Romanian spring rifle – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Before we start, there’s a new video article posted. It’s the footage I shot at the 2009 Little Rock Airgun Expo.

Also, there’s a new page for Pyramyd Air’s upcoming moving sale. Click on the lower left corner for a link to a map and the lower right corner for a link to local motels.

We have Vince to thank for today’s blog, because he tuned the gun I’m about to show you. Before I get to that, however, some history on the gun and how I came to have it. This is a cheaply made breakbarrel spring rifle from the post-war era. It has the name IMC Pioneer on it, which led me to think it was Chinese at first, but it’s actually Romanian. This one bears the date 1979.


Romanian spring rifle is youth-sized and easy to cock.

In all ways, this is a small air rifle. It’s 37.25 inches long with a pull of about 13.25 inches. The barrel is 15.25 inches, though the last four-tenths is just a muzzlebrake. The gun weighs 4.25 lbs., and the cocking effort is just 9 lbs.–making it the lightest cocking effort I’ve ever measured. Without a doubt, this is a youth air rifle.

Yet, it has a rifled barrel. And sling swivels. And a manual safety. And sights adjustable for elevation. These are all things I wouldn’t expect to find on a kid’s gun.


The safety is manual and rotates to apply.

The breech detent is a ball bearing, and the breech seal is a standard o-ring. At least, that’s what it is today. Who knows what left the factory?


Rear sight is simple but easy to adjust. Windage can also be adjusted by drifting the sight in its base.

I acquired two guns from a gun store that had no idea what they were. Since then, I’ve seen 8-10 more at Military Gun Supply in Ft. Worth. All of those had their front sight posts clipped off, so it doesn’t appear to be an accident. One of the two I acquired also had the front post clipped off.


Front sigtht is a simple post. On most of the examples I’ve seen, the post has been cut off.

I thought about fixing one of these up here on the blog until I realized the job was probably beyond me. So, I asked Vince if he would take a look at them. He consented, and what I will now evaluate is the gun he sent back to me.

Both rifles were shooting high, and Vince concluded the breech lockup was causing the problem. He worked on this one to correct the problem, and I’ll find out where the rifle shoots when I test it for accuracy in the next report.

Obviously, this isn’t a powerful air rifle. Before Vince looked at it, it buzzed a bit when fired. He told me the piston seal is a soft rubbery material instead of the leather I assumed would be there. He had already worked on a Pioneer for Wayne, so he knew something about them, but naturally mine gave him new problems to tackle. So, let’s see what he was able to do with it.

Gamo Match
The rifle averaged 418 f.p.s. with Gamo Match pellets. The range was from 401 to 430. I suspect the lube job hasn’t fully broken in yet, and this is much faster than I expected.

RWS Basic
With RWS Basics the average was 425 f.p.s. and the spread was from 416 to 432. That’s a tighter spread and still quite a bit faster than I would have thought.

Crosman Silver Eagle hollowpoints
With 4.8-grain Crosman Silver Eagle hollowpoints, which are no longer made, the rifle averaged 520 f.p.s. The range was from 486 to 545.

These rifles are showing up everywhere in the firearm channels. I see them offered for $30 in Shotgun News, and that’s the same price I see in the gun stores. I paid $20 each for my two because they just wanted to get rid of them.

By contrast, the Chinese Pioneers are worth about $15-25. They’re also crude breakbarrels, but larger and more powerful than this one.

Next time, I’ll shoot for accuracy. There’s no easy way to mount a scope, so this one will be open sights all the way! Thanks to Vince, we have an unusual air rifle to evaluate.

51 Responses to “Romanian spring rifle – Part 1”

  • Vince Says:

    BB, the one you are testing is actually a hybrid of the two you sent me. The barrel that was original to this action shot very low, several inches at 10 yards after I addressed the ‘barrel lift’ problem and reinstalled a proper front sight post. When I tried the barrel from the other gun it shot fine, so I left it on there.

    I couldn’t see any reason for the first barrel shooting so low (the velocity was good), but I’m wondering if that’s a common problem to these. Perhaps that’s why the front sights are clipped – that would force the shooter to hold the gun high when using the iron sights and bring the POI more in line with the POA. Of course that would also make it more difficult to use the iron sights at all.

    The high velocity on these guns surprised me as well, and frankly they were both doing over 400fps when I got them.

    One last thing… I believe you misspelled the brand name of the gun. I believe you’ll find “Pionier” inscribed on the compression tube.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Vince,

    You’re right about the spelling of the name. It was “corrected” in the editing by me.

    B.B.

  • JP Says:

    BB, I have…confusion. I’ve adjusted my range and sights out to 27 yards from 12, and using a pellet known for inaccuracy in my rifle at 12, I’m hitting a pop-can dead center at 27. With Iron Sights. I shouldn’t complain, but has this ever happened to you? JP

  • Ishaq Says:

    BB, a UTG scope mount adaptor base for the Diana 48,52 and 460 magnum. Is it the same one I need for my P34? Or do I need a different model?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    JP,

    No mention of the velocity. Can’t comment.

    But I will say this. If it works, just do it. No, it isn’t supposed to work like that, and with a certain rifle and scope I can prove it, but I have no idea of what you are shooting. Just keep right on doing what you are doing.

    B.B.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Ishaq,

    This is not rocket science. When I developed those bases, I had a 34 with a lot of barrel droop. So the mount I developed for Diana breakbarrels has about 23 inches of droop at 20 yards. Leapers says 30 yards because they don’t quite understand the two points of pellet intersection on the ballistic curve.

    For the 460 I developed a base with about 17 inches of droop. Usually fixed-barrel Dianas droop less than breakbarrels.

    But all these two bases do is adjust the RANGE of where your scope is looking. And 17 inches is enough for some breakbarrels, In fact, there have been a FEW 34s that have surfaced with almost NO droop. So Leapers now makes a base with nbo droop at all.

    The 460 base you ask about will probably work on your rifle, but the only way to know is to try it.

    And all you have to do is eliminate the droop. That may leave you with very little down adjustment left on your scope, but you will NEVER need it. On the other hand, you can ALWAYS use more UP. So even if the base gives you no more down when you are on at 20 yards, that’s pretty good.

    B.B.

  • JP Says:

    As I said, I shouldn’t complain. After reading your blog for years, I guess I should know when to take “yes” for an answer. Still, it’s interesting. Maybe I’ll investigate (part of the reason I choose Air over powder I guess). JP

  • Casey in SD Says:

    B.B. -

    Off topic but not sure how else to contact you. You have mentioned the Sheridan Super Grade A in the past and I stumbled upon one! Any clue what these are going for now or what to look at to determine quality/condition? It’s awesome!

  • Christopher Robinson (Pooh Bear) Says:

    Yeah Mr. Gaylord I’ve got three tins of those Crosman Silver Eagle Hollowpoints and I found them pretty useless. So you were saying Crosman officially gave them the axe?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Casey,

    I just saw your post on the Vintage Airgun Forum.

    Well, you have a find! The rifle won’t accept a charge unless the bolt is cocked.

    The serial number is a clue to the gun. Below 1,000 and it’s an older style with a longer bolt handle. Below 200 and it may be engraved by a jeweler.

    As far as the price goes, a working one now sells for $1,200 and above. A pristine one may fetch $2,000.

    They ended at just over 3,000, though not all numbers were used. I believe the last date was 1953 or 54.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Pooh Bear,

    Yes. They couldn’t make them work and so they didn’t sell well.

    B.B.

  • Casey in SD Says:

    B.B.

    Thanks for the Super Grade info! Can’t wait to check out the serial no.

    Where does one attempt to sell a gun like this? As awesome as a find it is we will likely trade or sell it – it’s a shame but I have other places where the investment is better spent. I was thinking of posting to the vintage forums but wasn’t sure if that was a good forum for that.

  • FRED Says:

    Ishag,

    I’ll continue our conversation from yesterday here. $130 for a UTG Leapers base is ridiculous. I’d check out Pyramid Air here and see what the shipping would cost to South Africa (assuming they’ll do International Orders). At $17.50 US, the duty shouldn’t be much and the shipping should be reasonable. If PA doesn’t do international, I’m sure you can find a shop in Europe that will be able to fill your order for half that price. As for a one or two piece mount for your scope, everyone will have an opinion on what’s best. If BB has the time, I’m sure he’ll give you his opinion which, if you follow, you won’t go wrong. I think if you just buy quality – BSA, B-Square, Leapers, Weaver, and I’m sure a bunch of other makes, will be fine.

    Fred

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Casey,

    Many people sell Supergrades on

    http://www.gunbroker.com

    Let’s find out what you have first, so you have an idea of what to ask.

    The prices I quoted are actual asking prices I have seen recently.

    Don’t forget, you can also trade this airgun. If you have anything you want, a supergrade goes a long way to sweetening a deal. You can even trade for firearms, though you would have to register them through an FFL. The supergrade is free and clear, of course.

    The guys on this blog are also big time shooters, so you might start here.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Ishaq,

    I always advise going two-piece if possible. They are far more flexible as to the mounting location. Watch my video on this:

    http://www.pyramydair.com/site/articles/how-to-scope-air-rifle/

    B.B.

  • Casey in SD Says:

    B.B. The Super Grade is serial 00420. Everything works properly. Has some small dings on the finish. The metal finish shows a bit of wear. Going to try to take some hi-res pics then I’ll link to them. Maybe tonight or tomorrow.

  • Ishaq Says:

    Hey Fred,

    Thanks man. Yes I know its ridiculous. But I was unaware that the guy who Im buying my scope from also sells those UTG bases. He cut me an awsome deal: Leapers 3-9X44 80mm Sidewheel Mil-dot reticle,Flip up caps + 30mm two piece weaver non-adjustable mounts + UTG Scope mount base for RWS 34 + delivery fee…..All that for 280$…The other store that tried to sell me the UTG scope mount base was a total rip off. These guys think they can sell at any price they want, just because theres no other competition or people who sell the same product.

    Oh well hopefully I will take delivery of my scope by Friday.Thank god for this blog, or else I would have ended up buying the BSA non AO scope.

    The guy did tell me that the scope mount base will most likely overcompensate whilst my rifle is still new. Guess then I just wont shoot it at close ranges.

  • Ishaq Says:

    Oh lol BB I downloaded the Leapers catalog, and I saw you and a small profile of you. Awesome man.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Casey,

    You have a good one! But it isn’t one that is engraved, in all probability.

    Remember to cock the bolt before pumping.

    Also, the rifle probably could stand some Crosman Pellgunoil on the pump piston head. If not Pellgunoil, then 20-weight non-detergent motor oil.

    Nothing else!

    Read this to see where and how the oil:

    http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2008/09/what-to-oil-part-1-guide-to-sealing.html

    Do not fill it with more than 8 pumps.

    After shooting is done. cock the bolt and put one pump of air in the gun. Then hold the bolt open and pull the trigger. Ride the striker spring down to uncock the gun.

    The gun should always be stored with one pump of oil in it.

    B.B.

  • wayne Says:

    B.B.

    I think you meant the gun should always be stored with “one pump of “air” in it”..

    Casey,

    Don’t listen to B.B. about value..

    I’ll give you 150 bucks for it sight unseen:).. we’ll make it $200 and I’ll throw in a 1982 ford f150… and 6 chickens.. and a milk cow…

    and my daughters hand in marriage..

    and…

    and..

    Wayne
    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  • Joe B. Says:

    Hi B.B.,

    Thanks for the Little Rock video. Those are always fun to watch.

    Do you ever run across any of the airsoft Tanaka S.A.A.s (Colt Single Action Army revolvers) at these shows?

  • Joe B. Says:

    Hi B.B.,

    I’ve seen several refs to the Crosman A.I.R. 17 BB/pellet gun on this blog, including your recent Little Rock video.

    I bought this as a birthday gift for one of my teenagers back in the late ’80s. I wasn’t impressed with it at the time because, although I qualified with the M16 at Benning, I was never a fan of the gun (I wished Ruger had won the contract for their gun). Now I’m wondering…SHOULD I have been more impressed with this airgun?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Wayne and Casey,

    Ha ha! Yes, air is preferred over oil in this case. However, when I perfect my hydraulic rifle things will be different!

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Joe B.,

    No, I never did. I do look for things like that, but the airsoft at these shows is pretty spotty.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Joe B.,

    I don’t think much of the AIR 17. I had one, but could never warm to it.

    But they are just scarce enough to excite a lot of people.

    B.B.

  • Joe B. Says:

    Thank you, B.B.

  • Casey in SD Says:

    Wayne -

    $200 hmm… let me see :-)

    Since we are on the topic of older guns, anybody heard of or know much about one called the Plainsman Challenger Arms .22? Looks like a pneumatic. Not sure of year. Came across one – the guy is asking $300. Any info?

  • wayne Says:

    Casey,

    The “Blue book of Air guns” (that you can buy on the PA site) says that the Challenger ARms Plainsman Pneumatic pistol (in pneumatic instead of the gas co2 model, which is worth much less).. has a range of $250 to $600.. with the very best ones more..

    Wayne,
    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  • Casey in SD Says:

    Thanks Wayne -

    This one actually appears to be a rifle. Does that make a difference?

  • wayne Says:

    Casey,

    you forgot my offer of the truck, chickens and daughter’s hand in marriage!!

    what…
    you want more?…

    ok you can have my son’s hand in marriage too!!

    Wayne,
    Ashland Air Rifle Range

    PS… we can deal in cash too..
    but, I’m a little insulted that you want more:)…anyway..

    seriously…
    no kidding..
    for sure..
    I’m the real thing..
    I’ve bought more than two air rifles and have a real collection..

  • Casey in SD Says:

    Wayne – all in good humor :-)

    If you are interested in the Super Grade drop me an email at casey.robertson AT gmail.com

    Not sure ultimately when we’ll sell it but it’s worth talking it over.

    Thanks,

    Casey

  • wayne Says:

    Ok,
    the blue book says $125 to $325 for the rifle..

    Wayne

  • wayne Says:

    Casey,

    I’ll email you and we’ll talk..

    Does your Model A Super Grade Sheridan have the felt lined cocking forearm?

    Wayne,

  • ajvenom Says:

    Sometimes the simplest things can make you happy. For me, my old crosman 776 was my first and most cherished air rifle. I had a lot of good memories with her. She may have been hard to pump, made of plastic, but she hit hard and was very accurate. Nowadays, the 2100b fits the bill.

    As for my old 776, where ever you are:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JROJ7ll4QAE

  • Casey in SD Says:

    Wayne-

    Yes it has the felt-lined cocking arm. The felt is in excellent condition.

  • makka Says:

    Hi Tom,

    Sorry, off-topic.
    I have a Beeman R1 and would LOVE to own your book on this rifle.
    Do you have any copies left you would sell?
    Failing that would you re-publish?

    Cheers,
    Makka

  • wayne Says:

    Casey,

    Then that means subtract 50% cause it ain’t no good:)..

    Wayne..

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Makka,

    No, all the books are long gone.

    We are thinking about reprinting it, but that will have to wait till the first year of the television program is over.

    B.B.

  • FRED Says:

    Makka,

    it so happens I have that Tom Gaylord book on the R-1 autographed by the rascal. I’ll trade you it for a Beeman P1 and Wayne’s daughter’s hand in , er, this could be sticky since I’m already married. Hey, how about the Ford Pick-up?

    Just teasing.

  • ajvenom Says:

    http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=128774201

    check out the yellow classifieds too….

    Seen one sell in Feb for about 50 bucks + S&H

    I guess Tom does autgraph some of them…that last one sold was signed "To David, Stay Tuned, Tom Gaylord." lol!!!!! Stay Tuned…..

    I guess Tom's a punny guy.

  • ajvenom Says:

    I suppose for the book it’s not too punny, but would be for this blog or pyramydairwaves……which I was thinking of when I saw that…..

    I guess I need to stop working 65 to 75 hours a week……and thinking of airguns every 5 seconds……ok maybe the first part.

  • Mr B. Says:

    Ishaq,

    Congrads on your scope deal. I checked the postal services rates–ten pounds from here to you is about $65.00 US. Wow and outch!

    Mr B.

  • makka Says:

    Thanks Tom,

    Amazon have a copy but $125 seems a bit steep!
    There’s another book I’m looking for that sells second hand for $1000 because the author won’t re-print even though every snake handler in the world wants a copy. Seems silly to mss out on the royalties!

    I look forward to the re-print.
    Makka

  • makka Says:

    p.s. I wish we could get your TV program here in Australia.
    It sounds like it will be fantastic.

  • derrick38 Says:

    MrB, Ishaq,

    Check the United States Postal Service first class international rates. They should be in the $15 price range to ship 10 pounds to South Africa.

    Derrick

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB,

    Will we be able to buy stuff from the “garage sale” online?

    thanks,
    James

  • Mr B. Says:

    Derrick38,

    The rate I quoted was from the USPS, but I didn’t ask specifically for First Class International Rates. I’ll go by today and ask again.

    Mr B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    James,

    No, the tens of thousands of items in the MOVING SALE are too many for PA to list. They are things that have been repaired over the years, things forgotten in the warehouse and just found during the prep for the move and so on.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    i have a pioneer g6433 that has a missing thumb release i plan on fixing it and selling it but its very difficult to find parts for this gun if anyone knows where to find the parts please e-mail me at sbourland@excite.com thank you

    ~jim

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Jim,

    Used Chinese air guns like yours are very inexpensive. I would expect to pay $15-25 for a nice one.

    Maybe you should use yours for parts for another one?

    B.B.

  • Vince Says:

    Jim, I believe you'll find that gun to be the same as the "Industry Brand" B-2. They are very low quality and not worth the effort to fix.

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