Spring Piston or Gas Ram? A Beginning Shooters Perspective – Part Two
In this article, Ron Jones concludes his exploration of the differences between spring piston and gas ram airguns. Check out the link here to read Part One.
We’re told that marksmen schooled in firearms riflery (rimfire and centerfire arms) frequently have problems transitioning to break-barrel air guns. We’re also told that the best spring piston shooters have no problem becoming top shooters with firearms.
Learn the air rifle “Artillery Hold”, they say and you can shoot anything.
The problem is this. Some of us never become very proficient at mastering the Artillery Hold. I still can’t consistently freeze the sights on the target unless I lock into the gun.
True, I’ve only been practicing my springer hold for a few months, so there may yet be hope. But I’m beginning to think you can count me among those who will always be a mediocre Spring Piston shooter.
Suddenly, an emerging theory began to take shape in my brain. Eureka! What if all of the “Gas Ram experts” I queried were accomplished “Artillery Hold” shooters?
In that case, they would all be able to achieve optimum accuracy from either spring or gas piston powered guns. Thus they would not see any benefit to using the age-old bench rest technique.
Add to that the more objectionable recoil from Gas Ram airguns, and it is easy to see why they would continue to favor “spring piston” technology. Just as accurate and more pleasant to shoot!
Editor Stephen Archer hired me because I am a ROOKIE ! He wanted me to give us a “Novice Eye View” of evolving air gun technology and to look at air guns from a fresh, unbiased perspective.
In Part One, I described briefly my new Beeman Teton Gas Ram 0.177 cal airgun. I also shared test results which indicated that my gun compared favorably to the gun tested by the HAM team. (That’s great consistency from the manufacturer, by the way!)
Now it was time to run a series of accuracy tests and discover for myself whether the “field accuracy” claims made by the Beeman factory would benefit the average new shooter.
My goal in this series of tests is this. I intend to discover whether the Beeman Gas Ram, break barrel air rifles will deliver acceptable field accuracy under traditional bench rest conditions. That is, unencumbered by the nuanced sensitivity of a springer, or the complexity of the PCP power system.
My tests would be conducted under two formats:
Test #1: Compare the accuracy of the Beeman 1051 GP using traditional bench rest technique with the accuracy of the same model gun tested by the HAM team using “springer/artillery” hold technique.
As a Pre-test, I also used the same target and Benjamin pellet to compared the accuracy of the Beeman Gas Ram with my Remington Springer using “Lock into the gun”, traditional bench rest technique.
The HAM test I chose for comparison consisted of a 10 shot, 10 yard Crosman Premier Hollow Points group which measured 3/8 x ½ inch. By way of comparison (target below), I shot the attached 10 shot group (plus one shooter-induced flyer) with Benjamin’s equivalent pellet measuring 0.43 inches c-to-c.
On the same target, I shot ten shots from my Remington Express using the identical “Lock into the Gun” Bench Rest technique. As you can see by the 1.67 inch group, the Spring Piston Remington does not deliver acceptable accurately using Bench Rest technique.
The second HAM test I used for comparison was a 10 shot group with H&N Field Target Trophy pellets. It measured ¾” by ¼” with the Teton. For comparison, I shot three, 5 shot groups (top row of the target above) with that pellet in the Beeman using bench rest style shooting technique. The three groups averaged 0.325” c-to-c. Although measurement standards and shot count vary, it would “appear” that the gun produced very similar accuracy using either HAM’s Springer technique, or my Bench rest style shooting many a rookie would employ in the field.
I followed that with a three x five shot series using a newly purchased tin of Crosman Premier Hollow Point Pellets. The group average was 0.52 inch, measured c-to-c, and compared favorably with the 3/8 x ½ inch, 10 shot group shot by HAM (lower row of the target above).
We then tested JSB Exact Pellets on the Rifle Range at 25 yards (target below) using both traditional bench and artillery hold technique.
The weather was warm, the breeze was mild, and the lighting was optimal. I top three groups were shot using my fledgling Artillery Hold technique, and the groups averaged (ugh) 1.18 inch.
The second row of targets was shot using traditional bench rest technique, and the groups averaged 0.78 inch (c-to-c). I think you’ll agree, the accuracy obtainable from a solid bench rest compares favorably with the 10 shot, ½ inch, horizontally measured JSB Exact group shot by the HAM tester at 10 yards. A group which measures 0.78 inch at 25 yards would measure just over 0.3 inch at 10 yards.
Test #2: In this test, I made a more direct comparison between targets shot using traditional Bench Rest technique with targets shot using Artillery Hold technique. All targets were shot using the Beeman 1051 Gas Piston gun.
The results were truly enlightening…
The test includes four different pellets (the test target above shows only the H & N Field Target Trophy groups shot for this test), and in each case I achieved greater accuracy using my solid, bench rest hold than I did with my fledgling springer technique
On average, my bench rest groups with the Gas Ram Beeman were about 25% smaller than my springer hold groups!
So, for me, at least, there is benefit in the shorter lock time of gas ram air rifles.
It’s only one test and one could argue that the test wasn’t conducted under actual Field conditions. But I can’t imagine being able to shoot the gun better in the field using beginner springer technique when all I’ve got to rest my gun against is the side of a tree trunk, or a portable bipod.
I think many of you will enjoy the beginner friendly shooting characteristics of the Beeman Teton Gas Ram air rifle.