by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This topic was received well last week, so I’m doing the second list today. Several readers have reminded me of other gifts I should mention, and some of them will make today’s list. If I don’t list something you suggested, there’s a reason. These are the things I recommend without question.
Stocking stuffers/small, neat gifts
Gifts in this category don’t cost a lot but will have great meaning to airgunners. Some of them are things that shooters won’t buy for themselves.
Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater
Someone suggested the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater, and I have to agree. This is a great gift, and it’s one that a lot of shooters won’t buy for themselves.
EyePal Peep Sight Master Kit
The EyePal Peep Sight Master Kit is another gift that people may not think about; but when they have one, they’ll love it. I chose the Master Kit so you can use it with both rifles and pistols (and bows if you’re an archer, too). Even if you don’t wear prescription glasses, the EyePal is a great aid for your safety glasses to sharpen your vision and make that front sight clear!
Here’s a gift I’m putting in this section, although it will cost you some money. Pyramyd Air offers 4 tins of pellets for the price of 3. Your favorite airgunner has pellets he or she really likes, but they don’t buy them all the time because they may cost too much.
Consider this gift similar to one of those fancy boxes of candies or Christmas smoked meats that are given this time of year. Nearly everybody likes them, but we don’t spend money on them for ourselves. So, this is an opportunity to buy something your airgunner wants but will never buy himself. The one problem you have is finding out which pellets to buy. Rather than try and guess what your airgunner wants, I’m going to leave this up to you. You need to do a little investigation, maybe look at the pellets that he has on the shelf, or just talk to him and find out what he really wants but hasn’t bought.
Gifts under $50
For a pistol shooter the Crosman 357W is a great idea. It’s a revolver, so you get multiple shots per loading; and for the money, it’s an accurate little air pistol.
Walther Multi-Tac tactical knife
If your airgunner is a gadget junkie, you can’t do much better than a Walther Multi-Tac tactical knife. It’s a tool kit for your pocket. And it has a 440C stainless steel blade to cut whatever you need.
Walther Xenon Tactical flashlight
Can’t have too many flashlights! Not when you need one! The Walther Xenon Tactical flashlight uses two CR123A batteries to cast a 60-lumen light. That means you get both good battery life and a powerful light.
Gifts under $100
Some of these gifts are just over the $50 mark, so look at them carefully. This category holds some of the most surprising values in airguns.
The Makarov from Umarex is a wonderful BB pistol that I just can’t stop talking about. I bought one for myself after testing it! It’s extremely accurate for a BB pistol, which means you really can use it for target practice. It runs on CO2, so don’t forget to get some CO2 cartridges if you give this gun as a gift.
Another fine CO2 pistol is the single-shot Crosman 2240. It’s a .22-caliber, bolt-action pistol that’s powerful and accurate, plus it serves as the basis for many aftermarket modifications.
Ruger Mark I
The Ruger Mark I air pistol is powered by a spring-piston. It isn’t very powerful, but it’s a great companion for the handgun shooter who only wants to poke holes in targets and plink with a pistol that’s easy to cock and accurate.
Stoeger X5 air rifle
The Stoeger X5 air rifle is a wonderful, youth-sized, spring-piston rifle that has enough quality to make my list. The trigger is a little stiff, but the accuracy is there. It reminds me of the Hämmerli 490 that is, sadly, no longer available.
Gifts a little over $100
I created this category for those items that are a few dollars over $100 but are still within the realm of economy. Sometimes, the things you want are just over the line — no matter where you arbitrarily draw it.
Shooting Chrony Alpha chronograph.
The Shooting Chrony Alpha chronograph is the instrument I use to document 98 percent of the work I do. I use it because it’s small, portable and very reliable. Sure, there are reasons to use my Oehler 35P chrono, sometimes; but most of the time, this is my choice.
Daisy Avanti Champion 499 BB gun
I have to recommend the Daisy Avanti Champion 499 BB gun because it is the target shooter’s dream. Where other BB guns will put 10 shots into three-quarter of an inch at 16 feet when all is right, this one will put 10 into a quarter-inch at the same distance. This is a shooter’s tool, not a hunting gun or bragging-rights gun. Be sure to stock up on the special Avanti Precision Ground Shot if you get this gun because it definitely adds accuracy! And order some special 5-meter BB targets that are sized right for this gun!
IZH 60 air rifle
I am also going to put the IZH 60 air rifle on my list this year. Though the accuracy slipped when the gun’s design was changed several years ago, this is still a delightful youth rifle that’s easy enough for even smaller kids to cock. It has reasonable accuracy, and the sidelever design means that fingers can’t be pinched in the mechanism like they would on guns having sliding compression chambers. I recommend the single-shot over the repeater for reasons of safety.
Daisy 953 TargetPro
I normally don’t recommend combo guns, but I’ll make an exception for the Daisy 953 TargetPro. It’s a pellet rifle with enough accuracy to get you into the game without spending a bundle.
Gifts under $300
Gifts in this category start to take on the aura of personal taste. My recommendations may not be what your airgunner wants, so you need to find out if they are before you buy anything.
Benjamin 392 pump
This one is very personal. You airgunner will either like it or not. So, check first. The Benjamin 392 pump is the best multi-pump rifle going, these days. Its heritage dates back to the late 19th century, so there’s a lot of history there. I also chose the .22-caliber 392 for its power; but if your airgunner only wants to shoot at targets, then the 397 is the same rifle and shoots cheaper .177 pellets.
Daisy Avanti 853
The Daisy 853 is right at $300, but its a great buy even at that price. It features a Lothar Walther barrel and has been used by millions of kids for competition in the decades it’s been around. The trigger is rough, but there are several websites that tell you how to fix it. To get anything with better accuracy, you’re going to need to spend several hundred dollars more.
Diana RWS LP8
Want an air pistol that shoots like a rifle? The Diana RWS LP8 is the one to get. It just may be the best value in a really good air pistol these days. It has plenty of power and is very accurate. The breakbarrel cocking is on the heavy side, but an adult male shouldn’t have a problem.
Gifts without limit
Now, we can spread our wings a little. This is where many of the better airguns live.
Let’s start with the HW 30S. You know this rifle as the Beeman R7 when it’s in a different stock, but airgunners know the HW 30S has the same powerplant and the same adjustable Rekord trigger as the R7. If your airgunner likes the styling of the HW 30S, it’s less expensive; but if he wants an R7, it’s also a wonderful spring-piston air rifle.
Diana RWS 48
If you want a big bruiser spring-piston air rifle, the Diana RWS 48 is one I would recommend. And, I recommend it in .22 caliber, where you get all the power it can develop. The 48 is a sidelever that’s surprisingly easy to cock, despite the level of power it delivers. It’s also very accurate. One thing, though, the 48 is a big air rifle, so be sure your shooter knows what he’s in store for. Definitely for adults, only.
TalonP air pistol
There’s no other smallbore air pistol that can hold a candle to the TalonP air pistol from AirForce Airguns. It comes in .25 caliber and has 10 shots per fill at over 50 foot-pounds of muzzle energy! Many rifles can’t equal it! When I tested it for accuracy, I got sub-one-inch groups at 50 yards. It’s a hunting air pistol extraordinaire.
Walther LGV Challenger
If you want a really fine breakbarrel spring rifle, you can’t do better than the Walther LGV Challenger. I recommend the .22-caliber gun because it was so smooth when I tested it.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’m retesting an airgun that I tested over a year ago. One of our readers called Daisy and said he was getting much better accuracy from his Daisy model 35 multi-pump air rifle than I had gotten in my test, and he asked Daisy if they would look into it. Well, they read the accuracy report (Part 3) and agreed with him that I should have gotten better accuracy than I did. So Joe Murfin, Daisy’s vice president of marketing, called and asked if I would be open to a retest.
Joe told me that Daisy engineers were getting groups of about 1.25 inches to 1.5 inches at 10 meters. I’m sure he meant 5-shot groups, and of course I shoot 10-shot groups; still, his groups were significantly smaller than what I’d gotten from the last gun. My 10-shot groups were in the 2.5-inch to 3-inch range.
I don’t like to retest
Normally, retesting airguns leaves me cold. My philosophy is that I test what users get, and it’s whatever it is. I look at the gun the same way a user would, except that I may know a few more things than the average user and am able to do things most people wouldn’t think to do. That gives the gun a fair test and also educates people who may learn a new trick or two by reading what I’ve done.
I have to admit that over the past year I’ve learned a lot about accuracy with diabolo pellets and the things to look for. More recently, I have become aware of the tremendous accuracy potential of some smoothbore airguns. From that standpoint, a retest of this smoothbore airgun is warranted.
This is not life-saving equipment, and the outcome isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things; but wouldn’t it be nice to know if this $35 airgun is really better than we initially thought? I agreed to retest the gun, and Joe sent one directly from Daisy. Instead of the black stock I had last time, this new gun is finished in camo. Other than that, though, it’s identical to the gun I tested before.
Upon reviewing the last accuracy test, I see I used the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellet, RWS Hobby pellet and some vintage Daisy Superior Match Grade pellets I had laying around. At the time, that sounded like a good idea; but after spending more time with the Diana 25 smoothbore in recent months, I think there are some other pellets I ought to try — namely the JSB Exact RS pellet and the RWS Superdome.
In the last report on the model 35, I wasn’t specific about what number of pumps to use for each shot. There was nothing to go on for this test except my experience with other multi-pumps. I would only be shooting at 10 meters, and high velocity wasn’t necessary. Six pumps sounded good to me, and that’s what I used for every target. If this was a larger, more powerful multi-pump, I might have opted for 5 or even 4 pumps, but the Daisy 35 is pretty small, and 6 sounded about right.
First target revealed loading problems
I shot the first target with JSB Exact RS pellets. They did well for the most part, but 3 shots landed apart from the main group. I was having difficulty loading the gun, and I think I may have loaded several pellets backwards because of how easily they flipped around on their own in the loading trough. I was shooting in a dark place to overcome the fiberoptic open sights and was unable to see the breech when the pellet was loaded. Those 3 stray shots might be explained as loading errors. Before I move on, I should note that the size of this first 10-shot group is close to what Daisy told me to expect from 5 shots at 10 meters.
Nothing to do but shoot another group with the RS pellets — making sure each pellet went into the breech the right way this time. I used a portable spotlight to shine on the breech during loading to see which way the pellets were oriented. I think Daisy could spend a little time fixing this problem because that loading trough is almost too small to work with.
The second group was much better. Ten more JSB Exact RS pellets went into 1.108 inches. This is better than what Daisy told me to expect, and my interest was piqued. How good would this gun get?
The second pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome that so many people love. The first 10 pellets made a 1.119-inch group. It’s actually too close to the second group of RS pellets to see the difference, but that’s what the caliper read when I measured it. And these pellets hit the target in approximately the same place as the JSBs even though they’re heavier.
The second group of Superdomes wasn’t quite as tight as the first. One stray pellet that I hesitate to call a flier landed below the main group, opening it up to 1.243 inches. But that’s still the best that Daisy said to expect from this gun!
But wait –
Well — there you have 4 groups that are all significantly better than any of the groups I got in the last test. The Daisy model 35 can shoot after all — just like our reader said. I wondered if there was any more accuracy beyond what the gun had already delivered. So, I fired a fifth group, this time with JSB RS pellets. Instead of 6 pumps per shot, I gave it the full 10 pumps for each shot. This time, they all landed in 0.76 inches, or as close to three-quarters of an inch as it’s possible to get.
Obviously, using the right pellets made all the difference in the world. That’s a lesson I’ll try not to forget. Even an inexpensive airgun like the Daisy 35 deserves a fair chance to perform its best.
I would love to press the 35 into service as a dart gun, but the tiny breech prevents the loading of darts. I may be able to load them through the muzzle, but you’ll have to wait to find out because I seem to have misplaced my .177-caliber darts. But there’s still 25 yards to test, so you haven’t seen the last of this airgun.
by B.B. Pelletier
Yesterday, I told you that today’s test was coming; but because I needed to mount a scope for this test, I was prompted to also test the UTG 3/8″ dovetail-to-Weaver/Picatinny rail adapter. There was some interest in this adapter; so I’ll continue to test it with other airguns so we get a good look at the performance. Today, I want to do Part 4 on the Crosman 2100B multi-pump that I promised back in March.
I reread Part 3 of this report to see which pellet(s) did well at 10 meters. From what I see, only 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers did well in that test, so I added a couple pellets I had not tried before to today’s test.
The scope I used is an Osprey 2.5-10×42 that has its parallax fixed at 100 yards. It’s a firearm scope, pure and simple. At full magnification, the target was fuzzy, so I set it to about 5.5x for this test. It has a duplex reticle with mil-dots on the vertical reticle, which is about medium thickness. The optics are very clear, and I think the gun got all the help it needed from this scope.
For the 10-meter test, I pumped the rifle 5 times for every shot. Today, I’ll be shooting 25 yards. Now that it has a scope mounted, pumping is more difficult because I cannot hold the gun at the optimum place, which is on top of the receiver. The scope is in the way, and don’t you dare try to pump the rifle while holding onto the scope! Your hand has to hold the gun farther back, which winds up being the pistol grip of the stock. That isn’t the best leverage to pump the rifle, but fortunately the 2100B has a short, easy pump stroke.
For today’s 25-yard test, I pumped the rifle 6 times for every shot. My thought was to shoot the rifle 5 shots with each pellet and see if it was accurate enough with that pellet to warrant the work of shooting the second 5 shots. This would also tell me whether the shots were walking because the bore needed to be seasoned with each new pellet. As it turned out, though, all three pellets were worth the effort to shoot a full 10-shot group, so that’s what you’ll see.
Crosman Premier lites
The first pellet I tried was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier dome. The first 5 shots seemed to group okay — about what I expected from the earlier results at 10 meters — so I just kept on shooting and finished the 10-shot group. Ten shots landed in a group measuring 0.809 inches between centers. The group is a little wider than it is tall, but you’ll notice that 9 of the 10 shots are actually in a group that is fairly round.
This was better accuracy than I expected, based on the results of the 10-meter test. The group size there was 10 Premiers in a 0.539-inch group; and, at over twice the distance, the group only opened another three-tenths of an inch. I think that demonstrates how much greater accuracy is provided by a good optical sight.
The pace of shooting is slower
One thing about shooting a multi-pump is that everything slows down. It takes a while to make each shot ready, which is similar in concept to shooting a muzzleloading rifle that has to be loaded separately with powder and ball. That slower pace forces the shooter to concentrate more on what he’s doing — or at least that’s how it affects me. That’s why I like single-shot rifles so much — for what they bring out in me.
The second pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome. This 8.3-grain domed pellet is one I don’t try too often — for no particular reason. It’s made from pure lead and has a relatively thin skirt that takes the rifling very well. I really didn’t know what to expect from it, but it’s different enough than a Premier lite that I wanted to see how it might do.
Ten Superdomes made a rather open group that measures exactly the same as the group of Premiers — 0.809 inches between centers. It looks like a larger group, and there’s undoubtedly some error in the measurement of both groups, but I cannot discern any difference between them with the dial calipers.
H&N Baracuda Greens
The last pellet I tried was an afterthought, based on the success of the other day. H&N Baracuda Greens made such a great initial showing that I thought I would include them in this test, just for fun. Boy, am I glad I did!
I was unable to see the pellets that landed inside the black bulls because of the parallax setting of the scope, so it wasn’t until I walked downrange to retrieve the target that I saw what the Baracuda Greens had done. Ten went into a group that measures 0.48 inches between centers! Not only is this the best group of this test, it actually outshot the M4-177 I tested at the end of 2011. That’s Crosman’s other hot, low-cost multi-pump, so don’t get it confused with the MAR177 PCP. That kind of performance says a lot about this air rifle and the accuracy that it offers for very little money.
This will be the last time I look at the 2100B, but it’s been an interesting test. After Part 3, I didn’t think the gun had much more to show us — but this final accuracy test changes everything.
We’ve looked at a fine multi-pump air rifle in addition to the UTG scope ring adapters that let you use Weaver rings on an 11mm airgun dovetail. They proved very easy to install and worked exactly as advertised in this test.
And the Baracuda Green gets another pat on the back. This is a pellet worth considering when you search for the best ammo.
All things considered, I would say this was a fine end to the test of a really great and also inexpensive air rifle!
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, we have a critical report about airgun maintenance and operation. So, if we’re being critical, let’s start with the title. It’s a It’s no one’s fault — let’s all get along title. It should read, Oops! I really screwed up! And when I say “I,” that’s exactly what I mean!
About a month ago, a friend of mine — who shall remain nameless, unless he repeates what I am about to tell you — received a new Benjamin 397 multi-pump pneumatic. Hurray!
I went over all the operational and maintenance steps carefully with him — pump it no more than 10 times per shot, always store it with one pump in it, use Pellgunoil on the pump head etc. — and then turned him loose with his new rifle. Last week the rifle came back to me with the complaint that it didn’t fire pellets anymore.
I must have looked like that old plumber who knows just where to tap the pipe to get the system going again, because before I even examined the rifle I told him it was over-pumped and therefore valve-locked. Then, I took the rifle and opened the pump handle, which sprang open with a lot of force. Yep — it’s valve-locked, all right!
I listened carefully to the story of how it couldn’t possibly have been anything that he did wrong. I’ve heard that same story a hundred times before; but like a compassionate priest, you have to let them confess everything as you listen in silence. On about the third go-round, I got the real story.
It seems he was at work, shooting his new gun with a buddy who was also shooting his own multi-pump. Remember, folks, we’re talking Texas, here. Depending on your job, shooting at work isn’t that uncommon. Perhaps not at a funeral home or at a fast-food franchise, but there are a lot of outdoor jobs where shooting is possible and not objectionable.
They were shooting at a metal sign that the buddy’s gun wasn’t able to dent very much, but the 397 put a big ole’ dent in it. However, something wasn’t right! It seems the other guy’s pump gun was much easier to pump than the 397. What was wrong with the 397?
What was wrong with it was that it wasn’t a Crosman 760, like the other guy’s gun! At least that’s my guess. I’m still waiting to hear what the other guy’s gun was.
So, his new gun was harder to pump, but it was also a lot more powerful. MAYBE he wanted to see if the 397 would go all the way through the sign, thus vexing his friend, which is the tradition whenever two guys shoot together. He pumped it ALL the way up, being VERY CAREFUL not to exceed the 10-pump limit, as I’d instructed him. But that time it fired only weakly.
He handed his rifle to his friend, who then pumped it up again, also being VERY CAREFUL not to exceed the 10-pump limit, because the owner was watching him. This time when the trigger was pulled, the gun just went CLICK and no pellet came out. So, now he knows that his gun doesn’t work anymore.
At least he stopped when it got to this point. He didn’t keep loading pellets and pumping it a couple more times just to be sure. I have seen owners do that before.
He brought me the rifle and asked if I could possibly help him. I told him there are two ways to go about this. One is to wait a couple months and hope that the gun leaks down enough that the valve is no longer locked. If the gun had not been properly oiled with Crosman Pellgunoil, that might have been a possible solution. But it was well-oiled, and I didn’t think it would leak down in even a year!
I decided to go the other way. I would remove the extra air mechanically by partially disassembling the gun and rapping on the valve stem with a heavier hammer. That’s how the repair center fixes guns that are over-pumped. Or, at least it used to be! This is where the “old plumber” became a student, again.
I discovered that the new 397′s design is vastly different from what I was used to. You can no longer do what I just said because the gun is not designed to allow it. The new design is much cheaper to build and easier to repair — except when the gun is over-pumped. I’ll describe what I did and what happened as a result — and I don’t see any other way of doing the job.
Poor photos today
I apologize for the poor photos that follow. I was working on the gun and getting dirty, so I used the flash on the camera to make the work go faster. That’s why everything is so over-exposed.
What appears to be the stock screw also holds the valve inside the pressure tube. If the rifle is pressurized, this screw will be under pressure from the valve body trying to move! If this is the case, remove the bolt before you loosen this screw!
The new 397 valve is held in the gun by the single stock screw. That screw fastens the trigger group to the action, and there’s no way to rap out the air the way I described it earlier. I did an internet search and discovered there were no instructions on what to do! In fact, everyone dances around this design almost as though they don’t understand it, though I’m quite sure most of them do. It’s so much simpler than the guns I’m used to. When a gun is over-pumped, there seems to be no good way of depressurizing it — other than to remove the single screw I just described and let the air blow out. But before you do, be sure to remove the bolt first!
I didn’t know it while I was doing it, of course, but when the stock screw backed out sufficiently far, the air exploded out of the gun as the valve moved within the pressure tube. It caught me by surprise, but in retrospect I can’t see a better way of doing the job. If anyone knows of one, I’d like to hear what it is.
In retrospect, I should have removed the bolt from the gun before removing the stock bolt. To do that, remove the two screws that hold the sideplate to the left side of the action, exposing the Allen screw on the bolt that cocks the hammer. Then remove the Allen screw, and the bolt slides out of the action.
At this point, I finished the disassembly, checked all the parts to see that they were okay, which they were, and assembled the gun again. There’s a trick to assembling this gun. The pump arm must be swung forward to allow the valve to go forward enough for access to the screw hole. If you do that, this is an easy pneumatic to assemble. If you don’t — good luck!
And how does it work?
The rifle now works fine, but I’ll run a little test to see how fine. I’ll shoot the gun through a chronograph on six pumps, and keep increasing the number of pumps until there air remains in the gun after the shot. Then, I can tell the owner what the exact maximum safe number of pumps are for this specific gun. That’s another great reason for owning a chronograph!
Checking the velocity
I decided to use Crosman Premiers in the 7.9-grain weight for my test pellets. This is what the gun now does.
8………….688………..Yes! A soft pop was heard.
9………….713………..Yes — a second shot went 555 f.p.s.
Chronograph reveals what happened
It’s easy to see what happened to this rifle. I told the guy that 10 pumps was the maximum, because I thought that was what the owner’s manual said. But it isn’t! Crosman has folded the Benjamin rifles and Sheridan rifles together, and now they all top out at 8 pumps. So, I was responsible for the owner over-pumping his gun! Several years ago, when the Benjamin and Sheridan brands were different, the Sheridan stopped at 8 pumps but the Benjamins stopped at 10. But those days are over. Now they all stop at 8. So — shame on me! Apparently this is my week for confessing my sins.
What if you don’t own a chronograph?
But you don’t care about that! You care about your own air rifle, and, since you don’t own a chronograph yet, how can you determine the exact number of pumps that are maximum for your rifle? It’s simple. Do what I did above and increase each shot by one pump. Then cock the rifle afterward and fire it again without a pellet. Listen for the pop of escaping air. When you hear it, back off one pump and that is the maximum number of pumps your rifle can handle.
Just to be safe, pump your rifle to the newly established maximum number of shots five times and shoot it. After the fifth shot, cock the gun once more without pumping it and fire it again, listening for a pop. Sometimes the amount of air that remains is so low you cannot hear it, but after a cumulative five shots, you should be able to hear it very well.
I got the tables turned on me this time. And I also learned how easy it is to work on these new Benjamin rifles. And you readers got to watch everything over my shoulder, plus you got a new way of testing the maximum number of pumps for your specific pump rifles if you don’t own a chronograph. I would call that a good day’s work!
Every airgun show is unique. I’ve said that many times before, but it’s always true — and this one was no different. What I look for when I try to describe an airgun show is how it stood out from all the others. That’s what I’ll do today.
An airgun show is small, in comparison to0 a regular gun show, but there are more airguns on a single table then you’ll see at most big gun shows. And the guns range from inexpensive Daisys and Crosmans to then most exotic airguns imaginable. So go to gun shows for and crowded aisles, but to airgun shows to find airguns.
I didn’t get away from my table for the first half of the first day. When I finally did, the show immediately began to reveal itself. It was jam-packed with big bore air rifles! I mean jammed! Dennis Quackenbush and Eric Henderson are always the mainstays of the show; but this time I met Robert Vogel, whose business is Mr. Hollowpoint. Robert casts each bullet by hand from lead as pure as he can make it. His bullets mushroom on game perfectly and rip huge holes in living flesh, making the most humane kills possible. I bought a bag of 68-grain .308-caliber hollowpoints for the Quackenbush .308 test I’m conducting, and he threw in a second bag of .22 pellets for free. These will have a special debut in a smallbore test in the near future.
Robert Vogel (standing) is Mr. Hollowpoint. He has thousands of different bullets for big bore shooters to try.
But Mr. Hollowpoint wasn’t the only bullet maker at the show. Seth Rowland, the show’s host and promoter, also supplies the big bore airgunning community with cast bullets in numerous sizes and shapes. And their customers can hardly appreciate the untold hours they spend at the lead pot, casting and sizing these silver slugs one by one.
Need bullets? Seth Rowland has them in different sizes, shapes and weights.
Another theme that’s common to all airgun shows is 10-meter target guns. This year’s Arkansas show had plenty of them, both from dealers like Scott Pilkington of Pilkington Competition Equipment in Tennessee, as well as numerous private individuals. I mentioned several weeks ago that Mac was bringing some recently overhauled FWB rifles to this show, and on day one an interested buyer sought him out. This man was serious about buying a target rifle, and he had done his research on the internet. But this was the first time he’d seen, felt and shot these rifles.
Mac took him out to the shooting range to try out an FWB 150 and a 300; and from his testing, he decided the 300 was the gun he wanted. Because it lacks the barrel jacket, it’s lighter than a standard 300S. He was buying the rifle for his wife to shoot in competition. They made a deal, and he went home with the exact target rifle he wanted — an overhauled ex-club rifle at a price that was several hundred dollars below what he would have paid for a gamble on the internet. For this man, driving all the way to Arkansas made good sense.
I’m sure that same scenario was played out numerous times at this show, because that’s what happens at an airgun show that also has a shooting range. You get to try out the guns before you buy — something that’s impossible at a regular gun show.
The odd and wonderful
You never know what you’re going to see at one of these shows, but there are a few people who always seem to have interesting things. Larry Hannusch, the top airgun writer for the past 30 years, is one person who can always surprise you. This year, our tables were together, giving me the opportunity to look at his guns more closely than normal. He had a Crosman 113 bulk-fill CO2 rifle, which isn’t unusual, except the owner of this one had inlet a pellet box into the right side of the stock — much like the patchbox found on certain muzzleloading rifles.
Some owner made this patchbox in the stock of his Crosman 113 bulk-fill rifle.
He built the “patchbox” with a built-in spring. There were pellets inside.
When was the last time you saw one of these? A French ball-flask pistol from the 1700s.
The big find
Often there will be a big find of some certain airgun that shows up at a particular show. I remember one year someone was selling piles of brand-new-in-the-box S&W 78G and 79G pistols. There were at least 50, but as my memory serves there might have been as many as 100 brand-new guns that were at least 20 years old at the time. Another year, it was Scott Pilkington who brought almost 300 club target guns for sale. You could buy an FWB 300 for $150-$200! Of course, it would have been a beater and would have needed to be resealed, but it certainly was the budget way into a 10-meter gun.
Then there was the year that someone had over 20 Johnson Target Guns, the submachinegun-looking plastic catapult BB gun from the late 1940s. They were all new in the box, and the cloth backstop that was in the box to stop the BBs inside the box lid that also served as a backstop had turned to dust. But they were complete. To collectors, they were a wonderful find. I actually saw two of these at this year’s Arkansas show; so even after more than 10 years, they’re still slowly dissolving into the collector population.
Two brand-new Johnson Target Guns in the box with all the literature and accessories.
When I walked into the second large room in this show and turned the corner, I ran into Randy Mitchell’s booth, where he was selling a pile of recently discovered TS45 sidelever air rifles for $20 each! I blogged this rifle several years ago, and Vince also wrote a guest blog about the same rifle. Until now, there were no new guns you could buy. You had to find one by chance and would always be one somebody had owned and possibly modified. Now, Randy Mitchell, who runs his Adventures in Airguns store, has a huge pile of these rifles to sell. They aren’t very safe and are the very guns that chopped off thumbs when their anti-beartraps failed; but if you cock them safely and load while restraining the sidelever, they’re fun to shoot and are often accurate.
Randy Mitchell found these old/new TS45 sidelevers and brought them to the show. It’s stuff like this that keeps me going to every airgun show I can make!
Of course, there are too many modern guns to name here, but know that at any show you’ll find almost every modern classic airgun for sale. If you’re looking for good TX200s or old R7s, they’re usually available — and they were at this show, too. But what you also see are airguns that are so rare and hard to find that some of them won’t even be seen in airgun books. This yearm Ingvar Alm had both a Winsel CO2 pistol in the box and a Giffard CO2 pistol from the 1870s on his table. Giffard invented the application of CO2 for gun use, and Winsel made only 50 guns in the early 1950s. Neither gun is represented well in any airgun book I know.
The Winsel pistol was a bulk-filled CO2 pistol that required the owner to mail his tank back to the company to be filled. Yeah, that’s going to work! They made 50 and quit. Today, they’re a prized collectible.
Giffard pioneered the use of CO2 in guns in the 1870s. His pistols are many times rarer than his rifles. The empty pop bottle is for contrast — like Cindy Crawford’s mole.
There were more big bores at this show than I see at other shows. Perhaps, that’s because the focus of big bore airgunning seems to center around Texas, where the LASSO match is held. Dennis Quackenbush delivered his guns to eager buyers, but the only rifle he had to show was his own .308, which he doesn’t want to sell. Eric Henderson and Big Bore Bob Dean were both there with some guns to sell, as well as Robert Vogel. But the one maker with a lot of guns on display was Jack Haley, whose table was a rainbow of laminated stocks.
Jack Haley’s table was a colorful display of big bore rifles.
Then there was the big bore that has been a joke in the airgun community for many years. The gun itself is fine. It was made back in the 1980s by Ben Patron, whose name is clearly on the side of the receiver. Somewhere along the line, some person got ahold of it and displayed it at the Springfield, Missouri, gun show as a “U.S. military .50-caliber sniper air rifle.” The label for that display was still inside the guitar box that held the gun, and Dennis Quackenbush remembers seeing it at the Springfield show. After that, it somehow ended up in an Arkansas pawn shop where Big Bore Bob found it and bought it.
Some previous owner had concocted a colorful background story for the Patron big bore of the 1980s.
Many shows have a drawing, but airgun shows are so lightly attended that you actually have a chance of winning! This year, they gave away several very nice prizes at the close of the show, including a scoped TalonP pistol from AirForce! Then came the drawing for the frame-extended silencer for the Talon SS. I knew before the little girl picked my ticket that I would win it. How ironic is that? I’m testing a Talon SS with a bloop tube right now, so of course I’m going to win another one! But the supreme irony came when Randy Mitchell, a big bore hunter, won the .50-caliber Dragon Claw donated by Pyramyd Air.
Randy Mitchell (right) won the Dragon Claw. Show host, Seth Rowland, standing, ran the drawing. The young lady added a lot of sparkle and enthusiasm to the show. I see an airgunner in the making!
On the trip home, Mac and I relived the show many times. That’s another benefit. I can remember snippets from most past shows, and this one will now be filed away in the library.
by B.B. Pelletier
Blog reader J was alert and noticed that I had not yet done the accuracy test of the Crosman 2100B multi-pump. I was astonished to find that he was right, so today we’re going to look at it. But before we do, I want to show you something I did at the range last week. Some of you who have been reading for a long time will remember that over a year ago I was suffering from eye problems. It turns out that my diabetes had dehydrated me so much that my eyesight was affected. And it took a long time for the situation to correct itself. I wondered if I would ever be able to shoot with open sights again.
This past Thursday, I was out at the range testing several firearms and airguns and a friend of mine happened to bring his Remington RangeMaster model 37 .22 rimfire target rifle for me to try. The model 37 was Remington’s equivalent to Winchester’s model 52 target rifle until the model 40X was created, and it (the model 37) has the reputation of being incredibly accurate. My friend can no longer use open sights and is scoping all the rifles he intends to keep. But this one is a rifle he has owned for decades but never shot. It still has the factory non-optical target sights.
The Lyman 17A front globe has a post-and-bead like target shooters used back in the 1930s and earlier. You put the post at the 6 o’clock spot on the bull. With good eyes, this kind of sight is considered second only to a properly sized aperture front sight out to 200 yards, and world records have been set with it. But notice I said, “With good eyes.”
I shot it at 50 yards with Winchester Super-X high-speed ammo, which is hardly target ammo! When I saw the group made with five shots I was ecstatic, because it proves that I can still see good enough to use open sights. I stopped at only five shots because who wants to ruin a group like that? However, after an involved trade with my friend, I ensured many more years of shooting this 37, and eventually I will shoot 10-shot groups. That’s important for today’s report, because the Crosman 2100B has a square post-and-notch sight, and the front has a bright green fiberoptic bead.
Next, I tried my custom .17 HM2 that this same friend made for me on a Mossberg 44 US action. This rifle has a Leapers scope, so there’s an even better chance of hitting the target. This time, five shots went into 0.266 inches at the same 50 yards. I was on fire! Unfortunately, I haven’t yet mounted the scope on the FWB 300S, so I didn’t have that to test, but everything I shot that day went where I wanted. Since I couldn’t see the group through my scope, I knew it was a small one. And, once again, I chickened out after 5 shots. If I were reporting on the guns and shooting for the record, I would have shot 10 shots with each gun.
Five shots in 0.266 inches at 50 yards with a scope. Not that much better than open sights. It looks better because the .17-caliber bullet is smaller, but the actual size of the group isn’t that much less than the first group.
On to today’s test
I decided to begin shooting pellets with the 2100 at 10 meters. That way, if the rifle proved somewhat inaccurate, I could still keep them inside the trap. The 2100 has a .177 rifled barrel, so pellets should be more accurate than the steel BBs it also shoots. Since this is a Crosman rifle, what better to begin than with 7.9-grain Crosman Premier 7.9-grain domes?
The first thing I did was oil the pump head with several drops of Crosman Pellgunoil. I did that for the velocity test, as well; but since it’s impossible to overdo this step and it does ensure the best compression, I did it again.
I decided on 5 pumps for this test because the velocity test showed that was enough to get all pellets into the 500 f.p.s. range. At 10 meters, that’s all you need for good results. So, this test was very easy on me.
A new way of loading
Many owners may already have discovered what I am about to share; but while I was shooting the Premiers, I discovered a foolproof way of loading them. The loading port on the side of the rifle is too small for most adult fingers, and until now I’ve found it difficult to load the pellet so the head points forward. But during this test, I accidentally discovered that I could drop in a pellet in any attitude and simply elevate the muzzle of the rifle with the receiver rotated to the left so the loading port is angled up. The pellet would then try to right itself at the bottom of the loading channel; and, if it wasn’t aligned, all I had to do was push it forward slightly with the cocking handle and then pull the handle back and the pellet would align itself every time. I tried this with the JSB Exact RS pellets, as well, but they got stuck and didn’t align as easily as the Premier lites. I can’t wait to try this method on my old Crosman 2200.
Sights are okay, but not great
I found the sights easy to acquire and very sharp and crisp, but the method of adjustment leaves a lot to chance. I never did get the group shooting where I wanted it. Also, though I elevated the rear sight nearly all the way, it was still just hitting at the point of aim at 10 meters. Forget about shooting longer distances unless you learn how to hold the front post above the top of the rear notch. But the sights are not important, because this will not be the last test of this rifle. Just like the M4-177 rifle I tested last year, I found the 2100B was far more accurate than the price indicated! In a word, it was phenomenal — which is why I told you about the state of my eyes in the beginning of the report.
Next, I tried the JSB Exact RS pellet. I was expecting to see a similar group, which is why what I got surprised me so much.
What a difference! Crosman could use this as an ad testimonial for Premiers, if they wanted. We all know that the JSB Exact RS is a premium pellet; but in this rifle, the Premier lite is the clear and obvious choice. I already demonstrated that my eyes are up to the task, so there’s nothing to blame in this case but the pellet.
After testing two pellet brands, I switched to Crosman Copperhead BBs and fired 10 from a standing supported position at 22 feet. If the group was small, I would then try other brands of BBs, but as you will see that wasn’t necessary.
Ten Crosman Copperhead BBs went into this 2.219-inch group at 22 feet. This demonstrated that it wasn’t worth pursuing BBs any further. My photo inadvertently cropped off a BB hole on the right of the group. It’s on the 5-ring, as it ends on the right margin.
This rifle is deadly accurate with Crosman Premiers and not very good with BBs. I wouldn’t even bother with BBs in the 2100 anymore because I have a host of BB pistols that will out-shoot it. But with Premier lives, it’s a different story.
The 2100B has earned the right to a special 25-yard test with a scope sight. That will come in Part 4, and I charge blog reader J with making sure I don’t forget to do it!
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the velocity of the Crosman 2100B multi-pump, and a strange thing occurred during the test. Actually it was two strange things — one an amazing coincidence and the other just weird. Both relate to oiling the gun, and both will be informative.
First, the coincidence. As I was writing this blog (last week, because I’m in Las Vegas at the SHOT Show this week), I got a question from a reader whose 2100 wasn’t pumping air. I asked him if he had oiled the pump piston head like he was supposed to, and I directed him to the online owner’s manual that tells how to do it and to a blog I wrote years ago that tells the same thing. A couple hours later, I get a thank you message that he’s oiled the gun and it seems to be holding air.
So, there I am in my office pumping the gun and shooting it for velocity and I ask myself about the state of the pump piston head of the particular gun I’m testing. Sure, it’s brand-new, but that doesn’t mean that it has enough oil. I look, and the pump head appears to be dry. For those who wonder what I’m talking about, please read the manual.
Then, I recalled that someone had guessed that this rifle would shoot in the low 600s with lead pellets, because someone he knew had tested it. Lo and behold, it was shooting only about 622 f.p.s. on 10 pumps (which is the maximum) with Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets. Wow! He was right!
But, wait! The pump head was dry, so I oiled it with some Gamo oil for CO2 guns. The velocity jumped to 658 f.p.s. with the same pellets and 10 pumps. But after about 10 shots the velocity started declining again.
So, I oiled the pump head again — this time with Crosman Pellgunoil. The velocity jumped to 690 f.p.s. before sliding backward to the 620s.
What did I learn?
First, I re-learned for the umpteenth time how important it is to oil a multi-pump gun. That was all it took to fix the reader’s rifle! Second, I saw that the test 2100 rifle responds to oiling immediately, but falls off again almost as fast.
So, the published velocity of 725 f.p.s. can probably be achieved with real-world lead pellets for a brief time, but this test gun won’t hold that velocity very long. Maybe the material the pump head is made of needs a break-in period? I don’t know. What I do know is that I can change the velocity of this gun by 70 f.p.s. simply by oiling it.
It doesn’t end there, however. While that story was unfolding I was also experimenting with the speed of my pump strokes. Since the pump head seemed somewhat hard, I figured that faster pump strokes would build more pressure. And they did! I could increase the velocity by 10 f.p.s. at least, just by changing the speed at which I pumped. I’ve tried the same thing in the past with other multi-pumps, but this one is particularly sensitive.
I think the most representative method of testing this rifle for velocity is to let it sink back to its lowest velocity and stabilize there. That way, the velocity test will also represent the velocity at which the accuracy test is conducted, because I’m certainly not going to oil the pump head after each and every group! Undoubtedly, there’s sufficient oil in the gun right now because of the two oilings I mentioned.
The first pellet tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier. Since the 2100 is a multi-pump, I decided to test each pellet and BB at 5 pumps and 10. That gives us a good picture of what the gun can do across the entire range.
On 5 pumps, Premier lites averaged 540 f.p.s. when the gun was pumped fast. They ranged from 537 to 543; and at that velocity, they produced 5.12 foot-pounds On 10 pumps, again with rapid pump strokes, this pellet averaged 630 f.p.s. The range went from 628 to 635 f.p.s., and the average muzzle velocity was 6.96 foot-pounds.
JSB Exact 8.4-grain dome
Next I tried the 8.4-grain JSB Exact dome. On 5 fast pumps they averaged 526 f.p.s., with a spread from 517 to 531 f.p.s. The muzzle energy averaged 5.16 foot-pounds. On 10 pumps, they averaged 608 f.p.s. with a spread from 595 to 611 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 6.9 foot-pounds.
JSB Exact RS
For a light pellet, I tested the JSB Exact RS. The name of this pellet includes the word Match, but they’re domes, not wadcutters, and cannot be used in formal match shooting. At 7.33 grains, they’re very light, yet I’ve had some good luck with them in other pellet rifles.
In the 2100, 5 pumps gave an average 559 f.p.s. The spread went from 555 to 563 f.p.s. The average energy was 5.09 foot-pounds. On 10 pumps, the average velocity was 646 f.p.s., and the range went from 635 to 654 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the muzzle energy was 6.79 foot-pounds.
So, the reader who said the 2100 wouldn’t get to 700 f.p.s. was right. As long as you don’t shoot it immediately after oiling with Pellgnoil, it won’t shoot that fast. But oil it, and it’ll probably top 700 f.p.s. with lighter pellets.
On to BBs
BBs were next, and with them things are much more standard. Though there are subtle differences in BB brands, they don’t vary as much as pellets. We’ll now see if the advertised velocity of 755 f.p.s is reasonable. Since this is a Crosman gun, I tested it with Crosman Copperhead BBs.
BBs are loaded into the large reservoir, then the gun is shaken and they fall into the smaller spring-loaded magazine. Once the magazine is empty, you can shoot pellets again, even though there BBs are still in the big reservoir; if they aren’t in the magazine, they won’t load automatically.
On 5 pumps, Copperheads averaged 570 f.p.s. They ranged from 564 to 578 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they generated 3.68 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. On 10 pumps, they averaged 678 f.p.s. and ranged from 672 to 682 f.p.s. That’s an average muzzle energy of 5.21 foot-pounds.
So the bottom line is that the test gun doesn’t meet its advertised spec for velocity. It falls at least 73 f.p.s. short. It does the same with lead pellets, so I’m withdrawing my remark that the gun is suitable for light hunting. Clearly, it’s below the safe margin. Yes, it will kill small animals, but I could not recommend it for that task based on these results.
I also note that the barrel is starting to loosen at the breech. It rotates slightly at this point, and I’ll keep an eye on it. And the pump lever hits the gun with a loud slap on every pump stroke — there’s no cushioning material to deaden the sound.
I hope these results don’t disturb owners of this gun, because they in no way condemn it. The accuracy test is still to come, and we might get a big surprise there.