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IHMSA News Feature Article
Published in The IHMSA News, the Official Publication of The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association
Published monthly except November/December - January/February
IHMSA on the web at http://www.ihmsa.org
 
Shooting The Daisy 747 Air Pistol
By Todd Spotti
 
     Some call it a diamond in the rough. I, and others, call it the Thompson Contender of air pistol silhouette. In other words, fair price, very capable, very robust. With a manufacturerís retail price of $140, the 747 has all the features and attributes needed to shoot perfect scores in this new IHMSA discipline of air pistol silhouette. This modestly priced air gun, which Iíve seen selling on the Internet for under $100 (http://www.dnrsports.com), definitely surprised me with its capabilities.

     The gun is primarily constructed of what appears to be black anodized aluminum alloy castings. On some air guns, these castings can be admittedly pretty rough. The Daisyís however are clean and well fitted. There is also some modest use of plastic as well, primarily the bolt, the sights, and the thumb rest grips. Beauty is definitely not one of the 747ís strong points. What is its strong point is its ability to shoot accurately as well as its reliability due to the simplicity of its design and construction.

     With its 10.6" barrel and 13.5" overall length, the gun is vaguely similar in configuration to the XL silhouette pistols made by Jim Rockís RPM company. The weight of the gun (around 2.5 pounds) is fairly light but isnít that far off from a standard silhouette pistol either. Consequently, holding the gun in the Creedmoor position feels very natural and comfortable.

     While the exterior of the gun is somewhat plain, thereís no doubt that inside there beats the heart of a champion, and thatís its Lothar Walther barrel.

     First, we have to clear up a common misconception i.e. that the barrel is made by the same people that make Walther firearms. The Lothar Walther Company is a totally different business. Carl Walther founded that other company. Lothar Walther was the youngest son of Carl. Lothar founded his own barrel making company long after his fatherís company was well established. The two firms are totally independent of each other. The Lothar Walther company is a very large concern (much larger than any barrel maker in the U.S.) and only makes precision barrels for all types of firearms, including competition air guns.

     As mentioned previously, the barrel 10.6 inches long. It is also button rifled with 12 grooves. The right hand twist is one turn in 17.7 inches, which is ideal for standard 7.7 grain pellets being propelled at air pistol velocities. One very nice feature of this barrel is that it features a choked muzzle. The smaller muzzle diameter insures that the pellet is fully supported around its entire circumference when it exits and that in turn equates to consistent accuracy.

     Another valuable feature of the 747 is the fact that it has an adjustable trigger - a rare capability in air guns in this price range. Trigger pull can be easily changed from 1 to 4.5 pounds by simply turning a small screw located on the front of the grip frame. I found the trigger to be perfectly useful just as it came from the factory and so didnít change anything.

     The configuration of the metal trigger is nice and wide, and made the trigger pull feel much less than it really was by distributing finger pressure across a broad area. The factory calls it a single stage trigger, but I found it to be very similar in operation to a two stage. Thereís about a quarter inch of lightly spring loaded "give" in the trigger until you hit a stop. Applying additional force after you hit the stop will trip the sear. At that point, I found the trigger to be very clean and crisp with no creep or slop what so ever. This is actually a very nice, usable trigger. Another very pleasant surprise.

     The one thing that probably surprised me the most was how well the plastic sights worked. To be honest, I really didnít expect much from them. The rear sight is fully adjustable for both windage and elevation. I quickly found that there are no clicks on the rear sight. However, there are 8 "hash" marks in a starburst pattern around the elevation screw. To change an elevation setting, I simply turned the screw one way or the other so the screwdriver slot lined up with the appropriate hash mark. The same was true of the windage screw. I found the sights to be very consistent and have experienced absolutely no problems going from one sight setting to another.

     I also found the configuration of the front and rear sights to be well matched with each other. The front sight measures approximately .188" high and is .146" wide at the top and .166 at the base. The slot on the rear sightís blade is approximately .110" wide. Consequently, I found the sight picture to be just about ideal for my aging eyes i.e. a nice wide front post with generous light bars on both sides. To put icing on the cake, the overall sight radius between the front and rear was a very lengthy 12.75 inches. In spite of their modest construction, these sights work amazingly well.

     The 747 is a single pump side lever design. If youíre planning to get your kids involved in air pistol silhouette, pump force is something that you have to seriously take under consideration. Some children just donít have the strength to work the pump on some guns. The Daisy requires 17 pounds of force. Consequently, an 11 or 12 year old boy should be able to work the Daisyís pump without difficulty. Younger kids might have problems. However, before you buy an air pistol for your kids, have them try pumping a friendís gun first to see if they can handle it.

     Let me also offer a word of general advice when pumping any pneumatic gun. Be very consistent in your procedure. Variations in stroke will result in different amounts of air going into the reservoir and that translates into velocity variations and decreased accuracy.

     One limitation I found on the 747 was that the loading gate was somewhat restrictive in size i.e. only .75" long. A plastic spike that seats the pellet into the chamber when the bolt is closed takes up half of that space. The result is that thereís only the barest minimum of space available to properly place your pellets into the gunís receiver. For a fumble finger like myself, this is somewhat of a disadvantage. Iím sure this can be overcome with some practice, but a larger loading gate would definitely help.

PELLET

MUZZLE WEIGHT GROUP

RWS Super Dome

370 fps

8.4 gr

.215"

RWS Meisterklugen

384 fps 7.7-7.9 gr. .353"

H&N Finale Match High Speed

393 fps 7.4 gr. .431"

Beeman H&N Match

385 fps 7.5-7.6 gr. .539"

Daisy Premium WC

386 fps 7.6-7.8 gr. .255"

Crossman Premier Dome Heavy

331 fps 10.4-10.6 gr. .236"

Crosman Premier Dome Std

365 fps 7.9-8.0 gr. .319"

Gamo Match WC

387 fps 7.7-7.8 gr. .273"

Gamo Master Point

375 fps 8.0 gr .438"

     While weíre on the subject of loading, let me also say I initially found the plastic bolt to be sticky in operation, both when opening,  and particularly when closing. I strongly suspect that a plastic burr or projection was getting in the way. However, after around 100 cycles, the operation smoothed out and was no longer a problem.

     Muzzle velocity of the gun is rated by the factory at 360 fps, which is on the low end for competition pistols, which quite often will shoot in the 400 to 425 fps range. When chronographing my gun in the back yard, I found its muzzle velocity to be somewhat higher than the factory rating. As you can see in the accompanying table, muzzle velocity with a wide variety of pellets was typically from 10 to 30 fps faster - not that far off from other more expensive guns with some pellets. In any case, you donít have to worry about the gunís ability to take down the little rams at 18 yards/meters. Thereís plenty of push left at that distance, even with flat head pellets.

     Before shooting your new 747 or any other newly purchased air pistol, you need to get all the oil and packing grease out of the barrel. Oil and accurate shooting donít mix. Use any good degreaser for the job. I use Shooterís Choice Scrub Out III. Degreaser made exclusively for air guns is sold by Beeman.

     Small diameter cleaning rods are available for air guns, but to tell the truth, I prefer not to use them because Iím afraid improper use could damage the fragile rifling in the barrels. When cleaning my barrels for the first time, I usually cut a small patch and tie it to a length of fishing line. I then soak the patch in degreaser and then pull the patch through the bore from the breech end. Do not use regular bore cleaner in your airgun as it contains oils. Keep running wet patches through the barrel until they come out clean.

     Oil will also be present in the air reservoir and will be blown into the barrel with every shot. Consequently, there will be a break in period before all the oil is blown out of the system and the gun can start shooting its very best groups. This break in period varies with the amount of oil present in the system, but can be as much as 1000 shots or as little as 100 shots. Once a barrel has been broken in, just run a clean patch through every 100 shots or so to keep it clean and free of lead dust to maintain the best accuracy.

     The 747 is like all other air guns in that itís particular about the kind of ammunition it prefers. Consequently, youíll have to experiment with a variety of pellets to see which works best in your gun. Most pellet makers offer a variety pack of different pellets that you can play around with at modest cost. Some catalog retailers also offer sample packs of pellets from several manufacturers for this purpose. However, if youíre not able to experiment for whatever reason, just buy the best quality you can afford. Even high end imported pellets are under $10 for a tin of 250. Thatís inexpensive shooting at its best.

     As you can see in the table below, this particular 747 liked the RWS Super Domes the very best, shooting well under a quarter inch at 18 meters. Close on its heels was the Crossman Premier 10.5 grain dome pellets followed by the Daisy Premium wadcutters. Gamo Match pellets also acquitted themselves well. Itís interesting to note that Gamo is a Spanish company and the fact that the Daisy pellets are also made in Spain. A close examination of the two pellets under magnification showed that theyíre almost identical to each other in every respect. Makes me wonder if the Daisy pellets are made by Gamo. Anyway, both shot very well in the 747.

     On another curious note, I was somewhat surprised that the heavy Crossman pellets did better in my accuracy evaluation than standard weight Crossman pellets. I would have bet money that the barrelís rifling twist wouldnít be a good match for a 10.5 grain pellet. I would have lost.

     Itís also interesting that 2 of the 3 top pellets were dome heads rather than wadcutters. It was also gratifying to discover that all of the top three pellets fell in the low to middle price range. To tell the truth, I expected more from the expensive pellets like the H&Nís, but it just didnít happen. Just like shooting the 22 rimfire, you have to experiment to see what the gun likes and then stick with that. If you find out you donít have to spend a lot of money to get gold plated groups, itís like icing on the cake.

     Youíll also note in the table that when I weighed out five pellets randomly selected from each brand, it resulted in some brands having all five weigh exactly the same. Others showed a range in weight. Generally speaking, itís better if all the pellets are identical in weight, especially when considering that the total weight of the pellet is so tiny to begin with. If a pellet brand that has no variation in weight is not shooting well in a particular gun, itís for other reasons, such as the head or skirt diameter not being a good match in relation with the barrelís bore diameter.

     Shooting the Daisy out in the back yard was an extremely pleasant experience. No noise, no recoil, and deadly accuracy. When shooting around the house, be absolutely sure to use a pellet trap or appropriate backstop to insure that the pellets donít go somewhere theyíre not supposed to go. According to the manufacturers, a pellet can travel over 200 yards, so we have to be very careful about these things. A cardboard box filled with newspapers, magazines, or better yet, old telephone books makes a very effective backstop. Spent pellets can be recycled in your bullet casting pot. Always be sure to wash your hands after handling the lead pellets.

     The velocity information in the table below was obtained using my very dependable and accurate Oehler 35P chronograph. As far as the accuracy data is concerned, I was very fortunate in two respects. First of all, the grip design of the 747 allowed me to cobble together a crude machine rest that made getting precise group measurements very easy. Consequently, I took advantage of that situation and so all accuracy measurements were made at 18 meters, the ram distance for air pistol silhouette. Most accuracy info you normally see in other publications is at 10 meters only.

     Just as important, I was able to do the accuracy evaluation indoors where the measurements would not be affected by the wind. By being able to eliminate the variables that could have been introduced by the outdoor environment, I was able to insure that the accuracy measurements were as precise as I could make them. Many thanks to my good friend Professor Aldo Casanova, a world recognized sculptor and fellow gun enthusiast, for letting me use his studio for my experiments.

     In summary, I found the Daisy to be extremely well suited for IHMSA air pistol silhouette. Itís very, very accurate, the sights and trigger are very functional and work well, it has a robust design, and the price is right. There are a lot of good things here, and I wonít hesitate to recommend this extremely likable gun to either the beginner or even the seasoned veteran.

Good luck and good shooting, Todd

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Warning: All technical data mentioned, especially handloading, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article or on this web site and over which IHMSA, The Los Angeles Silhouette Club (LASC), this web site or the author has no control. The above has no control over the condition of your firearms or your methods, components, tools, techniques or circumstances and disclaims all and any responsibility for any person using any data mentioned. Always consult recognized reloading manuals.