by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
A couple days ago, I was surprised to see a very technical discussion in the comments section of the Mosin Nagant sniper rifle written by our own Matt61. I remarked that I remembered a time when Matt was new to almost everything in the shooting world. He was exploring multiple avenues of the hobby and asking, in the words of another reader, “billions of questions every day.”
That got me thinking, which is sometimes dangerous, but always interesting. My thoughts ran to things like what I was like when I was just starting out in this world of shooting. It was back in the 1950s and ’60s and there was no internet, so I learned much of what I knew from reading books and magazines and by talking to whoever would tell me about guns. Unfortunately, I didn’t know any real shooters, and the stuff I did get was mostly untrue or outright lies that were calculated to keep me from trying out things on my own.
I remember one thing I was told by my mother and stepfather about my grandfather’s Colt Army Special revolver in .38 Special caliber. They didn’t want me shooting the gun that was mine (inherited from my father), so my stepfather told me that the metallurgy of old guns crystalized with the passage of time and this gun was likely to blow up if shot. I bought that line for a couple years; but when it didn’t agree with my readings of Elmer Keith in Guns & Ammo, I finally gave the old girl a try. Of course it didn’t blow up, and I discovered that I was a pretty fair shot with a handgun at the same time. Imagine that!
Then there was the fiction of the .44 Magnum revolver being not only the most powerful handgun in the world (Dirty Harry timeframe), but also a gun that kicked so hard the front sight would come back and hit you in the forehead! Imagine my disappointment to discover that the first .44 Magnum I fired kicked only a little harder than a .357 Magnum revolver I was already very used to. Chalk up another experience that didn’t go as advertised.
As a youngster in Ohio, I had friends who told me that a 12-gauge shotgun would kick me like a Missouri mule. They had seen their younger brothers “knocked back three feet” by the recoil of this fearsome beast. But when I shot one, it didn’t seem much different than the 16-gauge shotgun I was already using. “Well,” they said, “maybe you can stand that, but don’t even think of shooting a 10-gauge. It will knock you flat!” I still haven’t tried one, so perhaps they’re right.
At this same time, I was getting loads of “information” about those magical Benjamin pump-ups that were “just as powerful as a .22 short.” If you pumped one 50 times it would crack like thunder and you couldn’t tell the difference between it and a rimfire.
Then there was the full-auto craze. Like most boys of my era, I was brought up on tales of Elliot Ness and the Chicago Typewriter that could destroy whole blocks of the Windy City when fired indiscriminately in artificially long, continuous bursts from the open windows of speeding gangster cars. So, the reality of dumping a 30-shot stick magazine from an M3A1 grease gun 10 years later was a huge letdown. As was seeing 15 M2 ground-mounted machine guns on a firing line fail to hit a 5-foot by 20-foot cloth banner trailed behind a Remote Controlled Aerial Towed Target (RCATT) drone that flew down the line at 150 m.p.h. 150 feet away! Until then, I thought machine guns were always able to hit their targets. After seeing they couldn’t, I wondered how they ever hit anything that wasn’t standing still.
Then there was the mystique of the Desert Eagle pistol. I had heard it was an awesome gun, that flattened things at both ends — muzzle and grip — equally. A few years ago, I shot one in .44 Magnum and found that it was only slightly harder-recoiling than a 1911 pistol chambered for .45 ACP. What a huge letdown that was. Now, I own a Desert Eagle in .357 Magnum, and that’s only until I can trade up to the .44 that’s the lightest-recoilling big bore handgun I’ve ever fired.
The moral of the story
Don’t take anyone’s word for how bad, how powerful or how effective any gun is until you try it for yourself. Most of the time, they exaggerate. Find out for yourself.
Some things are true!
There are, however, some things that have been true when I tested them. For example, the .250/3000 (.250 Savage) caliber is a much softer-recoiling cartridge than the Winchester .243, despite being nearly equivalent in power. I don’t know why that is, but I’ve demonstrated it repeatedly.
Or the fact that the .223 Remington can be an accurate round! All my life, I have seen it used only in ARs that spray like fire hoses; but when I finally shot one that had a barrel with some pedigree, the doggone thing actually grouped! Not quarter-inch groups (yet), but 10 shots in three-quarters of an inch at 100 yards…and some that were a little better!
What’s this got to do with airguns?
A lot of firearm talk, so far. What about airguns? Well, with a few exceptions, like the Benjamins mentioned earlier, most of my airgun experience has been first-hand rather than driven by rumors. When I hear a good rumor about an airgun, I test it if I can. Then, I pass along my results to you. Not that I know everything or don’t make a lot of mistakes along the way, but I try to tell you things I would if you were standing next to me and we were about to test the gun in question.
That’s why this report is titled If I were you….Because I tell you things I really think you would want to know. Things like how nice the Benjamin Marauder is and why I like the AirForce Talon SS so much. When I went on and on about the new Walther LGV Challenger a couple months ago, that was me being me.
Some people think I’m simply pushing airguns at you all the time. But that isn’t the case. If an airgun has any drawbacks, the last thing I want is for you to buy it because you think I recommended it. And I do get to see a lot of airguns that have shortcomings. When a great one comes along, it’s such a rare event that I tend to shout it from the rooftops.
I’m not afraid of what you’ll think about the guns I recommend. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a real lemon in the bunch from time to time. It happens to everything, and I can’t protect anyone against it. So, when I recommend a gun to you, it’s because I believe there’s a good chance the gun will be as good for you as it was for me. You and I may differ on what constitutes a good thing, which is why I report the results and let you make the decisions. But every once in awhile, something really great comes along and I cannot restrain myself from saying “If I were you…”
Big Shot of the Month
Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Month is Donald Liverance. He’ll receive a $100 gift card. Congratulations! If you’d like a chance to be the next Big Shot, you can enter on Pyramyd Air’s Facebook page.
Donald Liverance is the Big Shot of the Month on Pyramyd Air’s airgun facebook page.