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The latest source of financial and mental stress - Air Arms Pro-Target Mk3

Discussion in 'Gun Gallery' started by cloverleaf, Mar 1, 2016.

  1. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    In my time on this earth many guns have passed through my hands.. the only one I ever regret letting go being a Mk3 Pro-Target I bought new when I was about 19 or 20.

    I've long searched for a worthy replacement, but finding an unmolested, left-handed variant of a specialist rifle that was only made in small numbers is not an easy task - especially when those in its target market seem to have an insatiable urge to tinker, modify and bastardise..

    While casually browsing some classifieds at the weekend I came across one locally - I got straight on it and spared the seller the usual interrogation via email, figuring that it'd be easiest and quickest just to get over there and have a look. In the pics it looked good and it was fairly strong money for a gun of its type.

    Upon arrival I straight away noticed a few things that rendered it very-much-not-mint, and I decided to walk away without potentially causing offense with a low-ball offer. The seller however was very accommodating and insistent, and goaded me on to do my worst.

    We ran the gun over the chrony (giving some low readings, suggesting it needed a bit of work) and I tossed over a pretty low figure I thought I could live with paying for a gun whose faults would weigh heavy on my mind until I could get them sorted (if at all possible).

    The seller was a proper gent and my offer was accepted. I walked away wondering if I'd done the right thing, but ultimately pleased that my journey hadn't been wasted and that once again I had such a refined and competent classic in my possession once more!

    Fast forward to today and the gilt has worn off since I've found that the thread in the transfer port adjuster is knackered, meaning at best that it'll need helicoiling, and at worst its verging on scrap :(


    Anyway, here it is - warts and all - it's reasonably presentable but has a number of fairly significant issues that need tacking, and I'm really not sure how it's going to turn out. Ideally I was chasing a mint, original example - which this one will sadly never be.

    I'm hoping it'll evolve into a keeper, however it's just as likely that it'll end up at the bottom of the nearest canal. Either way it's going to be a slog..


    Looks presentable from a distance:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Unlike the Mk1 and Mk2 the Mk3 has a properly floating barrel - as all PCPs (especially target guns) should IMO. Why AA insist on lashing nearly the barrels to the cylinders on pretty much all their rifles I'll never know.

    [Rant] Apparently the cylinder and reg assys are on this line of guns (Pro-Target, EV2, FTP900) are torqued up obscenely in an effort to prevent zero-shift as cylinder pressure changes. Of course if AA followed the lead of all their informed customers on the FT circuit they could eliminate this problem completely by simply floating the barrel - the mind boggles as to why such an apparently competant company continue to fix the barrel to the cylinder...

    Of the 12 arguably dedicated field target PCPs the company has produced (TM100, NJR100, Pro-Targets (Mk1-3), EV2 (Mk1-4), FTP900, MPR-FT and HFT500) only two have had fully floating barrels - the Pro-Target Mk3 and HFT500. Hopefully the HFT500 is a taste of things to come in this respect..[/Rant] Anyway..

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    To be fair the gun generally looks pretty tidy considering its age..

    [​IMG]


    ..however on closer inspection it's clear that the muppets have been at it in the past - note the utterly horrible and frankly unforgivable hole in the forend for a palm rest - it's not even on the centre-line of the stock and it's quality of execution looks like it was done after ten pints and repeated blows to the head.

    Considering that the location is only about an inch behind the forend rail (which would have served very well to mount a palm rest) and that the rest of the gun as apparently been well-looked-after, I can't fathom why it's been butchered in this way :(

    [​IMG]


    I'm really not sure what to do with this damage yet - I could over-bore it and fit a brass blanking plug.. another crafty alternative would be to fit an EV2 reg and gauge block assy instead of the existing reg, and bore a 24mm hole in the stock for said gauge - which would conveniently remove the piece of damaged stock. A good opportunity perhaps, but the gauge and reg assy aren't be cheap and Ideally I'd like the gun to remain as original as possible. What do the good people of AGF think?

    [​IMG]


    Sadly the same ham-fisted individual that butchered the stock has apparently extended his "skills" to the accessory rail as well.. a part which is sadly now obsolete :(

    [​IMG]


    The sling swivel stud in the rear of the stock is p****d too.. although I've seen worse:

    [​IMG]


    The Pro-Target gets a lot of praise for its sliding ambidextrous breech, and indeed this is one reason I like it as a lefty as it's the only dedicated LH top-end target gun AA have ever made. It also allows direct loading into the breech, which many favour on account of being able to feel the pellet fit as it's loaded.

    On the down side the sliding breech block can rock around and drag on the main action block - feeling sloppy, unrefined and causing a pair of rails to be worn into the top of the block. This is definitely a design flaw that should have been addressed with some little rollers, or at least PTFE inserts at the contact points..

    [​IMG]


    Unfortunately the scope rail has seen better days too, having apparently been subjected to over-tightened mounts in the past. Unfortunately these are obsolete too..

    [​IMG]


    "I know, let's drill some more holes in the stock for absolutely no sodding reason" :mad:

    [​IMG]


    "What's behind door no.1?" A world of pain. It looks like in the past some idiot has fitted the wrong port restrictor screw (M3x8mm as opposed to M3x5mm), causing the cover bolt to bottom out on its rear, which has evidently then been forced and stretched / deformed the threads in the block. I removed the wrong screw to fit one of the correct size (since I couldn't open the port all the way up with the wrong one fitted), however things started to bind when the screw got to the point of misalignment between the stretched and intact threads :(

    Hoping I can find someone competent to do a good job of fitting a thread insert, however usually when I out-source work I end up disappointed :rolleyes:

    [​IMG]


    The wrong cover screw (which as been shortened), the wrong adjustment screw (M3x8mm) and what I suspect to be the correct adjustment screw (M3x5mm):

    [​IMG]

    Looks like I've outdone myself this time and reached the image quantity limit for a single post - so I'll continue in a separate post below :)
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  2. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    ctd..

    A picture of some less-knackered bits of the gun - the trigger is superb :)

    [​IMG]


    The breech area again, this time with the scope rail removed. The Pro-Target uses a unique porting format - unlike most systems where the air travels directly upwards from the valve to a port in the barrel directly behind the loaded pellet, the PT routes the air from the underside of the barrel, rearward along its length and out the back of the barrel beneath the breech (the second hole below the bore in the pic). The air then turns 180 degrees courtesy of a cutout in the breech block, to be delivered directly to the rear of the pellet.

    This setup has the advantage of allowing direct loading into the rifling and removing the possibility of the pellet being damaged by burrs in the barrel at the transfer port. On the down side the convoluted route and additional volume of the port can't do efficiency any favours, and the format limits max. feasible port size somewhat (the ports in this gun are 3mm).

    The rusty grub screw holds in the "firing valve seat" - if the gun proves to be serviceable I'm hoping that there's scope for tuning by replacing the seat and enormous valve with some smaller custom options - time will tell..

    [​IMG]


    The sliding breech block from the front - note the channel in the breech face to allow the air to flow from the port in the rear face of the barrel down the bore. Sealing is achieved by an O-ring in the breech block that contacts the rear OD of the barrel.

    [​IMG]


    The breech assy closed, showing the wear to the breech block more clearly and the less-than-great finish on the main body of the sliding mech. When the gun comes to bits this will be receiving a damned good polish..

    [​IMG]


    While apparently well-looked after (apart from the monkey damage), this gun has evidently been out in the wet and not stripped and dried out - as attested to by this lack of bluing on the portion of the barrel that sits inside the breech block. Given the other stuff that's wrong with the gun, I won't be losing any sleep over little things like this!

    [​IMG]


    Damage to the transfer port notwithstanding, the action block is generally in good order. There's some polishing on exposed edges and a few light scratches where grit has evidently got between the block and tight-fitting stock, but this is par for the course on a gun of this age IMO.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The reg, retained by a little locking tab in the highly unlikely event that it would ever become loose after having been torqued-up by a gorilla at the factory and then having between 100 and 200bar acting to hold all the parts in tension against each other..

    [​IMG]


    The side plate removed to show the trigger and striker mech. - this all looks competently executed and is dead easy to work on. This setup has survived practically unchanged through the EV2 and FTP900.. both of which share many similarities with their originator, the Pro-Target.

    [​IMG]


    Finally, the striker spring preload adjustor at the back, which unfortunately has suffered at the hands of the idiots and their incorrect tools.. again this is now an obsolete part..

    [​IMG]


    So there we go - a lovely old gun (IMO) that's sadly not without its problems. First port of call is to try and get the port adjustor screw sorted then providing this works, test the gun to see if it's worth of chucking any more money at. Currently undecided as to what to do with the holes in the stock and the rest of the damage at the moment.

    Anyway, I hope we like :)
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
    JayJaVu, Kadushu, talent and 4 others like this.
  3. That hurts

    That hurts Barely Active

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    Despite the warts, 'tis still a rare thing of beauty on this sh*tty 'orrible day :up:
     
    foxtrott likes this.
  4. oedbachgen

    oedbachgen Top Poster

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    Its a great looking gun:up:, shame it comes with faults put it on the back burner until you can get your head around fixing it.
     
  5. Samiad

    Samiad Donator

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    Very nice... But I've spotted another terrible fault.... It's a .177 :p
     
  6. jameswrx

    jameswrx Engaging Member

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    I know people always say it but your pictures are incredible!

    Like the gun, hope you get it sweet again.

    Regarding the holes in the stock, you can see round indents like washers pressing into the wood. Maybe it had some sort of weight balancer screwed into it or something?
     
  7. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Cheers guys :)


    Thanks :)

    I'm glad you like the pictures - they did take pretty much all of yesterday evening to shoot and edit!

    I'm not sure what the crack is with the holes in the butt tbh.. I suppose weights are one possibility although the holes are pretty insubstantial. I'm not too concerned about these as they're small and in a bit of dark grain, so should be easy enough to fill and hide - unlike the monstrosity underneath!
     
  8. Ganton Gunner

    Ganton Gunner Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    so i realise you like them nice and standard etc. and i can fully appreciate why :)
    p.s. nice thread elsewhere ;)
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Jester

    Jester Engaging Member

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    The thread insert should work just fine, as that'll involve drilling it out oversize to fit the insert anyway it would be worth trying to gently re-tap the original thread in the block first if it's not too far gone. I've saved the occasional thread this way.

    Otherwise bloody nice rifle, if it shoots well maybe keep it as a (ab)usable option whilst still looking for that minter? :)
    At least you've saved it from a worse fate.
     
    Nobbi1977 likes this.
  10. sherlock1963

    sherlock1963 Engaging Member

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    Hope it works out. The Pro target is a beauty.

    I have been lucky (so far) with my small collection of 1990s classics.

    Out of curiosity, have Air Arms made a 'bad' air rifle?
     
  11. jesim1

    jesim1 Big Poster

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    I should get you to do all the work on my guns, your obviously very critical and conscientious, and if the price was right then this little treasure could be someone's pride and joy, even if it may not be yours.

    I'd do the bare minimum to make it an honest gun and see what you can get for it, there are other unmolested examples out there, you just have to find them.

    Good luck, and good write up.

    James
     
  12. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Thanks and yes, that is a little "bright" for my sensitive disposition :p

    Actually I don't mind it aesthetically, I just personally have a bit of an issue with irreversibly altering stuff that's potentially a bit rare / collectable..


    Thanks - really appreciate you optimism and encouragement!

    Unfortunately thanks to my perfectionism and other people's shortcomings, I'm rarely happy with work I've subbed out in the past. I'll try my best to find the most competent people to do the work though.

    Unfortunately the original thread is properly goosed - the port screw did a good job of "realigning" the damaged parts of the thread when I wound it out, but sadly this wasn't enough to ensure that they were aligned enough to accept the replacement screw.

    I'm thinking of doing just what you suggest - it's never going to be a minter but could be improved within reason. what I don't want to do is chuck a load of money at it that would have been better put towards a better example. I've got some ideas as to how it might be improved, so it could potentially make a good test bed for tinkering :)


    Thanks :)

    Likewise it looks like your '90s collection has got off to a cracking start! I'd never thought about it too much, bit it appears that '90s PCPs are the ones that really float my boat too..

    In terms of PCPs I don't think AA have made any real dogs - the S510 got a bit of a frosty reception on account of its "unconventional" format and the Galahad hasn't been wonderfully received, but generally their stuff is always competent (even if they all have their own shortcomings and teething problems).


    Thanks! Yeah, I'm certainly a bit of a perfectionist. tbh it's a blessing and a curse - on the one hand people are usually very rarely disappointed with work I do for them, but then I'm very rarely happy with work I do for myself :p

    Having a queer empathy for inanimate objects I feel sorry for this rifle and how it's been abused, so I feel somewhat duty-bound to sort it out if I can. Also, as above it could serve as a useful test bed for trying out (reversible) mods.

    I think I'll be keeping an eye out for a minter as well, though :)



    Not a lot has progressed with the rifle as I've got plenty of other stuff I should be doing instead, plus I don't want to / can't get too involved until the issue with the transfer port's been resolved.

    I did spend 10 minutes with the listening gear earlier, measuring the lock time (trigger release to striker impact) at about 3.5ms and total shot development time (trigger release to pellet exit from the bare barrel) at 6.5ms. Not quite up there with the sub-six-millisecond Steyrs, but better than most current sporters (typically around 8ms) and not at all bad for a 20yr old design.

    Interestingly it's about 3ms / 30% quicker than my NJR100 which was the gun it replaced as AA's flagship FT gun. The NJR was probably worse before Mr. Welham got his hands on it..

    There is some striker bounce (as always) but it doesn't appear or sound terrible, and I look forward to seeing if this is backed up by some efficiency figures when (if) the rifle is working properly :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2016
  13. thumbhole

    thumbhole Posting Addict

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    Excellent thread as usual, great detail and pics. I would have a go at saving it and as said may not be your keeper as you are after mint. But it will make someone else happy that is going to use it for what it was intended to bring home the silver ware. :up:
     
  14. Tripleteer

    Tripleteer Donator

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    Excellent post as usual! Such a lovely gun deserves the TLC that you are capable of bestowing on it...
     
  15. Funky Diver

    Funky Diver Donator

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    Could you open the thread out to M4? I know it won't be original but would save having a helicoil in there. Just a thought
     
    Nobbi1977 and Scott like this.
  16. The Robin

    The Robin Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Great project there Clover and I'm sure your the right man to restore this beauty. Looking forward to updates on how you get on with it :up:
     
  17. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Thanks guys - appreciate the encouragement and I fully intend to sort it out as best as I can :)


    I could, but I'd rather not - it would need the end of the screw re-profiling to allow it to properly project into the 3mm dia. port, plus it would mean an appropriate cover screw wouldn't fit the existing counterbore on the outside of the block.. so a non-starter as far as I'm concerned. Ta for the suggestion, though!



    As it stands the gun's in stasis atm unti l can get the port done - this relies on three things:

    - The people I'm considering to do the work actually picking up their phone
    - Me convincing myself that they're trustworthy to put their best into making a good job of it
    - Me finding the time to strip the gun and get over there to drop off the action

    None of these have yet been achieved.



    In the meantime the port is running wide open (as it should IMO) with just the blanking screw in place and the energy set up on the spring preload. I ran a few over the chrony the other day and it was largely consistant, but with the odd low shot - I'm assuming this is because of the port setup.

    Anyway, I couldn't leave it alone so banged a scope on it and took it up the club last night. Beforehand I cleaned the barrel which took all of two patches - either the last owner had cleaned it recently or it's a very well-finished barrel - hopefully the latter!

    Off the bench at 20yd it was a mixed bag, with 5-shot groups running to an average of 4.5mm c-c with AA Express, 5.7mm c-c with Exacts and a much more promising 3.2mm c-c with DS Heavies. I'd probably prefer the rifle to like the 7.9s, but I don't have anything that shoots well with heavies so it's not the end of the world if it prefers these.. bear in mind these were the rusults of one close-ish range test with only one batch of each, so things might change yet.

    At the end of the night I quickly chucked 10 down freestanding, with pleasing results. No doubt the rifle's quickish lock time, mass and super-light trigger conspired towards a group that's among the better ones I've shot with an air rifle.. The rifle's refinement flattered my poor trigger technique - with shots dropping in the 10 when they'd have got a lot further out with lesser guns :)

    [​IMG]


    Sadly I don't think it's legal for lightweight sport rifle - the trigger wouldn't even move the pointer on our cheapo yanky pull weight gauge, which isn't surprising since the scale starts at 8oz and the Pro-Target manual states that the trigger can be adjusted down to 80g :p
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
    The Robin likes this.
  18. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Back up the club tonight and not a lot to report - shot another fairly tidy group freestanding and some more lack-lustre groups off the bench.

    I did inspect the "muzzle brake" to find that it's basically all show and no go - it's only effect apparently being to serve as a small expansion chamber to take the edge of the muzzle report. There's no stripper inside and the vents are actually blanked off! I don't know why I'm surprised at this tbh since most of AA's "muzzle brakes" appear to be nothing more than inert eye candy :rolleyes:

    On the up side this makes me feel a lot less conflicted about replacing it with a nice fat shroud :D
     
  19. pilot

    pilot Member

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    Interesting post cloverleaf and excellent photo's... it is unfortunate that you have a few issues with this PT, and a leftie (only the stock of course) is quite rare. I would advise to persevere with this old lady... it was the foundation design for the EV2 and FT900 and along with the FT900 is the only AA PCP with a fully floating barrel. Get this gun 'right' and you will have a real prize. I purchased a PT mk3 almost new in 94, used it for a couple of years then packed in FT for ten years and moth-balled the rifle. Just started up again, had AA do a full service including regulator overhaul with new harder neoprine seals; PCP cylinder change (out of time-date) and this rifle is just like new. I must admit that some of the staff at AA are reluctant to take in a PT for service because of their age... but I know Sheila at AA and pursuaded her what a worthy cause it was :) Anyhow, they did a first rate job and wild horses would not drag this PT from moi... :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2017
  20. rabbitwrecker

    rabbitwrecker The Tree Hunter...

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    Thank you very much for posting that, I'll be having nightmares for the next week or two...:eek:
     
    cloverleaf likes this.

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