|Review: The Dragonslayer .50 Caliber
|AirgunsThe Dragon Slayer
The Dragonslayer is a large PCP air rifle launched as the successor to the Career Dragon, and is currently produced in .50 caliber only. The standard gun has an ergonomically shaped hardwood stock that is nicely checkered, and includes a rubber butt pad. I like the the shape of the forearm finding it comfortable to shoot both offhand and from a rest. A significant advantage in this design over the previous Dragon version is that the Dragonslayer uses a new side-lever action, which permits easier cocking and loading than its predecessor. I found the gun very easy to cycle and load, even under high stress situations encountered in the field when hunting.
There are no open sights on this rifle, as the expectation is that a scope will be mounted. The accuracy is so good with this rifle that a scope is a must if one wishes to have it perform to full potential. The comb height was just right for my line of sight, with the scope mounted in low profile rings. I tried various scopes during bench testing, but opted for a fixed power 2x shotgun scope to ride on top the gun when bringing it out in pursuit of boar. I intended to keep the shot inside of 40 yards, and felt that 2X was enough magnification, but I also liked the longer eye relief for use in the heavier brush when fast target acquisition was a plus.
A quick-fill receptor port is used to charge the gun up to the recommended 3000 psi, and an integrated pressure gauge allows real-time monitoring of residual pressure in the gun. The Dragonslayer has a single air reservoir beneath the barrel unlike the twin reservoir design of the Dragon; and to my eye the former has a cleaner line to it. The pressure gauge and quick fill receptor are located beneath the barrel at the end of the tank, allowing easy access. I found that I obtained 8-10 shots per charge, when shooting of the bench, though decided to carry a small pony bottle to recharge after every 5 shots for hunting purposes.
This is a substantial gun that weighs in at about 8.5 pounds with scope, but is well balanced and comes naturally to the shoulder. I found that when shooting from either the bench or offhand, the gun was easy to get on target and that I could consistently obtain a stable hold regardless of position. On a full charge the gun yields approximately 10 shots, but a noticable drop in muzzle velocity and point of aim occurs after the first five. After shooting a 250 grain bullets over several ten shot groups, the average first shot velocity was 602 fps, and the average spread over the first four shots in a group was 510 – 602 fps. This gives an average muzzle velocity of around 560 fps which translates to approximately 175 fpe. Shooting 175 grain TC roundball I achieved higher velocities and found the accuracy to be outstanding, and therefore decided to use them for my first hunt with the gun. My belief was (and is) that this is adequate power for taking a deer or hog inside of thirty five yards, certainly coyote, fox, and other mid sized quarry out a lot further.
The accuracy of the gun warrents comment, I found that I could easily shoot sub-half inch
groups at 35 yards while shooting off sticks. Moving a target out to 75 yards, I could place shots into a coyote kill zone all day long. When
|295 lb Boar taken with a 35 yard head shot. This gun is accurate!|
|I liked the cocking action of the Dragonslayer much more than previous models, it took very little effort to cycle.|
|Even under the pressure of a quick load for a follow up shot, good access to the loading port and the afore mentioned cocking lever allowed me to quickly bring the gun into action.|
|An integrated cover kepth the filling port clean, yet easily accessable.|
|My portable bench rest and testing rig used to measure performance.|
|Accuaracy was very good with roundball. I was supprised by the shot to shot consistancy on first shots of a fill, as well as that observed over ten shots from a single fill.|
|I found this a comfortable gun to shoot; it came quickly and naturally to shoulder, the comb allowed consistent sighting, and the trigger was a pleasure.|
|Both my hogs loaded in the truck for the ride to the cooling shed. I had a great time hunting the Dragonslayer, and while I would like to get more power, these were the two biggest boar I've shot with an airgun.|
|Note: I had a follow up discussion with company representatives, and wanted to include some additional information. The Dragonslayer was built to a functional requirement provided to Shinsung by Pyramyd Airguns. The FRS called for a couple of significant changes from the Dragon; 1) the dual air reservoir tubes of the Dragon would be changed to a single tube design for the Slayer, and the new cocking lever action would replace the bolt action found on the Dragon. There was to be no internal change, however somewhere along the line a change was also made to a weaker hammer spring. A project is currently in place to correct this on new production runs and get upgrade kits for currently installed guns.
Until I get the heavier hammer spring I will stick to smaller pigs (up to the 150 lb class), deer, and coyotes with this gun. I am also going to test other bullets (especially harder lead), as I'm not at all sure that round ball was my best option in this particular application. Next time out I'm going to do further testing with balistic gel to look at penetration as well.
I want to look at the gun in production trim after the spring issue is resolved .... then I want to send it to Bob Dean (Bigbore Bob) to see what he can do with it, as I think there is a lot of potential to this gun.
|This 6 shot group was printed using Hornady 175 grain roundball, which was the best projectile I found in this gun.
The 4 shot velocity curves was generated with 250 grain RN bullets, and the 10 shot string was generated with the roundball
I got out in the field, I had a lot of confidence in this gun, feeling that if I did my job the gun would do its. On one of the boar taken on the first hunt, I was sitting at 35 yards when I got a shot at a pigs head. On impact he staggered back as I quickly reloaded and sent a follow up shot to the head, where upon he dropped. We could only find one hole, and it wasn’t until we skinned the animal that we found the second shot had the same entry …. Right where I was aiming!
My second pig was hit with a head shot and managed to run off into the woods. We tracked him for several hours before getting a follow up shot, and I sent two more rounds into his head before he finally went down. I think the gun is somewhat underpowered for really big hogs in stock form, but is fine for smaller pigs and deer with the right shot placement and ranges. Using bullets rather than roundball would have probably yielded better penetration, but my intention is to get the gun tuned to see if the power can be pumped up a bit.
Thoughts on the gun
I enjoyed shooting this gun, which is one of the most powerful production airgun on the market. I found it to be a solid performer with adequate power and really outstanding accuracy, and a suitable mid to large game rifle within appropriate range. Both the Career big bore designs that preceded the Dragonslayer have a proven track record of making clean kills on deer sized game. I do love my custom rifles; there is something about owning a gun which was built specifically for you, however you have to pay for this and you have to wait. I believe that the Career guns offer an option for an entry level big bore which is reasonably priced and readily available. I also think that there is an opportunity for a skilled air gunsmith to tweak this gun for a substantial increase in power, and I like the gun enough that I bought my test gun and am going to have the work done to see what performance can be squeezed from it. All in all, I was much more impressed than I thought I’d be going into this evaluation.