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Teach me to shoot: Part 8

Čt, 05/26/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

This is the continuing fictional saga and guest report of a man teaching a woman to shoot. Today Jack and Jill look at other possible defense weapons for her, and Jill makes her selection! Jill also tells Jack about a Babes with Bullets training camp she recently attended.

Our guest writer is reader, Jack Cooper. Take it away, Jack.

Teach me to shoot

by Jack Cooper

This report covers:

  • Jill went to camp
  • Grouping the campers
  • Sized for everyone
  • One hand or two?
  • More defense revolvers
  • Bottom line
  • Hospital security
  • More training
  • B.B. is next
Jill went to camp

I didn’t write a report last week because Jill was attending a Babes with Bullets training camp. She returned completely on fire for shooting and had made a new friend. Babes with Bullets has different camps, and Jill was in the one called Beginner Handgun. She said the camp went over the same safety fundamentals we did, then they started shooting with low-recoil handguns in .22 rimfire instead of airguns. That makes sense, because they only have three days, where Jill and I had a lot more time.

Grouping the campers

They rank their campers as novices, advanced beginners and intermediate shooters. Jill was put into the advanced beginner group at her request, even though the instructors said she was probably an intermediate shooter. She said she liked the pace of the training, but it did go faster than we had, because there were others to be trained. She was very glad she had trained before the camp, though she did observe that the novices were given more personalized instruction.

Sized for everyone

The campers were fitted to their guns on the first evening, which is where Jill learned that she does, indeed, have very small hands. Her roommate and new friend, Jamell, is over 6 feet tall and has a large frame, according to Jill. She is a sculptor who works all day with clay and stone, so she is very strong. They had to give her their largest pistol, and even it wasn’t quite large enough.

Jill really liked the 9mm S&W M&P pistol they loaned her at the camp. It was specially modified by Smith & Wesson to have a crisp trigger and to be easy to cock. She was surprised by the low recoil, but that is the difference between a semiautomatic pistol and a revolver. She said it didn’t kick any more than the snubnosed revolvers she shot in .32 H&R Magnum, but I pointed out that the pistols at the camp were larger, heavier and their mechanisms absorbed some of the recoil.

Babes with Bullets allows the campers to bring their own handguns, if they want, but Jill doesn’t have a gun yet. Neither does Jamell, who isn’t even sure she wants to carry for self-defense. She told Jill she really wants to learn to hunt, but Babes with Bullets reached out to her, so she went. She noted that it isn’t that easy for a woman to learn to shoot. She figured any training she could get would be valuable.

She had shot with her father when she was younger and lived at home, so she was also ranked as an advanced beginner, but Jill said she told Jamell some things that weren’t covered at the camp – like gun etiquette. They do cover safety quite well, but the extra stuff I taught Jill isn’t normally considered part of firearms training. She also showed Jamell about the foot placement to make the upper body rigid for shooting with one hand. That’s something Babes with Bullets doesn’t cover, as their training is geared towards firearms familiarization and self-defense, rather than target shooting. They do address body positioning, but from a defense standpoint.

Jill is definitely thinking about trying out some kind of action pistol shooting sport — like maybe IPSC-style handgun matches! The shooting she did at camp was fun and she liked the idea of competing against her own times. She will have to find another instructor for that, because I don’t shoot action pistol, but the Babes with Bullets camp got her off to a good start. She has already contacted a local club that invited her to their next match.

She also wants to try 10-meter air pistol, so she and I will look into that. I told her these two shooting disciplines will probably conflict with each other somewhat, but she still wants to try them both.

One hand or two?

On the last day at camp they have a competition that Jill really liked. But she was feeling cocky and challenged her instructor to a side match, as well. They would both shoot at bullseye targets — Jill one-handed and the instructor two-handed. The best score for 10 shots won. I’d like to tell you that she triumphed, but the fact is, the instructor outshot her by three points. Jill says those instructors are all titled competitors who really know their stuff! I thought she did well just getting close.

In the end I think Jill has discovered the joy of shooting. She started out just wanting to learn to shoot for self defense, but along the way she found a sport that she enjoys. She’s talking about joining the National Rifle Association. I think we have a new shooter on our hands!

More defense revolvers

Today Jill and I tried a couple more .32 H&R Magnum revolvers for her consideration. One of them she absolutely loved, but it’s too large to  carry conveniently. Ruger’s SP101 is a snubnosed revolver in stainless steel that used to be produced in .327 Federal Magnum caliber. That means it will also handle the smaller .32 H&R Magnum. The problem is, the shortest barrel it ever came with is 3 inches long, and Jill could see that made it too large for her purse. But, oh, boy, did she like how smooth it was! The weight really helped control the recoil. If the gun had been smaller, she would have chosen it. Because it was discontinued, the SP101 in .327 Federal Magnum now commands a high price. They can top $800 when they change hands.

The other gun we tried was a Taurus .327 Federal Magnum snubnose. Taurus makes great handguns, and their revolvers, which take after the S&W line more than a little, are considered to be among the best. This one is chambered for .327 Federal Magnum, so it also chambers .32 H&R Magnum. Jill found it to be as nice and easy as the S&W 431 she shot two weeks ago, plus she can buy one for about $150 less than the Smith. The trigger pull is about the same as the Smith’s in both double action and single action, and the overall size of the revolver is equivalent. Both guns hold 6 rounds in their cylinder, which she felt was essential. She actually shot better with the Taurus than she had with the Smith, but she was also just back from the Babes with Bullets camp and was still sharp from that.

Bottom line

Jill decided to buy the Taurus revolver. I will find one for her on Gun Broker, where she should be able to pay about $350. Then she needs to look at purses that have compartments for concealed handguns. That will be more of a problem, because right now she carries a Gucci bag. But she knows of a custom leather worker who will make whatever she orders, so it should turn out okay, if not exactly cheap.

She really liked the Ruger LCR revolver, too, but it is double action only. Although she agrees that any defensive shooting has to be double action, she still wants the option of being able to cock the hammer when she wants ro.

Hospital security

Finally, she was able to make a deal with her hospital’s security people to store her gun while she is inside the building. She will buy a gun safe with an electronic keypad that she will pay to have installed under the security desk. The hospital chief of staff agreed to this when she spoke to him two weeks ago, so all she has to do is set it up. There is a security desk next to the door that leads to the parking garage, so that is where she will have the safe installed. She isn’t the first doctor to get this done. Two other doctors and one nurse already have similar arrangements.

More training

Jill asked me to teach Jamell to shoot a rifle. I agreed, as long I could conduct a preliminary session with her to cover the things Jill and I covered. I would just test her on her knowledge of safety and then cover in detail the subjects that were not familiar. I have decided to also blog that training, too — mostly because B.B. asked me to.

B.B. is next

Speaking of B.B. — he asked if he could do the next segment of this series himself. He promised several readers he would show in short videos how to properly stand to shoot a handgun accurately with one hand, so I’m going to defer to him for that.

UTG Rapid Mission Deployment Daypack

St, 05/25/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Back story
  • No sale!
  • UTG Rapid Mission Deployment Daypack
  • Designed by a traveler
  • How I use the pack now
  • Other uses for the pack
  • Quality
  • Why this report

Sometimes I have to step out of the mold and tell you about a great product that may not sound like it applies to airguns. In truth, it can and does apply, but only if you make it do so.

Back story

I was in the aisles at the 2016 SHOT Show on the last day — about 3 hours from catching the shuttle to the airport to return home. Suddenly my computer case handle broke! I call it a computer case, but it’s actually a small traveling office that weighs about 33 lbs. when packed. Time for me to go into the Boy Scout mode and improvise — because I am sure not carrying that load under my arm (left the strap at home — the case is too heavy for it) around through the exhibit hall for three hours, then the casino and then the airport!

No problem, because this is the SHOT Show and it’s the last day! Some vendors sell stuff on the last day. So I look around for some tactical equipment cases and find one that looks rugged enough to take the strain. And it’s only $80, knocked down to $66 because I’m buying it off the display at the show! Hurrah! So I make the deal and promise to return at 10, when they tell me I can pick it up.

I return at 10 and they have just sold my case to someone else! They tell me they will send me a case as soon as they get back in the office on Monday. I won’t tell you what I told them, but it wasn’t polite. Now I had a real problem and only an hour left.

So I went to the Leapers booth, where I have seen tactical backpacks for the past several years. Never paid much attention to them, but I was desperate. Would they please sell me the largest backpack they have? I prayed that it would hold my 2 laptop computers and everything else.

No sale!

They just removed the stuffing from the backpack on display and handed it to me. Thank you, Leapers! I really would have been pleased to buy it, because I know two things about Leapers tactical cloth products. First, they are very reasonably priced and second, they are made better than any other tactical cloth products I have seen. I won’t say who I am referring to, but I can think of a company that makes very expensive designer tactical cloth products, and Leapers beats them every time.

UTG Rapid Mission Deployment Daypack

Time to get specific. This pack is called the UTG Rapid Mission Deployment Daypack. I got a black one, but it also comes in tan, though I don’t see that color on the Pyramyd Air website. The first thing I did was put my 2 laptops (yes, I carry 2 when I’m on the road) into the pack to see if they fit. It swallowed them like a python swallowing a chicken! Then all the other stuff went in and I was able to throw my old case away. This pack is larger inside, yet smaller outside than my old case. I think part of it resides in the fourth dimension! It also fits under the seat in front of me on the airplane. My old case was getting too fat for that.

The pack looks small on the outside, but it holds my office on the road!

Those padded straps are a real blessing when the pack is full.

I use the front pockets for adaptors, power supplies and modem/camera gear.

Inside the front pouch is room for a whole office. This is pretty much how I pack mine, with medicine and emergency supplies added. Then there are two more huge pouches not seen here that each hold the largest laptop!

The pack has a carry handle that looks like it will support 3 times the weight I packed in it. That’s handy for moving it around, but the real plus are those two padded backstraps! I didn’t need to carry all that weight in my arms any longer! There is a chest strap that holds the two backstraps together, to keep the weight high on your back. And of course every strap is adjustable. The compartments that don’t hold the computer(s) are set up like a briefcase — just like the flimsy computer case that was replaced.

Designed by a traveler

David Ding, one of Leapers owners, designed this pack. He is a frequent traveler and knows the value of lots of pockets and places to carry stuff. He made sure this daypack has them! As I wrote this report I even found a couple places I didn’t know about.

How I use the pack now

Every time I need to be away from the house, I pack up the computers and go. I now keep a portable power supply in the pack at all times, so I can just unplug accessories (keyboards, hard drives, trackballs, etc.) and go. If I’m on the road, I pack a keyboard, hard drive and trackball in my suitcase for when I am in my hotel room. This pack is so convenient that it has changed how I work.

Other uses for the pack

This could also be an excellent range bag. It has more than enough room for everything, plus a couple of handguns and ammo. If you look carefully at the first photo, there are cloth loops for holding smaller items on the outside of the pack. They are for grenade handles, but they work for lots of other things, too. Just use your imagination.


I have used Leapers UTG bug-out bags for many years and have learned some valuable things about them all. They have tough zippers and Velcro closures. When the zipper run is long, they give you two sliders, for greater flexibility. If there is such a thing as a mil-spec zipper, I bet that’s what these are. And when they sew fabric together, they reinforce every seam. There will be no unexpected breakdowns with UTG cloth products!

Why this report

I told Leapers I would write this report and I always meant to after the SHOT Show, but this year hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. And while I have been doing unscheduled things, the case has been my constant companion. Some of my medications have changed and the pockets of the pack have been designated for them, as well, and I still carry everything else that I need.

I own a number of smaller UTG bug-out bags, but until I needed it I had no idea a backpack like this could be so handy. Now I can walk through the airport with my hands free, because the pack has everything I need.

If you are looking for a new range bag or laptop case, take a long look at this one. And please note the price. It’s less than the discounted pack the other guys sold out from under me. I don’t think you’ll find a better bargain than this one.

Bully pulpit and the future of airguns

Út, 05/24/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Bully pulpit
  • Closed ranks
  • Lead, follow or get out of the way
  • A new dynamic
  • The stalwarts
  • Robert Beeman
  • What I did
  • Edith was the inspiration
  • I pulled the plug
  • The big push!
  • It’s not me
Bully pulpit

According to Wiki, “A bully pulpit is a sufficiently conspicuous position that provides an opportunity to speak out and be listened to.” The phrase was coined by Theodore Roosevelt, who felt the White House was a bully pulpit. In his day, the term bully meant excellent.

Closed ranks

When I started my newsletter — The Airgun Letter — in 1994, it was in response to a lack of literature about airguns. There were only a couple books on the subject at that time, and it seemed as if the serious airgunners wanted to hide their passion. Advanced collectors told me what a shame it is to have a reference like the Blue Book of Airguns, because now everybody can know what they know. In the past, they relied on ignorance to grow their collections at low prices. But when everyone can know that a Winsel CO2 pistol is ultra-rare, they stop selling them for $50, and the price climbs to over $1,000.

What’s a Winsel? If you own a Blue Book, you’ll know.

It wasn’t just collectible guns, either. Airgun repair stations were close-mouthed about what they did and how they did it. I guess they figured they had to keep their mouths shut if they wanted to remain in business. They knew there were only a few airgunners and they didn’t want to share them.

Lead, follow or get out of the way

I hated this hush-hush attitude when I first encountered it in 1993. To me, a thing is either growing or it is dying. Stasis is unachievable in the real world. But not all growth is good. No one wants a cancer. Growth has to be healthy to succeed. So, taking my wife’s advice, I set about to grow airgunning by kicking the top off the manure pile and seeing what was underneath. I may not have known that much about airguns, but as a lifelong shooter I certainly knew about shooting. The rest I could pick up as I went.

Once I started writing, things happened fast. It turned out that a lot of people felt the same as me and were looking for more information about airguns. They were starved for it, in fact. Things progressed so fast that the naysayers were quickly bypassed. Airgun shows sprang up and new people began flooding into the hobby — many of them latent airgunners who had been waiting for things to get organized. My subscription list didn’t grow that fast, but it sure put a load on a lot of office copiers!

A new dynamic

This sudden surge of interest changed the dynamic of the hobby. Now the veterans became concerned that the words that were getting out were correct. If they couldn’t stop the flood of information, at least they wanted it to be as right as possible. It was no longer “Mum’s the word,” but rather, “If you’re going to talk about it, get it right.”

The stalwarts

Of course it wasn’t all bad back then. There were those few who had been trying to get the word out all along. Larry Hannusch had been writing informative articles about airguns for many years when I started my newsletter. He is probably the most noted authority in the field, and, fortunately for all of us, he is still a young man. Along with Larry, Jess Galan wrote a lot about airguns. He isn’t writing as much today as he was in the 1990s, but Jess is another of the stalwarts who did his best to spread the word.

Robert Beeman

And I cannot write this piece without recognizing Robert Beeman, whose beautiful color catalogs changed the face of airgunning in the U.S. Many of us got our start from those informative resources. I treasure my collection of Beeman catalogs, and refer to them often.

It is also appropriate to remember the late Robert Law. His black and white catalog was the first U.S. publication that had any useful information about airguns. I have a few of them that I preserve. Yes, both Stoeger’s Shooter’s Bible catalogs and The Gun Digest have earlier mentions of airguns, but, aside from a few informative articles by Ladd Fanta and Jess Galan, there was nothing of any substance.

What I did

My part in all of this was to start a newsletter at a time when there was a desperate need for more information about airguns. It wasn’t that I knew a lot about them. Despite what some people say about me — I am no expert in this field. What I did was stand in the crowd and shout that the emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes! Several people agreed with me and started shouting the same thing. Before long, the emperor had to do something about it.

Edith was the inspiration

I say “I” but really it was “we.” My wife, Edith, coaxed me into starting the newsletter, and then she matched it with The Airgun Forum — a chat forum that was so active it became the pride and joy of our web hosting service. We never could have afforded the bandwidth needed to accommodate the 500 to 1,500 new threads (that’s new threads — not including the responses to these threads) that were put up on that forum every 24 hours, but the web hosting service we used considered it to be their portfolio. If they could handle a forum as active as ours, there was nothing they couldn’t do. To date, no web forum in the shooting sports has approached the level of traffic we had.

Like I said earlier, cancer is also a growth, and our level of visibility attracted a lot of unhealthy attention and jealousy. We were spammed, hacked and in a constant state of siege for over two years when I decided to pull the plug. Edith and I (it was mostly Edith) worked around the clock to keep the bad people in check. Even our hosting service was on call 24/7, to keep things running. We couldn’t go anywhere without dragging the forum with us. In one desperate case, the FBI got involved with some very sophisticated software that most people didn’t know existed. Through them I discovered who was doing a lot of the hacking.

I pulled the plug

So, in early 2002 I pulled the plug on “The Airgun Letter” and The Airgun Forum. And people were mad! I became the guy who was denying everyone their fix of information — the very thing I had set out to rectify! But I did it to keep Edith and I from going over the cliff. We refunded everyone’s subscription money — a move that cost us a bundle. In the end we lost a lot of money. But in the nine years we operated the world of airguns had changed. Instead of a few books on the subject, there were now over a dozen, with my R1 book being one of them. Pyramyd Air was up and running, along with Compasseco and Airgun Express, and the hobby was exploding!

Best of all, more books were coming out all the time. Today were have several good books on Daisy guns, a book on BB machine guns, numerous books about airgun hunting, and lots of general books about other airgun subjects. I contend that these books and online information are what advances this hobby, because they disseminate the word about airguns.

The big push!

But that isn’t all. It turns out that among the millions of American firearms shooters, many are latent airgunners. They are people who just like to shoot, and when they discover airguns they find a hobby that multiplies their shooting opportunities. This fact grows more important daily as the price of firearm ammunition rises and shooting ranges become more crowded.

Twenty years ago when I was asked what the future of airgunning was I responded that I wasn’t sure. It was growing, but the pace was slow. That is no longer true.

Airgunning is exploding! The genie is out of the bottle and cannot be put back. The future of airgunning is the future of shooting, itself. Or, we can turn that around. The future of shooting is airguns. Airguns will cease being apologetic substitutes for firearms and will take on a strong persona of their own. The guns have become so good that there is no reason to apologize for anything.

It’s not me

It sounds like I think I’m the reason for what has happened. Well, I don’t. I am just writing this as I saw it happen — from my perspective. This move was going to happen whether I came along or not. It might have happened differently, but it was inevitable.

The Daisy 853: Part 3

Po, 05/23/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier


Daisy 853.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Help arrives
  • Overhaul parts
  • Pilkgun website instructions
  • Felt wiper disintegrated
  • The critical step
  • O-ring positions
  • Hobby pellets
  • Pump tube
  • What’s next?

Well, this report is turning into one of the most popular ones in recent times! It seems that a lot of you are interested in the Daisy 853. Many of you pestered me about my progress last week when I had to stop the overhaul because the instructions on the Pilkguns website were incomplete.

Help arrives

One of our newer readers named Paperweight sent me a link to a pdf tutorial from Daisy that cleared things up a lot. I followed those instructions and got the overhaul back on track.

Overhaul parts

First, let’s look at the parts Daisy sends for the 853 powerplant overhaul. They didn’t give me the price, but their marketing VP, Joe Murfin, told me he thoughty they cost around $3.00.

These are all the parts in Daisy part number 853-1, which is the rebuild kit for the powerplant. Felt wiper on the left, the piston o-ring and the valve body o-ring next, the inlet valve retainer, inlet valve and inlet valve spring.

Pilkgun website instructions

I disassembled the rifle following the instructions on the Pilkguns website. They work well for that. It’s the assembly where they are lacking. When I got to the piston head I examined it for cracks, because reader Buldawg76 thought he saw a crack in the photos I showed. Thankfully, that was just a speck of dirt. The piston head is intact and in good condition. It just needed a good wipedown.

Felt wiper disintegrated

But the felt wiper disintegrated in my fingers when I tried to remove it. From what I’ve read, that happens to this part over the years.

The old felt wiper disintegrated when I tried to remove it. I think that’s fairly common. My UTG mat is a poor background for this picture.

I’m not going to give you a step-by-step description of the rebuild. Daisy has done a masterful job of that in their tutorial. The Pilkington tutorial is okay, but it lacks detail for the assembly, and a couple of the assembly steps are either overlooked or are just incorrect. Also, they used red letters for their instructions, which disappear against the black body of the gun.

The old o-rings were still flexible and looked pretty good, though they did have some flat spots. The inlet valve seal face was grooved from contact with the valve seat. That could be a problem or not.

The old inlet valve (left) is grooved from contact with the valve seat. It may or may not have been leaking slightly.

The critical step

The most critical step in assembly is when you put the receiver together, and the Pilkington site put the red action verb right smack in the center of the black gun body, so a red-green colorblind person like me cannot tell whether he is to squeeze the parts together or strike them. Daisy tells you to hit the top of the receiver with a mallet, which I did. After an hour of no success following Pilkgun and guessing what to do, I had the receiver together in seconds with Daisy’s instructions.

O-ring positions

When Paperweight contacted me he mentioned that the light brown (he calls it orange, but I can’t see it) o-ring goes on the valve body instead of the punp piston head. For some reason I read they went the other way and now had to switch them. Fortunately, the gun was still apart when I found out, so I made the switch before assembly. The Daisy instructions make no mention of this, as they use two black o-rings that appear identical.

I will say that the action and its plastic spacers fit tightly into the stock. There is almost not enough room, because the inletting is so tight.

The rifle is now back together. It has a problem with the rear triggerguard screw, which seems to be a common fault with the older 853. Daisy changed the design of this part, simplifying it from 3 parts with 2 screws to 2 parts and 1 screw, but I have the older one. It was broken when I received the rifle, so it’s another thing to address, but the rifle can still be tested in all ways. Let’s now look at the velocity.

Hobby pellets

If you recall, I tried the RWS Hobby pellets first. Weighing only 7 grains, they should give us a good picture of the health of the powerplant. Before oiling the felt wiper last time this pellet gave an average of 384 f.p.s. with a 62 f.p.s. spread. After the first oiling the average increased to 417 f.p.s, with a spread of 25 f.p.s. A second oiling increased the average to 442 f.p.s. with a 20 f.p.s. spread. Now let’s see what Hobbys do after the rebuild.

Hobbys after the rebuild and some shots to settle down averaged 446 f.p.s. The spread for these 10 shots was from 442 to 453, so 11 f.p.s. The powerplant is now stable, but still not performing up to spec — not even close. If the average is supposed to be 510 f.p.s., according the Daisy’s specifications, I could accept an average around 485 f.p.s., and allow for the possibility that my rifle is on the slow side. But it’s more than that. Something else needs to be rebuilt.

From the standpoint of instant gratification, today’s results are bad news. But considering the amount of interest there is in the 853, it’s a blessing in disguise. Because I now need to go back inside and replace other parts — quite possibly the hammer spring.

I am also thinking of replacing the bolt that includes the probe that seats the pellet. There are no seals on the probe, and if air is leaking past it when the gun fires, it could cost some velocity. I will also examine the valve body in detail, to make certain there are no cracks or imperfections. I examined it on the outside this time, but I didn’t look inside, where problems could lie. When I replace all these parts the valve body will be completely apart, which allows for a good look inside.

Pump tube

I did examine the inside of the pump tube during this rebuild, but when I take the rifle apart next time I will also look at it again. I might have missed something.

What’s next?

I will order the parts I know this gun needs. That would be a new hammer spring and a bolt. I’ll also order the parts to fix the rear triggerguard screw. I’ll hold off on ordering a valve body and pump tube until I can examine the ones that are in the gun closely.

It will take me at least another week to get the parts, install them and test the gun. I will be using the Daisy files mentioned above for all repairs. I won’t test the rifle for accuracy until I’m satisfied it is shooting right.

Paperweight also gave me the Daisy part numbers for some other things, like an adjustable trigger and some front sight inserts. I will order those as well, so I’ll me ready when it’s time for the accuracy test. Stick around — there is lots more to come on this 853.

As a parting shot I’ll say that the 853 is not the easiest gun to work on. You have to be patient and follow the instructions closely. But if you get frustrated, just remember there is a 23-year-old girl at Daisy putting these guns together with her left hand while she texts her boyfriend with her right hand. It isn’t that difficult!

Crosman 101 multi-pump pneumatic: Part 1

Pá, 05/20/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

Crosman 101 multi-pump pneumatic.

This report covers:

  • Crosman-101-classic
  • Description
  • Peep sight
  • Cocking knobs
  • Materials
  • History
  • Maintenance
  • Crosman 101CG

I was trying to report on rebuilding the Daisy 853 today, but a last-minute change prevented that. One of our readers, Paperweight, sent me Daisy’s very detailed .pdf file on rebuilding the 753/853 that has far more detail than the one on Pilkington’s website. It includes some steps that Pilkington overlooks, and those steps are vital. He also told me that the brown o-ring goes on the action and the black one goes on the pump piston. I had followed someone else’s directions and had them reversed. So I had to backtrack and switch the o-rings, plus I used the more detailed Daisy instructions to assemble the gun. I’ll tell you more when I do that report.


So today we will start looking at one of the all-time classic multi-pumps — Crosman’s 101 pumper. It’s also been know as the Silent model at times, for reasons I will cover, but nowhere in Crosman’s literature or on the gun do I see the model number. The .22-caliber model 101 and the rarer .177-caliber model 100 got their start in 1924, and production continued until 1950. The Blue Book of Airgunss says the .22-caliber model started in 1926, but that overlooks the model 1924 that is clearly the earliest version of this gun. The model 100 wasn’t started until 1940 and was never as popular as the .22 caliber gun because .177 wasn’t that popular in the United States during that timeframe.

The 101 looks pretty funky to someone used to today’s pneumatics.


The 100/101 is an underlever pump gun that accepts 2 to 10 pump strokes for one shot. It is designed to dump all its air with every shot. My rifle is a beater I bought for $50 at an airgun show and had Dave Gunter rebuild. Dave’s not working on airguns any more, as far as I know, but Rick Willnecker in Pennsylvania ( http://www.airgunshop.net/ or call 717-382-1481) can not only do the job — he manufactures the parts that all the other repair centers use to fix these vintage pneumatics. He’s a good resource for you.

Dave souped my rifle up when he fixed it. In 2005 I reported getting 710 f.p.s. with .22-caliber Crosman Premiers on 8 pumps. That’s way over the norm for this gun. In good shape a 101 should give 625-640 f.p.s. on 10 pump strokes.

Peep sight

The rear peep sight went through some iterations, as well. Some of them have large round peep holes with knurled elements to permit easy adjustments, while others are like the one on my example — plain peep element with flats. The peep hole in this one is tiny! All of them adjust manually though. Elevation is controlled by sliding the sight staff up and down and horizontal is controlled by positioning the peephole along the top of the staff.

Peep sight adjusts by sliding the element staff up and down or the element left and right.

Cocking knobs

Cocking knobs also changed over the years. The earliest is a simple knob with a thin knurled ring at the end. That came from the ultra-rare type 3 pumper that preceded the 101. I used to own one of those before anyone knew it was a separate model. We just thought it was a toolroom gun. The one I owned is the very gun pictured in the Blue Book.

The next cocking knob had a dished groove (knob looked like a mushroom from the side) for the fingers. That was followed by a large knurled knob that was almost an inch long. The last vewrsion has several rings cut into it for better grip. That’s the one on my current rifle.

The 101 looks old and funky. In fact, that’s a lot of its appeal. It’s no more accurate than a Sheridan Blue Streak or a Benjamin 310 multi-pump that were contemporaries. But the 101 comes standard with a rear peep sight, where the other two have open sporting sights. So it is perhaps a little easier to shoot accurately.


The receiver is an aluminum casting. Most of the other parts, with the possible exception of the barrel, and barrel hangers, are steel. The barrel is 20 inches long. My steel barrel is rifled with a right-hand twist having very shallow grooves that make it next to impossible to count the lands. I would guess there are either 6 or 8. There certainly are not 12.

Crosman used a lot of maple on the 101 guns. My example gun sports a plain maple stock and forearm with just a hint of figure.

My rifle weighs 5 lbs. 2.5 oz. The overall length is 35 inches, making it a carbine-length rifle, despite the long barrel. The weight feels like more because of the compactness. The pull is a whisker over 13 inches, but the placement of the peep sight makes it feel longer.

The trigger is a direct-sear blade with zero complexity. That said, the single-stage pull is quite light. The trigger breaks at 1 lb. 14 oz. with just a wee bit of creep.


The 101 was produced from 1924 (26?) until 1950. There are numerous variations throughout the life of the model, though there was never an official designation of a model upgrade. Some guns had brass barrels; others had steel. Some models had wood stocks with high combs, others were lower and more plain. Some guns had gorgeous figured maple stock wood, while others were as plain are table kegs. And, there was the Silent model of the 1940s that featured a plastic pump handle with a rubber pad inside. It prevented the forearm from clicking as the gun is pumped. The ads said you could pump silently when hunting.

Over the years I’ve owned several 101s — including a Silent and a 1924 model. I’ve also owned one model 100, but I wasn’t as fond of it for some reason. My current rifle is the least valuable of all, and also the most powerful.


Most multi-pump owners know to store their guns with a pump of air to keep the valve seals clean and fresh. The 101, however, allows you to do one thing more. If you unscrew the cocking knob you can relax all tension on the striker spring, helping to keep that air inside the gun. Just don’t forget to screw it back in before you shoot again. I just checked and my rifle is still holding air I pumped in there more than 3 years ago!

Of course you also want to put some Crosman Pellgunoil on the pump head that is exposed when the pump handle is fully forward. How much is up to you. It’s impossible to overdo this step.

Crosman 101CG

After WW II, someone at Crosman found a supply of 4 oz. CO2 tanks for life rafts and got the bright idea to convert the pneumatic rifle to CO2. They hung the tank beneath the rifle and got hundreds of shots per fill. This is the rifle the company marketed with shooting galleries for businesses.

Crosman converted the 101 to use CO2 from a WWII life raft tank, creating the model 101 compressed gas, or CG. There’s that mushroom-shaped cocking knob.

This will be a conventional test report with three parts. I’m looking forward to reacquainting myself with this old girl.

Paper Shooters Zombie Slayer Kit: Part 2

Čt, 05/19/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Paper Shooter Zombie Slayer.

This report covers:

  • Plastic parts and steel screws
  • American Airgunner
  • Building the second gun
  • Paper construction
  • Velocity
  • Velocity dry
  • Velocity wet
  • Bullet deformation

It’s been over 2 months since I wrote about the Paper Shooters Zombie Slayer Kit, but I have been doing things with it. Today you learn the back story about my kit and what I’ve learned. Take the time to review Part 1 before reading today’s report, because a lot will be explained today. I’ll begin with plastic parts and steel screws.

Plastic parts and steel screws

In case it hasn’t dawned on you yet, steel screws go into plastic parts in just about any way they want to, and they don’t signal when they are all the way in. It’s real easy to mess up a kit like this one, if you are too ham-fisted with the screwdriver. I mentioned that in Part 1, and now I am reinforcing it. If you want to build this kit successfully, you’d better develop a safecracker’s touch!

I didn’t, and I ruined the first kit. I mentioned that in the report, but I’m emphasizing it now. That’s why you’ll want to re-read Part 1. Let’s set aside the parts that can be assembled incorrectly ( I covered them well in Part 1) and just discuss getting those steel screws tight without stripping them.

American Airgunner

I had a thought about taking the kit on the set of American Airgunner. This would be a great way to show the viewers how an airgun works. To do that, though, I needed to build a kit that actually worked. My first gun did shoot, but it wouldn’t feed the cartridges from the magazine, and the magazine release didn’t work. So I contacted Pyramyd Air and asked for another kit. They sent me three!

Building the second gun

I built gun number two in half the time the first one took. I now knew what to expect, and I had developed the “safecracker” touch for the screws. No mistakes were made putting this one together. As a result, everything worked right the first time and no disassembly was required. This was the gun I took to film the American Airgunner segment. But I did not finish the assembly, and I want to tell you why.

This is as far as I assembled the gun. It works and all the screws can still be seen.

Paper construction

It may not be obvious in the pictures, but after the base gun is constructed, all the “cool” parts that add dimension are just paper. That’s right, they are paper pieces that stick together and add dimension to the buttstock, the forearm and the receiver. The “sights” and carry handle are all paper parts. I did not want to add them to the base gun because they hide all the screws in the frame that I wanted to show in the episode. So I left my gun in the raw yellow plastic. When I arrived at the American Airgunner set, I discovered that had been a very good idea.

After the base gun is assembled, the rest of the parts are paper stickers. They give dimension to the basic plastic gun, but they have no structural strength.

The film company (5-Star Productions) that films American Airgunner had filmed an ad for the Zombie Slayer guns several months earlier, and they had constructed two guns for that job. Those guns were there when I arrived, so I added them to the segment we filmed. Both guns were non-functional. One never worked after it was built (sort of like my first gun) and the other one would shoot, but would not feed the cartridges. With all the paper parts stuck in place it was impossible to disassemble either of these guns for repairs, because all the screws holding the parts together were covered by the paper stickers. My gun was the only one that functioned 100 percent.

The feel of those two fully constructed guns was cheap and flimsy, in my opinion. The paper parts were soft to touch and did not hold up to much handling. My unfinished gun, by comparison, is much more rugged and functioned perfectly throughout the filming — even when handled roughly by the show host, Rossi Morreale! Once he saw how much fun the gun is, he started taking potshots on the set. That went on for several minutes. They did film all of it and I hope some of that shooting makes it to the air. Because the Zombie Slayer functioned perfectly!

What I learned from Rossi is the Zombie Slayer wants to be operated like a firearm. What I mean by that is the parts want to be cycled rapidly — not babied like I had been doing. Rossi handled it naturally and the gun fed perfectly from the magazine each time.


I will have more to say about the Zombie Slayer, but I wanted to get the velocity for you today. Since this is essentially a spitwad shooter, there is really only one ammunition to test, but thanks to some experimentation on American Airgunner, we have two ways to test it — wet and dry. I will explain as we go.

Velocity dry

The first test will be of the paper wads/bullets that are completely dry. You get about 25 with the gun, which lasts until you can make more (see Part 1 and the wad-making mold). I figured I should shoot the wads in a dry state. Let’s do that now.

The wad or “bullet” is seated in the base of a cartridge and pushed in as deep as a finger will push. When the cartridges are all loaded, they are inserted into the magazine that then fits into the gun. Pulling back on the charging handle cocks the gun and loads a fresh cartridge. If a cartridge was already in the barrel, it will be extracted and ejected.

Push a paper bullet into the base of each cartridge.

Cartridges are loaded into the magazine.

Five dry “bullets” averaged 91 f.p.s. The entire string looked like this.


Velocity wet

Why wet? Well, I won’t gross you out with the discussion we had on the American Airgunner set, but when we started shooting this gun, all of the crew knew a lot more about it than I did. They call me The Godfather of Airguns on the show, but I guess that doesn’t encompass spitwad guns. All I know is the entire crew knew the gun would shoot better if the “bullets” were moistened before loading.

Laying the bullets in water makes them uniformly wet in seconds.

They placed a saucer of water (yes, I said water — as in the stuff you buy in plastic bottles) on the round table and placed some of the wads in the water. They were properly moisturized within seconds, and then we loaded and shot them. Sure enough, they did seem to go faster and shot farther. I always joke about the guy whose “chronograph” is the screen-door-to-the-hickory-tree, but when the projectile is white and only goes 100 f.p.s., you really can see small differences.

Five wet “bullets averaged 100 f.p.s. The string looked like this.


Obviously wet “bullets” go faster than dry ones. But the uniformity is pretty equal. The dry string has a spread of 29 f.p.s. while the wet string only differs by 28 f.p.s. That’s not much of a difference.

Bullet deformation

I showed the deformation of the paper bullets in part 1. But now that I was wetting them, they deformed much more.

All these bullets were fired, but the three wet ones on the right deformed the most.

There is one more report to come on the Zombie Slayer. Next time I’ll talk about what you can learn from a simple airguns like this.

FWB P44 10-meter target pistol: Part 2

St, 05/18/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

FWB P44 target pistol is Tom Gaylord’s dream airgun!

FWB P44 10-meter target pistol: Part 1
Morini 162MI Part 1
Morini 162MI Part 2
Morini 162MI Part 3

This report covers:

  • RWS R10 Pistol pellets
  • Read the manual
  • Backup
  • Adjusting the velocity
  • RWS R10 Match
  • Sig Sauer Match Ballistic Alloy pellets
  • Qiang Yuan Olympic pellets
  • Gages don’t agree
  • Summary

It took me a while to get back to this pistol. First there was the filming of American Airgunner, then I had the incident with the retina detachment. But I’m back at it today. Just as a reminder — this isn’t just a test of this one pistol — I’m also comparing it to the Morini 162MI 10-meter target pistol I tested for you earlier this year. That’s why I have linked to that series at the top of the report.

Last time I said I was going to adjust the pistol (the grip and possibly the trigger) in this part, but I got curious about the power, so today will be velocity day as Part 2 normally is. There will be some adjustment, however, as you shall soon learn.

RWS R10 Pistol pellets

I started the test with RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets. The pellets I used have a 4.50mm head and the tin was brand new. I normally like to use RWS Hobby for a pistol velocity test, so this 7-grain target pellet seemed like a suitable substitute.

The average velocity was 602 f.p.s. and the spread went from 598 f.p.s. to 605 f.p.s. So the spread was 7 f.p.s. — about what can be expected from a regulated PCP. But 600 f.p.s. is too fast for a 10-meter target pistol.

Read the manual

I read the manual, looking for the instructions about how to adjust the power. But they aren’t in there! In a somewhat haughty way, the manual tells you that your pistol has been carefully adjusted at the factory to give the optimum velocity that will get you maximum number of shots on a fill of the air tank. Baloney! I think 600 f.p.s. is too fast for a 10-meter target pistol, and Feinwerkbau agrees, because they say the pistol is set to deliver pellets at 150 meters per second (492 f.p.s.). They don’t mention which pellets they used or even their weight, but at least I have a ballpark number to refer to.

That’s the sort of velocity I expected from this airgun — 492 f.p.s., not 602 f.p.s. Granted the R10 is a light pellet, but the gun was still set way too fast in my opinion. However, nowhere in the manual does it tell you how to adjust the velocity — it just tells you not to do it, because the gun has been set by the factory. So, I had to figure it out on my own.


I wanted to bracket the power, so I also tested some 8.2-grain Qiang Yuan Olympic pellets. I think they are too heavy for a target pistol, but I do plan to test them for accuracy in the P44 because of how well they have performed in other accurate airguns. They averaged 556 f.p.s. on the factory setting, with a spread of 6 f.p.s from 554 to 560 f.p.s. That’s way too fast for such a heavy pellet!

Adjusting the velocity

Off came the grip, exposing the action. A large slotted screw at the rear of the receiver seemed to be the power adjustment, so I turned it out (counter-clockwise) just a little. The velocity with R10s dropped a little. I kept turning it out until the R10s were clocking 536 and the Qiang Yuans were running 489 f.p.s. That was about two full turns out and seemed like a good place, so I stopped adjusting and started the velocity test. I should add that the report of the pistol went from a loud bang to a quiet pop at the reduced velocity. Clearly it had been wasting air!

The manual doesn’t tell you that this screw (arrow) adjusts the power, but it does. It turned hard!

RWS R10 Match

The first shot from the gun with this pellet went out ast 519 f.p.s. Shot two registered 533, which told me that like most PCPs, the FWB P44 needs to wake up before it settles down. I disregarded the first shot and made a mental note to always fire a shot before shooting for record.

The average was 530 f.p.s. The 6 f.p.s. spread went from 527 to 533 f.p.s. This is very stable, and highly representative in my experience with regulated airguns. I’ve heard tales of guns that don’t vary by over 1 f.p.s., but the best I’ve ever seen was a TX200 that varied by around 4 f.p.s. And, it’s a spring gun!

Vogel pellets

Scott Pilkington is a source for all target shooters — both airgun and firearm. Scott was the repairman to the U.S. Olympic team for many years, plus he is a world-famous engraver! He makes and sells his own brand of target pellet called the Vogel, so I tried them next. I’m shooting Vogels with 4.50mm heads and the weight is 8.3 grains. Vogels averaged 466 f.p.s. in the P44 with an 8 f.p.s. spread from 461 to 469 f.p.s. If they prove to be the best pellet for this pistol I will adjust the velocity up just a bit, to around 490 f.p.s.

Sig Sauer Match Ballistic Alloy pellets

Sig Sauer’s Match Ballistic Alloy light 5.25-grain pellets were going to be the fastest in this test. They averaged 583 f.p.s., with a 14 f.p.s. spread from 578 to 592 f.p.s. If they prove to be the most accurate pellets I would adjust the power down, to get them around 525 f.p.s. That’s arbitrary, of course. I would expect to get the best accuracy at that speed, but if not, I’d adjust them to wherever that was. The goal is to have a pellet that doesn’t go too fast and waste air. But accuracy trumps everything.

Qiang Yuan Olympic pellets

This heavy Chinese target pellet averaged 481 f.p.s. with a 14 f.p.s. spread from 476 to 490 f.p.s. I expect them to do well in the accuracy test and, if they prove to be the best, I would leave the velocity set where it is.

Gages don’t agree

The manometer is a gage on the P44′s air tank that tells you how much air remains. When I filled the tank to 3,000 psi as indicated by the gage on my carbon fiber tank, the pistol’s manometer read about 160 bar (2,320 psi) instead of 206 bar. I will trust the gage on my carbon fiber tank, because I know from experience that it’s pretty accurate. This sort of thing drives some people up the wall, but I have pointed out many times that small pressure gages seldom agree.


I had planned to adjust the grip angle and perhaps the location of the trigger blade today, but the adjustment of the power band and then testing it took up my time. But don’t worry, I plan on giving this pistol a very thorough test!

Umarex Brodax CO2 revolver: Part 3

Út, 05/17/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Umarex Brodax revolver.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Installing the CO2 cartridge
  • Using the new eye
  • The test
  • Next — Hornady Black Diamonds
  • Umarex BBs
  • Daisy Match Grade Avanti Precision Ground Shot
  • Bottom line

I think you all know how I feel about this Brodax revolver from Umarex. At first sight I thought it was odd-looking and even cartoonish in appearance, but after shooting it in the velocity test I fell in love with the feel. I said then that if the Brodax is an accurate gun, it will be a keeper. Today we find out whether that’s the case.

Installing the CO2 cartridge

This time I remembered that there is an Allen wrench inside the left grip panel to tighten the piercing screw on the CO2 cartridge. As always, I put a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of the new cartridge and it sealed instantly when it was pierced. I was ready to test.

Using the new eye

This is the first test in which I have used my eye after it was repaired following the detached retina. Remember, folks, I was blind in this eye before the surgery. My binocular vision has not returned completely and things still appear strange to me, but I was able to see the front sight. The eye isn’t as clear as it was before the detachment, though. I estimate my vision is 20/50 in that eye, with moderate cloudiness from a cataract. Still — I can focus on the front sight blade, which is all that is necessary for accuracy.

I did find that I had to close my non-sighting eye though. It was showing me a competing vision of the front sight that was disturbing. By the end of the test, though, I found it possible to keep that other eye partially open. In time I think I will be able to keep both eyes open when sighting once again.

The test

I shot the revolver from 5 meters, which is the traditional BB-gun distance. I sat on a chair and rested the gun on the UTG Monopod rest, which most of you know is a rock-solid rest for the field. All shooting was single-action (hammer cocked for each shot to make the trigger light and crisp).

First up — Daisy BBs

First to be tested were Daisy Premium Grade BBs. As I fired I couldn’t see where the BBs were going, which either meant they were in the black or they were missing the target altogether. Thankfully, it turned out to be the former.

Remember the problem I reported in Part 2 about the BBs falling out? One of the 10 Daisy BBs fell out during this test, so my group is ony 9 shots instead of 10. That was the only BB that fell out in the entire 40-shot test.

Nine BBs went into a group that measurtes 1.123-inches between centers at 5 meters. The group is fairly well-centered, and most of the shots are in the bull.

Nine Daisy BBs went into 1.123-inches at 5 meters fropm the Brodax. One BB fell out of the gun.

This was a good start. The Brodax was shooting where it looked, which is a plus when the sights are fixed. And the trigger was still very smooth, though when shooting for accuracy I could feel all of the pull weight that eluded me in the velocity test.

Next — Hornady Black Diamonds

The next BB I tried was the Hornady Black Diamond. These fit the circular clip much better and none fell out while shooting. Once again I could not see the BB holes while I shot. And, when I examined the target after finishing, I was pleased to see a very nice group. Nine of the BBs went into a tight 0.59-inch group. Shot 10 (I have no idea which one it actually was in the series) opened the group to 1.036-inches. There were no pulled shots that I could see, so this group is representative of the accuracy for this BB.

Ten Hornady Black Diamond BBs went into 1.036-inches at 5 meters, but 9 of them are in a tight group half as large. This is potentially the best BB I tested in the Brodax.

Umarex BBs

After the Black Diamonds I tried a clip opf Umarex BBs. The Brodax is theirs, so maybe they know something? Ten BBs went into a 1.449-inch group that was both the largest of the test and also spread out horizontally. I have no idea why that was; the shots were all as good as I could make them.

Ten Umarex BBs spread horizontally to make a 1.449-inch group. There were no called pulls (shots fired as the gun moved).

Daisy Match Grade Avanti Precision Ground Shot

The last BB I tried was the Daisy Match Grade Avanti Precision Ground Shot. They fit tighter in the clip and I hoped they would produce a smaller group. Ten went into 1.144-inches at 5 meters. That was the third best group in the Brodax.

Ten Daisy Match Grade Avanti Precision Ground Shot went into 1.144-inches at 5 meters from the Brodax. Not as good as I hoped.

Bottom line

The Brodax is a clear winner in my test. It shoots to the point of aim and groups good enough to roll tin cans and other targets of opportunity at BB-gun distances. Given the super-fine grip, light crisp trigger and the low cost, I have to consider it a best buy among BB guns!

The rise of the accurate pellet: Part 3

Po, 05/16/2016 - 05:38

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Up to this point
  • What came next?
  • Head size
  • Enter the Pelletgage
  • High-performance expanding pellets
  • Solid “pellets”
  • Lead-free pellets
  • Conclusion

I bet some of you didn’t realize there was so much to making pellets accurate, did you? This is the third installment of this report and we still have some ground to cover.

Up to this point

To summarize, we have learned that the introduction of the diabolo shape made pellet more accurate than ever before and ushered in the age of the accurate airgun. But after that first surge of advancement, pellet makers didn’t really forge ahead. They were comfortable just making diabolo (wasp-waisted, hollow-tailed) pellets. It wasn’t until 60 more years passed that they began to question whether there was more that could be done.

What came next?

The next advances happened on both the individual shooter level as well as the manufacturing level. Manufacturers of premium pellets began to tighten their control over the specifications. They were already doing that in-house, but when they started selling pellets to World Cup and Olympic competitors, they started selling their productions by lots. Shooters tested each lot until they found the pellet that worked best with their gun, then they bought a significant portion of that lot, in the belief that there would be more uniformity in the same lot than across lots. In the world of rimfire competition and 10-meter airgun target competition, this is still the practice today.

In the 1980s field target shooters were also interested in getting the best accuracy from their air rifles, but they were shooing domed pellets that had not come under scrutiny previously. The pellets were very good because the manufacturers (premium makers) were holding the tolerances tight, but until field target, and more recently long-range benchrest shooting, nobody was checking. But field target shooters looked for ways of making these good pellets even better.

Two methods surfaced — weighing and sorting by head size. Pellets that were sorted by weight seemed to shoot better than the same pellets selected at random from the tin or box. When I competed in field target in the 1990s, weight-sorting was considered mandatory if you wanted to win. You use an electronic powder scale and group the pellets into categories that do not vary by one-tenth grain. While there are a few scales that show weights down to one-hundredth grain, it turns out that level of sorting doesn’t add much accuracy, if any. The real benefit comes from not shooting two pellets that vary by nearly half a grain in weight at the same target 55 yards away.

The head size sorting was less scientific. Shooters used transparent ballpoint pen barrels that were known to taper smaller on their inner diameter. Since they were transparent, the pellets could be seen from the outside and marks were made to show the ideal range. If a pellet stopped falling in that range, it was considered good for competition.

Head size

What this sorting was after was a pellet with a consistent head size. The skirt would always be larger than the rifle’s bore and would be squeezed down when shot, but the head was the part of the pellet that was engraved by the rifling and affected accuracy the most. The shooters did not know the exact size of the head — it was just the relative size they were after, so all pellets would be the same. But that was all it took to make a difference.

Enter the Pelletgage

In 2015 the Pelletgage hit the market. This tool that I have reviewed for you several times is by far the best way to sort pellets by head size. Pelletgages are shipping around the world, and competitors are discovering a new level of performance from guns and pellets they already thought were perfection. Future competitors will have to use this gage just to stay even with the pack!

The Pelletgage is a game-changer for competitors wanting ultimate accuracy.

High-performance expanding pellets

We are not done. Next we will consider the hunters’ need for expansion on game. When I got into airgunning seriously in the mid-1970s, there were hollowpoint pellets, but they were mostly a gimmick. They only expanded if they hit an animal while traveling very fast, which meant you had to be very close to the game, because in those days, airguns did not shoot that fast. Well, times chage. Guns have speeded up and pellets now have remarkable performance at even moderate velocities.

It takes a lot of time and money to develop a good expanding pellet. Sometimes the shape of the hollow cavity makes a huge difference and other times the thickness of the cavity walls matters the most. Even striations in the cavity walls that weaken it can be significant.

Vortek Lamprey Hollowhead pellets were among the first to experiment with new shapes, and they actually turned inside-out when they deformed. To this date I have not seen an expanding pellet that could equal what they could do, though they have been off the market for over 10 years.

Yes, the long end is hollow and it is the head! Vortek Lamprey hollowhead pellets outperform every expanding pellet ever made! They are no longer produced.

The thing about expending pellets is they perform best within a range of termial velocities (velocity at the target). Each one will give you a different range with different airguns. And then there is the accuracy potential. Today’s expanding pellets are usually quite accurate, because their makers know airgunners insist on accuracy over everything. So that part of the pellet market is bright and getting brighter.

Solid “pellets”

Sorry, but I’m too much of a shooter to call a solid projectile a pellet. Just because it goes in a pellet gun doesn’t make it a pellet. It’s a bullet, plain and simple.

And, being a bullet, the ballistics are determined by spin, where diabolos are more sensitive to drag. Pellet makers haven’t tripped to this yet and keep bringing out these ridiculous projectiles that don’t shoot well in most airguns, in my experience. Give them time to learn the lessons black powder shooters have learned and eventually there will be some useful solid pellets. But for the present — not on your life. If anyone knows different, please inform me.

Lead-free pellets

For many years I taunted the pellet makers about their lead-free pellets that weren’t worth much. I said if anyone ever made a good lead-free pellet, I would become its head cheerleader. Well, Sig Sauer did just that, with their Match Ballistic Alloy pellets. Now the JROTC teams and all those who shoot in California have something good to shoot in matches! Yes, I know they are made by H&N and are probably the same as H&N Match Green pellets, but I haven’t tested those yet, so I can’t say that with authority. I will do that test in the future.


We are now living in a golden age, where pellets just keep getting better. I look for more developments in long range pellets soon, plus more good lead-free pellets. I don’t think the advancements will end anytime soon.

The Daisy 853: Part 2

Pá, 05/13/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 853.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • A couple things before we begin
  • RWS Hobbys
  • Results before oiling
  • How much oil?
  • Results after oiling
  • Second oiling results
  • What’s next?

I hit a home run with this one! many of you already own 853/753 rifles, and a lot of you have been waiting to get one. I now wonder why it took me 11 years to get to it?

A couple things before we begin

Today we look at velocity of the used 853 I recently bought, and I have couple things to say before we start. First, if the velocity is low, it’s not a problem, because one of the brilliant things about an 853 is how easy it is to overhaul. Daisy supplies the parts at low cost, and there are plenty of websites that walk you though installation. So if the power is low, I will rebuild the powerplant for you. Daisy rates it at 510 f.p.s, so that’s our baseline.

Next, I want to show you how I treat a new pneumatic. Pneumatics need oil on their o-rings and other seals to do their best. My plan is to start the velocity test with RWS Hobby pellets and shoot them from the rifle in the condition I received it. This is a used rifle, and I have a suspicion that it has seen lots of use. But it hasn’t been neglected. I can tell that from the smoothness of the action when I cock it. I bought it in an auction, and who knows how long it sat since the last time it was oiled? We will have a before and after result for comparison, and the light Hobby pellet will give us the fastest velocity we can get with a lead pellet.

RWS Hobbys

Welcome to the magic isle of Serendib! The average for the first 10 shots was 384 f.p.s. It doesn’t take a lot of experience with airguns to know that is low, if the average is supposed to be 510 f.p.s.

The spread went from a high of 416 f.p.s. on shot one to a low of 354 f.p.s. on shot four. That’s a large spread of 62 f.p.s. in a single-stroke pneumatic that should be less than 20 f.p.s. That’s another clue the seals are worn.

The 853 has been around long enough that its average was computed with a lead pellet when it first came on the market. Lead-free pellets were all but unknown in 1984, and once a company computes a velocity, they seldom go back and redo it, because it messes up all their published literature. This gun needs seals. So, we are in for an overhaul!

Results before oiling

I took a picture of the felt wiper and the o-ring seal on the pump head before I oiled it. The picture tells me everything. The felt is worn out — either deteriorated from use or, more likely, it was never oiled. Whatever the case, the gun needs a new felt wiper. And its condition tells me that all the seals need to be replaced.

The felt/foam wiper ring was bone-dry before I oiled it.

This photo was taken after oiling the felt wiper many times. One-hundred drops? Who knows?

How much oil?

This is where I depart from all the manuals. If you are anal, better skip this part and go directly to the results after oiling. Because I do not put 5 drops or even 10 drops of oil into a dry pneumatic. I probably put 50-150 drops — and I don’t count them! I oil the felt wiper and let it soak in, then I oil it many more times Oil and soak, oil and soak. With a single stroke I then work the pump handle up and down to spread the oil on the inside walls of the compression chamber, then I oil it again.

This time the felt wiper sucked up oil like a thirsty desert-dweller drinking water! Airgunsmith Rick Willnecker taught me that it impossible to over-oil an CO2 or pneumatic airgun. The excess is blown out on firing.

Results after oiling

After the first oiling, Hobbys averaged 417 f.p.s — a gain of 33 f.p.s. The spread went from a low of 406 to a high of 431 f.p.s. That’s 25 f.p.s. between the high and the low, compared to 62 f.p.s. before oiling. Oiling works! But if the first oiling was good, would a second one be even better?

Why do I oil the gun a second time? Because the first time the oil was blown through the valve, where it got on all the seals inside. That was shown when the velocity rose from 406 f.p.s. on the first shot of the second string to 420 f.p.s. on the last shot. The progression was more or less linear. A second oiling will probably raise the average even more, though not by as much as the first time.

Second oiling results

After the second oiling, which was just as generous as the first one, the rifle averaged 442 f.p.s, with Hobbys — a gain of 25 f.p.s. The spread this time went from a low of 430 f.p.s. to a high of 450 f.p.s. — a 20 f.p.s. difference. So we have a higher average and a slightly tighter spread. Should I oil the gun a third time?

I don’t think so. Yes, there might be another small velocity increase, but it will never get up to spec with oil, alone. It needs to be resealed. It’s a waste of time to test it with other pellets while it is in this condition. Sure, I could even shoot it for accuracy right now and I’m sure it would do well, but let’s get the power back to where it should be before we do that.

What’s next?

I looked at the instructions for overhauling the pump and valve on the Pilkington website and it’s so good I cannot see how to improve on it. So I will follow that set of instructions when I rebuild the powerplant.

I called Daisy customer service and ordered the parts, which come as a set. It’s Daisy part 853-1, and of course it also works for 753s. I didn’t even ask what they parts cost, but when they arrive I will tell you.

My remark about serendipity in the beginning of this report refers to the different path today’s test has set us on. I saw this going completely different, but now we get to delve into the powerplant before we test the rifle. Won’t that be fun?

Teach me to shoot: Part 7

Čt, 05/12/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

This is the continuing fictional saga and guest report of a man teaching a woman to shoot. Today Jack and Jill look at possible defense weapons for her!

Our guest writer is reader, Jack Cooper. Take it away, Jack.

Teach me to shoot

by Jack Cooper

This report covers:

  • Harsh recoil
  • Defense is always a tradeoff
  • Obey the law
  • What about a 9mm revolver?
  • Snub-nosed tradeoffs
  • The test
  • Ouch!
  • What’s next?

B.B. had prepared me for an onslaught of questions from you readers that never came! I told you last time that I trained Jill on a Ruger Single Seven chambered for the .327 Federal magnum, but she shot the smaller, less powerful .32 H&R Magnum cartridge. I thought at least one of you would ask why.

Harsh recoil

The answer was recoil. While the .32 H&R Magnum is a powerful round, the .327 Federal Magnum is much more powerful and would have recoiled significantly more. Besides loading heavier bullets, that cartridge has twice the chamber pressure of the .32 H&R Magnum. Gun writers describe the kick as “snappy,” which is gun writer-ese for “don’t go there.” I did not want Jill to try that round, since her previous experience had been with a cartridge that recoiled far too much for her small hands.

Can some women handle a .357? Certainly they can. I’m not saying they can’t. So can some men — but not all. What I am saying is that when you train someone, you have to be sensitive to what they can tolerate, and don’t exceed that, at the risk of ruining the training. Don’t think you have to toughen them up. That is a military concept; it should not be one that a firearms instructor uses.

Defense is always a tradeoff

But I also don’t want Jill to believe she can defend herself with a handgun chambered for the .22 long rifle cartridge that recoils very. Can it do the job? Certainly. Will it do it reliably under most conditions? Almost certainly not. We are going to have to reach a compromise in our choice of defense cartridges, because people have been shot in the head with a .44 Magnum and walked away. It isn’t the norm, but it does happen.

What I want Jill to have is a cartridge she feels confident using, and also one that has the best probability of doing the job it’s called to do. No matter what we choose, big or small, it will be a compromise.

We had a long conversation about this before starting the next phase of her training. She understands that a .357 Magnum is more lethal than a .32 H&R Magnum, but the guns that chamber that cartridge are either much heavier than the guns that chamber a .32 H&R Magnum, or else they recoil viciously. If the gun is too heavy, Jill will be tempted to not carry it most of the time, and if it recoils too hard she will not practice with it as often as she should. We want a gun that will feel comfortable enough to carry in her purse all the time, and also one that feels natural to her.

Obey the law

I say she will carry it all the time, but in fact Jill works at a hospital. In our state it is illegal to carry a firearm into a hospital unless you are a law enforcement officer. Yet one of the most dangerous places Jill goes is into the parking garage where she parks, adjacent to the hospital. We will have to work something out for her, since we cannot leave her vulnerable at this critical juncture!

Today’s session is about selecting a carry gun for her. We probably won’t actually get one today, but we want to start looking at what’s available.

What about a 9mm revolver?

As we looked around the gun store, the proprietor asked why were weren’t considering a 9mm revolver for Jill. He agreed that 9mm semiautomatic pistols are too difficult to rack (pull the slide back to chamber the first cartridge), but he wondered why a 9mm revolver wouldn’t be better than a .32 H&R Magnum. So I had the bullet weight discussion with him. I asked him what the standard weight of 9mm bullets was and he had to pull a box off the shelf to see. It was 125 grains. We wanted to shoot a bullet that weighed no more than 90 grains. Then he told me that certain 9mm defense ammo has lighter bullets that perform very well. I had not considered that, so I said we might give that a try.

This store also has an indoor shooting range attached to it. You pay by the half hour and can electronically run the targets out to a maximum of 25 yards.

They also rent certain handguns, among which was a Taurus 9mm revolver. If you buy the ammo from them, which we did, the “rental” is free, though you still have to pay for the range time. They didn’t have any .32 H&R Magnum revolvers to rent (no surprise), but I brought three with me that I had borrowed from friends. We were set up to shoot 4 different revolvers this day.

Snub-nosed tradeoffs

A snub-nosed revolver may look cut-and-dried to the casual observer, but there are actually many things to consider. For starters, the smaller guns hold 5 cartridges, while the ones that are slightly larger hold 6. That extra round means a lot in a defensive situation.

Also, where some snub-nosed revolvers are made of steel and weigh over 20 ounces, there are lightweights that weigh as little as 12.5 ounces. The light weight means the gun is easier to carry all the time, but it also means the gun is going to recoil more. Now do you see why I want to stick to bullets that weigh 90 grains or less?

The standard barrel length of a snub-nosed revolver is 2 inches, but they range from 1.8 inches to 3 inches. The frames of different models are also longer or shorter — all of which affects their concealability.

The grips are another concern. Wide rubberized grips absorb recoil better, where narrower wooden or plastic grips are easier to conceal and faster to pull out when the time comes. But smaller grips accentuate the feel of the recoil.

Finally there is the hammer — or lack of it. Some people say a hammer can catch on things when you pull the gun. They either want no hammer or a shrouded hammer that won’t catch on anything. But that also means the revolver cannot be cocked single action. It becomes double action only. The proponents say that’s okay because in a defensive situation you’ll only be shooting double action anyway. I would have to agree with that observation. So Jill would test all of these guns in the double action mode.

This S&W 432 is hammerless. It can only be fired double action.

The S&W 431 has a hammer, and can fire both single and double action.

The test

Jill fired all of the guns I brought, which were an S&W 431, a Ruger LCR and a Charter Arms Undercoverette. She found the Smith to be the smoothest in both single and double action, though the Ruger did have a long smooth double action pull that felt lightest. She was able to control the Smith best of all three revolvers. Both the Smith and Ruger gave her 3-inch groups at 15 feet (5 yards) when fired double action. She really had to concentrate to get the groups that small and she noted that this was nothing like shooting targets single-action.

I had her shooting at a standard silhouette target. At first she wondered where to aim, but once she got used to the combat sights on the guns, she kept her shots in the center of the torso.

The Charter Arms Undercoverette had the worst trigger of the three, plus it was least accurate. Jill just didn’t like it, so we ruled it out. But there was one more revolver to test — the 9mm Taurus suggested by the gun store owner. We bought some reloaded rounds that had a 100-grain lead-free fragible defense bullet that was supposed to leave the muzzle at 1,250 f.p.s. I guessed in the Taurus snub-nose we rented it might go out at 1,000 f.p.s.

Because the 9mm cartridge is rimless, the cartridges had to be inserted into a 5-shot full-moon clip. Otherwise, the revolver’s extractor would have nothing to press on and they would have to be pushed out of the cylinder one at a time.

Cartridges that are rimless like the 9mm Luger need something like these full moon clips, if you want to use the extractor on the swing-out cylinder.


Jill didn’t like the idea of the clips, and when she fired the revolver and felt the recoil, she was definitely turned off. “This recoil is too much for me. The other snub-nosed revolvers we just shot all kick a lot, but this one is starting to hurt.”

I told her if the same 9mm cartridge was shot in a semiautomatic pistol that weighed twice as much it would feel a lot better. But that was why I stopped at the .32 H&R Magnum. She agreed that .32 H&R Magnum was as far as she wanted to go in a revolver.

What’s next?

We ended the session here, but we aren’t finished. There are still a couple more revolvers for her to shoot before she decides. But today was the culmination of months of training. Jill was a good pupil who learned exceptionally fast. I now feel as safe with her on the line as I do any of my other shooting buddies.

She is looking into attending a training camp offered by Babes with Bullets . She said she had no idea organizations like this existed before our training began, but now she feels confident to attend and participate. She knows she will receive different instruction at one of their camps, and after watching some of the videos they post on the Press section of their website (under Who we are), she’s excited to attend.

We have one last training session to go before we are finished, but that won’t be the last you hear of us. Jill and I have grown close through these sessions and through the bible study group we both attend. I have a feeling we will be shooting together for a long time to come.

What you want

St, 05/11/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Wake management
  • Zombies and pink
  • The story of Kevin
  • Bronco
  • But it looks so cool!
  • The secret
  • Just ask Chris USA

Before I begin, here is an update on my eye. The doctor says the operation was a success. I can keep the eye and now I can hold my head upright. I still have a gas bubble in the eye causing distortion, but that should be gone in another week. Thanks for all your prayers and good wishes. Now, let’s get to today’s report.

I know what you want, even if you and the airgun manufacturers don’t. You look at specifications day after day, comparing one airgun to another, until the balance between the finalists rests on a razor-thin edge. You think this is getting you closer to what you want. Well, it isn’t. When I tell you what you want you will realize you have been looking for the wrong thing all along. You thought you wanted that supermodel, right up to the moment that you fell in love with the girl next door.

Wake management

In the boardrooms of airgun companies all around the world executives and managers meet to discuss what they think you want. They pore over spreadsheets of data that tell them what you have wanted in the past. They believe if they can accurately describe what you wanted in the past, they can give it to you in the future, in ways that will astound you. And frankly their line of reasoning astounds me!

They are like the captain of a mighty ship who stands on the stern of his vessel, gazing at the powerful wake left by the ship. They fully believe that by watching the wake and analyzing it carefully they can learn where the ship is heading. Let’s call that ship the Titanic! Someone needs to be in the wheelhouse, looking ahead!

Zombies and pink

Believe it or not, not everyone who works for an airgun manufacturer likes airguns. Not even the managers and executives! I know — that comes as a real shock — right? It’s like trying to imagine a senator who isn’t serving his state so much as he is serving himself.

But whether or not they like airguns, these people are supposed to be the best and the brightest the company has, so when the time comes for fresh ideas, they grasp for seemingly unrelated things. Zombies, for instance. Zombies are hot with the under-30 crowd right now, so why not mix them in with airguns? If you don’t know what you are doing, throw in a zombie. Nobody really knows much about them. It takes the heat off you, because there are no wrong answers when the topic isn’t real!

Same thing for the color pink. Lots of women love that color. So, if the walls are closing in on you to come up with a new idea, paint it pink! Of course there are practical limits. Pink sewer pipes are probably not on anyone’s shopping list, nor are they likely to create a buzz when they first appear on the market. Part of marketing is knowing who is buying your products and then figuring out what they want. However, it’s hard to know what someone wants when they don’t even know it themselves, and I started this piece by telling you that you don’t know what you want. But I do! If you’re over 28 and have real money in your pocket, it sure isn’t pink zombies!

The story of Kevin

Let me illustrate my point before I blurt it out. Kevin started reading this blog many years ago. Kevin likes nice guns. He hunted extensively and even guided hunts. During that time he valued fine rifles like Winchesters and Weatherbys. He knew when the chips were down a well-made rifle would deliver the goods, rather than making excuses. So, when he came into airguns, he looked for the best. When he found them and discovered how really great they are, Kevin turned inside-out and became a full-blown dedicated airgunner. He wanted to try everything — as long as there was a chance it was good. Along the way, he discovered a secret.

Good airguns don’t always cost a lot of money. I will expand on that. Good airguns don’t always look flashy. Sometimes a good airgun looks plain-Jane (no offense, Rocket Jane Hansen!), but feels fantastic when you hold it and shoot it. It’s that girl-next-door phenomenon. I have touted the Diana 27 for as long as this blog has been active and those who own them understand what I mean. So does Kevin.


That’s why I worked with Pyramyd Air to bring you the Air Venturi Bronco. It was as close as I could get to the Diana 27 without spending a fortune in start-up cash. Well, the Bronco is now gone and there is a line of people crying about missing the boat. The Tech Force M8 has taken its place and, although the look and some of the features have changed, the performance is still there. And somewhere people are saying, “Thank goodness they got rid of those ugly blonde stocks with that horrible cowboy look!”

Right! And thank goodness the girl next door finally got tired of waiting for you and married that banker. At least now one of you can be happy.

But it looks so cool!

One more story before I tell you what you really want. I used to ride a 1948 Harley hardtail panhead motorcycle. I hung out at the home of the guy who built it. It was a bobber, though we didn’t have that term in the 1960s. Another guy who hung out with us had a nice Triumph Bonneville bobber/chopper, until he traded it and a boatload of cash for the most outlandish chopper you have ever seen. The springer front forks were kicked out so far that the springs didn’t cushion the ride — the up-and-down flexing of the fork legs did! The ape-hanger handlebars were so high that the guy needed help turning the bike around when it wasn’t under power. But it looked cool! At least that’s what he thought. And looking cool was what he was all about.

His bike didn’t run most of the time. When it did he drove it over to my friend’s house, because it would almost certainly need fixing very soon.

Friends — that motorcycle was the two-wheel equivalent of a Chinese mega-magnum breakbarrel that’s advertised to shoot at 1400 f.p.s. Who knows if it does; it’s too hard to cock and a real pain to shoot. But it’s cool to sit on the couch and just think about the power of that awesome air rifle.

Then your friend comes over with his HW 30S and the two of you go outside and shoot for awhile. You like shooting his rifle because it’s easy to cock, it’s accurate, the trigger is nice and the stock doesn’t smack you in the jaw every time it fires. Your friend saved up for a long time to get that rifle and he loves it. Of course it isn’t as cool as your rifle, which is currently standing in the corner.

The secret

The secret is — (drum roll) — there isn’t any secret. People, and that means all of you, want what works. They think they want what looks good, or what makes them look good for having it, but the truth is, they want what works. For an airgun that means the following:

Easy to cock
Doesn’t hurt when you shoot it
The trigger is nice

Of course it is also nice if it’s attractive, but looks do not play into whether the gun is any good. They only enhance your pride of ownership when the other essential things are all there. And the essential things do not get better or worse as the cost rises or lowers. The cost simply determines when it will be possible for you to own one — not whether or not it is any good.

Just ask Chris USA

Reader Chris USA did something I rarely see. As a relatively new airgunner he took everyone’s advice and bought the best spring gun on the market — an Air Arms TX200 Mark III. And he loves it!

But Chris isn’t any happier than the guy who just could not find the cash for a TX and bought a Slavia 634 instead. Or a Beeman R7. Or a Beeman P17. These are the happy guys, because they have airguns they can shoot!

What you want is something that works.

Umarex Brodax CO2 revolver: Part 2

Út, 05/10/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Umarex Brodax revolver.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Joke on BB
  • Daisy BBs
  • Hornady Black Diamond BBs
  • Umarex BBs
  • Smart Shot lead BBs
  • Other BBs fell out
  • Shot count
  • Trigger pull
  • Overall evaluation

Today we test the velocity of this Brodax revolver. I installed a fresh CO2 cartridge and got right to the task. Remember, I’m writing this while looking straight down, and everything takes me twice as long, so please excuse my brevity.

Joke on BB

When I had to pierce the cartridge, I looked around my desk for the right Allen wrench. I thought I had misplaced it. Searching for things with one eye isn’t very easy, so I defaulted to a wrench from my tool kit. It was only as I was putting the grip panel back on the gun that I realized the Brodax comes with the wrench built-in! Duh!

Daisy BBs

First up were Daisy Premiun Grade BBs. In single action (cocking the hammer before the shot) they averaged 401 f.p.s. with a 13 f.p.s. spread that went from 393 to 407 f.p.s. Umarex lists the revolver at 375 f.p.s., so right away we know they are being conservative. As always, I am allowing at least 10 seconds between shots.

In double action (just pulling the trigger for each shot) this same BB averaged 395 f.p.s. The spread went from 387 to 401 f.p.s., which is a 14 f.p.s. spread. Double action velocity in the Brodax is very close to single action velocity, which isn’t so common. And, once again, the velocity exceeds the specification.

Hornady Black Diamond BBs

Next, I tried some Hornady Black Diamond BBs. They averaged 400 f.p.s. when fired single action. The spread was 15 f.p.s., running from 392 to 407 f.p.s.

In double action Hornadys averaged 391 f.p.s. The spread of 16 f.p.s. went from a low of 383 f.p.s. to a high of 399 f.p.s.

Umarex BBs

Then I tried some Umarex Precision Steel BBs, They make the Brodax, so I figured I should try their BB. In single action these BBs averaged 391 f.p.s. The spread was just 6 f.p.s., from 388 f.p.s. to 394 f.p.s. So this BB went a little slower, but was also more consistent. It’s still above the rated velocity for the gun, though.

In double action Umarex BBs averaged 389 f.p.s. They ranged from a low of 383 f.p.s. to a high of 393 f.p.s. — a spread of 1- f.p.s. So they are a little slower and yet still quite uniform.

Smart Shot lead BBs

Finally I tested some Smart Shot lead BBs. These fell out of the circular clip and it was difficult to load them into the revolver. The clip doesn’t have a magnet (I don’t think), but had held all the steel BBs to this point. For some reason it just didn’t want to hold onto Smart Shot BBs. I chrongraphed one in single action at 314 f.p.s., but then they started falling out of the gun. I gave up at that point.

Other BBs fell out

After trying the Smart Shot BBs, I noticed that steel BBs were now falling out of the clip, too. Perhaps a small magnet to retain them would be nice? I’m going to recommend that you don’t try the Smart Shot BBs in the Brodax.

Shot count

How many shots can you expect from one CO2 cartridge? After the velocity testing was finished I continued to shoot and record the shots. At 66 shots Daisy BBs were leaving the muzzle at 365 f.p.s. They were already dropping in velocity, but not by much. At 88 shots they dropped to 355 f.p.s., which is a sign of pressure loss, but the gun continued to shoot very well. By shot 99 they were going out at 323 f.p.s. That’s slower, but not by that much. I have seen other CO2 guns hold onto their velocity tenaciously this way, but it isn’t common. Shot 111 went out at 251 f.p.s,. and I stopped shooting, but there were more shots available. I would say you can count on a full 11 ten-shot clips per CO2 cartridge from the Brodax.

Trigger pull

The trigger pull is deceptive. I guessed it was 2 lbs. in single action, but my electronic scale put it at between 4 lbs. 7 oz. and 4 lbs. 10 oz. I guess the grip is just so perfect for me that it hides a lot of the effort?

The Brodax is the first revolver on which I have been able to measure the double action pull with my electronic scale. It breaks at 9 lbs. 3 oz. on the test gun, which is many pounds lighter than most double action triggers.

Overall evaluation

If someone made a firearm version of the Brodax, I think I would buy it. This revolver fits my hand perfectly! It reminds me of a Colt Diamondback, which is one of the finest revolvers Colt ever made. The fit and balance of that gun were just right, for me. I sure hope this Brodax can shoot!

The Daisy 853: Part 1

Po, 05/09/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 853.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Before the 853
  • Daisy and the NRA
  • The 853
  • Specs
  • Lothar Walther barrel
  • Peep sight
  • Front sight
  • Single-stroke pneumatic
  • Trigger
  • Overall evaluation

Wait a minute, B.B.! This is supposed to be an historical article. How can you write about the Daisy 853? It’s still being made and sold today. Yes, it is, but this is still an historical report. Why? Because the Daisy 853 is more than just one 10-meter youth target rifle. It’s the rifle that started it all for American youth shooters!

Before the 853

Before the Daisy 853 the youth shooting programs in the U.S. were fractionalized. They did exist, but mainly they shot .22 rimfire target rifles at 50 feet. The arrival of the 853 unified the American youth shooting programs under the auspices of the National Rifle Association. The 853 was (and still is) an affordable target rifle that was/is sized for youth shooters.

Daisy and the NRA

What Daisy and the NRA did together was form a cohesive national youth shooting program that clubs could affiliate with. Competition was arranged in local, regional and national levels. At the SHOT Show in 2009 I was briefed by the NRA at their Airgun Breakfast that there were over 74,000 individual clubs with over one million youth shooters participating that year. Certainly the number has grown since then!

Daisy was instrumental by making a youth rifle (the 853) that suited this competition. The NRA calls this youth rifle class the Sporter class. They differentiate that class from what they call the Precision class, in which the rifle’s price and limitations are relaxed. The rest of the word just knows this class as the traditional 10-meter target rifle.

Together, the NRA and Daisy make a great team that had a profound impact on young boys and girls learning to shoot. The pyramyd they compete in goes all the way to the Olympics today, and many young champions have enjoyed scholarships from colleges as a result of their national standings.

The 853

The Daisy 853 is a single stroke pneumatic 10-meter target rifle that comes from the box ready to compete. Ahh — but there is the rub. You get a fine rifle right from the box, but there are modifications that can make it even better. I plan to do some of those modifications in this series, after we get the rifle baselined.

One of my readers asked me several months ago if I ever reviewed the 853 for you and I was surprised to find I hadn’t.

The rifle has been around since 1984 and I have tested several versions of it over the years, but for some reason I never wrote about it for this blog! That ends now. I bought a used 853 on a Gun Broker auction and will now do a standard 3-part test for you. After that I will probably tune the trigger and perhaps do some other things, if we see the need. When I finish, you will know a lot more about the 853 than you do today.


The rifle’s specs say it weighs 5.5 lbs. I checked that on a balance beam scale and found it spot on. The trigger pull is given as 6 lbs., but my rifle is well-used and I think it’s lower. I’ll measure it in Part 2. Pump effort is supposed to be 25 lbs., but on my used rifle I believe it’s lower. Part 2 will tell. The overall length is 38.5 inches, which makes the 853 a compact air rifle.

Lothar Walther barrel

The 853 and its larger cousin with an adult-sized stock, the 753 (identical action), come with precision barrels from Lothar Walther. That shocked the market in the ’80s and ’90s, but has become the requirement for accuracy in the 21st century. There are a lot of plastic, cast aluminum and painted parts on the rifle, and it seems strange that it also has a pedigreed barrel, but it does.

Peep sight

The rifle comes standard with the plastic 5899 peep sight. You can easily upgrade to Daisy’s Match Grade Avanti Precision Diopter Sight, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Before you buy the better sight, try the standard one. Many club guns have them, including the one I bought. You will get a report on how well this mostly plastic sight works.

The 853 comes standard with the 5899 peep sight, which my 853 has.

Front sight

The front sight is a globe with replaceable inserts. These days almost everyone uses an aperture insert in which they can center the bullseye, and that’s the one that’s installed in my rifle. But I received a complete set of the inserts. Perhaps, when my eye is back to normal, I will experiment with both the aperture and a post front sight insert, to see if there is any difference in accuracy.

The front sight globe takes inserts.

Single-stroke pneumatic

The powerplant is a single-stroke pneumatic. One pump of the aluminum lever is all it takes to power the gun, and it is not possible to put in more than one pump. This pump takes some effort. It’s not bad for an adult, but younger children can find it daunting. Daisy recommends the 853 for children 16 years and up, but that goes out the window in real life. A club may set a bottom age limit of 12 years, then cave when a parent shows up with an 11-year-old boy who is already man-sized.Once they accept him, though, his “big” sister who is 13 and half his size also wants to shoot. People don’t come in standard sizes!

I have seen younger kids squirming around on their bellies (prone position) like salted slugs as they pumped their rifles for the next shot. Believe me, the bottom age for kids in these leagues is way less than 16! Because of that, the NRA welcomed the Crosman Challenger CO2 rifle when it was first launched because everyone could cock it. There was just one problem. It wasn’t universally accurate.

Crosman chose to make their own barrels for that rifle and they varied in accuracy from one rifle to the next. When they finally relented and went to Lothar Walther barrels (at nearly double the retail price for the gun) the Challenger PCP was born, and it is extremely competitive. But that’s a different story.

The 853 takes one pump of air for each shot.


If the 853 has a weakness it is the trigger. Instead of a crisp 2-stage pull the rifle comes with what I must describe as a textbook example of a single-stage trigger with creep. And it is not adjustable. It can be tuned up, and of course I’m going to do that for you in this series, so you’ll get to see what that involves. But out of the box, the trigger is disappointing. I’ll measure the pull for you in Part 2.

Overall evaluation

I began this report by saying the Daisy 853 is more than just a target rifle. It’s the beginning of serious junior airgun competition in the United States. Others may argue that point but I believe I have stated my case. Love it or not, you cannot deny the 853 is a pivotal air rifle.

The rise of the accurate pellet: Part 2

Pá, 05/06/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Crosman ashcan
  • Other pellets were similar
  • Competition improves things
  • Better pellets were needed!
  • Molecular level!
  • Crosman Premier!
  • Many improvements

Before we start, I have a couple things. Several readers wondered how I could see my computer screen while looking straight down. So I decided to show you.

This chair is offered by Comfort Solutions in Jupiter, FL. It was designed just for the operation I had and has a success rate over 90 percenrt, compared to 60 percent without it. I don’t want to lose my eye, so it was a no brainer. If you are interested, see it at www.facedownsolutiuons.com.

I initially rented it, but this chair is so comfortable that I bought it to use from now on. I will switch between an office chair and this one to ease back strain.

This is how the chair works with a laptop. I see the screen very clearly this way.

Next, Pyramyd Air wants to know if any readers are having difficulties posting their comments. One person complained and they want to know if there are others. Email me at blogger@pyramydair.com.

Now on to today’s report.

We left this tale at the start of the diabolo pellet. It was a landmark shape that changed airgunning, because with it the rifled guns could now be accurate. BSA started the trend in 1905, and other brands soon followed. The guns were all made in the same way as the firearms of the day and today they seem like exotic pieces. We marvel at their wood and steel construction and at the deep lustrous bluing that rivals the finest guns made today. But that was business as usual at the start of the 20th century.

The pellets proliferated, as well. New brands came out all the time, until the market was saturated with them. But the technology stood still. Makers seemed to think they had gone as far as they could go, and from 1910 through about 1955 there were no real advances in pellet design. I guess the makers believed that pellet guns were as good as they were ever going to get.

Crosman ashcan

Let me show just one pellet to tell the story. Crosman produced a diabolo that conformed to the general design as closely as any other. They had a wasp waist and hollow tail just like all of them. But they kept using the die and refreshing it as needed until gradually the wasp waist went away. In the late 1960s we called them Crosman ashcans, because that was what they looked like.

I thought that was what they were supposed to look like for many years until I had the opportunity to speak with a Crosman engineer from that time. He told me they used the die too long. And then I heard from several collectors who actually had the same pellet from different lots over the years that showed the gradual disappearance of the waist.

Crosman ashcan pellets (left) are starkly different than Crosman Premiers. The waist is almost gone. Taken from a tin sold in the late 1960s. Disregard the oxidation that has occured.

Other pellets were similar

Don’t jump on Crosman, though. Most pellet makers in this timeframe did the same thing. I have Benjamin domes that look very little like the drawing on the outside of the tin! And I have some British Bulldogs that are pretty rough, as well. I think most makers were just glad to put out a product. They didn’t worry too much about how it performed. At least until around the 1960s.

Competition improves things

Europe started rebuilding after the war and in the 1950s the various economies started to settle down. Sport has always been big in the European nations and shooting has long been a respected sport. Airguns were taken seriously throughout the continent, and target models began to emerge, with Walther leading the way, followed by Weihrauch.

Better pellets were needed!

The new target guns required the best ammunition and a couple companies started making them. H&N was an early leader in this move. RWS was not far behind. Soon shooters woke up to the fact that all pellets are not created equal and the diabolo accuracy race began. It is impossible to put a date on this, as it happened over the course of more than a decade, but the move to improve pellets was very real.

Molecular level!

During a visit to the H&N factory in the late ’80s, Dr. Beeman was told that if pellets were to get any better it would have to be at the molecular level! That turned out to be an overstatement that I will address later, but it wasn’t that far off the mark. By the 1980s H&N was producing pellets that were used at the World Cup and Olympic levels, but could also be purchased by the common shooter. This is not always the case in high-level competition, but it was for pellets. But they hadn’t quite gone as far as they could go — yet!

Crosman Premier!

In the early 1990s, close to the middle of the decade, Crosman brought out a domed pellet that rocked the world. It out-shot all other domed pellets in the growing sport of field target. The Crosman Premier was the result of applying aerodynamics to pellet shape, to get the smoothest possible flight through the air. Right from the start, Premiers caught everyone’s attention. And the interest they aroused started another round of pellet improvements. The goal was to make a pellet that was just as good as Premiers. The dream was to make one that was even better.

Many improvements

At the close of the 20th century the diabolo pellet world was exploding. Big companies were experimenting with quality control measures and small companies were trying to get their piece of the pie. New shapes were tried and some actually worked. Others were a disaster!

In the next installment we will look at what has happened to pellets in the past 20 years.

Teach me to shoot: Part 6

Čt, 05/05/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

This is the continuing fictional saga and guest report of a man teaching a woman to shoot. Today Jill moves to firearms!

Our guest writer is reader, Jack Cooper. Take it away, Jack.

Teach me to shoot

by Jack Cooper

This report covers:

  • The range
  • Start shooting
  • .22 Magnum
  • .32 revolver
  • .32 H&R Magnum
  • Boyfriend
The range

This is the first day Jill will shoot a firearm with me teaching her. Her last experience was in college, when a boyfriend had her shoot a .357 Magnum revolver as her first firearm. I would never do that. In fact if it was up to me, she would never get to shoot a .357 Magnum revolver at any time. She isn’t up to it — any more than many men I know. A .357 recoils so heavily that most casual shooters are unprepared for it.

I asked you readers to guess what gun I would start her with, but I didn’t see any responses. I started her with a Ruger Single Six that not only shoots .22 rimfire ammo — it also has the plow handle grip of a single action that I wanted her to get used to.

She started to take the target stance I’d taught her, but for today’s shooting I showed her a different stance. I had her try a version of the modified isosceles two-handed stance. Her feet were stable, with the right foot behind the left by 12 inches. She is right-handed. She leaned forward slightly so her shoulders were just ahead of her knees. Her knees were slightly bent.

With the single action, she held the revolver in her right grip and wrapped the front of the right hand with her left hand. She pushed forward with her right hand until the arm was straight. The left arm was still bent and pulling back, holding the right hand steady. Her hands raised up until her eyes were in line with the sights. Her head was upright and not bent forward.

Start shooting

She started shooting with standard-speed .22 long rifle rounds. We were on a 15-yard range and shooting at a larger bull than we had with air pistols. She was right on target and shot 12 rounds into a nice 2-inch group that was well-centered just below the inner 10-ring. Even she knew this was good, and I praised her for it. Many men I know cannot shoot a group that small from 45 feet.

I then shot at a different target and showed her that my groups wasn’t much smaller. Then we stopped and I asked her what she thought so far. She said there was definitely more recoil with the firearm than the air pistols had, but it wasn’t that bad. She enjoyed the shooting so far.

Next I had her load some high speed .22 rounds and repeat the experience. She shot another 12 shots at her first target and got a group that wasn’t much larger than her first. But she noticed the small increase in recoil. And that was what I was after!

.22 Magnum

The Single Six Ruger has a second cylinder that holds .22 Magnum rounds, and I made the switch at this point. Then Jill shot another 12 rounds at a new target. These went into less than an inch — teaching her a couple things. First, that different ammo shoots better or worse in the same gun. She said she never thought of that. Second, the .22 magnum round recoiled more than the long rifle. She knew I was getting her used to the recoil, and she appreciated the slow workup.

The third thing she learned was profound! She said, “Now I understand why you started me shooting one-handed. I learned to triangulate my whole body to get it stable. This two-hand stance is even more stable, but it’s entirely different. What you have shown me is there is a proper way to do everything, and it’s the way that works the best every time.”

I told her that was exactly right. She might never shoot a handgun one-handed again, but now she knew there was a way to do it properly.

.32 revolver

Next I handed Jill a Ruger Single Seven, chambered for .327 Federal Magnum rounds. This is a serious cartridge that will actually out-penetrate a .357 Magnum round when shooting at steel plate. Don’t ask how I know (shot a dumpster with both rounds). But the beauty of this gun is that it also accepts .32 H&R Magnum rounds, .32 S&W Long rounds and an obsolete round called the .32 S&W Short! I don’t have any of the .32 S&W Shorts, but I have the Longs and I loaded them mild for Jill.

After the first 6 shots she set the gun down on the table and then kissed me! She said, “I knew there was something better than what that jerk had given me! Boy, am I glad I asked you to teach me! This is exactly what I wanted. I can tell this round is a little more powerful and I see the cartridges are larger, but the recoil is less than the .22 Magnum. Jack, you’re a genius!”

Actually, the .22 Magnum is more powerful than the .32 S&W Long on paper, at least the way I had loaded it, but the .32 S&W Long is a larger centerfire cartridge. Next I gave her some rounds I had loaded hotter. These were standard .32 S&W Longs on the hot end. She fired them and said there was no increase in recoil. That was what I was after.

.32 H&R Magnum

Her group with these hotter rounds was about a half-inch between centers at 15 yards. It was the smallest group she had shot to date. I praised her for it and could see she knew she was doing very good. Now it was time for the .32 H&R Magnums.

She loaded the rounds and asked me how much more recoil there would be. This time I think she was scared because of the word Magnum in the cartridge title. I told her I didn’t know how to describe the recoil of this round. It would be greater, but it wouldn’t be nearly as much as she feared. She was in for a pleasant surprise.

She said that was good enough for her and got into position to shoot. Then she shot all the rounds through the 10-ring in a cluster than measured less than an inch on the outside! When the last round fired, she held on the target for a few moments and then set the gun down. I thought I was going to get another kiss, but when she turned to me I saw tears coming down her face.

“That was exactly what you said it would be, Jack! And look where they all went. I guess I’m now a SHOOTER!” She sat behind the shooting table and talked about the experience for several minutes. She said the recoil wasn’t half as much as she expected. It was more than the .32 S&W Long, but it was just a bigger push, instead of the sharp sting she anticipated.

I explained that the shape of the single action grip made a lot of the difference. The grip rotates in the hand, absorbing some of the recoil. And the .32 H&R Magnum has an 85-grain bullet. It may leave the muzzle at 1,255 f.p.s., but it’s about half the weight of a .357 Magnum bullet, And in guns, the bullet’s weight is where a lot of the recoil comes from.

After a few minutes, she put up some fresh targets and shot up the remainder of the ammo I had brought. In all she shot 35 rounds of .32 H&R Magnum, plus all the other ammo. We spent three hours at the range.

On the way home we stopped at the gun store and she bought me two more boxes of .32 H&R. I told her that was the round I was recommending for her carry gun. Of course it wouldn’t be a large single action like the Ruger. We would look at some snub-nosed revolvers that would fit her purse better.


When we got back to her building she introduced me to the security guy, “Jerry, This is my boyfriend, Jack Cooper. He’s going to be coming here a lot and I want to get him into your system.” They took my picture and asked me for my address and phone number, then I got an ID card for my wallet.

On the way up in the elevator I turned to her and said, “Boyfriend?”

She answered, “For now” and just smiled.

Next time I’ll tell you about her defense gun and also about the concealed carry class she took to get her carry permit.

Writing this blog

St, 05/04/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • It started small
  • No stinky
  • Best possible pictures
  • Colorblind
  • Bully pulpit
  • The dime
  • Teach me to shoot
  • That’s all, folks

This morning I took a nap after feeding the cats and having my own breakfast. As I slept, Edith came to me in a dream and said, “You should write about what it has been like to write this blog. I think a lot of your readers would like to know how you feel about it.”

When I woke up I thought, why not? I can’t test any airguns today, and maybe there are few things you guys would like to know about the eleven years this blog has been active. So, here goes.

It started small

The blog was Edith’s idea from the start. She told me what a web log was, and said instead of just writing a public diary, I could write articles about airguns — just like when we published The Airgun Letter. She told me I should try to limit the words to around 500, to make it possible to get out a blog 5 days a week.

I did try to limit the words in the beginning, which is why most of the early reports seem so short. But over time I realized that it was easier to just write what needed to be said and use as many words as it took. There have been reports that went over 3,000 words, and the average these days runs above 1,500 words. That may be too many for the smart phones and tablets people use, but I’m doing the best I can to keep them as short as possible.

I write in a stream of consciousness style and the words just pour out. As I write, I think about the questions people will ask about the technical things, and I try to include the explanations as I go. That’s why my writing seems so simplistic, and it’s also where all the words come from.

No more stinky

Early on, I learned an important lesson in writing. I was testing a certain breakbarrel I got from Umarex USA and it had a bad trigger. It was heavy and creepy. In most other ways I liked the rifle, but that trigger was bad and it pushed me over the edge. I called it “stinky” in my report and Edith and I had a long argument about that! But I was stubborn and prevailed. Or at least I did until the folks at Umarex read it! They took exception — not that I didn’t like the trigger, but because I called it stinky. It was exactly what Edith had told me, only now it was coming from other folks — a LOT of other folks. I resolved then and there to never use language like that again in my writing. I know a lot of people do write that way, but my writing has to appear professional.

Best possible pictures

In the Army we had manuals with pictures that were dark and without much detail. I hated them, because the captions talked about things you could not see in the pictures. The  detail was probably there years ago, before someone copied the photo four times, but now all that showed was a black smudge. I resolved to do better.


I’m red-green colorblind, so sometimes my pictures of dark subjects come out with a golden cast that offends some folks. Edith and I went around and around about it but this was something I refused to compromise on. If the color was wrong but the detail was there, I was happy. I still am. So, sometimes my photos look odd.

Bully pulpit

After the blog was running for a few years I learned that it is read by airgun manufacturers around the world. I will be somewhere foreign, like at IWA (the European SHOT Show) in Nuremberg, and a guy from Russia will smile and quote one of my sayings, like Stupident! He then tells me the blog is read by eveyone in his shop.

Okay, if they are reading it, I resolved to give them something to read. So I went on a crusade against unreasonable velocities in spring rifles, poor triggers and breakbarrels that are too hard to cock. I made writers get honest about the groups they shot by showing my own groups next to something that gave some scale. My dime became known the world over.

The dime

This was another of Edith’s ideas. I used the dime for awhile, but then she noticed a lot of comments about it and suggested the story. It turned out to be one of the funniest pieces I’ve ever written. I still go back and read it from time to time.

Teach me to shoot

My latest crusade is the series titled Teach me to shoot, where a man is asked to teach a woman how to shoot. I’ve written other series like this, but this time I decided to add a romantic twist — just like might happen in real life. Well, I didn’t expect all you hard-bitten old airgunners to get interested in the romance! I thought perhaps women might pay attention to the story because it could be their own. Didn’t turn out like that, though. It’s all you oldtimers who are gathered round to discuss the latest Jack-and-Jill episode. The women who read it just seem to relate to the training. I’ve even have a couple off-line comments from women that said, “Yeah — that’s what it should be like!”

The more I do this, the more passionate I become for the subject. We shooters really have not made it easy for most women to learn to shoot. I think this will be my crusade for the rest of my life. We have to take women into account when we design guns, ammunition, and training. Let’s stop this macho madness theme and let shooting return to being a civilized sport!

That’s all, folks

In the words of Porky Pig, I have come to the end of my remrks. Once again, Edith has stepped in to save the day!

Special report

Út, 05/03/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Health report on B.B.
Health report on B.B.

A word about my health. Saturday the retina in my right eye separated as I was driving home from Arkansas. By the time I was 70 miles from Dallas, I had lost 90 percent of the vision in the eye. I drove directly to an emergency room in Ft. Worth and they called in a retina specialist who saw me in his office that afternoon. He scheduled an operation for the next day and said he thought it went well when it was over.

The doctor examined my eye yesterday and was pleased. He said there is a good chance for a complete recovery. But I now have a gas bubble in my eyeball to keep pressure against the repaired retina, and I have to only look down to keep the bubble in place. I cannot move around a lot, exercise or do normal things like drive.

There is no new blog today and probably tomorrow, and I am renting a special chair that will allow me to type on the computer while looking straight down. Obviously I can’t do any shooting tests this month, but once I can type again, I will get the blog up and running.

Please don’t ask me any questions, as I can barely read the screen as it is. I hope that will get better as time passes.

The rise of the accurate pellet: Part 1

Po, 05/02/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Accuracy taken for granted
  • Crosman 160 opened my eyes!
  • In the beginning
  • The ball or bullet
  • Smaller calibers
  • Pellet shape
  • Birth of the diabolo
  • A long way to go
Accuracy taken for granted

I was speaking with a group of very advanced airgunners recently and found myself amazed by what we all took for granted. The subject was airgun accuracy and topics like distance, powerplants and pellet shapes came up, but no one in the group seemed to remember the time when none of those things made any difference. They didn’t because there weren’t any pellets on the market that took advantage of them. Until around the 1960s, accuracy with airguns was iffy, at best. The problem was not the guns — it was the ammunition!

Crosman 160 opened my eyes!

I remember buying a new-old-stock Crosman 160 target rifle that had been produced and sold to the U.S. Air Force. The rifle hadn’t been fired since Crosman tested it with CO2 at the factory some time in the 1970s. The Air Force bought an unknown number of 160s that came with slings and the Crosman S331 rear peep sight. Presumedly there was a plan to use these rifle for some type of training, but that must never have happened, because hundreds of them were found in a military warehouse in the 1990s in unused condition. When I opened the gas reservoir to install 2 fresh CO2 cartridges, I found the original cartridges Crosman had used to test the gun before packaging in the 1970s! The rifle was brand new, as were hundreds of others just like it!

When I installed 2 fresh cartridges (with Crosman Pellgunoil on the tips of each), and started shooting it at 10 meters on my basement range, I was flabbergasted by the accuracy. This rifle was a tackdriver! But that was not always the case. When the airgun was new it was only accurate to the level of it’s day. A 5-shot group at 25 feet might measure three-quarters of an inch. Some were better, of course, but others were worst. But when I loaded the then-new Crosman Premiers, I could put 5 into a quarter-inch with ease. Better yet, it was very repeatable.

So, the gun remained the same but the pellets got better. Much better! That opened my eyes to a part of airgun history that has not always been visible, but has always lead the pace of advancement.

In the beginning

One early airgun projectile was a dart, but most airgunners don’t know that because they have never been exposed to an early dart gun. They were not powerful, and they were certainly all smoothbores, but the tail that created high drag as the dart flew to the target also made it a very consistent projectile whose performance could easily be predicted. And, when you know where something will go you can adjust the sights to move the impact wherever you want it. The most common term for that is accuracy.

Yes, the early (circa 17th century) dart guns were accurate at short range (40 feet?), but they were also very costly. Their price put them out of reach for all but the wealthiest shooters. So they never really caught on. Remember too, we are talking about airguns at a time when even firearms were considered exotic. Airguns in those days were unheard-of, though we now know they existed.

The ball or bullet

The lead ball was the first airgun projectile that was commonly known. In those days, again the 16th and 17th centuries, balls were called bullets. The conical-shaped bullet (longer than it is wide) was unknown. So the first airguns shot balls. Those guns were what we call big bore airguns today, because the smaller calibers (.17 through .25) just didn’t exist.

Smaller calibers

Around the year 1840 people started shooting lead balls using just the force of a percussion cap. Because there isn’t much force, the balls had to be made much smaller, and the smallbore calibers were born. This is where the .22 caliber Flobert (in Europe it was 6mm) and the 4.5mm calibers came into existence.

Airguns of the time didn’t immediately adopt these calibers. They were made in slightly larger calibers like .25 and even .28, but the idea of the smallbore airgun was definitely on everyone’s mind. By the 1870s the projectiles used by airguns had become as small as .21 caliber, and in 1886 the Markham company brought out the first true BB gun that shot lead shot on the size BB, which is nominally .18 caliber.

Pellet shape

At this time (the 1880s) some airguns were able to use so-called “cat” slugs that were simple lead cylinders only slightly longer than their width. Then someone got the idea to glue a small felt pad to the base of one of these slugs, and the first intentionally high-drag airgun projectile was created. I say the first, but it really was not the first, since the darts that had already existed for centuries were also high drag. But the darts were reuseable, where the felted slugs were a one-time use. I touched on this in another historical report titled, Other airgun calibers.

Birth of the diabolo

It wasn’t until the dawn of the 20th century that the pellet shape we call diabolo was first seen. Diabolo refers to a juggling apparatus that is also made as a toy. Popular in Europe and elsewhere, it was also seen in the U.S., but never gained the popularity here that it had elsewhere. The diabolo is an exaggerated hourglass shape with a wasp waist that balances on a string when the device is spun rapidly. I actually bought one a few years ago, just to be able to photograph it, because I often talk about the device and I wanted my readers to see what I was referring to.

A diabolo is a juggling device that has also been sold as a toy. More popular in Europe than in the U.S.

Diabolo pellet shares the fundamental shape of its juggling namesake.

Eley Wasps have the classic diabolo pellet characteristics.

Diabolo pellets changed the airgun scene forever. Air rifles went from being extremely short range toys to fairly accurate guns overnight. Now the importance of rifled barrels became obvious, and the development of modern spring-piston airgiuns took off.

A long way to go

As good as the diabolo shape was, though, it still had a long way to go. It would be over half a century before things began to resolve into what we know today. But that is a tale for another time.

Crosman 150: Part 3

Pá, 04/29/2016 - 01:01

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman’s 150 looks plain and simple, but was a pivotal airgun.

A history of airguns

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Different type of inlet valve
  • Not much sight adjustment
  • RWS Hobby
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Change the aim point
  • Crosman Premier
  • General observations
  • The sights
  • 2016 Texas Airgun Show

Today we’ll look at the accuracy of my Crosman 150 CO2 pistol. Several of you said you have either a 150 or a 157, and this report reminded you if what a nice airgun it is. So you dug them out. I hope to hear some good reports from you.

I don’t think I have ever shot this pistol for accuracy. If I did, I forgot about it. This seemed like a test of a brand new airgun, to me.

The test

Since I knew nothing about the gun I decided to test it at 10 meters off a bag rest. Instead of 10-shot groups I went with just 5 shots, thinking I would test each pellet on both low and high velocity. That assumption faded with the very first pellet I tried.

RWS Hobby

First up was the lightweight RWS Hobby pellet. In .22 caliber it weighs 11.9 grains, and is sometimes a very accurate pellet in a particular airgun. I began the test on low power (cocking knob pulled out one click). After the shot I was surprised to see no hole in the paper. So I walked up to 12 feet from the target and shot again. It hit very low and to the right.

Not much sight adjustment

When I saw this I looked at the rear sight and discovered there is no vertical adjustment possibility and very little in the way of horizontal. I shoved it as far to the left as it would go and fired another shot on high power (two clicks out on the cocking knob). This shot landed higher but was still 3 inches below the aim point. So high power it would have to be.

RWS Hobbys

The first group was more or less centered on the bull, but still very much below the aim point. The group is very vertical which surprised me because the sights are very sharp. Perhaps Hobby are not best for this 150.

Five RWS Hobbys went into this vertical group that measures 1.119-inches between centers.

JSB Exact RS

Nex, I tried some JSB Exact RS pellets. These always seem to do well in lower-powered airguns. And this time was no exception. Five of them clustered in 0.651-inches between centers at 10 meters. This group was fairly rounded, so the gun can shoot when it wants to. These pellets struck the paper very close to where the Hobbys hit, so the pistol is still shooting very low.

Five JSB Exact RS pellets made this 0.651-inch group at 10 meters. The gun can shoot!

Change the aim point

For the last pellet I decided to change the aim point to get the group higher on the paper. I took aim at the top of the bull, but couldn’t see the front sight clearly enough. So I aimed at the black clip that held the target. While it isn’t as precise as the bullseye, I could see the front sight clearly enough to take good aim.

For Premier pellets I used the bottom center of the clip as the aim point.

Crosman Premier

The final pellet I tried was the Crosman Premier. It went more to the right than the other two pellets, but was about as far below the aim point as the rest. Five Premiers went into 1.091-inches, but 4 of them were in a much tighter cluster that was just 0.662-inches between centers. Because the aim point was not a standard one, I think I should consider Premiers for this pistol, along with the JSB Exact RS.

Five Premier pellets went into 1.091-inches at 10 meters, but 4 of them are only 0.662-inches apart.

General observations

The 150 is very loud on high power. My cats all complained about the noise.

The gun also recoils. That was very obvious when I concentrated on the front sight.

I said the trigger was creep-free in Part 2. That isn’t correct. Now that I have really concentrated on it, I can feel some slight creep in the second stage. It’s nothing some moly couldn’t take care of.

The sights

I wonder what I am going to do about these sights? They are far enough off that it’s going to take some real engineering to correct them. I doubt this 150 will ever be a favorite go-to air pistol, but it might be nice to find a fix, so owners with the same problem have a solution. If I can think of something other than shaving down the front sight, I might come back to this airgun at some time in the future.

2016 Texas Airgun Show

Just a reminder that the 2016 Texas Airgun Show is approaching fast. It’s held on Saturday, August 27 at the Arlington Sportsman’s Club. I believe there are still a few tables to rent for $30, or just come to the show to see what a good airgun show is all about.

We’ll have the American Airgun cast and crew there, plus other personalities from the world of airguns. And the door/raffle prizes will be given away all day long. Yes, there are public ranges, and you can bring your own guns to shoot or try out something you find at the show before you buy it. Most of the major distributors will have tables there and their guns will be on the ranges to try. Click on the link for more information.