“You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away, know when to run”
This piece of advice given in Kenny Rogers hit song The Gambler can apply to many situations in life. Surprisingly, it can even apply to airguns. A few weeks ago I posted about the new air rifle I had purchased. Anticipation and optimism turned into frustration and dismay as I tried not only to sight in the scope but just get a decent grouping of pellets. At times my best grouping at about 20 yards could best be described as 8½ by 11. Hey, at least I stayed on the paper.
I cleaned the barrel, tightened every screw I could find to tighten, tried several different pellets and tried a few other things that seasoned airgun shooters recommend to get a gun to shoot its best, all to no avail. I finally came to the conclusion that I was either going to have to soak some money into it or return it and try something else. I learned after I made my initial purchase that Gamo’s triggers are known for being just shy of terrible but can be replaced with a good after-market trigger for about $35. Having the gun tuned by a pro airgun tuner was another option, of course that would involve even more money. After doing some research on my favorite airgun forum I finally came to the conclusion that it was time to fold ‘em and to RUN…straight to the Academy Sports store to return that sucker. Somehow it didn’t come as much of a surprise that when I returned the gun the girl at the customer service desk commented that “We’ve had lot of these returned lately.” Hmmmmm.
Now that I was once again without an airgun, there was only one thing to do…more research to see what might be available at about the same price point as the Gamo. It didn’t take long to find out that Ruger’s AirHawk, BlackHawk and BlackHawk Elite were good options. Most forum comments described them as good shooters right out of the box with minimal need for tweaks. I was set to order the AirHawk model online when I happened to be in WallyWorld in Blairsville, Georgia and noticed a BlackHawk Elite on the shelf.
Based on the forum comments, both the AirHawk and Blackhawk Elite seemed to have a slight edge over the standard models with respect to accuracy. With that in mind I grabbed one up and headed for the checkout line.
Like most kids with a new toy, I was anxious to try mine out. One problem…it was Friday night – the first night of a 4-night trip up to Young Harris College and I was staying on-campus. Not too many shooting opportunities there. It wasn’t easy but I resisted the urge to give it a try and waited until I got home Tuesday evening. It was probably a good thing I did too since the first 6 or 8 shots sounded more like a .22 rifle instead of an airgun and somebody probably would have freaked.
Once home I gave the barrel a good cleaning to get the factory and shipping gunk out, wiped the metal parts down with an oil cloth and tightened the bolts in the stock then took a few shots at my target board to get a feel for the gun and to see if the trigger was better than the Gamo…and it was better, much better. Once satisfied I mounted the scope that came with it.
Despite it being about dark outside I set up a target to give it a try. Despite the fact I could barely see the crosshairs against the target and I was simply leaning against our basement doorframe for a rest, it shot a respectable 5-shot group at 20 yards practically right out of the box.
Unfortunately I had to wait a few days to begin to sight in the scope from a bench (if you can call a folding table with a Rubbermaid container and four sand bags on top a ‘bench’) but I finally got there. Typically it takes a few hundred shots to ‘break in’ an airgun and for it to begin to shoot fairly tight groups. Needless to say I was thrilled when the Ruger began to tighten up after less than a hundred shots.
Once I can build a proper shooting bench to have a more stable rest, add a better scope and mounts and try several different types of pellets to figure out what kind this gun likes best, I don’t see any reason that I shouldn’t be shooting dime-sized groups off the bench at 30 yards or so.
I’m one happy camper here.
BTW folks, I use the word ‘toy’ only as a figure of speech here. Airguns like this are not toys by any means. They may not burn gunpowder but they can still be dangerous and even deadly if mishandled.