Blowguns — the first airguns

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This is a guest blog from reader Hiveseeker. Today he reflects on the very first airguns — blowguns

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me. Now over to you, Hiveseeker.

Blowguns — the first airguns
by Hiveseeker

This report covers:

  • Airgun history
  • Blowgun calibers
  • Blowgun length
  • Popular .40 and .50 caliber darts
  • Popular .625 caliber darts
  • A word about blowgun hunting
  • Blowgun accessories
  • Make a blowgun target
  • How to blow that blowgun
  • Aiming a blowgun
  • For further study

lead photo
Modern-day blowguns come in .40, .50, and .625 caliber. Note the accessory dart quivers.

Airgun history

Here at the Airgun Academy blog B.B. has done a great job of sharing his passion and knowledge of airgun history, deepening our appreciation for our favorite sport. Today we’ll be traveling even further into the past as we delve back to the earliest roots of airgun history — the blowgun! B.B. took us there in 2007 when he wrote about The blowgun Where it all began, and observed that “As airgun collectors become more interested in their hobby, they eventually start acquiring blowguns.”

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The rise of the accurate pellet: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Accuracy taken for granted
  • Crosman 160 opened my eyes!
  • In the beginning
  • The ball or bullet
  • Smaller calibers
  • Pellet shape
  • Birth of the diabolo
  • A long way to go

Accuracy taken for granted

I was speaking with a group of very advanced airgunners recently and found myself amazed by what we all took for granted. The subject was airgun accuracy and topics like distance, powerplants and pellet shapes came up, but no one in the group seemed to remember the time when none of those things made any difference. They didn’t because there weren’t any pellets on the market that took advantage of them. Until around the 1960s, accuracy with airguns was iffy, at best. The problem was not the guns — it was the ammunition!

Crosman 160 opened my eyes!

I remember buying a new-old-stock Crosman 160 target rifle that had been produced and sold to the U.S. Air Force. The rifle hadn’t been fired since Crosman tested it with CO2 at the factory some time in the 1970s. The Air Force bought an unknown number of 160s that came with slings and the Crosman S331 rear peep sight. Presumedly there was a plan to use these rifle for some type of training, but that must never have happened, because hundreds of them were found in a military warehouse in the 1990s in unused condition. When I opened the gas reservoir to install 2 fresh CO2 cartridges, I found the original cartridges Crosman had used to test the gun before packaging in the 1970s! The rifle was brand new, as were hundreds of others just like it!

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Some thoughts on airgun projectile stability

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Pioneer airbow
  • Rifling
  • Hop-Up
  • Projectile finish
  • Summary

I’m writing this from my hospital bed on Saturday, though I hope to be discharged later today. I would like to thank Val Gamerman for covering the blog for me last week. I was unable to do much of anything, and my thanks to all of you for keeping things going. This will be short, because of my situation. Let’s talk about airgun projectile stability today.

Pioneer airbow

When I shot the Benjamin Pioneer airbow at the SHOT Show this year I was amazed by the accuracy it gave. Not just when I shot it, but also there were two cases where one arrow went inside another one at 30 yards. Television’s Mythbusters proved that a regular longbow cannot do that because the arrow is constantly flexing as it flies, but the Pioneer pushes the arrow from the tip (it’s hollow inside) rather than from the back end and it doesn’t flex in flight. That got me thinking about what has been done about airgun projectile stability and what remains to be done.

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The Gat’s where it’s at!: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Gat
The Gat is a timeless classic air pistol. Shown uncocked here.

A history of airguns

Part 1

  • Hard cocking!
  • Air Arms Falcon pellets
  • RWS Hobby pellets
  • H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
  • RWS R10 Pistol pellets
  • RWS HyperMAX pellets
  • Darts
  • Took longer to shoot
  • 2016 Texas airgun show

Today we look at the Gat’s power. I was also going to combine an accuracy test with today’s report, but I spent so much time just determining the velocity that I will only report that.

Hard cocking!

I reported in part 1 that the Gat is hard to cock. To cock the gun the barrel is pushed straight back, like a Quackenbush or a Crosman M1 Carbine. By the time I had tested 5 pellets and a series of darts, my left palm was sore!

hand
After about 31 shots, my hand was sore! I had to stop shooting.

Air Arms Falcon pellets

First up were Falcon pellets from Air Arms. These fit the breech rather loosely, though I didn’t know that until I had tried other pellets. They averaged 186 f.p.s. The spread went from a low of 165 f.p.s. to a high of 197 f.p.s. I had guessed that the Gat was a 200 f.p.s. pistol, so this was very close.

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The Gat’s where it’s at!: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Gat
The Gat is a timeless classic air pistol. Shown uncocked here.

A history of airguns

      • Description
      • Loading
      • Cocking
      • Trigger
      • Ammo
      • A classic!

      My late wife, Edith, once told me that my writing style should be called discovery writing. She said I didn’t have to know everything I wrote about, because I could just discover it as I went and then share what I discovered with my readers. That’s good, because I sure don’t know a lot of the things I write about. Does that make any sense?

      Today’s report is on an airgun about which I know very little — the Gat. Over the years I have read things about Gats and one of them is that, while there may be many Gat-like airguns, the true Gat only comes from T. J. Harrington & Son, Walton, Surrey, England. They made them from 1937 through the late 1980s.

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The influence of shooting galleries

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

  • The 15th century
  • Why?
  • Gallery guns were weak
  • Airguns and galleries
  • Different ammo
  • Repeaters
  • What killed the airgun?
  • Feltman

Shooting galleries have been a major influence in the shooting sports for close to a century and a half, and airguns have had their day in galleries. Reb, our most outspoken reader, once ran a traveling shooting gallery that featured the popular “Shoot out the Red Star” game. I’ll discuss that at the end of the report, but right now I’m going back to the beginning of shooting galleries.

The 15th century

And, who can really say when that was? We know from documents and from tapestries that shooting events were popular in Europe in the 1400s. But those were sporting events that came and went — they weren’t the galleries I am discussing today. The crossbows and guns that were used at those events belonged to the shooters. They were not rented by the gallery to the general public.

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Other smallbore airgun calibers

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Smallbore calibers
  • Confusing lines
  • Other calibers
  • .12 caliber
  • .175 caliber
  • .180 caliber
  • .21 caliber
  • .21-1/2 caliber
  • A couple really odd sizes
  • Summary

Before we begin, I am leaving for Las Vegas and the 2016 SHOT Show today. I will have limited time to answer questions from readers, so I’m asking the veteran readers to help out until I return to following Saturday.

Smallbore calibers

We know there are 4 popular smallbore airgun calibers in use today. These 4 are not mandated by any regulation, nor controlled by any specification. Nothing makes them smallbores, except for the existence of big bores. In other words, they are smallbores by default — because they aren’t big bores.

The 4 smallbore pellet calibers we know today are .177 (4.5mm), .20 (5mm), .22 (5.5mm) and .25 (6.35mm). The round ball calibers are steel BB, which is .171-.173 (4.3-4.4mm). Anything larger than .25 caliber is commonly called a big bore, though there are no hard and fast rules about it. In fact, there are .25 caliber guns that qualify as smallbores and other .25 caliber guns that qualify as big bores. Confused?

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