Of the two, the .20 is my favorite for general hunting use.
While there are plenty of spring-piston air rifles on the market that have more initial power than the 14 ft/lbs that a .20 R-9 can develop, the variable nature of the ballistic coeffecient of air rifle pellets means that the difference in the real world between what a “wimpy” R-9 will do on game at the 50 yard line and what a more powerful rifle will do is largely academic. For example, in shooting .20 caliber Beeman FTS pellets out of my R-9 and chronographing velocities and different ranges to determine ballistic coeffecient, I get a figure of .026 BC for these pellets when fired at about 750 ft/s from the R-9. This yeilds 14 ft/lb at the muzzle and 9 ft/lb at 50 yards. My .20 R-1 will fire these same pellets over 100 ft/s faster, hitting close to 18 ft/lb of energy at the muzzle, yet the measured BC with these pellets is .019, so they shed velocity and energy more quickly when fired out of this rifle than they do when fired out of the wimpy R-9. The result is that the difference of energy delivery between the two is less than a ft/lb and hardly enough to cause a jackrabbit or turkey to take notice.
For many years, my hunting rifle of choice was a .20 R-1. While the R-1 is a great rifle, it is also a heavy and bulky one, and not particularly well-suited to long treks across the steep and rugged terrain of California’s High Desert regions, which is where I do most of my hunting. Seeking something lighter, I went all-out for light weight in the form of a Gamo Shadow in .177.
I liked the Shadow, but I have a definite bias for .20 caliber in the field.
A friend bought a .20 R-9 “Goldfinger” and chrono testing with his rifle and my R-1 in the same caliber revealed that with Beeman FTS pellets, which were the most accurate in both rifles, the power delivery downrange -where it counts- between the two really wasn’t that significant but the overall weight and handling qualities definitely were.
I recalled the results of these tests after my .20 R-1 was stolen from the back of my TJ Jeep, and I went to replace it. Instead of getting another .20 R-1, I got a standard .20 R-9, instead.
I attached a Wal-Mart Bushnell Sportsman 4-12 A.O. scope to the rifle in 2pc medium SportsMatch ring mounts, cleaned the bore, degreased and “Lock-Tighted” the action screws, and sighted the rifle in.
The first shot was okay in terms of center laterally, but way low horizontally. With Chairgun 2 loaded into my laptop, calcuating how many clicks were needed to hit the bull was easy to do. I added the 30 clicks of elevation suggested by Chairgun and the second and all subsequent shots hit the X ring.
This rifle, along with it’s .177 “Goldfinger” mate purchased previously, are the only spring-piston air rifles I’ve ever owned that shot fantastic out of the box without a protracted break in period required to realize their potential.
With Beeman FTS pellets, the rifle gets 747 ft/s and 14 ft/lbs at the muzzle, with enough velocity remaining at 50 yards to thwack a target with 9 ft/lb of thump. The maximum point blank range assuming a 1″ KZ is a tick over 40 yards, but the trajectory is flat enough to allow consistant hits out to 50 yards, should the situation in the field warrant such a long poke.
Accuracy-wise, the rifle is good for sub 1″ five shot groups at 50 yards.
While R-9’s are often said to be twangy out of the box, my untuned .20 has a solid thunk on discharge with no perceptible twang or vibration. It is a “sweet shooter” and an improvement in that area over the box-stock .20 R-1 it replaced. The trigger breaks crisp, clean, and creep free at a measured 2.5 lbs of pull. In field-ready trim, the rifle weighs in at a tick under 8 lb, or about what a bare R-1 does, sans scope and mounts.
Mine has the select wood option, and it wears a stock that is about as nicely walnut-like in the aesthetics department as beech is likely to ever get, with a classically elegant dark brown stain. Metalwork isn’t quite up to the standard of Webely, but is nicely done never the less and totally in keeping with the rifle’s cost. In terms of fit and finish at this price point, the R-9 really is about as good as it gets in spring-piston air rifles.
This rifle is now my main hunter. Throughout most of the season, the bulk of my shot opporunties come at ranges from 40 yards or less, and the .20 shoots flat enough to score consitant hits. The .20 punches a hole that is nearly as large in diameter as a .22, but with more of the penetration (at this power level) that .177 is known for. It has accounted for everything from mice to quail to jackrabbits and even a 14 pound wild turkey so far, and so far, everything I’ve taken with it only needed to be shot once.
I’d give this rifle a 5 were it not for the arrangement of the safety.
This is something that I really wish Wierauch would address. Funtion-wise, the thing that it does have going for it is that it totally disconnects the trigger from the piston, rather than merely blocking its operation as is the case with the Gamo safety, so one could argue that it is the “safer” of the two.
That said, it is a PITA to use in the field, particualarly in quail hunting where multiple consecutive shot opportunities present themselves, and where it would be nice to be able to flick the safety on and off while tracking individual tagets that dart through the brush.
I’m biased, though. I didn’t like the Wierauch safety when the R-1 first came out and I still don’t like it. I also don’t like the long reach of the trigger blade that is part of the R=1 and R-9 shooting experience.
That’s about it for complaints. For target work, I see no reason to opt for the .20, and for longer shots between 40 and 50 yards on game, I’d rather opt for the flatter-shooting .177 version.
But for general small game hunting use, it is hard to imagine a better choice than a .20 R-9.
Factor it all in, and the combination of accuracy, tigger feel, useful power, aesthetics, build quality, and price point add up to a rifle with a level of popularity that seems very richly deserved.