As I stated at the end of Part 3 of my review, I met with a little bad luck with my new XL-1100. Earlier today while working on dialing in the scope and assessing accuracy my riffle suffered what appears to be a catastrophic failure. For details about the events leading up to the failure see Part 3 of my review.
I wanted to point out a few other observations about the XL-1100 that are not necessarily related to its performance. These should have more properly been addressed in Part 1 but I was quite eager to get out and shoot and skip ahead to the tangible measures of the gun's capabilities. So in this part I will talk about things that I have noticed as it relates to general design and manufacturing fundamentals (not necessarily related to air guns). I have worked in the aerospace industry for 20 years as an engineer in various roles from product engineering to manufacturing engineering, test engineering and development engineering (R&D). I consider myself somewhat of a trained skeptic so when I look at a product of most any type there are just certain things that catch my eye and I would like to share a few of these here.
Before getting into some of my observations regarding physical details I think its worth considering the rifle as a whole and in particular how well it fits the form of its intended user. As I have already stated in previous posts, in my opinion, this is a really comfortable gun to hold and shoot. Its proportions are nice and the smooth "thump" from the shot is satisfying. It should be noted that though the spring "twang" vibration and torque moments are gone and the forward recoil greatly dimensioned, the gun still jumps quite a bit when fired. In the video you can see that it jumps quite a bit when fired by my 17 year old son.
The Weaver scope rail is welded to the compression tube and then machined to remove the weld bead. It could be some type of braze or solder process but my guess is its some form of electric arc weld. Either may the rail is rigidly attached to the tube which seems to make a solid base for mounting the scope. My scope needed less than a full turn of adjustment in both windage and elevation to get on target. Another thing I noted about the Weaver rail is that its slightly higher in the back than the front, compensating for barrel droop I presume. I placed a metal yard stick on edge along the top of the rail and found that it sloped at an angle that allowed an intercept with the barrel center line.
While I am talking about the scope mounting rail, I wanted to drop in a comment about the scope. I do not have a lot of experience working with scopes but this one strikes me as being well made with several nice features. I have already mentioned the eye piece focus adjustment and the AO and adjustable 3-9 power. I really like the windage and elevation turrets. They feature a setting indication system that provides a unique value for any position from stop to stop. Every revolution of the turret exposes a unique tick mark on the non-movable turret hub. If you are familiar with a micrometer, this is the same type of vernier system. You determine the current setting by reading the hub indication and then the turret knob angle indicator. I believe the knobs can also be remove to set true "0" indication when everything is dialed in. This may all be old hat to most readers but I was quite impressed.
Judging from exploded parts manuals I found online the cocking lever linkage appears to very much like what you would find on other Crosman products. The parts appear to be punched from cold rolled steel sheet with a bit of secondary machining for holes and slots and the like. The parts all looked robust and appear to be black oxide treated for corrosion protection. I really did not notice anything here that caught my attention accept the forward stock mount. A strip of steel is folded into a square "U" shape and seated in a saddle cut in the bottom of the compression tube. Two small arc weld tacks are made at each end (see photo at left). The ends of the legs of the "U" shaped bracket is drilled and tapped to accept the two forward stock mounting bolts. Crosman may have a lot of experience with this type of mounting arrangement but in my opinion, a solid block welded in this same location with a relief notch cut to give clearance to the cocking linkage would have offered two advantages. First, a full length weld bead could have been made on both sides at the interface with the compression tube. Truth is this could probably be made with the "U" bracket as well. Second, the block would have given greater thread engagement for the stock mounting screws. I am a little worried about how well these two weld tacks will hold up over a few thousand high g shock cycles that accompany each firing event.
The only other issues that I noticed was receiver had what appeared to be some post bluing grinding work performed on it and the perpendicular faces were left with burs. I took a small jewlers file and cleaned up these edges taking care to not allow the filings to contaminate the rifle. In the photo at left the area I am referring to is the surface just above the spring loaded locking pin. The burrs and unbroken edges were along the bottom and right edges of this surface. I suppose keeping the raw exposed area coated with a thin film of oil will prevent oxidation but I was a little disappointed in the cosmetic impact. The owner stares at this rough ground, uncoated patch of steel every time he opens the breach to load. I also noted a log burr line along one edge of the fork formed at the end of the compression tube, on the top side no less (also visible in the photo, LH fork, top edge). The burr height is small and since it was blued I did not what to break it with a file. These are the typical issues associated with production of any type of product in China. While I realize that its the Chinese production that allows a gun like this to sell for $300 instead of $500, these are workmanship issues that can and should be addressed. Over time I would anticipate that these kinds of details will be resolved.
In spite of the set back and the few workmanship issues that I noticed, I still believe this is a great air riffle. I my opinion Crosman got a lot of things right with this product and the issues I have identified are really little more than the normal teething pains associated with launching any new product, especially when its produced overseas. I am already looking forward to getting my rifle repaired or replaced. It might just be like getting the new gun all over again and that is definitely not a bad thing. Will keep you posted.