Author Topic: QB88 - Shanghai Surprise!  (Read 8461 times)

Offline vinceb

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QB88 - Shanghai Surprise!
« on: November 23, 2008, 01:39:32 PM »
Whenever I think of "Industry Brand" airguns, my mind conjures up images of dark, ominous smokestacks, the smell of fire and metal cutting and burnt machine oil, and a lot of banging and grinding noises generated by the soot-faced minions bustling about on a factory floor.

And in my experience, this also pretty well sums up SHOOTING an Industry Brand airgun. At least out-of-the-box. Shanghai (the builder of Industry Brand) was never known for craftsmanship and refinement, at least in their lower-end products. Yes, I know that the B3 especially is known for being a 'diamond-in-the-rough' that cleans up into a very decent gun for less than $30, but that's besides the point. Although a QB25 showed me that Shanghai was indeed capable of some better stuff, after trying a variety of Industry guns I pretty much lost interest in everything from that factory except the AR1000 variants.

But for some reason the QB88 always caught my eye - I'm not sure why. I'd seen that the gun had been advertised with a choked barrel and an adjustable trigger, and it really sounded like a gun that Shanghai was trying to a better job with. Something like a Fast Deer with improved design and better manufacturing. After watching it for a few years (and having Self-Defense Supply run out of them on me), I saw that Leftcoast1 listed a QB88 for $45 shipped - curiosity got the better of me, and I sent him the money.

When this used-but-very-functional QB88 showed up, my first peek at it reminded me why I gave up on low-end Industry products years ago. The workmanship on the metal is on a par with the Fast Deers I used to have, and I believe the woodwork isn't even as good. There's some uneven grinding or milling marks, and in general the metal finish and blueing are about right for a low-end gun - certainly no better.

But looking over the rifle revealed a few pleasant surprises... to begin with the rear sight seems to have been patterned after the one on the old Gamo 220/Shadow. It's quite sturdy with good adjustments, and to my eyes the notch seems sized about right. The front sight is a sturdy blade protected by a sturdier hood. Even though there are no fiberoptic inserts in these sights, these sights put the ones on my CFX and 440's to shame. The scope rail is short, but it's punctuated at the rear with a bolt-down scope stop. How come the high-powered AR1000 doesn't have one of these???

The trigger is also a Gamo copy, but this one seemed to have a very stiff trigger return spring. It has the sear engagement screw just like the Gamo and Quest variants. It also has the inside-the-trigger-guard manual safety of the Gamo, although the action on this one is kida mushy. But it works, and that's the important thing. And it doesn't wiggle into the 'off' position if you pull the trigger a bunch of times, like the QS35 pistol I had.

The QB88 is not pretending to be a lightweight plinker - weight wise, it comes in at almost 7 lbs. Being a sidelever it doesn't have a muzzle-heavy feel to it, and the center-of-gravity is only about 19" in front of the butt plate. Pull length is about 14", again showing this gun to be a full size rifle - and a nicely balanced one at that. There's very little plastic - the biggest hunks of which seem to be the spring tube end cap and the trigger guard. The trigger guard, incidentally, is virtually identical to and interchanges with the one on the Crosman Quest, which also means that it interchanges with the one on the Gamo's. Go figure...

Loading the gun is typical for a lower powered sliding-breech gun - a bit tight (limited by the small diameter tube), and the rough edges around the loading port don't make things any more pleasant. And a scope only makes things worse. At least Industry took pains to protect your fingers... now, I'm not going to claim that cheap Chinese metalurgy is as good as German, but the anti-beartrap sure LOOKS very stout - stouter than the similar mechanism in my RWS48. The anti-beartrap catch on the QB88 is about 4mm thick and it blocks the piston with about 6mm of engagement depth. Considering the fact that I generally don't like sliding-breech guns, this does a lot to alleviate my concerns. Yes, I know that I'm supposed to hold the lever while loading but frankly I tend to forget, and I feel a lot better having this backing me up.

When I first got it I toss a few over the chrony almost immediately. I found that the gun is very smooth and quiet, and fires with a muted 'poofttt'. I figured that the 500fps I was getting (Gamo Match) was entirely adequate for a 10-20 yard plinker, which was all I expected to use this gun for... although I thought the 20lb cocking effort a bit high for this level of power. The trigger was smooth but heavy - I forgot to measure it but I'm gonna guess it was around 5 lbs.

My first groups - indoors, 10 yards, open sights - showed that the barrel was skewed, requiring a LOT of windage correction. I clamped the barrel in a padded vise, and after a few good shoves on the action I got the barrel to point more where I wanted it to point - and this took care of the windage issue.

However, bent barrel or not - the gun immediately starting throwing some very promising groups with those cheap Gamo Match pellets that I tried first. With open sights I had little trouble getting 1/4" 5-shot groups, which is all I can expect from just about any gun in my hands.

Since the accuracy was good I deemed the QB88 to be worth a little bit of extra work, so I popped the action out of the stock (2 screws) and disassembled the powerplant. Boy, did that bring back memories! The rough stampings, the so-so finishing and the marginal fit were all quite reminiscent of working on my old Fast Deer and B2 rifles, and it had been a while since I had something like this apart. Oh, and the semi-solidified Chinese oil (or semi-liquified grease?) of mysterious constitution was all over the place.

I did a real quick cleanup, and because this is an inexpensive, low-powered gun I didn't worry about using moly paste or spring tar on the innards. I drenched the leather piston seal in 30wt ND oil and used semi-synthetic automotive grease on the rest of the guts. I gave the rough compression cylinder a quick honing to make sure it wasn't gonna tear up the leather. I also tightened the seal retaining screw and removed the trigger return spring. All that spring does is push back on the blade, it doesn't have anything to do with the sear engaging... and I decided I could do without the extra pull weight.

It's a shame that every gun I ever tore into doesn't respond as well to so little work as this one did. It picked up about 100fps, which is a 20% increase in velocity and a 44% increase in power with no change in noise, smoothness or accuracy. Removing the trigger blade essentially converted the trigger into a single-stage (which it really is anyway) trigger with noticeable creep - and with a pull weight of less than 2 lbs. The nice attributes of the rifle were, of course, unchanged if not slightly improved.

Now as I said before I expected this rifle to be nothing more than a good 10-20 yard plinker. But I do have a 60 yard range out back, so I had to find out how it shot at that sort of distance. And I learned that it's not gonna dethrone my CFX or Panther as a good, long-range shooter... but it did better than I expected. And the rear sight EASILY had enough elevation adjustment to handle that kind of distance. The big problem is probably pellet related - the Gamo Match pellet just doesn't fly well at that range, and the gun doesn't really like CPL's. Regardless, the QB88 was probably a little out of it's league - and I've got over a dozen higher-powered rifles for that kind of work. I bought this thing as a shorter-range fun gun, and that's all I am expecting.

And it does that quite well. It doesn't demand expensive pellets like the CPL or CPH to shoot nicely at short distances, in fact it does fairly well even with the Beeman Sportsman's Series Wadcutter pellets (<$3 per tin of 500). It's powerful enough to have a bit of authority at these ranges, but it's a lot easier on the backstop or trap than my Walther Force 1000. The quiet and smooth firing cycle and low cocking effort means the gun is easy to practice with, it isn't fatiguing or tiring in the least.

All in all, with very little work it's a pleasant, enjoyable, relaxing, and economical rifle to shoot. Those soot-faced minions did good on this one...

Offline Gene_SC

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Re: QB88 - Shanghai Surprise!
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2008, 03:34:21 PM »
Great take on the QB-88 Vince.
THE ONES I SLEEP WITH: BSA Lightning XL, AA TX-200, AA ProSport, BSA Ultra, HW-97K, Crosman NPSS .177, FX Cyclone, HW-30 Nicle Plated, AA-S200, Crosman Marauder, CZ-634, R-9 DG, Webley/Scott UK Tomahawk, Benji Kantana, Benji Marauder, Benji Discovery.....
....

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Offline vinceb

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Thanks... but it's a shame that it seems to be discontinued.
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2008, 10:59:05 PM »
Maybe some day I'll do a review on a gun that's still in production!

Offline shadow

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RE: Thanks... but it's a shame that it seems to be discontinued.
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2008, 06:11:40 AM »
I always trust your take on shooters vince, there not to bad for backyard lead tossers. :) Ed
I airgun hunt therefore I am... };)  {SHADOWS Tunes & Camo}  airguncamo@yahoo.com

Offline cole5169

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I'm late to the party...
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2009, 06:45:29 AM »
But I like your review.  I was lucky enough to pick one of these up a couple of years ago.  The QB-88 is a great sidelever.  Mine is .177 (I've heard there are .22 QB-88's, but I've never seen one).  I wish I could find a few more...

Mine arrived from South Summit, and might have been the dirtiest, nastiest delivery I've ever received.  An hour with some shop rags and WD-40 (and several dozen - or more - barrel patches) and she cleaned up pretty well.  I fully intended to gut this gun from day one, and yet, I still have not taken it apart, except to polish the trigger and sear.  For the first half-tin of pellets, there were clouds and clouds of slightly "bacony" smelling smoke, but she soon settled down to a nice smooth cycle with no dieselling.

I have had remarkably similar good results from Gamo Match pellets at short range (consistently less than 0.30" ctc at 10m, offhand), and pretty darn good out to the limit of my 35m backyard range.  My wife loves this gun, and she doesn't care for most springers.

After reading your results, I'm going to have to tear it open, now.
Aw, shucks...