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Tim Finley is first in line to have a go with the brand new Crosman RI - a top value air rifle. Check out his review here
Crosman have done it again! They’ve only come out with a CO2-powered, BB-firing version of an M16/M4/AR-type rifle, the semi-automatic R1 – and I was sent one from the first batch to arrive in the UK, direct from the importers, Range Right Ltd.
One of the very first things to note is that the BBs and CO2 are housed in the removable magazine. This takes two 12g bulbs, charged with a simple Allen screw piercing system, and Crosman also provide the Allen key. A short one is clipped into the top of the magazine’s internals when you pop off the bottom cover. BBs are held in a 25-round, linear magazine on the front of the mag’, which is the same shape as a real AR mag’, and Crosman also provide you with a speed loader, which you do need. They only give you one magazine, which is a real niggle I have always had with all plinker manufacturers. They make fast-firing guns with rapid changeable mag’s and they don’t give you two magazines, or worse, they make it really hard to buy spares. One brilliant thing with Crosman is that they do sell spare mag’s. I had Range Right send me two additional magazines, and I forgive Crosman on the R1 because the mag’ is the heart of the gun and an expensive bit of kit to produce. Spares are £75, but well worth the money. The magazine fully loaded is heavy – it weighs 1.73kg – but the R1 itself is light because it’s mostly made of light synthetic materials. All of the controls are the same as a real AR, and the magazine catch is in the same place.
The safety catch is in the same place. You flick it forward and the long lever points directly down, so you can feel it with the top of your thumb. That way, you know it’s set on ‘fire’ even without having to look at it, and you know it’s set on ‘safe’ when you cannot feel it there – it soon becomes second nature to operate.
The R1 has a hold-open bolt which remains in the rearward position on the last shot. It also has a bolt-release catch on the left-hand side of the action – slap this and the bolt drives forward.
Over the chronograph, the two CO2 bulbs give you seven full mag’s worth of shots at 1.6 ft.lbs, although under the 430fps quoted by Crosman. In my tests, it was 370 fps, but it is temperature dependent. You get 175 shots per two 12g CO2 bulbs in each magazine – brilliant isn’t it!
CHANGE OF FURNITURE
My first group at six yards, just to see where the sights were, came as a shock. The first BB went through the 20mm marking sticker. A typical five-shot group measured in at 19.02mm with three shots touching, forming a 4.8mm three-shot group. Yes, the R1 is accurate – average groups with open sights were under 25mm. After fitting a red dot, they shrunk to under 20mm, but a peep sight is not the most accurate sighting system – well, certainly not for me.
As the R1 was mine I couldn’t resist and changed the furniture, with the help of a chap who goes under the title of ‘HIGoperator’. He is a veteran who manufactures Special Operations-type helmets for airsoft players, and also supplies the film and television industry. He’s good at it because he knows what he is doing with the real stuff in his day job, which I cannot mention, but I’ve known him for 10 years. He supplied the new butt stock and even had the paint to make it a near match for the R1’s odd tan colour. He has a whole range of various armed forces spray paints. He also sprayed my black AR pistol grip that I took from my Tactical Solutions .22 semi-auto rifle when I changed all of its furniture to Foliage Green, Magpul pistol grip, butt stock and trigger guard.
So, the grip on my R1 came from a 5.56mm Double Star. Crosman is correct; you can retro-fit ‘real’ furniture to the R1. I also made myself a new Allen key for the CO2 bulb system with a fired British Army issue, brass 5.56mm case – a gift from HIGoperator, as was the handle. I found the stubby Allen keys held in the magazines a bit short.
Remember to install the CO2 bulb on the left-hand side of the mag’ first. Crosman handily have the word ‘FIRST’ engraved on the side the 12g bulb, which must be installed in first to prevent gas escaping.
A BIG SELLER
This rifle is a game-changer for plinking. I can train in my loft range whenever I want because the controls are the same as my competition AR .22 rimfire. The R1 also strips down fully just like an AR; push out the pin behind the safety catch, from the left-hand side, and the upper hinges forward away from the lower. The muzzle brake also screws off, although I have not been able to source a CCW mod’ for it yet.
The fore end has a quad Picatinny rail to mount any accessory you wish, and the six-position rear stock. If you want to drop the magazines for quick mag’ change shooting drills, you must fit rubber bump covers on the bottom of the mag’s because they are fragile and if dropped during a quick mag’ change, they will smash/break. These have to come off each time you need to install new 12g CO2 bulbs. You do get seven mag’s worth of shots, so that’s not too often. The ones you can buy also have to be cut down so not to cover over the BB system at the front of the magazines. Shortening them also makes it easy to get them off and on. A final touch on my R1 was tan rubber covers on both sides of the Picatinny accessory rail, for a more comfortable grip. A truly wonderful plinking CO2 rifle, a triumph for Crosman and sure to be a big seller.
Distributor: Range Right Ltd
Calibre: .177 /4.5mm
Mechanism: Blow-back action
Power Source: Two 12g CO2 bulbs
Capacity: 25 shot
Overall length: 700mm (stock closed 774mm)
Weight: 3.3kg (with red dot fitted and magazine in)
Barrel length: 270mm
Sights: Open, peep, flip-up.
Sight base: 355mm
Trigger weight: 4.4kg
Price: RRP £299
Magazines: RRP £75
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