Pistol test: Beeman P17
- Credit: Archant
Phill Price has a blast with this single-stroke pneumatic
Shooting pistols accurately is much harder than shooting a rifle. That’s no surprise – you’re handling something much lighter and it lacks the extra point of contact with your shoulder. Like many people, however, I enjoy the challenge.
Spring-piston pistols are especially tricky because ultra-consistent handling and trigger release is demanded. For this reason, I was keen to try this pneumatic pistol from Beeman as I hoped it would be more forgiving to shoot. Pneumatics are close to recoilless and often have nicer triggers than spring guns because they’re not under such high loads.
The P17 is a single-stroke pneumatic, cocked by pulling back on the dummy hammer and swinging the fake slide up and forward. This exposes the breech, allowing a pellet to be loaded. This was a little tricky at first, but I soon found a technique that worked. To complete the cocking procedure, you then swing the ‘slide’ back and down until it locks.
SMK, the Beeman importer, packed some of their Victory Punch .22 pellets with the pistol, so they were what I used.
Cocking not only requires a fair degree of strength, which makes me I doubt whether junior shooters would be able to do it, but you need to place the heel of your hand carefully to avoid the red-dot sight and the rear sight as you force the action shut.
The safety is placed just above the trigger blade on the left of the frame and comes on automatically as the action is cocked. I found it ideally placed for the thumb of my weak hand in my normal combat hold.
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The trigger action was simply superb. It’s a two-stage design, the first stage being light and smooth, while the second stage is light and breaks cleanly. It’s definitely one of the best pistol triggers I’ve ever experienced, a great help to accurate shooting.
The Victory Punch pellets are flat-faced and weigh 13 grains, which is quite light for a .22. This could prove useful because pistols have quite low muzzle velocity compared to a rifle. The pistol packaging made the quite ambitious statement that we should expect ‘up to’ 300 fps. These velocities are often gained using ultra-lightweight pellets, so I was expecting a much lower velocity with the Victory Punch.
So, imagine my surprise when the chronograph showed an average velocity of 360fps for a muzzle energy of 3.7ft.lbs! That’s powerful for a pistol, plus the velocity was very consistent from shot to shot.
On top, there’s a set of fully adjustable open sights that have fibre-optic inserts to enhance them, plus the test gun was fitted with a Beeman red-dot sight. This simply clamps onto the 11mm rail mounted into the ‘slide’, allowing almost any type of sight to be fitted if you choose.
Inexpensive red-dots can suffer badly in bright light conditions, the dot being almost impossible to see, but this one was bright and clear even on a sunny day. This pistol and sight combination really does have a lot going for it.
Alongside the pistol and pellets, SMK packed a Milbro target system with four ducks in a row. In the middle is a round target that resets the ducks when hit, so there’s no need to walk down-range to set targets up each time. Even after shooting the target for several hours with the powerful P17, it remained unmarked, looking almost like new.
The most important test of any gun is accuracy, so I placed a target card at 10 metres and shot groups. The red-dot sight suited my poor eyesight well, and the superb trigger made consistent shot release possible. I got 1/2-1” groups, which is probably at the limit of my shooting ability with a handgun. Zeroing the red-dot was simple and the adjustments moved consistently and accurately.
I found the shape of the grip comfortable for my medium-sized hand, although the reach to the trigger blade was quite short – but that’s much better than being too long.
As the P17 makes so much power there is noticeable muzzle flip, which adds to the excitement of firing and I don’t think it made accurate shooting more difficult. It does have a muzzle brake moulded in, but I don’t believe these work in this situation. I think it just looks good.
I had really good fun with the P17 and it offers so much. A great trigger, consistent high power and a good sighting system thrown in.
Importer: SMK Ltd
Length: 9 1.2” (23cm)
Weight: 1lb 12oz (800g)
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