Friday, February 12, 2010

Crosman Storm XT Issues Resolved

I was originally going to just post a review of the Crosman Storm XT, but after actually getting my hands on one, I discovered that most of the negative user reviews I read prior to buying were down to user error or inexperience, so I thought I'd address these problems for anyone else thinking of buying one, before writing an in depth review.

I have to start by answering and obvious question: Why an air-rifle? I live in a country where actual firearms are legal and I own a .22 rifle, a 12 gauge shotgun and have access to my wife's 9mm handgun.

There are two main reasons for me. The first is that I love target shooting and while I can shoot legally and safely on the property, I'm not comfortable shooting for any length of time because of the noise it causes. People don't mind so much when you go outside and fire a few shots to sight in a new scope…but for some reason they don't like listening to constant gunfire for hours at a time.

Secondly, out here in the country, pest control is an absolute necessity, not a luxury. If the idea of shooting squirrels and field-rats offends you…let me just say it offended me right before a family of squirrels moved into my bedroom roof and caused hundreds of dollars worth of damage. An air-rifle is the perfect pest control weapon in that it's quiet, cheap to use and not as dangerous to use close to property. (Don't get me wrong, a 1000fps air rifle is more than capable of doing some damage, just not quite as much as a 12 gauge).

So let me address some of the other user reviews I've read.

A minority of people have called his gun trash. They've said it's inaccurate, the scope won't hold a zero, it's too loud etc, etc. I personally believe 99 out of a hundred of these reviews are all down to user error an/or ignorance. People pull a brand-new rifle out of the box, slap the scope on top and then complain that it's not dropping the rounds right in the crosshairs or that the scope is 'impossible to zero'.

Firstly, mounting a scope on any rifle is something that has to be done methodically, carefully and correctly…something that's often neglected. Unfortunately, the Storm XT doesn't come with any documentation for mounting the scope, so the inexperienced user can be forgiven for getting it wrong.

Ok, the first thing I want to talk about is mounting the scope, because a lot of people have complained about 'scope creep' (the scope moving with recoil and losing its zero), which is almost impossible if the scope is installed properly. Unfortunately, there is no provided documentation for installing the rings and scope, so you can be forgiven for doing it wrong.

If you look at the rings that come with your rifle, one will have four allen-screws while the other only has two. If you look at the bottom half of the four-screw ring, you'll notice the top of an allen-screw on the surface that the scope sits on. If you use the smaller of the two provided allen wrenches and give this a few clockwise turns, you'll see a screw come out the bottom of the ring… and this lines up with a hole on the top of the rifle's receiver.

So, turn this screw until it's just protruding, and line it up with the hole in the top of the receiver and screw it into place, then tighten the clamp on the side. Also, don't let the oversize clamp screw fool you, this isn't meant to be tightened to just finger-tight…use a large flat headed screwdriver or a coin to really tighten it…just don't go too far and strip the screw.

The real 'trick' to mounting a screw properly is to mount the bottom halves of the rings onto the rifle, lay the scope on top, level it and then add the top halves of the rings. Never attach the rings to the scope first and then try to mount it on your rifle. By mounting the rings to the rifle first, you're ensuring the rings are perfectly lined up and parallel to each other. Also, tighten the allen-screws in the same way you'd tighten the bolts on a car wheel. Don't tighten the first as tight as it will go and then go on to the next one, instead, get all the screws finger tight, then tighten on a little more and move to the next…repeating until all screws are nice and tight.

Once you're done, you'll have a securely mounted scope that won't move with firing and will hold its zero.

The second point I'd like to address is that the Storm XT is a spring-piston rifle that has to be 'broken in' before you can expect anything approaching pin point accuracy. Right out of the box you'll be lucky to get a three or four inch group at twenty yards. Until the spring and piston is broken in, you won't get consistent velocities, which means inconsistent shooting all round. My advice is to buy a few tins of cheap pellets and put a couple hundred rounds through your gun at some close range targets using the open sights before you even attempt to zero the scope.

The other point is that a spring piston rifle recoils differently to multi-pump, C02 or pre-charged air rifles, meaning zeroing a scope should be done from a stable position using a soft rest like a sandbag or rolled up sweater. Using something hard like a fence post as a rest will result in your gun jumping off target and will severely increase your group size.

The other thing I should point out is the 'dieseling' phenomenon. A few people complained about how loud the Storm XT is, some even going so far as to claim it was louder than a .22 Long Rifle bullet. In one case, one reviewer only shot his gun two or three times before returning it to the store. This extra noise is down to dieseling, a temporary phenomenon that soon goes away…and a problem that also causes poor accuracy.

When a spring piston rifle is fired, a heavy spring pushes a piston forward, compressing the air in the compression chamber which fires the pellet from the barrel. This sudden compression causes a lot of heat and if there is oil-vapor present in the compression chamber or barrel, this vapor can ignite, causing the loud bang…and in the case of the storm XT, this can send the pellet above the speed of sound, resulting in a sonic boom (the same sharp crack you hear when a 22LR bullet breaks the sound barrier).

This tends to happen because brand new guns tend to be over-lubricated to prevent rusting in case they sit on store shelves for months. Once you've fired a few shots and the excess lubricant is burned off, you end up with a rifle that fires with a slight 'pop' as long as you use normal lead pellets (some of the new 'Premium Ballistic Alloy' pellets are super-light, meaning they will break the sound barrier when fired from the Storm XT)


Finally, people also don't understand that you need to experiment to discover which type and brand of ammo works best with your particular gun. You can take two identical rifles straight off the production line and one might shoot quarter-inch groups with a particular brand of ammo while the other shoots five inch groups with exactly the same ammo. For example, my 'real' .22 rifle (a Remington 597) absolutely hates CCI mini-mags (a somewhat 'premium' .22 ammo), but will put lead through the same hole at 75 yards with cheap Federal 'bulk pack' ammo.

Anyway, in closing, people are firing a non-broken in rifle off an unsuitable rest using a poorly fitted scope while the rifle is still dieseling with ammo it doesn't like and are wondering why they aren't putting pellets through the same hole at 50 yards.

A little education can go a long way and I hope this post helps all new spring-piston rifle owners, as well as people on the fence as to whether they buy a Storm XT or not.


John said...

Thanks for the information. I just purchased one of these and yes, it does sound like a .22 long. I am familiar with the dieseling effect and plan on sending 500 rounds through it immediately. The scope was easy and perfectly understandable to install properly with out any instructions (with some common sense). Just a couple of questions; did you find a good pellet for this gun? How quiet were you able to get it? I have serious squirrel issues and I live in a close fitting neighborhood. Should I return it and buy and air rifle or will it quiet down enough to use in my backyard.

Paulius said...

I found that Gamo Hunters or Crosman Premiers worked best for me...although unfortunately this info will be less than useless to you. As I mentioned in the post, it depends in the individual gun. My gun loves Gamo Hunters, but yours might absolutely hate them.

My advice is to put at least a tin or two of cheapo pellets through it and then start experimenting with different types. Also, don't think more expensive pellets will work better. I've tried pellets that go for $15 a tin and they've grouped horribly...but I can drive tacks with $2.50 Gamo hunters.

As for the sound, once the factory lube burns off and the gun stops dieseling, it makes little more than a light pop. No where near enough to bother your neighbors.

edward said...

Thanks for the Information It really help, But I have one question how often do you need to lube this gun and were do you need to lube it.

david said...

Man, thanks for the info, I bought one of these to kill beer cans in my baCKYARD, AND HAVE NOT SHOT IT YET. I was reading reviews and figured the negatives were based on poor scope instalation. I am also glad to hear the loud noise will go away soon enough. I am sure the folks in the million dollar home on the hill above mine will appreciate that. Have you used the stock sites on this at all? Will this gun be any good for me with out a scope?

samuel said...

I've had this rifle over a year and it has got to be the best deal for 100 bucks, very accurate with all types of pellets and super tight groups on 15 yard target and easy to hit bottles at 30-40 yards very good deal for 100 bucks I don't see how someone could complain.

RANDY said...

Great article.
I haven't shot my XT a lot, maybe only 75 rounds, mainly because of the horrible noise it makes. I'm hoping more rounds = less noise, we'll see.

@ David: I just put the scope on mine, so I shot it mostly with open sights. It shoots very well at 30 - 40 yards for me with open sights. In fact I love the open sights especially the green front sight. I zeroed it pretty well and easily with the given ramp adjustment.

I bought mine at Wal-Mart on a clearance sale for less than $100. I have been very pleased with how it shoots and have been amazed at how powerful it is.

As a kid in the late 50s and early60s, I had a Crosman pump-up pellet rifle that I probably shot 10,000 pellets through. It was a great rat and squirrel killer. It was powerful too, but not quite like this.

Unknown said...

I have owned one for years. I find that it is dead-on without the scope. The scope is mounted to the receiver while the barrel swivels. Small changes in the ready-to-fire angle can vary slightly, causing large scale inaccuracy issues. The iron sights are both mounted to barrel and aren't effected by such changes.

RLH said...

I've had one for 8 years. Daisy pellets are no good. Any premium Crosman pellet is accurate. Plenty of power. Hard to group pellets on target, but hits varmints easily at 30yds. Some error from occasional odd pellet, most misses due to human error. Gun jumps on recoil; resting barrel on a flat surface helps. After 8 yrs I re-aligned crosshairs - they had tilted slightly. I sight in on target and then try a variety of holds. Switching out 3mm trigger adjustment screw for longer (3mm x 8)eliminates 1st stage pull and shortens 2nd stage. Sturdy, powerful rifle, but takes patience to learn.