Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 with Competition Sights
Well, I know it has been a bit since my last review, but between the weather, being sick, oh yeah… did I mention the weather! South Carolina has basically been in a drought, until I needed to write about this rifle. Anyway, enough of my complaining, let’s get to the next review.
A while back I was thinking about other products that may be worth taking a look at. I know I like the magnum .22 springers and other hard hitting rifles, but they are not everyone’s cup of tea. So I contacted Crosman and Daisy about getting some lower velocity sample products suitable for indoor or neighborhood backyard shooting. The first rifle we are going to take a look at is Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953.
The PowerLine® TargetPro 953 is a single stroke pneumatic rifle, that on paper, boasts up to 560 FPS. Daisy’s site says that it is great for paper targets, beginning competitive shooting, and even has its uses in the woods. We’ll see about all of this as we get through the review.
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 left side
The PowerLine® TargetPro 953 is manufactured from composite and metal parts and has a precision 1:15 high-grade steel rifle barrel. The overall fit and finish of this rifle is quite nice and it is light enough and cocks easy enough for just about any age group, 12 and up with proper supervision.
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 right side
The rifle feels very solid and has just the right weight and balance for my taste. I believe the front weight on the rifle actually plays a roll in this and is not just there for show. The grip is very different from most rifles in that it is nearly perpendicular to the line of the rifle. Most grips are angled at least a little. While this was different, it felt very natural and may have even helped with trigger control. I’ve tested one other CO2 competition rifle and the stock had the same sort of grip angle. There must be a reason, I just don’t know what it is! (I’ll try and find out)
There are many different versions of the PowerLine® TargetPro 953. You can get the bare rifle without sights, tru-glo sights, or the precision Diopter competition sights. The rifle has the standard groves on the receiver so that you can mount any 3/8” or 11mm air rifle scope. Our test model came with both tru-glo sights and the competition sights (Thanks Daisy!). For this first article, I’m only using the competition sights.
The front sight is a globe site that allows for interchangeable front sight inserts. The rear site mounts directly on the dovetail and is a Diopter peep sight with fine micro-click adjustments for windage and elevation. I’ve tested a few rifles now that use the Diopter sight system, and I’m starting to get used to it. The front sight is a circle rather than a post, which I found odd until I started shooting at my Gamo targets. The black circle is perfectly lined up inside the circle of the front sight at 10 yards. This made sighting and shooting the 953 super simple. If you wanted to shoot other targets besides paper, I’d suggest using the tru-glo sights or getting a different insert for the front sight, as the “circle sight” consumes too much of the overall sight picture for my taste. Anyway, for paper targets, which is all I am planning to shoot, the sights are perfect.
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 front sight
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 rear sight
As I mentioned above, the PowerLine® TargetPro 953 is a single stroke pneumatic, which means that you have to cock the rifle each time you want to fire a pellet. To load a pellet, you simple pull back the bolt and load a pellet into the rubber valley and close the bolt. The pin on the front of the bolt will easily align the pellet and send it into the breach. The 953 does come with a 5 shot “indexing” clip which is supposed to automatically advance to the next pellet each time you pull back the bolt. The included “clip” did not work past pellet #3 and the pellets wanted to fall out while waiting in line, so I just decided to use the one-at-a-time insert.
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 with cocking arm open
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 with bolt back waiting for a pellet
Wrapping up the basic look and function, we turn to the trigger and safety. The trigger is plastic with ridges, which gives it a “non-slip” feel. The safety is a manual cross bolt safety, which can easily be applied and released as necessary. Overall this is a very nice looking and feeling rifle. Now, how does it perform? We’ll get to that right now.
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 trigger and safety
Before I start throwing numbers out, let’s look at the intended use for this rifle. Its main purpose is to be a beginning competitive shooting training rifle. It is not meant to hunt squirrels, possums, or rabbits. Although Daisy claims a max 560 FPS on their site, our rifle barely shot over 400 FPS throughout the entire test. In fact, when you look at the target, you’ll see that even at 10 yards it could not cut clean circles in my Gamo target cards. The only thing that might have affected the performance is the weather. It has been cold. In fact the shooting session for this report took place at just over 40 degrees. I’m not sure if that makes a difference in a single pump air rifle or not, but I wanted to mention it. Once the weather warms up, I’m going to shoot some more. If things change, I’ll be sure to let everyone know.
While the velocity was disappointing, at least to me, the accuracy was astounding from day one. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s talk about how the gun fires, then we’ll get to the accuracy. Firing the 953 is a dream. Because it is a pneumatic rifle, there is no recoil to speak of. The trigger is light and crisp, what you’d expect in a target gun. There is very little travel, no creeping, and it breaks just right every time. Having a light predictable trigger is a real must in a target gun, no matter what the price tag. The one technique I did not expect to need is patience. Let me explain. I’m used to shooting rifles that send the pellet out at 800+ FPS. By the time I’m done pulling the trigger, the lead is hitting the target and I’m getting ready for my next shot. Many times I found myself pulling the rifle off the rest getting ready to load the next pellet just to notice that I’d moved too quickly and ruined the shot. Once I learned to let each shot fully play out by pausing after pulling the trigger and allowing the pellet to compete its trip to the target, the 953 shot 10s all day long. I believe this is called follow through, and as much as I shoot springers, I should be doing this anyway!
Ok, so we’ve got the technique down, now we have to find the right pellet. Finding the right pellet was easy. Just about any wadcutter pellet shot well in the 953. In fact it was hard to find a pellet that did not shoot reasonably well in the 953. Obviously there were those that shot better than others but the best, however, was surprising, at least to me. The Gamo Match wadcutter topped the list as my pellet of choice. It shot better than anything else I had to shoot including Crosman Premier Wadcutters, Daisy Avanti Pellets, RWS Hobby Pellets, and many others. The velocity was not great, but it was one of the fastest I was able to post with the 953.
Gamo Match Wadcutter
High – 408, Low – 381, Average – 394, Difference – 27
Now on to accuracy, as I mentioned above, from day one the 953 was accurate. 3/8” groups shot from a rest with open sights were the norm. Given that my eyesight is not great, that says a lot for this little rifle. The combination of no recoil, decent trigger, and wonderful sights come together to make one accurate shooting rifle. I’d like to take all the credit for my shooting skills, but I’d be really misleading you all. The 953 is very easy to shoot. I had the opportunity to teach a friend of mine, who had never shot anything, how to shoot using the 953. Within about an hour, he was shooting 1/5” groups and is now hooked on shooting air guns.
Daisy’s PowerLine® TargetPro 953 – accuracy test from 10 yards with competition sights
To wrap this up, at $118 with standard sights and just a bit more for the competition sights, the 953 definitely lives up to 90% of what I expected. I was hoping for more velocity and maybe with warmer weather, I might get it. This really is the perfect choice if you want to encourage your youngster to consider competitive shooting. All the pieces of the puzzle are there, it will just take practice. One thing I forgot to mention. The 953 is very quiet. I can’t imagine it ever generating any complaint calls no matter how close your neighbors live. If you like shooting indoors or if you want to really hone your 10 meter shooting skills on the cheap, defiantly look at the PowerLine® TargetPro 953.