The Nautilus is a 32 caliber PCP rifle.
Featuring a Barnes manufactured Tri-Valve Butt Flask, and Barnes
Brass sights, it has an 18th century appearance.
The rifle is power
adjustable and can shoot a number of Barnes 32 caliber slugs.
I took a selection over to a buddy's farm to try them out.
The rifle has been
a long term background project for a few years. I just completed
it and reassembled it a few days ago. Never fired it since, so
this was it's completed maiden voyage.
The overfill regulator
inside the buttflask was set for a 2,000 psi operating pressure.
Filling above that point would cause a "weep" back down
to operating pressure. I tested this in the field and it worked
as designed. By 2,100 psi, it was weeping. It reset back near
I picked some slugs
from a tin I took from a drawer in the shop. These were cast a
couple of years ago from a particular Barnes mold labeled on the
tin. I made a mental calculation as to what diameter to size them
for this barrel, hand sized some and began. Let's look at the
session and some targets.
Last comment. The Nautilus
was designed to be an "Off-Hand" target rifle. It features
Barnes sights - rear peep - front dual ghost ring design. All
targets were thus shot standing - offhand - no optics.
These were the first
three slugs I shot. I was glad to be this close at the start.
Almost at 12 o'clock and just alittle high at 23 yards. This is
an 83 grain slug I call the "Shrike". I later found
that it shot even better when one thousandth of an inch larger
Note here that three
shots are circled - three have a square around them. These were
shot from 50 yards offhand standing. The circled ones are the
Shrike slug @ .317" ... the Square ones are the same Shrike
slug @ .318"
A couple of things
are on view here. 1). The size diameter of the slug obviously
makes a critical difference. 2). The rifle holds and shoots great
for Off-hand shooting. In order to note the group difference as
resulting from the slug size, we have to assume that I did everything
perfectly and that I was not a variable factor. Actually, I've
never considered myself a crack off-hand shot so I was really
pleased to do so well with the Nautilus - and no optics to boot!
Getting bold now. I
moved back to 60 yards - offhand - with open sights. Sticking
with the .318" Shrikes. I color coded the three five shot
groups for you.
That's all 15 shots
on a paper plate size target (and most on a tea saucer size) @
60 yards offhand - brass sights. I was developing a technique
for holding and shooting as well during this target. People think
I might spend half my life shooting. Actually, I spend 7/8th of
it working - very little shooting. And, mostly, when I go shooting,
it's with a brand new rifle I've never shot before. So, there's
a learning curve involved in every group of targets I show you.
Nevertheless; you can
see the groups aren't bad for the variables mentioned. Let's move
on cause it gets better ...
Discount the green
dots. They were from earlier shooting - one's even a stray when
I shot the wrong target (I'd posted a double target on the stake
@ 60). I can feel for the poor fella that shot the wrong target
at the Olympics this time! A shame ...
So, we are just looking
at the yellow and red 5 shot groups. And, this was later in the
session. I was almost ready to leave. Decided to try a tin of
Barnes Falcons I had brought along. Glad I did. Same 60 yards
- Off-hand standing - Brass sights - no optics.
Part of this improvement
can be attributed to me cleaning up my technique over the last
hour of shooting. Part will be the choice of slug and sizing.
Bottom line: This thing
shoots. And, it likes my Falcons.
I took along my favorite
brew ... After that last target, I could not resist before leaving.
Set a can on the stake at 60 yards. Bang ... and missed. Well
... what do you expect? ha ha. One more ... and the can flips
way off into the bushes. That was the top "clip".
Maybe alittle lower
aim ... another can.
First shot a miss again.
Then another can goes into the stew pot! Offhand standing - no
optics - 60 yards - handmade airgun - handmade barrel - handmade
slugs - shooter somewhat frayed around the edges ... hey - I'll
take it. ;?)