May 29, 2019
In 2004, AirForce Airguns® brought out the Condor®—the world’s most powerful smallbore air rifle. At the time of release, it produced 65 foot-pounds in .22 caliber, or about what a .22 Short cartridge produces at the muzzle. Today the same rifle has been boosted to 105 foot-pounds, which is .22 Long Rifle territory. It’s still the biggest, the baddest and many believe the best, but a new $50 optional kit takes it to a new level! The Ring-Loc Kit™ from AirForce expands the power range of the world’s most powerful and flexible air rifle by an order of magnitude!
Airforce Airguns Condor
The kit we are looking at is called the Ring-Loc Kit. It’s made for the AirForce Condor and it also works on the CondorSS and the ultra-powerful TalonP pistol. The Condor has a 24-inch barrel. The CondorSS barrel is 18 inches and the TalonP pistol barrel is 12 inches. These guns are all pre-charged pneumatics
I worked at AirForce when the Condor first came out and I tested each of the first 100 production rifles to make certain they would shoot a .22-caliber Crosman Premier pellet at 1,250 fps, because that was the AirForce ad campaign. We recorded each serial number and the velocity it produced with a Premier, so we could be certain that each and every rifle delivered what was promised. After testing those rifles, we knew with confidence that the valve design was right on the money and production was making them the way we expected.
An AirForce Condor isn’t just one air rifle—it’s an entire system. No other airgun on the market allows you to change barrels to any of four different calibers (.177, .20, .22 and .25) with Lothar Walther barrels in any of three different lengths (12 inches, 18 inches and 24 inches). The Condor has a power adjuster that operates without the use of tools on the left side of the rifle frame. And it doesn’t stop there. This new Ring-Loc Kit gives you many new power adjustment options.
The Ring-Loc Kit is made to fit the new Ring-Loc valve. Older Condors will need a new tank with a Ring-Loc valve to use this kit. And there are even older Condors that have the quick-detach tank (the one that unscrews from the rifle and doesn’t have the pressure gauge or the quick-disconnect fill port) with one or two Allen screws holding the valve cap to the stem. They can be modified by the AirForce factory to accept a new Spin Loc tank. Then the Ring-Loc Kit will fit.
How the Ring-Loc Kit Works
The Ring-Loc Kit allows the owner to quickly adjust the size of the hole through which the air passes. AirForce calls that hole the orifice. A larger orifice allows more air to flow from the tank, resulting in more power. How much more power depends on weight and velocity of the pellet, and you will see test data in this article.
A smaller orifice gives less power and more shots. Since the Condor is so powerful, decreasing power is also of interest. How low can it go? Nobody knows—yet.
A Condor comes from the factory with a 0.232-inch orifice installed (except for .177 which goes out with a 0.166-inch orifice). The Ring-Loc Kit opens up opportunities in these areas. The 0.232-inch orifice is best for .22 and .25 calibers. It is not recommended for .177 caliber. A stronger valve return spring is also installed in the valves for .177 rifles.
The 0.166 and 0.145-inch orifices found in the kit works well for all four calibers. As you will see they give more range of adjustment and higher numbers of shots with proportionately less power. The 0.123-inch orifice is best for .177 and .20 calibers, though the larger calibers will work with it.
There is one additional orifice in the kit with a hole that’s 0.070-inches in diameter. This one will not even shoot a .25 caliber pellet out of the Condor’s 24-inch barrel. This orifice is made primarily for experimentation! Drill it out to whatever size you want and set up your Condor to do whatever you want it to do.
The kit also contains three replacement o-rings that fit between the valve cap and the ring lock underneath. And there are two wrenches to adjust and lock down the ring lock valve cap.
Changing the Orifice
Orifices are easy to change. Use the two wrenches to separate the two parts of the valve cap that the industry calls the “top hat” (for its profile). The bottom part stays on the valve stem and the top part that contains the orifice is removed. Then simply screw another orifice in its place. The O-ring is there to lock parts together and seal the threads.
AirForce told me to not tighten the two parts very much. The o-ring will hold them together. Get them tight, but no manhandling.
You can switch the orifices at any time. The final adjustment works the same for all of them, though you will soon see that the performance certainly doesn’t. The work can be done with the rifle fully assembled. With practice an orifice can be changed in just a couple minutes.
Once the orifice is installed you need to check that it’s adjusted properly. After cocking and loading a pellet, the Condor bolt handle is pulled all the way to the rear and rotated into a notch on either side of the frame. If you don’t do this, the bolt will be free to move when the rifle fires and consistency goes out the window.
Being right-handed, I always rotate the bolt into the right-hand notch. I imagine southpaws do the opposite. It doesn’t matter which notch you use, but it’s important that you are consistently using the same notch for the reasons that follow.
The locking notches in the frame of the rifle are the key to adjusting the Ring-Loc Kit correctly. Once the bolt is rotated into either notch after cocking, you should not be able to push it forward and backward (toward the muzzle and toward the butt). If you can wiggle it back and forth, it is too loose and the Ring-Loc base needs to be adjusted forward until the bolt can no longer be moved in the notch. The notches in my test rifle are not exactly the same. The bolt was solid in the left notch that I don’t use but wiggling in the right notch that I do. I adjusted the Ring-Loc valve cap until it was tight in that notch.
Protect the Bolt Bushing
Here is where a heavy hand can cause a problem. The screw that holds the bolt handle to the bolt passes through a soft synthetic bushing. It’s there to provide space for the bolt handle to clear the frame in the notches. Another thing that bushing does is deaden any vibration that tries to dislodge the bolt from the locking notch. You can damage this soft bushing if you force the bolt handle into a locking notch—so watch it!
I adjusted the orifice several times until the bolt handle was locking solidly in the right notch without putting undue stress on the soft bushing around the bolt screw. The job was done!
AirForce Airguns .25 Caliber Condor Testing
Let’s begin with the .25 caliber Condor and see what it offers. I won’t give you all the data for every orifice, because the big .25 is at the power pinnacle for the rifle. We will just look at the two largest orifices to get a sense of how this works.
.25 caliber Condor—0.232-inch orifice
The test rifle was a standard .25 caliber AirForce Condor, which means it has a 24-inch Lothar Walther barrel. All barrel calibers and lengths will fit this rifle, but a 24-inch barrel is standard for everything you are about to read. Because it’s the longest, it develops the greatest power.
The rifle’s power wheel was set to its highest for each test. Are you starting to see how complex this is? You couldn’t test all possible combinations of calibers, barrel lengths, orifices and available pellets in five years of eight-hour days!
With a 43.2-grain Seneca pointed pellet the rifle got 10 shots that ranged from 1,035 fps on the first shot down to 977 fps on shot number 10. Shot one registered 102.8 foot-pounds of energy and shot 10 was 91.6 foot-pounds.
The 0.232-inch orifice uses air fast! The rifle was pressurized to 3,000 psi before each test and shot until the gauge dropped so low it needed a refill. For extended testing Ton could also connect an 88 cubic-foot carbon fiber tank to the rifle’s reservoir.
This is a medium-weight .25 caliber pellet. We also got a 10-shot string on a fill for this one. Power is still dialed as high as it will go.
The top velocity was 1,125 fps and the velocity on shot 10 was 1,083 fps. The difference across 10 shots was 42 fps. The top power was 87.19 foot-pounds and the ending power was 80.8 foot-pounds.
This pellet is considered to be one the lighter side for .25-caliber. Top velocity for 10 shots was 1,176 fps and the ending velocity was 1,130 fps Top energy was 78.75 foot-pounds. Ending energy was 73.773 foot-pounds.
.25 caliber Condor—0.166-inch orifice
I don’t want to flood you with data, so I’ll just highlight the heaviest pellet with this orifice. You will now see that by going to a smaller orifice, the shots count increases and the power drops.
With a 43.2-grain Seneca pointed pellet the rifle got 10 shots that ranged from 935 fps on shot number one and 946 fps on shot 10. There were more than 10 shots available with this smaller orifice, but of course the power dropped. Shot one registered 83.87 foot-pounds of energy and shot 10 was 85.86 foot-pounds.
If we go to the 32 and 26-grains pellets the power will drop just as it did before, and the total number of available shots will increase.
I’m not going to show the 0.145-inch orifice nor the 0.123-inch orifice for the .25 caliber Condor, but you can imagine how they performed. Power continues to drop and shot count continues to increase. Let’s now move to the .22 caliber barrel, which is the most popular Condor caliber. I will show data for all the orifices for this caliber.
.22 caliber Condor
The Condor first came out in .22 caliber. That first rifle produced up to 65 foot-pounds with the heaviest .22 pellets of that day (2004), but since then AirForce has added the .25 caliber barrel which has pellets that are much heavier. The 0.232-inch orifice is what ships on all Condors, so really we will be looking at the factory performance in the first test. Today’s factory energy is well over 80 foot-pounds in .22.
.22 caliber Condor—0.232-inch orifice
With a 32-grain pellet and the rifle set at maximum power it produces a top speed of 1,100 fps, which is 86 foot-pounds of muzzle energy! It shoots a 21-grain pellet out at a maximum of 1,200 fps, which is 67.16 foot-pounds, and it sends a 14-grain pellet downrange at 1,350 fps, for a maximum energy of 56.67 foot-pounds. Note that the rifle is now 100 fps faster in .22 that it was when first new!
.22 caliber Condor—0.166-inch orifice
The 0.166-inch orifice is going to give less power than the 0.232-inch orifice but more shots per fill. Using these same three pellets and with the rifle’s power wheel still set on maximum here are the numbers.
32-grain pellet—1,000 fps—71.07 foot-pounds
21-grain pellet—1,130 fps—59.56 foot-pounds
14-grain pellet—1,245 fps —48.2 foot-pounds
.22 caliber Condor—0.145-inch orifice
Now we are getting to the orifice where the Condor has much more control over velocity. The power wheel really works well with this orifice. You can equate this to the jets in an automobile carburetor. With large jets you can get a lot of power but the engine may never idle right. With small jets you get less power but better mileage and more stabile performance.
32-grain pellet—925 fps —60.81 foot-pounds
21-grain pellet—1,050 fps —51.42 foot-pounds
14-grain pellet—1,160 fps —41.84 foot-pounds
Now let’s drop down to the smallest orifice that is recommended for the .22. This one measures 0.123-inches in diameter.
.22 caliber Condor—0.123-inch orifice
32-grain pellet — 780 fps — 43.24 foot-pounds
21-grain pellet — 910 fps — 38.62 foot-pounds
14-grain pellet — 1,035 fps — 33.31 foot-pounds
We see that the .22 caliber Condor goes from a low of about 33 foot-pounds to a high of 86 foot-pounds when using the full range of orifices. Just that single caliber offers a power spread that’s greater than any other airgun on the market today.
I’m not going to present the .20 caliber (or 5mm) test data, but I will say that it is closer to the .22 caliber data than to the data for the .177. Twenty caliber is the least popular caliber in smallbore airguns today. That statement is going to anger those who love the caliber, because it does have a small but faithful following. There is nothing at all wrong with the .20, but the marketplace is avoiding it and is either going smaller or larger. As a result, fewer and fewer airguns are being made in .20 caliber, and fewer pellets are produced for it. One company that is still supporting it, though, is AirForce, who makes all their smallbore sporting rifles available in .20.
A .177 Condor is like a Chevy Corvette with a six-cylinder engine. Forget that the first Corvette only had six cylinders. The Blue Flame Six was Chevrolet’s stopgap in the 1953 ‘Vett because their first modern V8 was still two years away. And that is exactly what most Americans think about the .177 Condor. If you’re going to build the world’s most powerful smallbore air rifle (and, from 2004 through the present day, that’s exactly what it is), don’t hamstring it by making it in .177.
However—there are Condor owners who love their .177s, and AirForce has to consider them, too. The Ring-Loc Kit does work on .177 Condors, with the exception of the 0.232-inch orifice. AirForce cautions people not to use that one because the smaller bore tends to hold the valve open and exhaust all the air! As I said earlier, when the factory ships a .177 Condor the return spring in the valve is stronger to allow the large orifice to work right. Therefore, if you own a .177 and want to use the Ring-Loc kit, you should really order a new tank that’s made for a .22 or .25. Otherwise the velocities will be lower.
Let’s look now at how the .177 tested. The three pellets they tested were 16 grains, 10 grains and seven grains. Let’s look at the results.
.177 caliber Condor—0.166-inch orifice
16-grain pellet—1,170 fps —48.65 foot-pounds
10-grain pellet—1,300 fps —37.54 foot-pounds
7-grain pellet—1,430 fps —31.79 foot-pounds
.177 caliber Condor—0.145-inch orifice
This orifice is probably the best all-around one for the Condor in all calibers. In .177 it is on the large side, but will still give some control over velocity through the power wheel. Let’s see what it does wide open.
I did have a long conversation with Ton Jones. He told me he did more testing of the .177 with the smaller orifices than with any other combination.
Like me, Ton wanted to know how low the Condor could go, so he could safely shoot squirrels in his back yard without alerting his neighbors. He wanted a quiet gun as well as lots of shots, and the smaller orifices give you both things.
16-grain pellet—1,150 fps —47 foot-pounds
10-grain pellet—1,280 fps —36.3 foot-pounds
7-grain pellet—1,380 fps —29.1 foot-pounds
.177 caliber Condor—0.123-inch orifice
The 0.123-inch orifice is made specifically for the .177 caliber. It works best with that caliber and not that well for the .25. We’ll look at it with the 18-inch barrel.
16-grain pellet—1,045 fps —38.8 foot-pounds
10-grain pellet—1,195 fps —31.7 foot-pounds
7-grain pellet—1,300 fps —26.27 foot-pounds
Temperature Affects the Results
Ton noticed during testing that the ambient temperature affects his results. In warmer weather the air is less dense and he got faster velocity and fewer shots. On low power in .22 with the 0.145-inch orifice he got 60 shots in warm weather and 75+ when it got cold.
Where No Man Has Gone
Now we’ll look at the Ring-Loc Kit in a way AirForce never tested. When AirForce tested the kit, they dialed the rifle’s adjustable power to the maximum level for every test, to see how much power it could generate in each caliber with each orifice.
I’m going in a different direction. I want to know what the 0.070-inch orifice will do as it is. AirForce never intended this orifice to be a working one. It was just there to serve as a pilot hole for drilling a custom orifice of your own choosing. Well, I wanted to see how low the Condor would go, so I used this orifice and a 7-grain RWS Hobby pellet. For this test I used a standard 24-inch .177-caliber AirForce barrel.
I was told this orifice wouldn’t even shoot a .25-caliber pellet out of the barrel. I was shooting the .177, but I started my test with the rifle set on maximum power, just to be safe.
Power setting 10
Power setting 8
Power setting 6
Power setting 4
Power setting 2
There you have it. The Condor does work in .177 with the smallest 0.070 orifice. At the highest power setting, the highest velocity produced 11.39 foot-pounds of energy with the seven-grain pellet. At the lowest velocity the slowest pellet produced 9.46 foot-pounds. That establishes the bottom of the known power spread for the AirForce Condor at this point.
A single Condor air rifle with all four caliber barrels can produce muzzle energies that span from as low as 9.39 foot-pounds to as much as 105 foot-pounds. There isn’t another air rifle in existence that can come anywhere close! Of course you can install shorter barrels and get results that are even less powerful, because most of this testing was done with a 24-inch barrel, except where noted.
When all 27 shots had been fired in this test of the 0.070 orifice, the gauge on the reservoir showed that the rifle had used 200 psi of air. Another 800 psi of useful air remains. Don’t ask me for a total shot count; I won’t live long enough!
Clearly the 0.070 orifice does work with the .177 caliber Condor. There is no need to drill it out, although that option is still open.
This has been a very quick first look at the new Ring-Loc Kit from AirForce Airguns. This $50 kit makes the AirForce Condor the most all-around PCP ever built. If you own one, you need a kit! If you don’t own one, consider all that it offers.
The author thanks AirForce Airguns for providing a Condor and a Ring-Loc Kit to test, plus access to all their test data. Without all of that this article could not have been written in twice the time. For more information, please contact Airforce Airguns at (877) 247-4867, or visit the webpage: AirForceAirguns.com.