by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The See All Open Sight is revolutionary!
This will be a different Friday blog — I promise you.
First of all — all talk of machining the See All Open Sight sight is off the table. I spoke with the See All creators and learned that the reticle is actually on film — shrunk to the size where the point of the triangle is 0.0002 inches across. That’s two ten-thousandths of an inch, or 0.00508 millimeters! This in in the realm of optics — not mechanical things. So, don’t try to modify the sight.
Second, they told me some folks may need to wear their glasses when using this sight. I haven’t been doing that, so I wore them for this test.
What I thought might happen today
After the last test in Part 4, I thought the sight might work better if it was held farther from my eyes — like it would be when mounted on a pistol. The magnifying optic enlarges the reticle even more the farther away it is, so this sounded like a possible solution to the reticle being indistinct on target. Also, it’s easier to tilt the sight when it’s mounted on a handgun. I’d hoped that would make it easier to align the peak on the end of the triangle. This is what I was thinking when I told some readers I had a better idea of how to test it.
What went wrong with this test?
When I first attempted to test the sight on Tuesday, I mounted it on a Beeman P1 pistol using an 11mm-dovetail-to-Picatinny adapter that you cannot buy. I used this base because it has some droop, and I thought I needed that droop to get the shots on paper at 10 meters. What I got, however, was pellets striking the target too low after all the upward adjustment in the sight had been made. The results were so bad that I quit testing the sight and moved to something else. I mentioned that in the introduction to Wednesday’s blog.
While I was resting from this first attempt, it occurred to me that maybe this sight works in the reverse of how I was thinking. It has seemed that way every time I attempted to test it. So, for today’s initial test, I turned the base around so it’s sloping up toward the muzzle. The sight was pointed slightly up in relation to the top of the pistol.
For safety, I began shooting at 12 feet. If the gun was off at that distance, it would still be hitting the pellet trap.
I’d already fired a group of 10 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite pellets at 10 meters with the P1′s open sights. They landed in 0.598 inches, so that was how well I was shooting the gun on this day. I know from experience that the Crosman Premier lite is one of the best pellets in this pistol.
Ten Premier lites went into 0.598 inches at 10 meters with the pistol’s open sights. The P1 can shoot.
It seems I can still shoot my P1. Now, how well can I shoot it with the See All Open Sight mounted? Well, I was right about the droop in the first place. Reversing the mount so it sloped up landed the pellet 12 inches below the aim point at 12 feet! I did need a drooper base after all, and one with the most aggressive slope possible. Fortunately, I had just what I needed, so that base was mounted on the gun and the sight was attached to it.
See the steep slop of the base adapter? It still wasn’t enough to raise the pellet to the point of aim.
With this new steeper-sloped base, the point of impact did rise; but even with the See All sight adjusted as high as it would go, the pellet still struck about 3 inches below the aim point when shooting from 12 feet. And, yes, I did read the adjustment directions as I was adjusting the sight.
I couldn’t get the pellet to strike the point of aim, so on to Plan B. Plan B is where I move the aim point very high and let the pellets impact below. At least that would tell me about the sight’s potential. I used a black dot as an aim point and backed up to 10 meters. When the first shot landed 5 inches below the point of aim, however, the test was over. That is so low that it risks not hitting the entire pellet trap, and that’s a risk I’m not willing to take. Two more inches and the shot goes off the paper.
A 5-inch drop below the aim point was enough to make me stop the test. This is the end of the P1 test.
This test (on the P1) is over
I have tried for two agonizing days to get the See All Open Sight to work on my Beeman P1, and everything has failed to work. I now have more pellet holes in my house (Edith knows about them), and that’s as much damage as I’m willing to do.
I’m not saying the See All Open Sight doesn’t work. There are too many reports that it does work — including one from our blog reader GunFun1. But I’ve done everything in my power to get it to work for me, and you’ve seen the results. My shooting buddy Otho has done the same. He did get better results than I did, but even he wasn’t satisfied with what he got.
I’m going to set the sight aside and just think about it for awhile. If I were testing this item for Pyramyd Air, my recommendation would be “don’t buy” right now. That’s not saying I won’t find a gun it works on; but, for now, I’m pretty burnt out.
Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll begin looking at a .22-caliber BSA Supersport SE. This is a conventional breakbarrel spring piston air rifle in a beech stock. It’s been some time since I’ve tested a conventional new spring rifle like this.
The serial number of the rifle I’m testing is SSE22-770789-13. The metal finish is unpolished but probably tumble-finished, giving all the parts a matte sheen. The only plastic parts you can see on the outside are both sights, the safety lever and the triggerblade. They blend into the overall matte black finish very well.
The stock is shaped well and has 4 panels of pressed checkering — one on either side of the forearm and one on either side of the pistol grip. The BSA stacked rifles logo (called piled rifles in the UK, and the BSA logo is called the Pylarm logo) is pressed into the base of the pistol grip. The wood is finished smoothly, and the only rough area is the point where the black rubber buttpad meets the wood. That transition isn’t smooth, and there’s glue around the joint.
The barrel comes very far back when the rifle’s cocked, making this a long-stroke piston. The cocking linkage is in 2 pieces that are jointed to keep the cocking slot in the stock as short as possible, which reduces the feeling of vibration. BSA says that the action is internally weighted to deliver top performance. I’m thinking they mean that there’s a weighted top hat inside the piston, or the piston itself is heavy. Either way, the rifle should shoot medium and heavyweight pellets better than lightweight pellets.
The rifle is supposed to weigh 6.6 lbs., according to BSA information. The rifle I’m testing weighs 7 lbs. on the nose. The difference is attributable to the density of the wood in the stock.
BSA advertises the muzzle velocity at 730 f.p.s. That would be with a lightweight pellet, but I’m hoping it’s a light lead pellet. If so, that’s a good velocity for a .22 spring rifle — not too fast, yet plenty of power. We’ll find out in the velocity test.
The trigger is adjustable via an Allen wrench. The adjustment works on the second stage to lighten it or make it heavier. The safety is manual, which I must applaud. Only the shooter should be in control of the gun — never the design!
The sights are fiberoptic, front and rear. The rear sight adjusts in both directions, so I’ll start the accuracy testing using the open sights.
There’s an 11mm dovetail groove machined into the top of the spring tube, but BSA has long been noted for having its grooves set at the widest end of the size spectrum. For newer readers, 11mm is a nominal size for airgun dovetails. They actually range from 9.5mm out to almost 14mm, and BSA has always had the widest set. But it looks like the grooves are now 11mm apart.
I’m very pleased to see a deep, wide vertical scope stop hole in the middle of the dovetails at the rear of the spring tube. This provides a solid anchor point for a vertical scope stop that most of the conventional 11mm scope rings have.
Solid firing cycle
I couldn’t resist shooting the rifle a couple times to check the trigger and the firing cycle. The trigger is definitely 2-stage, with some creep in stage 2. I’ll work on that for next time. The firing cycle is quite smooth. It’s got a hint of spring buzz, but only a hint. The shot feels solid and there is no hurtful vibration at all. This is a very pleasant spring rifle to shoot!
I would add that, when I cocked the rifle, the stroke felt to smooth that I almost thought it had a gas spring. Ten years ago, I would have said this rifle has been tuned. It feels that smooth. The cocking effort is heavier — going up around 40 lbs., as a guess. In recent years, I’ve seen a number of breakbarrel air rifles that cocked as smooth as this one, so what I believe is happening is the manufacturers are paying more attention to the internal tolerances. The result is that the buyer gets a smoother air rifle; and at the price for which this one retails, that’s quite a bargain. Five years ago, you got something much harsher for the same $250.
I have owned and tested BSA Supersport rifles in the past. In fact, in the 1990s they were a huge seller here in the U.S. They are no-frills rifles that offered good performance and accuracy at a good price. Let’s hope BSA has continued that tradition in this latest offering.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I planned on putting a review of the See All Open Sight here today, but the test went south on me. It was most likely my fault, so I’m not going to publish it until I have a chance to check things. Today’s blog is also written by new blog reader Rob, who responded to my question of what things a new person needed to know about airguns.
ROB: Myth. All pellets are the same. The only differences between the 2-3 different brands available is marketing. Truth. Every airgun is different and will shoot very differently depending on the brand, weight, and shape of pellets fired from it. New guns should always be tested with a variety of pellets.
B.B.: As long as I’ve been an airgunner, I’ve heard that you have to try lots of different pellets in a gun to find the best ones. That’s true for firearms, as well, so why not for airguns?
BUT — and this is a big one! Some pellets are almost always good, while other pellets are most often not so good. The premium pellets you see me use to test airguns — JSB, H&N, Beeman, RWS and certain Crosman pellets — are most often the good ones. I won’t waste my time shooting anything else. The discount store pellets are usually not very good. In fact, I am planning a comparison test between some of the best pellets and some discount store pellets in airguns of known accuracy — to see if what I’ve said holds true.
ROB: Myth. Pointed pellets are best for hunting. Truth. Pointed pellets may pierce an animal, but that might not be the best way to humanely kill it. Projecting power into the animal with domes, hollow points or even target pellets is better, and a heavier weight pellet moving slowly is better than a tiny pellet busting the sound barrier.
B.B.: I learned this years ago. Pointed pellets are never as accurate as good domed pellets. They do penetrate better, but that’s about all. For long-range accuracy, I choose either domes or a few of the new high-tech hollowpoints that are very accurate, like the Predator Polymag and the Beeman Devastator pellets.
ROB: Myth. A pellet or BB gun is a good tool to teach an animal a lesson/run it off. Truth. Most pellet guns today are capable of piercing the skin of an animal at a close distance (and some at long distances), and a sunken pellet will fester…sometimes killing the animal–always punishing it inhumanely. Also, the new airguns (new if you haven’t bought an airgun in 2-3 decades) can be extremely powerful and potentially lethal. When I was a kid, we put on an extra coat and had BB gun wars. That was a bad idea then, and a worse idea now.
B.B.: No argument from me!
ROB: Myth. Oil your gun good (or the reverse, pellet guns last forever…there is no need to maintain them.) I’m guilty of both of these. Truth. Pellgunoil is specifically made for airgun lubrication. Engine oil can hurt it. Too much and not enough oil are equally bad for life and performance. There are still some things I don’t understand about lubrication. There are other oils and greases (lithium and moly grease) that I still know almost nothing about.
B.B.: There’s some truth here, but also some errors. The veteran readers know that I made the same mistake years ago. Pellgunoil is actually made from non-detergent motor oil with additives that preserve o-rings. And, Rob, there are still some things that I don’t know about lubrication, either!
ROB: Myth. There are only 2-3 brands of airguns. Truth. There are dozens and seem to be more every time I look. Wally World may have a gun at a lower cost, but it’s best in the long run to buy from experts who can give advice on all aspects of the gun, including potential scopes and pellets.
ROB: Myth. You have to spend a fortune to get a straight shooting quality airgun. Truth. Some of the inexpensive guns are the best. That said, you have to pay more to get all metal, wood and a Lothar Walther barrel (a combination I haven’t gotten yet).
ROB: Myth. Every barrel should be cleaned. Truth. Some barrels don’t require cleaning at all. Some guns require frequent cleaning.
B.B.: That’s about the size of it.
ROB: Myth. High-power scopes make for better accuracy. Truth. A clear scope makes for the best accuracy…and sometimes taking the scope off and shooting open sites is the best route.
B.B.: In light of some recent test results, I have to agree. Doesn’t mean I’ll give up all my powerful scopes, though!
ROB: Myth. It doesn’t matter where a gun is made. Truth. A good gun could be made anywhere, but the Germans (for example) have the motivation, factories, artisan capabilities and history of making fantastic guns. Other areas of the world are often low-end bidders without devotion to the craft.
B.B. In general, he’s correct but don’t forget the Brits, Swedes, Turks and Americans! There are several countries where good airguns can be made, and often are.
ROB: Myth. Higher speed/greater power is always better. Truth. If you want to blow holes in plywood, greater speed and power are better. However, if you want to hit a target the size of a fly or hunt squirrels at any distance greater than point blank, accuracy is much more important.
B.B.: If you don’t know how I feel about this topic, you are a first-time reader. Accuracy comes before anything except safety.
ROB: Myth. Guns fire as fast as their containers claim. Truth. Airguns rarely fire as fast as the manufacturer brags. When they do, it is because they are a very good brand or because the maker tested the gun with ultra-lite pellets or took advantage of dieseling explosions.
B.B.: This used to be a larger problem than it is today. Some companies persist in overstating their velocity, I admit, but others have gotten on board with honest figures. They know many airgunners have chronographs these days (proportionately far more than firearms shooters), and they’ll be checking. The company that still gets its numbers from intentional oil detonations has been busted by airgunners, but they still sell very well to the unsuspecting public, which is much larger.
ROB: Myth. Airguns are only truly accurate where zeroed. Truth. Airguns point up like cannons and shoot in an arch. That means they are as accurate as they can be at two points on that arch…going up and down (for example, at 15 and 30 yards.)
B.B.: I don’t really understand this one. Because my airguns are accurate at all distances until they go out too far. I think what Rob means is the pellet path intersects the aim point 2 times.
ROB: Myth. “Broken” airguns are throw-aways. Truth. Most can be repaired with simple repairs like oiling or replacing seals or springs.
B.B.: I’ll go even farther than that. I used to do very well by installing CO2 cartridges in CO2 guns I found at flea markets — you know, when they would tell me they never tried the gun because they didn’t have a cartridge. These guns invariably leaked, and I got a big discount. When I got home, I used Pellgunoil and over half of them sealed up again. The Sheridan Supergrade won’t hold air unless you cock it first. Try to pump one up without cocking, and the air just bleeds out. These are a few of the tricks that can be used to negotiate the price down.
Rob: Myth. Airguns are toys and can never be as accurate as firearms. Truth. To my amazement, a great airgun can usually outshoot a good firearm (within the distances they were created to excel; under 10, 20, 50 yards.) I’ve already proven this multiple times shooting with my friends. They were more surprised than I was.
This blog was done today out of necessity because I needed a topic quick. But the material presented here is still valuable to new airgunners. I hope others will read this and tell us the things they either learned the hard way or may still not be clear on.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The suggestion for this report came from blog readers ricka and Terd Ferguson, who both expressed concerns over the safety of precharged airguns. That’s safety…as in wondering if one can blow up!
It’s been a long time since I felt those same concerns, but I did at one time. Before I got my first PCP in 1995, I was quite concerned about keeping a scuba tank filled to 3,000 psi in my house. I’d seen the movie Jaws and was suitably impressed when the shark was blown up by a scuba tank at the end. So, these two readers are probably expressing the same concerns that hundreds of you share. I’d like to address those concerns in what I hope will be a straightforward series of reports that are easy to understand.
Do firearms blow up?
Veteran readers of this blog know the answer to that. Firearms do blow up, and I’ve shared at least one such personal story with you — my Nelson Lewis combination gun. I overloaded it and blew the percussion cap nipple out of the barrel! You can read that report here. In retrospect, it was my fault, so we can call that experience a stupident.
I’ve been involved in two other firearm blowups. One was caused by a rim failure in a .17 HM2 rimfire cartridge, and I’ve since come to find that this cartridge is known for that weakness. When it happened to me, shards of hot brass blew out the ejection port of the 10/22 clone I was testing for Shotgun News. One piece of brass cut my right arm and drew some blood; but aside from that and a lot of extra noise and smoke, no other damage was done. That event was out of my control, so it was an accident.
The other blowup was caused by a squibb round (one without gunpowder that drives the bullet into the barrel but not out again) in a Colt SAA revolver. I was firing very fast; and when the squibb happened, I was unable to stop before I thumbed off the next round. The revolver’s barrel was split lengthways when the second bullet hit the first one halfway down the barrel. That wasn’t an accident — it was a stupident.
Shooting a round into a bullet that was already lodged in the barrel burst this 7-1/2 inch Colt SAA barrel. The bullet was struck where the ejector housing screw was.
Do precharged airguns ever blow up?
Yes, they do. The causes are as random as they are with firearms, and the results range from sudden surprises all the way to death. The blog readers are entitled to a frank discussion of the kinds of accidents that can happen with precharged guns, and that’s what I’m about to give you.
When I bought my first precharged rifle—a Daystate Huntsman—and a brand new 80 cubic-foot aluminum scuba tank, I was properly awed. No, make that frightened. It was not unlike setting off my first charge of TNT in the Army! I respected the power potential of both that dive tank and the airgun I was filling.
Like any new thing, though, this awe and respect lasted only as long as it took me to become comfortable with the technology. If you do something enough times, the edge of respect starts to wear off—I don’t care what it is. It isn’t good when this occurs, but it’s human nature. Familiarity breeds contempt.
And then it happened. My gun blew up! Okay, it wasn’t actually the rifle; it was the hose that connected the rifle to the scuba tank. And to be honest, it didn’t really blow up. The soft wall of the rubber hose ruptured, violently releasing compressed air. The tear in the hose wall was about one inch long, and the warning signs were there before it happened. The hose had developed a noticeable bulge at the point the blowout occurred. That should have told me that the reinforced fabric liner under the outside rubber was failing, but like I said—familiarity breeds contempt. And I didn’t want to stop shooting my airgun. I took a risk and the explosion happened.
I was standing in my basement when the hose blew. The noise sounded like a concussion grenade, although I’m quite sure it was nowhere near as loud or forceful. The blast loosened a storm of dust from the floor joists above my head; and my wife, whose office was right above me, jumped out of her seat.
The net result was no injury to me, beyond a bruised ego, and no physical damage to anything other than the now-ruined hose. I was momentarily stunned, and it took about 15 seconds before I regained my bearings, because Edith had already gotten to the basement before I turned off the tank’s air flow.
I shared my experience with other airgunners who were more acquainted with precharged airguns and was told I had been lucky the hose hadn’t broken off completely, whipping me violently before I could turn off the scuba tank’s valve. That was when I discovered that nearly everyone who uses precharged airguns has either had an incident like this happen to them or knows someone who’d had one.
Can this be avoided?
Can this kind of incident be avoided? Absolutely! There are several things you can do to keep this from happening. First, if you use microbore air hoses, the likelihood of blowouts is reduced — not eliminated, just reduced. Microbore hoses carry the same internal air pressure as regular hoses, but the surface against which the air presses is so much smaller that it reduces the amount of stress on the hose material. However, most microbore hoses are stiff and will eventually soften at the point at which they are bent. That’s usually up near the tank, where they come out of the tank’s air valve. You still have to watch for that, because when they soften, they also weaken at the same spot. The hose I have linked to in this report has springs on both ends to prevent this bending to a large extent — but you still have to look for it.
Another safety measure is to use a hose that has a braided steel sheath on the outside. This sheath keeps the rubber that’s underneath from expanding and blowing out. The hose that blew out on me was an early rubber Daystate hose that had just a 3,000 psi rating. It was rated for nearly the same pressure it worked at (2,500 psi), which isn’t good. The hoses with braided steel sheaths are rated much higher.
The stainless steel wire braiding on this air hose will prevent it from blowing out.
The most important safety measure is you! Examine your fill equipment every time you use it; and if you spot something like I did, you stop right away.
Another type of stupident
If you fail to fully connect the two halves of the Foster quick-disconnect coupling during a fill, the air pressure will disconnect it for you! It will be accompanied by a small explosion and often by the violent whipping of the air hose. Here’s another place where a microbore hose protects you because it doesn’t whip as much, plus it’s smaller, so it doesn’t hurt as much when you get hit. But the best thing is to never get hit at all. When you make the connection, listen for the click of the knurled ring on the larger female fitting as it snaps into position. That indicates that all the ball bearings inside the coupling are now safely inside the groove of the male fitting.
This female Foster fitting (left) has a spring-loaded collar that pulls back to allow the ball bearings to move outward. They go around the flat spot on the male fitting on the right, then the spring pushes them into the groove. They will hold the two fittings together under pressure, but only when the ball bearings are in the groove. It’s important to hear the two parts click together.
That is as far as I will go in this report. I know how important this information is for many of you, so I promise to come back to this quickly for part 2.
For now, however, I want to leave you with this thought. I’m being honest with you about the potential dangers that are present whenever precharged airguns are used. You have to keep an open mind about this because the things I’m presenting are not that common. They do happen and most of them can be prevented by the means and methods that we’ll discuss.
Operating a precharged airgun is no more dangerous than having a gas-fired hot water heater in your house or operating a lawn mower. There are things to be aware of; and if you follow the rules, no harm should come your way.
In 2009, I gave Pyramyd Air two articles about the basics of precharged pneumatics:
While I put a lot into both articles, there will be new things in this series of blog reports.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Blog reader Rob asked for this review. I have reviewed the Daisy 880 before, but that was back in the days when I wrote The Airgun Letter. I doubt many of you will have seen that report. I’ve reported on the Daisy 22X, as well, but that was long ago and those reports may be difficult to locate. The 22X and 177X are derivatives of the 880 powerplant.
The 880 is a multi-pump pneumatic that has a short pump stroke. As a result, it’s relatively easy to pump up to the maximum 10 pump strokes. The useful range of pumps lies between 3 and 10 strokes.
The 880 shoots both steel BBs and lead pellets through its rifled steel barrel. At 10 pumps, Daisy rates the rifle at 715 f.p.s. with lead pellets and 750 f.p.s. with steel BBs. Naturally, I’ll test both for you.
The 880 is one of a very few airguns that comes up in conversation whenever airgunners are remembering their favorite guns. It’s lightweight, easy to operate and inexpensive, so there are a lot of them out there. But the attraction goes a lot farther than just a rare bargain. There’s something about the 880 that inspires fierce owner loyalty.
The rifle I’m testing for you is about 13-14 years old, but it probably has fewer than 500 shots on the clock. After testing it initially, I never really went back and used it much. That’s not a comment on the quality — I just never had the time to go back. But I do note that I kept it all these years, and that says something. Every year or so, I get a question about the 880 that makes me drag it out of the closet for a closer look. And this time, I plan to look at it intently, as Rob requested.
My rifle is old, but the specs haven’t changed much since it was built. I have the same red fiberoptic front sight that they still put on the gun and a non-fiberoptic rear one. The weight of 3.1 lbs. is still the same. And the basic functions of a single-shot pellet feed (loaded manually into the bolt trough) or a 50-shot BB magazine, with its feed to a magnetic bolt tip when the gun is cocked.
Speaking of cocking the rifle, you must do it to pump the gun. The design is such that if the gun isn’t cocked, the pump strokes will not pressurize the reservoir. This means the 880 and all associated models cannot be stored with a pump of air in the reservoir. Theoretically, this can be bad for the seals — exposing them to the dirt in the air — but neither my 880 nor my 22X have ever shown signs of a problem. So, this system works, too.
When you pull the pump handle all the way forward, the pump head is exposed in the slot beneath the forearm. This is where you periodically oil the head to maintain compression. The felt washer behind the pump head evenly spreads the oil around the compression chamber walls.
Things people like about the 880
Accuracy is the No. 1 thing owners have to say in praise of the 880. They way most of them talk, I’m expecting something really impressive. The second thing they like is that it also shoots BBs. That’s a turn-off for me, but Daisy sells a lot of these rifles, so I’m not the normal customer.
Those who like the BB aspect also like the fact the rifle is a repeater with BBs. So, Daisy listened to their customers when the 880 was designed.
Things people dislike about the 880
A lot of owners criticize the plastic, saying they think that it might break with use. It might break, I suppose; but when you look at customer reviews for the 880, parts breakage isn’t one of the big things mentioned. I think this is more a question of perception rather than a real problem. One writer thought the 880 should be made in a higher-quality version for adults; but when Daisy did that (it was called the 22X), it didn’t sell well. It’s obsolete, while the 880 continues to sell very well. Perception and reality are not the same.
They also criticize the single-stage trigger. Yes, it’s heavy and creepy. But no more than the triggers on similar air rifles made with the same level of performance. If you want good triggers, you need to buy the kind of airguns that have them.
Pellets can be difficult to load in the 880. The reason seems to be the hole at the rear of the pellet trough that allows BBs to pass through. It can catch the skirt of a lead pellet and make it hang up.
The rifle is mostly plastic on the outside. That carries through to the inside, as well. To stay in this price range, a lot of economies need to be addressed, and molded plastic parts are one of the solutions. That doesn’t mean the plastic is weak or inferior in any way. I’m pretty sure these guns last a long time.
On the other hand, the steel barrel is a very thin tube. It’s an insert that’s housed inside a plastic sheath that’s covered by a thin sheetmetal cover.
We have a real classic pellet rifle to test. There are millions of 880s in circulation, and I expect to hear from a lot of their owners as this report progresses.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Got a lot to cover today, so let’s get to it.
First up is the Daisy Manufacturing Company, now called Daisy Outdoor Products. Daisy is best-known for the BB guns they make, but did you know they also made firearms? That’s correct. In fact, Daisy made 3 different lines of .22 rimfire rifles — though one of them is only a rimfire by common categorization. That would be the Daisy V/L. V/L stands for Van Langenhoven, the last name of the man who invented the caseless cartridge technology Daisy used to make this gun. I’ve covered this before when I wrote about the new Daisy book published in 2012.
Although it’s commonly classified with .22 rimfire rifles, the caseless round does not even have a rim. There’s no priming compound in this cartridge. This caseless cartridge was made from a material that combusts when heated rapidly by the compressed air of a spring-piston air rifle. So, the Daisy V/L is, in fact, an underlever spring-piston air rifle that just happens to shoot caseless .22 rounds. Daisy made their V/L rifle in the late 1960s (1968 & ’69).
Daisy also made a line of bolt-action rifles called the Legacy line in the 1980s and ’90s. These rifles have weird diecast and steel receivers mounted in both plastic and wood stocks. But they’re not the guns I want to discuss today.
I have handled both the Legacy and V/L rifles, but I don’t know much about them. What I do know something about is a Daisy rimfire that is even less well-known than either of these.
Daisy model 8
In 1988 and ’89, Daisy produced an economical .22 rimfire single-shot rifle for Wal-Mart. They were supposed to have built 30,000 rifles, but the contract was either terminated or somehow not completed; and the actual number of rifles made is something less. The Blue Book of Gun Values says they made 30,000 of them, but Joe Murfin of Daisy told me about the problem with Wal-Mart and said they didn’t make that many. Something on the left side of the barrel has been machined off. This is on every model 8 I’ve seen.
All the Daisy model 8 rifles I’ve seen (about 10) have had this area of the barrel machined off. Something was stamped there.
This rifle is small. If you know what a Crickett rifle is, this one is just slightly larger. If you don’t know what a Crickett is, the Daisy rifle has an overall length of just 32-1/4 inches and a weight of 3 lbs., 1 oz. In other words, it’s tiny!
It has a painted action and barrel in a hollow plastic stock. The overall impression is — this gun is cheap.
Daisy rear sight looks a lot like an airgun sight. It adjusts for windage and elevation.
Do you think that airgun companies are loaded with engineers wearing white lab coats? The Daisy model 8 looks more like something that was designed in high school shop class when the teacher was out on his smoke break. The designer is someone you all know — the kid without the eyebrows. The one who couldn’t hear out of his left ear. Later on in life, he was known as Stumpy; and before he turned 25, he disappeared completely.
What I’m saying is that this is a bolt-action rifle that’s designed with screen-door-latch technology. It began as an exercise to see how cheaply we could make it, and that was followed by two rounds of cost-cutting before corporate council pulled the plug for liability reasons.
Model 8 bolt handle looks like common hardware! The receiver is a diecast part with a steel tube pressed in for strength.
Daisy model 8 (below) is just a little larger than a Crickett.
And I have one! Are they rare? I don’t know. Are they scarce? Most assuredly! Have some of them been lost over time? Almost a given! Are they worth anything? Not very much. This is not an heirloom gun — it’s a hair-brained gun!
I bought one just because of what it is. I also bought the Crickett to serve a basis for comparison. Both are small, but one (the Crickett) is designed by gunmakers, while the other (the Daisy model 8) looks like it was designed by McGuyver while he was in the throws of an acid flashback.
Yes, I have shot this rifle. No, it doesn’t shoot very well. In fact, it misfires about 25 percent of the time, which I attribute to a weak firing pin spring. Accuracy is on the order of 3-4 inches at 25 yards — so far. Maybe I haven’t found the right ammo, yet — ha, ha.
I said I bought the Crickett for comparison. I’m just throwing it in here because many more shooters are familiar with it than with the Daisy. Much of its design is similar to the Daisy model 8; but at every turn, you can see where its design exceeds the Daisy. I guess I would say the Crickett is just a small firearm, while the Daisy is more of a small example of what not to do.
In sharp contrast to the Daisy, the Crickett bolt looks like a firearm bolt and the receiver is all steel. They even put a peep sight at the rear! Didn’t cost that much, but this is what designers can do.
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, while the Daisy model 8 is a cheap rimfire wannabe. Having said all that — who have I insulted? I sure hope your favorite .22 is not a Daisy model 8!
The point of this look is to see what an airgun manufacturer will turn out when they make a firearm. But maybe this Daisy model isn’t a fair representation because Daisy built this for their customer. Let’s look at another rimfire rifle that was made by a different airgun manufacturer, and this time they made it for themselves.
The Falke single-shot
Yes — that Falke. The same people who made the super-rare and interesting Falke model 80 and 90 underlevers and also the Falke models 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, and 70 breakbarrel spring rifles. We looked at a Falke model 70.
Compared to the Daisy model 8 (top), the Falke single-shot is a full-sized rifle.
This rifle is a confusing firearm. On the one hand, the walnut stock is shaped nicely and hand checkered, the metal polish and bluing is even and deep, and the action is cheap and stiff to operate. What should be the simplest of all actions — a single-shot — is machined very well, yet it functions like it’s been rusting in the corner for decades.
Falke was one of those “anything for a buck” companies that arose in Germany after the war. I’m sure they would have disagreed with that assessment, but the fact is they had no plan of succession; and when the founder got sick in the late ’50s, the company folded.
Where have we seen this logo before?
They made at least 2 firearms. This bolt-action rifle is one, and I’ve also seen a stylized Remington double derringer in .22 rimfire.
I bought this rifle because it’s a Falke and because it looked so nice on the internet. When I received it, I found it to be even nicer than the photos portrayed. But the action is stiff and clunky! I never would have bought it if I’d tried it first. However, I believe I can correct most of this with some careful gunsmithing.
The rifle is full-sized at 40-3/4 inches overall, with a 23-inch barrel. The pull length is 13-1/2 inches. The barrel is nicely rifled, and the gun appears to be in 90 percent condition. The wood has been sanded, which is the only detractor from the overall appearance.
The front sight is a common post with a bead, but the rear sight has the same quirky elevation adjustment that we saw on the Falke model 70 air rifle! With luck, this rifle will shoot.
We saw a rear sight just like this on the Falke model 70 air rifle.
This is a bolt-action single-shot. It has a separate cocking piece that will cock the rifle by itself (without the bolt being operated), but right now the sear is under too much tension and the cocking piece cannot be pulled back all the way. The bolt cocks the action on closing.
Again — so what?
I’ve shown you 2 firearms that were made by 2 different airgun makers. My plan is to shoot both of them and come back to you with the results in the next report. I’ll do that as the rifles stand right now, but the Daisy really does need a stronger firing pin spring, and the Falke needs its action smoothed a lot.
Why am I doing this? Perhaps, to show the contrast of firearms and airguns made by the same maker. I think we have that in both these cases.
I know several of you readers probably own Daisy Legacy rimfire rifles, and I would like to hear what you think of them. If any of you own a Daisy model 8, you have both my apologies and my sympathy. And if anyone ownes a Falke firearm, I sure would like to hear about it!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today I want to talk about this blog — what it is and how it operates. Two days ago, several readers got into a flaming war over politics. Each party wanted to have the last word, so the comments kept flying back and forth, getting pettier and pettier as they went. When I booted my computer Wednesday morning, I had 177 emails to read and deal with.
This blog is one of the most popular blogs that deals with the shooting sports. We have many tens of thousands of regular readers. Most of the time, this is a pretty fun place to be. But not yesterday.
Yesterday, a few people ruined the experience for everyone. They got into a political argument, and no party was willing to shut up. Back and forth, they kept zinging their comments, ruining the experience for everyone else.
I don’t mind a political statement now and then. I make them myself. But no one is going to hijack this blog just so they can get in the last word. That’s what the forums are for — or at least that’s how people who are on them behave. Not here.
This blog is successful because it sticks to the topics of the shooting sports. Mostly, it’s about airguns, but from time to time it does stray into other areas. I find the mix of topics interesting and stimulating; and from the success of the blog over the decade it’s been running, I think that sentiment is shared by a lot of readers.
We were established to educate people about airguns and the shooting sports. Some people think that if you talk about anything other than a pellet or BB gun you’ve gone off-topic, but then when I use common shooting terms like flyer or double-action in my reports, they start asking all kinds of questions. So, I’ve expanded my brief to cover the entire range of the shooting sports — just to complete the education process. If you don’t understand what rifling does, then how can you appreciate the way a diabolo pellet works?
Because we’re very popular, we get hit with spams. These are commercial messages that have nothing to do with the topics of the blog but provide embedded links to other websites. Since this blog ranks high in the search engines, the spammers are hoping they’ll be able to ride our coattails and get some ranking for their sites. Edith and I remove the spams all day long, and every morning we have to clear out a ton of them. We get 30-70 spam messages every 24-hour period, and the rate is increasing. As the blog succeeds, the spams increase.
I don’t mind mucking out the blog to get rid of these parasites, but I’m not going to let regular readers spin out of control and muddy the waters at the same time. If you’re a reader, you’re expected to treat this place like you would the living room of your own home. This isn’t an overpass where you can spray paint your frustrations. This is a place where people meet to discuss in a civil way things that interest them. If you can’t do that, go somewhere else to vent.
This blog gets read by school-aged children. Parents email Edith and me, thanking us for providing an internet site where they can go with their kids to read about the shooting sports without having to worry about foul language. We want that to continue. That includes omitting the foul-language abbreviations that are universally recognized by young people.
Longtime readers know this and abide by it without saying anything. But, sometimes, newer readers have to be advised to clean up their language. Well, now I’m addressing everyone. Foul language will not be tolerated on this blog. That goes for slang, innuendo, abbreviations and acronyms. If you think it’s bad, I probably do, too.
We allow comments to go off-topic on this blog. A couple years ago, we had an encounter with several readers who had more rigid views of what should be allowed here. We told them our policy, and they elected not to comment on the blog anymore. Several of them still read regularly, but they no longer post under the handles they used during that encounter.
Sales and self-promotion
This blog belongs to Pyramyd Air. They pay for the servers that host it, and they pay me to write it. Yes — I am paid by Pyramyd Air! I’m not their employee, but they do pay me for what I do. At the same time, they make no attempt to censor me, nor to tell me what to write. From time to time, they do suggest topics that will help their sales people get certain messages across, but these are educational — not sales-oriented! You readers suggest 10 times as many topics as they do.
Because the blog belongs to Pyramyd Air, we do not allow links to competing businesses. That may confuse some readers because we will link to some commercial places — as long as they are not in direct competition with Pyramyd Air. Also, if there’s a product that Pyramyd Air cannot carry for various business reasons, I won’t review that item on the blog. That does limit the range of airguns I can review, but Pyramyd Air is the largest airgun dealer in the United States, so it isn’t devastating.
A couple of our readers are promoting themselves right now, but it hasn’t gotten out of hand yet, so I’ve left it alone. They’ve been subtle about it to this point. If they cross the line, I will take action.
We will not allow one reader to verbally attack another. Edith has removed all comments on the report about the EscapeUL rifle that were argumentative. We can’t just take out the ones that are bad and leave the others — that only confuses things. And it isn’t fair to those who are interested in the EscapeUL to have to wade through a pile of muck to read comments about this rifle.
If we have a problem with a person who just can’t stop flaming (insulting or verbally attacking) others, we’ll ban that person from the blog. That’s a ban on commenting only, not on reading.
This was overdue
I’d planned a different blog for today, but it was put on hold so I could address this issue. We have so many new readers that this was long overdue. I held off because people were behaving themselves, for the most part. But a week ago, we picked up a new reader who went off the deep end almost from the beginning. Then, several other new readers joined him; and yesterday evening it culminated in a hostile food-fight exchange of comments that we had to remove.
So, here are the guidelines. When someone starts off on a personal rant, don’t answer him back. If he persists, we’ll take care of it. When you answer someone, you help create a thread that can get indexed by the search engines if we leave it up long enough. When that happens, this blog starts attracting the bad people. You don’t want that and neither do we.
Edith cleans house
My wife, Edith, is the blog clean-up gal. When the blog gets trashed with comments that don’t belong, she has to stop her other duties for Pyramyd Air and tend to the blog. She had to delete 76 comments in yesterday’s blog. She had to read all the comments to determine which ones had to be pulled. In some cases, the content of a comment or thread had pertinent/useful airgun info in addition to the bad stuff. In those cases, she threw out the baby with the bathwater and deleted the whole thing. So, if you said something useful or helpful about airguns and it’s now gone, that’s why. Feel free to repost that info if you like.
We’ll return to regular subjects tomorrow. Just to get your juices flowing, think about firearm companies like Smith & Wesson and Webley that have also made airguns. I don’t mean companies that have put their names on airguns like Colt and Dan Wesson — I mean companies that actually produced airguns.
Then, think of the airgun companies that have also made firearms. If I said Weihrauch, what kind of a company are they? Are they an airgun company, or are they a firearm company? We know they make high-quality airguns, but they also make and have made high-quality firearms. But Weihrauch has also made some of the cheapest so-called Saturday night specials that were ever produced! I’m referring to their Arminius line of zinc-diecast double-action revolvers.
When an airgun company makes a firearm, how do they make it? Good? Bad? Indifferent? Be prepared to discuss that.