Tuesday, June 23, 2015

An Armada of One
Because everyone is going to make it their own.

Dan House wrote:

“How are the Armada's ergonomics compared to the other guns, and your Marauder? 
Is the grip removable/replaceable? lot of good aftermarket grips that might help the ergonomics....”

Hi Dan, and thanks for the questions.

Is the Armada OK in my hands

The Armada is a Marauder with a stock that accepts accessories designed for the AR-15 family of rifles. These rifles have a definite military look, and receive a definite reaction from airgunners depending on their point of view. The National Shooting Sports Foundation coined the phrase Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR) to provide an alternative category.

Perhaps the Armada is a Modern Sporting Air Rifle

Dan, you wrote on the New Crosman Forum (http://www.network54.com/Forum/275684/) that the Armada was marketed to folks who were already in the modern sporting rifle community and had the accessories or knew what accessories they want to attach to personalize their air rifle. I see what you wrote, but these folks have one other thing that I didn’t have. Their hands already know where to go when they pick one up.  

1903 top, M1 below

It’s what you were trained with

Their hands move with muscle memory that for many of them started in boot camp. The black rifle, the M16, has been the service weapon since the 1960s. That’s roughly 45 years, or put another way, two 20 year careers. Before then, veterans were thick upon the land. Every one of those veterans trained on a 1903 Springfield or an M1 Garand. They were blued steel and wooden stocked riflemen. That is what a rifle looked like when I was a teenager. I shot an M-1 in Navy boot camp. I started shooting National Match competition before the A-2 version of the black rifle appeared, so I shot a National Match Garand and life was good. I knew my way around an M1, but not a black rifle.

Today, it is not that way.  The M16, now the M4, has been the US service rifle for over 40 years. 40 years of boot camp graduates trained on  polymer and alloy.  It has been 40 years since those veterans of my youth were trained on wood and steel. I just happened to pick 2015 to update my shooting experience. Let me tell you how the Armada fits my hands.

Armada and M1 are about the same size.

Now There Are Options

The Armada stock will accept mil spec buttstocks and grips. There is a huge selection of  grips and buttstocks that fit the Armada, and they are everywhere on the web and in brick and mortar stores. I counted 6 stores in Pocatello selling aftermarket accessories that would fit on the Armada. It is important to note that the Armada buffer tube is larger than the one used on civilian AR-15. I can hear the old Chief Gunners Mate rasping, “Be advised, recruit, that stocks must be compatible with the larger diameter milspec buffer tube”. Also, the Armada’s attachment point for the buffer tube is further back from the grip than the AR. Some buttstocks, especially those for the M -16 may be too long. The globally sourced adjustable butt on the Armada I have rattles. This has drawn negative comments from shooters as well as non-shooters. I wanted to put on a fixed length buttstock but now I think that an adjustable stock is the way to go. It doesn't rattle when I am in position, and it allows me to adjust my eye relief when I switch from scope to iron sights or from the bench to position shooting.

The Armada stock is different from the stocks we associate with the Benjamin Marauder, since the buttstock, hand grip and the handrail are attachments. The first two can be changed while the center section of the stock is still attached to the rifle, but before the center section can be removed, the handrail must first be detached.  The handrail is fastened at the front with a piece that goes around the front of the air tube. At the rear is a saddle that goes over the barrel. The whole business locks together like a chinese puzzle.

The straight line design means that the center section covers the hole in the rear of the air tube. You can’t access the adjustments for the hammer spring or the hammer throw without removing first the handrail (5 screws) and then the stock (1 screw). For adjusting , you can take the stock’s  center section off, then adjust, and then put it back to test fire the gun.  I shot without the handrail to record velocities and shoot groups at the same time. You can leave the handrail off, or you can put the gun into any Generation II stock, but doing so negates some of the Armada.s best features.

Ready to adjust power

An Armada of One

The handrail and the associated picatinny rail is key to what I like about the Armada. Yes, it looks like the perforated shroud surrounding the exhaust stack on an 18 wheeler. The Armada without the handrail just is not an Armada. To explain why let’s go back to a western Idaho squirrel shoot I attended last May.

At the squirrel shoot I was confronted by someone who, in so many words, accused me of being an assault rifle wannabe. I was about to blow him off as a nattering nabob of negativity when he asked a great question, “When you look at that rifle, what do you see”? “I see sights,” I answered, and told him how I planned to shoot it in several 50 yard matches we had in Pocatello. Without that handrail there isn’t a secure place to mount a front sight. Sights are my personal modification, but there is more to the handrail. With the handrail’s flexibility, every Armada can be an armada of one. Each one customised to its owner’s wishes.

The handrail provides a place to grab the rifle without touching the barrel. On the Armada there is no barrel band, and the barrel is free to move. Some Marauder owners report radical change in point of impact if the rifle is not handled carefully. The handrail offers a degree of protection from moving the barrel not found in the Marauder.

So there it is, Dan. Buttstocks and grips are interchangeable and made to the standard milspec pattern.  Ergonomics are good both off the bench and in position. It just took some time for this old dog to learn some new tricks.