This article is going to cover several models of pistols and rifles from Aeron. Aeron has been in the airgun business for quite a long time under the name of Tau. However, for the past three years or so they have been making airguns under the Aeron brand only. I will cover their history in a future article.
I was in the factory before the first models hit the stores. In fact they did not even have a name for the new model. One of the initial concepts for the new pistol was to enable the customer to swap just a few parts and have a .22 cal. from a .177 cal.. After hearing the description of the pistol and the color schemes Chameleon was picked from several names suggested by myself and others in E.A.P.. Some shooters here in the states also called this pistol the "Lizard Gun". At one point consideration was given to Chameleon conversions into the five shot B-96. A concept that was vetoed by E.A.P. and later by Aeron itself. It was agreed that keeping up with the warrantee would be rather difficult for both companies. E.A.P. being one of the first in the States to handle the product, and service the pistol. After further thought the option of changing caliber’s was also dropped. However, the name stuck.
Let’s take a quick look at a Chameleon. Basically it is a 10 meter pistol with a Walther barrel. After it is charged with CO2 all the shooter has to do is load a pellet and shoot. I found this most convenient in 10 meter matches. Grip rake is adjustable even when the pistol is fully charged with CO2. The trigger has received some complaints but most shooters seem to get along with it. In the case of most complaints the shooter tries to adjust the trigger pull to less than the 500 gram limit for 10 meter pistols. It is recommended to review the procedure as described by Airgunletter a while back. If your order is placed through Top Gun Airguns* they can set it up for a lighter trigger pull. By the way, Top Gun Airguns is a relatively new company taking over for E.A.P., so they are the ones to contact for spare parts and work. Another characteristic that was criticized was the loading tap. It is the swing out type normally associated with less expensive and accurate airguns. This loading tap has proven to be just as accurate and long lasting as any other system. I am basing this on my experience with one of my Chameleons that I have used extensively since they first came out. If I had to guess as to the amount of shots it as endured it would be over 15000 to date. I use the bulk fill option and have not replaced any parts or seals. By the way, this pistol is rated between 7 to 9 mm for a extreme spread of five shots at 10 meters. So I suggest this is a quality product.
After the .177 cal. was introduced a .22 cal. became available. Meant for silhouette shooters it did not take off as expected. Let’s face it, there are not that many silhouette competitors as can be seen by the turnout at our local matches. Maybe the game is too tough.
B-96 was the next pistol from the company. Surprisingly enough; it was better received than the single shot. Considering that there are no competitive games designed for an airgun repeater one wonders about the keen interest. B-96 does come with a single shot magazine for use in standard 10 meter competition so the silhouette shooter can use the same gun for both games with all the implied advantages that brings. Some shooters would like to see magazines at least six inches long, say, for a couple hundred rounds. Myself, I prefer a belt fed B-96.
At a glance this model looks the same as the Chameleon. Nothing changes except the mechanism to feed pellets. With a scope mount this can be a fun pistol (Top Gun Airguns can supply you with the scope mount). There have been a lot of inquiries about a .22 cal. model. Unfortunately it has never has been offered in that caliber for the simple reason that the complete mechanism would have to be reworked. Can’t imagine what a shooter would use a .22 cal repeater for but we hear its’ development is opposed by the local rabbit population.
After the Chameleon .177, .22 and the B-96, Chameleon changed again, spawning two rifles. The M-40 being a five shot repeater based on the B-96 and the M-41 single shot, based on the original Chameleon.
Both are fed by a large 4 oz. CO2 bottle screwed into the forend and giving a great balance. Expect 200 plus shots per fill at close to 600 fps. That should be enough for any practice or 10 meter competition. The stock is adjustable like any other 10 meter rifle. The mechanism is roughly the same as in the pistols with the notable difference being the CO2 tapped from the front, not from the grip. The barrel is longer of course; 12" being rifled, the balance a shroud.
M-40 has few competitive designs in the market. Come to think of it there is only one similar; a biathlon rifle from Germany. With a scope mounted and several magazines I was amazed at how many pellets I could go through in no time at all. Top Gun Airguns still has some available. They also have spare parts and scope rails.
One thing I have not mentioned is that the velocity is not easily adjusted on any of the Aeron line. In fact the early manuals made reference to adjustable velocity . But no real provision existed to do so.
A short time ago Aeron ceased production of all airguns. It seems to me this is one big loss to the airgun shooting fraternity. A quality 10 meter pistol that is a fraction in price to the big dollar big name pistols. I imagine I will not see them in the next Olympics but they are great for other shooters.