by B.B. Pelletier
The Healthways Plainsman pistol has received a good amount of attention from readers. I was somewhat surprised to learn how many readers know of the gun. When it was sold, it was always on a much lower tier than Crosman and Daisy, yet the price was never much lower than any CO2 pistol on the market.
I think, however, that the price is justified for what the Plainsman is–a double-action-only air pistol that has a goodly number of shots and adjustable power. It’s also very ergonomic. Today, we’ll find out if it’s also accurate.
BB pistols get tested at 5 meters or 15 feet. Being smoothbore, they’re not expected to have much accuracy. Minute-of-pop-can seems to be the requirement, so I tested the Plainsman at 15 feet.
In order to see the BB holes, I had to enlarge the targets and enhance them greatly, which is why they look so grainy.
Avanti Precision Ground Shot
The first test was done with Avanti Precision Ground Shot. I knew it would probably be more accurate than regular BBs, but hey, I wanted the icing before the cake this time.
I set the power to low, only because I knew how very powerful the pistol can be on high. I was using a Crosman 850 BB trap, and I didn’t want to wreck it any more than it already is. At an average 268 f.p.s., the gun should have plenty of power for 15 feet. And it did.
The first group was tight side-to-side but a little stretched vertically. That was due to the double-action pull, but I noticed that it stacked toward the end, so the next group was half as large.
The first group was tight sideways but too tall. This group is greatly magnified. It is actually about a half-inch in width. The top shot is in the 9-ring.
The second group was tight sideways and much shorter than the first. I had learned how to control the trigger. This group is also greatly magnified. It is less than a half-inch wide and about three-quarters of an inch tall.
I was using a six-o’clock hold; as you can see, the gun shoots to the point of aim at 15 feet. I tried holding for the center of the bull, but there wasn’t much reference and the groups opened up.
Daisy zinc-plated BBs
Next I tried Daisy zinc-plated BBs. I didn’t expect them to group as well, though I tried just as hard as I did with the Avantis. They shot a little lower on the target, but stayed in line with the center of the bull.
The better of two groups with Daisy zinc-plated BBs. Another magnified group. This one is about an inch-and-a-quarter wide but quite a bit taller. Two BBs went through the big hole. You can see where they impacted at the bottom of the hole.
I adjusted the power screw up to the middle level, but it just sprayed the BBs around the target. I was concerned they might miss the backstop, so I stopped shooting and went back to low power again.
Turn the screw (located at the bottom rear of the pistol grip) shown at the top of this picture to the left with a coin to increase or decrease power. There are three settings, and it’s on low power here.
The Healthways Plainsman is quite a BB pistol. It beats most modern guns for features and for accuracy. It’s also somewhat quirky, by using an 8-gram CO2 cartridge and by not having a positive spring-loaded magazine. And the sights aren’t adjustable. But if you have a hankering for a vintage BB gun, put this one on your short list and keep Doug Vorenkamp’s address handy (read about him in Part 3).