Canadian Airgun Forum

Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?
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Author:  eSteve [ Wed Apr 14, 2021 12:13 am ]
Post subject:  Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?

Hey Everybody,

I got my Phantom .22 495 fps new, it may have been 2008 ? I put about 1000 shots on it at that time. I pulled it out a few months ago, started shooting lots and improving it. My eyes had got old, I couldn't use the open sights. I got the basic scope, the CentrePoint 4x32. I wanted to get accurate, I started researching. I found out about the detuned aspects and trigger improvement. I took it all apart, cleaned it. I identified that I had the longer piston model. I did all the deburring, polishing and lubrication. Doing the work allows a familiarity with the thing. It's cool.

I got a Chrony. Wow! It took some patience to figure how to light it and shoot through the sweet spot. But the learning you get with improvements and pellets is astounding! The lesser models were sold out so I got the Master Alpha, it has the wired display unit. Super cool! Having the display and control right there while shooting, and putting it on my knee after the session while I make notes is amazing! Love it!

I ordered the parts: the piston, spring and some small spares. I installed the spring and fresh piston seal right away and kept shooting. I started hitting bulls, and getting tight groups. And then I wasn't. My tight groups started to move toward and away from, and rotate around the bull on consecutive targets. The groups would expand and contract. I like wringing performance out of "economy" gear, but I know accuracy lives in me, I'm not one to blame the gear. The music's not in the piano. But I had to acknowledge that the CentrePoint scope wasn't holding zero, true to it's rep.

I had learned about scope specs and bought a new one, Hawke Vantage 4x32 AO Mil Dot, $130 before. So fun setting that up! My range is 17m. Right away I was shooting 30 - 50% bulls, inside one inch. It was time to install the new piston, so I Chronied it first. My rifle likes RWS pellets: Superdome 14.5 gr and Super-H-Point 14.2 gr about equally in accuracy and energy.

Lo-power piston: 14.5 gr @ 453.6 fps for 6.6 fpe

Hi-power piston: 14.2 gr @ 729.8 fps for 16.8 fpe !

I knew where about I would land with velocity after the new piston but I hadn't done the math for energy. I didn't realize that it's not a linear relationship; that 61% increase in velocity is a 153% increase in energy. Crazy! Not what I'm really after, which is accuracy, flat trajectory maybe, but excited and happy anyway.

I only did the one Chrony session, about 20 shots. I'll post photos tomorrow. I didn't even have to zero the scope. Good 6,7 shot group at the bull, then over right. Next target, solid group right. This was a bit like before.

Then I remembered. See, this Hawke Vantage scope has great reviews as an air rifle scope, but it's not a true air rifle series like their Airmax. I had read in comments that it was good on low power rifles, below that UK standard, what is it 12.x fpe? In my mind I had a low power rifle, I had no idea I would be eclipsing that standard.

I'm gonna keep shooting and checking it but now what do I do? I can't just go buy another scope. Can I retune the Phantom so the scope holds zero? Oh, also, is my scope wrecked now? Sheesh.

I had read a lot of posts here earlier about the myriad Optimus/Quest/Phantom improvement combinations, it was like getting punched in the head! Yes, tomorrow night I'll continue with part numbers of what I installed and dimensions of parts I took out. I don't have calipers for measuring wire diameter.

I'm sorry for this this long post but I had to tell sort of the whole story, no one else to tell. And I need your help to dig myself out out of this latest little hole, and my brain hurts. Thanks heaps.


Author:  ricksplace [ Wed Apr 14, 2021 6:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?

Hi Steve. I have been in the same place you are. I started with a sub-500fps Phantom too. My gun had the short full power, non-vented piston and a very weak spring. Dropping in the full power spring gave about 700fps, but I didn't like the way the gun shot. The shot cycle was harsh, and the gun was very hold sensitive. I tried the 12fpe spring from Crosman (can't remember the part #) and that was better at just over 600fps. I have found that a full power spring detuned by reducing the preload by 50% gives a lovely "sweet spot" (in my gun anyway) at about 640-650fps or around 13fpe. The gun became a real pleasure to shoot. I decreased the preload by cutting the spacer in half. Just cut it with a hacksaw as close to 90 degrees as you can. Clean up the cut end by rubbing it on sand paper on a flat surface. That's it. If you want full power again, just buy a new spacer from Crosman for a few bucks. I have detuned my Crosman Fury in .177 (Phantom without sights) in the same manner. Another bonus of decreasing the preload is that the spring is not stressed as much as it is at full power. My Fury has thousands of shots through it with no sign of the spring weakening or breaking. Both rifles are equipped with Ruko 3-9X40 AO airgun rated scopes. They're not expensive scopes ($80). I use one piece mounts with a stop pin. They don't move, ever. You don't mention what type of scope mounts you are using. At minimum, four screw mounts are required. (Four screws holding down each cap, two screws holding each ring to the dovetail). The one piece mount has almost 4x the gripping surface on the dovetail, and four screws on each cap.
There are lots of threads on here regarding up-tuning a slow Phantom, or detuning a fast Phantom. Todd Cooper (@Tcooper) has a few threads about finding the sweet spot in his two Crosman Optimus' (same gun with a wood stock). His full power Optimus was so harsh, it vibrated off the flip up scope caps he had on his Leapers scope! I made a bunch of various length lathe-turned spacers for Todd so he could experiment. His posts explain how they affected velocities.
Lastly, your wandering point of impact may be the actual scope moving in the mounts, or the mounts moving in the dovetail. It doesn't take much movement to throw off groups. Hawk scopes have a good reputation. I'm guessing your scope itself is probably not the problem. Loose stock screws can cause the same symptoms too, and a harsh firing cycle only loosens them faster. I use Locktite #222 purple on all my guns, rather than the blue #243. It holds fine in the detuned guns, and is easy to remove when needed.
Kind of a long-winded answer! Hope this helps.

PS. I find my hold-sensitive guns will walk the groups around due to small changes I make in my hold. Some guys can shoot a hold-sensitive gun just fine. I can't. (For example, I can't duplicate the groups Todd Cooper shoots with my guns). That's why I detune my guns until they shoot for me. Both of my aforementioned guns have custom spring guides I built and piston liners. Both shoot with a quiet thump. No twang, no buzz.

Author:  YepYep [ Wed Apr 14, 2021 7:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?

Yes, that's the good point about power and shoot cycle Plus the holds!

IMO, 16+ fpe power is too powerful for a springer. 12fpe is much sweeter to shoot and more friendly for scopes...

And, Steve, you mean your POI (point of impact) shifted to the right? How's the groups then? Opened up of still tight, but on aside? Can you re-zero it again?

Try to do one thing at a time, for example, don't use tbe cbrono when you zeroing the scope ~ :D

And maybe in full power, the harsher and sensitive shooting cycle would shift the POI too...

And I believe you tuned the gun well with the polishing and relube... All these jobs will reward you with a much nicer and smooth shooting cycle and also good to lower the recoils on the scopes~

At last, If the worst happened, I believe Hawke provides good warranty for their scopes.

Author:  eSteve [ Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?

ricksplace wrote:
Hi Steve. I have been in the same place you are.

Hey Rick

Thanks so much for responding. I really appreciate your sharing, and others’ too.

Yes, I had gone over previous threads, especially ones with you and Todd. What you’ve given me here is great, really specific. There’s light at the end of my little dark tunnel.

I have to go to work now. But I’ll continue this thread later and, yeah, try and post pictures, etc. A bit more about me. I’m not a motorhead or machinist. I’m a finishing carpenter, so I like tools and fabricating. Like many of you here, I enjoy predictable outcomes from hand work. So a little amateur gunsmithing is good.


Author:  NorthernBallistics [ Wed Apr 14, 2021 11:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?

I own the same scope and never had an issue on it with magnum springers. It's a one piece design, with less moving parts (no zoom) there shouldn't be an issue with it unless it was merely a defective one. Your scope should have a lifetime warranty on it. Check with Hawke about a replacement or repair.

Have you tested it on another rifle? I did the exact same thing you did but with the Crosman Optimus, changed out the spring, found it too hot. But it didn't wreck my scope.

Author:  ricksplace [ Wed Apr 14, 2021 3:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?

I just remembered another wandering group problem with my .22 Phantom. Check your lockup. The detent spring in mine was too weak to ensure consistent lockup. I replaced it with a stronger spring and groups shrank from 3" at 20 meters to well under an inch. Side play can be controlled by the amount of torque applied to the main hinge bolt. The barrel should almost drop under its own weight when unaffected by the spring. After tuning up the detent and lockup, check the breach seal for leaks with the tissue test. (Lay a piece of tissue over the breach and fire the gun. If the tissue slides off, you're good. If it flies off at warp speed, your breach seal is leaking)
One of the things I like about springers is the sheer number of parameters that can affect the accuracy and shoot-ability of the gun. It's rewarding to finally get them all in harmony.

Author:  eSteve [ Wed Apr 14, 2021 5:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?

YepYep wrote:
And, Steve, you mean your POI (point of impact) shifted to the right? How's the groups then? Opened up of still tight, but on aside?

Yep, thanks.

You can see the first group around the bull, and then a sudden group right. Then they’re all right in the 2nd target.

Yes, I’m not power hungry, I want a smooth shooter. Keep watching . . .

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Author:  eSteve [ Wed Apr 14, 2021 5:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?

NorthernBallistics wrote:
I own the same scope and never had an issue on it

Thanks NorthernB, this is good news. Yes, I purposely got this scope because 4x32 AO is all I need for now. I won’t be shooting more than 17m any time soon. And I really like it. It feels solid, really positive stops on the turrets, AO solid and smooth.

I don’t have another rifle to put it on now but I’m looking for a similar .177 with wood stock.

Funny, the day this scope got delivered, I got email that D&L had a bunch of Hawke scopes at 25% off, not mine. But the one above it was reduced, the Vantage 2-7x32 AO Mil Dot IR to $161.25. So I could have had 2-7x magnification and a snappy illuminated reticle for for just 30 bucks more. But it was ok, I don’t need it yet. And yeah, less to go wrong with mine and no battery. And here I am wrestling with my kit. I’m good.

I have a funny picture of zeroing my scope, I’ll post later, I’ve got to respond to Rick.

And hey, nice weather in the valley this weekend. Are you putting a salmon on the Bar B ?

Cheers man

Author:  ricksplace [ Wed Apr 14, 2021 5:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?

Those groups tell me it's not your scope. I have had a scope slowly self destruct. The groups get bigger and bigger without any tight subgroups. These groups look more like my groups did when my lockup was inconsistent. When it locked up properly, the shots landed close together. Take the scope off and use the open sights and see what your groups look like. My guess is that the groups will be tighter and rounder. If they are, your lockup needs fixing. Since the open sights are both on the barrel, inconsistent lockup has less effect on groups when a scope is not used. Those tight subgroups are a good sign. Once you have found what's causing the fliers, your groups should look like those small subgroups without the fliers. If you press down lightly on the barrel when cocked, does it visibly move at the breach? It shouldn't.

Author:  eSteve [ Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?

ricksplace wrote:
I have found that a full power spring detuned by reducing the preload by 50% gives a lovely "sweet spot" at about 640-650fps or around 13fpe.

Hey Rick.

Thanks! I’ll do it! That’s it, eh? I’ve attached a photo of my parts shipping list, I’m quite sure the piston and spring are the same basic hi-power ones that we’re all referring to, 730 fps is a good indicator of that.

Thanks for the Ruko info, I’ll be checking those out. And yes, my scope mounting is somewhat suspect. When I ordered my scope I checked the dimensions carefully, I had read about scopes mounted so close to the rifle that lens covers would no longer fit. I ordered a pair of high-height Match Ring Mounts by Hawke with my scope to prevent this. Although not one-piece, they are otherwise as you mentioned: two pairs of screws in each cap and a pair of screws for each ring to the dovetail (these bottom screws rather beefier than the CentrePoint ones and going completely through), and a stop pin. But I didn’t use these mounts. When I took off the CentrePoint scope, I found that the new Hawke scope fit well in the medium-height CentrePoint rings with a couple of good, thin shims in each ring. This allowed a close installation to the barrel, which I believe is good, and a nice look. (see photos) The lens covers just fit, too. The CentrePoint rings also have a stop pin. But they only have a single pair of screws in the caps and smallish screws for the dovetail.

I would buy a one-piece mount but I think I’ll try the Hawke rings I have, first. Then I could leave out the shims; it seems that how well the rings grab is important.

I also removed the rear fibre-optic sight and cut the top off the front one. They were clouding the view through the scope and I can’t use them anyway with my middle-aged eyes. And it’s a cleaner look, perhaps like your Fury.

Funny, I had a moment like Todd’s scope caps right after I installed the new piston. The first shot I took, the safety lever jumped forward from it’s spring detente. I was worried but it shot well, the velocity was good. I was able to push it back. I think it happened again. The shots were a bit louder with a bit more twang, but ok. The next day I realized I had neglected to pull the front centreing spacer from the old piston. There I was on Monday night opening up the rifle again. I thought “great, I’m finally done” and put blue thread locker on the screws. But nooo. Ha!

Yes, hold-sensitive. I think I could be a good shot. I’m still learning.

During one of these sessions, I had a shot fall from the group. I looked at the Chrony, the pellet was slow. I looked at the tin, near empty. That pellet was heavy, I’m sure. I ordered a scale, I’m going to match pellets. I also ordered a set of basic bench rest bags to get free shipping. I’m learning.

Yes, I had read something about pop bottle liners? I get it now, inside the piston.

Again Rick, thanks heaps. This all certainly helps.

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Author:  eSteve [ Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?

ricksplace wrote:
I just remembered another wandering group problem with my .22 Phantom. Check your lockup.

I'll check the lockup. I think it's good. I undid the hinge bolt when I did my first disassembly and cleaning. It was quite hard to turn out and not terribly smooth going in. I was going to remove it the other night to put thread locker on it, but again, it was real tight so I let it be. The action is real good, seems progressive and solid.

I had read about the tissue test, I'll give it a go.


Author:  eSteve [ Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?

ricksplace wrote:
Those groups tell me it's not your scope.

Yes, not my scope, I'm getting that. I'm glad, I like it. And I have thought about the breech. I'll be doing those tests.

My target groups aren't wildly consistent but quite good, in my still rather short learning period so far. You like those targets, hey? Not the best display of my ability. Here's the story. I was shooting well on the weekend. On Sunday night, at 9pm, before work on Monday, I decided to install the new piston and see how fast I could do it. It took exactly one hour. Then I did that Chrony session. I just reinstalled the scope on the mounts, I didn’t even zero it and I hit those 6 shots in the bull group. I was riding’ high! And then it just swung right. I think the bottom one is a flier from the right. And then I moved to the other target. I can tell you, I was feeling a little twitchy. And this is when the safety was jumping of the detente, too. Hilarious! Yeah, so maybe not a good reflection of my meagre talent, Rick.

I gotta eat.

Author:  Edmonton<500 [ Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?

I'll just add a reminder that you now have a non-restricted firearm on your hands, which requires a PAL license. So, your quest for accuracy should, if you don't have a PAL, be expedited by the fact that you're now illegally in possession of a rifle that requires that license.


Author:  eSteve [ Wed Apr 14, 2021 11:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?

Edmonton<500 wrote:
I'll just add a reminder

Thanks Ed

Author:  NorthernBallistics [ Thu Apr 15, 2021 6:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Phantom .22 - Scope Trouble?

eSteve wrote:
NorthernBallistics wrote:
And hey, nice weather in the valley this weekend. Are you putting a salmon on the Bar B ?

Cheers man

Putting out the Patio couch and pillows that's for sure. We've eaten all our salmon from last year. :)

I'm excited for the 26C though, wow, CO2 pistol weather!!!

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