The Crosman 1400 Pumpmaster: an American classic--Part 2
by B.B. Pelletier
My rifle gets the following ballistic performance with various numbers of pumps. I stop at eight strokes of the pump, because there IS a limit to what the valve can take--blow-off design notwithstanding! Over-pump a 1400, and you'll soon need a new valve, as the excessive pressure will extrude the seal material right out of its seat! More on that in a moment.
Oiled with FP-10, point-blank, 60-deg. F
2 pumps...345 f.p.s.
3 pumps...415 f.p.s.
4 pumps...471 f.p.s.
5 pumps...514 f.p.s.
6 pumps...547 f.p.s.
7 pumps...573 f.p.s.
8 pumps...598 f.p.s.
The velocity figures for my 1400 seem low for the gun. I've had others that shot Premiers in the mid-600s, and I once owned a 140 that got 740 f.p.s. on 10 pumps. This rifle would never get near that velocity, as the diminishing gains clearly show.
Still, the rifle delivers 11.36 foot-pounds of energy with the very accurate Crosman Premier. That's enough to bag a rabbit at 20 yards or so. A gain of several foot-pounds could undoubtedly be realized (with a loss in velocity) if a substantially heavier pellet were used.
You can't pump forever!
One thing many of us overlook when we talk about this valve that can't be over-pumped is the fact that the valve material can be extruded by too much pressure. In other words, it is possible to ruin the valve by too much pumping, because the pressure will force the valve material through the valve seat. So there is a limit to the top end, even though it is impossible to make the valve lock up.
Fit & finish
The metal finish on my rifle is just mediocre. It's better than the finish on the typical Chinese airgun, but not quite up to the finish of current Spanish guns. Because of this, the blue is very uneven and there are patches where the bluing process was not completely stopped and corrosion set it. I find this to be typical of Crosman rifles from the mid-1960s to the end of the 1400 era in the 1980s. You can improve things somewhat with a soft abrasive metal polish (like Flitz), but there's a limit to what can be done. Be sure to oil the metal after polishing, or you'll promote new rust to replace the old.
The wood on 1400s varies greatly. Some rifles have a laminated wood stock called "Croswood," which looks quite striking. Others, like mine, have a muddy blonde finish over what looks like maple. This latter finish is brittle and chips off easily around the sharp contours of the stock.
The stocks varied in shapes and finishes over the years. The 1400 has had both a Monte Carlo stock with a strange swoop to the buttstock and a plain straight-comb butt. The Croswood laminate with the Monte Carlo is the most attractive of the bunch, although the raised cheekpiece is lowered so much by the downward swoop of the butt that there's no height advantage to either design.
To some collectors, the Crosman 140 and 1400 rifles represent the high water mark of airgun development. They like the steel and wood construction and the knowledge that they can't lock up their valves by over-pumping. This has kept the market demand for the guns somewhat higher than for equivalent older collectible Crosman rifles. An excellent 1400 often brings over $100, while a much older Crosman 101 in the same condition will only sell for $20-40 more. There's no rationale for this small a difference, other than acknowledging that the all-steel Crosmans have a following.