The Roanoke airgun show: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Today I’ll show you more of the airgun show that was held in Roanoke, Virginia, last Friday and Saturday. I’m going to jump around just like you would if you walked the aisles at the show.

Let’s begin at Larry Hannusch’s table. Larry has been an airgun writer since the 1970s, and he has a great collection of fine guns. This year, he displayed some of his ball-flask guns, giving show attendees a chance to see airguns that no American museum has.

Hannusch ball reservoir airguns
Not many people have ever seen this many ball reservoir airguns in one place. Larry Hannusch collection.

Hannusch vintage hand pump
How do they fill those ball reservoirs? With vintage hand pumps like this one. Dennis Quackenbush and I experimented with these pumps and learned they can develop up to 1,000 psi when the right technique is used. And they don’t have piston seals — just lapped steel pistons!

Larry also had a sales table with some fine vintage guns that were actually for sale. One was a BSF S54 underlever target rifle with a peep sight the size of a satellite dish. The one thing you can count on with guys like Larry is that they always bring out the rare and wonderful guns that most of us have only seen in books.

Across the aisle from Larry was Lloyd Sikes — the man who invented the electronic valve that went into the Benjamin Rogue. In fact, it was at a Roanoke airgun show years ago where Lloyd shared his idea for that valve with me. And the rest is history.

Lloyd has made quite a name for himself by producing Benjamin Marauder pistols with dual air reservoirs. His company, Airgun Lab, started making the P-Rod Double last year and then moved to the Disco Double — a Benjamin Discovery with 2 reservoir tubes. This year, he’s bringing out a Disco Double with 2 aluminum reservoirs that, as far as I can tell, is as light or even lighter than the original Benjamin Discovery rifle on which it is based.

When I picked up the prototype lightweight Disco Double at his table, I was amazed! It can’t weigh much more than 5 lbs.!

I’d promised to do a project with Lloyd last year and never got around to it, but this year a wonderful thing happened. A man who had purchased a new Discovery last year from Mac came to my table and wanted to return it. I explained that Mac had passed away, but then I thought that this might make the perfect rifle for a project with Lloyd. It was leaking, but that’s not a problem because it will have to be sealed anyway after the conversion. And with the 2 aluminum reservoir tubes, I should get about twice the number of useful shots per fill. And that’s a 2,000 psi fill, mind you.

So, I bought the gun and gave it to Lloyd for the conversion. As we talked and refined the details, I decided to also install a Marauder trigger on the rifle, which will give me what I always wanted — a single-shot rifle with lots of shots, a great trigger and superior accuracy. There — that’s 1 of the 4 airguns I bought out of the way!

Benjamin Discovery
Mac sold this Benjamin Discovery at the show last year, and I bought it back this year. It’s one of the early ones with a walnut stock, and it also came with the hand pump.

I was also located next to Ingvar Alm, a collector/dealer from Minnesota who always has wonderful stuff at these shows. He’s one of the major contributors to the Blue Book of Airguns. I could spend an entire blog on just the stuff on his table; instead, let me share with you the one gun that really caught my eye. It’s a dart gun from 1887!

1887 dart gun
The “Harmless” pistol. Wouldn’t you just love to see this at a Congressional hearing on toy safety today? This was on Ingvar Alm’s table, and he let me load and cock it for this picture!

Lest you BB-gun collectors feel left out, there were also plenty of desirable guns that you love at this show. I saw at least one model 40 with a bayonet, and I believe there was also a scarce model 140 Defender on the same table.

BB guns
Yes, there were plenty of rare collectible BB guns at Roanoke, too. And the prices were just as reasonable as the rest of the airguns.

What’s REALLY rare? How about a 1923 first model Crosman pneumatic with a front pump? There are seldom any at a show, but at this show there were at least 2! One of them had a price tag of $1,250, which is almost half what I’ve seen them bring in the past.

Crosman 1923 front pump
There were 2 of these 1923 Crosman front-pump pneumatics at the show, and both were for sale. This is something that’s seldom seen.

Okay, I guess it was blog reader Bradly who asked if there were any air shotguns at this show. Yes, there were. I saw a Farco air shotgun on one table. That’s the 28-gauge shotgun from the Philippines that Davis Schwesinger (the Roanoke show promoter) used to kill a wild pig several decades ago.

Farco air shotgun
Gun on the left is a Farco air shotgun. Gun on the right is a Crosman 102 repeater. Yawn. That’s what happens when you’re surrounded by riches.

What guns did B.B. buy?
You already know about the Disco, so what other airguns did I get at Roanoke this year? The first one was something I just couldn’t pass up. A Diana model 25 for $75! It’s the model without the ball-bearing trigger and the cosmetic condition isn’t that great, but it’s all there and seems to have a powerful mainspring. I felt the gun was undervalued, so I paid a little more than was asked but still got a great bargain.

Diana 25
This Diana 25 was a real bargain! You’ll see it in the future.

Before I came to the show, I was thinking about buying a BSA Meteor. I’ve always heard good things about them but have never pulled the trigger on one. This was the time.

At the show, I saw Meteors from $30 (junky) to $125 (excellent condition), and the average price was around $60. I bought one from Don Raitzer and will test it for you in the future.

BSA Meteor
This BSA Meteor was my only planned acquisition.

The last gun I bought was a flight of pure fancy. My money was mostly spent; but when I saw this rifle laying on the table I really wanted it — not because of its rarity or value, but just for the neatness factor.

It’s a Falke model 70, and it’s not much like the model 90 underlever I already have. This one is a breakbarrel that comes with an adjustable trigger and a barrel lock. The stock has been refinished, and the metal is mostly patina. But the rifle looks and feels solid. The dealer, Dave Bingham, said it reminds him of a Diana 27. It looks heavier and more powerful than that  to me, but I suppose we’ll find out when I test it. I got it for $100, which I think is a wonderful deal.

Falke 70
This Falke model 70 was on the same table as the model 80. This one is intriguing and I will be testing it for you soon.

Davis Schwesinger, the promoter of the show, had several tables full of vintage airguns. I’m going to show just a few that convey what was there.

Schwesinger table
Dave Schwesinger’s tables just went on and on. Here you see a Hämmerli Cadet, a VZ 47, a pre-war Diana model 30 and a Swedish Excellent. Where do you see airguns like these, except at shows like Roanoke?

Jan Kraner had a table displaying the most beautiful wood-stocked rifles. Most of them were not for sale, but they were a feast for the eyes. Jan uses them to showcase his talent as a stock maker, and believe me — it works!

beautiful stocks
Jan Kraner’s stocks stopped people in their tracks.

At last
I saved the best for last. In recent years there haven’t been too many Sheridan Supergrade rifles showing up at these events. But this year John Ford had a nice one and the price was just $1,250. That’s hundreds under what they have brought in recent years.

Sheridan Supergrade
A Sheridan Supergrade for sale is a rare thing. And this one was affordable.

The show was over before I knew it, and another year had slipped by. This one was different, as my pal Mac wasn’t there to share the excitement. But as I am reminded every time I go to one of these things — nothing is forever. We don’t own any of these airguns. We’re just their custodians for a time. In the future, these prized possessions of ours will be in someone else’s collection. That’s how we got them in the first place.

44 thoughts on “The Roanoke airgun show: Part 2


  1. BB
    I’m going to start from the top.
    The ball reservoir guns. Could just imagine how people at the local range would act if one of those guns showed up. And then fill it up with the hand pump!

    Very nice that you got Mac’s Disco. Cant wait for the report on the aluminum dual reservoir. Sounds like it will be a nice hunting or field target gun when it gets done. Oh and I have a Disco stock that is set up for a Marauder trigger setting out in a Marauder box right now that I had on my first Disco at one time.

    OK here is the one I’m really interested in. The 1923 Crosman front pump reservoir rifle.

    I have a question I hope you can answer about the gun. We had a similar conversation at one time about this type of gun.
    Is it a pump gun that builds air up in a chamber for each shot taken? Or do you pump the air reservoir up with stored air like a PCP and have multiple shots? What was said in our conversation was that a pump gun was a self contained PCP gun.

    And then Jan Kraner’s stock. Before I read your description about them. I heard these words come out of my mouth. Absolutely beautiful!
    The top rifle in the picture is nice with color choice made of the buttstock recoil pad to match the wood stock. The next rifles stock is cool with grain going vertical and diagonal at the same time. And the last rifle stock is just downright nice. Would like to of had the chance to hold them and see what they felt like.

    And the Sheridan. I have always liked the looks and performance of the earlier Sheridan and Benjamin pump guns. It looks like that one is in good shape too.

    And BB only to know is what you have.


    • Jan had two tables of air rifles that were not for sale. I had to keep an arms length away to keep from drooling all over his air rifles. I talked to him a bit and he will restock one for you at a very reasonable price. He also does stock restoration.

      The Crosman is a multi-pump like the Sheridan. You pump it up for one shot. The more pumps, the more power. There was an FX Independence at the show. That rifle you can fill from your air source like you would other PCPs and I believe you can get about ten shots per fill. It also has a built in pump that you can fill it with or use to keep it topped off when you are shooting.

      What is really great about taking your air rifle to the range is not only are other people amazed by what you brought, but then you out shoot them with it.


  2. BB

    Did you buy the Supergrade? I always picture that gun as “The One That Got Away From Tom” (Along with the AA Shamal and Edith’s Sharp Ace)

    Also, is that an original wire-stock Daisy, or is it the more recent limited edition reproduction?

    It is cool that another of Mac’s guns found its way back to you. You can’t tell me there is no such thing as fate.


    • SL,

      No, I didn’t buy the Supergrade. I have owned 2 of them in the past and I think I finally got them out of my system.

      I was actually offered the Shamal back last year. I guess I could get it back any time, if I wanted.

      Edith had a Sharp UF-P. We gave that one to Mac.

      And I agree that it is neat to have Mac’s Disco back. That is one of the reasons I bought it.

      B.B.


  3. You sure got yourself some fine air rifles this year, though i would have loved it if you picked up that Farco shotgun and tested it. Having a BSA Meteor myself which was in the state of junker and now becoming the rifle i remember from my youth, I am looking forward to your report on it and I know your going to have fun with it. Thanks for a wonderful report, there was some awesome photos in it.

    TTFN

    Best wishes, Wing Commander Sir Nigel Tetlington-Smythe


    • Sir Nigel,

      I have tested a Farco quite thoroughly in the past. I used to own one. At the time it was a curiosity, but other big bore have supplanted it now.

      The Meteor has me perplexed. I will tell you that every time I see one it looks like junk, but I have always heard such wonderful things about them from their owners. I can’t wait to try it out.

      B.B.


  4. Thanks for the insight on Lloyd’s upcoming project. Wonder what an aluminum tube Mrod would weigh?

    PS: Think the Disco Double came before Prod Double. Prod Double had an alum tube option.


    • I am excited to be working on the aluminum double tube Disco with BB. Personally, I like light weight airguns and this one will fit the bill.
      I have thought about cutting the steel tube on the M-rod at the gauge adapter and marrying an aluminum tube to the front end. That would save almost a pound but loose 25 ccs because of the thicker wall. Or the aluminum tube could be made to reach to the end of the shrouded barrel and you’d end up with 50 more ccs than stock and still be a half pound lighter.
      Lloyd-ss


  5. B.B.,

    Interesting that you bought the Falke 70. I almost bought that exact airgun, but my wife was not able to convince me. Instead I bought a Crosman 118 for a very good price.

    Ingvar’s collection is always interesting. I was amazed to see that he had two Vincent’s on display along with many other rare items. This show was worth attending even if you did not buy anything; there were so many fascinating, old airguns.

    Paul in Liberty County


    • Paul,

      You got the 118? That was such a super deal! I have owned one and they shoot very well. The repeating mechanism demands that you only use certain pellets, but as I recall, Premiers work well. Please keep us informed on how that goes.

      B.B.


      • B.B.,

        I have been wanting a 118 for a while to complete my collection of the bulk-fill Crosmans, but have been put off by the price (I’m cheap.) My darling wife convinced me to not pass up this deal.

        I have only put 5 shots through the 118 and it seems to be doing well. While Crosman no longer markets their .22 wadcutters, the Webley Vermin Pells are the same pellet with a different label and they worked perfectly.

        Paul in Liberty County


  6. The number and variety of airguns was overwhelming to me. I don’t have an encyclopedic airgun mind like BB so I have to focus on what is recognizable. Fred from NJ took pity on me and gave me his old, well used Blue Book of Airguns, which will certainly be helpful.
    One of the nice things about attending the show is being able to talk with the vendors. If you have a question about anything they are happy to talk, and if there is something in particular you are looking for, someone will direct you right to it.
    I did somehow miss seeing that Farco shotgun. Darn!
    Lloyd-ss


    • Not only did I not charge Lloyd or trade anything for the book but I threw in the coffee stain for free! Long story not worth telling here. Got to shoot that .177 Barnett Spitfire/Tracker and I will have to disassemble it to see why I’m getting little bits of what appear to be plastic shavings from the trigger inlet of the stock. On the plus side, after shooting nine different pellets – JSB’s to H & N’s to RWS’ – the Crossman 7.83 gr boxed pellet made a 5 shot, single hole group that’s probably the best I have ever achieved with iron sights (mounted a Williams peep as it came without a rear sight). This rifle loves the CPL’s.

      My TX 200 Mk III was bought from Jan at the Connecticut show and he must have refinished that stock as it appeared to be untouched until I touched it. Truly a very educational show on the level of a museum!

      Fred DPRoNJ



  7. That CZ47 has my attention. I like that gun even though it’s old. It’s a strange thing but I have seen something like it only one place and I wanted it. Unfortunately that wasn’t going to happen since that place was in a dream. So that is one of the guns in this blog that I’m totally lusting over. The rest I could take it or leave it. Most I could leave it since anybody that knows me knows I rarely ever want an old gun. I trust them only slightly more than I trust a chinese made gun. So my saying I want that gun is really saying something.


  8. I have a question that is kind of off subject. It is about a older rifle that I can get cheap/like free.
    But I’m not exactly sure what it is.

    It looks like a M1 garrand but the rear sight is in front of the breech like the older Springfield’s.
    I believe from what I could measure the bore size seems to be .300″.

    But here is whats throwing me off. The bolt and clip is missing. And the size of the opening were the clip goes looks like it wouldn’t be able to fit anything bigger than a .22 LR bullet in to it. But where the bullet loads into the barrel it looks big like the front of the casing from a 30-06 would fit.

    Oh and only one serial # on the barrel and some kind of # stamped on the buttstock. Cant remember what they were but can look tonight at work. A person there has it.


    • GF1,

      I need to see a picture of that gun. If the sight is forward of the receiver as you describe and the bolt is missing, it sounds like a bolt-action rifle — not a semiautomatic like a Garand.

      You describe a short magazine well and a large chamber. Could this possibly be a Spanish Destroyer? It would be in one of the 9 mm calibers (9 mm Largo, or Bayard, or Parabellum).

      Tell me about the markings on the receiver and stock. I think you have a Destroyer. Finding a bolt would be difficult, but it might be possible to make one.

      B.B.


      • BB
        They are supposed to bring the gun Thursday night to work. I will take some pictures and e-mail them to you if you have a e-mail address. I think you listed a e-mail in the past for guest blogs.

        Will that work OK if you have it? I will try to send them tomorrow if my phone will work out. Some way I will get you the pictures.

        And I did search the Spanish Destroyer rifle you described above so I could see the picture of what it looked like. It is similar but the top half of the barrel is exposed above the wood.

        The gun I have has the wood covering the barrel almost the whole distance of the barrel just like the garrand’s.

        The gun is not in that great of shape. So don’t cringe when you see the pictures. But I would like to give the gun a chance to maybe work out to be something. And thanks for the help.


  9. B.B. , Thanks for showing the Farco. That said, I took liked the CZ47. Very sweet. Daisy makes a 1903 drill rifle, but it doesn’t fire. I wish so bad they’d make one that would fire. That would be very neat. Thanks again for all the great pics. I’ll looking forward to the reports on the ones you bought too! Bradly


  10. I have a soft spot for BSA Meteors. Very underrated airgun.

    Can’t wait for the blog on the Falke 70. What a great looking gun.

    kevin



  11. Tom,

    I’m just curious, but what Mk is the Meteor you bought? Is it one of the new model Mk 7s or is it an older Mk 5 or Mk 6? I ask because I’m kinda curious about the Meteor too.

    J.



      • OK. I was simply curious because I vaguely recall that the older Meteors (if I’m remembering the specs for the Mk VI from BSA’s site right) were lower power, more like the Diana 27/Bronco than the newer Mk VII which put out around 11-12 ft-lbs. I was just sort of trying to figure out what we were likely to see in the review.


  12. G’day BB
    Tell me, is your friend Larry pulling someones leg. How do you aim a Ball Reservoir Air Gun when the reservoir is on the top? (top pix at top)
    Cheers Bob


  13. Great writeup Tom, I keep missing this show and every year I say “next year” ….. well next year :) .. Looks like there were some great guns, and I am especially taken by the ball-flask guns, what era do most of these gun date to, are they early reproductions or the originals? Also the sign says antique hunting guns, can you tell me what they have used to hunt?



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