Tim Fin­ley con­cludes his ex­ten­sive tests with a brace of break-bar­rel springers

Airgun World - - Contents -

To find out in real-world air­gun shoot­ing if open sights are just as good, or not, as red-dot op­ti­cal sights has been a fas­ci­nat­ing and fun jour­ney. The last test phase in­volves break-bar­relled, spring ri­fles, and the test­ing process took much longer be­cause the hold and aim was bro­ken, un­like all the pre­vi­ous tests. To date, I’d used ei­ther a CO2 ri­fle, or CO2 pistols, and they all were shot on the four 75mm test­ing tar­get discs with­out break­ing the hold or hav­ing to reload; shoot at a disc, move point of aim to an­other, shoot, and so on.

With a springer I’d have to shoot, break the hold and aim, cock and load the gun, then aim and shoot at the next 75mm disc. I’d still use the 75mm discs, but move them out to ten yards and have three discs; one shot on each, rather than the nor­mal two. This would force two re-loads be­cause I’d be­gin with a loaded ri­fle from a 45-de­gree start, the same as all the other tests. As al­ways, I’d shoot open sights first, then the red dot.


Test ri­fles needed to have open sights, then be ca­pa­ble of fit­ting a red dot, and thank­fully, I have a few ri­fles in my ar­moury to choose from. I came down to a 1980’s vin­tage .22 We­b­ley Vul­can, and a bang-up-to-date Crosman .177 MTR 77 NP. You re­ally couldn’t get two more dif­fer­ent ri­fles, and that was the point. The Vul­can has tra­di­tional, notch sights, and the Crosman with its black styling has a peep sight at the rear. I have used red dots on ri­fles be­fore and gen­er­ally fit them to .25 cal­i­bre rat­ting guns, al­though I fit­ted one to a .22 multi-shot PCP when I had been asked to clear feral pi­geons from in­side a mas­sive barn.


So to the test, Vul­can up first with open sights, and the ini­tial run was 13.41 sec­onds. From then on, I had a good rhythm and smashed in an av­er­age of 11.46 over 18 runs – that’s three aimed shots at the three 75mm disc with two reloads, and quite quick, re­ally. I bolted on the red dot, but found I was dis­tracted by the large front sight, so I had to take it off. The Vul­can is in .22 cal­i­bre, and has a large ta­pered breech, so load­ing is very, very fast with the Vul­can. When us­ing the red dot, the times came down al­most a sec­ond to 10.64. With a fum­bled load

“When us­ing the red dot, the times came down al­most a sec­ond to 10.64”

it went out to 12.17, but I had al­ready de­cided to dis­count bad loads be­cause this has noth­ing to do with the aim­ing process. I used a neck pel­let pouch for the tests.


I knew the Crosman would be slower – load­ing tiny .177 pel­lets would be a chal­lenge – the breech dis­ap­pears into the fore end upon cock­ing, and the load­ing gate is in the wrong place. You have to move the bar­rel back par­tially, to line it up on the cut-out. Also I couldn’t al­ter the sight low enough at ten yards to be able to aim dead cen­tre on the 75mm discs. The ini­tial run was dis­ap­point­ing at 19.82 sec­onds, but it set­tled down to 13/14

sec­onds then to an av­er­age at 13.86. I fit­ted a red dot and took off the front sight to re­main con­sis­tent with the Vul­can test, and it came down to 12.29 sec­onds.


For those who don’t know, the Vul­can has form when it comes to speed-shoot­ing. Top FT shot, Richard North, used a Vul­can in the 1980s to dom­i­nate speed shoots at FT events, and I owned a Vul­can back then, and used one to win pi­geon de­coy shoots. They are an awe­some break-bar­rel air ri­fle, and one that is a clas­sic and stands the test of time, so I knew it would be quick – even with open sights it beat the ul­tra-mod­ern Crosman. There was not a lot of dif­fer­ence in the speed of the Vul­can with ei­ther the open sights or op­ti­cal sight. Get­ting the open sights lined up when in the ready po­si­tion has a mas­sive ef­fect in speed­ing things up. The peep sight on the Crosman was a hin­drance also. If you have de­cent open sights on a ri­fle, then short-range shoot­ing is en­tirely pos­si­ble with them. As the range gets longer, the open sight will mask the tar­get, and that’s why tele­scopic sights are needed on ri­fles.

A full round-up next time of all the types of gun; CO2 ri­fle, CO2 pel­let pis­tol, CO2 BB-fir­ing pis­tol, and break-bar­relled ri­fles, with some in­ter­est­ing con­clu­sions.


The Vul­can might be an old gun, but boy can it shoot! Don’t dis­count an old ri­fle – there were some bril­liant de­signs back in the day

Fit­ted with red dots, they look very dif­fer­ent.

In the wrong ‘ready’ po­si­tion with open sights. I’m look­ing at the tar­get, not lin­ing up the open sights.

The Vul­can is a fast-shoot­ing ri­fle.

Don’t un­der­es­ti­mate an old gun.

Look­ing good with the black ri­fle.

An­other per­fect ‘ready’ po­si­tion; lin­ing up the peep sights on the Crosman.

The peep sight on the Crosman re­ally slowed me down.

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