The Ultra-Reliable air rifle

by B.B. Pelletier

Pyramyd Air Garage Sale!
Don’t forget, all of you who live within striking distance of Bedford Heights (Cleveland), Ohio, that this Saturday and Sunday is the Pyramyd Air garage sale! It’s everything you could ever imagine would be possible in a huge airgun dealership! Stuff has been discovered in out-of-the-way places, there are returned guns to pick through, scratch ‘n’ dents to ponder and all with the convenience of credit-card shopping and shipping for those flying in. If you’ve ever wanted to pick through a pile of airguns, this is your chance!

Ultra-Reliable air rifle
In the past two days, I have received two comments that have pushed me into today’s subject. The first was from a reader who wanted an R7 but wondered if the power could be tweaked up just a bit. My response was that the R7 isn’t easy to boost, but it’s probably possible. Then I told him that if the power could be boosted to 800 f.p.s. in .177, the resulting gun would probably no longer be the R7 he loved. It would certainly be harder to cock, and the recoil and possibly even vibration that would result from such a fire-breathing modification would probably spoil the shooting experience for him.

The second comment came from The Trout Underground, and I’ll quote it for you here.

“Are problems inevitable with rifles in this [Air Venturi Avenger 1100-Ed.] power and price range? I already had to send my Gamo CFX back once for a mainspring repair, and only got 300-400 rounds through it before it failed again. An online buddy’s Panther seems to be losing power.

”Do you need to spend TX200 money to get a powerful springer that holds up to regular use? I know cheap guns can last – my bargain basement Daisy 953 eats tin after tin of pellets with nary a problem – but is it too much to ask the same from springers?”

That question really hit home because I’ve asked it several times myself. The “Best guns for under X dollars” blogs were spawned by such thinking, and if you happen to notice that Tom’s Picks are limited to only a VERY FEW guns on Pyramyd’s website, you’ll appreciate how much this affects me. (Tom’s Picks is a work in progress, as some of my favorite guns haven’t been added to the list, yet.)

But I have an idea – or maybe it’s just a notion. I can’t go to airgun manufacturers (other than Crosman) and find anyone who will listen to me on this subject. What the airgun community needs is a nice, reliable air rifle that will last for years past the short warranty period. Most airgun manufacturers don’t think that way. For starters, most of them don’t have anyone on their staff who actually USES airguns, so it’s very difficult to talk to them. Most manufacturers have removed themselves from the user and go about marketing based on the buying trends they see. If someone makes a successful airgun, there will soon be copies from other companies.

Marketing decisions
When a large airgun manufacturer decides to introduce a new air rifle, the process usually goes like this:

First the marketing department notices that they have an open spot in their catalog – maybe for a .177 powerhouse spring rifle. They present that to management, and they decide to see what can be done.

They quickly discover that Gamo, Benjamin, RWS Diana and Webley all have such a rifle. So, they look at the specs and price. From that moment on, no thought will be given to anything besides the features all other companies are offering (velocity, scopes, etc.) and price. This circular logic soon leads them to China or Turkey, where it’s possible to buy anything for very little money.

Now, jump over to the Chinese airgun maker’s perspective. Here come the Americans, whose dollar is suffering everywhere. They’re asking you to build a powerful .177 rifle with their name on the side. You both know that you already produce the “Gamma 5″ for Germany, but the Americans say they must pay 30 percent less for theirs. You decide to replace some parts with some that are less expensive to make, eliminate some finishing processes such as tumbling the trigger parts before hardening and the Americans will have to take the guns with the “as blued” finish instead of the polished metal finish the Germans get. You can sell them a rifle that looks a lot like the “Gamma 5,” known to the world as the Imperiator from Rast und Gasser, the Bavarian airgun maker.

The American marketing department develops a color lithographed box that’s 30 percent thinner than their other boxes, so Dick’s Sporting Goods and Wal-Mart can stock more of them in the same shelf space. One week after the new model hits the market, a wiseguy in southern California has decoded the whole deal for the internet, and there are new websites springing up to solve the “problems” the American Imperiator copy is starting to exhibit.

One month later, when initial sales don’t take off as planned, the marketing department slaps on a 4×30 scope they couldn’t sell any other way and calls the package a promotional combo.

The OTHER way!
Or, you could do the whole thing differently. Lock the marketing people out of the conference room as you design the gun. Put in design features your customers say they want, but do so with an eye toward keeping the gun affordable.

It’s a spring gun. Since you’re designing it from the ground up, you can make it easier to maintain. Put the mainspring under less preload and buy a quality spring wire that’ll give at least 10K shots before failing. Build a piston that fits the bore of the compression chamber and put on a quality seal that self-lubricates. Use a spring guide that closely fits both the piston rod and the mainspring.

Everybody loves a Rekord trigger, but you cannot afford the extra hundred dollars that it adds to the price of a gun. You design a less expensive trigger that still has a safety, some adjustability and maybe some special features the competition doesn’t have–like an adjustable trigger stop. You know, Crosman put a trigger like that into their 160 rifle back in the 1960s, and you can get one now in a QB78 that sells for under a hundred dollars.

Be sure to put a mechanical scope stop on the gun. And make the high-wear parts like the barrel pivot bolt replaceable. Any bearings used to make the barrel operate smoothly have to be replaceable.

So, you design such a gun and it’s made right here in the U.S.A. It ends up with a retail price of $239, a price that causes the marketing department to wince. The rifle shoots 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers at only 850 f.p.s., but the hammer-forged barrel you’re buying from Remington makes the rifle capable of shooting 3/8″ five-shot groups at 40 yards. The cocking effort is 26 lbs., and there’s no vibration. There was some during testing, but you played with the spring diameter and the mainspring guide and got it all out.

Here’s the big question. Will this gun, that every knowledgeable airgunner will love, sell well enough to keep your company in business, or would you have been wiser to buy that cheaper Chinese copy of a Chinese design sold worldwide as a German design? That gun was advertised as developing 1,200 f.p.s., and it could almost do it with a new 3-grain plastic pellet the Chinese were willing to put your company name on. That rifle would only group three-quarters of an inch at 25 feet with a few pellets, and not always then, but the graphics on the lithographed box sold tens of thousands of guns to the big box stores. The fact that the model has very high returns and requires a complete overhaul by one of several airgunsmiths before it can shoot well, isn’t really anyone’s concern. The truckloads that were shipped in the first quarter of the year made the sales plan, and that was the goal.

The point
Both approaches to making airguns are real, and both are followed today to a certain extent. The question is this: If YOU were in that design meeting, what would YOU say the Ultra-Reliable air rifle should have? Could such a gun even be built today, given how the market works?

What do you think?
I’d like to turn this discussion into an open letter to the world’s airgun manufacturers, most of whom have somebody on staff reading this blog every day. It’s not enough to just “blue sky” your ideal airgun. They do that on all the forums and nobody cares. Your job is to design a modern air rifle that is reliable, usable and attractive enough to command the price it’s going to have to cost if it’s built your way.

Whaddaya say? Can the readers of this blog design a practical air rifle that has a chance of surviving in today’s market? In other words, can guns like the HW50 and the FWB 124 still be made?

91 thoughts on “The Ultra-Reliable air rifle


  1. Wow, this could get interesting.

    It is interesting to me at least. I started out with a first gun that almost killed any enthusiasm for airguns. I could not get my Gamo Shadow to shoot straight. Despite the frustration I kept trying.

    I bought a 2100 and found out that, for a beginner, I wasn’t too hopeless. Then my Discovery helped me gain some more confidence.

    I am still haunted by my unpleasant springer experience though. Once I get the extra cash I want to get another springer to try it again. I love the idea of a self-contained shooter. I will be interested in seeing what guns bubble to the top.

    Ciao,

    Il Bruce


  2. Hia BB,
    I always enjoy your blogs, but today’s blog is super. I would buy that $250 -$300 air rifle in a heartbeat. Your two examples are so typical of the way most companies do business today. Then we American consumers act so surprised that the economy is bad and our companies are shutting down left and right. Its a poor cycle. Bad Company makes cheep product, sells tons of product, puts good company out of business; Then bad product fails, bad company falls apart and goes out of business; and no one is left to make the quality product we needed to begin with. New companies get scared and start by making more bad products. This is the way I see it.

    Are the companies all to blame? Heck no. Its our fault as consumers trying to save the extra bucks, so we can buy quantity over quality. We let our selves get snow balled into thinking “well its must be almost as good”. Then we get upset that the cheep POS item brakes or malfunctions. Bottom line is we are telling the companies that we don’t mind buying the cheep stuff every time we place an order or go to the check out line with an inferior item.

    A short story about buying airguns – October 2007 I buy a Remington Genesis 1000x. The rifle was never really good. It WAS ok. The rifle was packed in a nice box with 4 color printing, had a good scope mount, and a good Centerpoint scope. I enjoyed shooting it, hoping it would get better. The trigger did get better but the accuracy was always iffy. Well that rifle died about a month ago with a broken sear, sending a pellet down range as I closed the barrel. Good thing I practice safe gun handling. I have a late 1980’s Marathon 100 model springer built in Spain, I believe by Cometta. This rifle was under $80 new, and it still looks and shoots great. (I wish I bought some higher end models back then)

    I purchased a few other guns in between with good results, but the stand out is a Benjamin Discovery. The rifle was still packed in a nice 4 color printed box, but no money was wasted on scopes and mounts that I would want to choose myself. You can tell from shooting this rifle that it was designed by shooters. It just works. For the money this rifle is done right.

    My point is if companies take the time to listen to shooters and airgun experts like BB/Tom, they will find great success in their products.

    Joe G from Jersey


  3. Unfortunately for me, I like them all. Next time it will have to be something more high end like a pcp. I think the Discovery was a step in the right direction. Time will tell.


  4. BB Great blog, While your at it, lock the lawyers out of the conference room as well. Also include a spare spring , breech, and piston seal with instructions and a DVD on how to service and maintain the airgun. Also if shooters were to just take the time and educate themselves on what to expect of an airgun, and not try to make it a subsitute (as in equal) to a firearm, maybe we could get that 1200fps monkey out of the equation. Joe G. you hit the nail on the head with your comments! Robert


  5. B.B. & All

    I'm a wood products manufacture. I design the products and make the tools in some cases to produce them. We are a micro business, that grew because of the internet. When a manufacture can reach the end consumer, by passing the distributor and retailer, as now possible with the growing online customer base, many options open up..
    And feedback from consumers quickly sifts out the crap. If you come to the market with crap, it gets called what it is real quick.. So like Joe says, the company fails after it hurts the companies who try to do it right, but if that company is by passing the distributors and retailers, then they get feed back and can adjust the product to fit the consumer feed back, in the end making the product better and the consumer feel heard, which is very, very important.. That is why we answer the phone, no "press one for…" with our company..

    Mac 1 airguns and the US FT is a perfect example of an American success story.. Tell us that story B.B. if you can..

    Wayne,
    Ashland Air Rifle Range


  6. Joeg makes valid points on it being the fault of manufacturers and us, the buyers. They shovel out crap and we trip over ourselves to get a piece.

    For a new spring air rifle built to last and under $300, the answer is yes, it can be done. You have to keep in mind what your target for the rifle is and then you don't deviate. This is important!
    The target here is reliability, accuracy and durability. Things that are off target are looks. Think Remington 870 Express. It won't stop shooting and shoots well. It must include things that are du riguer (?) for springers these days. Scope stop! And it has to work. I don't know if it should include open sights, given it could drive up the price more.

    For starters, you probably are going to have a synthetic stock, they are durable and cheap. You can worry about a wood stock later on some sort of luxe model.

    For the barrel, you can use a sleeve, maybe even attach it the Dan Wesson method, or how S&W is now using. Basically for those of you who aren't familiar with either company, the method of barrel attachment involves threading a thinner barrel into the receiver, placing a barrel sleeve around the barrel, then attaching a barrel nut to the muzzle end. The end product can create superior accuracy in firearms. Don't know if it would work in airguns though.

    One problem I hear of is how spring guns need to have the inside of the compression chamber honed out. Why not make a self lubricating sleeve out of durable synthetics that slides into the chamber? Is anything like this being made now?

    Triggers, good triggers, can be made inexpensively and safely. Savage has a good thing on their hands with their accu-trigger. I don't think it shot up the price on their rifles (if anyone knows different, tell me).

    Before you have it leave the factory, test it! Not by people who know airguns, but by people who don't. That's a sure fire test to see how well it would hold up.

    Before you ship, for once give us a manual that tells us the ins and outs of what we bought. Let us know how to properly maintain it and give good examples.

    That's all I have for now, maybe I can think of more later.

    Al in CT


  7. Wow!,

    This is the sort of response I was hoping for!

    Three of you have already agreed that the Discovery is made like you think a gun should be. I think that says something, by itself.

    I am eagerly awaiting the thoughts of the rest of the readers.

    B.B.


  8. B.B.,

    Great article and potentially rewarding challenge to the air gun community and air gun manufacturers.

    Before I, as an imaginary air gun designer, contribute my input into this hypothetical meeting I would like to offer an opinion.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think air gun manufacturers will hold this “design meeting with a goal to list the features of a RELIABLE AIR GUN at a relatively low price point” often enough or at all until upper management thinks about the following:

    1-There always has been and will continue to be a consumer that researches and purchases based on quality first and price point second. The philosophy being that spending a little more initially is more cost effective than buying two in the long run. This point cannot be overemphasized in our current economy and in the economy in the foreseeable future.
    2-You’re missing the major share of your market by not designing this RELIABLE mid price point air gun, THE BABY BOOMERS. Read the numerous forums on the internet. Your “target market” for this newly designed air gun are the enormous number of baby boomers that are already air gunners. You can potentially ride this wave of consumers if you make some difficult decisions.
    3-Don’t underestimate the value of bolstering your name in the marketplace by designing an air gun that is reliable and ready to shoot out of the box. It will sell other guns you already have in the marketplace. The internet/word of mouth vs. marketing has allowed manufacturers to elevate themselves and all their products very quickly and more effectively than a well choreographed marketing campaign especially with a correctly designed product.
    4-Your target market for this RELIABLE, mid price point gun, are consumers that own or have owned a cheap and unreliable air gun. They’ve been down that path and know what the most common deficiencies are in a cheap air gun and are willing to pay up front for these features rather than deal with the aftermarket nightmare of upgraded parts, untested tuners, etc.

    Now onto my design input in this exciting meeting:
    1-Ignore marketing. Feet Per Second only sells your first air gun to the public and they’re not your market. 600FPS-750FPS is the most this gun needs to generate because we want to design a quality/accurate shooter this time around that is easy to cock and won’t tear itself apart.
    3-This should be a spring gun. No co2 or scuba tanks necessary.
    4-Put or design a good quality, adjustable trigger on this gun.
    5-Offer stock options, ambi, synthetic, beech and walnut.
    6-Your marketing should emphasize quality and accuracy so make sure the gun has good seals, spring, trigger and accuracy. Put instructions in the box on the technique to shoot your springer (artillery hold vs. firm firearm hold).

    Sit back and watch the profits roll in. This segment of the market is able to afford what you build, wants badly what you should build and can afford to pay for it.

    kevin


  9. Can reliable,high quality rifles still be made? Yes.They are called RWS/Diana.They are affordable,accurate and potent.Can “super grade” airguns still be made?Not as long as the dollar is the deciding factor from the concept to product delivery.


  10. B.B.,
    Wow, very excellent blog that really hit home with me personally. I’m not going to address the airgun aspect directly, but I will address the marketing, design, manufacturing and pricing.
    I work for a company that designs and manufactures very high end marine navigation equipment. We’ve been in business almost 100 years and our name is known around the world, and well respected. Over the past 30 years we’ve had a half dozen different owners (parent corporations), each with different philosophies about who we should be.
    During the best of times, the marketing group searches for valid new customer needs, we design for performance and reliability, we manufacture for top quality, and use innovative methods to keep costs reasonable. We have customers who still ask us to overhaul their 40 year old piece of equipment because they love it and don’t want any fancy new thing that isn’t a proven winner. But our stuff is very expensive and not everyone can afford, or more importantly, is willing to pay for the quality and reliability.

    But during the worst of times (not so good owners), our marketing dept zeros in on our competitor’s equipment that has the same published specs as ours, but is 30 percent cheaper. So we end up buying parts and pieces off shore, or like your worst case scenario, have it built off shore, slap our name on it, and what do you know! A sales flash in the pan, followed by warranty costs and a tarnished reputation. It’s like saying something dumb to your wife. Once its out of your mouth, you can’t take it back.
    I guess I’m very lucky that I work for a company that always gets back to the high road. I think it boils down to: is the company in it for the long haul, and, how discriminating is your target customer base.

    You can count on some airgun manufacturers to always offer good value and quality. Then there are the ones where it is buyer beware. I think most cheapo manufactures don’t think the system is broken.
    Thanks for giving us this opportunity to speak.

    Lloyd

    P.S. Great comments from everyone already!


  11. BB -

    I’ve had similar experience to the comments above. My first adult spring rifle was a Remington Summit, made in China, and marketed exactly as you describe. It is now on its second tune and third mainspring. Fortunately for me, it shoots very well at this point. For now. Learning from this mistake, my next spring rifle was an HW97. No issues. No problems. Just pure shooting satisfaction.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not made of money. Value counts. But I want substance and quality for my hard-earned dollar, and I won’t be fooled again so easily. The weak American dollar may be bad for people who are interested in buying one of the European spring guns, but it sure creates an opportunity for an American company to compete, doesn’t it.

    Here’s an idea for a business plan: Design a spring rifle as you describe, and then support it by selling spare parts and service on your website. Customers may even be able to personalize their new favorite airgun with stock choices to fit their style of shooting, hunting, target, etc. However, as you so diligently point out, the principle consideration of the new spring gun is that it should WORK!

    For those spring gun manufacturers who monitor this blog, here’s a message from me to you: Listen to BB. He has his finger on the pulse of the airgun shooting fraternity, and unlike many of you, has actually been a contributing partner in a successful new product introduction. A spring rifle with the same intelligent design as the Discovery would be accepted with same level of enthusiasm. Look around you. The economy is changing. Business is tough. If you don’t reconnect with your customer base, you be going out of business, just like the competitors that you are copying.

    - Jim in KS



  12. Al,

    A sleeved compression chamber! No there is an idea! I don’t believe it has ever been attempted.

    And the Savage Accu Trigger is another good idea. I wonder whether it might be adapted to an airgun as it is? Buy them from Savage.

    The synthetic stock is almost a given. There is a large charge for the mold, but after that, the cost of stocks becomes very competitive.

    B.B.


  13. Arbiter17,

    I agree with you that RWS Diana rifles are great value for the money. But with a Value Engineering approach to any good product, like the Diana 34, for example, a better product can be made. And often the price or cost to build goes DOWN, not up.

    Value Engineering is a DOD term that embodies the goals of both Demming and Juran. They gave us the statistical tool to measure our product and progress, and Value Engineering gives us the process by which those tools can be applied.

    I agree this project should be a spring gun, because of the simplicity of the design.

    B.B.



  14. I wonder when people are going to learn…if ever.
    And at times I all into the trap as well.
    I hate to paint all the Chinese merchandise the same (meaning ‘crap’ with a capital C)…a year ago I purchased a Tivoli Audio Radio 2 and CD player that are exceptional and come from China (though they aren’t cheap by any standard)…but I digress.
    Years ago I was heavily involved in shooting…had 22-250 and a 222Rem plus a nice Webley sidelever air-rifle…but I got out of the sport 15 years ago and just took it up again last year…a father/son activity.
    I went down to our local Canadian Tire (big mistake) and picked up a Marksman BB gun for the boy. They had none on display, but I figured you couldn’t go to far wrong with a $50 BB gun.
    Was I wrong!!
    Once I got it home I assumed that under all that plastic there was a steel rod for the barrel…I hoped.
    Christmas morning dawned…the boy was happy as a pig in sheeite and all was good. Went down to the basement range I had set up while he slept and proceeded to instruct him in gun safety…pretty hard to do with a gun that misfired 2 out of 5 times. About a week we were shooting, the gun misfired and he started to turn it around to ‘try and see where the BB was’…that was it.
    I realized I was putting my sons safety in the hands of a country (China) that has proven time and time again over the last couple of years that the safety of our children means absolutely nothing to them.
    The next day it was in the garbage…it wasn’t even worth taking back in my mind, and replaced with a Red Ryder.
    $20 more…all metal and wood…it has misfired perhaps 3 or 5 times after maybe a 1000 shots.
    Everyone is happy.

    A couple of months later I was back at the sporting goods store where we got the Daisy (not Can Tire), to get me something.
    Didn’t want to spend more than a couple of hundred because I had recently purchased my 853c.
    For $200 my choices seemed to be a number of high power Chinese guns with poor wood and lousy fit and finish…or a Slavia 630. Low power but up to the quality of my old Remington .222
    2500 shots later is just seems to be broken in…completely smooth and easy cocking and capable of hitting a Daisy Shatterblast disc (2″) consistently at 25 or 30 yards offhand.
    A very happy cowboy dad.

    BTW…all the people that complained that we shouldn’t have ‘politicized’ the Olympics…anyone who thinks China hosted the games to further amateur sport is deluded…they only did it to further their presence in the west…primarily (IMHO) to sell us more of the deadlyl crap they peddle.

    Okay…call it a rant!! LOL


  15. Jim,

    I like your business model! Build it right, and leave room for customer upgrades. I think that is one way to succeed in today’s marketplace – at least here in the U.S.

    And you are exactly right when you say the time is perfect for an American manufacturer to make a good spring rifle. With the current state of our economy, they would have years of smooth sailing.

    But there is capital investment to consider. CNC centers are one thing, because they can be programmed to produce many different things, but dies, jigs and fixtures are a sunk cost that take time to amortize. I think most modern American companies are too cautious to risk the long term investment because they don’t understand the products they make, nor the market in which they compete.

    Some day soon the Wal-Mart formula for industrial success is going to change, and business leaders will have to think for themselves again.

    B.B.


  16. BB -

    As I see it, the problem isn’t the manufacturing process. Where there is market demand, a manufacturing solution will present itself. The problem is the apparent lack of concern for the customer. Right now, the balance sheet controls every decision that is made. Who is listening to the customer? Where do these corporate execs think that the money is coming from?

    Furthermore, the issue lies as much with the retailers as it does with the manufacturers. Why is it that you can’t walk into a huge outfitter store and find the same quality in their airgun selection as you can find at their firearms counter? Do they think that airgun buyers can’t spot quality? Do they think that airgun buyers don’t have money? Do they really think that the only people buying airguns are naive adolescents?

    Again, such a great opportunity, and no one seems to be willing to pick up the ball and run with it. The time has come for the american retail segment to realize that there is a mature market that doesn’t see airguns as toys, and we are buying what we want from whoever is willing to sell it to us.

    - Jim in KS


  17. Al in CT – S&W barrel system-

    So as you describe it, the inner rifled barrel is in tension and the outer barrel sleeve is in compression. Similar to post tensioned concrete pilings and such. Lighter weight and greater stiffness? Very clever. Do you have a link to pics of this?
    Thanks,
    Lloyd



  18. B.B.,
    I’m thinking of similarities, or lack of, to the paintball market. Sure, there is cheap entry level paintball stuff, but there is also a great abundance of super quality, technically innovative, imaginative, and customer driven equipment. The sophistication of some of it is jaw dropping. Its not cheap, and it sells! Much of it is made in the US by, and I could be wrong, by young energetic people and companies. You paintballers have any thoughts?
    Maybe we need some new players/blood in the airgun field? A brand new line of airguns designed and manufactured in the same US plant as top quality paint ball markers? Hmmmmmmmmm.

    Lloyd


  19. BB
    If there is a market for cheap stuff there will always be manufacturers willing to supply. Planned obsolescence is a well practiced by major manufacturers today. I bought a BSA Super Star about ten years ago and have done nothing to it except shoot and it still works like a dream! That’s paradoxically bad for BSA since I have no desire to replace a product which still functions. I must say though if that Super Star was a lemmon They would have lost me as a customer as well.
    But like you say Airgun producers are reading this blog and by now should be familiar with the success of the Discovery. So maybe you should beat down their doors with the story and some of them at least may listen to you.

    Ton


  20. BB,

    I’m staying out of the socio-economic thing because we all know what price alone does to our products and you guys covered it so well already.

    I love the concept that Crosman has on their custom shop web page and think it has superior flexibility in delivering what consumers want/need.

    My thoughts would be to expand a similar program into a modular piston rifle. Order the receiver, choose either a coil spring or a gas ram, pick a barrel (or several) from one of 4 or more calibers and lengths. Pick one of several kinds of stocks in wood or synthetic. The receiver would be able to accept optional field sights, aperture sights, or a bolt-on weaver-type scope rail. Muzzle brakes etc. are all available.

    Delivery would run about 2 weeks as the gun would be assembled from parts by a human and then test fired.

    Higher end retailers would be able to keep the most popular components in stock to build the gun to your spec.

    Derrick



  21. B.B.

    The description of shoddy manufacture and predatory marketing is chilling and reminiscent of Upton Sinclair’s classic novel, The Jungle, about capitalist abuses at the turn of the 20th century. His subject was meat packing, and he showed workers processing diseased cattle and scraping drains for bits of meat to put into hot dogs. Yuck. But some of that mentality is obviously alive and well.

    And the point that much airgunning business is run by non-users is illuminating as well. It is reminiscent of the autobiography of Roy Boehm, founder of the Navy Seals. He was presented with a horrible prototype for an underwater rebreather by an arrogant design engineer who was telling him about ergonomics. When, he found that the guy could not swim, he threw him into a swimming pool.

    I can’t speak to business theory, not now anyway. But I like to think that the intelligent consumer will be able to sift through the offerings and discover real value so a good product will rise to the top and be profitable. It just may take a little time.

    Otherwise, I can just suggest examples of good products from my own experience. The IZH 61 you would think would be a disaster from the marketing/economy principles presented in today’s post. It’s incredibly accurate and reliable way out of its price range. Are the Russians very smart or very stupid? It seems that PA can hardly keep them in stock, so there must be something right about this approach.

    I would lump the B30 with the rest of Chinese clunk except that its many shortcomings are relatively minor, and it is a very strong performer in its accuracy and overall durability. Let’s hope this shows that the Chinese are starting to play the game.

    My Savage rifle is an outstanding rifle. I haven’t had the chance to shoot it much, but I can say that I cannot tell the difference between the Accutrigger and the hand-stoned match trigger that Clint Fowler put on my M1 Garand. Savage is an ideal case of a an company that is keeping its prices down and rapidly moving up in the market with intelligent, high-quality designs.

    Matt61


  22. Derrick,

    Your idea is a bold one, and certainly possible. It is a modular approach, which is possible through design. Arguably, aftermarket tuners have sort of created the self-designed airgun already, but nobody has taken the 1911 approach to make the gun modular yet.

    B.B.



  23. I have read many good ideas here and would hope that manufactures would take them to heart, but I doubt it. There are already many good high quaity airguns on the market. Almost any of the HW’s, Dianas or Air Arms are good right out of the box. But even these makers have had to try to econimize to keep prices down and keep some positon in the marketplace. Non of these guns are carried in the big Mart stores and hopefully never will be because those retailers are so powerful that once a company becomes dependent on the large orders they place the retailer starts to dictate changes and price point. Like it or not those of us that get involeved enough to research our products and discuss them with others are a tiny minority of the market the BAM and Gamo people are looking for. As our economic status in the world changes and our standard of living starts to go down this may change. The cheap will become too expensive and the general populations attitude will change. People will start looking for quality over quantity and the incentive to design, build and stand behind your product will return. As long as giant conglomerates buy up privately owned companies and take them public for short term profits we are going to have a hard time convincing them that its in their interest to put reputation over stock price. For those companies that manage to survive to that point it will mean there demand will far outstrip their ability to provide and the price will skyrocket, it will also create a hugh oppertunity for new businesses. If you ever want to buy a quality airgun dont buy the copy today with the thought you will eventually get the real thing. It may not be there when your ready for it. Remember Webly and BSA.

    Sam


  24. B.B.

    What if a proven design like the HW 55 or FWB 124 was reproduced with some current high tech upgrades?

    Form a company owned by the workers, who are also air gun shooters.. to make this proven but improved design.. You probably have to pay or partner with the owner of the design, partnering would be better, because then you can maybe use the name, and say the good old HW55 just got a little better, and it’s made by the owners of the company.
    The costs should be lower and lower with time, as the equipment gets paid off, and the owner/workers get better at their jobs and work out ways to improve the process.. owner/workers think that way, I know, our business is worker owned.
    Use the model, that Mac 1 airguns used, to capitalize. Let the customers prepay 50 or 75% with their order, and they get a discount or something special on their guns..

    With a proven design, and worker owned, some customers would jump at the chance to help a company grow, and have one of the first production models as a collector and user.. They did for Mac 1..

    Just a thought, we find that our customers really like to hear that we are worker owned.. I find we have many advantages over companies that are not..

    Wayne,
    Ashland Air Rifle Range


  25. If the Discovery sells well enough Crosman may just listen to you again. I agree with others that the RWS34 is close to what you described. And, I bet is it one of their best sellers. Someone could learn a lesson from that if they were listening.

    On the other hand, sometimes we don’t buy what we say we will. Back a few years ago the Slavia 631 was the talk of the town. But, everyone said it would be much better if it was a little more powerful. The manufacturer listened to airgunners and made the Slavia 634. It was just what we had asked for. But, it has never caught on with airgunners. It’s a shame because it is a nice 700 fps gun at the price of a much cheaper quality gun.

    David Enoch


  26. BB,

    My idea isn’t bold by any stretch. It’s almost the standard for how some items like computers are bought and sold every day.
    It’s also how Crosman designed the 17XX and 22XX guns they’ve sold for years and one of the big reasons they’re so big with hobby tuners.

    Beeman was on to something with the exchangeable caliber barrels– but the execution failed. Your Whiscombe (did I spell that right?) is this concept to the n-th degree in full custom form.

    This is absolutely the way better bicycles, cars, airguns, etc. will eventually be sold=–as it allows cheaper production runs through standardization as well as satisfying the ultimate consumer’s choice.

    The question will be who will do it right and who will do it first?

    Once the guns are out there in quantity, it opens doors for new specialty companies to develop unique accessories to take care of the niche users that the marketing people forgot about or couldn’t cost justify. –Think .45 auto or AR companies in the gun world.

    At least that’s how I’d build a new airgun.

    Derrick


  27. B.B.

    Yes, BAM seems to be right on the cusp of getting it right. I still hope to retrieve the day with my B30.

    I wonder if our current financial crisis is relevant here. It sounds like too many businesses extended themselves beyond their base of real value with various financial contortions until the whole thing came crashing down. Build a quality product.

    Matt61


  28. Part of the issue here is flat-out greed. As long as cheap/lower quality yields the most dollars, that will be the focus. What’s needed is integrity combined with pride in a job well done, something which is an increasingly rare commodity in our corporate culture.


  29. I think greed is the primary factor here airdog…but I tend to blame it mostly on us.
    Well…not US…you know…us!
    I blame it all on fast food. Really. Ever since the 60′s we’ve gotten too used to having everything NOW!!
    And the media pushes all this cool stuff at us, which of course we all want now, and we’re not willing to wait a while and save up for it so the manufacturer brings out the cheaper, stripped down version which sells like hotcakes.
    Problem is pretty soon the stripped down version becomes the standard model and they need to come out with a cheaper version because we all seem to think we have to get a deal and get it cheaper.

    I’ve sold photographic gear for 25 years now. 25 years ago each manufacturer had a couple of models…the expensive pro camera, the inexpensive fixed lens ‘snapshot camera’ and one in between. Now they all have 10 different models and all of the manufacturers will tell you that the real inexpensive and not very well built ones finance the better models because most people want the high resolution, want it now and don’t want to save.

    I have a story that may be out of date now, but I think not.
    About 10 years ago I had a relative from Germany visit. He marveled at two things (amongst others)…the number of beat to crap oil burning wrecks on the road and our local mass market retailer and the shelves of $100 stereo’s they had on display (we had gone to buy some CD’s).
    He said that where he was from few people under 25 owned a car, but they were all BMW’s, 190 Class Benz’s and Audi’s. Also said that they just didn’t have all the cheap stereos…again, you might only have a radio till you were a bit older, but then you bought a Bang and Olufsen or something like that.

    Unfortunately it’s the old axiom ‘watch out for what you wish for’…we wish (demand) inexpensive (cheap) goods immediatley, and the suppliers respond the only way they can and still make money…they sell us crap.


  30. Lloyd,
    Here’s a website where the author does a great job of explaining the system, although he is using Dan Wesson as the example. Only fair since they are the originators.

    http://www.notpurfect.com/main/dwrev.htm

    Pretty much it’s as you describe. The barrel is under tension at both ends, muzzle and breech, instead of traditional barrels that have the tension at the breech.

    One benefit to this system is the interchangeability of barrel lengths. With spring guns, I’m not sure how much barrel length would matter, but it could be used as a less expensive alternative for a solid barrel. Crosman’s 2100 is similar, but the inner barrel is not threaded into the receiver or the muzzle.

    Dan Wesson revolvers were highly respected for their accuracy, and in earlier models, rightly scorned for their hideousness. Look at an old model 11 or 12 with the “pork chop” barrel shroud and external barrel nut. Still great shooters though, just ugly.

    Al in CT


  31. Great point. It is partly our fault. I will admit I’ve succumbed to the “I’m in Walmart and I could walk out of here just a little bit happier” syndrome. Quick, cheap satisfaction. Oh well – it’s those cheap guns that have inspired me to learn how to tune them, so go figure.


  32. BB,

    I’ll take one. I don’t need ultra-deep bluing or even fancy checkering, although they are nice. I really don’t need another $10 scope with a $40 bundle upcharge. If its accurate, reliable and not excessively ugly, that’s good enough. Premium models can be finished nicer for those who decorate with and invest in guns — I want one to shoot. I’ll pay exactly what is required to meet that criterion, but will not be brow-beaten into upgrading to something 2x more expensive by hand-waving elitists and proponents of craftsmanship:), nor by features that are made of plastic and not likely to hold up even if they are usable.

    Al in CT brought up the 870 Express, and others mentioned the Savage rifles. Both are good examples of well-positioned products that people will buy based on rational assessments of necessary functionality within a budget (almost everyone has one) and what American manufacturers can do with some luck and restraint.

    The 870 Express, however, must be the most maligned shotgun variant ever made: I wish I had a dollar for every non-owner who claims the Express innards are pot-metal straight from the sand caster. Mine functions just like a Wingmaster I shot in the eighties, so I take the hysteria with a grain of salt. I bought it thinking I would later buy a Wingmaster, but now I’m not so sure I’ll ever get rid of it…its a bit ugly, but the shot leaves the barrel exactly like a Wingmaster and the pump has never failed to load or eject a shell.


  33. First, for the guy who wanted to hot rod an R-7. Get an HW50S instead. PA doesn’t offer them, but other dealers do. The R-7 is simply a slightly different stocked HW30S. The HW50S is the next model up in power, and slightly larger making it an ideal multi-purpose rifle. It actually sells for about $359 vs. over $400 for the smaller R-7.

    As far as the qualityprice issue, the beauty of airgunning is it is one area that most people so inclined can afford betterbest. When I needed my first a sweeper, I bought a throw away. However, my first adult air rifle was an R-1 that I used for well over 20 year with not even a hiccup.

    Unfortunately, price alone sells many individuals. Sadly, I doubt that will change anytime soon.

    Volvo

    P.S. I am finally back in the world of electricity.


  34. BG farmer– I too bought an 870 Express with the thought I would latter get something better. Almost 30 years have passed. This could be an example of a company making something too good for the price. : )

    Volvo


  35. Al in CT and BB,

    Al – Thanks for the Dan Wesson info site URL. I am always impressed with designs that produce a superior result through an elegantly simple approach. Great stuff!

    B.B., I appreciate your earlier comment about me being lucky working for the type of company I do. A little humility check for me; oft needed.
    Thanks again.

    Lloyd


  36. BB,

    I like to shoot airguns but am not a tuner. It took me lot’s of nerve to put a new trigger in my Shadow. Charlie da Tuna was correct. It was easy.

    New springer rifle, fairly easy to cock, accurate, reliable, good trigger. If BB has a hand in designing it I will pay for this in advance.

    Get a manufacturer to cooperate and I totally believe there will be enough preorders/prepays to cover a substantial portion of the up front tooling, etc. List it with that description on the PA site with a part number and I will order it.

    Al Pellet


  37. BB and All,

    That’s why I love this blog above all others. BB and readers share the same passion and heart.

    I sure like to spend the rest of my life working for that Ultra Reliable Air Rifle company if ever. Then it will feel like I have lived my life well enough.

    David


  38. David,

    You made my point, a worker owned company could start up, with a commitment of labor from 10 or 20 of you techy tunners, and with enough commitment of orders from guys like you, David, your off..

    You’ll probably need a few thousand each, from half of the worker/owners as well. The workers who can’t contribute cash, work more hours instead for their ownership shares..

    With the internet, direct manufacture to consumer sales, allow that you don’t need the marketing team, or expense. You don’t need 4 color boxes to sell them for you. You can ship in a plastic rifle case and save the cardboard boxes completely. Customers can watch a video of the gun in action, because your not hiding the fact that it is junk.. That’s all the marketing you need, a quality product gets a lot of free advertising in the internet world, and so does a bad one. That is why the market will open to a business like this one.. the manufacture who makes poor quality at any price, will go out of business sooner or later, depending on how deep their pockets are..

    The people here, now, talking about it, could instead “JUST DO IT”!!!

    Wayne,
    Ashland Air Rifle Range


  39. BB. Based on all of this, I’m glad that I already have a FWB 124 and a Crosman 160.

    I also bought a used Diana 52 in
    .22 cal last week for $175.00.

    Not high end stuff but very fun!

    Mike




  40. I love the accutrigger in my Mark-II Savage. The trigger pull is 2.5LBS and feels pretty nice.

    It’s too bad lawyers and lawsuits put an end to decent triggers years ago.

    There we go, add a Lothar Walther barrel, a Savage Accutrigger and a Leapers 3-9x32X AO mildot scope to a Discovery and they would take over the world. The Discovery Deluxe only $499.99 hand pump included or $349.99 rifle only.



  41. B.B.

    We did fine because you picked a great topic..

    Maybe you can shoot some video of the HW 55T shooting 10 meter and the technique best for 10 meter off hand… Just another reason to keep it longer..

    I noticed that the Photo pocket site, says "add video" but it doesn't accept it for me, or I just didn't figure it out yet..did any one else add a video to their pocket?

    Wayne,
    AARR&R


  42. BB & All,

    this is one of the best blogs since the "open-letter to airgun manufacturers." I loved Derrick's idea of the modular springer site. I could see PA doing this if they could come up with a few powerplant/action/base models that everyone seemed to favor and that the parent company would allow to be used in such a capacity. Who wouldn't want to buy an R9 or FWB 124 (or comparable)action with the options of: a Savage Accu-trigger, a walnut Tyrolean stock, Air-Venturi gas spring, a Leaper's scope, threaded barrel/choice of muzzle brakes… The configurations would be endless, and the feedback would be endless.. Unfortunately, the only probable manufacturer that would be willing to sell just their "guts" would come from China.. But BAM has been getting some good feedback.

    Seriously, we need to get our hands on one of these Accutriggers and have it broken-down so we can find out if it can truly adapted to airguns.. this sounds like a guest blog, but who would want to potentially damage or sacrifice their prized Accu-trigger? This is unfortunate, but I think Savage, like Ruger is marketing a springer air rifle, but in name only, probably made in China.

    W. PA


  43. BG_Farmer et. al.,

    You speak of the Remington 870 as though it is a budget shotgun, but apparently you high-falutin’ folks have never heard of the Mossberg 500 – the real working-man’s pump shotgun. I could only dream of owning a high-class 870, which would cost almost as much as both the Mossberg 500s I now have. I paid $135 for the last one, new, two years ago.

    Has Remington had a sale I don’t know about?

    B.B.



  44. W. PA,

    Savage has been down the air rifle road twice now, in the past ten years. Each time they follow the plan I outlined above, where the marketing department is in charge.

    It’s sad, too, because their president knows something about guns. But maybe he doesn’t think airguns are real. I don’t know. What I do know is that they will have a short run this time, as well.

    B.B.


  45. Ecxellent blog! Designing a well-functioning, reliable gun for a reasonable price is a noble task.

    It might be worth to have a look at the Slavia 631 / 634 air rifles. They are very well designed, of high quality and with good triggers. Just a few examples:

    - There end cap of the action is not fastened with pins, but threaded. The mainspring has a low initial pressure. This makes it possible to strip the gun in very short time

    - Said end cap holds all parts of the trigger and saftey. There’s no need to attach a separate trigger untit, which saves money and labour cost.

    -The trigger is a very simple design. But the trigger’s pivoting point sits so high in the action that the trigger blade is very long, giving the shooter a great advantage over the force it has to overcome. This makes the trigger simple, yet very well to use. It would be possible to make it even better by using a different spring system.

    - The cocking link is held in place by a simple V-shaped leaf spring that lies in the stock and pushes the cocking link up, against the piston. Again, no need for any welding job, no need for guide rails etc….

    A few other ideas:
    -We all automatically believe that cheap spring airguns must be of the breakbarrel type. The industry realizes this, and gives us the huge amount of breakbarrels we have today..but there’s another type of airgun that can has its merit: Guns like the Weihrauch Hw 57 or the Gamo Cf30 – guns almost unknown in the USA. They have slightly more parts, but a fixed barrel and a simpler breech, which puts them in the price range of breakbarrels.


  46. BB,

    I think the difference in price is down to around $50 between Mossberg 500 and 870 Express. The Mossberg is a better looking gun, to me, in some ways, but the forearm seems to rattle more and the barrel is ported (=more noise in my opinion). That’s why I went “high-end” with my purchase:).


  47. Off subject, but has anyone else had fun shooting long range with seriously under-powered air guns (500fps and lower). I think field target sounds great, but I’m gently dinging cans consistently at around 75 yards with my IZH 61 and 46m. It’s funny because I’m using the mil-dot Bug Buster I have on the 61 and rainbowing the shots with surprising accuracy (as long as there is zero wind). Even though several of the magnum airguns I own are capable of hitting the same targets when aiming dead-on, usually not with the same consistency. I’m calling for a new sport… unless it already exists – B.B.?

    W. PA


  48. B.B., Kevin & Matt61

    I few days ago you all requested more information on my recently tuned FWB 124. While I can share how the rifle performs now, the challenge is I don’t have much of a base line as I only used it for about 10 minutes before the seal gave out.

    Some rifles like my HW97K I owned for 5 years before tuning, so I have a good bit of historical info. The HW97 actually went from the 840 fps range to the 930’s with CPL’s.
    But, the goal of a tune is not strictly power, and the Rekord triggers are also amazing when tuned.

    B.B. – I know you like numbers, but since I did not get to Chrony the 124 before it blew the original seal to pieces, maybe you can tell me what was typical for these rifles.

    I actually supplied the tune kit to Rich, because in moment of extreme self-belief I ordered the Old School Arctic Super Duty kit from JM with the thought that I would install it. He has a few offerings for the 124, but I think the Arctic is what he uses in his own 124’s if I read correctly. Perhaps fuelled by a little liquid confidence and the folks on the yellow forum – I also ordered the JM lubes and a new breech seal. Wisely, I decided I would practice on Wayne’s CFX and not the 124. (Those who missed it, I pretty much blew up the CFX). Rich returned both the old badly canted spring and the broken seal from the 124 – a nice touch.

    Matt61 – the tuner who has done three HW rifles for me is Paul Watts. All three have his Advance Tune and the 97 also has the set back trigger with quite few other ala cart services. His web site explains his offerings, but once again he is not accepting any new work at this time. You have to shoot one of these rifles before and after to really appreciate what has been done. The HW50S stayed at about the same 12 ft lbs, but went from very twangy with a ton of vibration to dead calm. You would swear it was a cartridge firearm and not a spring air rifle. Right now Paul lists a full custom R-1 on his sight for over $2100, to give you an idea of the caliber of his work. I sold him my R-1 earlier this year, and hope she ends up as one of his full blown custom rifles. Mine had the round Bear logo on the right side in .22 cal, which I think was rare. I will look for it when pictures go up. One thing to take away from this is the majority of these custom guns start as an HW or FWB, as they are worthy of the modifications.

    Kevin – The FWB 124 now has a similar “thunk” without spring noise. Cocking effort is about on par with an R-7, which means about as light as it gets. Noise level is typical for a spring gun, just minus the twang. The trigger is nice, but not as good as the HW rifles, I don’t think this is any fault of the tuner, but simply the design. If you don’t shoot the rekord first, it is fine.

    I can understand the appeal of the FWB 124, while I passed over it for an R-1 many years ago; it is a more pleasant rifle to shoot. Mine really has not been shot enough to break the tune in yet, but I’m getting 760 – 805 fps depending on the pellet. So I would guess it is about stock power, which I am fine with. I have actually sold off all my over 20 ft lb Springer’s, as I just don’t need that power level or the additional work that comes with it.

    The last piece is accuracy, and this is the only break barrel I have that can equal what the HW97 can do. I haven’t been able to try it at longer ranges yet, but at ten meters I could cover a five shot group completely with one .22 caliber pellet.

    If it wasn’t such a near perfect example – even Rich in Mich commented on its outstanding condition compared to his own 124 – I would be tempted to have about 5 inches cut off the barrel to make it an almost ideal rifle.

    A FWB 124 Deluxe listed as “mint” just sold on Gunbroker for a tad over $350, so I absolutely agree the B.B. these rifles are under priced.

    Volvo


  49. My $0.02:

    - I like the idea of long distance, low power pinking.

    - The thing that disappoints me about the guns that I own is the poor quality of the owners manual. Even a relatively cheap gun (both of mine cost about $100) can have more than a folded up piece of copy paper with english on one side and some other language on the other. I wouldn’t mind if I had to download it on-line and print it myself.

    - I would love to have the a la carte option instead of getting stuck with a “package” deal. Just what do you do with a 4×32 basic scope? A few basic power plants with choices of barrels, stocks, grips and accessories, all ordered on-line. Dell has been doing it for years.

    BB – Exceptional topic on an always excellent blog. Hope to see you in Roanoke next month.

    Randy in VA


  50. B.B. I’ve heard some Discovery owners using light trigger springs and drill new 1/8″ pivot point hole, 1/4″ further out on the lower link in their trigger groups. Some have claimed if done right they are safe and with good results. Your Thought?



  51. Western PA,

    Well, I had the Urban Hunters writing for Airgun Illustrated. They were shooting pigeons at up to 58 yards with 6 foot-pound rifles, so I guess that qualifies? No formal sport that I know of.

    B.B.


  52. Volvo,

    Thanks for the report. Now I’m really looking forward to getting the FWB 124D from Billy. His has had a recent tune as well.

    I really agree with not enjoying the extra work of the over 20 foot pound spring guns. I haven’t sold the best of them, because I need them for the Air rifle range, but I don’t shoot them myself.
    After shooting a fine PCP, like the Air Arms S410, I even don’t want to shoot the best of low recoil and accuracy in a springer, the TX200 …. I guess I got spoiled with the ease of tight groups with the s410. It just takes more work and steady follow through, to do the same groups with even the TX200 or HW 77.. I guess that is why they have two different classes at the contests.. PCPs and Spring Guns, then one for both, but the PCPs almost always win the mixed contest..

    So for me, I enjoy the 650-700fps spring guns like my HW 30 or RWS92, but still I’d rather turn down the power adjuster on the S410 to about 1/3 power and shoot that one at 650 to 700fps…

    The bottom line is the s410 is the only gun I like to shoot anymore, it is just to much better than any thing else I have to this point..

    The perfect springer should probably shoot about 750 or 800fps tops.. and be tuned for the “thunk” and cock with 25 lbs of effort.. sounds like the FWB 124, doesn’t it? And you can still find a real nice one for under $500.. We better grab them while we can..

    Wayne,

    Ashland Air Rifle Range


  53. Volvo,

    As it turns out, I have a factory original FWB 124 and it gets about 750-765 f.p.s. with 7.9-grain Premiers.

    The 124s I tuned for The Airgun Letter got between 825 and 860 f.p.s. with Maccari springs and seals, when I was finished. I used enough black tar to deaden all vibration. I think Jim has changed the specifications of his spring since then.

    The fact that your old mainspring was badly canted is a clear indication it was weak. You may have been around 700-725 f.p.s. with lite Premiers.

    B.B.


  54. ajvenom,

    Crosman actually designed the 2260 trigger with two additional trigger pivot points. They just didn’t want to go that light on a general-purpose air rifle. But the trigger is ready for an upgrade.

    B.B.


  55. Wayne,

    I don’t have any PCP’s, but can understand the S410 attraction. The closest I own is a RSW850 that is CO2 and an 8 shot repeater. No recoil, multi-shot, almost no effort between shots – but for me it is almost too easy.

    The spring guns are more difficult to master, but I like that I am part of the equation. My Volvo is a six speed manual, which I prefer over an automatic. Kind of the same idea. At times when I’m driving done the road with a cheese burger in hand, I do think an automatic would be nice. Same for a PCP, when I’m trying to figure the right hold for each spring rifle.

    But the majority of the time I like the involvement with car, and also the fact that none of my kids can use it because of the stick shift – or most adults for that matter.
    Same feeling with the spring guns, a pain at times – but not just anyone is accurate with them.

    Then again, one of these days I may replace all my Springer’s with a single PCP.

    Volvo

    Sidebar – that HW35 your bidding on looks like it has damage to the barrel latch. Maybe have BB take a look at it? They still sell the HW35L new; let me know if you want the web site info.



  56. B.B.

    Thanks for the FWB 124 info. It sounds like mine is at about factory spec. I will Chrony some CPL’s tonight.

    Jim had 3 different springs to pick from, the “Arctic” was not supposed to need a spring compressor as it is only 2/3 the size of a stock spring, but didn’t sound as powerful as say the “Mongoose” I figure if I ever open the rifle up that will be a plus.

    Volvo




  57. Volvo,

    Thanks for the tip.

    It looks like I’ll get over bid anyway, now I hope so.. I just got a BSA Lonestar .22 cal with a scope from the American Air Gun Classified for a great price..

    Wayne,

    Ashland Air Rifle Range




  58. Wow. Happy to see my Gamo CFX woes could lead to so much discussion… 8-)

    My original point was really about the dash for power – if the CFX was designed to shoot 100 fps, slower, I'll bet it would be a far more reliable (and potentially more accurate) gun.

    While I'm sure it's irritating for a veteran shooter to suffer with an often-broken gun, it's far worse for the sport when a new shooter gets one, yet new shooters are precisely those folks mostly likely to tumble for the "faster is better" hype.

    If I hadn't gone ahead and bought a Daisy 953 – a "weak" quiet gun to shoot in my garage during the long mountain winter – I wouldn't be shooting at all during the Gamo's frequent repair interludes.

    Several have mentioned long-range plinking with a low-power gun. I've been shooting my 953 with a peep sight and extended ranges and having a blast; last week I slapped the scope from my CFX on it, and I'm having a blast.

    Unfortunately, the online ballistics calculator I've been using doesn't go below 500 cfs, but I'm clearly looking at better than 3 feet of pellet drop at 60 yards or so, and even a light wind means double-digit wind drift at 65 yards.

    That's a lot harder than holding over an inch or two with a high-power pellet gun, and frankly, I think a field target match using scoped <500cfs guns would be a hoot.

    Anyway, great blog BB.


  59. I hope I’m not in here too late . . .

    I needed a tool for pest control. Big pests. I bought a Walther Falcon Hunter in 22 for this. It is doing what I ask of it — but it is a tool, nothing more.

    I have several firearms that would have done the same chore covering the gamut of bore sizes from 22 RF to 12 gauge with stops at 25, 30, 303, and 338 calibers and 20 gauge in between. While the notion of using the 338 on my pests brings a certain ghastly amusement, the commotion it stirs up and the considerable enthusiasm the bullet displays for getting to where it’s going made me a little leery of using it. In any case, while I do have a little elbow room I do not have enough to assail varmints with a powder-burning rifle.

    Granted, the shotguns would prove less problematic for ranging qualities — but I was a rifleman first and a handgunner second and a shotgunner only third. I feel more at ease armed for my pest control duties with a single-projectile weapon, because I know I can put that single projectile where it will do the pest I am controlling the absolute least good possible and not have another handful of projectiles flying about in all directions to wreak mischief.

    I am using Kodiaks in my Falcon Hunter, originally because they were what was available and now because I have long been a believer in using bullet weight in preference to blistering velocity and a heavy pellet in a spring-air rifle feels right. The rifle doesn’t make much commotion, and Things Happen when that pellet hits. And that’s the way I like it.

    What I want is 650 – 800 fps with a Beeman Kodiak or Crow-Magnum in 22 or 25. I want a trigger that breaks cleanly, whether that be at 12 ounces of 5-1/2 pounds is not relevant. I want usable fixed sights on the rifle. U-shaped rear sights are acceptable on a break-barrel; for a side-lever, though, I want a rear peep and a good front post. Scopes have their place, and now that I have flipped over more calendar pages than I like to admit I have to admit that that place may well be on my pellet rifle too. But I do not want blue-lit reticles or seventeen-inch objectives; I want a simple compact well-braced internally multi-coated scope of either a fixed 4x or a 1-1/4-5x variable with an objective small enough that I can mount it low enough on the receiver that I can achieve a proper cheek weld and be looking through the scope at the same time instead of at the backside of the rear ring. And I want a duplex reticle and I want that scope to be bright enough and clear enough that I can read the driver’s license of the fly that just landed on the pest I just shot.

    Am I asking too much?

    Vince


  60. Hi BB.

    Good post on the blog. You hve asked the question that is at the heart of keeoping air gunning as a viable sport, especially here in the UK.

    Its a difficult question. Here in the UK we get a generally bad deal in terms of what your money buys, high quality guns are very expensive and so, as in the US theres a lot of interest in cheaper guns, minly Chinese offerings, with varied results. I’m sure that many new shooters get disillusioned, as the UK importers tend to focus on the worst of the crop, the B3s and so on, the newer guns simply have not made it over.

    It has always struck me as odd that with modern technology and production methods, it is not possible to produce as you say, a reliable, accurate and well engineered rifle for reasonable cost (which in the UK would be £130-160).

    For a long while I thought that Gamo came closest of European airgun manufacturers to this aim, the Shadow series and the CFX’s were truely good attempts, though I see now people do have complaints. The Gamo owned BSA have now started to produce British versions of some Gamo designs, notably the Shadow’s (Comet) and CFX (Polaris) with BSA barrels, and triggers, diferent stocks, but much the same desinged (not sure about compponents) powerplants. Te problem is they are about twice as expensive as the Gamos, I’ll save my money and mod a Shadow thatnk you! Perhaps we will son see a ‘Gamised’ SBA PCP for European consumption and export.

    So the problem remains. I for one would be happy with a lower powered, but reliable gun (though our non FAC power levels are of course already low).

    Possibly other European manufacturers may be able to come up with a solution, the Slavia rifles are very good, and I wuld interestd to try some of the new Hatsan guns (Walnut stocks standard!) top see if they offer a solution.

    Ollie


  61. B.B.–Scott298–great blog–The trouble with manufactures is that they are thinking og one thing -the almighty dollar, and marketing can be the biggest enemy to this project. You market crap right and people will buy it-remember the pet rock? I have developed a kneen sence of awareness since I started airgunnin again after being away from an airgun for over 20 years and I loook for quality rather than price. I know the guns I want and I will save up for them-not buying any other till I can get the one’s I want. If an american manafacturer or any other country for that matter would produce a quality pellett rifle in the $250 price range-not lie about what it can do and stand behind there produce I’d be amazed. But for that to happen the manafacture would need to know how many of us are out there . I don’t think they have a clue and if they did then this project would take off in a heart brat–well there’s my 2 cents worth Scott298


  62. Thank you Ollie. I was just about to ask BB if he knew the actual manufacturer of Walther’s new line of rifles. I really like what I see on their website – google Hatsan Airguns and you are there. I love the choice of stocks – though the bipod seems silly. Has anyone had good results with a bipod on 1000fps springer? But seriously nice looking rifles.

    BB, did the Walther Falcon you tested have a plastic or steel trigger? And any idea if these Hatsans could make their way to the states without going through Walther?


  63. Hi!
    Sorry about my english, but I ask Your help by explaining an interesting phenomenon. According to theory you get max energy when bullet leaves muzzle. But if you are shooting things at very close distances (~one inch from muzzle), then pellet penetrates less compared to longer distances (~10+ inches from muzzle). How to explain it?

    One possible reason is that muzzle balst reflects from object and somehow reduces pellet speed…


  64. Volvo,

    Welcome Back! Thanks for the fwb 124 update. I trust B.B.’s opinions and he heartily endorsed the 124 but you certainly elevated my desire to own and shoot one. The accuracy of your gun in your hands is impressive. Keep your power on and your powder dry.

    kevin


  65. Western PA,

    I have examined the Hatsan rifles closely – including testing them. They are not worth the time or effort yet. They are powerful but very crude on the inside. The woodwork is quite nice, but the guns need extensive work to be even satisfactory, from what I’ve seen.

    The trigger on the Falcon Hunter I tested is plastic.

    B.B.


  66. Hatsan is more than just a small Turkish gunmaker. It is almost unknown to the normal shooter, yet very present in our European / US shooting world. I visited the IWA 2008 this year. Hatsan had huge advertiesment screens in the lobby, and a stand that was bigger than Diana’s and Weihrauch’s together.

    Never seen a Hatsan? You certainly have. Just a few examples:

    -The new Daisy breakbarel Air rifle “Daisy 800″ is in fact the Hatsan Model 75. The other Daisy brakbarrels are also Hatsan guns with slightly different stocks, as far as I can see.

    - The Walther Falcon Hunter is the Hatsan 125

    - Webley “moved production” to Turkey. In other words, they gave up making airguns and now slap their names on Hatsans. The new “Webley Jaguar” is a Hatsan Mod. 85, the “Domin8tor” underlever gun is the Hatsan Torpedo 155.

    -The “Luger” and „Mercury“ rifles sold in Germany are Hatsan 33.

    -The „Winchester“ brand airguns are Hatsan, too-

    Not that there’s anything wrong with Hatsan making airguns- always good to see some new manufacturers, especially when he doesn’t just copy existing designs- but the situation is, in my opinion, worrying. There was a time when the brand name was connected with some factory, with people assembling and designing the guns. You could, in theory, drive to the airgun maker and meet the people who made your gun. You could contact people who knew how your gun worked, how to maintain and repair it. You could associate brand names with typical design features and flaws, quality levels of finish and price ranges.

    Now, the name is just that: A name. Something that is stamped on someone else’s airgun. The assembly, and even more important, the knowledge – how to produce, how to improve- lies in the hands of Hatsan and the chinese airgun makers. An „airgun manufacturer“ who does not produce, but sell other factories products will certainly not be the force of innovation. The opposite is the case, the real manufacturer – the one who makes and handles the guns all day- will gain, over time, the leading edge in technology. Oh, did I forget to mention that Hatsan just launched its first PCP rifle?

    Not making products is the equivalent to waving the white flag in the world of manufacturers. A manufacturer who stops making his own airguns and sells other brand’s products is not a manufactuer any more. He becomes a dealer. And a such, he must compete with dealers. For example, Pyramydair could, without problems, order a truckload of Hatsan 85 rifles and sell them, circumventing Daisy and selling the same product for less. There would be no difference for the customers. Or Hatsan could finally wipe off the now-meaningless names from its guns and start selling them as the guns they are, as Hatsan rifles. Which would be absolutely ok. And even better for us customers. Right now, we are unable to trust the brand’s name. Is there a difference between Webley Patriot and Hatsan 135? Does the Walther Falcon have the same quality? Aren’t Daisy 1000 and Webley Jaguar and Winchester 1000b the same guns with different stocks? Hammerli made extremely good 2000$ competition airguns – so what about the 100$ breakbarrels they sell? And now the question for the Airgun experts: Which gun is better: Mendoza Rm-600 ($162), Hammerli X-2 ($215) or the Air Ventura Avenger ($200)??? Or have a look at the Crosman Sierra pro and the Remington Summit. How will a beginner ever able to pick out the gems?

    These are sad times for airgun makers. They wrestled each other down to the 100$ border and up to the 1000 fps summit. Give me one buck for every „100$, 1000 fps“ gun out there and I can get myself a TX200 for it. Problem is, such guns cannot be made with high quality, not talking about innovative features. No joke, the internal operations of an airgun that is sold today would not be anything special in the 60ies. They only changed to synthetic seals and plastic stocks. And old rifle designs reaching back to the 50ies – like Weihrauch Hw 35 or the Diana rifles- are still the ones that are considered the best.
    I don’t expect to get a breathtakingly new innovation in airgun design, but airgun brands hold each other in a deadlock that is a highly efficient killer of new ideas. What about a high-quality pump-up pneumatic? Wouldn’t there be potential buyers for a double-barreled PCP, patterned after a „Drilling“ gun? What about rifle designs like the Ttan Mohawk, Air Logic Genesis, Sharps Innova, Harker-Pale Dragon? Ever heared of the Norica Massimo? Where are the bullpup designs, the extra-long barreled „buffalo hunt“ airguns, the Tyrolean stocks, the Haenel-style repeaters, the pump-action CO2 rifles, the cruiser stocks, the recoilless actions, the beautiful breech mechanisms that make reloading almost as much fun as shooting? Today, it seems daring to make an underlever rifle.

    It is easy to see that the breakbarrel layout has its merit, and is dominating airgun market for good. It’s the bread-and butter for the airgun industry. But it really gets boring to see everybody churning them out. And it is sad to see great names like Ruger, Remington, Benjamin Sheridan, Crosman, Daisy, Hammerli being abused by using them to sell low- to medium end products from manufacturers that should, in fact, be concurrents. Imagine, in 1955 Daisy would have called Crosman to ask if they could make an airgun for them. Now, it seems this is the way business is done.

    Sorry, just had to get this off my chest….



  67. I reckon mel’s comments are right on the nose this is how thngs are going. But given manufacturing costs and problems is it likely that new European and US companies are going to spring up overnight for anyhting other than custom guns? In the UK the small engineering firm base is just no longer there, gettig your subcontract work dne in Turkey or China may be the only option, in which case why not got he whole way and rebadge an existing model?

    The frustration is that these places could produce the goods on their own, to a resonable cost. Hatsan make Webley now, the old UK desings are still made, not perhaps to the same finish, but to a good enough quality. If they can do that with Webley badged products why not with Hatsan? I for one would happily buy the reliable and econoimic airgun from a Turkish firm, just as I buy from Gamo.

    But deigning the ideal ‘reliable’ gun, well thats aother matter. Accuracy over power, with an option of uprating it to a decent FAC. That means a good barrel, trigger mechanism is vital, worth paying extra for, it is after all a minor part of the overall cost, synthetic stock, but please, not just ‘tactical’ grey. The advantage of plastics is that you can have anything you want, a bit of imagination required. Better yet a variety of synthetic stock types. Howver overall stock fit desinged for eae of adaptation into existing and custom made stocks.

    Break barrel or underlever, I suppose for FAC power a break barrel is the better bet, or at least more traditional, though I like underlevers. Direct loading into the breech, so a sliding breech for ease of use. Scope ramps and barrel threaded for a silencer (possible in the UK).

    Have I gone over cost yet?

    Ollie


  68. Kevin, you are right! Why aren’t the “real” manufacturers bold enough to establish their own brand? The customer would, finally, know who to contact for repair and spare parts, and doesn’t feel cheated when he discoveres the same gun in the same shop for vastly different prices. Want an example? Here you go: Hammerli “Storm” and Beeman GH 1050 are both the Norica Dragon. Exactly the same, no difference. Hammerli wants $ 156, Beeman charges $ 285 – for the same rifle!

    If I were PyramydAir, I’d try to get them from Norica directly, and put a proce tag on that represents its production cost, not the value of some brand name that has nothing to do with the original airgun.


  69. This blog gets better and better. Excellent comments. I’d have to see the Hatsans myself, but superficially they look pretty good. I already own and regret one – Webley Typhoon. But the main ingredients are there, they just are missing a few key features and adding way too many unnecessary ones, e.g. “semi-recoilless stock.” Plastic triggers with an adjustment screw that serves only to adjust whether it CAN be pulled – turn my stomach. I hope a Hatsan rep reads this blog. It’s with these manufacturers alone that any innovation can be made. I agree with Mel and Ollie completely, it’s time to see some innovation or at least a return to some classic features. Double barreled PCP… A high quality multi-pump pneumatic?


  70. LOL!!!

    Pyramyd Air bought out Airgun Express, one of the few sight to list country of origin of each model of an air gun. They removed this listing and only left the country of where a manufacturer was from.

    When I complained, they removed that listing too. Just about every big line out there seems to have Chinese, Turkish or some other country making an air rifle for them to slap their own label on it.

    Oh well, I still shoot my Chinese springer that I tuned myself and added a trigger kit. Still costs half of most high quality springers and shoots just as any out of the box springer with the exception of a few which cost as much or more than a PCP, which would I would then go with a PCP.

    Until then, I’ll also shoot a Daisy 22SG. All the things I like and still affordable. Except the trigger. But, I’ve never felt the trigger is a big concern unless you shoot over 100 yards. It’s just nice to have a nice trigger when you do a lot of shooting.


  71. Unfortunately, as some of the rest of you have said, we have done a lot to get ourselves into this mess. Greed, planned obsolescence, programmed throw away society, buy on credit, etc., are some of the culprits. Company attitudes are another culprit.

    I think Crosman did something great with the Discovery! And they took a risk. Now they have a basic design that is mutable to other products.

    I think the RWS 850 (Hammerli 850) is a nice rifle. I also think the manufacturer did the wrong thing to “improve” it. Changing the valve, hammer spring and adding a regulated air cylinder to make the Walther Dominator 1250 for $510 more ($727.31 total) is not innovative. Its a ripoff! They could have done a similar thing for around $200 and had a winner! They would have had an 8 shot repeater PCP in the $415 dollar range. In fact, they could have done the “Dual Fuel” thing that Crosman is doing, but better (use an AirSource or a regulated PCP tank)! There are lots of modders that are doing the $200 upgrade on their 850′s and RWS/Hammerli/Walther is losing out. Hammerli may also need to improve the barrel since the accuracy doesn’t seem to be consistent from gun to gun from what I’ve read.

    I think a couple of you also had a great idea. Make an instructional DVD that comes with the gun. Demonstrate gun safety and how to use and maintain the gun. The gun safety segment could be the same for every model and can be chosen by those who want to watch it. It would skip that section by default. If it helps keep costs down, put all the models on one DVD with a menu to access your model. In fact, having them all on one DVD probably will sell one of the other models to someone! And PLEASE, put tips like BB’s put a drop of pelgunoil (or particular manufacturer’s product) on the tip of CO2 cartridges, etc. on the DVD! And … NO SHOOTING WILD PIGS WITH INAPPROPRIATE AIRGUNS!

    A chart on the package to indicate the general size of animals/pests an airgun is powerful enough to hunt would be helpful. I’ll bet a company that did this correctly would have a jump in sales among first time airgun hunters. It would also be nice if this was standardized between companies (be humane!).

    Companies definitely need at least some employees that know airguns. How else are you going to know how to improve them? Also listen to the customer!

    My wish list is
    1) A repeating Discovery
    2) A repeating Discovery pistol
    3) A 1 to 3 pump pneumatic rifle powerful enough to hunt up to 20 ft lbs. Use a linkage like the customized Benjamin pump rifle to reduce the effort.

    Thanks for giving us this chance to give feedback BB!

    I probably forgot something, but that is it for now.

    .22 multi-shot


  72. I have a Beeman 124 but it sadly stopped working,I think the seal broke inside?
    On the side it says beeman airgun jnc or something to that effect(Get it Right China!),should it not be INC.?
    Anyhow i generally don’t approve of fixing chinese junk but this gun was shooting fairly nice before it broke and i was thinking of fixing it,I noticed they are no longer on the shelves in stores maybe because of this problem???
    Thanks
    Peter


  73. I’m not familiar with the Beeman 124, except the FWB 124. Is that the rifle you are talking about? If so, it isn’t Chinese. It’s considered one of the finest German spring rifles ever made. Feinwerkbau stopped making them in the early 1990s.

    The seal on your rifle may have disintegrated, as they would do. It can be replaced with a modern seal that will last for many decades.

    This man can fix your rifle:

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

    B.B.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


+ 5 = 8

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>