Thursday, March 04, 2010

Crosman Storm XT Review

Rather oddly, this is my fourth attempt to write an in-depth review of the Storm.. Mainly this is because my opinion of this rifle has constantly swung back and forth between 'the best $110 I ever spent' and 'so frustratingly bad I can barely resist smashing it against the wall'.

Well, after nearly a month of back and forth, I've finally made my mind up…so here's my review:

My first impression of this gun was a pleasant one. When I took it out of the box I was honestly surprised at just how good it looked and felt. I've owned various BB guns and air-rifles in the past and they've all felt very plasticy and toy-like. This was the first air-rifle I've ever held that looks and feels like a 'real' rifle. It's actually slightly bigger and heavier than my Remington 597 .22LR and even just a bit longer than my Mossberg 500 12 gauge.

Even better, the gun feels well made and solid…which unfortunately is more than I can say for the iron sights and scope rings.

The iron sights are very plasticy and very flimsy and (on a completely calm day) I found I had to adjust the rear sight all the way to the left just to get it to shoot straight. The scope rings you get with this rifle are almost as bad. In all honesty, the iron sights and scope rings feel like something you get from one of those novelty machines you see in grocery stores.

I just don't understand Crosman's thinking. This is a gun that retails for $110 dollars. I'd much rather have paid $140 or $150 and got a decent set of scope rings and some actual iron iron sights.

Fortunately, the iron sights stop being an issue when you mount a scope, but I'd suggest you buy some decent rings at the same time you buy the rifle (just make sure to also buy a scope stop or get some rings with a vertical stop pin).

On the other end of the spectrum, the included scope (a Centerpoint 3-9X40 mil-dot model) is absolutely outstanding for the price. I'd say it's just as good quality (if not slightly better) than the $80 Simmons scope I have mounted on my .22LR. For a total package price of $110, this is amazing value.

My first real disappointment came the first time I actually shot the rifle for the first time. The scope was almost impossible to sight in simply because the gun was so inaccurate. I was shooting 5"+ groups at 20 yards…which is hardly pin point accuracy.

Luckily, I'd done some research ahead of time and knew that spring piston guns need to be broken in before you can expect decent accuracy… and you need to almost completely re-learn how to shoot to get good accuracy out of one. Rifle Shooting 101 says you grasp the front stock firmly and pull the stock tightly into your shoulder…spring piston rifles, on the other hand, require a really light touch. It takes a lot of getting used to, but using the 'Artillery Hold' (google it) can easily take a couple of inches off your group size.

It was during this breaking in period that my opinion of the rifle started to swing regularly between the two extremes. I'd shoot one nice tight group (my record was 0.2" at 20 yards), finally think the rifle was behaving…and the next group would leave the target looking like I'd fired at it from a mile away with an unchoked shotgun. This wasn't helped by the trigger which is absolutely awful. The pull is long, heavy and vague and you just never know when the gun's going to fire.

Then, something amazing happened.

I can't stress enough just how important the proper hold and technique is for getting the best out of any spring piston rifle, but while the Storm was getting slowly better over time, at around the 1000 shot mark…it got a lot better very quickly.

In all seriousness, I shot one group which was my then average 2"-3" at about 35 yards…and then the next was less than half an inch at the same distance…and although I was expecting that groups to spread again, they never did.

I talked to a few guys from an airgun forum and found quite a few had had similar experiences with this rifle. You shoot and shoot and get a very gradual improvement, and then the gun finds its sweet spot and starts driving tacks over a fifty to a hundred shots.

Your mileage may (and probably will) vary, but my first hundred shots were extremely erratic, then for the next seven or eight hundred it was 'sort of' accurate, then over the next hundred it turned into a gun capable of sub half-inch groups at 40 yards.

The other main point I should make (as one of my previous posts illustrated) is you really have to experiment with the pellets you put through this rifle. It's not about shaving hundredths of an inch off your group…. I can get 0.25" groups with Gamo Hunters, but get nearly 6" groups with Gamo Magnums at the same distance. Basically, get your hands on as many brands and types of pellets that you can find and see how your gun shoots them. It really does make a massive difference.

The final thing was impressed with was the actual power of this gun.

Now, the box claims the Storm is capable of 1200fps, which is completely true…as long as you're using the ultra-light PBA pellets. With regular lead pellets you can realistically expect speeds of around 950-1000fps…which to be honest is plenty.

To put this into perspective, 950fps means that an 8 grain lead pellet is going to leave the barrel at around 650 miles per hour. If you're going to be using this gun for target shooting, you're going to get better accuracy with a sub-sonic pellet…and if you're buying this gun for pest control or hunting, you have more than enough power for anything up to rabbit size…an 8 grain lead pellet travelling at around 1000fps is going to deliver the same amount of energy to the target (if not slightly more) than a 5 grain PBA pellet travelling at 1200fps.

In fact, let me take a moment here to say something important: This isn't an airsoft gun and it certainly isn't a toy… it's a dangerous weapon capable of serious damage. I've read some pretty disturbing 'user reviews' written by kids who were obviously bought this gun by parents who had no idea what it was capable of.

When I was testing this gun I fired a pointed pellet at an old paperback at 10 yards, and not only did the pellet make it clear through the book… it still had enough energy left on the other side to seriously dent the 1/8" steel plate of my pellet trap.

Long story short, this is a rifle. Don't buy it for your kids unless you're planning on supervising them when they use it.

So, at the end of the day, do I recommend this gun?

In a word, absolutely.

Again, I really can't stress how important it is let this gun break in and to learn how to shoot it properly…but the end result is definitely worth the effort involved.

Basically, don't expect to take it out of the box and expect to start driving tacks. In fact, my advice is to put at least 500 rounds through it before you even bother mounting the scope and then spend another 500 rounds just shooting at tin cans before you even consider taking it hunting.

Again, your mileage will vary, but it really is a case of the longer you shoot this rifle, the better it gets.

In conclusion, for 110 dollars you get a rifle that will put the pellets where you want them, and for small game hunting or pest control out to around 50 yards, you may as well be shooting a legally silenced .22LR.

As long as you're willing to persevere, put the time into breaking it in and learning to shoot it…you won't be disappointed.



Anonymous said...

Good review, I'm considering buying a Crossman Storm XT. If I do I'll probably post here again to share how its working.

kyle austin davis the first said...

Interesting write up. Just bought one myself...right out of the box, had 1.5" groupings at 15 yards, open sight. Decided to plink a pesky squirrel in my garden. Standard pellet went through the squirrel,out the other end, and is lodged somewhere in my stone wall. Not bad!

Can't wait to see what this thing will do with destroyer pellets...

ron blue said...

I use the destroyer pellets from Crossman in My Storm xt they do what they say. They destroy.

Prepper said...

Good review! I also own a Remington 597 rifle.