Why I became an airgunner And the most accurate pellet gun I ever shot

by B.B. Pelletier

I started out as a child
I loved to shoot as a kid, but there weren’t many opportunities before I turned 12. Once I had a paper route and could buy my own guns and ammo, my mother relented and let me buy airguns. But that wasn’t when I became an airgunner.

Jump ahead 12 years
I served in Germany from 1974 to the end of 1977 and bought a Diana model 10 target pistol on a whim one day. I shot that gun the rest of the time I was in the country and I loved it, but that wasn’t what made me an airgunner.

I am bitten
In 1976, I bought a copy of Airgun Digest, First Edition and read it cover to cover. That edition was written mostly by Robert Beeman. It opened my eyes to the world of adult airguns, but it wasn’t what made me an airgunner.

Those darned catalogs
I also sent off for catalogs from Air Rifle Headquarters and from Beeman Precision Airguns. I read those from cover to cover, too, and that’s what made me an airgunner. Robert Law, the owner of Air Rifle Headquarters, was a salesman in the same way as George Leonard Herter. He wrote lengthy descriptions that explained in detail why the guns he sold were the very best money could buy. By the time I got through his catalog, I wasn’t wondering which gun I could afford, but rather how I could afford them all!

Beeman was the best
Robert Beeman was even more masterful with words, plus he showed the insides of airguns in his beautiful catalogs with their stunning color covers. With Beeman, I really did have to choose because he had such a wide range that there was no hope of buying them all. I finally settled on an FWB 124D breakbarrel, though I also wanted an HW35 almost as much. The FWB was faster than the 35; and in those days (the late 1970s), that meant breaking the 800 f.p.s. barrier.

You always want what you do not have
As an armor officer and company commander, I had at my disposal enough ordnance to command serious attention (we had Mod Deuces on all our armored personnel carriers, mortar carriers and scout vehicles); and though I shot thousands of rounds of ammo each year, precision adult airguns really sent me into orbit! Go figure! I had an arms room full of full-auto rifles, submachine guns and 1911A1s, yet I lusted after a .177 breakbarrel that might go 800 f.p.s.

Home again
When I returned to the U.S. in November of 1977, I did three things I had dreamed about for several years. First, I kissed the first patch of U.S. soil I came in contact with (it was the cement at the airport in San Jose). Second, I went shopping at a mall at 9:30 p.m. on a Sunday evening just because I could (Germany rolled up the sidewalks early Saturday afternoon and wasn’t open for business again until Monday). Third, I drove up the peninsula, across the Golden Gate and on to the Beeman store, where I purchased my 124D. Forget the fact that Christmas was coming! I wanted it NOW! Anyone who has pulled several dozen 24-hour guard shifts, duty officer shifts, numerous alerts (short unannounced field deployments called without warning), annual two-week REFORGER field manuevers and too many month-long deployments to training centers such as Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels, will understand that a promise made to oneself at such times is sacrosanct.

That early pellet rifle was scoped with a Tasco 2-7×32 riflescope. It wasn’t corrected for parallax, but it was accurate all the same. I tested it by shooting at a tin can hung on a tree branch about 50 yards from the back door of my government quarters at Fort Knox, where I was later stationed. I pounded the can every chance I got. The Diana M10 I had bought in Germany was used for shooting in the living room. I was an airgunner, but not yet complete in my conversion.

This really clinched the deal
In 1992, the airgun magazine I had just subscribed to (American Airgunner) went belly-up, taking half of my subscription money with them. I became very cranky until my wife suggested I start my own magazine about airguns. When we thought it through, we realized I wouldn’t be able to write (or afford) a magazine, but a monthly newsletter would be very possible. So, we promoted it as best we could (there was no place to advertise!) and in March of 1994, we published the first edition of The Airgun Letter.

A lot more stuff happened after that, but that’s how it started. Now on to the most accurate airgun I ever shot.

What’s the most accurate pellet rifle I ever shot?
Easy! The most accurate airgun I ever shot was a loaner British Skan M32 pump repeater. It wasn’t smooth to operate and changing the magazine was cumbersome, but it was easily the most accurate air rifle I ever shot. At 40 yards, I got 5-shot groups so small they would almost not allow pellets to drop through.


Five Beeman Trophy Hunters went through this hole. The pellets landed on a group measuring 0.181″ center to center of the two pellets farthest apart. Shot at 40 yards.

If you ask real nice, I might blog this gun for you some day.

55 thoughts on “Why I became an airgunner And the most accurate pellet gun I ever shot

  1. BB,

    Reading your words of enlightenment, and sensing in those words such enthusiasm, is what made me an airgunner.

    Thank you.

    Michael in Florida


  2. BB your description of Germany brought me back in time. Not that I wanted to remember Graff,alerts, Hoesnsfield, guard duty etc. I did not get the air gunning bug until 30 years later! But better late than never. Keep up the good work.


  3. Hey Tom, hope you and yours had a happy Thanksgiving. I cut my teeth on bb guns and grew up shooting 22 with my father. We would go up into the foot hills of Mariposa county and spend Sundays thinning the heards of squirrels up there. Later, as a young adult my friends and I would still go up there and shoot, but because of vandals it was getting harder to get permission from ranchers. I had also read many of Roberts (super glossy covers) catalogs and had promised one to myself also. Well twenty years later I’m on my way to Santa Rosa! I walked into his store as a kid walks into a candy store, eyes peeled back wide. Walked up to the counter and introduced myself, told them I had made the trip from Merced to see all they had. I was looking at an R-1, when the salesman said have a look at this RX-1, as he was explaining the features to me I was admiring the build quality and the heft. Then I asked the price……IIRC it was around $539.00 I said ouch and handed it back to him, then, another salesman down the counter said “are you talking about the RX-1 it’s on sale right now for $399.00″. I said let me see it again. By the time I walked out of the store I had left behind around 1K and couldn’t have been happier. When I got back in town and went to the shoe repair shop my father owned to show him my purchase, he was admiring it when he asked “how much?”. When I told him, he thought i’d hit my head on something. He said “you could of bought a 30-06 for that much!”. I said and where would i shoot it? I was/am able to get permission from farmers and ranchers all around me because i shoot a “toy” gun. 15 years later it is as smooth as glass and a favorite gun of mine. I don’t miss the 1K one bit, heck, wish I could drive back up there and do it again. From SavageSam.


  4. Robert Law’s catalog was my conversion as well (and, coincidentally, in 1978 an ARH sourced 124D my first gun – which I still own). Tom, do you know if Mr. Law is contactable? I’d sure like to send him a letter of thanks. It always seemed to me he did not get the recognition he deserved, due mostly to Beeman’s subsequent and overshadowing comm’l success.



  5. BB, perhaps you can help me out with something…

    When I was a kid, I had a Slavia 619 breakbarrel that my Dad had bought, I believe, in the 50′s. I shot the heck outa that gun and took reasonably good care of it.

    Unfortunately, the front sight post (just a wire) broke off somewhere along the way, and a few years ago I made an attempt to fix it by bronze-brazing a post to the muzzle. After that it shot very erratically, and when I pushed a pellet through the barrel I found that the last couple of inches were now VERY rough.

    I drilled out maybe 2″ of the screwed-up bore, and made a tool so that I could re-crown the now recessed muzzle. That improved things quite a bit, but it still ain’t quite right. When I push a pellet through, there’s still about 1″ or so of roughness.

    I’m reluctant to drill more, and the rifling in this relatively soft barrel is so shallow that I’m reluctant to go in there with JB comound and a bronze brush.

    Do you think this poses a danger to the barrel? Any suggestions would be appreciated.


  6. Vince,

    Heat screwed up your barrel. Airgun barrels are made of dead-soft steel and cannot take heat. Drilling produced even more heat.

    I would clean the barrel with JB paste. All airgun rifling is super fine, and JB paste will not hurt it.

    However, this guy may be able to find you a replacement barrel:

    John Groenewold, PO Box 830, Mundelein, IL 60060-0830, (847) 566-2365
    http://www.jgairguns.biz

    B.B.


  7. B.B.
    I’ll be the first one to bite … please blog the Skan M32 repeater for us. I’d really like to know two things about it: 1) what, in your eyes, made that airgun so accurate to shoot such a group at forty yards, and 2) what lessons can we as shooters and airgun companies at large learn from that M32 to make our modern day rifles and pistols a bit more closer in their groupings?
    Thank you sir, and as always thanks for the wealth of information you provide!
    Digital.Camo



  8. Being English I am familiar withe the Skan line of rifles and wih that they were easier to obtain over here in the US. However, as they are so interesting, I think that US readers would enjoy haring about them too. Tom, please write up a nice Article about them.


  9. BB,
    I would enjoy a report on the skan as well. Something else to drool over.
    I think you make a valid point that you want what you dont have. You had a room full of full auto rifles and wanted an airgun. I have airguns and would love to have a room full of full auto rifles!
    One more thing. I really want to teach myself instinct shooting but i dont wanna bye a book. Im thinking about bying a Red Ryder and teaching myself. Is this possible or should i get some reading material? I read both posts you did on the subject and i think i get the point. Is this the kind of thing you pick up with practice or do you need guidance?
    Thanks

    Nate in Mass


  10. American Airgunner folded soon after publishing my article, ‘Airgunning For Icicles’, taking with it the rest of my subscription $$ and some other articles I’d submitted. Really liked that magazine.

    Happy Turkey Day, BB…one day late.

    -Joe

    ps. Hope this doesn’t show up twice. The Comment editor is being strange.



  11. BB,

    Thank you for answering my question. And yes, I would love to read about The Skan M32. I’ve shot many groups that size BB, and then I wake up!

    Don’t want to be A PIA, but is there ANY modern air gun readily available that even comes close to matching the M32?

    I sincerily hope that you had A turkey hangover, I did (-:)

    Thanks for all the wisdom you give,

    BobC NJ


  12. BobC,

    Sure, a lot of PCPs come close to the Skan, and I’m sure many are just as accurate. Don’t forget, I haven’t shot every air rifle that exists.

    Sumo told us about his Daystates that shoot very well. I bet he gets groups like this sometimes.

    The reason I picked the Skan is it gave me groups like that all the time. I just seemed to be made to shoot. My Daystate Harrier gets wonderful groups and so does my USFT. I haven’t tested them recently but I bet one or both of them could do the same as the Skan. Especially the USFT.

    On the other hand, I’ve shot some PCPs that don’t group that well – in fact, a lot of them. That’s a pretty tight group for 40 yards.

    B.B.






  13. BB,

    i can get groups like that but it requires unrealistic conditions, a lot of help from the bench rest, a bit of luck, and $4000. Im sure you already got that but i didn’t want any readers to think they could buy that gun and shoot those groups as simple as that.

    At 50 yards its really easy to keep it under 3/4 of an inch. Just from a jacket as a rest. A 1/2 inch group is not much harder. But anything under that takes effort!

    -sumo


  14. Sumo,

    You’re right, of course. I didn’t shoot every group that tight, and the days I was on the range with that rifle were calm and cooperative. I’m just saying that the Skan was the easiest rifle I ever shot for getting tight groups like that.

    On the other hand, I didn’t buy it then and I won’t now. Why? Because I don’t need that level of accuracy enough to put up with how the Skan operates. I will explain when I write up a report.

    B.B.



  15. BB,

    I guess necessity made me an airgunner. Never enough opportunities to go throw lead downrange. I was already on my way with Leon’s book when I ran across your blog earlier this year, and then played catchup by reading all the old ones I’d missed. You and all of the rest of you guys and girls on this site really got me going from there, helping me to discover that airgunning is an end unto itself. Not just a means to better firearms accuracy. There is a fantastic amount of information that you’ve disseminated in them. Thanks you for that!

    Please do write about the British Skan M32 pump repeater. I’d like to know why it’s so different, and hard to obtain here. I’d guess a guy could just have one shipped here for enough money. That “enough money” being the hard part for a lot of us…

    /Shooter


  16. B.B.

    Thank you very much for this article. As a young adult I can say that YOU are my biggest airgun inspiration. Your enthousiasm and knowladge really got me into things and I now feel confident when I talk about airguns with friends.

    Of course I got the “Airgun Acquisition Syndrome” a while ago, but it’s not a problem since anyone can buy “backyard fun” quite cheaply.

    This leads to my question: Which is the best multipump I can buy for Xmas? I was thinking of the benjamin of course but then I read that the crosman 2100 outperformed it (wow) when compared. The 77 got nice reviews as well. I am not going to be shooting it at more than 20 meters most of the time. What do you think?

    Also B.B., I would really love to hear about the Skan m32, since it is still available as a Mini M32 rifle for your european readers.

    I understand that it is a rare rifle and I wouldn’t insist on the report…

    Thanks a lot anyway B.B.


  17. Andreas,

    Thanks for your kind words.

    Now, as for the best multipump for the backyard, I would lean towards the Crosman 2100. It’s mostly plastic, but for the money I think it’s a great performer. If you want a gun to p[ass down to your children, then the Benjamin 392 or 397 is the one to pick. But I think the Crosman will do everything you want it to.

    I will do the Skan report. Since I already write the report in The Airgun Letter (a newsletter I used to publish) I’ll just borrow from that.

    B.B.


  18. BB & all – Happy Thanksgiving! Looking forward to the Skan blog BB. Even though it may be hard to get on this side of the ocean, it wouldn’t be the only rifle you’ve blogged about that I won’t be able to get my hands on!
    Ozark



  19. Can someone help with this..I have a Remington Summit..was shooting great now a large loss of power..its only about 2 weeks old..any ideas.
    Tom


  20. Tom,

    You didn’t give the velocity, so I am assuming the pellet is so slow you can notice it.

    If that’s the case, I think you have a broken mainspring. It happens. You should return the rifle to the dealer for repair. I haven’t heard that the Genesis has a problem with mainsprings so let’s hope this is an isolated incident.

    B.B.


  21. bb and tom,

    the summit is the quest with checkering, not genesis. tom, is it correct to assume that you had a lot of smoke coming out of your gun for most of the time you shot it? my g1 extreme(same gun, with different stock) shot about 850 with cp’s when i first got it, and then 2 weeks after that it went down to about 490…i sent it to bob werner(charlie da tuna), and he said the spring block was cracked from extreme detonation, and he had to machine a new one…crosman over lubes their springers. i had the gun tuned and now it shoots cp’s 940.

    if you know what you’re doing, the gun will respond well to a new spring and seal from crosman, and a lube tune.

    hope this helps.

    DED


  22. Hi BB,
    I think i finnaly found the next rifle for me! Not to sure if it will stick this time(I tend to change my mind alot) Anyway im almost positive im getting the Gamo CF-X (.177). I had a question about scope mounting. I read all of your articles(under both names)on this gun and i cant seem to find if this rifle has a scopestope or not. Does it have a scopestope block or holes for pins?
    Im planning on getting the new Leapers 3-9X40 AO Mil-dot scope with the CF-X. What king of rings would you use for this setup? I was looking at the medium accushot rings (leapers as well i believe).
    Sorry for the questions but Ive had bad experience with uncompatible parts in the past.
    Thanks

    Nate in Mass



  23. Nate,

    Yes, the CF-X has a scope stop. It’s a separate stop, so you want a scope with a longer rear tube (behind the turret) so the you can get the scope close enough to your eye. That means a full-sized scope and not a compact. The scope you’ve chosen will work.

    Get two-piece Accushot rings so you have mounting flexibility.I don’t know that the medium rings will clear so check that with Pyramyd before you place the order. You’ll note that I used high mounts.

    B.B.


  24. Thanks..I thought it might be a spring..I did have a G1 and it to developed that same prob so maybe I should shy away from Crosman..any ideas on a rifle around 200.00..I tried the Gamo Humter Sport?,,didnt like that much.
    Tom





  25. Tom, I’d suggest thinking about the RWS94. It’s Spanish (as opposed to German for the M34), but in my experience it’s a superior rifle in every way… not as hold sensitive, more powerful (yes, I know that it is rated a little less), and better balanced.

    With regard to the Crosmans – I’ve had (and have) several, never had the problem you describe (I’ve had other problems, though). Strongly suggest you send it back, either to the dealer or to Crosman. Crosman’s CS is quite good.


  26. Sumo,

    Great link!!! I gotta get one of those for my bow! That thing is just too cool! Is that tube sticking out at an angle a magazine? I see there’s a dealer near me too.

    /Shooter


  27. Tom,

    I like my Izh 513M in .22. $160 and it comes with a spare spring, seal and cleaning rod. 18-19 ft/lbs and that’s up here at 5500 ft elevation. Accurate too.

    /Shooter


  28. Tom,

    I’ll agree with Sumo on the RWS Diana 34 Panther. Also consider the Gamo Whisper. It;s nice as is, and I’m about to test that GRT-III trigger everyone talks about. There will be something additional, as well.

    B.B.



  29. Thanks for the info on the RWS Panther..is this also the same gun as the RWS 34 in wood stock..I seem to like the wood somewhat better..anyway will rturn the Summit and probably go with your suggestion.
    Thanks




  30. Thanks guys!

    not sure how great it really is but i thought you would want to hear about it. Its 22 cal and uses a 12 shat mag (i think).

    -sumo


  31. Correction (to myself), 8 shots. I have a 70lb 29 inch draw bow so i guess i would get 675fps. i thing i will use my bow as a bow and a pellet gun as a pellet gun. I think I’m gunna get a new bow.

    i cant choose. I like Matthew’s and they have the new drenalin out. But there is the drenalin xt (DXT), the drenalin LD or the original drenalin.

    I guess there all good. Any advice? )I know were supposed to be talking about airguns but you guys are the only people i can trust LOL)

    -sumo


  32. Sumo,

    Mathews DXT gets my vote. Mainly because it’s shorter (more maneuverable), but lighter and faster is always nice too. If it kicks too hard, it’s always easy to add weight with a stabilizer. A little hard to take weight off of an already heavy bow. As for speed, they’re all so close it really doesn’t matter. I’d go to an archery range and try all three out before forking over 7-900 bucks for one.

    /Shooter




  33. Mikester,

    The BSA scope will work. Your only concerns are parallax correction and ruggedness. The firearms scope probably has no parallax correction (adjustable objective), so finding a good spot weld on the stock is more important.

    As far as ruggedness goes, scope manufacturers learned about ten years ago to build all of their scopes up to spring airgun standards, and except for a few very cheap Chinese holdouts, they have all done this.

    I mounted a firearm Tasco on my first FWB 124 back in the 1970s and it worked fine.

    B.B.


  34. I took Vinces advise and ordered a RWS 94 from Pyramyd..Sharon there also helped to convince me…now what are your suggestions for a scope on this rifle..I dont know if I need a high,med or low mount. Also is it 11mm dovetail.
    Thanks,Tom



  35. Tom,

    I have no experience with the 94, but I see that it doesn’t have the Diana scope base, so none of those scope mounting cautions need to be followed.

    I want you to call Pyramyd Air and speak to either Sharon or a tech rep, if she doesn’t know the answer. I recommend this Leapers 3-9 scope:

    http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/accessory.pl?accessory_id=866

    You will need medium height mount for this, but I don’t know what kind of scope stop provisions this rifle has. That’s what Sharon or the tech rep has to tell you.

    B.B.


  36. Shimming is a common builder’s and mechanic’s term. It means to add material to make something taller.

    In reference to a scope. it means to put a thin strip of material under the rear scope mount (in your case) to raise it up and angle the scope down. That will raise your shots.

    Use a plastic strip cut from a 2-liter pop bottle under the rear scope ring, or under the rear of the one-piece ring, if that’s what you have.

    B.B.


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