Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Crosman 1400 Pumpmaster: an American classic--Part 1

Just a reminder that B.B.'s still on his hunt and may not be available to answer questions til Thursday. A lot depends on internet connectivity at the hunt site. Thanks to the many blog regulars who've been pinch-hitting for B.B.

by B.B. Pelletier


The 1400 is a small, sleek pneumatic rifle that really packs a punch


If you're a fan of multi-pump pneumatic rifles, you probably know about the Crosman 1400 Pumpmaster. If not, come along and take a look at this fine American classic air rifle from Crosman’s golden age.

The 1400 was the last in a series of rifles that began with the 120 model in the mid-1950s. The 120 was the outgrowth of the even earlier Town & Country Junior rifles, which were a replacement for the original Town & Country guns developed at the start of that decade. But that's as far back as it goes, for the pump rifles immediately before that were the 100-series that dated back to 1924 and the start of the Crosman Company's involvement in airguns. Those models have very little in common with these later guns.

The 120 was a non-descript underlever pump that gained some small fame when W.H.B. Smith reported on an experiment in which a pressure gauge was brazed into a 120 to ascertain how high the pressure would rise when the rifle was pumped. The experiment was inconclusive, though, when it was realized that the addition of the gauge increased the storage capacity so much that the pressure was affected grossly by the extra volume.

Other than that, the 120 was never a very successful or even exciting model for Crosman. It was replaced by the newer model 140, which had an exciting new blow-off valve, which ended the possibility of pressure-locked valves. Until that time, a pneumatic that was over-pumped could not be fired, as their internal pressure held the valve stem closed against the strike of the hammer. Owners either had to wait until the internal pressure leaked off and the gun could be fired (which could take weeks), or they had to partially disassemble the gun and strike the valve stem with great force to manually exhaust some of the excess pressure.

The 140 ended this problem by having a valve that blows open violently when outside pressure is released by the trigger. Instead of having to be knocked open by a hammer, this valve is held shut by the trigger! It sounds easy to envision, but the details required to make it work took a lot of engineering.

One quirk of the blow-off valve design is that the trigger becomes progressively harder to pull as internal pressure builds. No doubt there's a way to fix this, but it hasn't come to market, yet, to my knowledge. The Japanese have refined the blow-off trigger to the greatest extent in their Sharp Ace Target rifles. They're very good, but not quite perfect.


The loading trough is simple, but just a bit crowded for longer pellets.


The 140 went through a series of modifications while it was in production, eventually morphing into the 1400 Pumpmaster around 1972. The new rifle began life with a sliding cover over the pellet loading trough in the receiver (you don’t have to cock this rifle--the action of pressurizing does it), but the final version had a more conventional bolt. It seems strange not having to cock a gun to shoot it, but 1400 owners quickly become accustomed to it.

Unfortunately, there IS a fly in the ointment! Because this gun doesn't require cocking--it's ALWAYS cocked! If owners keep one pump of air in their guns to keep the valve sealed against airborne contamination (almost every manufacturer recommends doing this), then their rifles will always be ready to fire! The 10 commandments of gun safety take on new meaning when you realized this gun is always ready to shoot.


Although it resembles the 160's adjustable trigger, the 1400 is far simpler.


Accidents are known to occur with this trigger arrangement. I have had my gun fire when putting the first pump of air into it. Another man was lucky that his rifle wasn’t loaded, because he examined his empty barrel from the muzzle end when his rifle had three pumps of air in the reservoir. It fired in his face! So, the sear CAN slip on these rifles, and shooters need to be aware of their special and unusual functioning.

Although the safety considerations above might frighten away prospective owners, they really shouldn't. Properly handled, the Crosman 1400 is no less safe than any other model; you just have to know what you're doing when you handle it.


Like most Crosman guns of the period, the sights adjust for windage by means of an oval slot and screws.


The sights have always been crude on this family of air rifles. The set on my rifle are a plastic post front and a simple leaf rear with a plastic notched elevator. Windage adjustment is made by sliding the rear leaf sideways, then clamping it down with a screw in an oblong hole. Accuracy, which is quite good, would undoubtedly increase by several orders of magnitude with more sophisticated sights.


The old Crosman "ashcan" pellets were marginal. Today's Crosman Premier (on the right) is considered to be one of the finest long-range pellets made.


I use 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellets oiled liberally with FP-10 lubricant in my 1400. They seem to be about ideal for the rifle, although they weren't around when the gun was new. My rifle was one of the last to be made in the early 1980s, when Crosman pellets were still the soft lead "ashcans" that deformed in your fingers. All of Crosman's "golden age" airguns benefited from the better pellets of the 1990s.

Next time, I'll share velocities and more.

41 Comments:

At November 11, 2008 7:46 AM, Anonymous twotalon said...

B.B.
I had 2 of the 1400s a long time ago.
The first had the sliding breech, and the second was a bolt. The first did not shoot well, but the bolt action was great.
Would like to see Crosman bring them back just like they used to make them.

twotalon

 
At November 11, 2008 8:27 AM, OpenID mechredd said...

The more I hear about old multi-pumps, the more I want to buy a 392.

 
At November 11, 2008 8:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that you would go wrong with a 392 mechredd. They are very nice rifles and well made.

Al in CT

 
At November 11, 2008 10:43 AM, Anonymous Mr B. said...

Good morning B'wanna: you never even told us what exotic animal(s) you were hunting. Talk about building anticipation!
Mechredd, let me second Al in CT. Put a Williams peep sight on it and enjoy a little corner of pellet gun heaven. Ten shots one ragged hole. Check out the custom stocks @ Woods and Water Outdoors. Mr B

 
At November 11, 2008 11:27 AM, Anonymous UW Hunter said...

Does anyone know if there is any retailer who will sell a Condor with a 18" barrel instead of the 24"? I would rather buy the gun with the shorter barrel so that when I add a frame extension, the gun won't be so long. I would probably buy a 24" barrel later, but to keep the initial cost a little lower, I want to buy it with the barrel I will use the most. Any suggestions?

 
At November 11, 2008 12:01 PM, Blogger Nick Carter said...

Having torn into both a 120 and a 140, I find I like the 120 more. The 120 seems higher quality, just as powerful. The valves are very different!
I had the 140 go off when taking the safety off, which surprised the heck out of me (always point it downrange!). I don't like that it's cocked automatically as you pump for just the reasons you say.

 
At November 11, 2008 2:03 PM, Anonymous BG_Farmer said...

I agree those sights look awful to use, especially since a scope wouldn't be an easy proposition.

 
At November 11, 2008 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

UW Hunter

If you don't need the power of the Condor get the Talon with the 18inch barrel. The Talon is over $100 cheaper than the Condor and six inches shorter. The Condor is much louder than the Talon unless you are getting the C02 version.

jeff

 
At November 11, 2008 5:00 PM, Anonymous Mr B. said...

UW Hunter: You can give Van or Martin a call at 888-871-1722 and maybe they can hook you up. Mr B.

 
At November 11, 2008 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mechredd,Have a brand new 392 in the box,that Iwas going to put on the Yellow forum,If you'd like to E-mail me,let me know.Tommy.

 
At November 11, 2008 8:32 PM, Blogger toveysnake said...

This is completely unrelated, but what do you think of the Diana RWS 34 striker combo? since it comes with the leapers droop compensator it seems to be worth it, but I'm not sure if the scope is any good. I guess I could always get a better scope. Is there a reason to buy the synthetic version as opposed to the wood one or vise versa? I think I would spring(no pun intended) for the synthetic one simply for the lower price, and I would be less worried about scratching the stock.Thanks in advance.

 
At November 11, 2008 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello:
Is shooting a Talon SS with Nitrogen any different (velocities, accuracy) than shooting with air or CO2?????? Does it lasts longer???
Cheers,
Jony

 
At November 11, 2008 9:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Diana RWS 34 striker

Wondering about this too. My only experience with a springer is with a Crosman G1. The G1 is just too hold sensitive for me. Is the 34 as twitchy? I really want a 0.22 with 800-900 fps.

I looked at the Benjamin Discovery, buts I think its its too loud for my city environment.

It seems that $100 just won't buy such a gun, so I'm looking in the $200 range now. The Discovery is more money that I really want to spend too.

Herb

 
At November 11, 2008 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

would it be because air is composed of nitrogen mostly???
Cheers,
Jony

 
At November 11, 2008 9:39 PM, Anonymous twotalon said...

Jony...
A Talon will shoot the same on air or nitrogen. Either one is faster than CO2, and not temperature sensitive like CO2.

Air is nearly 80 percent nitrogen in the first place, so they are pretty much interchangeable. CO2 is a different animal.
twotalon

 
At November 11, 2008 10:40 PM, Anonymous Vince said...

Herb, I think about the only guns that you're gonna get that has that kind of velocity in .22 under $200 are the TF89 and the Baikal MP513, both of which might break 800 with something like a Gamo Match pellet - for something on the order of 20 ft-lbs. Something like the Panther or 34 won't get that kind of velocity without resorting to super-light pellets.

The TF89 is a nicer gun in many respects than the MP513 - smoother shooting and much better trigger - but the MP513 (in my experience) is easier to shoot well. The MP513 is also lighter, but it is a bear to cock and brutal to shoot.

 
At November 11, 2008 10:45 PM, Blogger toveysnake said...

another question- what is the best ammo in .22 for the 34? I've heard crosman premiums but they're so damn expensive. What about JSB exacts. I've also seen the crosman premier hollowpoints are very cheap, have you had any experience with those?

 
At November 11, 2008 11:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wayne,

You need to post the link to the new S410 you traded for. It is so pretty I almost cried.

(Not trying to steal your thunder, but I started to rub the monitor it is sooo sweet)


Volvo

 
At November 11, 2008 11:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

toveysnake,

try .22 Gamo Hunters. Cheap, but do well in most rifles.

JSB Exact's are hard to get and not cheap.

Volvo

 
At November 11, 2008 11:48 PM, Blogger DragonSlayer said...

Hope Ya enjoy your hunt Mr. Tom ,,Im a big bore fan too!! Tim.

 
At November 11, 2008 11:58 PM, Blogger DragonSlayer said...

While Im at it,,, Mr Tom.,,,, I finally can live up to my "sign in name" I got myself a Dragon Slayer!! It has been tuned by "Big Bore Bob"!! Im not gonna ask about your hunt your on,, Im shure your gonna fill us in when you get back!! I am dyin to know however,, what Ya shootin?? Knowin you,,, probly an "Unobtainium" DQ gun?? He He!! Tim.

 
At November 12, 2008 1:20 AM, Blogger ajvenom said...

A rws 34 is a nice place to start with a springer, but some still like to get them tuned a bit.

The benji 392 is nice with the new scope mount and a pump assist kit would be nice, but expensive all togather.

I use a daisy .22 sg sometimes, but about only around the 600fps with 12 pumps is the max, any more doesn't help and 10 is the recommended amount. Nice thing is, it is affordable and, easy to pump and no CO2 to buy. You can also pump less for indoor shooting.

For the power, I use a quest 800 polished and relubed with a GRT-III trigger and with 4x AO scope. I can get Hobbies to one hole at 10 meters. Takes a little work and a few tins to break in, but it can save you money if you are handy at working on springers. It is hold sensative, but once you get on track, it's really a lot fun.

 
At November 12, 2008 3:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice about the 18" Condor.

Re: RWS 34

I have the Panther and would highly recommend it. I bought the Leapers mount when I ordered mine and had to return it because by gun did not have a barrel droop problem and the mount over corrected. I went with a Leapers one piece mount. It buts up to the stop screw on the rail and also has a stop pin. I have fired about 1500 rounds with this configuration with no scope creep. I chose the synthetic stock over the wood because I wanted a recoil pad and the wood on the 34 looks cheap to me. I love my Panther.

 
At November 12, 2008 3:22 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

UW Hunter,

Your gun will be the same length with the 18 inch barrel, since the device extends from the frame and not the barrel. All you are doing is sacrificing velocity.

B.B.

 
At November 12, 2008 6:59 PM, Anonymous UW Hunter said...

I understand that, but if I add a shroud to a 24" barrel it will then be like having a 30" barrel. I want a shrouded barrel which is the length of the regular Condor. Am I correct or am I missing something?

 
At November 13, 2008 3:55 AM, Anonymous Mel said...

B.B,

I just read how Mr. Smith tried to measure the pressure by welding the pressure Gauge to the system...there is a far easier, more accurate and non-invasive way to get the data. All you need is a precise scale.

First, get disassemble the gun and get the exact valve volume. Next, re-assemble and weight the gun uncharged. Then pump it up and weight again. The extra weigt is the compressed air, and it's easy to calculate the pressure from valve volume and weight of the compressed air. All you need is a good precision scale.

Greetings,

Mel

 
At November 13, 2008 6:22 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

UW Hunter,

Apparently you aren't understanding that the extension extends from the frame, not the barrel. So with either barrel length the gun will be the same overrall length.

B.B.

 
At November 13, 2008 8:19 AM, Anonymous UW Hunter said...

Aren't there different length frame extenders? I thought shorter ones were available for different sized barrels. If there is only one size available, then of course I would prefer to keep the 24" barrel. What I am trying to piece together is essentially a Condor SS with an 18" Barrel instead of the 12" Barrel. I think this would be a good compromise between length, power, and versatility. I live on 3 acres and everyone in my neighborhood also has at least that and all of the lots are pretty wooded, so noise isn't a huge concern, but it will make the dogs in the area go crazy. I need a gun to control raccoon-size pests from about 50 yards. Sometimes less, never more. I also like to target shoot in my back yard at about 50 yards. What configuration would you recommend?

 
At November 19, 2008 11:53 AM, Anonymous AzPete said...

BB,

Well, the inmates have taken over the asylum. I'm afraid a mutiny is in full swing and all discussions of the pending purchase of a Talon SS has rapidly taken a back seat to the pride and ownership of the Ultimate Condor as advertized on Pyramyd's website PY1469-2599. Logan and Ethan have spent many hour online researching every outlet for Air Force air rifles and I'm sure their on at least their second legal pad of notes. Being the most powerful air rifle available and the "cool" futuristic look in Pyramyd's catolog has not lost it's apeal to either of them. An additional factor was that Pyramyd's Talon SS is currently out of stock The Ultimate Condor is in stock and we all enjoy immediate gratification.

So, I have been reduced to loving GrandPa who will cover the cost and take great pleasure in watching us all dive a little deeper into the fun world of air gunning. Truthfully I can't wait to get my hand on the Condor and start playing too. I really enjoy the fact it's been a joint research project and we are picking up new things every day. The total cost: 1-T/C Encore Pistol with 2 spare barrels and 1 of 2 M-14's I had set back for a rainy day. The rifle and the pistol have quietly sat in the back of my gun safe for years. I figure the new Condor will be many hours of fun and entertainment. The following is the boy's questions I promised to post for them cuz GrandPa has not asked all the important questions yet:

Hi BB,

Ethan and I really enjoy your Blog. Some of it we don't understand but usually GrandPa explains what we don't understand. Most of these are Ethan questions.

1. Do we get a free CO2 adapter till Dec. 31st?
2. The trigger on the Condor is nonadjustable, is it good? Can we put a Charlie Tuna trigger on it?
3. What pellets should we use? both .22 and .177?
4. Do you really get paid to shoot air guns?

Mine

1. Would the Condor with an 18 inch barrel in .177 with an AirHog bloop tube make more noise than GrandPa's Whisper?
2. Is the bloop tube from AirHog made differently than the one the Condor comes with? How so?
3. Will we get every thing we need to start shooting in the Condor Kit?
4. Where do we get a chronograph?


Thank You,

Logan and Ethan

*GrandPa has sent a photo of us:
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/jj133/etePzA/LoganandEthan2008.jpg

 
At November 19, 2008 1:28 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

AZPete,

It's okay, because the Condor isn't a bad rifle, either. The accessories are locked in with the Ultimate Condor Combo. The only thing you get that I don't think you'll care for is the thumbhole/accessory bar.

This is the live product listing for that:

http://www.pyramydair.com/s/m/gun/1743

Ethan,

Yes, you do get the free CO2 adaptor.

The Condor trigger releases at or below 3 pounds. It's pretty good. Charlie da Tuna doesn't make a trigger tune for AirForce guns. And any trigger work will void your lifetime warranty, so I would not do it, if I were you. I used to work on guns that had trigger tunes on them and we (at AirForce) could always tell when someone had been fooling with the trigger.

Pellets! These are my choices

.22
JSB Exact domes 15.8 grains
JSB Exact 14.3-grain
Crosman Permier
Beeman Kodiak (not Double Gold)

.177
JSB Exact 10.2 grain
JSB Exact 8.3 grain
Beeman Kodiak (not Double Gold)
Crosman Premier 10.5

Lubricate the Crosman pellets because they will lead tyhe bore if you don't I use Whiscombe Honey with is a 50-50 ratio of STP Engine Treatment and Hoppes Gun Oil.

Airguns have been my entire living since 1994. Good job - eh?

Logan,

The Condor with a 24-inch barrel and the AirHog bloop tube will make more noise than Grandpa's Whisper when the Condor is set to higher power. At low power it will be quieter. The Condor has a 24-inch barrel. The Talon is the rifle that comes with the 18-inch barrel.

I wouldn't put an 18-inch barrel on the Condor, because you will give up a lot of efficiency. The 24-inch barrel will shoot both slower and faster tan the 18-inch barrel in either caliber.

The Condor doesn't come with a bloop tube. The one from Airhog is pretty special. Read this report:

http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2007/11/surprise-quiet-condor.html

The only thing you need besides what comes with the ultimate Condor Combo is pellets.

Pyramyd Air sells chronographs. The Alpha model Shooting Chrony is a good one:

http://www.pyramydair.com/s/a/accessory/838

I looked at your pisture. Logan looks a lot like I did at his age. You are both good-looking boys and I hope you appreciate your grandpa very much.

B.B.

 
At February 14, 2009 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where would you recomeend purchasing parts (o rings) for a pump master 1400? Will not hold air for very long.

 
At February 14, 2009 10:10 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

O-rings are just a few of your rifle's seals. The one you probably need is a special formed seal.

The 1400 isn't easy to work on. You can buy all the seals from this place, but they can also do the reseal job for you for not much more:

Rick Willnecker in PA. Contact him at http://www.airgunshop.net/ or call 717-382-1481.

B.B.

 
At March 31, 2009 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was recently given acouple of old air rifles. On is a crossman 140/22cal. The other one is a sheridan "blue streak" 5m/m caliber. Both seem to be in good working condition. Which one would be considered the better of the two and what would thier approximate value be? Thanks for your time and interest,Ron

 
At March 31, 2009 5:19 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Condition is the final price determinant for both rifles, and the Blue Streak is the more valuable.

B.B.

 
At April 08, 2009 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had a 140 C since I was a teen. I need to rebuild the valve assembly but I don't have any idea of where to find the parts and instructions. Any ideas?

 
At April 08, 2009 9:12 PM, Blogger kevin said...

Anonymous with the Crosman 140 C,

Most parts for these older airguns are unavailable from Crosman. Please try these two individuals. If they don't sell the parts you need they will probably be able to fix your gun:

Rick Willnecker in PA. Contact him at http://www.airgunshop.net/ or call 717-382-1481

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


kevin

 
At June 26, 2009 10:48 AM, Blogger Jeff Clark said...

Same basic situation as Anonymous. I just want to make sure that the 140 you all are referencing to is in fact the same as the 1400 that started this disscussion. I received one of the sliding breech models in the '70's and can't imagine how many shots went through that thing.

 
At June 26, 2009 11:05 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Jeff,

The Crosman 140 is the earlier version of the same rifle that became the 1400. Things did change as the guns matured, but John Groenewold will know what you need.

B.B.

 
At June 26, 2009 3:18 PM, Blogger Jeff Clark said...

Hey B.B.!
Thanks for your response. I am really looking forward to getting that old 1400 up again. My grandson will be three in August and I am looking forward to getting him going. I also still have my old Model No. 799.19200 Daisey (Sears) BB gun that still works great to get him started on.
Jeff

 
At September 24, 2009 9:58 PM, Blogger ReddyMan said...

Thanks for this write up BB! My father bought me one for christmas in '81 or '82 and recently replaced the cylinder and got it working... now my 10 year old gets to enjoy this classic with me.

 
At January 15, 2010 12:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My father bought a 1400 with the sliding breech in the early 70's. This year for christmas he give it to my son thats 17 and from 85 feet we pick off the little green army men.(with a 3x9) what a great gun it is.

 

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