My Remington Express Air Rifle – Part Two
Taming the Remington Express
Last time we looked at my experiences with my first springer air rifle, a Remington Express. With it, Remington had re-entered the air rifle market with an attractively finished, spring powered break-barrel airgun which resembles their popular Model 700 high power rifle.
The Remington Express is priced competitively with many other brands in the entry level $100.00 price point. Close examination suggests that it is a quality product. But my initial experience was less than inspiring.
I was unable to shoot groups I could cover with a dime on my 30 foot indoor range. My Crosman multi-pump air rifle was shooting tighter groups using primitive iron sights. How could that be ?
So, I began an investigation into why the new Remington didn’t match my expectations.
Encapsulating the conclusions I arrived at as a result of internet searches can be summed up in these few brief words.
“Accuracy is generally more difficult to achieve with break-barrel, spring piston guns than with multi-pump, CO2 and PCP powered guns.”
The challenge is somewhat analogous to the difficulties faced by flintlock rifle shooters over two centuries ago. The lock time associated with both propulsion systems is long, and the propensity for the gun to stray from the intended sight line presents an added dimension for the new shooter.
Springer Air Rifle Technique
That led me to the discovery that springers require the shooter to use the “Artillery Hold”. This special technique increases the probability that the sights will be aligned at precisely the same position on the target each time a shot is executed.
The shooter can not prevent the spring powered air rifle from vibrating each time the piston lunges forward – and again when it bounces back before the pellet leaves the barrel. So the next best option is to make sure the gun vibrates in EXACTLY the same way with each successive shot.
As it turns out, although the process of accomplishing that feat is not natural for many new rifle shooters, it is much easier than you might expect.
Trying to restrain the gun with a tight grip will nearly assure that successive shots will leave the barrel with slightly different sight alignments.
Conversely, holding the gun with the least amount of body contact necessary to execute the shot will allow the vibration process to be repeated in exactly the same way with each successive shot.
Here’s how it’s done…
1. Balance the gun across the palm of the open hand.
2. Now rest the butt of the gun gently against the shoulder.
3. Use minimum cheek pressure on the stock comb to achieve proper sight alignment.
4. Grip the wrist of the stock with only enough pressure to assure a consistent trigger pull.
5. From that point, breath control, shot execution and follow through are conventional.
Unfortunately, inappropriate shooting technique is only one of a host of variables which can result in poor accuracy. So let me walk you through some of these variables I uncovered which can confound the new shooter attempting to develop and evaluate his Springer Technique.
Using the Scope
The Remington Express comes with a rifle scope, and nearly every Remington owner will seek to use it to improve accuracy.
In terms of image quality, the magnified image is clear, providing you are sighting on a target 20-30 yards from the gun. But on my indoor range, at 30 feet, the objective lens cannot be focused. You have to shoot with a blurred sight picture.
There are no provisions for parallax correction, so that issue increases the challenge for the new shooter at indoor air rifle distances.
Additionally, the Remington Express air rifle does not have a scope stop. I didn’t understand the necessity of that feature until I discovered an outstanding review of the Express on this web site. You can see that there are nearly 6,000 views to date.
The HAM team summed up their 56% rating thus: the low score was based almost exclusively on the poor accuracy resulting from scope mount issues. The vertical stringing of pellet strikes I experienced on my targets was nearly identical to the accuracy issue identified by the HAM review team.
Trigger Pull Characteristics
The HAM team reported in their Remington Express Review that the trigger pull weight of their sample gun – right out of the box – was about 3.5 Lbs. It was superior to triggers on most break barrel guns in this price range.
The trigger on my gun was similar to theirs, but I didn’t stop there. An Internet search revealed that the trigger unit has two adjustments. And that the manual makes no mention of this feature. (For HAM reviews, we always shoot the gun without adjusting the trigger – Stephen Archer).
Forum participants stated that they had adjusted the two screws and found that the screw accessible through a convenient hole in the trigger guard adjusts the first stage, and the second screw appears to adjust the pull weight.
Some also suggested that adjusting the screw not accessible via a hole in the trigger guard made their gun unsafe. When they took the safety off after turning the screw counter-clockwise, the gun would fire the instant the safety was turned “off”.
Understanding the risk, I lightened my trigger pull weight from 3.5 Lbs to 2.0 Lbs.
I’ve had no safety issues to date. But, readers should understand that there may be significant safety issues involved in making this adjustment. Hard Air Magazine suggests that you NOT make any adjustments to either screw. You assume all risks if you do!
Breaking in the spring propulsion system
During the break-in period, I was acutely aware that I could not reasonably expect the gun to shoot tight groups until I had fired 1,000-1,500 shots. And during that break-in process, I discovered that the actual point of impact was changing, even with the same pellets.
I could correct the point of impact (general area where the shots clustered) closer to the bull with the appropriate scope adjustment, but the next time I took the gun out of the safe, the POI would change again.
More Internet research indicated that a floating reticle in the scope could be the cause. I spent an afternoon trying to resolve that issue. That turned out NOT to be my problem.
Tighten Those Screws!
Further internet exploration revealed that the screws anchoring the rifle to the stock, and the pivot bolt where the barrel hinges with the receiver, have a tendency to loosen.
Multiple internet sources recommended tightening all of these screws and securing them with a thread-lock preparation. I used Gun-tite on the scope mount screws as well. That turned out to be a MAJOR issue. After less than 1,000 shots, all of the screws were lose.
Whenever I tightened these screws, the point of impact changed DRAMATICALLY.
The break-barrel hinge bolt tension was so sensitive that I had to adjust it several times before achieving optimal tension. But Gun-tite has maintained that tension. Now the gun is beginning to produce groups which are reproducible with any given brand and style of pellet.
Pellet Brand and Design
Once I stopped the gun from changing its POI, I began to feel comfortable with my Springer Air Rifle Technique. I could then begin to focus on the accuracy potential of different pellet brands.
That turned out to be FUN!
It didn’t take long to discover that my particular Remington Express liked H&N Field Target Trophy (standard diameter) pellets best of all, followed closely by RWS Meisterkugeln Wadcutters and RWS SuperDome pellet designs.
The Remington is now starting to shoot five shot, sub-half inch groups with regularity at 10 yards. My personal Springer Technique is still in the developmental stages, so an occasional flier is most likely shooter induced.
My Remington Express doesn’t like pellets which fit loosely in the chamber (Daisy and Ruger), and pellets which have a very snug fit (Crosman Premiers and Benjamin).
It’s easy to see why break barrel, spring piston air rifles dominate the market. They combine simplicity of operation, reliability and instant readiness with a propulsion system which is durable and inexpensive to manufacture.
So with the exception of being more challenging to shoot with precision, they may well be the best option for shooters willing to spend the time to learn Springer Shooting Technique. If you like a challenge…the process may be easier than I have described.
I’ll probably start searching for my next air rifle in the near future. But I won’t be parting with my Remington Express. For me, it’s now a WINNER !