Pike Lure Fishing brought up to date

March 18, 2014 at 11:55 am

When this picture dropped into my e-mail inbox from fellow club member Lee, along with an invite to join him on his next pike fishing session, I jumped at the chance, just to go along with my camera to see how it was done.

 

 For our morning session, Lee took me to his local water, where this near 12lb pike was caught on a lure,  a well matured gravel pit surrounded by trees, with features every twenty yards, bays, roots and reed beds in abundance. Early mist had cleared, with just a hint of ground frost and the lake had returned to it’s normal level following flooding, a white tide mark evidence of the level two weeks before.

Lee’s tackle was a revelation to me, a seven foot Savage Gear lure rod, coupled to an Okuma Tormenta bait caster reel, loaded with sinking braid, that gives a direct feel from rod top to the lure. A far cry from the nine foot heavy feeder rod and Garcia ABU 506 closed face reel loaded with 15lb mono, that I have been using for years. Likewise a small selection of his lures, jelly eels and various multi-bodied plugs were an example of how far lure fishing has come since the simple Mepps spoons I’ve used in the past.

We walked the bank first, with Lee pointing out where he’d had pike before, starting to fish at an inviting looking reed bed, expecting a strike, or a follow from each cast, his outfit easily capable of reaching the edge of the reeds fifty yards away.

This is usually Jack Alley, but today the smaller pike could not be persuaded to take, despite frequent changes of lure. Lee joked that he wasn’t used to fishing under pressure, feeling the need to put a fish in front of the camera. We moved down into a heavily wooded area, where he’d had good pike before and a few casts in, there was a swirling boil just feet from the bank, as a big fish veered away from his lure.

Encouraged by this promising action, Lee rang the changes in an attempt to tempt this fish, but maybe the clear water was against us and it failed to move to the lure again. As the saying goes, “here’s one I had earlier”, a finely marked nine and a half pounder from this swim a month earlier.

 We moved on, trying each gap in the trees, expectant of a take at the slightest tap of the rod, as the lures worked their magic among the roots. This is the attraction of lure fishing, with dead and live baiting for pike, it’s a waiting game, but a lure can be taken the moment it hits the water, or just on lift off, going from inaction to explosive action in a matter of seconds.

Two hours had passed quickly and each new area offered up several choices of holding spots, this bay being a pike fisher’s dream, but once again Lee’s efforts were frustrated and we moved to a narrow spur, that at first glance had nothing going for it, until I saw a small fish jump, followed by another. Either a small jack pike, or a perch was attacking a shoal of roach. Another change saw a fish bodied lure with a bright jelly tail clipped on and cast out to the topping shoal.

Third cast through, the rod bent into an arc, as the lure was seized and Lee instinctively struck hard to set the barbless hooks, a boil on the surface indicating the exact take point. The rod kicked as the pike shook it’s head, before heading for open water, pulling hard on the reel drag. I went back to collect the landing net, returning in time to hand it over to Lee for the end game of an epic battle, the look of satisfied relief on his face saying it all. This young, fit guy had still managed to break a sweat on a cold morning.

 Job done! What a fin perfect beauty. A quick spell in the weighing bag ran the scales round to 11lb 8oz, then this heavily camouflaged killing machine was slipped back in the water. Not content with his capture, Lee ran the lure through several times more, saying that two, or three pike will often work together to drive a shoal of bait fish into such an enclosed area. Not today though and both with family commitments that afternoon, we headed back down the motorway.

A week later another photo dropped into my inbox. Lee had been busy again. While visiting relatives in Leicestershire, he’d found time to pop down to the river Soar for some R&R and bagged a personal best 3lb 6oz perch.

This was taken on a Savage Gear 3D white crayfish lure.

Roach queue up for bread punch on the Middy stick

March 11, 2014 at 7:30 pm

A return visit to my local river, found the level down nine inches and running at a slower pace than last week, when trying for roach, I struggled in the conditions, being broken by two big fish, carp, or chub. After being broken for the second time, I’d left with a feeling of unfinished business, determined to return before the end of the coarse fishing season, for a decent crack at the roach,that live in the fast water of the outfall.

Not wanting to be broken again by big fish, I’d scaled up my tackle to a six No6 Middy alloy stem stick float on a 5lb main line, with a size 14 to 3lb hook link, a compromise that I hoped would not put the expected roach off taking my bait. I needn’t have worried, as minutes after introducing a couple of balls of liquidised bread down the middle of the run, my float gave a couple of rapid dips, then sank out of sight and the first of many clonking roach was putting a bend in my rod.

 The hot spot was the edge of the fast water, often just holding the float back as it drifted into the area, hooked a fish. More feed brought the roach out into the main river, and I was getting into a rythm, cast, trot, hook and play to the net, until I tried to rush a half pounder, which came off, taking the shoal with it. For a while small chub and big gudgeon took their place, the chub dashing all over the river, while the gudgeon bored deep. Some of the gudgeon were monsters approaching 8 inches long and very fat, hugging the bottom, giving the impression of a much bigger fish.

The Middy alloy stem stick is now one of my preferred floats for most shallow river conditions, the tip rising up on the shoulder, when held back, while the bulk of the float stays down, giving more control to ease the float through a swim. My next bite entered the foaming weir stream and headed upstream, the strike hitting into solid resistance, that had me guessing at the species on the end, a deep thumping fight keeping the fish out of sight, until brought up to the surface for the net, revealing a roach-bream hybrid of about 8oz.

Next to take was another unexpected fish, a 6oz rudd, the float sailing away as the rig followed a ball of bread down the swim. Another hybrid, a rudd, a few small chub and several gudgeon coming in quick succession.

This interlude was soon over and the roach moved back in on the bread feed with a bang, getting larger with each trot and I make no apologies for including more pictures here. I love catching roach, especially big ones.

The roach above could have been a season best for some people, but the float kept going down and they continued to fight their way to the net.

The bites were beginning to get few and far between in front of me, so I made a cast to the middle of the faster water and trotted down towards the bend, striking when the float dived, hitting into a fish that ran hard down stream and backwound rapidly to counter it. A chub I thought, but then saw a broad flank with a flash of red, a good roach and the best of the day, which treated with respect, I netted minutes later.

This was a deep fish that, when laid against my bait tray, had it’s tail over the edge. The tray measures 11 inches, so the roach was over a foot long. A couple more smaller, but equally deep roach followed from the fast stream, before trying a change to a brandling on the hook, having raided my compost heap for the worms before I left. I’ve often thought the concrete structure of the weir could hold some perch, but usually only fishing bread, I never catch any. Hooking the size 14 hook once through the head of the brandling and letting it be taken by the flow back in towards the weir, it zoomed out of sight.

Not a perch, but a 4oz chub had seized on the live bait, where several times the 6mm bread pellet had passed. This was not a fluke and these small chub lined up to take the worms, until one came in under my feet to be missed by the landing net and dive into a submerged bramble, snagging the hook. I pulled for a break, only to then flick the float into the bush on my right. Again pulling for a break the precious float hung suspended over the water.

Although there was still over an hour of daylight, I decided not to be too greedy and quit while I was ahead, having finally found my searched for shoal of big river roach, plus a few surprise fish along the way. I also learned that the chub will go on feeding, if you switch from bread to worms.

I had a final look at this impressive over eight pound bag of mostly roach, taken during a busy three hour session from this small tributary of the Thames, then set about rescuing my float from the bush.

 

Rapala Countdown lure hooks pike trainee.

January 17, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Constant heavy showers put an end to any thoughts of a bait fishing trip this week, my desire to stay warm and dry, overcoming the need to catch fish. The local weather forecast had promised an afternoon of sunshine with occasional heavy showers and this was enough for me to chance a couple of hours lure fishing on the Basingstoke Canal.

Jack pike and perch are a nuisance on this stretch, when fishing for roach, often flashing through the shoal, as a ball of groundbait goes in, or worse, taking a roach on the retrieve, which on light pole tackle, usually results in at least a broken hook link. Temperatures being mild, it seemed the ideal time to get my own back on these carnivores, while giving the opportunity to try out a new sinking lure, the Rapala Countdown.

With a range of body sizes and patterns available, I chose the 2 inch long, roach lookalike and set about searching out the dead reed beds and features along the opposite bank. The Countdown has a sink rate of one foot per second and can be cast into the shallowest of water without snagging, if retrieved immediately. The action of the lure  gives a side to side motion, causing the flanks to flash as it swims, while rapid reeling, or sharp forced movement of the rod top do not induce it to dive into the canal bed. This canal has only a couple of feet beneath the far bank trees, which drops off to 3 feet along the boat road and I concentrated on this far shelf, making 25 yard diagonal cast across the canal as I made my way along the bank.

The weather forecasters seemed to have got their sums wrong and I spent much of my time sheltering under ivy ladened trees, as I worked my way towards a likely looking hotspot, where permanently moored narrow boats jut out on a bend in the canal. Like the rest of the afternoon, this area was drawing a blank, wherever I cast, whatever depth, or speed, not a touch. Finally, probably the tenth time I’d cast beneath a bush, the rod top rattled and pulled round. The strike brought another rattle from the rod top, but little else. Not a perch, but the smallest pike I’ve ever caught. Totally outgunned by the tackle, I swung it in to hand.

 As can be seen from the photo, this little 10 inch jack really wanted this Rapala, two of the rear trebles hooked neatly in the gill rakers. I always remove the barbs from my trebles to avoid damage and following a quick twist of the forceps he was swimming free again, none the worse for his experience. Minutes later the heavens opened again and I beat a retreat back to the van.

 

RWS .22 subsonics v Winchester SX subsonics in the Magtech 7022 semi auto

April 24, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Just when I was confident that I’d found a substitute for the super reliable, but unavailable Eley subsonics in my Magtech 7022 semi auto rimfire, Wichester’s SX subs had proved reliable after a shaky start, but my belief in the bullet was shattered again, when, with a rabbit firmly in my sights, there was a pop instead of a bang, as the bullet misfired and the rabbit ran off. This began another target session, where the Winchesters repeatedly failed to cycle, while others went off like a damp squib. Time to try another manufacturer.

With Eleys still unavailable, my gunshop suggested RWS  .22 subsonics, so with a box of 50 I arrived at my improvised woodland shooting range to do a three way test. Ten Winchesters were loaded, but after two miscycles and one jam in five rounds, I stripped out the other five and loaded a few of my last Eley subs. These all fired perfectly. Next was the brand new box of RWS. These had wax lubricant filling the hollow points, which I removed, before loading and firing a perfect ten, all grouping well on the target. Another ten and another good 50 yard group, despite the lack of magnification from the red dot sight fitted to the Magtech. With my confidence back, I continued down through the wood, stopping to observe daffodils still growing in mid April, a sign of the late spring.

A rustle of dead leaves to my left reminded me that I should have been observing the fauna, not the flora, as a rabbit hopped to safety through the undergrowth. Further down I reached a point where a path enters the wood, a rabbit highway,  and turning the corner was confronted by a big buck coming in my direction. Too late, he dived into the hedge as I raised the rifle.  Backtracking, I settled down to wait for more intruders, with a good view of several likely hot spots within 50 yards, but the only visitor to my domain was a beautifully conditioned fox, which slipped out from cover and sat observing me from 70 yards away. On this permission, fox and pheasant are strictly off limits, as are the deer, being an equestrian centre, rabbits and their burrows are enemy number one.

Able to see activity behind the hedge leading to the path, but no clear targets, I got up and stalked to the corner, where a good sized rabbit was unaware of my presence, until it was too late. Raising the rifle, I placed the green cross hairs of the sight on the target and watched the rabbit topple over from a head shot.

 More proof that the point and shoot sight is ideal for close range, snap shots, I took  another adult and a juvenile on my way back to the van, also putting a big tick in the positive box for the RWS subsonics. As a follow up, I navigated the perimeter of the 80 acre permission a few days later,  accounting for a few more rabbits and a pigeon out in the afternoon sun. The RWS subs once again performing well and maintaining a dependable accuracy.

Trying to get to the bottom of the bad batch of Winchesters, I’d noticed that the bullets were tight in the magazine, when I removed them. Measuring the large diameter on the cartridges, I found the Eley and RWS to measure 0.270 inches and 0.269 respectively, while the Winchester cases were 0.2735, or 0.1 mm bigger, which may have been enough to slow the passage of the bullet, when recycling. RWS from now on.

Red/Green Dot Holographic Point and Shoot sight on Magtech 7022 (Mossberg 702). Field Test.

April 16, 2013 at 10:24 pm

This sight was originally fitted to my Relum Z II springer air rifle and was impressed by it’s point and shoot quality, when shooting barn rats at close range and the occasional pigeon in the rafters. Unlike a scope, where the target is identified by eye, then located in the lens before firing, the holographic dot is visible at the same instant as the target, with the dot only needing to be placed on the target and the trigger pulled.

The model I purchased has added features over some of the lower priced dot sights. Some are moulded plastic, but this one is made from anodized alluminium, giving a solid two allen screw, 11 mm dovetail mount. A choice of four images are available, a 4″ MOA dot, a 1″ MOA dot with outer ring, a 4″ MOA ring with outer cross hairs and a cross hair. These are selected with a positive toggle switch at the rear of the sight. Another feature is the colour of the reticule, which is also adjustable, one to five in level of brightness. In the barn, I found the red light setting at level one, fine for reduced light,  while on five it worked well with a filtered torch. For shooting in the field, I found green best and level five required in very bright sunlight.

The sight is easy to fit to the 11 mm scope grooves and unlike a scope, eye relief and focusing are not needed, the manufacturer recommending at least 3″ from the mirror to your eye when shooting. In practice this will be about 8″ in the normal shooting position, which allows an instant view of the target, whether moving or static. Zeroing is by way of an allen key, which is fiddly and the clicks are only just  noticeable for elevation and windage. On the average scope, each click is usually 1/4″ at one hundred yards, while this scope has only 1″ per click at one hundred yards, so adjustment to the level of a telescopic scope is not possible. For the air rifle I had set the sight at twenty yards on a target and I did the same with the Magtech .22 semi auto rimfire. At twenty yards, the trajectory of the .22 subsonic, will give point-blank at 50 yards. This shows up a disadvantage of the Dot scope, as with no magnification, even if the bullet holes were touching as mine were at twenty yards, on a target, the bull was obscured by the cross hairs at fifty. At fifty yards I shot a 2″ dia group, within the killing zone for a rabbit chest shot with subsonic ammo. I didn’t try one of the other reticule settings, which may have framed the paper target better. My rifle is used for hunting small game, so I will compare the options with use.

Following my setting up for zero on my woodland target range, I ventured out into the fields to put theory into practice and rounding a corner saw three rabbits feeding about seventy yards away, too far for an untested sight, but clearly visible through the mirrored window. Using cover I was able to get to a slope within forty five yards of the three and with the Magtech rested on my shooting bag, placed the cross hairs on the chest of the biggest and fired. The bullet impacted where I had aimed, sending the rabbit skyward in a reflex kick, while the others briefly looked on, then bolted down the field. I realized that I could have taken another shot in the following second, as the targets were there for the taking, but I was overawed by the simplicity of it all. This sight suits the semi auto, where multiple targets can be taken on in rapid succession.

 

CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR Rimfire

December 7, 2012 at 9:02 pm

 

The CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR  is my most accurate and powerful rifle. Mine has a 16 inch barrel and a trigger mod to ease the trigger pressure. Necessity forced me to purchase this rifle. When I began shooting over the various farms and pieces of land that I cover, the majority had never been shot over and the rabbits were running and breeding free, undermining trees, pathways, destroying crops and grasslands. In those days, I was able to consistently take four, or five rabbits per visit where ever I shot, using my Webley Viper at ranges up to 35 yards, due to their lack of fear of humans. I learned where the rabbits would be and could stalk within range with ease.

Some of the farms are open with hedgerows and it didn’t take long for the rabbits to slip back into the safety of their burrows once I got within a hundred yards. A much more powerful rifle was needed. HMR stands for Hornady Magnum Round, a .17 calibre copper jacketed round with a ballistic plastic tip, mounted on a .22 Magnum rimfire case. The small calibre bore accelerates the 17 grain bullet to supersonic speeds which equate to 245 ft lb muzzle pressure, which when compared to the legal air rifle limit of 12 ft lb at the muzzle, illustrates the power of this round. The bullet is pointed and spins at such a rate, that it’s gyroscopic effect is to keep it on a flat trajectory. When setting the 4 – 12 x 42 scope sights of mine on a still summer’s day, I was amazed at it’s performance. Dead on at 100 yards, at 120 yards the bullet only dropped about 10 mm. At 200 yards it drops 4 four inches. With the range of this rifle a decent scope with a parallax front ring is vital. My best shot to  date was a rabbit sitting up,  estimated about 200 yards away. I aimed between the ears near the top. I fired and thought I’d missed due to the delay, but then it jumped and fell over, shot in the back of the neck. I paced it out at 186 paces.  Accuracy at this level can not be repeated, even in relatively light winds. On the day mentioned earlier, when setting up my sights, a slight head wind started up and those 120 yard 10 mm groups opened up to 30 mm. Still fantastic though.

 I shoot with my HMR off a bipod in the prone position, as it is quite front heavy, due to the 20 mm dia tapering varmint barrel, but I do take shots to hand, usually at close range targets, knowing that if the cross hairs are on, then the target will be hit. The negative of this round is that there is a terrific percussion within the animal, any mid body shot will destroy the meat. Side head shots are a must, a head on shot will usually travel the length of a rabbit’s body and exit out the back, often breaking a leg as it does so. Corvids, very hardy, tough birds are no match for this bullet and often appear to explode on contact. For this reason, I would not shoot pigeons with this rifle, as it is a waste of very good meat.

This HMR is the perfect tool for pest control, a recent request by a farmer to shoot the rabbits on a grazing field saw me run out of ammo. I usually take about twenty five bullets, two clips of five plus more in a plastic case, more than enough I thought. I’d shot a few as I’d walked the field edge, then saw the main warren, where the grass had been turned into a dust bowl, by the root gnawing vermin.  I got down into a comfortable prone position along a hedgerow, with a full view of  the area and began picking them off at ranges between 100 and 150 yards. At this distance the muzzle report is muted, most of the “crack” going out to the sides from the supersonic bullet, the head on blast being absorbed by the silencer. Rabbits will usually continue feeding, while those around them leap up and drop and this was the case here, although towards the end of the session, which lasted about five minutes, a few were running about in confusion. I was reminded of film of the Somme, the bolt being worked, another clip fitted, reloading, etc. The final tally was nineteen, due to a few missed moving shots and a couple of extras to make sure.

 

Magtech 7022 (Mossberg 702) .22 Semi Automatic Rimfire

December 7, 2012 at 8:51 pm

The Magtech 7022, or Mossberg 702 “plinkster” as it is known in the US, was my first rimfire rifle. I’ve seen this rifle for sale in the children’s section of sporting gunshops in the US and sells for well under $100 USD. I paid £100 in the UK for mine, although by the time I’d added a scope and a couple of spare ten bullet magazines with 500 Magtech subsonic hollow points, the price was nearer £200. The rifle is very light, around 4 lb, which has pros and cons. The plastic stock and pistol grip give a confident feel to the little semi auto, but the trigger pull is very long with little feel and I have found myself thinking of the trigger, without concentrating on the target and missing, or due to it’s light weight, pulling to the right. This can all be cured with plenty of target practice, while a shooting stick, or bi-pod help.  I also glued a strip of neoprene rubber to the butt to prevent it slipping against my shoulder.

To improve the feel of the trigger, I removed the trigger assembly by pushing out the two 5 mm pins and pulling it out of the bottom of the rifle.  Looking down from the top with the trigger released, you can see the ground trigger catch plate, part of the bolt hammer. On my rifle this appeared quite coarse and with a thin screw driver, applied a smear of fine valve grinding paste to it, then cocked and released the trigger. The grinding paste is wiped off by it’s mating part, when the trigger catches. I also added paste to the arm that lifts the hammer to release it, this being a rough stamping and adding to the gravelly feeling of the trigger. An hour of constant cock and release (can be done in front of the TV) of this mechanism produced much smoother surfaces on these parts and a noticeable improvement in the feel of the trigger pull. Afterwards I washed the assembly out with white spirit and gave it a good spray with carb cleaner before oiling.

The Magtech subsonics were not ideal in this rifle, probably due to inconsistent loading of the bullet charges. Some would not fire at all, while others were zingers. With a semi auto a good charge is needed, or the firing pin will not be returned fast enough to miss the new unfired bullet entering the chamber, which will then jam the mechanism. These could usually be cleared by  working back and forth with the cocking lever, but sometimes the fresh bullet would bend and need to be prized out with a small screwdriver. Not a safe operation. Despite regular stripping and cleaning, all these problems were solved by switching to Eley subsonics, a much cleaner bullet, that did not leave the same gritty deposits of the Magtech bullets. I did side by side range tests with these bullets at 70 yards, the Magtechs producing an elongated oval top to bottom, showing a variation in power, while the Eley subs gave a more circular shape. At that range the circle was about 30 mm dia with a few outside, possibly down to the shooter. Firing a 40 grain bullet, this is enough to stop any rabbit in it’s tracks, the target area switching from head to chest area, a big target at that range. If you do miss, you’ve got another nine shots to go. 

 A negative feature of the 40 grain subsonic hollow point bullet, with it’s low 1030 ft/sec velocity, is it’s looping trajectory, when shooting at range, rising around two inches at fifty yards to drop into it’s target at 75 yards. I’ve used this to my advantage several times, when long grass obscures all but the twitching ears of a rabbit. A shot aimed into the grass below the ears, will see the bullet rise over the grass initially, before dropping with a smack into it’s head. A bit like using a catapult. A 3 – 9 x 50 scope is fitted to the Magtech and gives a clear image in low light and when hunting in darkness with a lamp for rabbits and foxes. For foxes I have a ten round clip with Remington high velocity Yellow Jacket hollow point cartidges, which I have marked with bright yellow paint for quick, easy identification.

 This rifle decimated a warren that had ruined acres of  land belonging to one of my farmers. The warren was in discarded slabs of tarmac and concrete on council land adjacent to his field, the rabbits passing through the fence onto his land to feast on his crops and dig up roots. The first I saw of it was at twilight and as I entered the field, the ground ahead became a moving mass of grey making for the exit, tumbling over themselves at the fence. I had some success, but the farmer came up with the winning plan. He dumped a long line of composted straw, parallel with the fence  30 yards out, about 4 ft high, which gave me cover when entering the field from the lower end, from where I could pop up and start firing. Point and fire chest shots had a 60% instant success, another clip and more fell, the last clip to finish off. At this time I had two butchers and a couple of pubs to supply, while friends were also filling their freezers. A local resident complained that it sounded like the Wild West. To me it was a one sided OK Coral. That field now has virtually been cleared over the years, what was left of the warren moving on to safer pastures. The economics of that field no longer add up for me, but I return a couple of times a year to mop up survivors, as a good will gesture.

Shin Sung Career 707 .22 Carbine (PCP)

December 7, 2012 at 8:46 pm

 

The Shin Sung Career 707 .22 carbine has the potential to be the most powerful air rifle available. In the UK the transfer port fitted was only 1mm dia to meet the legal 12 ft lb legal limit. This is easily reached by removing the barrel and can be opened up without any special equipment. When I bought mine, as a kit of parts, the transfer port had been drilled out to 5mm, which would have given around 80 ft lbs. Coupled with the now banned air bullet, which was designed for the rifle, a lethal weapon could be produced. In Asia these weapons are used to shoot large tree monkeys. Having a Firearms Certificate, my Career is fitted with a 2.5mm dia transfer port, which rates it at 28 ft lbs and is a registered firearm.

I bought this rifle for it’s accuracy at range, safely dispatching a rabbit at 50 yards. While owning rimfire rifles, a couple of my landowners only wanted air weapons used on their land and having thinned out the rabbit populations to some extent, getting within shooting range was becoming more difficult. It has also proved it’s worth on roosted pigeons, magpies and crows,  being the safe option in an urban environment, as the air pellet quickly loses velocity and falls to earth.

There is a pellet stop for the magazine, which holds up to ten standard length pellets. If using a longer pellet, such as my preferred 21 grain Bisley Magnum, then the stop will have to be adjusted to suit and can be quite fiddly to get right. If it is too short, the loading pawl will cut the end of the pellet skirt off, jamming the gun, or if too long, the dome of the next pellet will be sheered off, jamming the gun. This has happened to me a few times, when carrying a mix of different pellets in my pocket. Once it happens, the scope rail has to be removed to release the cover and access the loading mechanism, which is a series of levers, operated by the under lever trigger and guard. This means, stop shooting and go home, as it is too complicated to carry out in the field, needing a number of special tools.

My 707 came fitted with a silencer, which screws onto a non standard 10 mm thread. Due to the 28 ft lb blast of air coming from the barrel, there is quite a crack, when the rifle is fired. I have mellowed this a bit by modifying the baffle shapes. With the pellet travelling at around 900 ft/sec, this does not worry the target, as it’s usually dead, but it can cause a bit of panic among the other ranks. A top quality Walther 3-9 x 40 scope came with the Career, the front parallax ring an aid when range finding and setting the scope sights. I focus, say on a barbed wire fence where you expect rabbits to appear, then read off the setting on the scope. If you have you have already done range tests over known distances against the scope parallax, you will have a good idea of how much hold over is required. With the Career 707 I did range test out to 70 yards and have had several kills at that range with the rifle rested.

The Career 707 carbine is a solid chunky rifle, which is easy to point and shoot, although my rifle only delivers about ten full power shots at 28 ft lb, before the  air pressure gauge starts to drop. On most outings this is not a problem, as shooting opportunities are limited on a two hour walk round. Once again, range tests can give a good idea of hold over required equated to air pressure on the gauge.

 

Webley Venom Viper .22 Carbine (PCP)

December 7, 2012 at 8:42 pm

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.

Fitted with an inexpensive 9-3 x40 scope, the Viper accounted for over two hundred rabbits in my first year on a couple of infested farms. The rifle comes up to the shoulder easily and presents a steady shooting platform, allowing accurate kills out to thirty yards, while from rest, forty yard head shots were successful, although at that range a drop of three inches had to be allowed, when using Bisley Magnums.

This rifle operates on the precharged system. A pump, or on my case, a small diver’s bottle is used to deliver pressurised air through an inlet port to charge the air cylinder. A bolt is pulled back , carrying a spring loaded hammer with it, cocking the trigger and also the pellet probe is withdrawn, allowing the shuttle to align a pellet with the barrel. The bolt is then moved forward, the probe pushing the pellet in position ahead of the transfer port. When the trigger is pulled, the spring loaded hammer is released, which pushes a valve forward, it’s drilling aligning with the transfer port, momentarily allowing air to pass at speed through the port, to enter the barrel behind the pellet. The probe seals the rear end of the barrel, so the pellet accelerates along the rifled barrel to it’s exit. Due to the light spring acting on the hammer, there is little mechanical noise and even less vibration, resulting in very accurate shots every time. The cylinder holds enough pressure for about forty shots.

CZ Relum .177 (springer)

December 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm

My first rifle the .177 Relum was bought brand new in the ’60′s for £7 from a high street store that seemed to sell everything. I wanted a .22, but they were out of stock and being made in Czechoslovakia, I was told by the sales girl, that there could be a long wait. Being no difference in price, just the barrel calibre and not wanting to make a fuss, as I was only fifteen and not the required seventeen, a tin of pellets was added to the sale and I left with the box to catch the bus home.

Although cheap compared to my friend’s .22 BSA Meteor, the Relum proved very accurate and powerful, giving me entry to a band of scruffy lads, who spent many hours sinking cans and bottles along our local canal, or staking out likely rat runs at the dump, an area where unsold vegetables were left to rot in heaps along the towpath. A volley of shots would announce the untimely end of another pink tailed rodent. The older lads taught us the basics, safety, trajectory, cover, stalking and importantly, keeping quiet. This was in the days when owning an air rifle was considered a rite of passage for a teen age boy and to carry one on open land was not a criminal act, the law of armed trespass nowhere near the statute book.

The construction of this rifle was the then standard springer action. The barrel was “broken” and pulled down, compressing the mainspring, until it was cocked and held by the trigger. This exposed the rear end of the barrel, into which the waisted pellet was pushed, being held by the pellet skirt. On snapping back the barrel to the locked position, the pellet sealed against the air cylinder exhaust port. When the trigger was pulled, the spring was released, accelerating an attatched leather washer down the cylinder, until the air in the cylinder compressed enough to overcome the resistance of the pellet skirt and sent it down and out of the rifled barrel.

I recently overhauled the Relum, fitting a new spring, which brought it close to the now legal limit of 12 ft lb muzzle power and it gives good service picking off pigeons in a farmer’s barns at close range up to fifteen yards, the small calibre easily penetration their feathery armour. I made the mistake of using one of my more powerful .22 rifles previously and noticed too late the holes appearing in the roof. Oops!