CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR bolt stripdown and Lockdown maintenence.

May 25, 2020 at 12:19 am

The easing of the UK Lockdown for fieldsports, including fishing and shooting, took most of us by surprise, at least expecting limited mileages to be maintained, putting a block on many activities, but no, we are free to roam and able follow our sporting passions without the fear of a fine from the authorities.

Assuming that I still had a week or two to get round to my final rifle in the Lockdown maintenence series, I had left my CZ 452, 16 inch barreled Varmint .17 HMR rifle until last, but a phone call from one of my farmers to say that he was cutting the spring growth of grass around a large rabbit warren this week, soon had me changing my plans.

The Varmint is a heavy rifle due to it’s barrel, which tapers up from 16 mm up to 26 mm, the purpose being to absorb the heat generated from the tiny 0.17 inch plastic tipped magnum round, which produces 245 ft lb of energy and a velocity of 2,550 feet per second at the muzzle. At a hundred yards, the 17 grain bullet still carries 137 ft lb of energy with a velocity of 1,755 FPS, being dead on accurate at this range. Firing from the bipod on a windless evening, I once decimated a rabbit warren at ranges varying from 90 to 140 yards, taking over twenty bunnies in ten minutes, the two, five shot magazines needing to be reloaded at intervals being the only limiting factor. My rifle above, equipped with a Hawke 40 x 4-12 parallax scope, Harris HB25CS bipod, extending from 13.5 inches to 27 inches and the Swift silencer, bring the overall weight up to 9.6 lbs, a bit of a lump to carry around the fields, but the weight also gives stability for those extra long shots well beyond a hundred yards.

The main job today was to dismantle the rifle bolt, basically the engine of this extremely reliable weapon.

In line for carbon blowback, when each bullet is fired, carbon builds up around the firing pin and more importantly the ejection claws. The bolt slides forward and is locked in the breech by a cam action, when the arm is pushed forward and down. Lifting the bolt arm activates the cam that unlocks the bolt, allowing it to be drawn backward over the top of the spring loaded magazine. Pushing the arm forward again causes the bolt to push a bullet forward into the breech, pushing the arm down activates the cam lock, pulling back the firing pin, while the spring loaded claws in the bolt are then forced over the rear of the bullet, clamping over the rim. When the trigger is pulled, the firing pin strikes the side of the bullet rim, igniting the powder and sending the bullet on its way. The bolt absorbs the full reactive force of the bullet. When the bolt is raised and drawn back, the empty case is pulled from the breech by the claws. The right hand claw has a sharp gripping edge, while the left hand claw has a radiused edge, which tilts the case to the right as it is drawn back, the effect of both spring loaded claws being to eject the case out of the gap between the bolt and the breech. Considering that this all takes place in parts of a second, it is important that the bolt mechanism is kept clean and oiled.

To gain access to the firing pin for cleaning, the bolt is removed and the bolt arm rotated to ease the cam on the spring loaded firing pin. The thumb lever shown is held in position by the force of the firing pin spring, a pin on the lever passing through the bolt. To remove the thumb lever, the black hardened button has to be pushed in against the force of the spring and the thumb lever pin pulled out through the the hole.

To ease the spring, I use a 1/4 inch pin punch with a shrader valve dust cap fitted over the end. This allows a better grip than metal to metal contact. I have the scars to prove it. The punch is held firmly in a vice, the bolt is gripped in the left hand, while the button is located over the dust cap and forced downward. As the button is forced upward, the thumb lever becomes loose and can be pulled away by the right hand. Care must be taken to ease the pressure on the button once the thumb lever is removed, gently releasing the firing pin and it’s spring to avoid parts being scattered.

These are the parts that make up the firing pin mechanism, all held in by the thumb lever pin.

At the other end of the bolt are the case ejector claws. These fit into holes in the sides of the bolt and are held in place by a C clip. The clip is easily levered out of position using a small instrument screwdriver.

I sprayed WD40 into all the holes and surfaces of the bolt parts, the residue clearly visible in the container. Each part was individually cleaned and wiped down with absorbent kitchen towel. The container was emptied and cleaned, before the parts were sprayed by WD40 again and left to drain.

Reassembly is the reverse of the strip down. Care must be taken to fit the sharp ejector claw on the right hand side of the bolt, as fitted to the rifle, the rounded claw on the left. See the image below.

Although WD40 has lubricating properties, all parts of the bolt were sprayed with Bisley Gun Oil on assembly. While the bolt was out of the rifle, I lubricated the front wire brush end of my .17 HMR Boresnake and dropped the brass weight through the bore from the breech. Once through, I turned the rifle round to face me, pulling the cord and and the cleaning brushes through in one stroke, avoiding putting pressure on the crown at the muzzle. Without oiling the brushes, I pulled the Boresnake through again for good measure.

With the bolt and a full magazine fitted, I checked that the bullets were loading and that the ejectors were working perfectly. The Swift silencer was screwed back on and the rifle is ready for another busy season.

Magtech 7022 (Mossberg 702) .22 semi auto rimfire rifle Lockdown maintenance

May 10, 2020 at 1:22 pm

With the UK Government getting ready to ease the Covid-19 Lockdown, I took the Magtech 7022 .22 semi auto out of the gun safe this week for a preseason check. This rugged composite stocked rimfire rifle has served me well since I bought it brand new a dozen or so years ago.

Removing these two cross head screws allows the plastic stock to pull away, exposing two 5 mm pins, that hold the trigger mechanism in place. Pushing these through allows the complete trigger assembly to pull out. Looking inside to the underside of the receiver, the spring loaded bolt, which slides on a guide pin, backed by a nylon buffer can be seen. It is a very simple assembly, which can be pulled out with your fingers, without special tools in the field if necessary. I have done it several times to clean out the carbon blown back, when the spent bullet casings are ejected, but only on my workshop bench. I decided not to attempt it on this occasion, as the bolt and trigger are working perfectly, since my last full strip a year ago.

These images were taken straight from the Mossberg 702 Plinkster Manual, which gives a full, image led description of the strip down and rebuild of the rifle. The Mossberg is a straight copy of the CBC Magtech 7022 and parts are still available.

The bolt can be held back by pushing the cocking lever in, when in the fully open position. This allows gun oil to be sprayed inside for lubrication. Holding the rifle vertical helps the oil to travel back to the spring and trigger sear. To ease the bolt, pulling the cocking lever back releases it again to slide forward into the ready to fire position.

In this position, the rifle is ready to start the firing cycle. With a loaded magazine in place, the cocking lever is pulled back to the most rearward position, cocking the action; the bolt is allowed to spring forward, collecting a bullet from the magazine and pushing it into the barrel. The trigger is pulled and the hammer released to strike the firing pin within the bolt, the pin hitting the rim of the cartridge to ignite the powder, forcing the bullet out of the barrel and blowing the cartridge back, forcing the bolt to overcome the spring pressure, as it does, the cartridge case glances against the slanted ejector plate and exits the now open receiver, the bolt continuing back to recock the rifle. The cycle continues with another bullet being collected as the bolt springs forward again, pulling the trigger firing the rifle, etc, until no bullets are left in the magazine, the red magazine follower now holding the bolt open. The bolt lever should again be pulled back and pushed in to hold the bolt open, before the angled button behind the magazine and ahead of the trigger is pushed forward to release the magazine.

I was informed by one of my readers recently that he bought a pair of Mossberg 702 magazines for his Magtech 7022 and they did not fit properly. When I bought my Magtech, it came with the magazine on the left and later bought two more pattern ones, those on the right. As you can see, the left hand magazine has a larger locating lug in the top left than those on the right. The original is a firmer fit than the other two, but all cycle bullets perfectly. I have seen images of Mossberg magazines and they all have a large lug similar to the original Magtech. Any comments would be welcome regarding these magazines to pass on to other owners. By the way, I did not spill my nail varnish accidentally on the left hand magazine, I used some of my wife’s to mark which one carries the high velocity bullets, the others carrying Winchester 42 grain subsonic rounds.

This shows the other side of the magazines, those on the right being a weaker design with one long slot at the rear, while the original has three slots.

One important bit of maintenance on the magazines, is to slide the bottom plate forward to give access to the inside for cleaning. The spring is an elongated shape to give an even pressure on the follower and I have never removed the spring before, as it could prove difficult to get back in, while attempting to slide the bottom plate across. Partly open, it allows carb cleaner to be blasted up inside to remove any bits of grit, that may have found its way in, stopping the smooth action of the magazine. The magazine should not be oiled for this reason, allowing grit to collect. This view shows high velocity Remington Yellow Jacket bullets, which extend the range on the same scope setting by twenty yards.

Over the years I have done a few improvements to the Magtech 7022. In its brand new state, the trigger was gravelly in feel, which I refined by removing the trigger mechanism and applying valve grinding paste to the sliding parts, spending hours working the trigger, while watching TV, until it felt smooth to operate. A thorough a blast through with carb cleaner, WD40, then Bisley aerosol oil, left me with a consistent pull of the trigger.

Another modification that I did, was to relieve the plastic stock around the barrel, as on hot days the plastic would soften, allowing it to rest against the barrel enough to cause a miss. Having fitted a bipod, this had been magnified, when swinging round to follow a rabbit, the stock would push against the stock. Filing a good clearance around the barrel stopped this from happening. Today a stiff card can be passed between the stock and the barrel.

I found that the rifle butt tended to slide against my hunting jacket, when taking a standing shot, so I glued a strip of soft neoprene to the butt, which cured the problem. Looking at this image, it is about time that I renewed the neoprene.

Due to the light weight of the Magtech, being only about 5 lb with the scope, I found that it often suffered from trigger twitch, when taking a standing snap shot in wooded areas at moving rabbits. Fitting a Jack Pyke tactical sling, when adjusted to the exact length, gave a very firm, steady aim on moving rabbits and spot on shots at static ones that appeared in front of me. This involved drilling the butt and stock to suit the coarse thread of the sling mounts, having measured the sling mount positions from my CZ452 HMR rifle.

Although a very cheap rifle to buy, the Magtech 7022 and the later edition of the Mossberg 702 Plinkster, the Plinkster title not doing it justice, this is an extremely accurate and reliable hunting rifle, which has put hundreds of rabbits on the table.

 

 

 

Weirhrauch HW 100 T .22 PCP Air Rifle Lockdown maintenance

April 28, 2020 at 2:51 pm

The UK Government Lockdown continues and this week it was the turn of my Weihrauch HW T 100, .22 PCP air rifle for an inspection and oil up. This is the thumb hole model, which has an excellent pistol grip and perfect balance, which helps when bringing the rifle up to the eye. Mine weighs in at over ten pounds, 4.8 kilos with the scope, plus bipod, add the NiteSite combo to the scope and you are in physical workout territory. All that said, the HW100 is an extremely stable platform, that I prefer to fire prone, or rested.

This rifle is like having a Ferrari in the garage, that you use every day for work. It does the job it was designed to do and unlike the Ferrari, it does it time and time again with the absolute minimum of maintenance. The Weirhrauch had not been out of its bag for a year and yet the air pressure gauge was at the level when last used, shooting rabbits at night on a council cricket pitch. I had also remembered to switch the blue illuminated scope reticle to zero the last time out, so even that was ok.

Everything worked as expected, but I sprayed a few of the exposed working parts with Bisley Gun Oil just for good measure. Being right handed, the side lever cocking and loading mechanism on that side, lends itself to rapid multi shots, when prone, or rested.

The safety lever above, only activates after the rifle has been cocked and loaded, an instant way to spot check to see if there is a pellet up the spout or not.

The side lever pulled back in the cocking position, this area worthy of a spray of oil.

A view of the 14 pellet magazine, the thumb switch pushes the rotating pawl into position, making contact with the magazine and rotating it 1/14th of a revolution, when the cocking lever is pushed forward.

Drawing back the thumb switch, retracts the rotating pawl, allowing the magazine to be removed. This view shows the access point for the pellet and the location spring loaded ball, that aligns the magazine. The spring loaded exhaust valve sits in line with the barrel, the hammer, when released by the trigger, springing forward to push on the exhaust valve, allowing a measured amount of air out of the cylinder, through the transfer port behind the pellet, then out of the barrel. Also on the opposite side of the magazine opening, is a peg that guides the magazine down into its slot. Clever people, these Germans!

This image shows the rotating magazine pawl and the pellet probe in position. Another area for the oil spray.

When fired, the hammer springs through the magazine to tap the end of the exhaust release valve.

To be honest, the only maintenance that this rifle needs, when used in in average conditions, is a quick wipe over with an oily rag now and again, with storage in a warm dry place the optimum.

The internals of the Weirhrauch HW 100 are so finely balanced, that firing is vibrationless, the click from the hammer and a puff from the highly efficient silencer, the only signs of a pellet having been fired. With air already in the cylinder and the rifle rested, at twenty yards, I put a close group well within a 10 mm circle. For target shooting, or pest control on small vermin, this is the ideal weapon.

 

 

Webley Venom Viper .22 PCP Air Rifle Lockdown maintenance

April 22, 2020 at 2:33 pm

Unable to go shooting due to the UK government Lockdown, with time on my hands, I have taken the opportunity to look at my rifles and carry out overdue maintenance, this week taking the Webley Venom Viper .22 pneumatic precharged air rifle out of the gun safe.

The Webley Viper Venom is a precharged pneumatic legal limit air rifle in .22 calibre. This was one of the last rifles produced by Webley before going into receivership and in my opinion, one of the best made. It is basically a carbine version of the acclaimed Webley Raider, benefiting from a shorter Walther barrel, fitted with a silencing shroud. In use I found the silencing inefficient and modified the screwed in end cap on my lathe, to take a light weight plastic silencer. The report on firing is now inaudible beyond ten yards, which means more chance of a second shot. On one occasion, I had set out pigeon decoys, with sweet corn as bait to keep the birds on the ground and managed to shoot five from a down wind hide before they took flight. This did highlight one deficiency of the Viper, a two shot shuttle magazine, which had me frantically feeding pellets, having to take my eyes off the pigeons, while I reloaded the shuttle. An upgrade was available later, a ten shot rotary magazine, intended for the Raider, fitting straight in, but the original set up worked OK for me. What ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The Viper had been stored unused for a few years since its last outing, night shooting rabbits at a lawn tennis club. The club played into the evening under flood lights until 9 pm, but by 10 pm the rabbits were out to play digging up the manicured lawns. The touch button torch was ideal for highlighting the bunnies in the half light, the add on silencer keeping the report down to a mere puff, while the Bisley Magnum 21 grain pellets knocked the rabbits over with head shots from this very accurate rifle.

At the time, the spring loaded two shot shuttle loading system was a handy innovation, the shuttle manually pushed over to the left side when cocking the rifle, having already loaded the right hand side. Firing the first shot released the shuttle for the left hand pellet to rest in position for the second shot, while cocking the rifle again, pushed the pellet probe forward to position the pellet ahead of the transfer port. In the dark and in a hurry to shoot more rabbits, reloading often proved to be a fumbled exercise, but after a few sessions, there were fewer rabbits around to get too hot and bothered about.

This view shows the shuttle on the right hand side. I was pleased to discover that after all this time the rifle was still full of air, a credit to the manufacturers, the carbine one of the last products of the Webley Custom Shop headed up by Steve Pope, before the world famous gun manufacturer collapsed into administration in 2005.

Being an engineer with my own workshop, I considered removing the shuttle and manufacturing my own rotary magazine system to fit the Venom Viper, but already owning the Career 707 .22 carbine, which has a proven ten shot magazine in place, I did not consider it a productive use of my precious time.

Although the Webley was brand new, when I bought it at a greatly reduced price, due to the collapse of the company, I could not stop myself from taking it apart, one of the things being to polish the hammer with 600 grade wet and dry, even though it made little difference to the power output, although a couple more washers added to those behind the hammer spring, did bring the rifle very close to the 12 ftlb legal limit. In this image you can see that I filed away the sharp edges to the cocking bolt guide, creating a small radius, which gave a much smoother motion, when pulling back to cock, then forward to load the pellet. Obviously this was done, when the hammer, spring and other innards were removed and all swarf cleaned away.

The silencer sleeve over the quality Walther barrel, is only filled with small diameter alluminium top hat spacers and the rifle has quite a crack when fired, so this was another area that I tackled at the time.

Unscrewing the rifle’s silencer sleeve end cap, I placed the cap in soft jaws on the lathe and bored a hole suitable for a 1/2 inch UNF tap, running the tap right through the cap. I then, on the lathe, drilled a 6.5 diameter hole through a 20 mm length of 1/2 inch UNF studding as a generous clearance for a .22 pellet. This drilled stud was then Loctited inside the threaded cap, with 12 mm protruding from the end, enough for the lightweight plastic silencer to be firmly attached.

At the end of my maintenance check there was little to do, the rifle was still full of air and apart from a few squirts of Bisley Gun Oil onto the hammer and the shuttle, plus a wipe over of the walnut stock with some thinned boiled linseed oil, that was it. A test firing over twenty yards, saw a four shot clover leaf pattern punched into a target.

The deadly accurate Webley Venom Viper and a head shot rabbit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shin Sung Career 707 .22 Carbine PCP Air Rifle Lockdown maintenance

April 14, 2020 at 2:01 pm

Unable to go shooting due to the UK Government Covid-19 Lockdown rules, I continued my maintenance program with a stipdown of my Career 707 .22 PCP carbine. This rifle requires a Firearms Certificate, being rated at 28 ftlbs, and is the most powerful air rifle that I own and has given good service for 15 years, accounting for hundreds of rabbits in that time. All the seals were replaced, when I bought the rifle, the only one to fail being at the pressure gauge, which was easily accessed and replaced.

Firing H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme 19 grain pellets it has proved itself in situations where a .22 rimfire rifle would be dangerous to use, such as public parks and gardens. Being extremely accurate, it has a safe rabbit killing range beyond 40 yards, allowing for pellet drop.

My first check was to see if the Career was still holding air. It had been ok in September, when I had shot a rabbit in my brother in law’s vegetable garden, only needing a top up from the diving bottle. This time the pressure gauge on the under side of the lower air cylinder was showing empty, ideal for safety when working on any precharged  pneumatic weapon. Removing the magazine, I cocked and fired the rifle into the ground, there being only the sound the hammer striking the air valve and a weak puff of air from the muzzle.

A quick inspection of the rifle highlighted that three small screws were missing from the sight cover at the muzzle end of the barrel, being held on by the one remaining screw. This a classic example of regular use, taking the rifle out, only topping up the air, then putting it away again without checking it over. I have never needed to use the rifle over open sights anyway, it having an excellent Walther telescopic sight, which has a 3 x 9 magnification range through a 40 mm coated lens. The scope also benefits from an illuminated reticle for low light conditions and an adjustable paralax ideal for setting zero at extended ranges. A check of the illuminated reticule showed that a new battery was needed. I used the Career a lot in low light conditions after dusk in a public park and had forgotten to return the setting back to zero the last time that I had used it. Not for the first time I must add. A new CR2032 battery was fitted.

A recurring  problem that I had been living with, when using the Career, was the loosening of the butt section, due to the fixing nut unwinding due to the vibration on firing. During one evening session, when I shot about a dozen rabbits, the butt section had detached completely, forcing me to return home. It was obvious from my last tightening of the butt fixing nut, was that something had stripped. This was a prolem that I now intended to look at.

To undo the butt, the rubber bung at the rear has to be prised out with fine bladed screwdriver. To remove the fixing nut, which is deep inside the butt, a special tool is needed for this. I machined up a 20 mm diameter boss with two lugs, that locate in the fixing nut, which I attached to a length of 19 mm tubing. With a tommy bar at the other end, this works perfectly, but I am sure that the 19 mm tube with the lugs cut, or filed into end would work ok. I have a lathe and a small milling machine in my workshop, so it was just as easy to do a proper job.

With the nut and spring washer removed, the butt slides off the fixing tube. In my case the tube was only a tight finger fit, due to the end of the rifle end of the tube being partially stripped.

The start of the thread in the rifle was also worn, so chased down the worn thread on the fixing tube with an M15 x 1.0 mm pitch die, extending the thread by 6 mm, then turned off 6 mm of the worn thread, the above image before reducing the overall length. On reassembly I applied a spot of red Loctite to the end of the thread and tightened it back into the rifle with the tube gripped in a vice. It is now fixed solidly in place.

The next job was to check out the cocking and loading mechanism. First removing the two scope rail M4 csk srews, then the long M4 csk screw behind the rail. Using a hide mallet, the cover was tapped off upwards from the trigger end.

With the cover off, the full working of the mechanism is exposed, pivoting the under lever down pulls back the hammer and cocks the rifle. At the same time the lever in the above image draws back the pellet probe and the cam that controls the movement of the pellet feed block to the magazine.

The magazine is spring assisted, pushing the pellet forward into the hole exposed in the feed block, as it slides across from the firing position.

On the other side of the feed is the pellet stop, which has to be adjusted to suit the length of pellet used. The rifle was designed to be used with a 40 grain air bullet, now banned from sale in the UK, which took the maximum length setting. My original choice of pellet was the 21 grain Bisley Magnum pellet, which needed an adjustment for it’s shorter length, then going down to the shorter 19 grain H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme, another adjustment was necessary. Once set, only that pellet can be used. I once had   pellets in my pocket with an odd Bisley Magnum, being longer than the H&M, the Magnum stuck out of the feed block and was crushed, when the feed block was drawn back to the firing position, jamming the mechanism. Impossible to correct in the field, that was the end of my shooting session, needing to return home to strip and clear the mechanism of the crushed pellet.

This a top view of the cam plate pulled back in the feed position, the block has received the pellet from the spring loaded magazine and the rifle is cocked.

This the view from the other side, with the cam plate pushed for ward and the rifle ready to fire. The feed block has been drawn across by the cam into line with the barrel.

 

This is a view of the pellet probe and the feed block in position for firing with the cam plate removed.

With the feed block held in position by the cam, the final part of the loading operation pushes the pellet probe forward, through the feed block, then pushing the pellet ahead of the transfer port into the barrel.

The spring loaded hammer slides in a tube under the rigger mechanism, which is released, when the trigger is squeezed, speeding the hammer forward to make contact with the end of the air release valve, which in turn is pushed off its seat, releasing a measured blast of air, up through the transfer port behind the pellet, double O ring seals preventing loss of air back along the pellet probe, the pellet with nowhere to go, but down the barrel toward its target.

You will agree that it is an ingenious method for feeding pellets from a magazine, but it works every time.

After a generous spraying of the working parts with Bisley gun oil, the rifle was reassembled and the Walther telescopic sight refitted. An initial slow charging of the air cylinders from the diving bottle, produced a slight hiss of escaping air, but a quick turn of the bottle control valve, forced air in at pressure and the seals bedded down. All that was needed was to reset the sight zero at 30 yards on my garden range and the Career 707 was ready for use again, once the Lockdown is over.

CZ Relum Z 2 .177 springer air rifle Lockdown maintenence

April 10, 2020 at 10:07 am

The UK Goverment’s Lockdown came just as the warm spring weather arrived, giving me no chance of a spring clean up of rabbits on my permissions. With travel restricted and exercise limited to an hour a day away from my home, it has been a busy time sorting out my garden for the coming growing season and doing those “get round to it one day” jobs around the house.

Unable to go shooting, I have decided to start a maintenance program, by first checking out and oiling my air rifles, while giving the woodwork a going over with boiled linseed oil.

My first rifle on the list was the CZ Relum Z-2 .177 break barrel springer, that I have owned since brand new. It is over 50 years old, yet the barrel feels as smooth to lock into position as when new, with no sign of play anywhere. Some years later manufacture of an identical Relum, renamed the Telly, was switched to Hungary, where one hopes that the quality was maintained.

It still lives in an equally old gunslip, that I made at the time. Test firing the rifle to hand, put five pellets in a target board within a 20 mm circle at 15 yards. Not bad for an old springer. Ten years ago, I overhauled the mechanism, replacing the spring with a similar diameter OX spring and replacing the leather compression washer with a PTFE item. The result was transforming, with a test over a chronograph at well over the legal 12 ftlb limit, able to punch through 3/8 ply, well up on it’s previous life, but not legal in the UK.

My remedy was to put a steel mandrel through the centre of the New OX spring and grind the outside diameter against a grinding wheel, the friction of the wheel keeping the spring rotating, reducing the the diameter evenly along its length. I had to keep rebuilding the rifle and testing the speed of the pellet over the chronograph, the foot pound measurement being a calculation of the weight of the pellet against it’s speed over the chronograph as it leaves the muzzle when fired. The speed reduced as more of the spring was ground away, becoming a dab hand at removing the rifle end cap to release the spring each time, eventually stopping when a consistent figure of 11.6 ftlb was reached. Legal and powerful.

A VIEW OF THE REGROUND SPRING

In the past I had used the rifle on rats and squirrels at very close range, but it has come into its own again in recent years for popping off feral pigeons in a couple of barns. It is light weight, being easy to keep aloft, while being quick to cock and load. A shot anywhere in the upper breast brings the pigeons spinning to the floor.

The stripdown was just a case of removing three slotted screws and sliding out the rifle action from the wood work, which was treated with a light covering of boiled linseed oil applied with a muslin cloth, the oil thinned by placing the bottle in a saucepan of hot water for ten minutes. Hung on a hook in the workshop, it was touch dry the following day.

Removing the 6 mm main fixing bolt, I saw that it had sheered, probably due to the increased shock load on firing.

Rooting through my many metric screws in the various boxes on my workshop shelves, I found a 50 mm long x 6 mm countersunk allen screw, which I cut down in a vice to the original 40 mm length, making sure to screw a 6 mm nut onto the remaining length of thread before sawing. Being hardened, it knocked out a new blade, but after a quick grind of the cut end, then unscrewing the nut to reform the end of the screw, I was back in business. Being an allen headed CSK screw, I was able to tighten the main screw harder than the original slot head.

With the action exposed, it was easy to reach all the moving parts with my preferred Bisley Gun Oil aerosol spray and reassemble, ready for more accurate years of use.

 

River Axe, Diamond Farm fishing, roach and skimmer bread punch review

August 24, 2019 at 11:31 pm

The Somerset River Axe was an unknown quantity to me until this week, when I booked into Diamond Touring Park for a couple of nights, before the Bank Holiday weekend. With the electric hook-up pitches already occupied, my wife and I were allocated a spot alongside the river, which to me was perfect, but for my non fishing better half, not ideal. Fishing for guests is free, but information on the prospects are non existent. At the Park reception, when asked about the fishing, all I got was, people fish it and they catch fish!

Arriving in the afternoon, a side stream was already occupied with people fishing, maggots providing a mix of small rudd and roach on the pole, while another fishing the feeder into the main river had several small eels and a couple of roach. I intended fishing the main river on the bread punch, my usual method.

The River Axe enters the tidal stretch at the Brean Sluice here, two miles from the sea.

In total there is about a 1,000 yards of the west bank available, although brambles restricted access to much of the river, which was a approached with caution down a steep slope. I chose a swim close to my campervan, where a board had been left in position by a considerate angler.

Travelling light, I had selected a few bits and pieces from my tacklebox, pole winders, punches, disgorgers, spare hooks and line, placing them into an old plastic toolbox, that had been kicking around the garage for years, happy to give it a new lease of life.

First step was to plumb the depth, finding four feet dropping away to five only a few metres out. Feeding a couple balls of liquidised bread over the shelf and a couple close in, I was able to judge the rate of flow, which was steady, although a strong upstream wind gave the impression of it flowing in the opposite direction.

With a size 16 hook to my 16 x 4 antenna float, I started off at four feet close in using a 5mm punch. Bulking the shot 18 inches from the hook helped the float carry downstream against the opposite drift, my first bite coming second trot, diving out of sight and a 4 inch dace coming to hand. A dace from a Somerset Levels drain, I was surprised, but then close to the source of the Axe at Wookey Hole, it is a trout stream, so a fish from a fast flowing river was bound to end up here. After five bites and three more dace, I scaled up to a 6 mm punch and cast along the drop off, the float burying again and the elastic coming out of the pole tip. It felt like good skimmer bream and a flash of silver in the coloured water confirmed it. The net was out and I pulled the skimmer across the surface toward it, only for a fatal roll and a lost fish. Rebaiting and following another feed ball, the float buried again and I was playing a nice roach.

In again, the float sank to a slightly smaller roach. The wind was difficult and I had to almost pull the float downstream, a few dips among the waves of the antenna warning of submersion. The elastic was out again and I had a fight on my hands, the fish running out, then to the sides, following, letting the elastic do the work.

What a beauty, the bread punch certainly attracts the better fish. The next cast along the drop off saw the float sail away and the No. 6 elastic following another hard fighting roach, taking my time to slide it over the landing net.

I tried another two metres of pole to fish over into the deeper water, but the wind made controlling the float impossible, as the pole was blown around, so it was back to four metres. The change back resulted in another strike, this time a small skimmer bream adding to the tally.

Adding another small ball of feed kept the fish lined up on the bottom, waiting for my 6 mm pellet of bread to fall through, small rudd often intercepting the bait meant for larger fish.

Feeding a yard upstream, the hotspot was out in front, a cast swinging the float out downstream, then pulling the float back, often brought an immediate bite.

Another nice roach, followed to the net by a second skimmer.

The river Axe is obviously full of quality roach, that had homed in on the bread.

After an hour I had punched my way through a square of bread, getting out another to start the next. I had fed less than a pint of liquised bread at this stage and was trying not to overfeed, keeping the fish hungry for more.

A small, but fat chub added to the variety of species, yet another flowing river fish.

A quality roach again, who says the bread punch is only fit for small fish on winter canals?

As if to disprove the above statement, an elastic stretching skimmer was next in the net.

The roach seemed to be getting bigger with each cast.

As did the skimmer bream.

I think that this was a roach bream hybrid, it had the anal fin of a bream, but was broad in the shoulder like a roach. Whatever it was, it fought like the clappers, darting from one side to the other, pulling out the elastic with each run.

This skimmer showed signs of an attack of some kind, be it from a bird, animal, or a fish, but its fighting qualities were not affected.

This was my last roach of the evening, coming to the net at 8 pm on the dot, my wife’s curfew time. Two hour’s fishing and no more. The wind had got up and the temperature had dropped. We had only packed summer clothes, believing the weatherman that sweltering weather was returning. Not today it wasn’t. My wife was soon on the skyline, coming to make sure that I stuck to my word.

The evening had proved a steep learning curve on a new river, 6 lb of fish in two hours, not bad for a first visit.

 

Drennan Float Fish stickfloat test on bread punch roach

August 9, 2019 at 6:39 pm

The arrival of a new reel of Drennan Float Fish line in 3.2 breaking strain was eagerly awaited this week to replace the old 2.6 B.S Bayer-Perlon on my ABU 501 match reel. On my last outing, a tangle had  reduced its length, the line was no longer running off the spool freely, so an update was required. Online reviews were good for the Float Fish line, being supple and free floating, while at 0.16mm the 3.2 lb Drennan line was the same diameter as my old Bayer 2.6 B.S. The line dropped through the letter box in the afternoon post and I was quick to load it onto the 501. A light olive colour, even this was similar to the Bayer line.

Any excuse to fish, bread bait and feed were soon out of the freezer and I was on my way to the river Blackwater ten miles away. Black clouds were gathering as I walked to a new swim, literally spending ten minutes hacking down stinging nettles to clear a fishing spot, as heavy raindrops began to cover the surface of the river. The shower was brief and refreshing in the humid air, just a fine drizzle remaining by 3:30 pm as I made my first cast.

This river is very shallow and I set my small 3 No 6 bodied stick float to just 18 inches deep to trot towards the bridge. The bottom is visible right across and following the first cloud of liquidised bread down, the float dipped and held under, the flash of a small roach indicating my first fish. The line was performing better than expected, considering the very light float, it pulling free of the reel spool without snagging.

Next trot, the float held down and I was playing a plump chub back upstream. I saw a pike dart across to the chub from cover along the opposite bank and raised the rod to draw the chub away, lifting it clear at my feet, leaving the 5 lb pike staring at the bank.

I prodded at the pike with my landing net and it turned to swim back over to the the other side. The pike returned and grabbed a small roach that I was playing, swimming back over, then letting go, but chasing the roach as I rushed it back to my side.

It began to rain again and I was already considering packing up, or moving. Unable to safely secure my tackle box on the steep bank, I was sitting on the bank with my feet resting on a narrow shelf, which was slowly eroding down toward the river and I was constantly shifting my weight to stay seated. Not ideal.

The pike took a small chub and charged off downstream, bending my 12 foot Hardy to the butt as I backwound the reel. This was the last straw, the size 16 hook holding firm in the pike’s jaw, while the chub dangled from the side, watching it swim by, as I now switched the rod to pull back down river. It lay motionless mid river and my attempts to jerk the hook free failed, causing the pike to retreat to the far side again. Pointing the rod at the pike, I pulled the line tight with my hand for a break. It obliged with a spurt away and the hook pulled free, complete with the now dead chub, which I threw back to the pike, last seen heading upstream.

I fed another couple of balls of bread in close, to keep the fish on  my side of the river, hooking a golden rudd, which I swung in.

The new Drennan line was working well, lifting easily to mend the line behind the float and setting the hook into a better roach.

The roach were lining up and getting bigger, the fish invisible until the hook was set.

The bites were very delicate, the float dipping and holding, then sinking slowly. Too early a strike usually resulted in a lost fish after a brief fight, too long could see the bait gone. I varied between 5 and 7 mm punches, the 5 mm on the size 16 hooking more fish, although the larger bait attracted better roach.

I was surprised that there were no dace in the swim, as my previous visits have had the dace going mad for the bread, juddering and jarring the float as they attacked the bait, often hooking themselves. Today was a much more sedate affair, another shy biting roach coming to the net.

This was the last decent roach, the pike attacking another as I played it back, coming off when I tried to hurry it in. A swirl down stream may have been the end of that roach. For me this too was the end of the roach, the pike had put them down. I scraped out a few more small chub and packed up at 6 pm.

The aim of the session was to test out my new line, which I felt it passed with flying colours. On the stickfloat, with a closed faced reel like the ABU 501, you want the line to be soft enough to coil off the spool, yet stiff enough to be able to mend the line back to the float. Allowing a bow in the line to develope, drags the float to one side, or worse speeds it downstream, which looks unnatural to the fish and no bites. I have said before, stick float fishing is becoming a lost art, which many today do not try, content to lob out a feeder on the bottom and wait for bites, while a good stickfloat man can entice the fish to his hook.

Abu Garcia 507 Mk2 fishing reel review. Bread punch on the waggler for carp

July 15, 2019 at 7:34 pm

Back in my serious match fishing days, Abu closed face reels were my ultimate choice for waggler and stick float fishing, first with a pair of 506’s, then with a couple of 501’s. The 506’s had their locking pawl removed to allow for back winding, while the 501’s came ready for the matchman with back wind. Over the years, one of my 506’s wore out, refusing to pick up line reliably, while the gears went on a 501, being replaced by a new old stock one from a closing down sale, both still giving good service. The remaining 506 is in use on my spinning rod , the original use for the American market.

For feeder fishing an open spool Abu Cardinal 54 had served me well, being replaced by a Shimano 2500m Aero XT7, which has recently found its way onto my 12.5 ft Normark float rod as a combo for tackling the carp on a local lake. This reel on the float rod has not worked as hoped. Yes it casts well, also having a retrieve rate of 6 to 1, it is ideal for staying in contact when a carp runs toward you. It has an easily adjusted drag, which when released allows backwind, but at your peril, as it can tangle.

So why am reviewing an Abu 507 Mk2 reel? Too many times now, I have had lose line wrap around the handle, or back of the spool, when waggler fishing for carp with the Shimano and complained to my wife, too near to my birthday, that I had lost a carp due to the line being trapped. “Why not get another reel?” she said “The kids can buy one for your birthday.” Having always used the 500 series of Abus for float fishing with no line problems, I looked for a more beefed up version of my other reels and there was the 507 Mk2. A much larger spool with a retrieve rate of 5 to 1, which would outpace the smaller spooled Shimano, five bearing support and an adjustable switchable drag, which would give me a safe backwind option. At under £60 brand new on-line, I was sold. Before I could change my mind, my wife placed the order and it arrived in time for my birthday.

This is what arrived, a padded zip up case, with compartments for three shallow spools and a deeper one, I assume for heavy line. Also included were spare sets of chennelle for the spools, to prevent the line from being sucked behind the spool, breather holes already in the spools have got this problem covered.

Loading a 100 metres of 5 lb line to a shallow spool was surprisingly quick, compared to a 501, the 9 mm larger spool and retrieve rate saw to that. With line loaded, I set off in the early evening to the nearby carp lake, where I found that spawning was in full flow, black mud being stirred up in front of me.

The larger carp were not my target tonight, but the multitudes of one and two year olds that have bred naturally in this council owned green space recently. Having lobbed out a few balls of liquidised bread toward the island, I tried an underhand side cast, the float landing well beyond my feed close to the island. This was already better than the Shimano, a powered overhead cast usually required for this distance. First cast the float bobbed and slid under as the 7 mm pellet of punched bread was taken, feeling a slight resistance as a mini common was sped back to my hand.

Next cast a small mirror took the bread, the perfectly balanced 507 bringing it quickly to hand.

These micro carp were taking it in turns to pounce on the bread the moment the float hit the water. I decided to feed another three balls across laced with krill powder

It was the same result for a while, more mini carp, chucking them back each time, then resistance and a run along the island brought a slightly larger common, a slow retrieve bringing the juvenile fish to my bank and the landing net.

A few more of these could provide a bit of sport and a decent net in the remaining hour, so I put the keep net in. I continued casting and hooking the very small stuff, but another better common soon followed.

This were lying close to the far shore, the cast needing little effort to peel the line from the spool, while keeping the punched bread on the hook, for yet another mini battler. This time a surprise rudd.

Once prolific in this lake, I have not caught a rudd here for a while, but it was good to see there are some survivors. Fed by a brook, gudgeon were also a nuisance fish in the lake, they may be deep in the mud, but no one has had any for years.

The reel was performing well, balancing the Normark, as I stuck into more small commons, when they sank the float out of sight.

The float skated across the surface and disappeared and I instinctively lifted the rod as the line arced round following a proper carp, that accelerated away under the trees, leaving a black trail of mud. Backwinding, I remained in contact as the carp tried to get around the end of the island, but I laid the rod over, still back winding, but keeping on the pressure, bringing the fish to the surface. The carp, about 5 lbs, was foul hooked in the tail, pulling away like a dog on a lead, slowly coming back to me, then pulling away again. It turned and ran back as I retrieved line, turning away again as it passed, pulling hard for the island, but slowing to a stop and I pulled it back toward my landing net. With barely enough water to swim in, it turned over, flapping in the mud, the hook pulling free and flying back. Slowly it took stock of the situation, then with an almighty effort the carp powered off into deeper water.

This was my cue to pack up, the light was fading and I had enjoyed non stop action of one sort, or the other, putting over a dozen small carp in the net.

This had been an effective testing session for the Abu 507 Mk2. No tangles, or trapped line, more importantly I had been able to forget about previous worries with the Shimano and get on and fish.

 

 

 

Weihrauch HW100 Sport add on IR Nitesite Viper Review

February 1, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Having flirted with night vision using a modified Sony Handycam with Nightshot and an IR torch on my Webley Viper .22 PCP, I had found that the short torch battery life was a limiting factor, as the power went down, so did the range and image on the handycam screen. 10 minutes between battery changes was about the limit. It worked well for close range rats and pigeons in the farmer’s barn, but fumbling with fresh batteries in the dark had its limits.

Occasional visits to shooting forums had highlighted a few home grown night vision systems, but the limiting factor had always been the house brick sized battery needed to run the things. Not needing to shoot after dark, until last year, when I was given permission to shoot rabbits over an 80 acre sports ground, I had put the night vision on hold. Brief low light visits had brought results, but it was time to revisit the forums to check up on the latest technology.

At last lithium batteries were being used and good reviews saw me reaching for the credit card to buy a NiteSite Viper scope add on infrared unit, which arrived in a smart shock proof case.

This is the least expensive and smallest unit with a specified range of 100 metres, more than enough for my Weihrauch HW100 Sport .22 PCP airifle, although I can see it being pressed into use with my other rifles, Career 707 FAC air, .22 semi auto Magtech and .17 HMR. More power is available at a cost, the Wolf having a quoted range of 300 yards and 500 yards for the Eagle models.

Opening up the box all the components are well protected, the idea being that the box will travel to the permission, where the parts will be assembled on site. Central in the case are two rubber sleeves to suit different sizes of scope eyepieces. Top right is the IR camera, with locations for the power jack and the screen feed. The camera has an on/off push button switch, which is silent in operation. No clicks to alert a rabbit in the dark. Bottom right is the IR torch and 3 1/2 inch screen unit. Bottom left is the lightweight lithium battery. This box housed the previous battery, a foam rubber filler taking up the now defunct space. Top left is a three pin UK mains adaptor for charging the battery, which has a charge life of over seven hours. A two pin plug is also included in the kit. Alongside the camera are two mounts for the torch/screen unit, one for a 25 mm scope tube and the other a 30 mm. With the mounts is an anti recoil bracket to firmly locate the screen unit.

Assembly onto the rifle literally takes a couple of minutes. My scope has a 25 mm tube, so the appropriate screen mount was clipped over the tube, having removed the clamp screw first. The anti recoil clip is then positioned over the mount with its slot covering the clamp screw hole.The screen unit slides into the groove at the top of the mount, the clamp screw refitted and the anti recoil clip pulled up to lock the screen. The serrated clamp nut can now be screwed on to tighten the clamp. It sounds complicated, but takes longer to say than do.

Next select the rubber sleeve that suits your scope eyepiece. This slides on up to a reduction, which positions the sleeve ready for the camera to slide in from the other end. Over the sleeve fit the battery pack, holding it in place with its velcro strap. With the camera fully home, plug in the lead from the screen and that from the battery. They are male and female connections, so fool proof. Switch on the screen and camera to check the focus of the cross hairs on the screen.

The focus of the camera is adjusted with the index finger pushing onto the rough surface of the lens holder, which is marked white to allow judgment of rotation of the holder. Rotating the lens moves it in and out allowing fine adjustments of the focal length to the scope eye piece. Each time the lens is adjusted, it is a case of pushing it back fully home in the sleeve to view the cross hairs on the screen.

With the IR torch turned fully anticlockwise in the off position with the knob at the top of the screen, for daylight use, this is the view of the cross hairs on my scope. With the focal length set at the lens, the camera can be removed and replaced without the need to reset the focus.

Weighing in at 14 oz fitted, the unit sits easily on the scope without feeling bulky. Having used a red dot scope in the past, the heads up shooting position is not difficult to master, giving a similar sensation to using a games console. Place the cross hairs on the target and squeeze the trigger.

The business end. There is a warning in the instructions not to look into the torch, when the unit is switched on, as serious damage to your eyes can be the result. Good practice would be to always turn the knob to the daylight position when in the field, adjusting the intensity to the range that you are shooting.

Due to the January weather of late, storms, rain, frost and snow, I have yet to test the NiteSite Viper in the field, but sighting down my 40 yard rear garden in pitch black conditions, I was amazed at the clear image, almost jumping out of my skin, when the neighbour’s cat emerged from behind a bush, its eyes glowing like those of a demon, as it wandered up the path toward me.