Fiery Deer Gen3 Tripod Review rabbit stakeout with the CZ452 Varmint HMR

June 15, 2021 at 12:55 pm

A cold wet spring, followed by high temperatures, has seen a spurt in undergrowth this year, no less on a rabbit warren, that I have been trying to clear for the land owners. Evening visits had become less productive as the grass grew and I opted to buy a Fiery Deer Tripod to allow me to spot and shoot rabbits over the top of the vegetation from a kneeling position.

A week later and it was even worse, but standing instead of kneeling still allowed clear shots.

Next to this field is one currently grazed by horses, which have cropped the grass and this week I decided to concentrate on the rabbits in that field until this one is cut. I was not the only one looking out for rabbits, a fox was sitting out waiting for movement, allowing me to walk up to take a photo, only running off when I pushed my luck too far. Yes, I could have shot it, but he is doing my job for me, catching rabbits.

Further along there is a dead tree, which I used to use as a base in pre covid days and I set up my tripod there and waited.

I moved the tripod forward so that I could sit on the tree, adjusting the height in seconds due to the trigger mechanism. The CZ452 Varmint hanging safely on the rubberised V mount by it’s Harris bipod. What a contrast between the two fields.

The Fiery Deer Tripod has obviously been designed with the deer stalker in mind, but it is perfect for smaller game, such as rabbits and rats. When not in use the light weight allows it to be used as a walking aid over rough ground. On this warren the nettles and grass now cover the many burrows, but the tripod can be used to test the ground ahead.

The legs are held in a clip at the base of tripod, one permanently fixed to a leg, while the other two are free to be released and swung out to steady the tripod on its rubber feet. There is a more expensive, near identical tripod on the market, without the clipped legs, the other having a lanyard and plastic feet, instead of rubber, which in my book make the Fiery Deer a better buy. A friend, who has the more expensive tripod, has to look down to free the lanyard, while the plastic feet slide on concrete, when shooting rats in a barn.

The comfortable rubber hand grip has a trigger, which can be unlocked by releasing a catch on the side, which then allows the legs to release and the V rest to be adjusted to the desired height.

The trigger and dual catch, which is both sides of the trigger, are shown here, flip up to release and down to lock. The V rest rotates through 360 degrees for panning shots. I was amazed at how rapidly the tripod can be deployed, giving an immediate solid base to shoot from.

Unscrew the V rest and choice of two camera mounts are available, a 3/8 inch by 16 TPI thread, sitting over one of 1/4 inch by 20 TPI. Clever.

Well engineered, the tripod head pulls out of the legs from one metre, ideal as a hunting/walking staff, to 1.8 metres, just right for taking a shot while standing, the leg spread is also variable and adjustable to suit any ground, or slope, just mount the rifle, release the ambidextrous catch and trigger with your free hand, position the rifle at the chosen height, release the trigger to hold the position and lock with the finger catch. This takes a lot longer to explain, than do.

It wasn’t long before a pair of rabbits broke from the cover of the long grass opposite, chasing around, before disappearing back to where they came from 80 yards away. Another ten minutes later they were out again, stopping to feed. The HMR was already on the V mount and the rabbits in the cross hairs. A quick working of the rifle bolt and they were ready to collect.

CZ452 Varmint .17 HMR back at the rabbit warren

May 13, 2021 at 6:51 pm

Making my third visit to a local farm in a week, my tally was at seven rabbits and the population of a massive warren were already showing signs of getting skittish, diving for cover as I approached, some running down to a ditch lined with willow at the end of the field. I decided to bide my time waiting from a vantage point in the cover of the warren to see if anything would venture out.

The evening sun was low over the field and the wind was from right to left, not ideal for the HMR with its lightweight 17 grain bullet, but there were no targets yet. A slight movement got my attention, the scope picking out a pair of ears behind undergrowth, stopping, disappearing, then reappearing further along. I could have chanced a shot to where the rabbit’s head should be, but wanted a clear shot. It hopped out into long grass raising it’s head and I aimed at the snout, allowing for the wind and squeezed the trigger. Crack! The report from the rifle echoed back as the rabbit stood up clawing the air, then dropped out of sight. I was sure that I had killed it, but settled back, working the bolt to clear the chamber and pushing it forward to load another bullet from the magazine, picking up the ejected brass case and putting it in my pocket.

Another 15 minutes and there was more movement. A pair of rabbits emerged from beneath the willow ahead and began trotting back toward the warren. Aiming for the one on the left, I let it run into the crosshairs and fired, tumbling it. The second rabbit swerved away and I snatched a shot, but missed. Working the bolt, I fired again, the rabbit crouching as the bullet passed close by, then speeding to safety further down the warren.

With no action ahead among the willows, I got up and walked forward to look for the first rabbit, finding that I had shot it through the back of the head side on, the wind having blown the bullet four inches to the left. The second rabbit had no apparent wounds. I carried them back and began taking the loins and back legs, while scouting down to the far end of the warren for movement. I spotted a rabbit close to the end of the warren, but could not see it through the scope due to the nettles and grass, waiting for it to move into a clearer area, but in got lost amongst the greenery.

The CZ Varmint hangs on the tripod V, conveniently ready for a shot.

The odd head popped up gopher style, but they were not visible through the prone scope. I had my new shooting tripod with me and lowered it with the legs out to a comfortable kneeling position and scoped the area. From the extra height I could now see the original rabbit and two others moving about and feeding. I fitted a full five shot magazine and adjusted the scope parallax to 130 yards on 12 magnification. There was still a slight breeze in my face and I aimed at the narrow rear outline of one sitting up, holding the tripod grip for stability, but then another rabbit moved close to it side on and I aimed high on its chest, breathing out and squeezing the trigger. It slumped forward. At that range with the breeze, there would have been no crack from the bullet and the other two continued about their business. I was pleased with the shot and scoped round to the one on the right sitting up. I fired and missed, and it moved forward a yard by which time I had reloaded. Aiming between the ears again it dropped into the long grass around the burrow. I now swung round to the third, but it had made a quick exit down a hole.

After another ten minutes, I picked my way carefully through the maze of burrows down to the target area and found the still warm bunnies, a buck and a pregnant doe.

The light was now going and I still had a trek back to the van, bagging up these two, thankful that I had cleaned and quartered the other pair, reducing the weight to carry. With rain forecast for most of next week, I’ll rest the warren before I hit it again.

CZ452 Varmint HMR begins post Covid catch up

May 6, 2021 at 10:26 am

Covid restrictions meant only a few visits to most of my shooting permissions last year, and now into May it is time to begin catching up on lost time. One of my first targets of the year has always been to clear a large warren of  rabbits, before the farmer puts out his cattle to graze. My time limit is the end of April, when he runs over the area with a small excavator filling in the burrows, but unfortunately his untimely death has meant all at the farm was on hold for months. His daughter has now taken over and called me in to do what I can to clear the rabbits, which have multiplied unchecked, digging fresh burrows deep enough to snap a cow, or horse’s leg.

Heading north toward the farm, I could see a massive black cloud creeping over the land in my direction, driven by a bitterly cold wind. I was quick to unload my gear, climbing a pair of gates before I could reach the field, the warren sitting in the middle surrounded by stinging nettles.

This is just a snapshot of the area, 50 yards by 300 yards long, with some interlinked burrows having collapsed leaving 3 foot deep craters. As I approached a rabbit emerged from the ground, ran ten yards and stopped when it saw me. It was about 60 yards away, an easy shot with the HMR normally, but a gusting side wind was blowing the rifle off target on the bi-pod sticks and even a body shot missed. I could see heavy rain advancing across the adjacent field in my direction and just made the lee side of an oak in time.

I stood and watched a rainbow glow in the sky, before it faded when the rain eased, using my time to scan the area with the scope. Rabbits don’t like rain, or cold winds and I had both in Spades. There was nothing about until the wind dropped and the low evening sun came out. A head appeared, then ducked down, another bounded like a gazelle from one burrow, then ran a 100 yards to disappear again.

I decided to invest my time on a raised area of burrows, with a clear view down the bottom half of the warren, having caught sight of movement among the nettles. Extending the legs on the HMR’s Harris bipod, I got myself comfortable, pulling up the hood of my jacket over my cap to keep out the still gusting wind plucking at my body. The movement was increasing, with flashes of fur, or twitching ears, but nothing worth a shot. Increasing my scope to 12 magnification, I saw that a rabbit had left the sanctuary of the nettles to feed on the nearby grass. The rifle was already in my shoulder, the cross hairs were on and the rabbit jumped clear of the ground as the .17 ” bullet struck home. One down. With the wind almost directly behind, the shot was spot on.

15 minutes later a pair ran out of cover close to the first about 130 yards away and I easily tracked them through the scope, but they would not stop trotting around. One of them turned back to cover. It was now or never, taking the shot as it turned toward me. Number two crumpled.

The other rabbit turned to join it’s friend, pausing to sniff the air, the impact causing it to jump clear of the ground. I waited for twenty minutes, but there were no more positive shots and I went down to collect my prizes, scattering another unseen pair as I concentrated on my footing, burrows being everywhere.

Walking back, another black cloud was beginning to block out the sun. I had intended staying until dusk, but more rain was in the air and I bagged up the rifle, making my way back to the van, only to see a sitter in my path, but maybe next time.

Th following day the rabbits were quartered to two loin backstraps and a pair of back legs each, ready to join the freezer as bunny burgers.

Chopped red onion, apricots and garlic were placed in a pan and lightly browned, then added to the minced rabbit, chorizo and pork lardons, liberally dusted with mixed herbs and a couple of tablespoons of Worcester Sauce. A couple of  slices of ground seeded brown bread with a beaten egg to bind and I was ready to fold it all together. The last job was to get out the burger press, laying out 14 on trays for overnight freezing.

The best part of rabbit pest control. Tasty food. Click on the Recipes page of this blog for more.

 

 

 

 

Rustic pigeon pie

December 4, 2020 at 1:31 pm

Having been gifted a brace of fresh wood pigeons, I knew what I wanted to do with them, make a pie. The meat is dark and rich in flavour, having the texture of beef when cooked, benefiting from the addition of a beef stock cube to complement the flavour. This pie is ideal for using up any vegetables in the kitchen and is ready for the oven in under an hour.

Not pretty , but very tasty.

Removing the breast meat

Removing the breast from the pigeon is quick and easy, only requiring a sharp knife, a bowl of water and kitchen towel. A bowl of water? Pigeon breast feathers are soft and sticky, the water being handy to dip your fingers and knife into, cleaning your fingers on the towel, while separating the meat from the breast bone. Stage 1, cut, or twist the wings off and lay on it’s back. Stage 2, pluck a few feathers from the crown of the breast to expose the skin. This is where the bowl of water comes in handy to unstick the feathers. The exposed skin is very soft and can be peeled away on either side, revealing the meat, while saving the mess of plucking the whole breast. Stage 3, take your knife and follow the line of the breast bone each side, allowing the bone to guide the blade, front and back, until each half is released and able to be lifted out. If doing this in the field, grass is a convenient cleaning cloth! The rest of the pigeon can be bagged and discarded.

The above ingredients is enough for two pies.

Ingredients

4 halves of pigeon breast

2 small potatoes – diced

1 carrot – diced

1 medium onion – chopped

2 sticks celery – chopped

4 mushrooms – peeled and chopped

100 grams pork lardons or fatty bacon

1 TBS of cooking oil

1 beef stock cube

1 TBS of flour

1 pack of ready made short crust pastry

Method

Tenderise the breasts. I use a steak mallet. This also flattens out the meat, allowing it to be diced into 20 mm cubes. Put to one side.

Put the diced potato and carrot into a small saucepan and par boil on a gentle heat. When easily pierced with a knife, remove from the heat and drain off into a cup, breaking up the stock cube and stirring in to make a stock.

While waiting for the diced vegetables to boil, using a large frying pan, add the oil and brown off the onions until transparent, add the celery along with the lardons, stirring until lightly browned. Being fat free, the pigeon will cook better in the pork fat. Now add the pigeon to the mix,  turning over and lightly browning the meat, not too much, or it will toughen. Now add the diced vegetables, the mushrooms and the stock, bringing to a boil, while stirring in the flour to thicken the stock.  Leave to cool.

In the past I made pastry the way mother used to, a pinch of salt, self raising flour and butter rubbed gently between the fingers in a bowl, until a crumbly mix was formed, then milk added sparingly, while working the dough into a dry ball. Cover and leave in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes. This helps the fat in the pastry to cool, for rolling. Works every time.

With a Tesco supermarket just around the corner however, it was convenient to buy some ready made short crust pastry, as I wanted to enjoy the fruits of my labour that evening for dinner, while the other was put in the freezer for another day.

 

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.

 

 

 

UK Government poised to give green light for fieldsports?

May 5, 2020 at 2:19 pm

This weekend the UK government is due to lay out it’s Road Map to easing the Covid-19 Lockdown. While concentrating on getting the population back to work and opening schools, it is expected that limited social activity, including sports, that naturally enjoy social distancing, such as pleasure angling and certain forms of shooting, will be permitted from the middle of May.

Citing several European countries such as Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Ireland, that did not ban fishing, with no measurable increase in transmission of Covid-19, the UK’s Angling Trust has submitted a 15 page consultative document to the Government on the benefits of angling. Apart from the social and mental well being benefits to anglers, the angling industry is worth £4 billion to the UK economy, which the Government would find hard to ignore, as it attempts to regenerate income to the Chancellor’s rapidly emptying coffers.

The Angling Trust expects an upsurge in interest in the sport, as did Holland with a 30% increase in permit sales during it’s Covid-19 restrictions. This will not be a case of carry on regardless. Fishing matches will remain banned, along with all other large gatherings, it being difficult to maintain social distancing at the draw and weigh in, while many matchmen share transport to and from venues. With one angler per vehicle, travel is likely to be limited to a radius local to an angler’s home, say 5 miles, which will also restrict fishing for many. For myself, both of my fly fishing rivers are over 10 miles away, as are several good lakes, which will mean missing the Mayfly hatch and the best of the early tench fishing, but beggars can’t be choosers.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has advised it’s members not to take part in any form of shooting during the Lockdown, apart from those involved in essential pest control to protect crops and livestock. Their advice is to obtain a letter from farmers and landowners requesting their presence, to avoid any difficulties if stopped by the authorities with guns in their vehicle. Again social distancing must be maintained, not difficult in a 100 acre field. For my own safety, I prefer to shoot alone, while all my permissions are for me only. BASC advise pest controllers to inform the local police of when and where they will be working, obtaining a reference number. This does not always work though, a few years ago, when working with a couple of ferreters in a local park before dawn, a dog walker reported us, resulting in a visit from the local constabulary, despite a reference number. I had my Firearms License and permission from the council with me and they were soon on their way.

As we come out of this pandemic, it is hoped that personal freedoms will return, while responsible sportsmen will continue keep within the rules, to prevent an upsurge in Covid-19 infections until a safe vaccine is proven.

 

 

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.