Author Topic: Ten Meters on the cheap  (Read 3862 times)

Offline Fatman

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Ten Meters on the cheap
« on: February 02, 2010, 12:52:41 PM »
Grab a cup of coffee, this may take a while.  We’re talking rifle here, so if you are a pistolero you might want to move on.  

OrderThe Rifle:

First off you’ll need a Daisy 953.  It has a decent synthetic target style stock, a passable barrel and is a great platform to get started on.  Did I mention that they’re cheap?  They’re on sale at Pyramid Air (and no I don’t work there) for $71.95.  Be sure to use the discount code and get your 10% off.  With the discount and shipping it’ll set you back about $75.00 ). This is way less than the cost of even the most modest set of quality target sights.  These guns are repairable, re-buildable and easily re-sealed.  Daisy customer service is very helpful and the price of replacement parts is quite reasonable.  Daisy supports the CMP, 4-H, ROTC etc. They are a good company and deserve your business (and no, I don’t work there either).

OrderThe Sights:

Call Daisy customer service and order the front and rear sights for the Daisy (Avanti) 853.  They’re not great but they are cheap (around $35.00 for both shipped), perform adequately, and they’re way better than open sights for target work.  Daisy ships fast, so the sights will probably get there before the gun, so we‘ll deal with them first.  (I wouldn’t recommend the more expensive 753 sights at this time, even though they‘re shown on the back of the “Introduction Guide to Competitive Shooting“ brochure included with the gun. The front is very good, but the rear has had quality control problems.  Using the 753 front and the 853 rear is problematic due to their height differences.  There are several older posts on this subject which you may wish to read).

What you need to know about the sights:

About the only thing you can do to the 853 front sight is to make sure that the insert is held firmly in place.  You may need to bend the little tabs on the insert(s) back towards the rear a bit to tighten them up as they are often loose.  Use the largest insert, the one with the biggest hole in the center (it comes with several different size inserts).  Even experienced shooters often find that the larger insert will give the best results.  

The 853 rear is usually ok.  Run it through it’s entire range and if it shows signs of sticking or binding or the aperture (the disk you look through) has play in it, you may want to return it to Daisy for an exchange.  If you are handy and feel up to it, you can do some fiddling, fix most problems and get it to work even better.  

The usual problems are debris on the inside and the little white plastic spacer is all boggered up.  You’ll see it on the left when you remove the back cover .  It’s purpose is provide a bearing surface and to support and guide the aperture block, eliminating any play.  It’s way too soft for the job and seems poorly made at best.  

I replace this with a piece cut from a small plastic wire tie. Its about the right size and the material is a hard Nylon type plastic which works well.  Cut a piece the same length as the bit you’re replacing.  You will need to sand down the raised edges to thin it enough for a solid fit.  Make sure that you sand it down evenly and not at an angle. Use fine Wet or Dry paper and sand it lengthwise, not across. You want it thick enough to provide tension, but not so tight that it will bind. It goes in with the smooth side out.  It’s a bit fiddly, and may take a couple of tries.  Wire ties are cheap and can get several pieces out of a single one.  

I also break the sharp edges on the bearing surfaces of the carrier block with fine sandpaper.  Don’t go crazy here just a couple of swipes to break the edge to prevent it from digging in and hanging up.  Check that the surfaces of the housing where the carrier rides are smooth with no bumps or ridges.  Sand smooth if necessary. Clean everything up and reassemble using white lithium grease on the screw threads and all bearing surfaces.  Don’t glom it on, use it sparingly as it will attract dirt. This is the slickest stuff I’ve found for plastic and I haven’t noticed any problems using it.  The sight should now travel smoothly over its entire adjustment range without binding and with no noticeable play.

What you need to know about the gun:

First, read the manual and the enclosed  booklet “Introduction Guide To Competitive Shooting Model 953 TargetPro“.  Note that off-the-shelf accuracy is specified as .32” center-to-center. at ten meters.  I spoke to customer service and they claim that it does meet that specification. They also said that the 953 barrel is made by the same manufacturer as the 753/853, but that it has a different twist rate.  If that’s true, that would make the manufacturer Lothar Walther, one of the worlds premier air rifle barrel makers!  

Examine the gun for any obvious defects.  If all appears well, cock and dry fire to insure that the it’s operationally sound.  Dry firing will do no harm.  If you encounter problems (binding, scraping noises, bent parts, the hiss of air leaking when cocked etc.) you’ll need to send it back for repair or replacement.  

Next clean the bore to remove any debris or machining residue that may damage the rifling.  I use a Bore Saver from Mach-1, they’re not the cheapest but they work well and don’t damage the muzzle (crown) or bore as cleaning rods or weed trimmer line can.  Run a couple of patches through form breech to bore dampening them with GooGone.  Follow up with dry patches till they come out reasonably clean.  Check the bore from the muzzle using a flash light shone in the breech to make sure there are no obstructions.  The barrels are usually free from debris and oily, but they are easily damaged so don‘t skip this step.   We’re looking to maximize accuracy and want to keep the bore as pristine as possible.

Once you’re sure that it functions properly and the bore is clean go ahead and shoot it.  I use the cheap “Daisy Precision Max” (Walmart $3.43/500 in the red and yellow tin).  They aren’t great but they are ok for break-in and practice.  Once you’re satisfied that it shoots ok, its time to change over the sights.

Install the sights:

Note that the barrel weight/sight assembly overhangs muzzle, recessing the crown to protect it from incidental damage.  Loosen the two set screws (allen wrench) on the underside of the weight and slide it off.  Make sure that the set screws on the 853 barrel weight/sight assembly are loose and slide it on so that it overhangs the  muzzle by about 5/8”.  Tighten the set screws against the flat on the bottom of the barrel to align the sight vertically.  Tighten securely,  but don’t Gonzo them as you may want to shift (rotate) the front sight slightly to keep the rear sight in the center of its travel.  I scribe a small line on both the bottom of the weight and the barrel where they meet to aid when aligning it.

The rear sight is removed by unscrewing two clamping screws and sliding it off.  Set the 853 rear sight in the middle of it’s horizontal travel, using the scale on top and vertically a bit up from the bottom of its range.  It slides on the back of the receiver dove-tail and is secured with two clamping screws.  Before you clamp it down try sighting with it and adjust it forward and backward until you can center the front sight comfortably in the aperture.  I usually wind up with the base of the sight resting on the back of the breech.  This gives a good sight picture and helps to support the sight and reduce shifting and possible damage if bumped.

Send some lead down range:

Ok, take her to the range and get her sighted in at ten meters.  I like to keep the rear sight near the middle of its travel as it seems more stable that way.  If you are shooting to the left, you will need to rotate the front sight assembly slightly to the right to compensate and vice versa.  That’s what the index line you scribed on the bottom of the barrel and barrel weight are for.  Vertically, the higher the rear sight is the more unstable it is but you will need to adjust it as necessary to get you on target.  There are arrows on the knobs that show which direction to turn them.

Shoot a tin or so of pellets to familiarize yourself with how it shoots and to get a sense of how accurate it is.  You should be pleasantly surprised.  Once its broken in, you can fine tune things to make it even better.

What you need to know about the trigger:

First, there is that trigger.  Do the Pilkington trigger tune by all means.  You’ll find details on Pilkington’s site or do a search.  This is the single best improvement you can make on this gun.  It’s fairly easy to do and it’s legal in competition.  I remove the small front trigger spring and only use the fat rear spring.  I don’t have a trigger pull test rig so I don’t know the pull weight.   If you shoot competitively you will have to pass a pull test so don‘t go too light.  I don’t shoot competitively anymore, so I also cut off about 3 coils on the rear spring and  the result is a very light trigger with no discernable creep or over travel.  It’s about as good as you can get with a cheap trigger.  In adjusting the trigger, make sure it passes the “bump test”, that is bumping the butt stock on the floor with the gun cocked (unloaded) and not having it go off.  I also make sure it passes the “pump test”.  Cock it (unloaded), then pump, smaking the lever home quite smartly and make sure that the trigger’s not adjusted so short that it discharges.

What you need to know about the barrel:

If you are happy with the accuracy you’re getting leave the barrel alone.  If you feel it’s below par or if you just want the best from your barrel you can do a few things while the gun is apart for the trigger tune.  

Once the valve body barrel assembly is free, remove the valve retaining clip, the spring and the valve.
Re-crown the barrel using the brass screw/valve grinding compound procedure as outlined in numerous posts (do a search).   Check it often using a magnifying glass.  It should be even all around clearly showing the ends of the rifling with no burrs or dings.  Be sure to flush the barrel thoroughly to remove all traces of valve grinding compound as it will ruin a barrel very quickly.

Next, follow this up with 50 strokes of a 177 bore mop coated with JB Bore Paste.  This stuff is magic.  Use an aluminum, Kevlar, brass or coated cleaning rod to protect the rifling.  Use a fresh bore mop. Keep the rod centered so it doesn’t rub.  Don’t use a steel rod - it will damage the rifling.  Go from the breech, not the muzzle.  Use a stop about ½” in front of  the muzzle keeping the mop inside the bore to protect that crown you just worked so hard to produce.   I go ten strokes, wipe and recoat the mop, ten more, etc, etc.  Clean the bore and the valve body of all traces of JB.

Next check the lead in at breech where the pellet enters.  If it’s rough or has any burrs, polish it lightly with fine (800) wet or dry paper rolled into a cone .  Just polish lightly to knock down any burrs, don’t remove material inside the bore.  The bolt probe seals the breech here and if you go too far it will leak, you will lose velocity and the barrel is ruined.

Clean thoroughly and reassemble.  I use Mach-1 Secret Sauce on the seal, on the piston sponge and on the pivots.  It’s a very good product and Tim at Mach-1 really knows his stuff.   Coat the o-ring on the breech assembly with silicone grease (it seals the pump tube) to ease assembly and to prevent leaks.


Ok, were talking target shooting here, so use the single shot loading tray supplied with the gun and not the 5 shot clip.  Any miss-alignment as the clip advances and you can shave the pellet and lose accuracy.  When I reassemble the gun, I leave out the little pot metal parts that advance the clip.  You don’t need them and the gun will cock smoother without them.  Set them aside so if you want to sell the gun on later you can reinstall them for the new owner.

What you need to know about pellets:

Use only target (wadcutter) pellets. The cheap ones will do at first.  Once your shooting skills improve and you get serious, start trying out better pellets.  They are expensive, but try as many as it takes and go with the ones that consistently give the best results.   Quality target pellets come in various weights and sizes.  When you find one that shoots well, also try the larger and smaller diameters and the lighter and heavier versions of that same pellet .  Every barrel is different and you may have to try a lot of them to find the ones your barrel likes best.  Hobbies, Basics and the standard Vogel are some good pellets that are not outrageously pricy.

Pellet testing is best carried out from a bench rest with a scope to minimize shooter induced variables.  Whether you are using cheap pellets or the expensive target grade, check each pellet before loading and discard any that have obvious defects.  You may be surprised to find a number of rejects in even the most expensive brands.

Other stuff you should know:

If you are not going to compete you can also fill the void in the end of the piston with epoxy to make it a flat top.  This will give a small boost in velocity and may improve accuracy slightly.   This is especially true if you shoot outdoors where wind may be a factor.  

You can add weight to the muzzle by adding the original muzzle weight (without the sight) behind the new one.    It should be legal as the 853 CM uses double weights on the barrel directly from Daisy.  If you are competing, check that you don’t exceed the maximum legal weight limit.  You can also extend the muzzle weight as far forward as the set screws allow, resulting in a slightly longer sight radius and bit more muzzle bias.  A muzzle heavy bias dampens movement and helps produce a steadier hold.

The stock is hollow so additional weight can be added to the rear as well, again, don’t exceed the maximum legal weight if you are using the gun in competition.

You can add spacers between the butt plate and the stock to increase the LOP (length of pull) if necessary.  You may need longer screws and they are readily available (the long black drywall type) at the hardware store.  Daisy sells spacers or you can make them up of whatever is available.

If you are not competing you can add an adjustable butt pad which also increases the LOP.  There is an earlier post on this and I find it very helpful as noted in the post.   Daisy originally offered one on the 753 so if you can find an original it may be legal.  Check with your club first.

You may notice that the cocking lever binds on the stock when closing it at the end of the stroke.  It is at the narrowest point in the slot just ahead of the cocking handle.  Just chamfer (bevel) the sharp edges of the stock slightly to ease entry of the cocking lever.   As most shooters will place the fore hand on the trigger guard and or cocking lever grip, a tight fit here is a good thing.

The single greatest factor in shooting accurately is the ability of the shooter.  Time spent in developing your technique, finding your natural point of aim, dry-firing, and a lot, and I mean a lot of practice, will pay the biggest dividends.  There’s a lot more to learn.  Read everything about technique and put what you learn in to practice.  

A good example of the Daisy 953, properly prepared, will be more accurate than most shooters (standing).  If you get good enough to outshoot one ….. then good on you!   It may be time to invest some real cash  and move up from Sporter to Precision and a first class gun.  Good luck to you and thanks for the visit.

I have far too much time on my hands.


Offline ac12basis

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Re: Ten Meters on the cheap
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2010, 04:58:25 AM »
Great write up.

Also the fact that you can cock the hammer w/o charging the rifle with air makes dry fire practice very easy.