Charles F. LeFever — BB gun genius

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The history of airguns

This report covers:

  • In the beginning
  • Moses goes to the mountain
  • Historic trivia
  • Pump gun a big deal
  • Cast iron versus folded metal
  • Water pistol
  • Number 40 Military model
  • No protoptypes for Fred!
  • He quit — 19 different times!

In the beginning

I mentioned Charles F. “Fred” LeFever in an answer to a comment the other day and it dawned on me that this is a man I really should address in this history segment. Fred, as he was known, wrote a letter to Daisy in 1911, telling them about a pump-action BB gun he had just invented that he thought they should see. They were very busy when the letter arrived and answered him curtly, saying that if Daisy was interested they would contact Mr. LeFever sometime in the future about seeing the gun. You have to appreciate that they got letters and cold calls like this all the time and were hardened to the reality that most of those contacts were bogus.

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H&N Excite Smart Shot copper-plated lead BBs: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Smart Shot BBs
H&N Excite Smart Shot BBs are the first lead BBs in 90 years.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • Forced-feed magazine
  • The test
  • Umarex BBs
  • Daisy BBs
  • Smart Shot BBs
  • Daisy BB
  • Conclusions
  • What do I test next?

Today I am shooting the H&N Excite Smart Shot copper-plated lead BB in a Daisy number 25 pump BB gun that has a 50-shot forced-feed magazine. The gun I am using was made in Plymouth, Michigan between the years 1952 and 1958, which can be determined by the electrostatic paint instead of bluing on the metal and the plastic buttstock and pump handle. This gun is in 95 percent condition and would be 98 percent except the butt has a slight curve at the back that’s characteristic of the soft plastic Daisy used in those days. It probably stood on its butt in a warm closet for 30 years before I bought it at a flea market in the early 1990s. I doubt it was ever shot before I bought it. It’s so nice that I seldom shoot it, but today I wanted a gun that’s as close as I can come to the current Daisy 25 that Pyramyd Air sells.

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Beeman R1 supertune: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Beeman R1
Beeman R1 Supermagnum air rifle.

Part1
Part2

This report covers:

  • New tune more accurate?
  • A nondescript scope
  • Various holds
  • The R1 wants to shoot!
  • Air Arms domes
  • RWS Superdomes
  • H&N Baracuda Match
  • The rifle’s feel
  • Where are we?

Today I start testing my tuned Beeman R1. The R1 has always been a twitchy spring rifle for me. I have gotten some good groups and I have also failed miserably. The rifle is not at fault, because it can stack pellets on top of one another — at least at 25 yards. But it is super sensitive to small variations in the hold. In fact, this R1 I am testing for you is the one that inspired the artillery hold, two decades ago.

New tune more accurate?

Is the rifle easier to shoot accurately, now that it has been tuned? No so far. It’s still very sensitive to slight variations in the hold, as I learned in this session.

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Air Arms S410 TDR precharged pneumatic pellet rifle: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Air Arms TDR rifle
Both side of the Air Arms S410 TDR.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Equipment malfunction
  • Why a pump?
  • A different test
  • Loading and cocking
  • No double feeds
  • High power
  • The end of the power curve
  • Low power
  • Medium power
  • Trigger pull
  • Butt adjustment
  • Observations so far

Today we test the velocity of the .22 caliber Air Arms S410 TDR Classic. Because it has a power adjuster, we will look at power on the high, medium and low settings. We will also look at the shot count, how easy the magazine is the load, the trigger setting and generally how the rifle functions.

Equipment malfunction

In Part 1 I said I would test this rifle out at the range because of the loud report, but an equipment malfunction plus the weather caused me to change my plans. The malfunction was my Hill pump that has been reliable until now. When I hooked it up to the TDR out at the range it failed to operate. That’s probably because I don’t use it very often and these things need to be exercised or they will seize up. I will continue to exercise it and hopefully get it running again.

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Haenel model 100 BB pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Haenel history
  • Haenel 100
  • Not a BB pistol?
  • Odd way of cocking
  • Nickel finish
  • Crude sights
  • Shot tube
  • Functioning
  • The future

Haenel history

Of the many European airgun manufacturers, only a few like Walther, Feinwerkbau and Diana are well-known to American airgunners. Other makers like Falke of Germany and Peiper of Belgium produced airguns in quantity, but they escaped our notice. The greatest of these makers was perhaps the Haenel company that was founded by Carl Gottleib Haenel in 1840. By the 1930s, Haenel was producing many models of air rifles that would become collector favorites a half-century later in the U.S. I have reviewed a few of these rifles for you already. There was the Haenel 310 bolt action target rifle that shoots 4.4mm lead balls. That one came into the U.S. after the Wall fell in 1989. The East German Stasi used them as youth trainers and when the Germans took over they sold them as surplus.

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Mass production and interchangeable parts

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The history of airguns

This report covers:

    • But wait, there’s more
    • Final finishing
    • A gun maker who could not make a gun
    • Airguns?
    • Specialized parts can hurt you
    • Tooling, technology and schedules
    • It’s not as easy as it sounds

    If you think interchangeable parts came from Eli Whitney, the way the U.S. history books tell us, you are mistaken. He did perform a demonstration in 1801, assembling one of his muskets from a seemingly random pile of parts — something that had never been done before. He did it, but he cheated. The parts in the pile were marked beforehand to assure they all went together. So — the idea of interchangeable parts may have come from Whitney, but the first practical application of the idea on a mass scale came 50 years later when Samuel Colt created the modern production line. He may have been inspired by Frenchman, Honore LeBlanc, who suggested that firearms ought to be made from standardized parts, but never went beyond the talking stage. Colt invented the production line that required complete interchangeability of parts to succeed.

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H&N Excite Smart Shot copper-plated lead BBs: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Smart Shot BBs
H&N Excite Smart Shot BBs are the first lead BBs in 90 years.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Today’s test
  • Baseline testing
  • The test
  • Daisy BBs
  • Smart Shot BBs
  • BBs fell out
  • Avanti Precision Ground Shot
  • Conclusions
  • What’s next?

Today’s test

Today’s test will be shooting the H&N Excite Smart Shot copper-plated lead BB in a Daisy Avanti Champion 499 — the world’s most accurate BB gun. There were concerns that this lead BB wouldn’t function in a 499 because of the gun’s magnetic BB seat in the breech. The fear was these BBs would just roll out the barrel if the barrel was depressed below level.

Baseline testing

I thought about shooting only 5 shots at each target because I knew the BBs were all going to go to the same place. In the end, though, convention won and I shot 10 shots per target. The distance was 5 meters and I rested the gun on a UTG monopod.

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