The powerful Condor by Tom Gaylord
What's the deal with the world's most powerful smallbore air rifle?
<>The Condor was announced in January of 2004, and by the end of March, they were in dealers' hands. It is the world's most powerful smallbore air rifle, but what is it, really?
|The Condor is the world's most powerful smallbore air rifle. Like all AirForce rifles, it has adjustable power (see inset).|
The Condor is a precharged air rifle that uses a huge black air tank as both its buttstock and air reservoir. It is closely related to both the Talon and Talon SS rifles with which it shares many parts, like the 490 cc air tank and a premium Lothar Walther barrel.
The Condor's valve, however, is brand new. It's called the Hi-Flo valve because is allows so much air to pass through with every shot. The rifle's mechanism is also new, and is significantly more powerful to open that new valve. Here is what that means to airgunners. The Condor will shoot the 14.3-grain .22 Crosman Premier pellet at supersonic velocity for 20 shots and more. Even shot 20 will usually still be above 1,150 f.p.s. No other air rifle on the market has that many shots at this velocity.>
|Crosman Premiers, Beeman Kodiaks and Eun Jin pellets from Korea are three good choices for the powerful Condor.|
Of course the Crosman Premier is traveling too fast for its best accuracy at the Condor's top power level. It's simply used to give shooters a point of reference. Shooters will either want to use heavier pellets that slow the rifle down to less than 1,000 f.p.s., or they will dial the power way down to use the Premiers. To go faster than the speed of sound with some pellets can cause inaccuracy.
WHICH PELLETS TO USE?
Premier pellets weighing 14.3 grains are superb in all our air rifles, but in Condors they work best on the lower power settings, from 0 to 4 or 5. The 24-inch Lothar Walther barrel loves them. When you dial the power wheel up to 8, use heavier Beeman Kodiaks. Condors with Kodiaks at power setting 8 get groups smaller than a dime at 25 yards.
When you want all the power the rifle can offer, Eun Jin pellets from Korea are a good bet. They will produce over 60 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle on the highest power setting. Even with a heavy 30-grain pellet, you will still be shooting at about 1,000 f.p.s. on full power.
|Like all AirForce rifles, the Condor's Lothar Walther barrel is very accurate.|
AirForce tells their customers to expect a five-shot group of about one inch at 50 yards. That's with everything done right, and it’s true for all rifles. The guns can sometimes do better, but that takes a lot of skill and perfect conditions.
Where the Condor starts to shine is at ranges beyond 50 yards. It is so powerful that shooters can keep right on shooting to 70, 80 and even 100 yards and the gun will still group well. While most powerful air rifles are limited to about 50 yards for their best accuracy, the Condor offers a significant long-range advantage.
|Five Korean Dae Sung heavyweight pellets went into this 1.25-inch group at 50 yards.|
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
The Condor valve mechanism is adjusted at the factory. The adjustable valve cap is set with a clearance of 0.090-inches underneath to give the maximum power the rifle has to offer. The only thing you need to do is fill the tank with air and set the power wheel. The Condor is accurate at all power levels, as long as you don't push the pellets too far past 1,000 f.p.s.
The Condor gets a great deal of its power from its 24-inch barrel. Even a Talon SS that normally gets 23-25 foot-pounds from its 12-inch barrel in .22-caliber will increase to over 40 foot-pounds, just by adding the optional 24-inch barrel. When the Hi Flo valve is combined with the Condor’s powerplant, however, another 20+ foot-pounds become available.
The Condor will not shoot as powerfully with a shorter barrel, nor will the Talon or Talon SS benefit from the Condor's Hi-Flo air valve. In fact, a Talon SS with a Condor tank will get less than 600 f.p.s. with Premiers, both because of the shorter SS barrel and because the rifle’s mechanism is not adjusted properly to operate the Condor’s bigger valve.
UPGRADE TO A CONDOR?
It is possible for the AirForce factory to upgrade the power of either a Talon or Talon SS to Condor power. We recommend upgrading the Talon SS over the regular Talon, because the 24-inch barrel looks better on the Talon SS long frame.
Only the guns with a power adjustment wheel on the left side of the frame can be modified with the upgrade kit. Some very early guns may require additional parts that must also be installed by AirForce.
HOW ABOUT .177?
What about the Condor in .177? It is available in .177, but unless you pla n to shoot heavy lead bullets that you cast yourself, or until .177 pellets of at least 20 grains weight become available, the Condor just is too powerful for this caliber. In AirForce testing, a .177 Condor pushed lightweight pellets faster than 1,450 f.p.s.
The power range of a .22 Condor is between 19 and 65 foot-pounds. This gives the rifle a wide range of applications. There is no sound suppression on a Condor, and the noise of a high power shot is similar to the sound made by a .22 rimfire rifle.
THE NEED FOR CLEAN
The Condor's design, where the air tank can be so easily removed, makes cleaning from the breech a snap. Do not use gun solvents to clean, but you may use a little gun oil on patches. You don't need to clean the barrel often, but this is how to do it. And don't forget to protect the muzzle crown when you clean, because it is very important to accuracy.
Other than infrequent barrel cleaning there are no special maintenance requirements. There are also no lubrication needs, as the Condor is lubricated at the factory. Putting oil on any parts of the gun other than the barrel will slow the firing mechanism and lower performance. You may lubricate the pellets lightly, but if they are pure lead, like Beeman Kodiaks for example, they don’t need it.
The new Condor air rifle is a purpose-built hunting air rifle that turned out to be more flexible than anticipated. Is it the right airgun for you? The best way to find out is to get one and see for yourself. This powerful new rifle looks like a winning proposition for everyone.