Monday, June 28, 2010

Crosman Airgunning

I finally had a chance to shoot my Crosman NPSS air rifle at the range yesterday. It's a .22 cal. break barrel air rifle with a Nitro Piston, instead of a spring, and a carbon-fiber-look synthetic thumbhole stock.

There's a bit of history with this particular air rifle that led me to learn how to tune and upgrade air rifles. The first thing about this air rifle was that there were spacers missing from the barrel's breach, where it pivots on the receiver. This led me to search high and low for correctly sized replacement spacers. I had called Crosman telling them about this problem, but they said that because I took apart the rifle, I voided the warranty. That's when I got angry, so I wrote a letter to the President of Crosman, who passed my letter along the head of their product development department. This gentleman was extremely understanding and accommodating and sent me new breach spacers, but by the time I received them in the mail, I had already found and installed brass washers (from Lowe's of all places) and installed them on my rifle. These brass washers were a perfect fit and had no free play whatsoever in the barrel. This led to the accuracy of the rifle printing 1.5" groups at 65 yards with Crosman Premier Hollow Point pellets. Prior to that, it was all over the place due to the missing breach spacers.

One thing led to another and pretty soon, I found myself frequenting the airgun forums and from there, I learned to build a spring compressor that I used to completely disassemble my NPSS. When I got the rifle apart, I found that the piston seal was seriously gouged from the burrs on the punch-outs on the receiver tube. So I got myself a deburring tool and proceeded to cut away the burrs so that new piston seal I put on the piston sleeve would not become gouged when I put the gun back together. The replacement piston seal came, courtesy of Crosman. I also ordered a replacement NCT trigger by Steve Woodward. This new trigger really made a huge difference in accuracy. It comes back nicely to a second stage stop and breaks crisply as you pull through the trigger. One other thing I did was take a small conical Dremel sanding bit and flare out the pellet loading port so that the pellet's skirts would sit flush with the back of the loading port (breach).

After I put the rifle back together, I proceeded to put 2 tins of pellets through it. In the meantime, I went and ordered a chronograph and a pellet trap. When they arrived, I proceeded to put some 14.3 grain pellets through it. I was disappointed when the numbers came back averaging only 650 fps on a rifle that's supposed to get 1,000 fps with 9.9 grain, lead-free pellets. Even though there's a 4.4 grain difference betwen what I shoot and what it was rated at, there shouldn't be a 350 fps difference. Then I found out what was wrong - the nitro piston was losing power. Cocking effort became way too easy and pellets were being shot at around 300 fps.

So, I called up Crosman and spoke to my guy there and he said it was okay for me to send him just the nitro piston and he'll send me a new one. Because of all the work I had already put into this rifle, I was not going to take a chance that someone there was going to simply replace the entire rifle. So, two weeks later, the replacement nitro piston came and I quickly installed it and promptly put some pellets through the chronograph. I liked what I saw - 800 fps with 14.3 grain pellets.

Okay, so I finally got it out to the range yesterday. Now, I knew that the gun was accurate to start with, after I worked on its improvements, but the gun was putting Crosman Premier Hollow Point pellets in a 1" hole (with a couple of fliers) at 100 yards yesterday. Holdover from zero at 20 yards was about 12", but once you figure out which mil-dot to put on the target, you'll be hitting whatever you're aiming at, minus the few fliers you're bound to get from a tin of pellets. Oh, I did clean the barrel with Goo Gone in between shooting 65-yard 1.5" groups and 100-yard 1" groups. That might have made a difference in accuracy too.

I am extremely impressed with this rifle and the excellent customer service I received from Crosman. Of all the airgun companies I have dealt with this past year, Crosman has, bar none, the best customer service ever!

Personally, I'd love to own a Benjamin Sheridan Trail NP XL, but the stock is a bit big for me. I could get the smaller version - the Trail NP, but I already have an 800 fps, .22 cal. nitro piston rifle. However, it's not out of the realm of possibility that I would go for this one because I like the stock.

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