Air shotguns, part 3: the Crosman Trapmaster 1100
by B.B. Pelletier
Crosman made a shotgun! The Trapmaster 1100 was a CO2 shotgun that copied Remington's popular 1100 autoloader. That strange thin rod sticking out from the forearm cap is the powerlet piercing lever.
It all began with instinct shooting
On October 26, I reported on the Fire 201 air shotgun, so today I'll cover the Crosman Trapmaster 1100. This is a special shotgun because it was made by America's leading maker of CO2 guns. The Crosman 1100 was produced from 1968 through 1971, so the run was relatively short. It was also the final result of an interesting development that began in 1954, with a man called Lucky McDaniel.
From civilian to military in one decade
Lucky taught instinct shooting for many decades. He was the creator of the program Daisy sold as Quick Skill and the U.S. Army copied during Vietnam, changing the name to Quick Kill.
Lucky had many important students, but Floyd Patterson, the world heavyweight boxing champion, was the most famous. In 1957, Floyd fought an unprecidented match with Pete Rademacher, the 1956 Olympic gold medalist. Pete wanted to win the title in his first professional bout, so he convinced Patterson to give him a shot. It didn't turn out the way he had hoped, but Pete became interested in instinct shooting after learning that Patterson credited much of his success to the instinct shooting training.
Floyd Patterson wasn't the only boxer interested in airguns!
In the late 1950s, Rademacher was selling his own instinct shooting system with a Parris BB gun and a spring-powered trap to throw special breakaway aerial targets. Pete's trap and reusable plastic targets were so interesting that Crosman arranged to manufacture them. They created their own gun to shoot the targets; instead of a BB gun, they made an entirely new .380 caliber CO2 shotgun called the Trapmaster 1100. It copied the Remington 1100 autoloader and was huge. It needed an extra-long 28" barrel to get the velocity with CO2 (I mentioned this relationship in previous blogs).
You might be able to guess the velocity of the Trapmaster
The Trapmaster had two power levels, selected by cocking to the first stop or going all the way to the second. In factory trim, the high-power setting delivered about 450 to 500 f.p.s. for a tiny pinch of shot - just over half what the Fire 201 used. That velocity is interesting because it's very close to that of the Farco, which is also a CO2 shotgun. Are you starting to see some similarities among airguns with similar powerplants and features?
This gun is a gas hog!
The Trapmaster needs two 12-gram powerlets to function. You'll get about 30+ shots on high power with the gas from the two. You can try to economize and use just a single fresh powerlet (with an empty one inserted to give the necessary length), but you'll cut the number of shots by more than half. Some owners convert it to bulkfill, which reduces the gas cost to about 10%, though you get fewer shots per fill unless you extend the length of the gas reservoir.
The eternal quest for power
Hobbyists soon added stronger hammer springs to boost the power, and I have heard reports of guns shooting over 600 f.p.s. on high power. Before you get excited, there's also a mention in the back of Airgun Digest (the first edition) where a Trapmaster 1100 was converted to a .20 caliber rifle that reportedly got over 1,600 f.p.s.! After reading this blog, you should be able to spot the error in that. I don't believe that any CO2 gun could EVER get a pellet up to 1,600 f.p.s.!
When it fired, it sounded like a ladybug sneezing!
The shot was held in red plastic shotshells that were reloadable. The gun fired about 62 grains of No. 8 chilled lead shot, or just over half the load of a Fire 201. It made a 14" pattern at 40 feet. It wasn't much, but it would pop the plastic aerial targets apart, which was the only reason the gun existed. I think collectors like the Trapmaster more for its size and good looks than for its performance, which has to be the most anemic of all air shotguns.
Looks good in person
As much as I pan its performance, the Trapmaster still gets me whenever I hold one. It's a large, good-looking shotgun, and you just wish it could shoot as good as it looks. Expect to pay $150 to $200 for a nice example today. Most of them will be in nice shape, because their owners take good care of them. It's the kind of airgun that inspires pride.