Monthly Archives: September 2007
We are finally going to see how the BAM B50 performs. The first time you pull the trigger you will notice two things. One, this rifle is very loud. Much louder than a standard spring gun. And two, there is NO recoil. It shoots so steady that I could watch pellets travelling over 800 FPS fly and hit their target. The Contender 89 shoots at 800 FPS, but I can’t follow the pellet, because I can’t recover from the recoil in time.
Shooting the B50 takes no effort. Accurate shooting is all on you, once you’ve got the right pellet and have your scope set. In regard to finding the right pellet, it took several shooting sessions to finally come up with the right pellet and I had nearly given up, but we’ll get to that in a minute. I found out a lot about this rifle during all the time I was shooting. For example, I got about 40 consistent shots per fill. That is a lot more than I expected. Next, and more interesting, after a fresh fill, the velocity would drop to about 750 FPS for about 10 shots and then climb back to the high 800s. If I let it sit for a while after filling, it would shoot in the 800s right off the bat. I don’t know enough about the mechanism to explain this phenomenon, I’m just reporting what I found.
The BAM B50 is one hard hitting little rifle. The fact that it has little or no recoil makes it a great hunting gun. I’ve never been more accurate off the shoulder. Anything within 30 yards was toast with 1 shot. The fact that I got 40+ shots over 800 FPS means that hunting with the B50 would be real fun. Unlike a spring gun that you should only cock and load when ready to fire, you can leave the B50 loaded and ready. (Leaving a spring air rifle cocked for long periods of time can wear out the spring prematurely.) Cocking and loading the follow up shot can be done quickly once you get the hang of it.
As mentioned above, finding the right pellet proved difficult. I tried everything in my bag of tricks to get some really good groups. Even my RWS Super pellets were coming up duds! I would get two shots right on top of each other and then the third would wonder off 2 inches in any direction. Man was this frustrating. I could drill a 1/8 dot at 25 yards 3 times and then shot 4 and 5 would be in another county in different directions!
Just about the time I was ready to call it quits, I remembered something I read over at B.B.’s blog. Heavier is sometimes better. In this case it is really true. I was trying pellets that kept me in the high 800s for FPS but what I really needed was something really heavy that can handle the power this gun produces. I started with the Logun Penetrators in 16.0 gn first. There was an immediate improvement. I got nervous on shots 3, 4, and 5 expecting a repeat of my previous attempts, but they all fell right in the same hole. I seldom ever use these pellets because I can’t find them anywhere, any more. Now that I know heavy is better, I grabbed the heaviest I had on hand, my Beeman Kodiak extra heavy 21.10 gn .22 pellets. I don’t normally shoot these because they require so much from the rifle, but the B50 could drive them home EVERY time. There was a real difference in sound when those Kodiaks hit the pellet trap! Better yet, while the Logun pellets may be hard to find, the Kodiaks are fairly easy to get your hands on. We had our winner. Take a look at the following velocity table and groups.
Logun Penetrators 16.0 GN
High – 849, Low – 840, Average – 844, Difference – 9
Beeman Kodiak 21.1 GN.
High – 761, Low – 759, Average – 759, Difference – 2
(the chronograph registered 3 identical shots at 759 FPS in this group!)
Typical 20 Yard grouping before using heavy pellets. Not very impressive!
First group shot with the Logun Penetrators at 20 yards. I did not need to shoot a second group!
And the winner is…. Beeman Kodiak 21.1 GN. Pellets from 20 yards. Again, this was the first group shot with the Kodiaks, no need to shoot a second.
As you can see all of my groups were shooting a bit to the right. After a few hundred pellets and not getting any good groups, I was just thrilled to see the Loguns and the Beemans do so well. I also have very few of both pellets and did not want to waste them adjusting the scope.
In summary, the BAM B50 is quite a gun. I’m not sure that I’d run out and buy one unless I was ready to invest in the gear needed to fill it regularly. If I already had the stuff to fill PCP Rifles and had a source to fill my tanks, then that would be another story. The cost of the BAM B50 is definitely lower than just about any other PCP rifle on the market. There are a couple of reasons for this. The rifle’s cocking and loading mechanism is clunky and difficult to use with a scope on board. Also, and more importantly, I’d like to see an onboard pressure gauge and velocity adjustment wheel like on most other PCP rifles. However, rifles with these features can start at $600 and $800 and go way up from there, so maybe the B50 is just fine the way it is. Bottom line, if you know that PCP is where you are headed, then the B50 is a good option. Anything you get to service this rifle will most likely be transferrable to your next one and so on. By the way, I filled this rifle about 12 times and the scuba tank still barely needs to be cracked to fill the rifle. No telling how long you can go between filling that thing up!
So far the B50 is the hardest hitting, most accurate rifle I’ve tested.. but we may have something in the works even faster… The B40 in .177 shot over 1150 FPS this morning. I’ll have a complete review for you soon so. Stay Tuned!
Ok, so we’ve got the stuff needed to fill our new rifle. Let’s take a closer look at the B50. The B50 is a VERY nicely made rifle. The stock is well formed and the steel is evenly blued. While it is sort of heavy, it is not that bad for a rifle of this size. It pulls very comfortably to the shoulder and has a great trigger, a trait I’ve grown accustomed to in these BAM Rifles.
BAM B50 Left Side
BAM B50 Right Side
BAM B50 Trigger assembly
The rifle has a dovetail mount for attaching your favorite scope. You’ll need a scope because this rifle does not have any open sights. You’ll want to use a two piece mount for this rifle as a single piece mount will most likely block some of the loading port. Also, all I had was a set of low profile mounts. This did not work all that well at first, but I did get used to it. You’ll be much better off with a high profile set of scope mounts. The rifle does not have a scope stop, which is not a problem, because there is little or no recoil.
BAM B50 with Leapers Scope Mounted. Notice how close it sits to the rifle.
Loading the B50 can be a real challenge. First of all the loading lever can be hard to pull. Secondly, trying to load a pellet into the breach with the scope in the way took some talent. I managed to work out a way to cock and load the rifle quickly, but not without some frustration. The safety is a rocker style, manual safety. I go back and forth with the idea of an automatic safety. I like the fact this is manual, but take extra care because the trigger is very light. The next set of photos will show more of the cocking lever and loading details.
BAM B50 Loading Lever and Safety
BAM B50 Loading Lever Open and Safety
BAM B50 Pellet Loading Port
The rest of the rifle is fairly straight forward. The only other unique feature is the loading port on the air chamber. The quick fill adapter connects to the air chamber. When filling the rifle it is very important to remember not to overfill the rifle beyond 3000 PSI. Doing so will damage the rifle and could cause serious bodily harm. DON’T TAKE CHANCES!!! Overfilling will NOT yield greater velocity.
BAM B50 Air Chamber Loading Port
Connected and ready to fill
You only need to barely crack the valve on the tank to fill the rifle.
It fills VERY quickly so BE CAREFUL!!
So we’ve taken a look at what we need to fill the rifle. We’ve looked at the rifle and mounted our scope. The only thing next is to see how it shoots! Part 3 coming up!
Boy, I hope MasterCard has a sense of humor… here goes: New Rifle and Scope $420, Trip to Dive shop to get what you need to fill and shoot the rifle $1600, Sending 5 pellets screaming through the same hole.. Priceless
I’m very excited to talk to you all about the BAM B50 PCP (Pre-Charged Pneumatic) air rifle. This rifle is VERY different than anything we’ve looked at so far. I want to take the time to thank www.airgundepot.com for providing this sample for us to review. This is our final item from the original set of Xisico products we reviewed a while back.. The BAM B50 has a reservoir under the barrel that holds 3000psi of pressurized air. (NOT O2!) Unlike other rifles, this rifle requires a means to fill and refill the reservoir. Having never had the chance to work with a PCP air rifle, this was very exciting for me.
BAM B50 PCP Rifle. Notice the large air reservoir under the barrel.
The first thing that I learned was that the cost of the rifle and scope was just the beginning. By far the easiest way to fill these rifles is with a scuba tank. You can get a hand pump but it takes 300 to 400 strokes to fill. You can, also, get a table top high pressure compressor, but at $1800, that seems a bit much. So we are back to the scuba setup.
The gun ships with only a quick fill adapter. So the rest of the puzzle they leave up to you to figure out. I’m very fortunate to have an associate who is a Diving Instructor in South Carolina. Sergio Smith, owner of International Diving Institute, gave me an education about high pressure air and what it takes to handle it safely. The first thing I learned is that not every dive shop will be so accommodating. You may need to really plead your case to even get a tank filled, or get your dive certification. Some paint ball supply facilities may be another source to get your tanks filled, but I’m jumping ahead.
We needed to build something that would connect the tank to the rifle’s quick fill adapter. We had our first snag here. The extension that BAM supplied with the gun did not match anything Sergio had in his shop so we took that off and just used the quick fill part. Take a look at the photo below and you’ll see what I mean.
The little brass part is what we had to take off their adapter to build the fill rig
From right to left: quick fill adapter, fitting, “T” adapter, 10k PSI liquid filled gauge, fitting, high pressure hose… continued below
Still following right to left: high pressure hose, fitting, pressure release valve, DIN fill connector
This is the complete rig that Sergio built for me.
The rest of my education about high pressure equipment came next. This stuff is expensive! When it comes to gear that can handle 3000 PSI, you better know what you are doing or know someone who does. You can get hurt very easily if you try and cut corners. Here is what this would have cost if I walked in his shop and needed it right then and there.
- Quick Fill Adapter – Included with rifle
- Fitting – $30
- Tungsten Steal “T” adapter – $30
- High Pressure 10k PSI Liquid Filled Gauge – $600
- Fitting – $30
- High Pressure Hose – $300
- Fitting – $30
- Pressure Release Valve – $100
- DIN Fill Adapter – $120
- GRAND TOTAL: $1240
$1240 and we haven’t even talked about a tank yet! When it comes to tanks, you have a lot of choices. Sergio let me borrow a large tank for this review. The purchase cost of the tank…. $400.
Here is the whole system ready to charge.
Close-up of the connector, gauge, and air reservoir.
Now to put all of this into perspective. I took what Sergio had on hand to make this system. If he had time to place some orders, he could make a fill hose with gauge for about $200 to $250. You will still need to pick a tank which can range from $150 to $400, or more if you want a carbon fiber tank. It is feasible to get a fill hose and tank for about $350 to $400. While that seems like a lot of money to spend, you may change your mind once you read the next articles where I’ll talk about how this rifle handles and shoots. One last note, buying used scuba gear is NOT recommended. You are LITERALLY taking your life in your hands when dealing with this stuff. Saving money vs. serious injury is just NOT worth the risk. Also, once you have the basics, you’ll be able to fill all the other PCP guns you’re going to buy.. take my word for it… once you have one, you’ll be hooked! Stay Tuned!