Wednesday was a beautiful day this week. The wind was under 20 mph for a change and the local range was open to the public from 8AM until Noon. While I’m a member and have the combination to the gate, I like to go during “open to the public” times. You never know who you may run into that’s never had the chance to shoot a high powered airgun.
Trust your gut…
I had crony tested our Hatsan 85 Vortex Sniper .22 at the shop and I was getting a solid 762 FPS with the 13.12 Grain Vortex Express pellets. Now it could have been a bit higher by maybe 20 or 30 FPS, but 762 is certainly nothing to sneeze at and it’s within the normal margin of error. More importantly, the extreme spread was only 8.5 FPS across 10 shots. Generally you don’t want to mess with consistency like that as it usually translates into some really decent accuracy.
When you shoot airguns as much as I do, you sort of know when things just dont feel like they are working the way they should. I’ve put a couple of hundred rounds through this gun so far and it has a very sharp “snap” recoil. I’m not sure if this is typical of all Vortex Ram guns, but something just didn’t “feel” right in the shooting cycle. I think my “gut” was on to something. As I setup to shoot at the range, things sort of started to come a part. Regardless of pellet or hold technique, my shots seemed to wander all over.
To eliminate the scope as a possible issue, I shot with open sights. At first I thought I had found the problem, but that was not the case. It seemed that the first couple of shots would be decent and then they would start to wander no matter what I did.
Back to the shop…
Because I was a contracted service center for Hatsan sometime back, I’ve worked on hundreds of their guns and I have a great relationship with the management of Hatsan and their service department in Arkansas. After discussing the situation with their service manager, we decided to go ahead and dismantle and inspect the 85 up to see if we could determine a possible cause for the poor accuracy.
This was my first time working with the Type I Vortex Gas Ram so I was eager to see how it was all put together. One thing that was really interesting to see in a break barrel springer, was a bleeder valve and a fill port! It’s very cool that you dont have to actually take the ram out of the gun to adjust the pressure. To be thorough I took the entire gun apart and inspected all the parts. Maybe one day AGD will let me do a series on how that whole process works, but for now, I’m going to leave out a lot of the details. Needless to say, you need to have the right tools to get the job done safely.
After a careful inspection, most critically of the main seal which looked like it was in perfect condition, I reassembled the rifle. To be safe, I completely bled the Vortex Piston and refilled it to the factory 135 BAR. I then reinstalled the stock hoping that whatever may have been causing the issues had now been resolved. I fired some shots across the chrony, and the results were, well, not what I was hoping for. I actually lost ground and was now shooting in the 730 FPS range with the Vortex Express pellets. The 11.9 grain RWS Hobby pellets are shooting 760 FPS.
Here comes the lemonade
So I utilized my special “red” phone here in the shop and talked with the head of Hatsan’s service department. We got to looking at the serial number on this particular rifle, and realized it was one first ones shipped way back in February of 2013. So this one is headed back to Hatsan to be replaced with a newer production model. That way I’ll be testing something thats far more relevant to what’s currently available on the market.
While I didn’t get to the real performance and accuracy tests, I was able to get up close and personal with the new Vortex Gas Piston. I have to say that the ability to adjust the power of your spring gun by simply setting it to the right pressure is very cool. I can’t wait to get the new model in and run it through its paces.
Would I buy a Hatsan 85 Sniper Spring or Vortex today?
Knowing what these guns can do from personal experience, I would get one today without hesitation. While this particular rifle, a very early version, is having some issues, the overall response to the .22 cal 85 Sniper (Spring and Vortex) has been excellent. One very important point of note; Hatsan has just moved to a new facility with a greatly expanded service center and increased staff. All their airguns have a 1 year warranty that would easily cover any issues like I’ve experienced here. Don’t try and self-repair your guns unless you are ready and willing to write off the warranty and be happy to do so. Thats really a good principle to follow with any airgun. If you feel you’re not getting what you expected from your airgun, trust your gut, and let the manufacturer take care of it. We are their customers and, generally speaking, they’ll want to make it right.