Airguns I’m thankful for

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

Today is Thanksgiving, here in the U.S., as well as the first full day of Hanukkah, which started last evening. I want to wish my Jewish readers a happy Hanukkah and all my U.S. readers a Happy Thanksgiving Day. Today I’d like to take some time to acknowledge those airguns that are worth remembering.

Benjamin 107
It was my first airgun — though I didn’t acknowledge it at the time. I was whining at my mom to let me buy a BB gun, when all the while I had a beauty right there in front of me.

The 107 was a front-pump .177 smoothbore pistol that shot BBs, darts and pellets — none very accurately. But compared to a common BB gun, it wasn’t too bad. I got it when I turned 10 or 11 after my father died. It had been his. I remember seeing him shoot it once, but that was all.

All the black nickel finish was gone, and the gun was worn to silver nickel in most places, with a hint of brass showing though some of the edges. It was a real bear to pump, and I think I could manage only three strokes when I applied all my weight. After that, I was the one having the stroke!

I could hold about one inch at 20 feet with darts, which was the ammo of choice since I had them and they could be reused. There were some Benjamin pellets that came with the thing, too, but I don’t remember them being very accurate.

Once I secured my Daisy No. 25 pump BB gun, I don’t think I ever looked at the old Benjamin, again. But that was the first airgun I ever shot, and it started the fascination that’s lasted until now.

Diana model 10
Fast-forward 14 years, and I’m married (to my first wife) with a child and living in Germany. In the walled city of Rothenberg ob der Tauber, I find a gun store that sells high-end airguns. They have Walther LGVs and LGRs that I can’t afford as a family man. But they also have a Diana model 10 target pistol that the owner claims is stunningly accurate. He’s a good salesman, and we decided we could afford it; so I buy it plus 5,000 RWS Meisterkugeln pellets.

I learned how to shoot 10-meter pistol with that airgun — heck, I learned that there WAS such a thing as 10-meter pistol! And I got passably good. Good enough to stand on the line at formal matches while better shooters won. I did that for the next 20 years and got better and better until I was what, in technical terms, is known as a duffer. That’s a guy who shows up and shoots without embarrassing himself, while others rule the day.

I also taught my gun-hating father-in-law how to shoot with that air pistol. He got so interested that he shot up a lot of my 5,000 pellets! I finally sold that pistol when I left the Army in 1981.

FWB 124
This is the air rifle I bought after returning from Germany in 1977. I scoped it with a Tasco firearm scope and never had a lick of trouble with it. It had the plastic trigger that the early rifles came with, but I loved it just as it was. It taught me what a precision adult air rifle could be. I had been reading about these rifles for the last 2 years I was in Germany; and, of course, I failed to realize that I lived in Erlangen, the home of the BSF factory! No, I read the Airgun Digest in the last 2 years of my tour and I wanted a 124, so that’s what I got.

11-28-13-01-FWB-124
One of many FWB 124s I’ve owned over the years. Each one is a classic!

Then the R1 came out and took all the wind out of my sails. My 124 was no longer the baddest airgun on the block — despite the fact that no one on my block owned any air rifles at all. No sir! Dr. Beeman said the R1 was the gun to own, and I wanted one with all my fiber! I had to sell that 124 to pay off debts when I left the Army, but it left a seed deep inside me and I’ve owned several since that time.

Diana 27
The Diana 27 I’m referring to is not the one you have seen me write about. No, it’s a gun I bought for $18 in a pawn shop in Radcliff, Kentucky, in the late 1970s. I didn’t even know what it was at the time. It was a Hy Score 807 in .22 caliber and rough as a cob. The rust was deep all over, making the metal surface bumpy. Had it been removed, there would have been deep pits left behind. But the gun still shot very well. I marveled at how light and smooth the powerplant was. It shot slow compared to the 124, but out to 20 yards it held its own. I gave that one to a friend when I left the Army.

Diana 27
Diana 27 isn’t a pretty air rifle, but it shoots like a dream!

Sheridan Blue Streak
This was an air rifle I had coveted since I was a Tenderfoot in the Boy Scouts and read all the ads in Boy’s Life. It could shoot through an inch of wood — the ads said so! And it was accurate. But I never had the money to buy one as a kid. In 1978, a year after returning from Germany (and fast becoming a real airgunner), I finally bought one. The price had risen from $19.95 to $39.95 in the time that had passed, but I purchased what is today recognized as the high-water mark of Sheridan production — a 1978 Blue Streak with the rocker safety!

Sheridan Blue Streak
The Blue Streak I bought in 1978, and the rifle on which Edith learned to shoot.

That gun stayed with me after I left the Army. It wasn’t worth enough to sell, so I kept it and still have it today. Edith learned to shoot with it and killed 9 rats around our Maryland home — not to mention various mice in the house and snakes in the garden. She put a yellow twist tie around the triggerguard to remind her the pellets were the ones in the yellow plastic box. This was before the days of The Airgun Letter and field target. Edith was still learning about airguns.

Beeman R1
We really didn’t have the money at the time, but Edith gifted me with a new Beeman R1 for Christmas in 1991. The Airgun Letter was still 3 years in the future, so the only reason I got this gun was because I told her how long I had desired it. I had purchased a Beeman C1 a couple years before, but it just didn’t scratch the itch.

But the real surprise was the used HW 77 carbine that was also under the tree that year. That was Edith at her best — giving me a gift I had no idea I was getting. We even had a scene from A Christmas Story, as a final long box with my name on it appeared after all other gifts had been opened!

The R1 scratched my itch alright; but what I discovered about airguns is that the more you scratch, the more the itch spreads. You think I’m an enabler? Remember, folks, I do everything to myself before I do it to all of you.

Beeman R8
It was the day I returned from the hospital in 2010. I was sitting on the sofa and had just enough strength to sit up for awhile. Edith pulled out a long cardboard box and told me that one of our blog readers had sent me something for when I come home. I couldn’t stand or even open the box. She had to do it for me. Inside was a black hard case and inside that was the most beautiful Tyrolean air rifle I’ve even seen. It was a Beeman R8 with a custom stock and a fresh tune. A personal note told me who had done the work and how nice it shot.

Beeman R8 Tyrolean
This beautiful Tyrolean Beeman R8 was waiting for me when I returned home from the hospital.

As weak as I was, I had Edith hand me the rifle and I found that I could cock it. Oh boy! Here was a spring rifle I could shoot real soon, even when I couldn’t cock most other air rifles. My friend, Mac, was still testing spring guns for me for several months as my strength returned, but that R8 was mine from the moment I first held it.

Edith and I were showered with gifts from the members of this blog when I got out of the hospital, and we were stunned at the outpouring. But that R8 is my favorite spring rifle because of how nice it is, how great it shoots, and most of all what it meant to me at a time when I could barely raise my head off a pillow.

What about the others?
Sure, there have been plenty of other airguns I’m thankful for. My Whiscombe has been a dream test bed for numerous experiments. Both the Benjamin Discovery and the Air Venturi Bronco are guns I personally was involved in developing. So, of course, they meant a lot. The AirForce Talon SS with a 24″ barrel is probably the gun I shoot more than any other…and you all know how I feel about the TX200! I could go on and on, but where do I stop? These guns have all been pivotal in my development as an airgunner.

I’m thankful
Back when I wrote The Airgun Letter, I allowed myself to get sucked into several bad arguments over trivial airgun issues. When we started this blog, I insisted on using a pen name rather than my own. I didn’t want to spoil things with old baggage from the past. I also reinvented myself at the same time. I learned to curb my temper and to listen to what others have to say — even when it runs contrary to what I believe.

Some of you suspect this, but now I’ll tell you all that Edith is half of Tom Gaylord, the writer. She keeps me on an even keel and lets me vent privately when I have to. She has a much better memory than I do and sometimes she suggests things that I wish I had thought of (and accept credit for when they show up in print). If I didn’t have her, the veneer of who I am would quickly peel back and expose the unpleasantness underneath.

The airguns I have written about today were all pivotal in shaping my life as an airgunner. But it is Edith and you readers who have really had the greatest influence. Through thick and thin, you continue to inspire me and make me glad to have this job.

A few weeks ago, blog reader David Enoch asked me to write a report about the airguns that I never warmed to. I tried doing that and quickly found all the bad old stuff leaking out. So, I stopped writing and focused on only the good things that have happened with airguns. There are so many of them; and when I focus on them, I become the person I want to be.

Today’s report came as a result of a disaster I had while testing a gun yesterday. Nothing went right, several optical sights failed and I put some new dents in the wall of our bedroom. I then sat on the couch complaining about everything. Knowing that I was losing it, Edith suggested today’s topic. I hope this piece does some good for all of you because it has made my day! Happy Thanksgiving!

34 Responses to “Airguns I’m thankful for”

  • klentz Says:

    Tom,

    Thanks for the smile and warm feelings.

    May God continue to bless you and Edith.

    Please keep airguns in their proper perspective and enjoy your Thanksgiving. Give yourself permission to enjoy the day.

    kevin

  • Bub Says:

    B.B. With the vast array of PCP airguns from Crosman, Air Arms, and others what draws you to the Talon SS so much of the time? Happy Thanksgiving. Bub

  • Desertdweller Says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Edith and Tom!

    Nice blog today.

    Les

  • Errol Says:

    B.B.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you & Ms. Edith, Sir. Also, thanks for sharing a bit of your history with us. Your honesty is so touching. May God Bless you both & keep you in great health so that we can have many more years of this superb Blog.

    Errol

  • J-F Says:

    Isn’t it great how some women make us better persons? You both are great people and make this an awesome place to hang out if not THE best place on the web, where people are able to express themselves freely yet everyone is respectful of each other opinions and views.

    Thanks to both of you.

    J-F

  • pete in the Caribbean Says:

    BB, Edith,

    It is often said that love triangles don’t work. You, Edith and your airguns are the exception.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

    Pete

  • twotalon Says:

    Happy thanksgiving, or whatever else. You can even celebrate that tomorrow will be Friday if all else fails and you can’t find any other reason.

    A special happy-happy to Tom and Edith. Pig out on something good today.

    twotalon

  • John E. Says:

    Great topic for this day of thanks. I would have to say I’m thankful for finding this blog, which has led to a much greater understanding of the world of airguns.

  • JerryC Says:

    The ones I am thankful for (and the great people I am thankful to)…

    Daisy Model 25, about 1961 – my brother and I both got one, and we had great fun for years.

    BAM B26 – Skip to 2004, my brother Tommy had jumped into airguns in a big way. He encouraged me to get one, and introduced me to Mike Melick, who delivered a tuned B26. A good starter, it was powerful and pretty accurate. Now on loan to a good friend who needed to deter some grackles who simulated zombie attacks on his backyard feeder. He is amazed at the effectiveness of the .22 B26.

    Walther LGR – My brother wanted a left hand LGR, and he obtained a beautiful RH model and a heavily used but working lefty. He had the actions swapped out, and the beautiful RH stock and the older action (tuned by a NC expert) became mine -I found that airguns could be more accurate than my ability, and things of real beauty.

    Turns out, I live on the same street as David Enoch. Met a bunch of North Texas airgun militants, including our Mr. Gaylord. Hard to edit, I will list the ones that are most worthy of thanks. Spent more money than I like to think about, but well worth it. All these listed I consider to be great values (otherwise I might not be thankful). As Tom points out, we will just forget the disappointing ones today!

    Slavia CZ634 – My brother again – he bought one, and loved it. I ordered a new one, tuned by Gene in SC. A medium powered springer that shoots as well as any I have tried. Totally dependable precision. Still a pleasure to shoot. Made me think I was a good shot, taught me a lot about accuracy.

    Air Arms TX200. Wanted to try field target. Big, beautiful, and a challenge to shoot well. Whenever I think I have it all solved, experts like Ron Robinson (and the Yegua members) show me new levels of skill and equipment to strive for.

    Marauder – Finally succumbed to the PCP urge. Ron Robinson, Bob Dye and Paul Bracaglia instigate setting up SCBA tank, getting right scope, and tweaking the rifle to eliminate equipment as excuse for not reaching expert shot level. As Tom says, I am now a duffer, but perhaps the most enjoyable hobby of my life to date…

  • John Says:

    At first I thought about being thankful for my condor. I thought I knew what an airgun was until it schooled me on what a truly multi-purpose gun is with it’s ability to change calibers, barrel length and ability to change out accessories. But then I thought about it. As fine of a gun as that is there is a much more humble air rifle I should be much more thankful for. That would be mt Crosman 760. Reason being, that was my first and the one to se me on an amazing journey through my entire life. Without that 760 and learning to shoot with it, I likely would not have joined the army, got the invite to J.F.K. Special Warfare School, got to be there when the Berlin wall was torn down, earned a spot on the U.S. Army C.A.T. team, had the skills needed that I was recalled to active service for Desert Storm, guarded the 1996 Olympic games, been hand picked to provide extra security for the Vice President of the United States at the opening ceremonies…..the list goes on. And it all started with that Crosman 760. It’s still starting amazing journeys today. I passed it along to another boy that is now learning to shoot with it. One day he will be able to tell his own amazing stories that will all start with that Crosman 760. Maybe his son will also begin his own journey with that same Crosman 760.

    One tv show I enjoy is Warehouse 13. For those of you that do not know it, it’s a show about this amazing warehouse full of all these historic artifacts that have these amazing powers. If anything could be one of those artifacts with an amazing ability, that Crosman 760 would be one of them.

    • /Dave Says:

      WH13! Great show! I’m waiting for the next season to come out on disk. Eureka is not bad either!

      • John Says:

        I got season 1-3 on netflix and season 4 on disk. I understand they are only making 6 more episodes. I’ll miss that show. Even though I know it doesn’t actually exist, the warehouse is my favorite place on earth. It kind of replaced one from my childhood where there is no place left for me now. I had to say goodbye to it when my grandparents’ house was sold.

    • Mike U Says:

      I will second you on the 760. It’s not my first airgun, nor my last, I hope, but I still use it often. Mine has a Williams WGRS peep sight that cost as much as the rifle, and a slip-on butt pad to fit my long arms. It provides lots of enjoyment in my garage range, when I can’t get out to a longer range and shoot my Diana 24 and 34. The short range makes the smooth bore no handicap.

      I tried to sell the 760 online some time ago in a fit of “thinning the herd,” but I am very glad no one bought it!

      • John Says:

        It’s a good starter gun. I’m happy mine has gotten a second life starting another youngster on an adventure of his own. Definitely won’t be anything like mine but it will be a good one with it’s own stories to tell. I still have a few others that have been with me through my own life. I still have my AIR 17. It’s still in great shape and still fires as strong as it always has. I’ve been thinking of sticking a multi-pump valve in it but never did it yet.

  • /Dave Says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to Tom, Edith and everyone here!

    Airguns I’m thankful for include my first, a Daisy 1894 BB gun that my dad taught me to shoot with when I was small. The Crosman 760 that he replaced the 1894 with after I wore it out. That one continued my airgun shooting well into my late teens.

    After that, I got a Crosman 1322 that accounted for many pests including another skunk (the first was taken with my 760 while it was in a box trap). The 1322 is still with me after all these years and was the first gun I used with Lucky McDaniel’s instinctive shooting course. Of course, that re-fired my desire to try different airguns, and after finding this blog there was no looking back! A whole new universe had opened up beyond the end of my nose! Thank you both, Tom and Edith, for that! There are still worlds of airgun sport out there that I haven’t even begun to explore. More than enough to keep me busy until I turn to dust….!

    /Dave

  • dangerdongle Says:

    I’m grateful I didn’t shoot my eye out, kids!
    (Hey, SOMEone had to say it!)
    Happy turkey day to all!!

  • duskwight Says:

    B.B.

    I wish you many more happy years and lots of beutiful airguns!

    duskwight

  • nonewjerseymike Says:

    Happy Thankgiving,Good memory blog,I remember my first air gun,The Benjaman Rocket
    .22 co2 pistol That used 8 gram soda bottles,The gun came with 50 pellets and one co2
    I used them up and I was worried that I couldn’t get more since I lived in the Undemocratic
    Peoples Nonrepublic of NJ But I found that I could buy pellets and co2′s but not the guns.
    Back then if you had a pellet or bb gun the police would just take it away not like today.
    I also had the Daisey 25,the dual co2 Crossman Rifle,I alwaysliked the Benjaman guns because
    of their old style air guns and the old almost hand drawn catalogs,They also touted penetration into
    soft pine IE: PISTOL 1/4″ RIFLE 1/2″ as a selling point.I once found one in the UK but the customs fee
    was more than the value almost three hundred dollars.I am nmow semi handicapped and can’t get to the
    shows anymore.So my search is on line.Onc in the late fifties in NYC ON 42ND ST.There was a store that
    had one of every current air gun made,But they had to ship them to your home,But to this day
    I regret not buying those English Webley’s and Euro Guns that no other store carried.Then came Air Rifle
    Headquarters and I drooled over the Wischo 55n which was at the time was shooting 750 fps which was
    very high for that time,But then they would not sell to NJ residents and I never did get one.I had to go out of state to get the ones I wanted.So I passed up quite a lot of those now collectible long gone models.

  • cowboystar dad Says:

    Gotta admit…the airgun I’m most thankful for is our first Red Ryder from Christmas 2006.
    I bought it for my then 5 year old after watching A Christmas Story.
    Though my father was an ardent shooter/hunter/reloader I’d lost interest in shooting in my teens (a lot of years ago).
    But the Red Ryder ignited a passion for shooting that I now share with my boys (not 10 & 12) that has led to more than a few gun purchases (air and powder) and many enjoyable days at the range or in the field.
    Even though we now have collection of pretty good pellet rifles, action pistols plus their counterparts that burn powder, we still regularly load up the Red Ryders and fill some pop cans full of holes.

    • CSD,

      After reading your comment I think you MUST get a Daisy 499. I let a gun buddy try one last week and he purchased 4 of them for himself, family and friends. He is shooting his this weekend at his country place. He though I was lying when I told him how accurate they are, but now he knows the truth.

      If you like to shoot with your boys, you owe it to yourself to get one of these and the BBs that go with it. And the paper targets.

      B.B.

      • cowboystar dad Says:

        It is on my list b.b.
        The RR are great for pop cans at 25 feet, but I would like something we could shoot in the basement that would group half decently. I know that is the frustrating thing about the RR (and the Walther PPK), at 30′ four inch groups happen on a good day.
        But alas it won’t be for awhile.
        For the last few years we’ve added on firearm to our collection every Christmas. On the list this year was a Henry lever action .22, the new Mossberg MVP in .223 and the Walther LVG.
        Then about a month ago a friend of mine took us clay shooting and the boys loved it.
        There is a new Mossberg 500 .20guage hidden in the basement waiting to be wrapped for under the tree.
        So many guns…so little $$$ ;-)

  • Gunfun1 Says:

    Happy Holidays to everyone.

    Thanks BB and Edith for taking care of the blog.

    And on to the guns.I’m glad I got my Crosman 760 when I was a kid. I guess it started it all for me. Then came the Benji 392. And I have to throw in the Winchester Model 190 I got for Christmas when I was a kid.

    A lot of good old memory’s those guns made.
    And now I hopefully get to make those memories for my daughters.

    Well they are hollering at me now. Got to go. Time to go get fat.

  • fasride Says:

    Happy Holidays to you and Edith.

    I also started out with a Red Rider BB gun and added both Benjamin and Crossman air rifles and pistols, as well. I am now 71, so that was a long time ago. a tube of BB’s was a nickel. Lead BB’s were a dime if you could find them. A movie was 9 cents, popcorn and a coke were a nickel each, so I could go to the movies with a quarter, have a bag of popcorn and a coke and buy a tube of BB’s on the way home.

    The one standout air gun in my mind was a Healthways Plainsman that looked similar to a Luger. I was really proud of that air pistol which cost around $7.00. It was very accurate (at close range) and it was a semi-automatic, as I recall. I learned a valuable lesson from owning that pistol. My dad had a habit of taking things apart to “see how they worked” and I guess I took after him. The Plainsman really intrigued me.

    One day, I decided to “tear it down”. I got down to the last screw and when I loosened it, the pistol exploded in my hands. Parts went everywhere. Yep, I had forgotten to remove the CO2 cylinder. I could not find all of the parts and pieces and it went into a shoe box, never to shoot again. I was really ticked that I had done something that dumb, but it is an experience that I have never forgotten. I am truly thankful for that early safety lesson.

    Just this week, I had the opportunity to coach my 9 year old grandson as he shot his first air pistol. It was a Makarov BB pistol, a semi-auto somewhat similar to the old Plainsman that I once had. I could not help but reflect back to that time in my life when I had the thrill of shooting an air pistol for the first time. It generated a love and respect for guns and shooting that I passed on to my children and I still have to this day. Now, I am enjoying passing it on to my grandchildren.

    Jerry in Texas (fasride)

  • Matt61 Says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to all and especially B.B. and Edith for the blog. I started an extremely late morning by having a look at last night’s target and feeling pretty pleased with myself.

    So, a duffer is what it’s called. That’s the word I have been searching for… Didn’t know the background of the R8 with the Tyrolean stock although I read the post. B.B. your so-called veneer runs so deep, I don’t know that it’s a veneer. Most online discourse would try the patience of a saint. Creating the airgun university in the midst of all this is a monumental achievement.

    I’ve been so cautious with all my purchases that I don’t know that I’ve had a bad experience. Getting that IZH 61, after carefully studying the blog reports, does stand out though. That same goes for getting that M1 Garand back from Clint Fowler after six months. The suspense over that period was making me ill. And when I got set for that first shot, it was like the world stood still.

    Matt61

  • chris in ct Says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to all.Great memories.My first intro to airguns was in 1979 I was 12yrs old. I use to visit my school friends where they had a Crosman 760 and a Daisy Red Ryder we played in the woods behind the house.It was a couple yrs later I saved enough money cutting grass and odd jobs in my neighbor hood I bought a Crosman 2100 and Daisy 880.Had no clue that Beeman Percision Airguns even existed living in the east coast.The following summer cars were the thing to do.Fast forward to 2005 while on vacation my wife went to visit distant relatives I took the boys to look at airguns. I saw Gamo shadow break barrel and Daisy 1000,man I thought hard because $124 was a lot to spend on a airgun.I bought both and a four pack gamo variety pack of pellets.the frist shot I made was about 100ft into a pond I was amazed how fast the pellet went.the gamo came with a brochure with all their other models and a web site and eventually found this site and been a member ever since.

  • Desertdweller Says:

    I remember reading somewhere that Ted Nugent has declared the Red Ryder to be the most important gun in US history. Because it opened the door to shooting for so many Americans. Including himself (and myself, in the form of its temporary replacement and clone, the Model 95).

    I’m sure he is right.

    My grandson Nicky was here last night and was shooting my P17 in the basement. 720 rounds through it now with no problems. He is going to get one for Christmas, along with a Crosman Optimus springer.

    Les

  • zimbabwaeed Says:

    I got my first air rifle when I was 10 years old. (1946). It was in a garbage can in front of a house near my schoolbus stop. I hid it behind some bushes and picked it up on my way home. I was the proud owner of a Daisy 25, missing the shooting bbl , it was completely rusted. I never found out if the trigger worked, it fired when you closed the slide. I spent many happy years designing projectiles that the gun would spit out. In 1954 I got a marksman bb pistol, and a Benjamin co2 pistol. In 1956 I bought my first firearm, a Jap m99 Arisaka. That’s when I became a hunter, target shooter and collector.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 that last comment is from my cat, Wrecks. He wants to join me in wishing everybody a happy Thanksgiving Ed

  • David Enoch Says:

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
    I grew up with firearms and didn’t get my first airgun until I was almost 40. I was blessed to find a HW55MM with a Berman 66R scope at a pawn shop. I was hooked. A tiny Slavia 618 taught me how much fun it was to plink. A QB22 and LD pistol taught me to love C02. It is amazing how much energy is stored in a C02 cartridge. An old style BSA Lightning taught me that I can shoot a springer with a high power to weight ratio well even though that was contrary to most of what I read. The Lightning is my favorite and most shot airgun. My USFT Hunter is the only PCP that I have truly loved. I love the swing breech, exposed hammer, and low fill pressure.

    BB, don’t write a blog that makes you feel bad just because I suggested it. Write about things you are interested in. That is when you do your best work.

    David Enoch

  • kenholmz Says:

    B.B. and Edith, may your Thanksgiving continue each day. Thank you for your sharing. ~Ken

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