I received my US M853 Daisy Avanti Legend from CMP this week. I ordered this rifle because, really, it is something of a legend. It could be argued that this is the gun that kicked off the still growing sport of airgunning in the US. The NRA adopted it as the rifle of choice for its youth training camps, soon followed by the US government for training JROTC cadets in firearms fundamentals. When I was in JROTC, we had Remington M514 .22's and had to take a bus ride to a range to shoot. On "range day" we had about 20 minutes to actually shoot. With the advent of the M853, they could spend most their "range day" hour actually shooting.
A modern JROTC rifle competition.
So, now that Daisy has discontinued this fine rifle, I felt the need to get one just for its sheer historical value. I had never really been interested in this rifle for just its performance value. I already had a good, reasonably accurate .177. It was even a Daisy... a Model 131. And really, .22 is my caliber of choice. At a retail price ranging from $250 up to $400, I just couldn't justify it to myself. But still, it is a piece of history, and I knew I could get one from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (http://thecmp.org/wp-content/uploads/DaisyUsedRifles.pdf?ver=20170110
) at a really good price. I decided since they were discontinued, CMP might start running out of them soon since they are pretty much the only game in town when it comes to getting an 853 now. That decided me. I filled out the form, gave Uncle $120, and I placed my order.
I waited 5 days, and I must say, I really was excited when it arrived. It came with the rear sight dismounted. I installed the butt extensions, mounted the sight, and set up a target to zero it. I was optimistic, so I started at 10 yards. Imagine my delight when the very first shot actually killed the bull! I was in love. I spent the rest of the evening destroying soda cans. The next morning I went out to do a little accuracy testing from a rested position at 10 yards. My first two groups, put five rounds, in holes that if I didn't know better, I would swear had been made by two pellets. If I hadn't done this twice, I might have been persuaded that I had missed the whole target board with three rounds.
I don't suppose I should be too surprised since it does have a Lothar Walther barrel. The sights are Daisy target sights for the rear, and a globe front sight with interchangeable inserts (an assortment of inserts included). The rear sight is not a Redfield, and is mostly plastic and potmetal, but it is quite serviceable. Trigger is a little heavy (rated at 6 pounds), and after the reviews I had read, I wasn't expecting greatness, but I was pleasantly surprised. No doubt about it, it is
heavy, and a trigger job is definitely in order, but the creep was not truly objectionable, and letoff was crisp. It weighs in at a hair over 5 pounds. This is a fun gun to shoot, and once I do the trigger job, it may even be a competitor. It is rated at 510fps with match grade pellets. I ran it over the chrony with Crosman Premier Points, 7.4gr and got a high of 490, a low of 465, with an average of 479, and a standard deviation of 7 in a 10 shot string. Frankly, this seems a little low and a little wide, but I'll reserve judgement till I can run some match pellets through it.
My only real disappointment with this rifle was the stock. I had read that CMP armory refurb includes belt sanding and oiling the stock. Mine arrived with caked on crud still in place, and someone had scratched their initials into the stock. It had
been spot sanded, even the initials. With just a little more effort, they might have at least gotten the initials off of it. All in all though, I am not displeased. I confess that since I got it, I have barely been able to put this rifle down. It really is a pleasure to shoot!
*MY* US M853!