Who says you need brass cartridges to have a great day at the local range?
Pictured above is the Benjamin Legacy 1000 0.17 caliber air rifle. It's a fun little tool useful for dispatching country pests, and it has helped me with a bit of a possum problem I recently encountered (with the proper license, of course). All you need to shoot is an arm to cock the break-barrel spring, and a small box of lead pellets. It's subsonic and there's no powder or primer explosion, so it's reasonably quiet. I picked this air gun up almost exactly five years ago and have only shot it a handful of times, so I brought it to the range with me today this afternoon.
Next up is the Connecticut Valley Arms (CVA) Bobcat, a bottom-of-the-line imported percussion cap muzzleloader with a synthetic straight English-style stock. The Bobcat has a reputation for durability at the expense of good looks or pleasant handling, but it gets the job done. I like to shoot .50 caliber lead round ball ammunition with 80-100 grains of Pyrodex powder, and it's perfectly accurate for deer at medium-close range. I was given this particular rifle used as a gift, and I'm grateful for the free opportunity to expand my hunting season into black powder territory.
For those of you that know anything about quality axes, you may share my humor in photographing one of the cheapest Brazilian-manufactured black powder rifles ever made with a handsome handmade splitting axe by the Swedish company, Gränsfors Bruks! But the artistic potential was too much to pass up.
Make sure to keep your black powder firearms clean! They foul up badly even after a single shot, so take care of them if you want them to last. Following disassembly, the rear plug on the barrel is not removable, so it can be a trick to clean. The usual treatment is to soak it in soapy water. If I've only taken a few shots, I find standard solvents do the job just fine.
The first part to block up is the nipple, so I replaced the stock part with the CVA Perfect Nipple with a wider bore for more shots between maintenance. Other than that, the standard CVA Bobcat is good to go right out of the box for less than $100. The following picture illustrates the sidelock action on the Bobcat, with the upgraded nipple. The Perfect Nipple ordinarily has a shiny steel finish, but that is quickly obscured after a shot or two (until you clean it again).
Below is a target from today, shot from 20 yards. I can't say I'm proud to show these groups, but it demonstrates reasonable expectations for a casual rifle shooter like me. I got a few comments at the range from guys who had heard great things about this rifle, but I can't say I'm completely impressed yet. I may need to do a little more maintenance and fiddle with different pellets to optimize accuracy. For small game hunting I'd much rather rely on my .22LR rifle instead of my .17 air rifle, unless the intended range is under 20 yards and I'm really concerned about the noise.
As far as the muzzleloader's group, I'm definitely impressed. I'll admit it takes some getting used to when you're new to a percussion cap rifle, since the delay between primer ignition and the actual powder firing provides ample time for flinching. However, I found the stock iron sights to be surprisingly accurate (more accurate than me), after reading about how most shooters have to grind down the front sight due to it shooting high. I haven't seen that problem, and I'm looking forward to next fall for my first black powder deer season!
That's all for now!