It was range day yesterday with my Hatsan AT 44 QE .22 caliber. I was pretty excited to get out and see how it was going to perform. The first thing I tested was DB levels in a wide open area as compared to an original AT44 .22 cal. The standard AT44 was tipping the DB meter around 97 to 103 DB while the new QE was coming in around 87 to 92 DB. There were a lot of variables that accounted for the variances in the readings. The first was the position of the DB meter based on angle and distance. The second was based on which pellet was used. Heavier pellets registered lower on both models. In the end, it’s safe to say that the noise reduction between the standard AT44 and the new Quiet Energy AT44 is easily 35% to 50% depending on caliber and pellet choice.
Now on to the accuracy.. or the lack of it?
My experiences with the previous AT44 QEs (ones that werent damaged in shipping) that I setup and tested were phenomenal. Mount the scope, feed it pellets and HPA, and then pound the 10 ring. It was all very, very easy. So, I went to the range with the same expectations. What I found was that things were not going to be nearly as easy as they had been previously.
I setup at 25 yards and fired my tried and true 15.89 Grain JSB pellets down range. What I got frankly shocked me. I was hitting all over the place. This was just not right.
Thinking that maybe I was shooting just a bit too hot, I switched over to the 18.13 grain JSB heavies and the groups improved dramatically, but were still not was I was used to from my previous guns.
I’ve experienced times where the integrated suppressor components in other airguns were slightly out of alignment. This can cause all kinds of problems with accuracy, so I removed the internals and shot another group with the 18.13 JSB. First of all, you really hear the noise difference when you do this, but what was more important, was that the group dropped to something I was far more accustomed to seeing, basically 1 ragged hole.
To test the theory I reinstalled the suppressor internals and shot another 5 shot test group. This was nearly identical to the original group shot so I figured that it was time to go back to the shop and see what was going on.
Guess I should have cleaned the barrel first?
The first thing I did when I got back was to carefully remove the suppressor components again, paying close attention to what goes where as some of them are different. (ORDER MATTERS!) Next I took my .177 rod fitted with a .22 adapter and nylon brush and started passing that down the barrel from the muzzle. Cleaning the Hatsan PCP has always been a challenge. You can remove the barrel but then you run the risk of damaging the delicate barrel o-rings. If you go from the muzzle you have to be extra careful not to damage the crown.
After a few passes with the nylon brush I ran a patch down the bore using the nylon brush to grip it. This works really well and adds pressure to the bore to help drive out any stubborn gunk in the barrel. That came out really dirty so I used some MP-5 oil on my next few patches which came out completely filthy. It took some time but eventually I switched back to dry patches and got them coming out pretty clean.
Next I turned my attention to the aluminum baffles and noticed what look like pellet marks, possibly from pellets catching as they passed through the suppressor. This would certainly account for the issues I was having. But, was this caused by misalignment or a really dirty barrel causing unstable pellet flight. There was only one way to really tell, so I thoroughly cleaned the baffles and carefully reassembled the suppressor.
I love it when a plan comes together…
I can stretch things to about 23 yards here at my house. It was too late to go back to the desert so I would have to make do here. The results were amazing. The best group I got while shooting out in the desert with the suppressor components removed was .259″ CTC, the best with the suppressor components installed was .56″ CTC.
Now, with everything cleaned, that has shrunk to .121″ CTC with the suppressor reinstalled and working properly. Granted I’m shooting a couple of yards closer, but .121″ vs .56″ has nothing to do with 6′ and everything to do with a properly cleaned airgun.
***One very important point of note***
I want to make sure that everyone realizes that what I’ve experienced may very well be the exception rather than the norm. All it took was some time and patience to clean the bore and the suppressor components to correct the situation. But, don’t immediately start taking your gun apart before you’ve even given it a chance to shoot right. You may find that you actually create a problem that you would have never had. Don’t “jump the gun” and simply assume that it’s required. This is why I ALWAYS test a gun “AS IS” first, and then start making adjustments as needs may arise.
More setup and testing still to come…
Now that I know the rifle is accurate, it’s time to dial in the velocity and find the best pellet. Seems that our AT44 QE has not wanted to follow traditional conventions, so we’ll have to start from the basics and not cut any corners. This way, we’ll have the best possible setup for going up against The Benjamin Marauder. Keep watching for more articles as we continue to look at the new Hatsan AT44 Quiet Energy Vs the new Synthetic Benjamin Marauder.