­ately named the ‘Dou­ble Shot’. This is a dou­ble­bar­rel, smooth-bore in a side-by-side con­fig­u­ra­tion, with a reser­voir tube un­der and be­tween the two bar­rels, mak­ing it look very much like a Ger­man drilling-type ri­fle. The two bar­rels have a sleeve at the re­ceiver, which is slid for­ward to ac­cess the load­ing port, then repo­si­tioned once the shot shell is loaded. This is the same ar­range­ment that the Seneca Wing­shot uses – the com­pany’s sin­gle-bar­rel model.

There is a cock­ing bolt on the right side that can be pulled part way back for a lower power set­ting, or pulled all the way rear­ward for a fullpower shot. The shot­gun can be de­cocked by pulling the trig­ger whilst slowly let­ting the bolt slide back into a rest­ing po­si­tion. There is a bar­rel se­lec­tion assem­bly just be­fore the load­ing port, that uses knurled knobs to se­lect the ac­tive bar­rel. The gun is a .50 cal­i­bre, but choke tubes at­tached via the threaded muz­zle re­duce the muz­zle to .490.

DOU­BLE-LOAD­ING

I pat­terned the shot­gun us­ing No.5 shot and found a sat­is­fy­ingly dense pat­tern at 25 yards. There is a trick to this; when I tested the ear­lier sin­gle- bar­rel I had two con­cerns, a low pat­tern den­sity and a short shot­string. The lat­ter be­ing par­tic­u­larly trou­ble­some when wing- shoot­ing, be­cause it made pass­ing shots dif­fi­cult to achieve, but the de­sign of the load­ing ports con­strained the over­all length of the shot shell. The work- around proved sim­ple by dou­ble load­ing the shells, plac­ing the first into the load­ing port, ad­vanc­ing it into the bar­rel, then slip­ping in a se­cond shell. Power was not the is­sue, and the ve­loc­ity dif­fer­ence be­tween the sin­gle and dou­ble loads is neg­li­gi­ble. As part of my range work I set up soft drink bot­tles at 10, 20, and 25 yards, and started a plink­ing ses­sion. At each range mul­ti­ple pel­lets struck the tar­get and flung it end- over- end.

For am­mu­ni­tion, I had a cou­ple of choices, the shorter pre- packed shot shells and a longer shell that I re­ceived as com­po­nents (a shell and a cap) to roll my own, along with a small bag of No.5 shot that I ob­tained by sac­ri­fic­ing a few 12- gauge shells. I could load 25 shells in about five min­utes.

WHY?

Be­fore de­scrib­ing my hunt with this unique air shot­gun, let’s ad­dress the 800lb go­rilla in the room – why an air shot­gun, and why a dou­ble­bar­rel ver­sion? As for the use of an air- pow­ered shot­gun, some of us just pre­fer hunt­ing with an air arm. There are as­so­ci­ated range lim­i­ta­tions and one must be more se­lec­tive in the shots taken. This makes things more chal­leng­ing, which is the main at­trac­tion for many of us. How­ever, there are also sit­u­a­tions in which air power, be it a ri­fle, hand­gun, or shot­gun, makes more sense than a firearm. In sce­nar­ios where firearm us­age is re­stricted, noise or car­ry­ing range must be lim­ited, there are jus­ti­fi­ca­tions – not to be disin­gen­u­ous, I’d have to ad­mit that, for me, it’s the chal­lenge and en­joy­ment of us­ing air when­ever I can, but why the side by side? The ad­van­tage of my side- by- side and over/un­der shot­guns is the ra­pid­ity of the se­cond shot. With ei­ther a dou­ble- trig­ger or au­tos­e­lect mech­a­nism, the se­cond shot is al­most im­me­di­ate, but with the air- pow­ered Dou­ble Shot the hunter needs to cock the gun be­tween shots, and use the bar­rel se­lec­tor, which slows down the process. Once fa­mil­iar­ity with the gun is achieved, though, the se­lec­tion of the bar­rel and cock­ing still al­lows a much faster se­cond shot than reload­ing, cock­ing, and shoot­ing the sin­gle- bar­rel ver­sion of the gun.

There is an­other more prac­ti­cal rea­son that is un­doubt­edly more rel­e­vant to the U.S.- based hunter; the Dou­ble Shot is ver­sa­tile. The one shot­gun can han­dle shot shells for up­land game, but loaded with a .50 cal­i­bre round­ball, it’s per­fect for preda­tors, and with an AirBolt it is ap­pro­pri­ate for big game. This means that when hunt­ing in Ari­zona or Texas where the big game and up­land game sea­sons over­lap – and both are le­gal with a PCP air ri­fle – I can use var­ied pro­jec­tiles if the pos­si­bil­ity for a mixed bag ex­ists. On my next Texas hunt I’ll load the left bar­rel with two shot shells, and a round­ball in the right, in case I en­counter a javalina.

GOOD TER­RAIN

To eval­u­ate the Dou­ble Shot for small game, I headed out to our 39,000- acre per­mis­sion in West Texas. Af­ter land­ing at DFW In­ter­na­tional air­port, I grabbed my gear and packed the rental truck for the five- hour drive to Mid­land/ Odessa. A lo­cal mo­tel served as my base and left me with an hour drive to the ranch. It had been rain­ing, and the veg­e­ta­tion was about as green and lush as I’ve ever seen it out here. The first af­ter­noon, I cov­ered miles in the truck and by foot, but with the rains and gusty 30 mph

“a reser­voir tube un­der and be­tween the two bar­rels, mak­ing it look very much like a Ger­man drilling- type ri­fle”

winds, noth­ing was mov­ing.

The se­cond day, I woke to an over­cast morn­ing that slowly turned into a sunny day with very lit­tle wind. As I drove down the ranch road to my in­tended hunt­ing grounds, a big black­tail jackrab­bit streaked across the road in front of me. My ap­proach was to drive to an area that looked like good ter­rain, park the truck, and slowly hike in a large cir­cle about 100 yards from the truck. One must move very slowly be­cause it is dif­fi­cult to see the rab­bits be­fore they see you. The large desert hares will of­ten lay up in scrapes un­der the cac­tus or mesquite, and if you can get in close with­out push­ing them, it is pos­si­ble to get a shot. I typ­i­cally spook two rab­bits for each one I get a shot on.

IM­PRES­SIVE PER­FOR­MANCE

My first op­por­tu­nity came within 50 yards, when I spot­ted a rab­bit-shaped lump at the base of a mesquite. Be­cause of the re­cent rain, the ground was for­giv­ing, and I moved silently to­ward the rab­bit, keep­ing an­other large stand of brush be­tween us. When I peeked out around the branches, the rab­bit saw me and stood, but I snapped the shot from the left bar­rel be­fore he could run and tum­bled him at 15 yards. I se­lected the right bar­rel and stepped out to­ward the downed rab­bit, only to have an­other one I hadn’t seen kick it into high gear. The rab­bit was mov­ing fast in a straight line away from me, and when I snapped the se­cond shot, he flipped for­ward rolling to a stop. I was quite im­pressed with the per­for­mance of this shot­gun – the se­cond rab­bit had been blaz­ing away and the shot took him at 20 yards. Con­tin­u­ing on, I took an­other half dozen jackrab­bits that morn­ing, the clos­est at 6 yards, and the fur­thest at 28 yards. Most were sta­tion­ary, al­though a cou­ple more run­ning rab­bits dropped to my gun, one of which was a pass­ing shot. I’d used smaller No.6 and No.7 shot in the past, but feel like the No.5 shot was a good balance be­tween en­ergy de­liv­ered on tar­get and shot den­sity.

By dou­ble- load­ing the bar­rel, the shot den­sity was im­proved, which let me reach out to al­most 30 yards, but the more sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment over my pre­vi­ous out­ings in which I’d used only one shell, was that the shot- string was longer and yielded much bet­ter re­sults on run­ning rab­bits.

I grew up hunt­ing up­land game with my 20 gauge and .410 shot­guns, and the Seneca Dou­ble Shot al­lowed me to com­bine my en­joy­ment of up­land game hunt­ing with my pas­sion for airgunning. I also liked the fact that I can self- load the shot shells, which pro­vides room to op­ti­mise my rig for spe­cific game.

ABOVE: Left rab­bits hang­ing in a tree as I hiked back to the truck

ABOVE: The bar­rels fea­ture threaded choke tubes for shot­gun­ning, but must be re­moved for round­ball or AirBolts

BELOW: I hit this soda bot­tle at 30 yards and it lit­er­ally ex­ploded!

BOT­TOM LEFT: Closeup of the Seneca shows the ac­tion, load­ing ports, and bar­rel se­lec­tor

ABOVE: The Dou­ble Shot is a hand­ful of gun, but comes quickly to the shoul­der and points nat­u­rally

LEFT: The cock­ing mech­a­nism al­lows a low-power or high­power set­ting

BELOW RIGHT: The com­po­nents used to make your own shells

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.