Airgun answers

Our experts have your questions in their sights!

Struggling with a scope? Having hassles with your hunting? Well, don’t despair because you’ve arrived at the right place to discover remedies for your airgun anxieties!

Whether you’re looking for a quick fix to a nagging problem or simply want advice on your next piece of gear, email us at airgunshooter@futurenet.com or write to us at the address below: one of our experts will soon get you on the right track!
Airgun Shooter,
Future Publishing,
Units 1 & 2,
Sugarbrook Court,
Aston Road,
Bromsgrove B60 3EX


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Hunting 

Q: There are rats on my permission, but I find it difficult to get a shot off as they won’t stay still for very long. What can I do?

Richard Saunders says: Rats live their lives with one eye on the look-out for predators – both on the ground and from the sky. As a result, they are often fidgety and will stick to cover.

They will get bolder at night and hang around a little longer, so you may want to invest in lamping or night vision equipment of some kind. Baiting is a tried and tested method, but be sure to use food items that cannot easily be picked up and carried away.

I’ve seen rats drag whole corn cobs down their holes, so you’re better off going for something they cannot simply pick up and dart off with, such as a
smear of peanut butter or chocolate spread. Liquidised fish or cat food,
or anything smelly, mixed with olive oil also works well.

Put your bait close to runs and fresh holes. If shooting at night is not an option, look to place your baits close to cover, or even under it, as rats will feel more confident when taking the time to eat it.

Don’t worry if your bait remains untouched for a day or two, as it may take the rats some time to associate it as being a food source.

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Gloopy bait like peanut butter means rats can’t just scamper off with it – they have to linger to lap it up, offering you the chance of a shot

Kit

Q: I was out the other morning when it was really misty, and I couldn’t get my rangefinder to work. What’s gone wrong, and do you have any advice?Paragraph

Mike Morton says: Laser Rangefinders are pretty much a must-have item for airgun shooters, making it easier than ever to range a target and take an accurate shot. But they do sometimes struggle in both foggy and dusty conditions because the particles suspended in the air can disrupt the laser’s ability to get a proper reading.

With this in mind some lasers have a mode which lets them be used in light fog, and holding the rangefinder absolutely rock-steady when you take a reading – which is good practice in any case – can also help.

However, there will be times when your rangefinder simply won’t be able
to work properly due to the conditions. This is a bit like the GPS versus paper map conundrum: when new tech isn’t able to function properly, it’s time to go old school.

Practise estimating distances and then check with your laser rangefinder in normal conditions to see how close you were – you’ll soon get good at this

If you’re wanting to shoot on an area you know well, come back on a clear day and use your rangefinder to take a series of readings at a number of identifiable features from specific shooting positions.

If you don’t have the ability to do this, you’ll need to hone your personal range estimation skills so you learn how to judge distance by eye.

The best way I’ve found to do this is to take a rangefinder out with you, pick an object and guess its distance. You can then use your rangefinder and see how accurate you were. You don’t even need to be out on a shooting trip to do this; I’ve done it with a friend while out running.

We’ll both pick a distant object, guess its range, then ping the distance to see who was closest. Another good method is to rangefinder an object, then pace it out.

Repeat the process several times over different terrain and work out how many paces on average it takes to cover 20, 30 or 40 yards (or metres). Using these two techniques will help you calculate the distance to your target.


Airgun encyclopaedia

#26 OVER-EAR DEFENDERS

Go over the top and protect your hearing

Electronic defenders are well worth considering – they really do work, and the batteries last for ages

A personal tale of woe

Medical advances are being made at a rapid rate – with the possible exception of repairing damaged hearing. I don’t know about you, but my hearing these days is not all it should be, and I have a mild case of tinnitus as well.

While shooting is my life, I think it’s fair to say shooting is probably what caused this degradation in my hearing in the first place. It all started in the cadets, shooting both .22 LR and .303 without hearing protection, which was perfectly normal back then, but airguns shot indoors can be pretty loud too. Don’t let avoidable hearing loss happen to you!

Know your enemy
Hearing can be damaged in two ways by shooting: from the noise of the shot itself, and in the case of some powder-burners, from the percussion of the shot sending a shockwave through to the small bones of the inner ear. Airguns won’t cause the latter kind of damage, but some are capable of creating high levels of noise when short unmoderated and in confined spaces.

In or over?
In-ear hearing protection offers a good solution for most airgun shooting scenarios, but some people don’t like the idea of sticking things in their ears, and so over-ear defenders will be the better choice for their needs, being larger and heavier, but more comfortable.

A basic pair of ear defenders are great for people who are watching someone else shoot, but are not always a good choice for the shooter themselves as they can interfere with cheek weld against the stock.

Some defenders feature a cut-out on the ear cup for this, which is designed to help you achieve a better head position.

Can I hear with them on?
Sometimes ear defenders do too good a job and the person wearing them can’t hear what anyone else is saying. This can have important safety implications.

The answer is to use a set of electronic ear defenders. These block harmful levels of noise, while letting you have a normal conversation.


Terminology

Q: Why do you sometimes use the term ‘powder-burner’ – I thought they were firearms? And what’s the difference between a rimfire and centrefire?

Mike Morton says: When the police talk about guns, they will often refer to ‘firearms’ regardless of the gun in question. However, we use the expression ‘powder-burner’ when we want to make it clear we’re talking about these types of guns rather than airguns.

Both powder-burners and airguns do have one very important thing in common: they work by fi ring a projectile that has been forced through the barrel under pressure.

Airguns get that pressure from compressed air or carbon dioxide, while powder-burners utilise the pressure caused by chemical combustion. A rifle or pistol cartridge is made up of four components: the bullet, the powder, the primer and the case, which is usually made of brass.

When the trigger is pulled, the firing pin strikes the primer, causing a small explosion – a bit like a toy cap gun, but much more powerful.

This small explosion then causes a much bigger detonation of the powder inside the case, creating the massive surge in pressure that propels the bullet out of the barrel.

On a centrefire, the primer is a separate component that sits in a recess at the bottom of the case. The small detonation travels through something called a flash hole into the main body of the case, where it ignites the powder.

On a rimfire, the inside of the rim of the case is coated with priming compound, and the powder sits on top of that. Instead of the fi ring pin hitting the primer in the middle, on a rimfire it strikes the rim, detonating the compound and hence the powder.


Rifles

Q: I’ve just acquired an Original Mode 75 from the estate of a family member. Am I right in thinking this gun is actually a Diana? What’s the reason for the name change, and can you tell me a bit more about this rifle?

Simon Everett says: Diana designs were acquired by Great Britain under a reparations deal after the Second World War, and Milbro started making guns using the Diana name.

The Original name was stamped on rifles built at the Diana factory in Germany between 1947 and 1982, to differentiate those air rifles from those built by Milbro in Scotland.

In 1984 Diana bought the name back from Milbro and dropped the Original moniker. The Model 75 was the first fixed-barrel rifle from the Diana stable and is a spring-powered, sidelever target rifle with a very effective recoilless mechanism that utilises two opposed pistons.

One piston travels forward to produce the power, while the other travels rearward and vents out under the trigger guard. The secondary piston neutralises all the inertia of fi ring and creates a completely ‘dead’ firing cycle with no recoil whatsoever.

Simon’s vintage 75 is still striking the right notes on the bell target circuit, where it’s in regular use today

It is quite uncanny when you first fire it, as there is no loss of sight picture or even movement within the sight. The trigger can be adjusted to an extremely light 5oz (120g), which takes most people by surprise when they first try it, as just finding the trigger blade is usually sufficient to trip the sear!

The latchless sidelever is held against the compression tube by an over-cam system with a light spring to hold the lever closed. Another unique feature to the Model 75 is the floored sliding breech; if you drop a pellet, the floor catches it and it can simply be rolled out into your hand by tipping the rifle to the right.

The floor slides under the barrel when the breech is closed. The stock is a work of art, with a noticeable cast to the butt and adjustments that put the shooter’s face hard against the cheekpiece.

The forend has decorative veneers, within the cutouts purely for embellishment, but the balance of the rifle is superb and the repeatable
position makes this vintage rifle still very competitive today.

My own example dates from May 1977, as stamped on the receiver, and the number puts it as the 617th Model 75 built. She is still competing successfully in bell target shooting to this day, and I hope you enjoy shooting yours as much as I do.


Maintenance

Q: I’ve just come back from a shoot to find a load of grit is sticking to the oil on my gun. Are there any other products I can use that don’t attract as much muck?

Mike Morton says: Gun oil a great product for lubricating and protecting metal parts, especially blued steel, but as you’ve just found out this comes at a cost. Any lubricating or protective barrier that remains in liquid form will pick up a certain amount of dirt or grit.

You need to keep on top of this, because grit doesn’t just threaten the cosmetic finish of your gun, it can act as a grinding paste and wear out moving parts as well.

My favourite alternative to oil is liquid car wax, applied with a microfibre cloth. It dries quickly and isn’t tacky, but still provides a decent protective barrier against rain, moisture, sweat and skin oil.

Frog Lube has a distinctive medicinal smell; it’s non-toxic and comes in both paste and liquid forms. It’s pricey, but will last for years

I’ve managed to convert a few shooting friends to the benefits of using car wax, but not everyone I know has been convinced, because they’re concerned that it’s not something that’s been specially developed for use on rifles or pistols.

If you prefer the idea of using a ‘proper’ gun product as a replacement for oil, I can recommend something called Frog Lube. This US-made product cleans, lubricates and protects, but is far less messy than normal oil.

The paste works best when it’s applied to metal that has been heated – but keep that heat well away from wood, plastic and any source of compressed air

It’s available in liquid form, which stays slightly tacky, or as a paste, which leaves a dry film, much like my beloved car wax. It’s made from plants and is completely non-toxic.

The area to which you intend to apply the Frog Lube must be completely free of oil. The paste works best when it’s applied to warm metal, so you can use a hairdryer or heat gun, taking care to heat the metal very gently.

I would not recommend getting heat anywhere near the air cylinder on a PCP, so in this case you’d be better off with the liquid Frog Lube rather than the paste, as the liquid can be applied to cold surfaces.

The paste liquefies when it touches the heated metal, and then solidifies as it cools. Just wipe off the excess and enjoy some grit-free protection

If you are using heat, the lube can then be applied with an old toothbrush. The Frog Lube will melt and coat the metal – you don’t need to use very much at all.

Once it’s dry, just wipe off any excess with a clean cloth. The paste is excellent at protecting blued finishes, but is also really good on threads – such as for a moderator – as it stops them binding.


Legel eagle

In our regular series, the BASC Airgun Team answers your airgun shooting-related conundrums and queries.

Q: Can I go lamping for birds? I’ve heard conflicting reports about this. If I can’t use a normal lamping set-up, how about a night vision device? Does that make any difference?

A: This is covered under Section 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which lists certain prohibited methods of killing or taking wild birds. These include the following:

  • Any device for illuminating a target or any sighting device for night shooting
  • Any form of artificial lighting or any mirror or other dazzling device

The exception to this is the feral pigeon. This bird is not covered under the Act as there is authority when operating under (some of) the terms of the general licence to use such devices.

So for feral pigeons only, in addition to other legal methods, you can also use:

  • A device to illuminate a target
  • sighting devices for night shooting
  • Mirrors, lighting and other dazzling devices

You can download the full general licence for birds, in PDF format, from
http://bit.ly/agm120basc.

Some of the other prohibited methods are also authorised (for wider species) under the general licences. It’s always worth double-checking the terms of the general licence depending on where you live in the UK.

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