Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Darts with airsoft?

by B.B. Pelletier

Here's a sport I never considered - using airsoft guns to play darts!

Crosman makes the entire package
Take a look at Crosman's Stinger Challenge. It's an entire shooting game in a box for less than $50! Most of the time, I punch paper when I shoot airguns indoors. Here is a way to add a little spice. Instead of holes in paper, the Stinger Challenge gives you a dart board with two spring-piston pistols, one red and the other blue.

The two colors keep the shots separate between competitors. The BBs are color-coordinated with the guns, so the target shows whose shots went where. The gel-trap target is 12" in diameter, so you can back up beyond regulation dart-throwing distance if you want. The Hop-Up in the guns should assure reasonable accuracy out to at least 30 feet.

Catch those BBs!
You'll want to hang some kind of fabric behind the trap to stop and collect all stray BBs. There's nothing worse for domestic tranquility than having BBs everywhere! If you slant the fabric toward the firing line and down to the floor, the BBs will run down safely to be automatically gathered in one place when you're finished shooting. If you go one step further and run the fabric into a cardboard box, the BB-collecting job will be finished when you are!

Darts isn't the only game
With a color-coordinated set like this, you can have mock "duels." Both shooters face away from the target while one of them counts to ten aloud. On "ten," both players turn and fire at the target. Either the player with the highest score wins, or the player whose BB hits the target first wins. There are many ways to play this game. It's hypnotic when a good competition gets started!

Safety first
The set includes two pairs of safety glasses, but they aren't adjustable for head sizes. Crosman also makes some that are, so consider who else will need glasses if you buy this outfit. Not only should both shooters wear glasses, all people in the same vicinity should have them, too.

If it's too easy - back up!
Pick your distance to the target so both shooters are challenged. With some creativity - say, each player in a different room and the target in a third room - you can handicap the match by allowing one shooter to stand closer to the target. This doesn't just work for dueling; every target match can be handicapped this way.

The pistols reach a velocity of 230 f.p.s., which means they shoot 0.12-gram BBs. When you buy the set, try some other brands of BBs to see which ones shoot most accurately. I've found wide differences in brands when I shoot them in different guns.

Good for one shooter or many
Of course, you don't have to have two shooters to enjoy this set. The big target board alone makes the set worth buying. You can shoot target by yourself when you can't interest another shooter to compete. Nothing says the limit is two shooters. If you have extra guns and buy a third color BB, why not have three shooters? Or more!

I was just fascinated when I saw this set, so I had to mention it here. I'd like to hear an owner's opinion.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Talon SS: powerful & quiet!

by B.B. Pelletier

Today's post comes as a comment to a comment we received for a gentleman whose son's neighborhood is overrun with raccoons. See comments to the August 24 post, What is a L-O-N-G shot? The message went like this:

Look into the Airforce Talon SS very powerful...around 850 fps in 22cal, adjustable to around 400 by turning a knob. It comes with an intergrated silencer that makes it quiet as a mouse.

Let's take a look at this unique precharged pneumatic (PCP) air rifle.

The Talon SS is powerful
The AirForce Talon SS can generate up to 25 foot-pounds in .22 caliber when the heaviest pellets are used. That puts it ahead of almost all spring-piston air rifles except the Webley Patriot (Beeman Kodiak). The SS weighs only 5.25 lbs., instead of the 9+ lbs. of the Webley, and the cocking effort for the SS is 4-6 lbs., instead of the 50 lbs. needed for the Patriot.

A superb pest eliminator!
The Talon SS is being used extensively by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for pest elimination. They contract with other government agencies and departments to eliminate pests all over America, and they're using the Talon SS because of its power, accuracy, reliability and quiet operation.

Commercial exterminators like to use the SS because of its power adjustability. A contractor can eliminate a rabid dog in the morning and remove sparrows from inside the local Wal-Mart that same evening. The power adjustment feature enables them to shoot small birds indoors without endangering the roof or lighting fixtures.

In minutes, you can change barrels AND calibers!
The owner can swap barrels in his SS in five minutes. That means you can change from a powerful hunting .22 to a smaller .177 for precision target practice. You don't have to buy another air rifle to have BOTH calibers! All AirForce rifle barrels are made by Lothar Walther, a leading airgun barrelmaker. Barrel changing means even more than just different calibers.

Different length barrels give different levels of power. The standard SS barrel is 12 inches, but when an optional 18" .22-caliber barrel is installed, the rifle jumps to 31 foot-pounds, becoming the power equal of the Talon. An optional 24" .22-caliber barrel takes it up over 42 foot-pounds! That's two-thirds the power of the Condor, all by simply changing the barrel! The longer barrels also give a smoother range of power adjustment, so at low power they are more consistent than the standard 12" barrel.

The SS is quiet
As the reader notes, the SS is quieter than a normal PCP rifle of equal power. It is not completely silent, but the report is muffled by the air chamber in front of the muzzle. An SS at 20 foot-pounds sounds like a Sheridan Blue Streak developing eight. It has no silencer, but a cleverly designed muzzle cap strips away a lot of the excess noise. Of course, when longer barrels are installed, it's as loud as any other PCP.

So, in one rifle, you get fine accuracy, great power, light weight and the ability to change calibers and barrel lengths. Yes, the Talon SS is certainly an air rifle to be reckoned with!

Monday, August 29, 2005

What IS a red dot sight?

by B.B. Pelletier

We looked at lasers back in the August 11 post, "Spotlight on lasers." Is a red dot sight the same as a laser, or is it something altogether different? Today, we'll find out!

Dot sights are related to scopes
Instead of being like lasers that project their lights outward, a dot sight is really more like a scope sight. The dot you see when you look through the sight is invisible to everyone else. That's because it's generated inside the sight and stays there.

The first dot sight used no batteries, just ambient light. The Nydar Optical sight projected a dot surrounded by a larger circle as an aim point for shotguns. It was a simple glass plate through which the shooter looked at the target, but the sight elements superimposed themselves on the target if there was enough light.

Nydar made the first dot sight for shotguns.

Since World War II, military pilots and tank commanders have used "ghost ring" infinity sights to rapidly direct machinegun fire against area targets. These sights have illuminated circles and pips projected on a glass plate through which the gunner sighted. With no magnification of the target, this kind of sight is very fast when shooting from a moving vehicle.

Several decades ago, the idea was packed into a tubular unit small enough to fit on a rifle or pistol. Because the earliest of these had red light sources, the term "red dot sight" was born. The dot is like the intersection of the crosshairs in a scope, except that it's illuminated and therefore easier to see against a dark target.

Use a dot sight like a scope
Although most dot sights don't magnify the target, they're easy to use because the dot is so visible. Most of the better dot sights have several levels of light intensity so they can be adjusted for the surroundings. Use the dimmest dot you can see easily because, as the light gets brighter, the dot grows in size. The larger the dot, the less precise it will be.

The dot adjusts for windage and elevation just like a scope, so it also has to be sighted in. The strike of the pellet will only be at the same place as the dot for certain ranges. With 800 f.p.s. rifles, sight in at 20 yards and you'll be on target out to 30 yards. Closer or farther, and you'll have to hold the dot above the target - just like a scope!

Red or green?
Some of the better sights, like the Leapers 40mm Red Dot, have BOTH a red and a green dot. A switch changes colors for you. Be careful to get the correct mounts, though. The same Leapers sight has an integral Weaver base that will require an 11mm to Weaver adapter to mount on most air rifles. Many dot sights have Weaver or Picatinny bases integral to the sight, so remember that an adapter will be required.

A wide range of prices
Daisy Electronic Point Sight is very affordable at less than $12! Prices go up to several hundred dollars, but those expensive sights are not suited to airguns. The dot sights that airgunners need sell for under $100.

Don't forget batteries!
Because they're electronic, dot sights need batteries. They come with the sight, but you have to replace them after about 20 hours of continuous use. Most often they are button batteries sold in discount, camera and electronics stores. Don't forget to turn off the sight when you're finished with it, or you'll run down the battery in a short time.

When to use them
A dot sight is a fascinating alternative to a scope. It's faster but less precise, so select it when the speed of target acquisition is most important. On a handgun, a dot sight is equal in precision to the best open sights but much easier to see, so handguns are the No. 1 application for these novel instruments.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Do you REALLY need a chronograph?

by B.B. Pelletier

Many airgunners have chronographs and more get them every day. But why are they buying them? Do you really need a chronograph to enjoy airgunning?

A chronograph is like a fish scale
They call fish scales "de-liars." You can guess why. Chronographs are in the same category of equipment. They tell you something about your airguns without changing how they shoot. A chronograph measures the velocity of a pellet, bullet or arrow in feet per second or meters per second. With that information, you can use the formulas here at Pyramyd Air to determine how powerful your airguns are.

Some chronographs are very affordable
For over a decade, chronographs have been affordable, with the least expensive costing under $50. The Shooting Chrony brand out of Canada starts at about $65, and they average just under $100. The units are small, lightweight, rugged and run on batteries, so you can take them anywhere. They need a good, even light source to work correctly. Although their screens are very close together and their clock speed is low by today's standards, the Shooting Chrony is accurate enough for the hobby shooter.

Shooting Chrony makes a range of rugged,
inexpensive chronographs that airgunners love.

Next up in price is the Pro Chrono brand. They sell for around $100 and have a few more features than the Shooting Chronys, but most of those are for computer input. Like the Shooting Chrony, they can drive an optional printer, which is a nice thing to have if you plan on doing a lot of experimentation. Their clock speed is also relatively slow, but they still give reasonably accurate data when used correctly.

The Pro Chrono brand is just a trifle more expensive and has the same nice features of the Shooting Chrony, plus it connects to some computers.

How chronographs work
A chronograph contains a crystal "clock" that ocillates at a precise, known frequency. When the shadow of a pellet (that's why lighting is so important) passes over a start screen, the clock starts running and an accumulator stores the impulses. When the shadow passes over the stop screen, the clock stops and the number of impulses is tallied in a computer. Since the crystal oscillates at a regular rate, the computer can turn the number of pulses into elapsed time, which equals the speed the pellet was moving.

If you don't use them right, you can fake out some chronographs
If you don't shoot STRAIGHT through the less expensive chronographs, you can get readings way above and below the actual velocity. By shooting on a slant, the chrono will read slower than it should, because the slanting path of the pellet is longer than it would be if shot straight. An expensive chronograph senses this and warns you that the shot seems incorrect, but the lower-priced ones don't.

Top of the line
The Oehler (pronounced Ehler) 35P printing chronograph is the best available. Whenever you read an article in a mainstream gun magazine where velocities are quoted, it's always an Oehler. The chronograph has a second "proof" channel to check the primary reading, and the crystal clock is 40 times faster than the less expensive ones. All the powder manufacturers plus the government use Oehler chronographs exclusively.

The Oehler 35P chronograph is the recognized world standard instrument.

Having said all that, I still contend that you don't need a chronograph to enjoy an airgun. It's a nifty thing to have, as long as you don't end up more fascinated by the numbers than by where the pellet strikes. Because THAT, after all, is the primary objective.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Lubricating a spring-piston airgun

by B.B. Pelletier

We all want to take care of our airguns, so today we'll look at lubricating a spring-piston gun.

Many guns should NEVER be oiled!
This includes most recoiless target guns like the FWB 65/80/90 pistol and the FWB 150/300 rifle. All the RWS Diana target guns fall into this category, too. These guns have lifetime lubricated piston rings or seals that never need oil. In fact, oiling them can cause early failure.

Some guns require VERY LITTLE oil
This includes all current models of RWS Diana guns - both rifle and pistol. Diana uses a special synthetic piston seal that needs very little oil to work properly. They recommend ONE DROP of oil every 1,500 shots or so. Use a high-grade silicone chamber oil like Crosman Silicone Chamber Oil.

Webley is another brand that needs very little oiling. They use a different type of seal than Diana, but it is self-lubricating. Air Arms guns are the same. The guns that need more oil are the Weihrauchs and Beeman R-series guns. More means abouty three drops of oil evey thousand shots, though the R1 may need more than that during break-in. Treat the Beeman RX-2 as a special case and follow the owner's manual, because it has a special powerplant inside.

Gamo guns also get by with a small amount of oiling. They have done a lot of R&D on their seals, and they're almost like Diana when it comes to oil. The less expensive guns are the ones that usually need a little more oil to stay in shape, and the Chinese are the neediest of all. You can oil a Tech Force 99 with three drops of chamber oil every 500 shots.

What about YOUR airgun?
I can't list them all, so the general rule is that less oil is better than more. The one exception is when you hear a honking or squeaking sound when cocking the gun. Then, it needs to be oiled.

How and where to oil
You drop the oil down the transfer port and stand the gun on its butt for 30 minutes to an hour. Then, shoot it at least 10 times to make sure the oil has spread around the piston seal. The transfer port is directly behind the breech of the barrel. It's the little hole where the air comes from. On some guns, like the RWS Diana 46, you have to open a flip-up loading gate to see the hole. If you are completely baffled, just stand the gun on its butt and drop the oil down the muzzle. It will find its way to the transfer port!

Does the mainspring need to be oiled?
On a new gun, the mainspring has so much lubrication that you can leave it alone for several years. But, if you hear a crunching sound when cocking, the spring needs attention. For the mainspring, we'll use an oil with good lubrication properties, like Weblube from Webley. If you can take the mechanism out of the stock, it will allow better access to the mainspring, but it is possible to drop the oil through the cocking slot. About 10 drops once every 3-4 years is good unless the gun is used a lot. In that case, lube it every year.

Lube the cocking mechanisms
The cocking joint needs grease more than oil. All new guns come properly greased from the factory, but storage in hot climates can speed the loss of lubricant through runoff. Breakbarrels should be greased on both sides of the action fork (where the barrel pivots when cocked), and if possible the pivot bolt could use some, too. Don't disassemble the gun if you don't know how! You can do more damage that way than by just leaving it alone.

Guns with sliding chambers, like the RWS Diana 48, need grease along their chamber walls. Beeman/Feinwerkbau joint grease is specially formulated for this application, but any good lithium or moly-based grease will do the job.

If all this sounds like you should carry an oil can when shooting a springer, that's not the case. I've simply tried to list as many of the lubrication points as possible. Actually, a spring-piston gun will do very well if simply left alone and shot regularly.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

What is a L-O-N-G shot?

by B.B. Pelletier

We read a lot about long shots with a pellet gun, but what really qualifies as a long shot? 50 yards? 75? 100?

50 yards is LONG!
I've read in gun magazines about riflemen taking 200-yard shots, but whenever I visit my local gun club, the 50-yard range is always the most crowded. An examination of spent brass left on the range confirms that 5.56mm and 7.62x39mm shooters (AR-15 and SKS/AKM shooters) like 50 yards a lot more than 100 and beyond.

So, with firearms we like to READ about 200-yard shots, but we SHOOT more at 50 yards. So it is with pellet rifles; only for us, 50 yards is a long distance.

Fifty yards is 150 feet. It's so far that you can sense the interval the pellet takes to travel to the target. If the sun is behind you, you can often see the pellet flying out to the target.

One-inch groups are SMALL
If 50 yards seems standard in print, so does a one-inch group. An American quarter is 0.996" in diameter. So, a one-inch group is one in which ALL shots touch a quarter. Thinking about it that way puts a different perspective on things. Can YOU hit a quarter five times out of five at 150 feet?

What makes long shots more difficult?
Sighting errors are a big problem. Any cant or parallax can throw your shot several INCHES off target. Hold is another problem, especially with spring guns. Unless you hold right, you get three-inch groups. Read about the correct spring rifle hold in the April 5th post, How to shoot an airgun accurately

The wind presents a challenge
I've watched pellets curve several inches when there's wind from the side.
It's like watching through a telephoto lens as a major-league pitcher throws a hard-breaking curve ball. But the pellet doesn't JUST go to the side! It also climbs or dives, depending on the direction of the wind and the direction the pellet is spinning.

A pellet spinning to the right will move to the right and down when the wind comes from the left. But a wind from the right will move the same right-spinning pellet to the left and UP! The upward movement won't be as pronounced as the downward movement because gravity will offset it to a large extent, but it will move in that direction because a spinning body always moves 90 degrees to the angle of an outside force. Wind can play some mean tricks on a long-range shooter.

Last, but not least, is the effect of stabilization
When a pellet is stable, it flies true.
When it is not stable, it will flutter and move about wildly. Heavy pellets that move too slowly will be unstable and may exhibit this phenomenon. You can tell when this is happening because the hole in the target paper will become elongated. That demonstrates the pellet is not flying nose-first through the target.

Yes, 50 yards is a VERY long distance to shoot a pellet rifle. That's not to say you can't shoot farther if you want to, but expect to be faced with all the challenges to accuracy as the distance to the target increases.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Protecting and restoring a blued finish

by B.B. Pelletier

Would it frighten you to learn that ALL your blued airguns have rust on them? I don't mean the black oxide finish, itself. Yes, that's a form of rust, but it's not what I'm referring to. I'm saying all your blued-steel airguns have real red rust on them - unless you have taken steps to remove it already. The dark black hides the red rust, so it's difficult to see.

Ballistol comes from good gun stores
and is a great aid to removing surface
rust without damaging bluing.

Ballistol is the secret!
This stuff has magical properties. Besides metal, it is also used on leather, wood, plastic and even the gel coats of boats! Do not use it on electronics, however. Several military organizations around the world use it on their weapons for lubrication and preservation. It has a fishy smell that isn't pleasant, but don't let that put you off.

Removing rust
Spray Ballistol directly on the metal and rub vigorously with a paper towel. Almost immediately, the towel will show a reddish-brown stain, which is the rust being removed. The longer you rub the more rust comes off, but the black oxide finish will not be affected. Sometimes, so much rust is removed that the metal shows shiny spots. That's not from the black being removed; it's the rust! The rust has taken on a dark appearance and eaten all the black, so when it's gone there is nothing underneath but bare metal.

Preserving the finish
After the treatment with Ballistol, which takes about 15 minutes, you coat the metal with a fresh film of Ballistol. If you don't like the smell, there's another oil that works just as well. Birchwood Casey's Sheath is a wonderful oil to protect blued surfaces. It has a pleasant smell and gets down into the metal to protect it even when it feels dry. It's perfect for guns that will be handled a lot because it's known for neutralizing fingerprints.

Wipe your guns with Sheath to preserve the finish.

What to do when there's TOO MUCH rust
Occasionally, an airgun will be found with deep pits and a full coverage of rust. For these, Ballistol is not good enough. These take some real work.

First, the surface is rubbed with super-fine steel wool. That removes ALL surface finish, including any remaining bluing. Then, the surface is polished with Emory paper and metal polish. The goal is a mirror finish. The final step is to refinish the surface, and the quickest way to do that is with a cold blue such as Webley Gun Blue. Clean the surface to be blued with acetone to remove all traces of oil, which is the enemy of cold blues. Next, heat the metal (a blow dryer works well for this) to be blued until it is very warm to the touch. Apply the product with a clean cotton rag. Never touch the metal surface with your hands, or you'll destroy the bluing agent's ability to color the metal.

Reapply the bluing agent until the metal is as dark as you want, then rub with oil to stop the process. It is very difficult to get uniform results over large surfaces with cold blues, so practice on smaller items before you try an entire gun.

Blued finishes are beautiful, but often fragile. These tips should help you deal with small problems like a veteran.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Drozd - a CO2 submachine gun

by B.B. Pelletier

Russian "bumblebee" Drozd submachine gun is exciting and accurate.

Today, we'll look at something a little different. Full-auto airguns are very rare because soft lead pellets don't do well in rapidly cycling feed mechanisms. There have been a few "automatic" BB guns, most working on the low-pressure siphon principle you learned in high school science. During World War II, a number of full-auto airguns were built as military trainers. Some of them shot BBs, but a few, like the Hotpoint trainer, shot 3/8" bakelite balls that were the ancestors of today's 6mm airsoft BB.

Flight of the bumblebee
Four years ago, the Russian firm Baikal brought a wicked-looking airgun to the SHOT Show in Las Vegas. It was all black and looked like a military submachine gun. It fired .177 round lead balls, like H&N round balls or Gamo round balls, and it was full-auto with a selector switch. Because the power supply is CO2, the gun cannot fire a sustained burst without freezing, so they designed it to be either a single-shot, a three-round burst or a six-round burst. They also regulated the firing solenoid to three different rates of fire.

The gun was a hit at the show, but many buyers felt it looked too threatening, so Baikal re-skinned it with a bright yellow plastic outer shell for the next year's show. The contrasting yellow and black, plus the sound of the gun firing reminded them of a bumblebee, so they named it that - in Russian, of course. Hence, the Drozd.

Accurate and powerful!
The Drozd is very powerful when the correct ammo is used. At 60 feet, it buries balls two diameters deep in pine wood. When aimed and in the single-shot mode, which is really semiauto because the gun is electrically cocked, it will group on a nickel at 10 meters. That's due to the wonderful rifled barrel it has.

Be careful!
Unfortunately, the importer, EAA, had Baikal include a small package of steel BBs with every gun, even though it is not meant for them. The owner's manual doesn't specify lead or steel anywhere except in one warning reference up front, where it notes that lead is known to California to be a threat to pregnant women. The repairman at EAA told me he gets guns back all the time with steel BBs jammed in their mechanism. At best, the BBs will ruin the finely rifled bore. To keep your gun working smoothly, use nothing but lead balls in your gun.

The gun is powered by six AA batteries stored in front of the frame under the muzzle. The 30-round magazine also holds the single CO2 powerlet that provides the firing force for every shot. The Drozd is very similar to an auto-electric airsoft gun, except that it's many times more powerful and accurate than airsoft.

It will kill small animals and it will penetrate deeply into flesh, so treat it like a firearm. Shoot only into a safe trap and NOT INTO CRUMPLED NEWSPAPERS. The Drozd will shoot right through newspaper with the first few shots.

If you'd like to liven up your airgunning experience, this is one of the neatest guns to come 'round in a long time. It's worth a try.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Best pellet of all?

by B.B. Pelletier

Today I'm going out on a limb and telling you what I think is the best pellet in the world. Actually, there are several pellets, because every caliber needs something different. So I'll do a David Letterman countdown.

Starting with .25 caliber
Not as many shooters shoot .25 caliber, so the pellet selection is not as great. But, I know two that deliver the goods for me all the time. Sometimes one outshoots the other and sometimes they both work well in the same gun, but I have never seen another pellet that could compare to either in this caliber.

The Diana Magnum weighs about 20 and a fraction grains, which makes it medium weight in .25 caliber. They are not too uniform in weight, but on target they shine! I have a Whiscombe JW 75 that likes this pellet better than any other, and, because it is so light, it really sails! Buy these for all your medium-powered .25s, such as the RWS Diana 48/52 and others in that power range.

The Beeman Kodiak or H&N Baracuda (same pellet) is the other .25 caliber star. In a Webley Patriot or a Beeman Crow Magnum (no longer imported), these are the best. They are 31 grains and can really tame those big springers! They also work well in the lower-powered guns, but the velocity will be in the 600s.

For .20 caliber
In .20 caliber, the Crosman Premier has long been my favorite. At 14.3 grains, it's on the heavy side of medium weight, and it really delivers the accuracy and power at long range. Another pellet that SHOULD be excellent, though I have no real experience with it beyond shooting them in my Sheridans, is the Beeman Kodiak. At 13.3 grains, they're lighter than the Premiers and are pure lead, so they won't lead your barrel like the Premiers.

For .22 caliber
The absolute BEST PELLET IN THE WORLD at this time (in my opinion) is the 15.9-grain JSB Exact domed pellet in .22. At least, this holds true for hunting and general shooting. (I'm not talking about match pellets today.) The reason Exacts are so good is that they're hand-sorted by the manufacturer. I buy them by the 10-tin sleeve - and I'm usually a cheap guy. This is almost the ONLY pellet I shoot in .22.

The other great .22 pellet is the Beeman Kodiak or H&N Baracuda. This is the same pellet, but sometimes one brand is less expensive than the other, so I shop for the bargains. At 21 grains, this is a heavy pellet, though the extra-heavy Eun Jin has it out-classed at 28 grains. Kodiaks fly true for a very long range.

As a final word on .22 caliber...if you have a REALLY powerful rifle, like a Condor, the Eun Jin pellet is superb. Just don't try to shoot it long range in a Beeman R1.

Finally - .177
I suspect that JSB Exact pellets are also the best in .177, but I have no experience with them. Therefore, my top choice is Beeman Kodiak or H&N Baracuda. Several years ago, I would have selected Crosman Premier in 10.5 grains for PCPs or 7.9 grains for springers, but I found that the pure lead Kodiaks shade them just a little beyond 35 yards - in some guns. In other guns, the Premiers are clearly the best.

There - that's what I think about pellets. I'm sorry if your favorite was not mentioned, but this is my opinion. I'd like to hear yours in the comments.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Are you taking full advantage of this website?

by B.B. Pelletier

While browsing through the site yesterday, I noticed some features that I've never taken the time to fully explore. I've used them once or twice; but, beyond what was needed at the moment, I didn't pay further attention to them. Today, I'm going to change that.

This site is loaded with owner's manuals!
Many of the guns from the larger manufacturers have good owner's manuals, and Pyramyd Air has taken the time to scan them for you and link them to the models they represent. Let's take a look.

Marksman 1010
For some reason, I have always been fascinated by the Marksman 1010 pistol. It's a low-powered smoothbore BB gun and not the type I'm normally interested in, but I own one and I'm thinking of starting a collection of the different types. They've been around since 1955 (from the Blue Book of Airguns, Fifth edition). Today, I noticed in the "Model Assistant" window to the left of the gun that there is an owner's manual for this gun. So, I went there.

Not only is there an owner's manual for the Marksman 1010 - Pyramyd has gone to the trouble of animating parts of it! Look at some of the pictures under the "Operating" and "Loading" headlines! Seeing that got me wondering what else they might have done.

Crosman 1008B
Next, I went to the Crosman 1008B and took a look at the manual for it. The section on operating the pistol shows detailed parts and how they operate. I can understand this gun from the manual, without ever holding the actual pistol in my hand!

Sumatra 2500
Many buyers balk at spending a lot of money on an airgun they haven't seen, so Pyramyd gives you BOTH the owner's manual and an article about the Eun Jin Sumatra 2500! This owner's manual has photos that show certain operations better than a line drawing. And, the article shows you the accuracy the tester got at 50 yards. That's the sort of information we need to help us make decisions.

Or, just try the manuals link
Before everyone jumps on me for not mentioning this, there is a link at the bottom of many pages to the "Manuals" page, where all online manuals are listed. The names of each are direct links to the manuals. So, you can go there if you just want to see everything they have available.

Not every gun has a manual, so there are some guns that don't have manuals on this site. However, most of the top Beeman rifles are made by Weihrauch, so look at those manuals instead. Compared to other websites, this site has a lot more of what we need and what we're looking for!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Welcome to Pyramyd's "Scratch & Dent" section

by B.B. Pelletier

We all have priorities and, unless you are blessed with an abundance of spendable cash, airguns have to take back seat to the necessities of life. Each person is in a different position, but most of us appreciate a real bargain when we can find one. So, have you visited the Pyramyd Air "Scratch & Dent" sale on this website?

Start with the Used section
The Pyramyd Air website is LOADED with hot-links to other places on the site. If you're new to the site, there are three main sets of links at the top of the page. The top set looks like file folder tabs, starting with the word "Airguns" on the left. Below that set of links is a second line that begins with the word "Manufacturers." Beneath that line is the third line that starts with a link to "Featured" guns. On that same line is a link to "Used" guns, which is where I'm taking you now.

Pyramyd is without a doubt the largest airgun dealer in the United States. When a dealer is that large, they have returns. Sometimes a customer is unsatisfied with a gun and simply returns it for another. Sometimes they want to trade in an expensive gun they own for something even better. The company can't resell these guns as new, so they get sold with the used guns.

Act fast to get what you want!
The used gun section is in constant flux, so here is how to use it. Let's say you want a nice breakbarrel springer and would like to get one just a little nicer than your budget will allow. You fancy the Beeman R1, Beeman R9 and the Webley Tomahawk. As long as you can get a .177, any of these guns would satisfy you. So, now you watch the used gun section until you spot that perfect deal. A dealer as large as Pyramyd sells hundreds of guns each week, so sooner or later there will be a used gun in your desired category. If it's an expensive gun, it may stay on the site for a while; but, if it's a desirable model at a great price, be prepared to act fast!

Save on less expensive guns, too
There's another class of used gun you should consider. Large manufacturers like Crosman, Daisy, Gamo and Umarex sell airguns by the truckload to stores like Wal-Mart. When a gun comes back, the store doesn't have time to fool with it, so they send it back to the manufacturer, often by the pallet load. The maker refurbishes the gun and resells it to a large dealer like Pyramyd at a bargain price - and YOU get the savings. For example, the Walther (Umarex) PPK/S that normally sells for $61.95 can be bought remanufactured for just $48.95. That's so good that dealers can't even buy the new gun that cheap!

Another twist on the remanufactured guns is that obsolete guns will often be sold off this way. Daisy has discontinued their 22X rifle, but Pyramyd has remanufactured guns at less than $50. That's a huge amount off a nearly new multi-pump pneumatic.

If you haven't looked at the used gun section before, start watching it to see what bargains you might find.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

1377 - Another Crosman classic!

by B.B. Pelletier

The Crosman 1377 descends from models 105/106. Introduced way back in 1948, they were Crosman's first attempt at a pneumatic pistol. In 1955, the company came out with the self-cocking model 130 pistol, and it would be 25 years before they returned to the more conventional knock-open valve. The 1377 is the model that made the big change and is also the one with the longest life, having been in the lineup since 1977.

Crosman started making more and more guns in .177 only
Over the years, Crosman has followed the general shift toward .177 caliber, and today the 1377 has no 1322 counterpart. This pistol is the only multi-pump pneumatic in Crosman's line since the year 2000. Three to seven pump strokes give controlled velocity up to 600 f.p.s., which is screaming for a pellet pistol!

The barrel is finely rifled for good accuracy and, given the power, some close-range hunting is possible. This gun hits like a small air rifle out to 20 or 25 yards.

Lots of goodies to go with it
Crosman has developed many accessories for the 1377 and similar pistols. Because the grips are similar to all the pistols they ever made, the detachable 1399 shoulder stock fits almost any Crosman pneumatic and many CO2 single-shots, as well. At one time, the shoulder stock came with the gun and they called it a carbine, so this should be high on your list of accessories to pick up.

A perfect pistol to scope!
This is also a good pistol to scope or to mount a red dot sight, especially if you mount the shoulder stock. Get Crosman's 459MT optional dovetails that clamp directly to the barrel, and you have what you need to attach scope rings to the gun. The Crosman 0410 Targetfinder is affordable, in keeping with the price of the pistol and gives you 4x optics instead of open sights. Of course, a dot sight is also possible and Daisy makes a very affordable one that fits Crosman's optional 3/8" dovetail base.

No powerlets required!
All you need to start shooting is air and pellets. Unless you live on the Moon, the first requirement is taken care of, and my recommendation for the pellets is Crosman's own 7.9-grain Premier. They'll preserve the velocity potential of the gun and still be very accurate. You might also try the Crosman Copperhead pointed pellets in the big box and save a few dollars.

The bottom line for the 1377 is this: it's every bit as powerful as the more expensive Benjamin pistols, and I would think it would be as accurate, too. What you give up is some appearance, and if you're willing to do that, here is an American classic just waiting for you. I'd like to hear what you 1377 owners think of your guns.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Scope mount basics - part two

by B.B. Pelletier

Can you use 3/8" dovetail rings on an airgun?
You can but you shouldn't. Three-eighths dovetails are found on .22 rimfire rifles, and the mounts made for them are mostly very cheap. They won't stand up to the abuse of a spring rifle. They're flimsy no matter what gun they're on.

These are the rings you find in discount stores, and they are there because they are so cheap. Buyers are looking for the absolute lowest price for an item, and they don't know or care how well the rings will (or won't) work when they try to use them.

Strictly speaking, 3/8" is a little smaller than the 11mm dovetail found on airguns, so these cheap mounts will also be awkward on your gun. This is not a place to economize; buy good airgun mounts and you won't be sorry.

One piece or two?
This is a choice you must make, and I'd like to make it easier for you. Airgun scope mounts come in both one-piece mounts and two-piece mounts. One-piece mounts are somewhat more convenient to attach to most airguns, but they don't fit well on guns that have split dovetails or something blocking the dovetail, such as you'd find on the Webley Spectre.

One more thing about one-piece mounts - the rings are a fixed distance apart that cannot be changed. That can make attaching them to some compact scopes, such as the Leapers Bug Buster, impossible because the rings are too far apart.

One-inch rings or 30mm?
Most airgun scopes have a tube that measures one inch in diameter. These scopes need one-inch rings. Some of the extra-bright scopes, such as the Leapers mil-dot range-estimating scope, have a larger 30mm diameter scope tube. For these you need 30mm rings. Other than the ring size, the mounts are identical, but you absolutely cannot fit a 30mm scope into one-inch rings (or vice-versa).

Scope alignment problems
Your scope may not have enough adjustment to bring the group to the aim point. Usually, the group will be low and often to the left, as well. When this happens, you either have to shim the scope or use an adjustable scope mount.

Shimming means to put a shim or thin material under the rear scope base (if you have two-piece mounts) or between the scope and the bottom of the rear ring. This slants the scope downward and brings the group up to where it needs to be. Shim material can be thin plastic, photographic film and even metal shim stock purchased at a store for that purpose. Don't add as much as the thickness of a business card, or you'll risk bending the thin scope tube when the rings are tightened.

If you're shooting left or right, try swapping the rings front and back and even turning them around (if they are two-piece). This can sometimes help the elevation problem as well.

You may need adjustable mounts
Adjustable scope rings move up and down and left and right to perfectly align the scope without resorting to the scope adjustment knobs. They are more difficult and time-consuming to install, but you'll never run out of scope adjustments with a set of them. And, they keep your scope adjustments closer to the center of the range, where the scope performs better. Read about that in the March 24 post "Another cause of scope shift: over-adjusted scope knobs."

Mounting a scope can be challenging, but it's not beyond any of you. Selecting good mounts is a great way to begin.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Fixing a Daisy Avanti 747 (I hope!)

by B.B. Pelletier

Today's post was suggested by a question we received yesterday.

The question
I have an Avanti 747. The first one I received would not hold air out of the box. The replacement sent to me has begun to periodically let air hiss out after being pumped, but it still shoots. Do you know what is causing this, is it something I can fix or do I have to keep sending the gun back to the manufacturer?

The answer - I hope!
Well I do have a couple of suggestions. Most of them are found in the 747's owner's manual.

Before we get started, you need to know that the 747 must be cocked before the pump mechanism will work. The bolt has to be pulled all the way back until a click is heard. Until that is done, no air can be pumped into the gun.

Are you leaving your gun pumped longer than five minutes? Daisy warns not to do this because the pump piston head is pliable (as it must be to seal the air when pumping). It cannot hold the pressurized air longer than a few minutes, so you should always shoot the gun within a few minutes of pumping. This is true for all single-stroke pneumatics, not just the Daisy.

You don't have to race to shoot the gun. It should hold fine for a few minutes. But, if you habitually wait longer than five minutes to shoot it after pumping, your pump seal may now be very weak and start to release air sooner than it should.

This step is MOST IMPORTANT!
Are you lubricating the felt wiper as described in the owner's manual? The felt wiper is a felt ring on the Daisy; on other guns it may be just an O-ring or even the synthetic pump head, itself. Daisy used to recommend using 20-weight non-detergent automotive oil, but pure silicone oil such as Crosman Pellgunoil works well, too.

How often you should lube depends on several things, such as how much you shoot, but airgunsmith Rick Willnecker once told me that it's impossible to over-oil a CO2 gun. I believe that holds true for a single-stroke pneumatic, too. The oil is pumped into the compression chamber, where it gets blown onto all other seals in the firing mechanism when the gun fires. I oil my IZH-46 at least once a month if I'm shooting it a lot and EVERY time I take it out of the case if it's been several months between sessions. I put five drops of oil on the felt wiper, which is a rubber pump seal on the 46.

I just got my 46 out to confirm what I said and, sure enough, it was dry. It took a double oiling to get her going strong, again. I think the 46 is unique in needing that much oil. I don't recall either of my Daisys being that bad. And, for the record, my Beeman P2 needs very little oil!

Daisy's 747 owner's manual has a pump-head adjustment procedure. I had a 717 and a 777, and they both had it. First, you go through a procedure to see if the pump head is correctly adjusted. I believe the pump handle has to stop 1" to 1-1/8" away from the frame to be right. If an adjustment is required, it's a simple procedure with a flat-bladed screwdriver to adjust the length of the pump rod and pump head (the seal).

Now you can do something for me!
If you try these things, please report back how they work (or don't work, if that's the way it goes). Make your comments to this posting, so others can read it. Unless we hear from you, I'm just somebody babbling on. I want to know if any of this stuff works. Or not!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Spotlight on lasers

by B.B. Pelletier

What is a laser, and how is it used on an airgun?

Not really sights
Although lasers are often called sights, they really aren't. Lasers project light much the same as flashlights. Because the light they project remains in a tightly confined beam, it can be seen at long distances. Years ago, someone discovered that if a laser is aligned with the impact of the bullet from a gun, a shooter only has to shine the laser on his intended target and squeeze off the shot when the light falls on the desired impact point.

What many shooters overlook is that the laser beam goes straight while the bullet falls. If the distance to the target is not the same as the distance at which the laser and gun are set to converge, the impact will not be at the laser point. At close ranges, like 30 feet with tactical firearms, this may be no big thing. A criminal won't care if a .45 bullet hits his chest an inch away from the laser point, which is why just shining the laser on a target often ends the fight.

Reasons to buy a laser
If your target is always at the same distance, a laser is great. Simply point and shoot when the dot is where you want the pellet to strike. This is great for pest eliminators who have a limited distance to shoot their quarry, like someone shooting under a bridge or in a chicken coop. They can set up the laser and often not even need to use the sights to hit the target. Short rifles, like the AirForce Talon, are ideal for this, as are most air pistols - especially the more powerful models such as the HW 45 or Beeman P1.

Reasons to NOT buy a laser
If your targets are at varying ranges, you won't get much help from a laser. The impact point of a pellet can move three inches between 30 and 50 yards! If you're trying to hit a target the size of a nickel at a range somewhere between those distances, just shining a dot of light on it is more confusing than it is helpful.

Which laser should you buy?
If you go to the laser page of Pyramyd's website, you'll see a big difference in prices. The AirForce LS-1 sells for $99.95, while the Daisy Laser Sight sells for just $19.99. And, there are plenty of models in-between. They're all real lasers, and they all do work. So, how do they differ and why are the prices so scattered?

The AirForce laser is a real firearm laser that is bright enough to see at 100 yards on a bright day (only through a scope, however!). It also has an unbreakable aluminum 11mm mount, the same as an airgun scope, plus it is the only one that can be adjusted without tools. The Daisy, Crosman and BSA are either lower-powered, or their laser beams spread faster, making them harder to see at longer ranges. They also need tools to adjust the impact point of the beam, but they're good lasers just the same. Gamo's laser is purpose-built for their guns and may be harder to attach to other airguns.

Shop for your needs and budgetary requirements, knowing that any laser you buy will be a marvel of modern technology.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Airgun books

by B.B. Pelletier

Judging by the comments we get, many of you are interested in vintage airguns. Though no one has yet asked about where all the airgun books are, I thought I'd take today's post and address some of what's out there.

Blue Book of Airguns
This is the only authoritative price guide for used and vintage airguns. The 5th edition will be out shortly, and it's a whopping 440 pages. Besides the price guide, it has lengthy articles of technical and historical content. Large format softcover.

The American B.B Gun
Dr. Arni Dunathan wrote this in 1971 and it's still the leading source of information for BB guns of the American type. There are lengthy chapters on the history of manufacturers, as well as looks at guns most people have never seen. It was reprinted in 1997, and the reprint is high quality. Buy the reprint for $35-45 or the original for $100-150. Just don't use the price guide! Large format hardcover.

Gas, Air, & Spring Guns of the World
Published in 1957 and republished several times (once in paperback), Smith's guide was the top reference for airguns until Blue Book came along. It still has material that can be found nowhere else. Pay $70 for a ratty copy or $100-120 for a really good one. For the paperback, pay half these figures. Large format hardcover.

It's a Daisy!
No BB gun collector can be without it. Written by Cass Hough, the grandson of the founder of Daisy, the complete history of the company is documented, as well as inside stories you couldn't get anywhere else. Be happy if you can find one for under $60. Pocketbook paperback.

Air Guns
By Eldon Wolff, this is another important history book about airguns. Not so much on the recent American guns but lots on big bore airguns from 1700-1900. Wolff describes several "experiments" he conducted to ascertain the power of some vintage pneumatics. Good reading. Original, well over $150; reprint available for under $40. Medium-sized hardcover; reprint in softcover.

Air Guns and Air Pistols
By Leslie Wesley, this one has been around a long time and updated many times in the past 50 years. Very British and provincial, yet a source of material found nowhere else. Written by a guy who had firsthand experience with guns we now only see in articles. Best of all, you can find this one for cheap. $10 to 30. Hardcover, small format.

The Airgun Book
There are four editions, and some airgunners make collecting all four a sub-set of their hobby. By John Walter. Very British. An attempt was made to catalog all current airguns at publication time (1980s) but quite a few are missing. Editions one (blue cover) and three (red) are the most common. Another $10 book. Hardcover.

Most of my info comes from excellent books like these and more that I haven't mentioned, yet. You'll have to do the legwork to find your own copies, but they're out there.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Scope mount basics - part one

by B.B. Pelletier

A lot of airguns are scoped these days, so I thought it would be nice to cover some of the basics about scope mounts and rings. With airguns, more often than with firearms, scope mounts and rings come together as one unit. While firearms have separate bases called mounts that attach to the rings, most airguns have their bases installed on the guns, so the rings are made to fit to these guns.

Get this handy scope-mounting catalog direct from B-Square.

B-Square set a high standard for airgun mounts!
The most common scope-mounting base found on an airgun is an 11mm dovetail, but you need to know that gun manufacturers have not always adhered to that dimension as close as they should. B-Square publishes a free brochure about mounting scopes on airguns, and they have a chart that shows airgun mount bases range between 10.6mm and 14.1mm, so you can expect some deviation from gun to gun. Get this free brochure by calling B-Square at 800-433-2909, 8am-5pm (Central time), Mon-Fri. Ask for customer service.

Scope rings with built-in mounts have to span a wide range of sizes to clamp to a gun. Once again, B-Square is the leader is designing mounts that fit a wider range of airguns, plus they make special-purpose dedicated mounts for guns that vary by too much, like BSA.

Stopping scope ring slippage
If your gun recoils, you need a scope stop. NO AMOUNT of clamping pressure alone can hold a scope mount on a recoiling airgun. There must be a positive stop to arrest rearward motion, or the mount will back right off the gun. Some rifles such as the Webley Tomahawk have only the rear runout of their dovetails for this function. It's not the best way to do things, but the Tomahawk doesn't kick enough to make it a problem. Just be sure to back the rear mount (when using two-piece rings) or the rear of the one-piece mount completely to the end of the dovetail cuts so they can grab the mount when it tries to back up.

Most guns have holes or notches to arrest the mounts during recoil. The scope stop pin goes either into the appropriate vertical hole or the cross slot on the receiver. The stop pin can be part of the rings or a separate item. B-Square makes a special scope stop for the Webley Patriot because its stop notches are quite different than those found on most rifles.

Weaver and Picatinny mounts won't work for airguns
Neither of these fine mount-locking systems work on airguns as they come from the factory. B-Square makes an 11mm to Weaver adapter that turns a simple 11mm dovetail into a Weaver base. If you already have Weaver rings, you need this adapter.

There's more to talk about, but that's a good start. I'll get back to scope mounts and rings very soon!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Just like a REAL gun!

by B.B. Pelletier

I dislike that phrase because it sends the message that airguns AREN'T real! I know what it means. Sometimes, though, a company will make an airgun FROM a firearm, and then there is no debate. It IS a real gun, whether using air or gunpowder. Such was the case a few years ago with the Russian Makrov BB pistol.

The Makarov BB pistol was made from a real 9x18mm firearm.

This Bulgarian Makarov looks and
feels very similar to the BB gun shown above.

Sold here at Pyramyd Air
Back in the late 1990s, Baikal started converting Makrov pistols to use CO2 powerlets and fire lead BBs. They used actual handguns as a starting point! EAA imported them. While they were available, you could buy them right here at Pyramyd Air. I believe they were made for U.S consumption only and did not go to other countries, however I have no solid evidence of that.

The guns came in the same rough pasteboard boxes as the Russian Makrov firearm. The BB gun came with the cleaning rod, a set of replacement seals, a combination tool for disassembly, the instruction manual and a small packet of steel BBs. However, the BBs were incorrect for the pistol's rifled barrel! It was made to shoot .177 lead balls that are still available today. If you happen to run across one of these airguns, DON'T shoot BBs in it! EAA apparently requested the Russians to pack the BBs without knowing or caring that they would destroy the barrel.

Seen side-by-side with a 9x18 Makarov firearm, the resemblance is uncanny. The size and weight are identical. The BB gun has more metal removed from the slide, but its heavier steel magazine, which doubles as the firing valve, balances that. Russian Makarovs usually have adjustable rear sights, but Baikal put a non-adjustable rear sight on the BB pistol.

Very powerful!
Velocity with the correct lead ball ammo runs in the 400 f.p.s. range, so steel BBs would come out at 500 or more. Another reason to avoid steel BBS: bounce-backs could be quite dangerous! Lead won't bounce (although it does fragment and shatter, causing some pieces to occasionally fly back), so it's much safer.

Same firing mechanism, but some differences
I notice there are some parts differences between the BB gun and the firearm. The nice, predictable two-stage double-action pull on my Bulgarian Makarov is lighter but otherwise the same on the BB gun. However, in single-action, the Bulgarian firearm has a crisp letoff, while the BB gun has LOTS of creep and travel!

Diasassembly stays the same
If there is an easier handgun to disassemble for cleaning, I haven't found it yet. The Makarov copies Walther's famous PP/PPK by dropping the triggerguard and pulling back and up on the slide to disengage from the frame. By comparison, a Colt M1911 is twice as difficult, and most shooters find it easy!

Importation stopped by ATF
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (now BATF&E) stopped importation of the Makarov BB gun because it is possible to turn it back into a firearm with the right parts. Never mind that the parts are not easily available; that still makes the BB gun frame a firearm, so they stopped them. When they were available for sale, they went for around $100. With the scarcity created by the embargo, you might have to pay more for one, if you can find one.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Crosman's 2240: Are we having fun, yet?

by B.B. Pelletier

Here is a great pellet gun to get you shooting fast and easy. The Crosman 2240 is the modern rendition of a pellet gun Crosman has been making since 1956. I mentioned this is my June 27th posting, Crosman air pistols: then & now, and today I'll take a closer look at the the gun you can now buy.

Modern technology makes a better airgun
Today's 2240 is a better gun than the original 150 was when it was new. It has modern seals that almost never leak if you keep them properly oiled (with Pellgunoil - remember?), and a barrel that is very accurate right out of the box. The original 150 can be rebuilt with modern seals and many DO HAVE accurate barrels, but you can't count on it. With a 2240, you can.

There is some plastic
With modern technology come the inevitable plastic parts. The 150 had plastic grips, and replacement parts like sights became plastic in the 1970s. Today's 2240 has a plastic receiver, front and rear sights and grips. It's a tough plastic that's designed so there's no stress on those parts. So, it isn't as noticeable as it was back in the 1950s. You get a nice gun that sells for less than $50.

The gun is accurate
The barrel is well-rifled. With today's pellets, you can expect some very decent accuracy. The sights are adjustable for both windage and elevation, but they don't have click detents. Each adjustment requires you to loosen a screw and slide the appropriate rear sight element in the direction you want the pellet to go. The vintage guns didn't have clicks either, so you don't lose much there. In fact, the 150 was only adjustable for windage, though rear sights on the Crosman Mark I/II and S&W 78G/79G both LOOKED like they were click-adjustable.

You can mount a scope
Scoped pistols were not popular when the 150 and Mark I were current, but that has changed. Crosman now has an optional scope mount base that clamps to the gun's barrel and provides 3/8" dovetails for scope rings to clamp to. For a scope, try the BSA pistol scope that comes in black or silver finish.

You'll need plenty of Crosman Powerlets and some Pellgunoil. One of the best pellets for this gun is Crosman's own Premier. Because the 2240 comes only in .22 caliber, be sure to get the correct pellet caliber when you order.

The 2240 offers a lot of quality in an affordable package. It's great for plinking, for informal target shooting, and even some close-range rat and pigeon elimination. It's a wonderful air pistol that results from five decades of Crosman development.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Pioneer BB76 - a BB gun you're not likely to see!

by B.B. Pelletier

The Pioneer BB76 BB gun from Ultra Hi
was made to look like a Kentucky rifle.

There are some strange BB guns out there, and today's example is one of them. The Ultra Hi Pioneer was made to cash in on America's Bicentennial celebration. The date of '76 referred to the Bicentennial - not to any date that a firearm like this might have been produced, which was from about 1835 to 1900.

Look for them new in the box
Sales must have been disappointing for this gun because so many are still new-in-the-box today. But, the airgun community has now recognized this model as special, and you can expect to pay $200 for a good one (that's like-new in the box). A shooter will be between $100 and 150. Ten years ago, they were selling slowly at $75 to 100 because nobody knew what they were.

It's powerful and feeds ammo flawlessly!
The Pioneer has a short underlever that's pulled down to cock the gun. Cocking is light, yet this BB gun is as powerful as the most powerful Daisy number 25 ever made. That puts it in the 375 f.p.s. region with steel BBs. However, conventional BBs are too small for the bore and they scatter like a shotgun at close range. Try three inches at 12 feet! For best accuracy, try 4.4mm lead balls. Groups will shrink to less than one inch, again at 12 feet.

An underlever is pulled down to cock the gun,
then returned to its place in the bottom of the stock.

The magazine is a copy of Daisy's 50-shot forced-feed mag from the number 25 pump. It works the same way and feeding is flawless in my gun.

Getting ready to shoot
After putting a loaded magazine in the gun, lower the cocking lever until it cocks the action, then return it to its stored position. You might think the gun is ready to go, but it isn't. You also have to cock the external hammer before the gun will fire. This is a safety feature that also makes this BB gun that much stranger. The hammer is plastic and it cocks so easily you'd swear nothing is happening, but it really does make the gun ready to fire.

Once the plastic hammer is pulled back
like this, the gun is ready to fire.

The hammer is also the gun's one weak design spot. I've seen guns that wouldn't fire at all because someone had done something to the hammer. I've also seen some that fired independent of the hammer. I always thought the former owners had forced it in some way and broke whatever is inside. Being plastic, it won't stand much abuse. If you follow the procedure I give here, the gun works fine.

This is a big gun!
At 44.5", this is a HUGE BB gun; at 4 lbs., it's not that heavy. It could stand a few more pounds to steady it in the offhand position, but smaller shooters can also appreciate the gun at this weight. The light cocking effort makes this gun available to everyone.

If you want one, you'll have to watch the auction sites and classified ads. Or, go to a good airgun show and you might get lucky.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Have you tried Gamo's Compact target pistol?

by B.B. Pelletier

If you want a lot of fun in an accurate pellet pistol with features galore, take a look at Gamo's Compact target pistol.

The Compact is for adults
Despite the funny name (for a target pistol, anyway), the Compact has a very nice package of features. It is a single-stroke pneumatic that takes about 35 pounds of effort to charge, so this is a gun for adults only. To keep the internal O-rings well sealed, remember to put a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil in the air intake hole of the compression tube.

It's light!
One endearing feature of the Compact is its light weight. It's at least half a pound lighter than other genuine target air pistols, yet it holds its own as far as accuracy and power are concerned. There are a lot of synthetic parts, plus a large part of the interior is a hollow reservoir, so the pistol is suited to anyone needing a lighter or smaller handgun.

Everything is adjustable
At this price, you don't expect to get the kind of adjustability the Compact offers. The sights are adjustable, as well as being very crisp and easy to see. The grip has an adjustable palm shelf for right-handers. Lefties will have to buy aftermarket grips from gripmakers like Ralph Brown.

The trigger is not only adjustable, you can see the mechanism as you adjust it by removing the grips and looking through the right side of the frame, where there's a clear plastic window in front of the mechanism! The pull can be brought up to the ISU minimum of 500 grams, with a 15-gram safety margin. Both stages are crisp and positive, and the trigger can even be repositioned for maximum control.

It's got power!
Even though the Compact is a single-stroke, it's got plenty of pep. It shoots a light .177 pellet at around 400 f.p.s. That means there will be a substantial pop when it fires. It's still quiet enough for shooting in your house or apartment. Use a silent trap like the Crosman 850 to further reduce the sound.

Which pellet shoots best?
The Gamo Match wadcutter pellet works very well in the Compact. It's a lightweight pellet, so the velocity stays up, and the wadcutter nose cuts a clean hole in the target.

Targets, too
Don't forget to pick up some targets when you buy this gun. They're made of special paper so they show the holes better than plain copier paper (which often tears).

The Gamo Compact has a lot going for it. If you want a good target pistol with real target features, this is a good one.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Don't be fooled - shop for those vintage airguns

by B.B. Pelletier

I watch the gun auction websites looking for an airgun bargain or two. Sometimes, I see the most ridiculous things, and I hope you're not being taken in by them.

Be wary of "Benjamin Franklins"
When a dealer lists a Benjamin airgun as a Benjamin Franklin, it's a sure bet he doesn't know what he has. The words "Benjamin Franklin" on the side of the receiver were just a play on the name and have no meaning at all. Usually, the same dealers will ask $250 for a common model 130 pistol that's lost all its finish and has had the brass metal shined up. They look nice but are worth about $50 to $70 in working condition.

Beware of RARE!
Many gun dealers list common airguns as rare because they have never seen one. I see all sorts of Daisys and Crosmans listed as rare, but I know they're very common. Currently, the big deal in rare airguns is the S&W 78G and 79G in like-new condition in the box. Folks, those guns are almost ALL in that condition! If you find one that isn't, it drops from a $175 gun to a $90 gun pretty quick.

Another currently "rare" air pistol is any Webley Senior, Mark I or Mark II. You see these being offered at $300+, but you can pick them up at airgun shows for half that. Gun dealers just don't know the airgun market that well, and anything that looks well-made is likely to get an inflated price tag.

Ignorance can work in your favor, too
The same gun shop that thinks their "Benjamin Franklin" front-pump rifle is rare and valuable may not give a second thought to the Daisy 1894 Texas Ranger Commemorative BB gun standing in the corner. While the all-brass Benjamin is worth about $70, the Daisy can be worth up to $600! And, there are many others like it.

A "Christmas Story" Daisy Red Ryder can bring up to $350 in the box. This is a model Daisy never made until author Jean Shepard mistakenly wrote it into his now-famous book that became a classic Christmas video. Shepard blended the classic lever-action Red Ryder with the compass-stocked Buck Jones pump gun in his novel, and Daisy built a few guns to honor the movie's success. Most were purchased by collectors. Once again, expect nothing less than new-in-the-box when it comes to these.

Be on the lookout for the strange and different
Not all airguns are known and documented. You might stumble across one that's never been seen by collectors. If so, you are probably sitting very pretty. There were hundreds of airgun makers in the 1920s and not all of their guns have been located, so there is a good chance of finding something unknown. At an airgun show, there are enough deep pockets in the aisles to reward the finder of a new type or model of airgun - especially if it is American.

So get out there and turn the rocks over. It can be very rewarding! Just remember that not everything you read on the internet is true!

Monday, August 01, 2005

How wet weather affects your airguns

by B.B. Pelletier

Of all the weather types, wet weather is hardest on guns of any kind. Airguns are particularly susceptible to problems.

Wood stocks are the hardest hit
You hear about wood swelling in wet weather, but I remember a field target match where the constant drizzle cracked one stock and rendered several underlevers uncockable. The stock that cracked apparently did so because the wood swelled so much there was no place to go.

After the match, shooter's guns rusted in their cases before they got home. Eggcrate foam that's typically found in gun cases attracts and holds moisture like a sponge. Shooters removed their rifles from the stock after they got home to properly dry both wood and metal.

Optics are affected, too
Nearly everyone had impact shifts that day (from stocks that swelled), and a number of scopes fogged up so much they couldn't be used. Normally, scopes are filled with dry nitrogen at the factory, but sometimes it leaks out and the air that replaces it will fog under the right conditions. Since the fog is on the interior lens surfaces, where you can't wipe them, there's nothing to do but wait for it to dry out.

What can you do?
If your gun gets wet, tend to it right away. Waiting even a day allows rust to form and take a hold. Even if you clean it off, there will be loss of finish and possibly pits on your gun. To remove water, an absorbent cloth like a towel is best. A blow dryer speeds the drying process, and a blast from an air hose displaces water rapidly. This is the one time WD40 can be used on guns. It sheds water well. Just be sure to remove it entirely before it has a chance to turn to varnish.

You can also protect your metal parts with a silicone-impregnated cloth. When you wipe your gun with this cloth, silicone bonds to the metal. If the metal gets wet, the silicone sheds water like a duck!

Don't forget the bore
Normally, I never clean the barrel of an airgun. I make an exception when there's a water problem! Dry the bore completely, then run a silicone-soaked patch through it. You can buy either special airgun silicone spray or just get some at the local hardware store.

Watch for water in all its forms
It's pretty easy to know you have a water problem when you're in the constant drizzle of a hurricane, but water comes in more subtle ways. Snow is just cold water, so don't forget to clean your gun after an outing in the white stuff. Those who live near the coast have problems with salt air attacking their guns. And, if you live in a humid climate, NEVER store a gun in a case with a foam liner. The foam absorbs moisture from the air and is in tight contact with the metal on your gun.

Yes, of all the weather problems, water is number one. Protect your guns from its ravages.