Healthways Plainsman BB gun – Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


Healthways Plainsman

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.

Higher power?
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.

Overall assessment
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).

53 thoughts on “Healthways Plainsman BB gun – Part 4

  1. BB,I really enjoy your vintage airgun reviews!Somehow,as you reveal performance data I read it like you are itemizing treasure recovered from a shipwreck!I recieved #827 from the wirestock replicas,"she's a daisy!"mine came with the 17lb trigger…..anxious to hear if yours is much better!!delightful little conversation piece,again thank you! Frank B


  2. Morning B.B.,

    I got a Plainsman for a Christmas present, but I traded it off because of its cost of shooting. Took alot of 2 cent deposit soda bottles to buy the CO2 cartridges.

    However, it would sure punch holes through both sides of a tin can, as fast as the trigger was pulled.

    Thanks for the memories,
    Mr B.



  3. BB

    You were a gunfighter at Frontier Village?! That is too cool. Were you a good guy or a bad guy? Wait, I bet you were the Sheriff!

    Beats cold calling people to sell them carpet. (worst job I ever had.)

    Another piece in the puzzle that is Tom Gaylord.





  4. BB:
    I also enjoyed the link you sent on the frontier village, as well as these vintage air gun blogs you write. There was a similar deal here on Grand Island, NY, at a local amusement park. The park was called "Fantasy Island", and they had a western shoot-out show that my parents took us to see when I was a kid. I think it is still there.
    On the subject of .380 cal handguns. I use a Colt goverment model .380. It is a locked breech gun just like the full size model only much smaller. Mine is also very accurate, and groups with Remington JHP's will stay under 3" at 20 yards. I also handload the Lyman #358242 cast lead bullet for it. My mold is the hollow point version, but I don't get much, if any expansion. A old " Handloader" magazine I have, has a article about improving .380 terminal ballistics, by using home swaged, soft lead bullets. My .380 will anchor game like woodchucks with a upper chest shot, with significant authority. A high speed HP .22 RF from my S&W kit gun with a four inch barrel ,often won't. I use it as a summer time trail gun. Mouse guns are useful for more than personal defense. Take care ,Robert.


  5. Kevin,

    I quit the Village but continued to work for the puppet show, which was a concession there. I was either a carnival barker or Fishcake the clown. As Fishcake, I went around the park with a monkey marionette, to attract people in to the puppet show.

    I did this for about six months before going into the Army in June of 1970.

    B.B.


  6. Slinging Lead,

    I was actually the slowest gun at the Village. My fast draw could be timed by a calendar. So I bought a Colt Bisley (those were the days when Gen. 1 guns sold for $100, and had it made into a fanning gun. I may not have gotten off the first shot, but I sounded like a Gatling gun after that.

    I also fought with a Winchester '92 in .44-40 that had a Rifleman trigger and an enlarged cocking loop. And a double-barreled 12-gauge that shot flames out 20 feet. That one had to be fired from a roof, because it was too dangerous any closer to the public.

    B.B.





  7. B.B.

    I don't see any Crosman SA6 on the PA site, but if you shot yourself in the leg while fast drawing that gives me great pause. Too bad, I love that song:

    "And then from dawn 'til setting sun
    He practiced with that deadly gun.
    Hour on hour I watched in awe.
    No man alive could match the draw of…Ringo!"

    As a former sheriff–and outlaw too–can you describe how a "sleeve draw" works? It plays a big role in a recent Bob Lee Swagger book. The villain attaches a .32 caliber pistol to his forearm under his sleeve with a garter belt, and he whips it out faster than anyone can react to. I don't see how this could work with one fumbling and trying to slide fingers up the sleeve.

    Matt61



  8. Hello

    Sorry for an off topic question, Plz help me know which one is more accurate and reliable Benjamin Discovery or rws 48 out of the box with out any tuning for an average shooter, as both cost approximately the same.

    Thanks


  9. BB

    Have you done a review of the Crosman C41 BB Pistol?

    I would be interested in your comments on the usual performance stats + fit, finish and the "slide that rattles" ???

    Thanks

    Brian in Idaho



  10. The Benjamin Discovery is the easiest rifle to shoot accurately. And I have shot several sub half-inch groups at 50 yards with a Discovery in both .177 and .22. I have never done that well with a 48.

    The 48 will teach you more about shooting, as it forces you to develop good shooting technique. The Discovery is ready to go right out of the box. No technique required, though using some will produce better results.

    B.B.


  11. Brian,

    Apparently I have not written a blog about the C41. I do believe I have shot it, though. Don't know about any rattle. Never heard it.

    Fit and finish are fine for a gun in that price range. It's a Crosman, so it's going to be good.

    B.B.



  12. Thank you for you time and advice

    Kevin
    I dont think I am very good with Artillery Hold.

    BB
    then Discovery it is. Just in case is there anything as good with power and close to $400 and not break barrel or co2



  13. B.B.

    The sleeve draw business is surprisingly hard to find information on, but the indications are that you're right. It has to do with snapping the gun down into the hand rather than reaching for it.

    Anonymous, I love the RWS 48, but there's no doubt that the Discovery is more accurate whether you know the artillery hold or not.

    Matt61


  14. B.B.

    I have it! For fast drawing, I will just dry fire, and I can play my song all I want.

    One instance of the sleeve draw comes to mind from a sort of cult film called Taxi Driver starring, I think, Robert De Niro. De Niro is a special forces veteran from Vietnam who returns and takes up a job as a taxi driver in New York City. He is out of sorts from his experiences overseas and possibly his social skills weren't that great to begin with. For a first date, he takes a woman to a porno movie which ends one very short-lived romance. But while trolling the underside of the city, he comes across a very young Jodie Foster playing a runaway who has turned to prostitution, and he makes a connection. He determines to bust her loose. So, he assembles an arsenal with guns stuck in his belt, in his armpit, knives on his ankles, and guns up his sleeves. Pistols are mounted on a sort of rail unit on his forearms and, when actuated, pop forward into his hand ready for firing. With all of this, he goes sailing into the prostitution ring. The head criminal has no idea of what he is doing when he puts a cigarette out on De Niro, and the sleeve guns play a key role in the ensuing free-for-all. It's a good if somewhat difficult film to watch. Anyway, the potential is there for the sleeve draw, but without the rail system it's still hard to see someone snapping their hand just right to get a gun into the palm from a sleeve holster.

    Matt61


  15. Matt61,please forgive me…with that last question to BB my head said OH OH That boy has gone Travis Pickle!LOL BTW,Travis made that rig out of a drawer slide…Very Charles Bronson!


  16. 48/Discovery guy

    I have a Discovery. I love the Discovery. I highly recommend the Discovery.

    All this being said the Diana 48/52 is outstanding in every respect and deserves equal consideration.

    My favorite attribute of springers is that they are self contained. Pull the lever. Load. Push in the safety and fire. Repeat several thousand times. A PCP requires charging which means a pump, which is somewhat cumbersome and can fail(mine did) or an air tank which is heavy, very cumbersome, will run out of air, and can be inconvenient and costly to refill/inspect/hydro test.

    I am fortunate enough to own one of the most accurate springers available, a TX200. The Diana 48/52s I have fired are close to or equal in accuracy. The fit and finish are also outstanding and better than the Discovery in every respect.

    In addition, the Diana is also quieter to fire than the Discovery (which is almost as loud as a .22rf) and in my opinion, has superior open sights.

    If you already have a springer or good pneumatic and plan to use a scope on the new rifle, then I would order the discovery. Otherwise the Diana is just about perfect. For someone's first high quality air rifle, I can't think of a better recommendation.

    P.S. if you make future posts, give yourself a name so you don't get called anonymous or 48/Discovery guy.


  17. Frank B

    Matt61 must be watching WWII movies while stroking his guns surrounded by the little green army men he sets up or he would write to correct you that it is Travis Bickle, not pickle.

    Have you received the USFT yet?


  18. Slinging Lead,

    And, of course, there's nothing wrong with watching TV while stroking guns. Tom's never tried surrounding himself with little green army men, but that's only because the cats would probably bite off their heads and then fling their headless carcasses around the living room.

    Edith


  19. Who is Travis Bickle?

    I daydream about guns but haven't gotten around to stroking them.

    Slinging Lead, what an eloquent recommendation for the RWS 48 that can hardly be improved upon. How interesting that you find the accuracy comparable to the TX200. If the B30 is a copy of the 48, could we bump its accuracy into the same category??? It is plenty accurate.

    I would just add that the artillery hold need not be such a big deal. The first time I tried it, its superiority was clear over what I was using, and I have used it since pretty much unchanged. I've never worried about exactly how much pressure to apply or exactly what grip to use. I'm sure the technique could be improved, but the pellets go where I want them to. When they don't, there's no mystery about why. Plus, there's something exciting and satisfying for me about the spring discharge and the jump of the rifle. My gas guns and SS pistol seem bland by comparison.

    Nothing can ruin my day since I just got notice that my new Crosman 1077 has shipped!

    Matt61


  20. You guys are killing me…this is my rifle, this is my gun…..make sure you have the right one while watching TV. Bg farmer, where are you?
    48 Disco guy,
    Those two rifles are such opposites. Tell us more how you plan to use the rifle, does weight bother you? Etc.

    Volvo


  21. Slinging lead,I prefer picturing Travis introducing himself{with that trademark constipated Deniro look]as Travis Pickle!!Kinda like the boy named Sue,from Johnny Cash.


  22. Matt61

    "Plus, there's something exciting and satisfying for me about the spring discharge and the jump of the rifle."

    Amen brother. I could not have said it better. A spring gun feels alive, PCPs feel dead. I'm not drawing battle lines, I like them both. However learning just a little technique to shoot a springer should not frighten people away from them. I happen to get respectable groups from the TX or Diana with the forearm of the rifle resting right on a bag. I typically use the artillery hold as a starting point and then experiment from there.

    As far as the B30 being on the same playing field as the TX200, I wish I had more knowledge and experience so that I could mock such a statement with much snobbery and disdain. But I think if your groups are just as good and the rifle is as durable, uh.. well, its just as good. Not nearly as pretty, but just as good. The point is to put the pellet where you want it to go, the rest is just gravy.


  23. Volvo,Right now I'm rubbing oil into it,then I'm gonna take pictures so everyone can compliment the wood…..on my RIFLE.Jeez,you guys!



  24. BB and all,

    Yesterday was a dark day. Outrageous day. The rear sight of my beloved Fwb 124 Sport was brushed into many pieces. I tried to glue it, but with the expected poor results. It exploded again at the third shot.

    I dont want to cry and weep over my keyboard. Does anybody know if I can get another rear sight or a compatible one from another brand?

    Afflicted Anthony from Guadalajara
    the land of tequila and sight-less rifles


  25. Oops. It's not 'brushed'. Its crushed.

    Finger slip.

    And for D48/Discovery guy,

    I would recommend to you to shoot both rifles if possible. It will dissipate any doubts. Thst's the best I can say.

    Grertings, Anthony



  26. Frank B,
    Me too. Been stroking a 22LR stock all week. Have to wait 48 hours before I can stroke it again. Have to let the finish cure before the final polish and wax.

    This was my first full refinish job. Wow that took a long time to sand smooth. It was pretty rough with lots of dings.

    DB


  27. DB,I hear that…It seems like this will never be done.Every coat of RLO,I love it and think it's done,find a flaw,sand and recoat,REPEAT……..



  28. Anthony,

    A rear sight for an FWB 124 should not be hard to find. So many people remove both sights because they install a scope. They don't want both on their gun.

    If I were you, I would first ask the gentlemen on this forum:

    http://www.network54.com/Forum/405945/

    They are the collectors who have a lot of these parts.

    If that doesn't work, let me know and we'll try something else. I mean that! I will look through my small collection of rear sights and see whether I may have one.

    B.B.



  29. Tom,
    I have a Plainsfield .175 air pistol. I am unable to find any CO2 cartridges for this model. The newer style cartridges obviously do not fit and I only have one style cap to hold the cartridges. Any idea where I can purchase these older (smaller) CO2 cartridges?
    Thanks,
    Jamie Eaves – Wisconsin
    jeaves4@wi.rr.com



  30. A QUESTION, WHERE CAN I FIND THE 8.5 GM CO2 CARTRIDGES FOR THE HEALTHWAY PLAINSMAN PISTOL ? OR ADAPTER TO USE THE 12 GM STANDARD.




  31. I have owned a Healthways Plainsman for many years now, got it from my father who never shot it. I shot it a couple of times and stopped because I could not find any 22 caliber BB’s and did not want to use all I had left. Would you happen to know where I can buy some?



      • Thanks for the information, I checked out the web site and I will give them a try. The healthways is rifled and the manual says to use 22 Cal. leaded balls. If for some reason they do not work in the healthways I have a Smith and Wesson 78G in 22 Cal. I will try them in that gun. Also when I bought the S&W I purchased a 177 Cal. kit so I can swap Calibers, It is like having two guns and only takes a few minutes to do the swap.
        Thanks Again for the fast response.



          • Thank you, I will check your blog but I will say I spend very little time on my computer.
            Yes I have had an interest in air gun for many years now, since the early 60’s. I built
            two traps out of 1/4” steal and had a 50’ range in my garage. I say had because I moved into an apartment, hopefully I will be in my new house in a couple of months and I can get my things out of storage. At this time I have a Beeman R1, P1, S&W 78G, Crosman 2300S and as you know the Healthways. After I move and get set up I will let you know how those 22 Cal. BB’s work.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


6 + 4 =

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>