More Tuner Information. There Can't Be Enough
I had made a post a few days ago answering a question concerning the Pappas Noodle and Slide. I think it got deleted as collateral damage and several people have asked me to put it back up. I really can?t remember the exact wording, so I?m giving you this instead. I?ve tested a bunch of tuners and I?m amazed at how many are on the market. What you see here started out to be an article that I planned to submit to a shooting magazine. I never did that, I don?t have the downhome folksiness of Bill Calfee or the perfect grammar and spelling ability of some other posters. It?s long and if the Admin wants to make it a blog or delete, he is welcome to do so, it will take a lot of room. It has been spell and grammar checked but probably still has some stuff that just doesn?t conform to correct English. It is what it is.
This post mentions the tuners I have done the most testing on which included the Harrel?s, Pappas Noodle and Slide, Lowey, the Bee Sting and what is generally referred to as the ?Bull Tuner?. The testing consisted of on and off about three or four years and was both outside and an improvised inside ?tunnel?. Everything was shot with the same rifle a 40X and the same ammo, about five cases of the cheap stuff. Not the best ammo but it was target ammo with quite a bit of vertical in it. The benchmark of the testing was how much vertical the tuner eliminated and group improvement over the no tuner barrel. The baseline was groups using one brick in five, ten and 25 shot groups without a tuner. The ammo used for this was perfect for the purpose, it would not compete but the improvements are generally dramatic enough you tell without measuring if there?s any thing happening. I have many numbers which would add to this thing a lot. It is statistically relevant but what I?ve done is just given a rating system based on functionality (means it works), ease of use (get that one on your own but is subjective to me), cool factor (again subjective) and cost factor (somewhat subjective). So the only thing you?re really looking at that is not subjective is the functionality which is based a mathematically correct scale related back to the real numbers but I rounded decimals up. All the general person needs to know is the 1-10 rating to understand this and I?m not trying to make it technical. The higher the number the better it is in my opinion. Bear in mind, this is my testing with my observations and my opinion of the good and bad of each of these. I?m not affiliated with any of these makers and do not intend to promote one over the other. I?m just giving others the benefit if you want to call it that of what I?ve learned. Anybody looking for a tuner should conduct their own testing, although the problem with that is it may get expensive. As a side note there were no flush mounted tuners or midbarrel tuners tested. I have my own opinion on those but each person needs to decide if they work or not for them. Below is a summary of my testing and my opinion of each tuner mentioned.
Harrel?s - The Harrel tuner is probably the most used tuner in rimfire benchrest. It was first sold by Ron Hoehn as the 4000+ which was a reference to the pinnacle of BR-50 at the time which was getting a 4000+ score out of a possible 5000. To see how far rimfire has come, that equates roughly to an ARA 2000 out of a possible 2500. I say roughly because it is my opinion that fifty shots in 30 minutes is a harder row to hoe than 25 shots in 20 minutes. Also there was no dot to reference in BR-50. The Harrel?s was a natural progression from the ?Bull Tuner? as it allowed incremental adjustment just by turning the adjustment tube to put a greater or lesser mass past the barrel. It has several possible accessories including a small bloop tube, additional weight, and even the Pappas tuners. To make a long story short, they work. You can tune your rifle fairly quickly with one of these and it will work and continue to work. I personally subscribe, in all cases, to once set always set, but some people may disagree. The bloop tube does nothing that I can see but requires minor retuning if used, the weights are not needed unless you have a really heavy barrel, and it adding a Slide or a Noodle, is the same as a bloop tube, no affect other than a retune. This is easily proved but I?ll get to that when I get to those tuners. Overall I give this tuner a 10 in functionality an 8 in ease of use and 5 in cool factor (it may have been an 8 when it first came out, but we?ve seen them so long), and a 9 in cost factor. I?m sure it can be improved but I can?t really think of anything.
Pappas Slide and Noodle ? The Noodle first showed up widely around 2001 or 2002 at the ARA Nationals and is the king of the cool factor. It was originally called the ?Parallel Noodle and had a sticker that said something to the effect of ?Parallel Noodle. Not designed or built by Bill Calfee.? I still have one here somewhere in perfect condition with the original sticker. I think it?s one of those great pieces of rimfire history. The one I tested is eight inches long, has holes in the back and a little sliding weight that allows you to either partially cover the holes or use the weight to tune. The biggest weakness it has is it does not allow direct connection to the rifle, and must have a method to connect it such as a Harrel?s tuner or a cut down tuner which I think was also developed by Pappas. The theory is that it does something to calm the air immediately after the bullet exits. This is one of the easiest tested and debunked theories I?ve seen and applies to all bloop style tuners. I admit the way I tested it was told to me by someone else and was supposedly the testing of an industrious gunsmith. I basically copied it. But it?s easy to isolate the air effect without having any weight effect. I used a piece of optometry equipment and some baffles I got at an estate sell. I knew it would come in handy somewhere. It?s not super easy to rig but if you?ve ever had your eyes checked you know the optometrist can easily swing things in front of your eyes to check various things. Just adapt something like that to swing a tube in front of a rifle and attach the baffle to eliminate any air effect at the muzzle and you can test any type of bloop tube for ?air handling? effect and eliminate the weight effect. From what I have seen, there is no affect in regard to calmer air or whatever. That goes for all bloop tube style tuners whether large or small diameter. Again, my opinion. Anybody, especially the makers of these items is welcome to challenge what I say and present their own basis for their thoughts.
However, the Noodle and the Slider are still past the muzzle tuners. Do they work as tuners? In my opinion yes they do. If I was going to use one with another attachment to get it on the barrel it would be the slider. However, the Noodle works very well if it?s attached to the barrel. I improvised an attachment to test it and found I could tune the rifle as well with the Noodle or the Slider as I could with a Harrel?s or anything else but not as easily because of no fine adjustment. The Slide needs the in between attachment for proper mass but the Noodle does not. I think the weight needs to be a little heavier and I think there needs to be some sort of fine adjustment and a graduated scale for repeatability. I think the workmanship is superb and all the slider and noodle need is some additional developmental work. There is also a Pappas made attachment that he claims needs to go between the pieces and whatever they?re attached to. I don?t know what it does, but it does work. Finally one thing that needs to be addressed is the idea that some people have that either the Slider or Noodle have been present in more perfect scores or tournament wins than any other tuner. Sometime shooters volunterly give me information on what is being used at major tournaments, sometimes it?s published and sometimes I have to dig to find out about a perfect score. But more or less the Pappas tuners achievements are about equal to their percentage of use, which seems to say they work about like anything else. When I look at such things I don?t count one rifle and multiple shooters irregardless the product used. Overall I give these tuners an 8 in functionality due to the attachment issue a 6 in ease of use and 10 in cool factor , and a 6 in cost factor again due to the attachment issue. This may have already been solved but the fact that some type of attachment must be purchased rates it this way in my eyes. I?ve pretty much discussed both the Noodle and Slider in one paragraph because I see little difference in the two except for length.
The Cut Down Harrel?s - This is one I didn?t mention in the opening and just tested it as a fluke because I had one to attach the Noodle and Slides. From what I understand this is also a Pappas development, which makes sense. When you get down to it, it?s probably the most versatile of all tuners simply because of the accessories that can be used which include weights, normal bloops, Pappas style bloops, and maybe more or use it with no accessories. Mine was copied from a picture of the Pappas and may not be exactly the same but it?s close. I think this is a great little tuner. I?ve used it in various configurations and I can tune anything with it very easy. While it is not my #1 tuner of choice it is close. By itself I give it a 10 in functionality due, a 10 in ease of use and an 8 in cool factor , and a 10 in cost factor not assuming that it is cut down from a Harrell?s but actually what cost it could be made for. My ratings isolate this tuner by itself and does not consider the possible attachments.
Lowey - The Lowey is more or less a copy of the Pappas, or vice versa as I really don?t know which was first. But it has differences. It has an adjustable weight with easily repeatable adjustments due to a graduated scale engraved on the tube. The weight does not have a great deal of movement which is good because otherwise the leverage affect would make the tuner too heavy in my opinion. It does have it?s own barrel attachment method and overall it works. Like the Pappas?s?, it can be anodized in about any color you want. I managed to get one but it was not easy. They are made in Australia. Testing results was about the same as the Slider and Noodle. I don?t know that the maker claims any ?air effect? but it?s the same story and does not appear to be any at all. Like I said this is easy to test. You can probably make a fixture out of old adjustable office lamp. It?s not my original experiment but if anybody wants to try it and don?t get what I?m saying I?ll share with you what I did. Just PM or e-mail me. Overall I give this tuner a 9 in functionality, a 9 in ease of use and an 8 in cool factor (yeah I know it?s about the same as the Pappas, but no holes makes it less cool. It may go up a little if anodized purple or something) , and a 9 in Australian cost and a 2 in U.S. cost factor because it?s hard to get an aluminum tube into the United States when it?s considered a gun part. This may have a U.S. distributor now but I?m not aware of it.
The Bee Sting- This is a tuner with a purpose. The purpose being to put a bloop tube tuner on for position shooters so they can put sights on it and get a longer sight radius. Sight radius and tuning in one package, imagine that. There is also a BR version without the sight mount but why would you do that. Just don?t use the sights. This is a position shooters tuner, and is very well designed, quite pretty and expensive. It does the same as all the others, it puts a mass out past the muzzle. I found I had to add the additional two ounce weight additional to the cost of $350 to get it to work well. Fortunately it was given to me or I probably would have never tested due to cost. It works fine. You can take the tube off, and it will work fine as long as you have enough weight and don?t need the radius. Well designed, well thought out and well executed, but expensive. Overall I give this tuner a 10 in functionality, a 9 in ease of use and 7 in cool factor , and a 2 in cost factor but it may be worth more to position shooters.
The Bull Tuner - It?s a continuing argument ?Bill Calfee invented the tuner?, ?No he didn?t there?s patents back in the twenties, the Germans used them on heavy guns, my gunsmith had one back in 1942, my daddy used one on his squirrel gun, it was actually part of an AMC Rambler blah blah blah?. I can say one thing about that. Bill Calfee put the tuner in widespread use in rimfire Benchrest. There?s no doubt. Can?t say it was the first but it was the one that started the craze. The funny thing is Bill Calfee that I know of never marketed or sold a tuner. But Bill told people how to make and use them, and what came of that was ?The Bull Tuner? made by somebody down south or you could just make one or have your local machine shop make one. More or less it was a hunk of steel that fit the barrel and clamped on. Adjustment was by way of trial and error and moving it back and forth on the barrel. It?s my favorite tuner, mainly because I can make one for about $20. I even can make a revised one with very fine threading and a lock ring for about $50 and I would say any person could have one made for $50 if you go to a vocational school and just tell them what you want. Maybe less. Same principal as all the rest. Mass in front of the muzzle used to control vibrations. Pretty much an unrefined Harrel. But it works and works well. . Overall I give these tuners a 10 in functionality, 10 in ease of use if the refined one is used and 3 in cool factor , and a 10 in cost factor. I really don?t know why anybody would use anything else.
That?s pretty much the extent of it all. I?ve been testing these things for several years and some people know it, so I get more of them sent to me. I no longer test. I can look at one and see if and how it will work because they all work on the same principal and they have the same elements just different configurations. If the elements are there, they?ll work. Others may work too, but I?ve put enough time into tuners I see no reason to put anymore.
I would like to be the first to say what an excellent review that was!
I agree, excellent and informative post. Thanks for taking the time and effort to post such good information!
Just realized you use two n's in your name, I fixed the one in my message, can't fix the one in the top line. Sorry about that!
Last edited by 404tbang; 06-18-2012 at 04:24 PM.
homemade 2 stage tuner
Here is a tuner I made as an experiment. It weighs about 10 ounces. It has a 4 segment collet attachment that doesn't require a lot of tightening. The second stage at the end is less than 1 ounce. That little sub ounce adjustment still affects the tune. I don't have it figured out how best to use it yet. Both scales are micrometer increments.
A very good and informative post.. This is the kind of a post that we need on the forum..
I congratulate you...
I am a position shooter and have the BeeSting blooptube/tuner. Yes, it is expensive, but well made. Tarl Kempley is a great guy to deal with.
Another bloop tube tuner is made by Eric Uptegrafft, who is a prone shooter on the Olympic team. I've seen it used with great success.
Friend Glenn Robinson
Friend Glenn Robinson:
Originally Posted by Glenn Robinson;The Bull Tuner[/B
When I developed the first muzzle devices in the early 90's, I made a few for myself and a couple of customers.
Then I published my Precision Shooting Article describing how MD's worked and I published a detailed drawing so folks could make their own.
I didn't have the time, nor did I wish to make them for others......because they were simple.
The first commercial attempt at making MD's was at my request, by a machinist in Alabama. This gentleman made mine for me, as well as other folks.
Because they were a completely new invention, at first a lot of folks were of course skeptical that they even worked. There were some articles in Precision Shooting following my introduction article on MD's where various writers made various claims as to why they were worthless. ( I bet they'd like to have those articles back)
And, although he never admitted it to me, I knida have a feeling that this machinist who was making the MD's was maybe a little skeptical too....but he was getting paid and folks wanted them, so he made them.
The reason I tell this history of the first commerical MD's is this: This machinist named his MD's " Voodoo Tubes".
Some time later, Ron Hoehn brought out his adjustable MD.....and if one reviews my original drawings, anyone who has my book can look it up, Ron's adjustable MD used the exact same weight as I specified in my drawing, placed in front of the exit of the crown. My original MD's needed about 5 ounces roughly, placed at some point in front of the crown. That is exactly what we get with the current Hoehn/Harrells MD....
My friend, a MD, no matter how it's configured, has the ability to stop the muzzle, if, there is the proper amount of weight, of some configuration, located at the proper place in front of the exit of the crown.
Finally, you are most certainly correct about the original MD's.....the Bull Tuner or the Voodoo Tube; They will stop the muzzle, exactly, as well as any other MD configuration that has ever been tried.
They are somewhat difficult to set properly of course, but once properly set, any gun that has ever been built, that uses a MD of any configuration, will shoot exactly as good with one of the simple, original MD's as it does with whatever is on it now.
There has never been another MD configuration that will cause a RFBR gun to produce better accuracy, and I suspect there never will be, than those first, simple MD's.
Once the muzzle is stopped, no matter how it got stopped, the potential of the gun can be fully realized.
Your buddy, Bill Calfee
Originally Posted by Bill Calfee
This needs to be written in stone somewhere.
Fortunately the high speed camera work verifies this.....so I understand.
Chasing the PC curve is like chasing a 60.001 mph woman with 60 mph legs....pure frustration, always within reach but can never close the gap.
I had heard it called the Bull Tuner but not the Voodoo Tube. Sounds like your man didn't have a lot of faith or maybe he sticks pins in dolls.
I have one correction that was brought to my attention today concerning a date. Apparently the Pappas Noodle made it's debut in 2008, and I think I had 2001 or 02. The reason I thought that is I have no invoice to date the Pappas, but I do have a date stamp on the Lowey which looks to be '05, that may be wrong as well. I thought the Pappas came out about 2-3 years before the Lowey, but I guess it was the other way. They look like each other, but are not copies. I corrected that for historical purposes, the testing is the same.
One more thing. I've received both positeve and negative PM's about the original post, that's fine. I want to remind people to read the first couple of paragraphs. This is my testing, and my conclusions. The functionality numbers are not really subjective but everything else is. Still even those numbers are mine and as far as I know never been repeated in other testing. I do think the "air handling" experiment has been repeated but I've never seen the results. So, until we get repetition or detraction and repetition of that, it's still just my opinion, I don't expect anybody to accept it as it stands or go buy a tuner based on my conclusions. Just don't go tell me I'm wrong with no basis without saying it is your opinion. That's just not nice.