Crosman 111 pistol

by B.B. Pelletier


A boxed Crosman model 111 gas pistol with the refill tank. This gem was found at a local flea market for $30!

Crosman was quick to get into CO2 guns in the 1930s, though they had to wait until after the war to really start production. Their first gas pistols were the model 111 in .177 and model 112 in .22. These two were made from 1950 to 1954, at which time their barrels were shortened by two inches and they were redesignated as the models 115 and 116, respectively. Consequently, the two earliest guns are often called the “long barrel” models.

This is a bulk-fill gun
The 12-gram powerlet we know today did not exist in 1950. During the 19420, the Benjamin Air Rifle Company made gas guns that used a common 8.5-gram soda siphon cartridge, so-called because of its popular use in seltzer bottles that were all the rage in the 1930s and 40s. Other airgun companies also used this common power source, but Crosman did not. Instead, they provided a separate gas tank to fill (charge) their guns. The model 197 gas tank holds 10 oz. of liquid CO2 when full and can fill airguns many times. This method of charging from a separate gas tank is today called bulk-filling.

In the 1950s, you were expected to mail your empty gas tank to a refill station to be filled, but airgunners soon found a way around that. They made adapters to connect the Crosman tank to the much larger 20-lb. bulk CO2 tanks used by restaurants. They got those large tanks refilled at their local industrial gas supplier. That’s the way it’s still done today, so getting into bulk-fill airguns is a bigger commitment than just buying a gun.

To fill the gun, the gas tank is screwed into the front of the gas reservoir located under the barrel. A rubber seal keeps this connection tight while filling. I always drop some Crosman Pellgunoil into the fill port before connecting the tank. It gets blown into the reservoir when the gun is filled and spreads to every seal as the gun is fired. My gun came from the estate of an elderly man who had passed away. His daughter was selling the things she didn’t want, and she told me the gun had not been used for more than 20 years. Amazingly, the gun was still half-full (30 powerful shots) and so was the gas tank! I had the gun resealed about a year later, however, but by then I had already fired it thousands of times.

One fill delivers many shots
I get about 50 full-power shots from one fill of my model 111, providing the tank I’m filling from is reasonably full itself. Fifty shots is also about what you get with a modern gas pistol that uses a 12-gram powerlet, but the 111 gets around 75 f.p.s. higher velocity. I see about 525 f.p.s. with RWS Hobby pellets on a reasonably warm day (CO2 is temperature-dependent). So, the 111 really uses more than 12 grams of gas per fill. A model 115 with a shorter barrel and gas reservoir gets close to 50 shots, too, but they will be in the 475 f.p.s. region.

Adjustable power!
Just above the back of the grip is a small knob sticking out. That’s the power adjustment knob. Turn it in for more power – out for less. Above that is the round bolt head that retracts to open the bolt for loading and also cocks the gun. This is a single-shot pistol that’s capable of impressive accuracy. I find it as accurate as the Marksman 2004 I tested for you on February 10.


The bottom wheel is the power adjuster. The top is the bolt.

The gun itself
The pistol is a little muzzle-heavy, as you might expect from the picture. The grip is on the small side and the trigger is just a thin steel blade. All the ergonomics we see in today’s airguns are missing, yet it still feels very good in your hand.

A crossbolt safety blocks the trigger when pushed to the right. Don’t trust such safeties because they do not restrain the hammer. If it should slip off the sear for any reason, the gun would fire regardless of where the safety is set.

The pistol has an ambidextrous grip with two-piece plastic panels. The gray-white mottled grip on my pistol was correct for the model 111; the 112 had a reddish-brown mottled grip. Today, however, there’s been so much swapping of parts that you may find anything on any gun. Except for caliber, the two pistols are completely identical.

Shooting and just owning these vintage Crosman pistols is a joy. There’s also a pair of bulk-fill rifles to go with them – the .177-caliber model 113 and the .22-caliber 114. Any of these vintage airguns can still be purchased for under $100 today, and a set like the one shown here usually brings less than $150. They take a little more work to operate, but they’re worth it.

35 thoughts on “Crosman 111 pistol

  1. Hi B.B.

    I have been reading your posts for a while and I thank you for the interesting and informative articles you have written.

    I would like to know what your thoughts are on leaving a CO2 pistol charged for extended periods of time. I have a Drulov DU-10. At the moment, when I finish a day of target practise and there’s still CO2 left I “dry fire” it to empty it of CO2. I’m hesitant to unscrew the cap because I can’t see if there’s a relief valve or something similar to that. I don’t want it to become a flying projectile! I play paintball and the systems on the guns have a small hole to relieve the pressure as you’re unscrewing the CO2 source before they completely release from each other eliminating the chance of sending either the gun or it’s power source flying. The thing is I’m unsure if I’m doing any damage to the seals by leaving it pressurised.

    Thanks in advance,
    Ben


  2. Ben,

    It’s just the reverse of what you think. The seals will be damaged by airborne dirt if the gun is left EMPTY. They cannot be damaged by pressure, as you saw in the post about the 111 pistol.

    I owned a Drulov that I charged in bulk with the tank they supply and my gun was never left empty. I have a Czech Chameleon target pistol (forerunner of the B99) and it’s full right now. It’s had gas in it for five years.

    I’m not that familiar with paintball marker design but there is a type of CO2 airgun that should not be left charged. It has small copper pipes to carry the gas inside the pistol and these pipes cannot take the strain of the pressure indefinitely. But an airgun gun without pipes, like your Drulov, wants to stay charged.

    B.B.


  3. The majority of paintball markers have steel braided hoses or macrolines ( a somewhat more flexible but less durable version of the braided hose ). I would imagine if copper pipes cannot take the strain indefinitely then those hoses would perform similarly.

    Thank you again B.B.,
    Ben






  4. cold shooter,

    Indefinitely. I kept mine charged the whole time I owned it, which was over a year. The man who owns it now has kept it charged for the past five years. So for six years it has been charged. We both used the bulk charging system, but that shouldn’t matter.

    B.B.


  5. Just found your site. I have a Crosman Model 112, no refill tank or instructions. The pistol appears to be in good shape. Missing the refill cap and no evidence of preasure. Any suggestions for locating a tank and instructions/exploded view drawing?





  6. I’ve got one of these beauties that I got as a basket case. I had it assembled, resealed and refinished at it’s a beauty that I shot for a couple of weeks before the power went away almost completely, even after a fresh charging. I’m thinking that this may be an ‘infant mortality’ issue with the repair. Any recommendations on what to look for, or who to send it to for repair? I’m in Cincinnati.



  7. I have a mint condition Crosman Model No. 115 C02 .177 caliber pistol, it just upon my last tank refill started to leak gas, it has held its charge for years previously and now within a couple of hours looses it charge completely. Do you have, or know where I can get seals/a repair tool for changing seals for this pistol?

    regards,

    Sam



  8. I just got into my collection and was investigating it. I finally started to get info on a Model 111 crossman that I have had for at least 25 years and I now know a lot more about it. The thing is I only have the pistol and do not have the cylinder. I was wondering if there is a person or a dealer that would like to sell one and maybe even a decent storage box like in the picture?
    I have contacted crossman and am awaiting a user manual for this pistol.
    If ther is any info you can contact me @ putthoff1@sbcglobal.net .

    Thanks.




  9. Rick,

    The gun pictured above would sell for about $125 at an airgun show. That’s with the tank. By itself, the gun is probably worth $80-100.

    According to the Blue Book this model is worth $50-170, but the high end is a little off, from what I have actually seen.

    The holster is scarce and probably worth $25-40 if it is the correct holster.

    B.B.


  10. Coupla questions… 1.What would the tank-alone value be if selling one? 2.where would one find those tiny seals/o-rings if wanting to duplicate reseal kit and D.I.Y?? I have several of these and would lose my profit margin sending them out to be fixed. 3. What's the "special tool" do that came with my reseal kit??


  11. Domin8rq,

    The Crosman tanks sell at airgun shows for $25-50.

    You get the o=-rings from McMaster-Carr online, or at a good hardware store locally. You have to know the size of each.

    Hard to say what the "special tool" is in your "kit" but it's probably a spanner to open the valve body.

    B.B.


  12. yer the king BB, don't let anyone steer ya wrong on that :) Your info has brought much fun :) BTW the 116 that I have working is a strong shooter, any comparisons to todays .22 pellet pistols?, any suggestions on improving the accuracy or replacing the sights?? I'm interested in a EB22, are these comparable? (the world is waiting for a 10-shot repeater .22 cal PCP pistol @ 850 fps)..would be the best pelletgun ALIVE!!


  13. Domin8rq,

    To change the sights on a 116 requires major gunsmithing. I don't think it's worth the effort and expense.

    The EB22 is similar to the 116, but not as powerful nor as accurate in my experience.

    B.B.




  14. I am thinking of buying a Crossman 116. As this is a bulk load air pistol can it use air from a scuba tank instead of CO2?
    Thank you for your answer.
    Mike



  15. I got a model 111 in the original box from a friend of mine's grandfather. It's still in the box, with the original directions and paperwork. What would the value of this be? Thanks.



  16. i have two crosman model 112 pistols in mint condition with the boxes instructions CO2 cylinders and even a tin can "roughly the size of a tuna can" of original .22 cal pellets I found in one of the boxs but my problem is neither gun will hold CO2, so am wandering how much it would cost to have the seals relaced and is it worth it? I live in Southern Ohio if that helps…My grandfather also gave me a Crosman MODEL 123 (100 CG, SHOOT-A-SCORE)gallery type rifle with the attached slanted 4.5 OZ tank, this rifle isnt in quite as good condition as the pistols but ive heard its very rare but I can not find any information on this model and anything you guys could tell me would help. Thank You


  17. I have a Crosman model 113 in its original box with the CO2 cylinder and other gadgets and the original directions. It is in excellent condition. What do you think it is worth?



  18. I have a model 112 that I recieved when my dad died many years ago. I do not have a cylinder, though. Is there a convenient way to charge the pistol without the cylinder? I see the blog has not been active for a while but hope I can receive a response.


  19. Yes, there is an inexpensive way to operate your pistol without buying a separate tank. An adaptor exists that uses a 12-gram CO2 cartridge to fill the gun. For just a little money you can use the same kind of CO2 cartridges that everyone uses today.

    I wrote about this adapter in a newer blog report located here:

    http://airgun-academy.pyramydair.com/blog/2011/11/bulk-fill-from-12-gram-cartridges-part-1/

    Here is the contact info to get the adapter:
    reames@wcoil.com

    B.B.


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