Okay, today I want to try to finish my 2012 gift list.
Pneumatic air rifles I have to list the Benjamin 392 and 397 rifles. Even though the price is rising steadily on them, they both still represent some of the best values in the airgun market. I’m specifically not recommending the Blue Streak because it’s now the virtual twin of the other two rifles, and I feel that its .20 caliber limits the availability of premium pellets too much.
Benjamin 392 and 397 multi-pump pneumatics
The M4-177 is another great multi-pump gun. It’s not as powerful as the first two, but it’s even more accurate at short ranges. If you want a cheap target rifle, this could be the one!
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.
Blog reader Kevin Lentz asked for this report; but as soon as he posted his request, it was seconded by a couple other readers. The first time I did a report with this title was way back in 2007, and that was a four-parter. This time, I’ll hold it to just two parts to save some time, because there are a lot of new models coming out at this time of year. Kevin revised the categories just a little and I went with his suggestions.
Guns under $150: Air rifles
A couple guns that used to be in this category have fallen off the list, in my opinion. They did so due to major changes in product quality. Even at this low level, a gun has to shine to make the list.
This subject came up as the result of a comment I made about choked and tapered bores. It turns out that gun makers were having this same discussion 140 years ago with pretty much the same results.
The best gun makers of the 1860-1910 timeframe (and Harry Pope for just a little longer) all either taper-bored their barrels or choke-bored them. I will describe each of these conditions in a moment. There really isn’t much difference between choke-boring and taper-boring, but the slight difference that does exist allows us to talk about each of them as a separate issue.
Most gun makers (or barrel-makers, because in many cases — like Pope, a man did not make the entire gun) did taper-bore their barrels. But that wasn’t what they called it, so the fact that they did it got lost because of the subtleties of the language.
This is a report I do every year to help wives and friends of airgunners with gift suggestions. There have been a lot of exciting new guns this year, and I’ll mention the ones I would pick, as well as a couple classics.
Dan Wesson revolver
One of the hottest, most desirable new guns is the Dan Wesson revolver. I’ve reported on the one that has an 8-inch barrel, but there are also revolvers with 6-inch, 4-inch and 2.5-inch barrels. These guns have the same mechanism and operate the same, but there are finish and slight design differences. Also, the shorter the barrel, the slower the velocity. They’re all priced the same, so ask your airgunner what he or she likes best and go for it. I haven’t seen a BB revolver this nice — ever! Be sure to also buy lots of CO2 cartridges and Daisy zinc-plated BBs so the fun will last. If your shooter doesn’t have a BB trap (a metal pellet trap will NOT work safely), get the Crosman 850/852 BB/pellet trap.
Is this Custom Match the best HW 55 ever made? Read the report to find out.
Today, we’ll begin a look at a variant of the HW 55 that was not produced in great numbers. It was supposed to be the high-water mark of the HW 55, and it came into being just after the end of the era when recoilling spring-piston target rifles had dominated the world stage. Shooters were moving en mass to the newer recoilless designs like the Diana 60-series, the FWB sidelevers and even the single-stroke Walther LGR.
An HW 55 won the gold medal at the European Championship in 1969. When the Custom Match hit the market in the 1970s, it came just after the summit of success. Little did they know at that time that there would be no more major championships for recoiling air rifles of any make. It was similar to the last gasp of the Offenhauser front-engine Indy cars when Ford got into Indy racing in 1963.
Blog reader Vince has been disassembling and repairing so many guns lately that I believe no gun will ever leave his house without some part of it being removed, replaced, repaired or refined. He’s a master at fixing just about any gun that crosses his path. Sit back and read as Vince shows you the ins and outs of fixing a Daisy 717 pistol.
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