Two firearms made by airgun manufacturers: Part 2

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

Part 1

I’m in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, today filming the 2014 episodes of American Airgunner. Because I am on the road, I’ll ask my veteran readers to help answer the questions we get from the new guys. After a day’s filming, I have to return to the hotel, answer my email then write the next day’s blog. The blogs are going to be pretty short this week because I was so busy last week that I didn’t have a lot of time to bank any of them.

Today’s report is about 2 rimfire rifles that were made by airgun manufacturers — Daisy and Falke. I introduced both rifles in Part 1 and gave you my opinions and observations about their quality. In today’s report, I’ll take these 2 rifles to the range and shoot some targets at 50 yards.

I also introduced a Crickett .22 rimfire in Part 1. That rifle was made by a firearms manufacturer and served as my control during this test.

There were a lot of comments on the first part of this report. A number of readers expressed interest in these small single-shot rifles, and more than a few people said this was the first time they had heard of one or all of them.

Daisy model 8
The first report was mostly descriptive. I talked about the relative quality, or the lack of quality, that I see in each of the subject rifles. I came down on the Daisy model 8 the hardest, and in retrospect, everything I said was deserved. The rifle is made on a zinc diecast receiver — the weakest possible type of construction. Yet, it does work.

What doesn’t work on the Daisy is its reliability. It fails to fire almost half the time. Either the mainspring is weak or the headspace is too great or the firing pin isn’t long enough — something is wrong. But in spite of that, the rifle shoots well.

I said in the first report that the Daisy was inaccurate, but in this test I discovered that it is plenty accurate. I shot it at 50 yards outdoors on a very cold and windy day, and the rifle grouped like a much more expensive firearm.

Tom shoots Daisy model 8
The day was cold and blustery, but the little Daisy model 8 shot very well.

When I went down to inspect the first target, I couldn’t believe what I saw. I recalled that the Daisy model 8 was inaccurate, but 7 shots in 2.045 inches in the black were proving me wrong. I know this isn’t the best group in the world. I’ve done much better at this distance, but I never thought the little Daisy could even keep all its shots on the paper at 50 yards.

Daisy model 8 target 1
This first 7-shot, 2.045-inch group showed me that the Daisy can shoot.

I put up another target and shot another 10 Aguila standard speed rounds at it. This time the spread between centers was 2.393 inches, which is larger — but not by much. And the shots are still nicely centered. Only one round missed the black bull.

Daisy model 8 target 2
The Daisy put 10 shots into 2.393 inches at 50 yards. While that’s not great, it’s better than I expected!

Falke rifle
The Falke single-shot is the most deceptive of the 3 rifles being tested. Overall, it looks fine; and in a 21st century context, it even looks like a premium gun! But by understanding what was happening in Germany right after World War II, we can understand why that’s so. All hand work was cheap at that time because labor was plentiful and inexpensive. The hand-checkered pistol grip and the high polish on the metal parts are to be expected. But the design of the rifle is crude. That shows up best in the flat spring that powers both the sear and trigger.

Falke sear spring 1
The Falke trigger/sear spring looks like it was taken from a half-ton pickup truck!

Falke sear spring 2
This shot shows how Falke made the large flat spring work as both the sear spring and the trigger return spring. It saves money but isn’t very elegant.

That spring was making the Falke cock very hard because the sear didn’t want to get out of the way when the bolt was withdrawn. I lubricated it heavily with moly grease and reduced the effort by at least two-thirds. The trigger-pull also dropped from about 18 lbs. down to about 8 lbs.

No joy
Alas, all my work was for naught, for the Falke rifle was not the equal of the Daisy at 50 yards. Ten bullets went into 2.91 inches at 50 yards. Of course, I may not have used the best cartridge for the Falke, and it may have been the best one for the model 8 — but that’ll take a lot more testing to discover. The point is just this: A rifle that looks much better and is more expensive than the Daisy model 8 may not be any more accurate. That’s all I’m saying.

Falke group
The Falke rifle grouped larger than the Daisy and also out of the bull. The sights need some adjustment. Ten shots in 2.91 inches between centers.

Crickett
The Crickett rifle was supposed to be the control in this little comparison. While both the Daisy and Falke rifles were made by airgun manufacturers, Crickett makes only firearms. I already noted that the Crickett has a much better appearance and feel. Despite the cheap synthetic stock with its pink panels, a lot of real thought went into this rifle. It may be small, but it looks right.

But at 50 yards the Crickett put 10 rounds into 2.564 inches. They were at the top of the target paper and one was a quarter-inch off the paper, so there are just 9 holes visible. The rear peep sight has enough adjustment to get the shots back into the bull at this distance, but it will take a different cartridge to shoot better than the little Daisy.

Crickett group
The Crickett sights are way off! Ten shots went into 2.564 inches, but one of those shots landed a quarter-inch above the highest shot in this picture.

On the other hand, the Crickett is 100 percent reliable. And the trigger is light. Those things do live up to its gun-making heritage.

Interesting!
This test was interesting. On one hand, ugly (the Daisy model 8) triumphed over beauty (the Falke); and on the other, enthusiasm (Daisy, again) beat out experience (the Crickett). That’s not how I thought this would turn out! Given the circumstances and from what I saw, I thought it would have been the Falke first, followed closely by the Crickett, with the Daisy bringing up the rear…and very far behind the others.

Conclusions
The Daisy model 8 may be a cheaply made single shot rifle, but that doesn’t mean it can’t shoot. It still needs some work on the firing reliability, but I would say the accuracy is where it needs to be. We still have no idea about which rifle is most accurate. To learn that, a lot more shooting is required. I’m glad to do it, but I’m just saying that we don’t want to dismiss either of the other 2 rifles.

Is there a point to all of this? I think there is. That point would be that you don’t want to judge a gun (or anything) by appearances, alone. Furthermore, inexpensive materials and cheap construction don’t always mean something is no good. Only by testing can we determine if a gun is up to snuff.

One more thing. Some readers have noticed that I sometimes spend a lot of time on an airgun that has seemingly very little to recommend it — like the BSA Meteor. This Daisy might fall into that same category. If I can get it to shoot reliably, what a wonderful little rifle it will turn out to be!

59 thoughts on “Two firearms made by airgun manufacturers: Part 2

  1. Not fair.

    Rimfires are just as picky about ammo as pellet guns.

    I see two boxes of ammo on the bench and read about two types tested for this report.

    For rim fires I consider wolf match the equivalent in rimfires to jsb’s in airguns. Not always the best but usually.

    Kevin


    • Kevin,

      This wasn’t really about which rifle is the most accurate, or how accurate any of them is. It was about the fact that the Daisy was far better than I originally thought. Despite its construction and materials, Daisy pulled it off.

      If I can fix the Daisy’s reliability, I may go back and see just how accurate it can be.

      B.B.


    • Wolf Match is great stuff. It is all I need in my Anschutz to shoot to capacity. Thank goodness it is finally available again.

      Matt61


  2. In your first report, you stated :
    “I’ve also shot the Crickett, and it’s 100 percent reliable. While it’s no tackdriver, it will put its shots into 1.5 inches at 25 yards — and sometimes the groups are even smaller. In my estimation, the Crickett is a small, inexpensive firearm”

    Outfitted with an optic, like the Bushnell Sportsman 4-12x40mm A/O, I’ve gotten a few groups at 25 yds well under that 1.5″, shooting off a far less desirable rest than you use – one of those little dinky ones at indoor shooting ranges, sitting on a little home-made bag with me as the rear rifle support, and some Eley Sport LRN. All but one of the 11 targets of the last A-36 Target I shot had groups less than an inch on them.



      • Tom,

        I think its safe to say that there is interest in this series of reports. It may not draw the shear number of comments as some of the other recent reports, but I imagine a lot of people are looking at it in interest since we’re not as familiar with these rim-fires.

        J.


  3. Aah Ha! I see the lesson in these testings, there are diamonds in the dirt, and fools gold as well. I think one thing might also be throwing the groups around a bit may be the bores. These are a little bit older and seem to be more collectible items now. Depending on how much they’re fired there could be pretty dry bores and oxidation in them. Even with cleaning and oiling they may have to smooth out or “season” before groups are at their best. I just made that up but it sounded good. And thanks Pops SLR, I believe rifling resembles a DNA strand for same reason a mans life resembles the flight of a bullet. From daddy’s magazine to mommas chamber and we’re blasted out into lives and the bullet never knows its intended target or how long it’ll fly to get there but it was meant for that flight and can not go any other way but to take the trip. That’s what Rifled DNA means to me.


  4. Until I saw that first picture I didn’t realize how tiny that rifle is. Looks to be nearly as small as a Red Ryder!

    The group pictures surprised me a little too because most of the groups I look at are 10m air rifle – took a bit of mental recalibration for me to fairly judge 50 yard in-the-wind groups.


    • nowhere,

      The Daisy model 8 is a lot smaller than a Red Ryder. Not lighter, but shorter.

      Yes, these groups are not what I usually show, are they? But that little Daisy just wants to prove that it’s a real firearm — despite what I say.

      B.B.


  5. It is like you said, looks can be quite deceiving. However, if I was going to purchase either the Daisy or the Falke, I would have to take the Falke because durability is a consideration to me.

    The Iver Johnson Mark X has basically the same trigger/sear spring setup as the Falke. The trigger pull though is way much lighter than that.

    Also, so many firearm shooters just cannot seem to grasp that different ammunition will give different results with different firearms. When my Son-in-law purchased a .22, we took five different brands of cartridges to the “range” to see which it preferred. When the weather warms, we will probably do it again with several other brands.


    • RR,

      You know — you may have just suggested a great blog idea! What if I were to shoot groups of different .22 rimfire ammo from a rifle of known accuracy? That would show the differences in accuracy among the various rounds — just like pellets.

      I’m writing that one in the book.

      B.B.


      • Since it is one of the most popular, you should probably use your 10/22 so that all those guys out there can relate better.


        • Ridgerunner,

          The only issue with using a 10/22, or any semi-automatic, is that they don’t feed as reliably with subsonic and standard velocity ammunition. That limits you to the high-velocity and hyper-velocity ammunition. (At least in my experience anyway.)

          J




              • Interesting. I’ve seen semi-automatics that don’t function as well with standard velocity and subsonic loadings. Usually, and I want to emphasize the usually, the standard velocity ammo will have enough power to cycle the gun, though sometimes you’ll get a cartridge that has a bit less oomph that kicks the bolt back far enough to eject the spent cartridge but don’t kick it back far enough pick up the next round. With the subsonic ammo, I’ve seen that happen a lot more frequently. Hence my comment. Then again maybe it varies from semi-automatic to semi-automatic.


      • I would love to see that test.

        I hope you throw in some of the .22 cal. CB shorts. And maybe some of the 60 grain SSS .22 cal. long rifle rounds from Aguila. I’m guessing those 2 rounds would show up different on the target.



    • I’m stuck with one 50 round box of top-grade Eley rimfire. Enough to season the barrel and get in some good shots but too expensive for regular shooting.

      Matt61


      • I look at it like this, if that is what does best in it, that is what I will feed it. You just waste money on missed shots otherwise.


  6. Hurrah for the underdog, not owning a FAC i can only relate a similar tale about an air rifle. Namely the Lion/SMK B45-3 .177 multi pump that not only is cheap and nasty looking , but the air inlet valve is designed in such a way that it needs replacing every 100 shots or so. But this rifle shoots with pin point accuracy, and i have been slowly upgrading what i can as i think of it and have the time. I love it so much i built a stock that slightly resembles an AA s410 for it as i didn’t have one at the time and that has improved the balance, leverage on the pump arm, length of pull, and head position for improved accuracy.

    I own some near top end PCP’s and springer’s as well as a whole load of 70′s classic British air rifles, but this cheap dated Chinese air rifle is one of my favourites and just goes to show you never can tell. Or maybe, don’t judge a book by its cover.

    TTFN

    Best wishes, Wing Commander Sir Nigel Tetlington-Smythe.



    • I think accuracy is all about the barrel, especially in a rimfire. With a pellet gun we also have to worry about getting consistent velocity.

      David Enoch


      • David Enoch,

        Ever shoot cheap rimfire ammo over your chrony? Wild variations. It’s not just a problem in pellet guns.

        kevin


    • Are you Sir Nigel, or goatboy? One seems a bit more prestigous than the other… Anyway…. what is the FAC restriction like as far as do you feel satisfied at 12 ft/lbs or is it noticeably deficient? Do authorities harass every airgun they see and really test to the hair, or if its generally an approximation? Thanks for your opinion on this as I don’t know anything about how that goes and Others on my side of the world my not know either.


      • Goatboy is my handle, but my actual name is not much different to my signature. But the titles are purely a humour thing, i’m actually a working class socialist near as damn it, but don’t quote me on that. As for working within the 12 ft/lb law i find in .177 wind to be the only hinderance and can be splendid out to 50 yards and.22 is good for it’s weight up to 35 yards, then trajectory rules the day and it’s just something you get used too. I live in the countryside and as long as i carry my rifles in a slip no one minds, so i have only once had the police check one of my rifles to date. but having used .22 at 30 ft/lb a couple of times i a can really see what i’m missing out on,

        atb Sir Nigel.


    • Hi Sir Nigel,I am afraid we may someday end up with your law.Some states
      already have a law anything over .177 is a firearm,When my brother was in London
      he went to a shop that sold or made a pistol called the Peerless, but he was too
      lazy to go a few blocks to the shop’s other location.
      He did bring me their catalog.It resembled the BSA Scorpian which I understand
      The UK Goverment asked them to stop producing it because it was over
      the four lb. limit for hand guns at almost 600 fps.
      I was lucky enough to find two in .177 & .22 they were made for the UK market,
      in the box were the laws of the 70′s which I know have changed,I was
      shocked when I read the enclosed rules even though I lived in New Jersey
      that had it’s own restrictive laws as bad as the UK’S.


  7. Sir Nigel, That’s the purpose of the books cover. Since we live in an imperfect world, we should not let the cover be our only way to judge the book, but it has been a reasonably successful method, at least in my short 77 year (so far) lifetime. However, BB,s point (and yours too) can be supported by the book “Testing the War Weapons” (T.J. Mullin). The author has a completely opposite opinion of the merits of the 1903 Springfield and 6.5 Carcano carbine, than most gun critics. I hope that BB will write a book about testing air rifles, and pistols. It would be usefull to have that kind of information under one cover. I wonder what its cover will look like? Ed




  8. Dear Tom,

    Just a note to thank you for all the information and wisdom you share with us each week. It has occurred to me lately that us old timers have so much to share with the world, simply by virtue of having lived this long.

    JoeB


  9. To paraphrase, The Far Side cartoon, “Now there’s a tiny gun [blog photo].” B.B., did you shoot those groups with iron sights?!?! On a windy day, I would say that is outstanding. But the reliability is a real concern. Misfiring half the time sounds outright dangerous to me, like there’s something really wrong. Otherwise, I’m so taken with cheap guns that outperform the more expensive ones. As I’ve heard said about Savage rifles, “You can spend more money, but you will not get more gun.”

    Matt61


  10. I hope the show has grown up a bit since last season. The shoot outs have been pretty lame. They need to do more in depth reporting of airgun events and such and reviewing of airguns.


  11. Dear Matt61, pps 201-203 of the above mentioned book, fixed sight Carcano carbine-3 1/4 inch group(s?), ” as good as any other standard military rifle of the period”, ” I prefer it to an M1903 rifle in 30-06—”. and many other reasons the author likes the Carcano and dislikes the 1903. This book should be read by anyone interested in military rifles. Mullin tested 80 rifles and light machine guns and gives his opinions, as a former combat vet, and a hunter. Even if you don’t agree with him, his tests make interesting reading. If you can get (and read) this book, let me know your opinion . Ed P.S., He tested 5 different versions of the 1903 rifle, including the Pederson device. I agree with him on 2 points, the 03 has poor sights for a combat rifle, and the stock is badly designed for a rifle of this power.


  12. b.b. correct me if im wrong ,but didn’t daisy offer that same rifle in a magazine feed ? id swore at the gun show in Joplin,mo. the guy that always is there with the daisy rf’s had 1 when I first noticed them that 1 was a magazine feed .it looked the same except for the slot in the bottom


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