Archive for February 2009

B.B. works it out – Part 6The Taurus PT 1911

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

It’s been four months since I reported on this project, but today I have an update. For those not familiar with why I’m writing about a firearm in an airgun blog, I’m using my experience with a gun that started out as a lemon to illustrate what you can sometimes do when you have to make lemonade. This lesson pertains to airguns, cars, houses and even life.

I bought this .45 ACP pistol because of the advertising. The claims were, and still are, that you could buy a gun with $2,100 worth of custom features and factory-tuned adjustments for about $500 (at the time). It seemed too good to be true, but having held one at a SHOT Show for a couple minutes and dry-firing it a little, I convinced myself it was true.

I bought the gun and found out the hard way that it was not true–at least not for the particular gun I bought. My gun jammed an inordinate amount of the time, causing me to lose confidence in what was supposed to be a defense handgun. Not a good thing! It jammed 8 times in the first 84 shots with factory hardball ammo, which has the reputation as the most reliable ammo available.


This jam is indicative of a faulty extractor. I suffered through this until the extractor was replaced. The gun is now reliable.

The first report was titled B.B. gets disappointed, and I wrote it partly as a catharsis and partly for all of you who have similar experiences with new airguns. At that point, I faced a fork in the road. I could send it back to the manufacturer who promised to fix it for free or I could do the work myself. There are advantages and disadvantages to doing it either way.

I chose to do the work myself, so I could report to you exactly how far off the advertised mark this gun happened to be. I also wanted to learn what it took to make this 1911, or any one for that matter, reliable. I am still involved in that process, though today’s report is probably close to the end of the series. And I’ve learned a lot about this one particular handgun. At this point, I feel like Vince, who puts in the time on one airgun to get to know all its quirks and odd behavior.

Things did get better as I worked on the gun. At one point, I had it down to two feeding failures in about 100 rounds. Still too many for a defense gun, but much better than before.

I’m not ready to summarize this report just yet, but I’m getting close. I’ll bring you all up to date with what’s happened since the last time. Since then, I’ve run another 500 rounds through the gun, bringing the total to 1,700 rounds. My wife and I go to an indoor range about once a month to keep current with our chosen defense guns. I’d given her the Wilson Combat CQB Light Rail pistol that she had given to me so she would have an ultra-reliable defense sidearm while I worked with the Taurus. My military training and experience with firearms makes me better able to handle operational problems in a crisis, so if the Taurus jammed at a bad time I knew immediately what to do. However, fate intervened and I didn’t have to go there.

Just after the last installment, I was fortunate enough to acquire a Colt National Match .45. It’s a target pistol made by the Colt factory in the late 1950s and early 1960s. What they did was copy most of the modifications military armorers had been applying for decades to standard military .45s for use at the national matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. The airgun analog of this might be when Air Arms copied the Rekord trigger for their TX200 and added some aftermarket tricks custom airgunsmiths had been putting on the Rekord for field target shooters.


I acquired this old Colt National Match .45, which I set up for factory loads for my wife. She likes the grip and heavier trigger, so it’s now her defense gun.

The handgun that resulted was called the Colt National Match. In later years, it became the National Match Gold Cup, but at the early date this particular pistol was made it was just the National Match. The operating spring it came with was weak to function best with reduced target loads, but I swapped it for a 18.5-lb. standard power operating spring. The gun was now ready for factory hardball ammunition.

When she tried it for the first time, Edith found that she liked the grip on this new pistol much better than the Wilson, which had been modified to sit lower in the hand. She also liked the 6-lb. Colt trigger better than the Wilson’s trigger, which breaks at 3.5 lbs. I put a set of custom wood grips on the gun, and in after session it became Edith’s new defense pistol. We’ve tested it with my now-reliable handloads, and it functions perfectly. The Wilson will come back to me, and Edith will now shoot the National Match. Dollar-wise it’s a wash, but examination shows the Colt to be a crude ancestor of the Wilson. Still, it’s reliable and accurate, which is all we want.

However, while all this was happening, I had also installed the new Wilson extractor in the Taurus and its behavior improved a thousand percent–meaning it’s now reliable! As I suspected (after lengthy research and reading dozens of reports about extractor problems on the internet), the Metal Injection Molded (MIM) extractor in the Taurus was the cause of 90 percent of the gun’s problems. I replaced it with a Wilson Combat extractor machined from a solid steel bar, and it functions without a problem, thus far (that being about 400 rounds).

During cleaning a few sessions back, I cleaned the Taurus firing pin and lost the tiny spring that powers the Series 80 firing-pin safety. Since this safety isn’t needed to make the gun any safer in real-world operation (it was a marketing ploy by Colt and has been tried and dropped by other manufacturers), I left those parts out of the gun. The result is now a 100 percent creep-free second stage on the trigger. It’s about one-half pound heavier than the Wilson and now just as crisp. Although I’ve purchased the spring that was lost, the performance is so much better that I’m leaving it as it is.

The final dubious parts in the pistol were the magazines. They have the weakest follower springs I’ve ever seen, and they made even the Wilson suffer feeding failures occasionally. However, they now seem to be able to function with the Taurus 100 percent. I’ve run 400 rounds without a failure of any kind. When that passes 500 rounds, I’ll start trusting the Taurus for the first time since buying it one year ago.

The thing to carry away from this is that not everything works as advertised. I read dozens of reports from Taurus PT 1911 owners before I bought the gun, and they all praised it to the heavens. Then, after I knew better, I found out there’s a smaller group that had the same problems as I had. But their voice has been muffled. Obviously, they’re not going to find a friend in the gun press.

The other thing to know is that at its heart, the PT 1911 really is a good gun. In fact, it’s just as good as they advertise. The problem seems to be one of spotty QC at the factory. I guess they reason that their warranty can fix any problems, but I didn’t take that approach. I didn’t, because I wanted to know more about the gun itself, and immersing myself in fixing the problem was a better teacher. That’s a decision each person must make for himself.

Methuselah – Part 3: The end is in sight! Rebuilding a Markham BB gun

by B.B. Pelletier

Before we begin, I will be out of town today and tomorrow, so I’m asking you veterans to watch the comments for me. I’ll start answering when I return this weekend.

Guest blogger
Vince rebuilt a Markham gun for Wayne, another blog reader, and here’s the third part of that project. If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them) and they must use proper English. We will edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

by Vince

Part 1
Part 2

The Markham Wayne sent me (Dee-Dee) had one major cosmetic and functional flaw that would be a bit difficult to take care of–a busted rear sight. What’s so hard about that? As I alluded to earlier, the Markham–despite it’s genesis in the long ago (or perhaps because of it)–wasn’t exactly a model of exotic construction or advanced engineering. It was made to be cheap, and part of the cheapness extended to the rear sight. By this time, it was out of sight–literally broken off, and I could only guess what it looked like. The only clue was a small square hole in the top of the receiver, where it looks like a tab was punched out. More than likely that tab had been bent upward and formed into a crude, non-adjustable sight.


The missing rear sight left this hole.

I needed to do SOMETHING to aim with, at least temporarily, so I could evaluate how the gun was shooting as I worked on the innards and on the barrel. I cut a 1/4″ strip of .020 sheet steel, formed it into an “L” and stuck it in through the hole. When the rear spring retainer was slid into place, it held nice and tight.


I used a temporary rear sight while working on the powerplant.

I used a cutoff disk on a Dremel to make the notch, and–as I suspected–the fact that it was so close to the shooter’s eye made the tiny notch look huge.

After I got the gun working well enough and adapted the Daisy 499 shot tube, I knew I needed to put something better on there. Since Wayne is old enough to be, uh, my older brother, I figured that his eyes weren’t much better than mine for seeing things close up. That meant that I ought to put the sight a couple inches further forward than the original. And since the gun now has more accuracy than an ordinary BB gun, I wanted to make something adjustable. Lastly, of course, it could not involve any kind of significant modification to the gun itself.

I sort of formed in my mind a picture of what I wanted to make and just started working off my mental drawing. I was going to need some thin steel stock, preferably some sort of spring steel. It didn’t have to be a high grade by any stretch, but something that could flex a bit without taking a set.

I found my answer in a cheap dollar-store Chinese-made putty knife. I forgot to snap a picture of what it looked like before it sacrificed itself, but this is the piece of metal I cut out of the blade.


Raw material is cut from putty knife.

I heated one end of the metal strip so I could bend it up to form the sight leaf, and I drilled a small hole about 1/2″ back from it for the elevation adjuster.


Raw material has been shaped and drilled.

I was concerned about the bend. Apparently, the metal wasn’t quite hot enough when I bent it, and it started to crack. Because of this, I flowed some brazing material into the corner to strengthen it.

In order to make a threaded hole for the adjusting screw, I placed a 10-32 nut over the hole I just drilled, held it in place with a machine screw and soldered it to the blade. I had to grind the plating off the sides of the nut before the solder would stick to it.


Bend was brazed for strength, and nut was soldered in place. Screw is just to hold nut during soldering.

Since the other end of the sight is going to anchor through the existing sight hole, it has to get narrowed to a bit under a 1/4″, and I started to smooth out the rest of the rough-cut edges. The narrow tongue on the end was bent over after applying PLENTY of heat and eventually got hammered flat.


Sight base is sized to pass through square hole.


Bend was made with plenty of heat to avoid more cracking.


Bend is hammered flat.

Since the adjuster screw is going to bear against the top of the tube it has to be made out of nylon so it doesn’t damage the metal or the finish. I cut a section from a 10-32 nylon machine screw and cut a slot at one end.


Nylon screw is made into adjustment screw.

There isn’t a lot of room to play with–the front sight is very low. With the higher velocity from the Daisy shot tube, it’s going to be easy to have the gun shoot too high. I have to make the rear sight pretty low, and that’s why there’s no head on the adjuster screw. It would have blocked the low notch. I put the tongue into the rear sight cutout and tapped it forward, which pretty much completes the basic installation. I cleaned it up, painted it and remounted it on the gun.


Rear sight base slipped into square hole and tapped forward to tighten.


Sight is removed and painted black.


New rear sight is mounted on the gun.

Note that I had put a bit of a curve into the metal–this was to make sure that the sight blade went all the way down when the adjuster was screwed out all the way.

I took it out for some 5-yard shootin’ and found that the rear leaf is still too high. It needs about another 1/8″ taken off the height, which requires the adjuster to be shortened as well. That means the sight has only about .25″ of vertical travel, which translates into a POI shift of about 3″ at 15 feet. According to my rough calculations, this should give Wayne enough elevation adjustment to keep him on target out to about 15 yards or so, which is well past normal BB-gunning distance.

Windage adjustment is a lot simpler. The sight can be bent slightly to the left or right. While crude, this shouldn’t be an issue simply because windage isn’t something that should need constant readjustment. There isn’t as great a variety of BBs available as pellets, and I don’t think there’s going to be much difference in POI between Crosman, Daisy or Avanti BBs–especially in the horizontal plane. Once the sight is positioned properly, the only thing that needs changing is the elevation.

And how does it work? Well, the sight is still blurry to my eyes–but it’s a blurry notch, not a blurry blur. It’s a lot easier to see, but the same doesn’t hold true for the very thin front blade. Frankly, the gun shoots about the same for me as it did before (which is still pretty good). From the standpoint of workmanship, I really wish it had come out better than it did, but Wayne will have to be the final judge of that.

This ends my association with Dee-Dee. By the time you read this, she’s gone back to her owner, where she’ll probably get used from time to time. Working on something that was old enough to have been bought by my great-grandfather for my grandfather got me thinking about a couple of things.

For one, the point comes to mind is that things–even simple things–that are the creative products of the human mind will in some small way bear the faint imprint of those who designed and built them. I guess that’s what makes archeology so interesting. If the things happen to be machines that were intended to do something, then just sitting on display probably wasn’t what they were intended to do. I’m an engineer by trade, and I’ve been a mechanic. If something I’ve designed and/or built is still being used–even sporadically–way longer than I ever intended, well that just sort of tickles me. While a number of collectors might shudder at the thought of a relic like Dee-Dee actually being used, I can’t help but think that doing so serves as a better tribute to those responsible for its existence. Even if it gets shot only once in a while, well, there just seems something inherently right about that.

And that leads to the second point. The world we live in, with all its travails, is indeed a playground of sorts–with tons of stuff to discover and zillions of things to make. Fun and games are certainly part of the intended order of existence, and something like this lets us play, in a sense, with those who went before. Just as one boy might offer to let another try out his slingshot, I can almost imagine the first kid to own this thing reaching across the chasm of 100 years, holding the Markham out to us and saying “Here! You wanna try it?” And in another sense, a toy BB gun is more right than any number of more important and more serious contrivances, for it involves not only thought and effort and technology, but it also involves simple, unadulterated fun. Children understand the importance of this, but the wizened old adults sometimes forget.

I hope Wayne has fun with Dee-Dee. That’s what she was meant for, and having good fun is truly a wonderful thing.

Scopes for field target – Part 3

by B. B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

In this report, I’ll tell you about shooting field target using the holdover method and the scopes that go with that. I held over for the first three seasons I shot field target. The first season consisted of a couple demonstration matches to shake out the bugs in our club. We had to do everything for the first time, and we were using 20 borrowed targets that were somewhat obsolete by the time we got them. There were all sorts of operational issues.

It all started at the beginning
I had reluctantly agreed to be the match director because, of the four men who founded the Damascus Ikes Field Target Association (DIFTA) club, I was the only one who had competed in field target matches before. Truth be told, the matches I had competed in would be called Hunter Class today because nobody sat to shoot. One of that club’s founders had a bad back, and they just ran the thing as a stand-up competition. I tried to sit to shoot just once, but gave up after all the criticism and catcalls. I missed the shot, too!

So, for the first match at DIFTA I was sitting in the American Airgun Field Target Association (AAFTA) approved position for the first time. I had a rulebook in my pocket and dreaded the moment that some lawyer would pop out of the crowd to challenge a ruling I might have to make, but it never happened. I didn’t have to make any rulings for several matches, by which time I had sort of figured things out. Sort of.

And I was a holdeover piggie! That’s really not a field target term–I just made it up in the last report. But it certainly illustrates the level of informality that accompanies those who hold over instead of adjusting the reticle for every shot. I’ve already addressed what it takes to adjust for every shot. Now let me tell you what you have to do to hold over.

What does holdover mean?
If you decide not to adjust the scope for every shot, the other alternative is to aim in different places to compensate for the trajectory of the pellet. A gun that hits the point of aim at 20 yards will not also hit there at 40 yards. You’ll need to aim differently to compensate for where the pellet will strike the target. This is called “holdover,” though sometimes you’re holding under, instead. It all depends on how you sight-in your scope. I’ll explain as I go, so don’t hurt your head if this isn’t clear yet.

My first FT gun was simple
Being match director, I wanted to shoot a gun that was lightweight and easy to use, because I was running all over the course keeping the match going. Targets were fouling and questions needed answering and I didn’t want to also have some technical challenge to deal with when I sat down to shoot. So I put a Bushnell 6-18x Trophy scope on top of an FWB 124 and I was set. I sighted-in the gun for the first point of intersection at 20 yards, which meant that it was more or less on target out to 30 yards and shooting low at all other ranges. With the gun shooting 860 f.p.s., a 20-yard zero gives the largest flat spot that’s possible in the trajectory.

I could have done something radical–like sighting-in for 15 yards. Had I done that, the gun would have shot low some of the time and high some of the time. That would have been a rifle that had to be held UNDER, as well as over. But I didn’t do that, because it’s too confusing.

From 10 yards to 19 yards, my rifle shot low, but got progressively higher as it approached 20 yards. Then, between 20 and 30 yards, it was hitting where the crosshairs were, more or less. The truth was actually a little different than that, but let me address that in a moment.

Beyond 30 yards, the pellet began to hit lower than the aimpoint, again. So for all shots closer than 20 yards or farther than 30 yards, I was hitting low. I had to hold the intersection of crosshairs above the place I wanted the pellet to go. I had to hold over. Holdover!

Yes, but HOW MUCH over?
I sighted-in my rifle on the sight-in range on a quiet day. The distances to targets on that range were already marked off from the firing line. I first marked the actual parallax (focus) ranges on white tape I put around the objective bell of the scope. And then I learned how much I had to hold the crosshairs over those targets at the distances mentioned above. At 10 yards, for instance, the pellet was hitting a full inch below the crosshair intersection, while at 19 yards it was only hitting about one pellet-diameter below the intersection. At 40 yards it was hitting an inch below the crosshairs again, but I discovered a funny thing.

One inch at 10 yards looks a lot different than one inch at 40 yards! Or, put another way, one inch at 40 yards is very small, while one inch at 10 yards is huge–through an 18x scope.

I guess so
Oh-my-gosh! As distance increases, the images in the telescope get smaller, so the aimpoints are not regularly spaced inside the scope! You have to, gulp, GUESS!

Call it estimation if you want to sound learned, or interpolation if you think you’re a scientist, it’s still a SWAG [Scientific Wildly Assumed Guess]. Before your first 60 shots are downrange, you’ve learned that holding over is an imprecise practice at the very best. Some shooters do better with it than others. I was eventually able to get up to the 2/3 level, where I remained with a lot of other holdover piggies. Two-thirds means that in a 60-shot match, I’ll shoot a 40. On a great day–it’ll be a 44; on a lousy day–a 35, but that’s where I’ll stay.

When I was holding over, you could have told me the exact range to each target in millimeters and stopped all wind for every shot–it wouldn’t have made any difference. But I had lots of fun and met some nice people.

In my scope, there’s a duplex reticle. Four fat lines become skinny in the center of the scope. By using the places where they go from fat to skinny as aimpoints, I picked up four more aimpoints. If I had a scope with a mil dot reticle I could have used those dots and even the spaces in between them as additional aim points. But you know what–it doesn’t make much difference. Because one inch at 47 yards looks different than one inch at 13 yards. And your pellet will drop about an inch between 47 and 51 yards (max distance is now 55 yards, remember?).


The duplex reticle has 5 aimpoints–the center intersection and the 4 places where the reticle wire thins.

But that’s not all. The freakin’ pellet also doesn’t stay on the vertical crosshair as it goes away from the gun! From 10 yards to 20, it’s on the right side of vertical; from 30 yards to 55, it’s on the left. I need to aim to one side or the other, depending on the range. Oh, it isn’t that much, but you don’t have to be off by much to hit the side of a 3/8″ kill zone at 12 yards. And you remember what touching the side of the kill zone can do.

So, I did what every other holdover piggie does. Somewhere on the butt of their rifle will be a white card with lots of numbers. Or they will have the card in their pocket. Or it’s on a chain around their neck. (That’s how you spot them at a match.) It has notes like this:

40 yards – one inch over and half a reticle-width to the left.
45 yards – 1.5 inches over and one reticle-width to the left.
50 yards – 2.5 inches over and two reticle lines to the left.

The language may differ on the notes. They may talk in terms of dots instead of inches or lines, but it all means the same thing. This guy isn’t going to win the match.

Want to know why? Where on those notes above do you see 47 yards? It isn’t there. Why?

Because a 6-18x scope stops working for rangefinding at about 30 yards. So somebody using a scope like that as a rangefinder can’t tell how far the target is anyway, so what use does he have for precise aiming references?

It’s all a SWAG, and it doesn’t take 30 shots before it sinks in.

“Why, B.B., it almost sounds like you’re saying that holding over isn’t a good way to shoot a field target match.”

Oh, it does, does it? Well, let me make it clear.

HOLDING OVER ISN’T A GOOD WAY TO SHOOT A FIELD TARGET MATCH–unless you don’t care about winning.

It was a GREAT way for me to shoot matches for over two years, because I didn’t go to win. I went to shoot. To experience the fun of the course. And my job was to make sure the matches were fun and fair for everybody else.

In year three, I started shooting a PCP, and I mounted a 8-40×56 scope that was optically centered and ranged for every yard from beginning to end. My scores jumped up to 46-49, with 51 being a really good day. A lousy day would be a 44.

Did I have more fun? No. But I did have different experiences.

So, how do I move from 48 to 60 points? I drop 100 lbs., learn to gauge wind, sort all match pellets (though I was doing that at the end), buy a sitting harness and learn to use it and pay more than $300 for a scope. Oh, and PRACTICE!

What I DON’T have to do is buy a more expensive rifle, buy a carbon fiber air tank or spend $500 for a custom scope mount (yes, I really saw that). Money doesn’t win field target matches, despite what the losers say. What wins is determination. You have to really want it.

Holding over is a good way to get into field target on a budget. And whenever someone asks me this question, I know that’s what he’s going to do: “B.B., what scope costing under $150 do you recommend for field target?” I will make a recommendation to that guy. And he will be able to shoot field target–by holding over.

Just as long as you all understand that this guy is just like me–out for a good time and no hopes of winning. Or maybe a hope–just not much of a chance. He might as well ask, “What American pickup truck can I buy for under $20,000 that I can also use as a dragster?”

Holding over will get you in the game, but adjusting for every shot is what it takes to win.

Testing the Crosman 2200 – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1


So many of you commented on how attractive my 2200 is that I thought I would show you this larger photo. Isn’t she a beauty?

Today, we’ll learn what Rick Willnecker has been able to do to my Crosman 2200 Magnum. You’ll remember that he rebuilt the powerplant after I had a problem with a hardened pump seal.

I’ll also draw upon the numbers reported by Joe G. from Jersey. He has a brand new 2200 Magnum that he bought in 2004, so his velocities are right for the gun when new.

First, I pumped my rebuilt rifle 8 times and fired several .22-caliber Crosman Premiers to see how it was shooting. The results of that exercise were very enlightening.

Shot Velocity
1       660
2       578
3       562
4       548
5       538
6       527
7       527
8       529
9       531
10     538
11      548
12      545
13      549
14      559
15      559
16      552

Yes, those are the velocities as I recorded them from the newly rebuilt rifle. All were from 8 pump strokes. Make what you want of the data, but never think for a moment that an airgun is straightforward!

Now for velocities on 10 pump strokes.

Crosman Premiers

Before rebuild:
440 f.p.s.

After rebuild:
591

I also tested the rifle with RWS Meisterkugeln before rebuilding. They’re a little lighter than Premiers, so they go a trifle faster.

RWS Meisterkugeln

Before rebuild:
500 f.p.s.

After rebuild:
600 f.p.s.

By comparison, Joe’s new 2200 gets 590 f.p.s. with .22 Premiers on 10 pumps. So, our two rifles preform remarkably alike. Or at least I thought they did at this point in my test.

I must also comment that the first few shots on 10 pumps were not that fast. Shot one with Premiers was only 581 f.p.s. Shot two went 584. After that, no shot was below 587 f.p.s. This multi-pump needs a little warm-up. The string I used for the average went from 587 to 597.

Pump efficiency
I did a test of the velocity with increasing pump strokes. I started at two strokes to avoid sticking a pellet in the barrel. This test was done with Crosman Premiers.
Pumps Velocity
2 354
3 421
4 478
5 524
6 558
7 577
8 608
9 630
10 613

Strange numbers, in light of the average velocity with 10 pumps posted above. I obtained the average of a second string with 10 pump strokes. I’m showing you all the numbers in the string so you can marvel with me.

606
597
638
603
606
601
608
605
605
602

The average of that string is 607.1 f.p.s. Something is happening to the gun. Either it’s warming up with all the shooting (very possible) or it’s breaking in (also possible). Here’s what I’ll do. After the accuracy test, I’ll test another string of 10 on 10 pumps. The gun will be more broken-in by that time, so the average velocity shouldn’t be as prone to vary as it is now. We’ll see.

Complaint department
The two-stage, non-adjustable trigger on this rifle is very stiff–breaking at between 8.25 and 8.5 lbs. Loading is also difficult, as the loading port isn’t directly accessible. The pellet has to roll down a ramp and invariably gets turned around backward unless you load it that way. Then it remains backwards. It requires a learned technique to get it right. Finally, the stock is plastic and hollow. If it were foam-filled, it wouldn’t be so objectionable, but as is, it seems cheap and toy-like.


The pellet loading port is deep and inaccessible to the fingers. You must learn to squirt a pellet into the trough and half the time it ends up backwards.

The first version of the 2200 Magnum was supposed to be hotter than those that followed. That’s what the seller told me when I bought the gun. Back then (2006), the gun wasn’t working right so there was no way to tell if that was correct, but perhaps it is. We’ll see!

Career Infinity by Shin Sung – Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This is our last look at the Career Infinity. You may recall that the inlet valve seal had failed, and I replaced it in one of the reports. Then the replacement valve failed and I replaced it with a special Teflon inlet valve made by Boris at Pyramyd Air. I said in part three that I would let you know how well the new seal is holding.


Boris made the Teflon inlet valve seal on the left to replace the three-part inlet seal assembly that came with the Infinity. Less mass may keep the seal from deforming too much.

Well, it has held air for two months now, plus the gun has been refilled a number of times. I’m ready to pronounce the gun fixed. Boris’ design works fine. On to the accuracy test.

I shot the rifle for accuracy last Friday in winds that varied from 5 to 20 mph. The wind speed increased as the shooting progressed, and even a Condor I also tested was hard-pressed to shoot under one inch at 30 yards. The Infinity did much better than that, as you’ll see.

Air Arms domes
Air Arms domes that Pyramyd Air used to carry are made by JSB, so they should be pretty much the same thing, but they’re not. They vary in small ways, which makes their performance vary, as well. Usually, I get better performance from a JSB, but with the Infinity, that wasn’t true. The Air Arms dome that I used to get the rifle sighted-in proved to be the most accurate lightweight pellet tested.


Five shots from the Infinity at 35 yards with Air Arms domed pellets landed in this group that measures 0.651″ c-t-c. Notice that the holes are slightly elongated, indicating a slight instability.

Other groups with the same pellet were similar, but not quite as tight. At this point, I noticed a 5″ water hose laying just beyond where I was shooting, so I repositioned the target box so the pellets would be stopped by a tree. No sense in ruining an expensive item like that! The new location gave me only 30 yards distance.

JSB Exact domes
Next, I tried JSB Exact domes, but the results weren’t worth showing. The groups were all an inch or larger, and with the Air Arms groups in the bag I didn’t need them.

I hadn’t brought Beeman Kodiaks along this time, but they would be worth a try. However, I believe I found the best pellet in the 28.4-grain Eun Jin.


This group of five Eun Jins at 30 yards demonstrates the superiority of this pellet. It measures 0.547″ c-t-c. And this is only a representative group!


This was the best group of five Eun Jins at 30 yards. It measures 0.443″ c-t-c. I took the time to zero the scope for this, because the Eun Jin is clearly the pellet to use in this rifle.

Remember–I was shooting in a strong wind. The rifle was set to the lowest power setting, because the Eun Jins responded so well. I shot groups at higher power, but they produced the same results at the same aimpoint at 30 yards. So, I didn’t see any value in shooting at that setting. On the lowest setting the velocity was somewhere in the low- to mid-700s, giving me a power of about 32.5 foot-pounds. I can get about 30 shots at that power setting if I work the power wheel.

Adjusting the power wheel to keep velocity consistant
PAY ATTENTION, because I’m about to explain how adjusting the power wheel keeps you on the power curve. As I passed shot No. 10, I adjusted the power wheel up one notch to keep the velocity the same. After that, I adjusted up one notch with every new cylinder of six. I didn’t bother chronographing each shot, but the rifle continued to shoot to the same point of aim at 30 yards, which is a good indication it’s shooting the same. That is what the Koreans told Rocket Jane Hansen to do, and it’s how to use the power wheel to get a large number of shots at a similar velocity.

Obviously, this cannot be done when shooting at the highest setting, because there is no place to go. You are already at the highest power. But If you back off the power, as I did, you can keep bumping it up and extend the number of shots AT THAT POWER LEVEL.

This is self-evident to anyone who shoots one of these Korean rifles. I did it with my Career 707, without being shown, back in the mid-’90s. You are simply allowing slightly more air to flow as you adjust up. After shooting the first 100 shots, it would be remarkable if this DIDN’T occur to you!

This is the end of this report. My take on the Infinity is that it’s a powerful, accurate smallbore air rifle. It likes the Eun Jin pellet so well that it’s a waste of time shooting anything else. Stock up on Eun Jin domes and don’t waste your time with anything else.

The inlet valve is a potential weak spot, but it’s fixable. Boris at Pyramyd Air knows what to do to fix the valve and his fix works. If you want a powerful hunting rifle, the Career Infinity is a good value at a reasonable price.

Crosman M1 Carbine – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

There were almost 100 comments to the first part of this report within the first week. Not bad for a report done on a Tuesday. When there are that many comments, I know I’ve struck a chord.

Today, in the velocity report, I’ll show you a few more things about this amazing BB gun. I’ve owned the model in this report for about seven years, but I had never chronographed it before. So, there was a big surprise waiting for me that I’ll share with you in a moment.

First, let’s talk about how this gun cocks. Because the cocking puts wear on the finish of the barrel, many guns you might be tempted to call excellent are really not higher than very good. To cock the gun, you pull or push the barrel straight back into the receiver. I mentioned in Part 1 that the cocking exposes the shooter to the muzzle, so care must be taken to ensure safety. And this is a very powerful BB gun, so it isn’t easy even for an adult to cock. It’s definitely not for kids.

I mention the cocking because of some talk we had regarding the condition of these guns. The M1 Carbine is a gun that degrades fast because of how it’s cocked. Not only does it get the scratches, but the acid from your hands removes the bluing from the forward part of the barrel when grabbing it for cocking.


The barrel is forward.


The barrel is cocked. You pull it forward before taking the shot.


The most common wear on an M1 Carbine happens where the barrel scrapes against the stock during cocking. Most guns have these lines and they reduce the condition from excellent to very good. A Carbine that doesn’t have them is rare.

Years ago, when I first saw this gun, I assumed it had to be a CO2 gun because it wasn’t obvious how it worked. So, I passed up the first one at $15. It was another decade before I discovered the error of my assumption.

Loading and oiling
The M1 Carbine is a 22-shot repeater. The box that looks like a magazine is just a BB reservoir–the actual BBs you are about to shoot go in a hole on top of the upper handguard. A short pull of the operating handle opens the BB loading hole and the oil hole located to the rear of it. The BBs are fed by gravity one at a time into the shot seat for firing when the barrel is pulled back. You naturally elevate the barrel to cock the gun, so the BBs always feed smoothly.


Looking down at the top of the gun, the larger hole at the right is were the BBs are loaded. The smaller hole in the center is for oil. However, the cocking handle is forward and both holes are closed.


The cocking handle has been pulled back, opening both holes. This cocking handle has nothing to do with cocking this gun, but it mimics the operating handle on the M1 Carbine firearm.


The fake magazine is actually a BB reservoir. Once out of the gun, the plastic cover slides back and BBs can be dumped out.

The firing mechanism in this gun is quite different from a traditional BB gun mechanism. It uses a poppet valve that accumulates air pressure and then suddenly pops open to force air behind the BB. It works effectively enough that the Crosman V350 got its name from the expected velocity. And, until I fired this M1, that was the highest velocity I’d seen from these guns. But this one is hotter!

I oiled the mechanism with several drops of Crosman Pellgunoil, then shot the gun to work in the oil. Once the velocity settled down, I recorded the velocities of three different brands of BBs.

Daisy Premium Grade BBs
Daisy Premium Grade BBs were fastest, averaging 388 f.p.s. The spread was from 378 f.p.s. to 394 f.p.s. That’s faster than any steel BB long gun I’ve ever tested. A couple CO2 pistols were faster, but for a regular spring-powered mechanism, that’s haulin’.

Crosman Copperheads
Crosman Copperheads were slower and had a greater spread. Since they weigh the same, that means they don’t fit the bore of this gun as well as the Daisys. They averaged 374 f.p.s., with a spread from 355 f.p.s. to 378 f.p.s. But they’re still faster than any steel BB gun tested to date.

Avanti Precision Ground Shot
As they have in many other BB gun tests, Daisy’s Avanti Precision Ground Shot turned in the most consistent velocity. It wasn’t quite the fastest, at an average of 385 f.p.s., but the spread was only from 382 f.p.s. to 391 f.p.s. That bodes well for the accuracy test.

The barrel of this gun moves several degrees when it’s twisted. Since the front sight is attached to the barrel, that’s a potential cause for inaccuracy. I’ll adopt a procedure of rotating the barrel in the same direction until it stops before every shot to cancel this effect.

This is getting interesting. I can’t wait to see how this baby shoots!

Methuselah – Part 2 Rebuilding a Markham BB gun

by B.B. Pelletier

Guest blogger
Vince is rebuilding a Markham BB gun for Wacky Wayne, and here’s the second part of that project. If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them) and they must use proper English. We will edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Today we’ll see Part 2 of Vince’s project to rebuilt Wayne’s Markham model D BB gun.

Methuselah – Part 2

by Vince

Part 1

First of all, before I even get started, let me make one point perfectly clear–yes, I’m probably the first one inside this BB gun in the past 100 years, but it is most certainly not a violation of Dee-Dee’s honor by any means! I’m inside the same way a surgeon is inside. I’ve got a job to do. I can make it better, faster, more accurate. I can give Wayne something that almost certainly no one else in the world has.

And so I continue resolutely onward. In Part 1, I covered the basics–getting Dee Dee operational again. And I largely succeeded; the gun was now quite capable of holding its own against any number of cheap BB guns at standard BB gun ranges. I couldn’t help but wonder about something when I took a good look at the removable shot tube.


Obviously this is not a horribly complicated part, especially since it’s all soldered together (like the rest of the gun). A tube is a tube, right? And since THIS tube is a bit oversized for modern steel BBs, it should be beneficial to replace it with ANOTHER tube–one sized for the ammo we use today.

So $12 + shipping later, a shot tube for a Daisy 499 Avanti Champion graces my threshold. I lay them side-by-side and start trying to figure out how I’m gonna make this work (not IF, mind you, but HOW).


As you can see, the Daisy tube is a fair bit longer. Or is it? Taking them apart tells a different story.


So I’m gonna have to make it longer as well as adding all the do-dads to it. I’m starting to get a fair idea how I want to proceed, so I start at the easy (breech) end first.

As you can see in the previous picture, there’s a disk soldered to the shot tube about 1/2″ from the breech end. All this does is help center the tube so it’s easier to install. Daisy thoughtfully threaded a portion of the 499 tube in the same general area. I spin a 5/16″ NF nut on it and–voila!–I’ve got a centering guide.


Centering guide is uncomplicated technology–just a nut.

Notice that the end of the Daisy barrel is turned down to a smaller diameter. The overall OD of the new shot tube is 5/16″–but the breech is necked down to 1/4″, the same as the Markham tube. Absolutely perfect for fitting into the compression tube plug. I’m beginning to wonder if Daisy was trying to make things easy for me.

Now that the rear of the shot tube was taken care of, I started working on the front. I rummaged around in some of my many junk bins and found an old 3/8″ OD steel fuel/brake lining tube that was almost 4″ long, plus a washer that fits over it.


Stuff I found in my junk bins will find their way into the Markham.


The whole thing is held together with a flaring tool to keep it reasonably square. Then, I brazed it back together–not pretty but I’m not done with it.

Yes, the brazed pieces are ugly, but that’s why God invented bench grinders. For the rest of this write-up, we’ll call this the outer tube. I brazed it, by the way, for a very simple reason: I knew I was going to have to do other hot stuff to this assembly. If I’d soldered it at this point, it probably would have come apart in one of the following steps.

If you look at one of the pictures of the original Markham tube you’ll see a tab mounted about 3/4″ back from the muzzle. This locking tab secures the shot tube in the gun. You insert the tube, rotate it clockwise and this tab engages a locking lug. I figure that the easiest way of mimicking this is with a roll pin pressed into the outer tube.


Roll pin makes a handy substitute for the locking tab found on the original gun.

I had inserted a 5/16″ drill bit into the outer tube before pressing in the roll pin to make sure the pin didn’t protrude inside. Obviously there’s not much meat in the thin-walled outer tube to grab the pin, so I brazed it in place.


More brazing. This time it was the roll pin. Read on to see why there’s a hole. Yeah, ugly. It’ll get better.

More ugliness, but now it’s real secure. Two notes here, by the way. First, see the extra hole? That was a boo-boo. I drilled it a little too close to the muzzle. Second, this is not the first roll pin! I originally tried brazing it with my oxy-acetylene torch, and the lil’ pin sticking up soaked up the heat so fast it melted away. This time I used a propane swirl torch (not your $10 Bernz-O-Matic) that does light-duty brazing without getting hot enough to actually melt the steel.

Last thing–there’s a collar that fits under the muzzle washer on the Markham shot tube and centers it on the barrel shroud. Serendipitously the ID of the shroud turns out to be 5/8″ and the OD of standard 1/2″ copper water pipe is (drum roll, please) 5/8″! Perfect fit, so I chopped off a 1/4″ piece of copper pipe and soldered it to the underside of the washer


The collar has now been fitted underneath the washer.


The last major step was sliding the Daisy shot tube into the outer tube and soldering them together, just like a sweat fitting.


I smeared some Vibra-Tite VC3 on the breech threads.


This is how it looked after I ground it down a bit, added some grooves and painted the muzzle end.

Before putting the guide nut on, I ground down and painted the muzzle end of the new tube assembly. I also cut little grooves around the circumference of the muzzle cap so Wayne can still grip it after chowing down on those greasy fries. The rest of the new tube assembly requires a bit of filing and fitting here and there, but after about 15 years of work it’s finally finished.

And no, I didn’t pretty-up the part that goes inside the gun. That’s not gonna help the gun shoot one iota better. That brings up the really big question: Does it shoot one iota better?

Well, yes, it does. Several iotas, in fact.

First iota is found at the chrony, where the better-fitting barrel means less air leakage around the BB and an additional 50 fps. So, Dee-Dee is now in the 220s. Funny thing about loading it, though–the BB takes a LOT longer to roll down the barrel and into the cone that’s supposed to hold it, and sometimes it doesn’t even jam itself in there hard enough to hold properly. The fix is simple: follow BB’s 499 loading procedure. Load the gun before cocking, and the cocking stroke helps suck the BB down the barrel and lodges it into the holding cone. That seems to do it.

No complaints about the chrony results, but the BIG payoff is on the target paper. With standard Daisy BBs (and a temporary, makeshift rear sight) the gun pulled off a couple 5/8″ groups at 15′. Not quite as good as BB did when he tested the 499, but not bad at all, in my opinion. Besides, the rear sight on it at this time is pretty pathetic–blurry, blurry and really blurry. I gotta do something about that.

A guess this is gonna turn into a three-parter after all.

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