Posts Tagged ‘airgun shows’

Airgun selling strategies

by B.B.Pelletier

I attended a gun show this past weekend; and on the first day, I noticed something that I’ve seen for many years but never appreciated. Most of the people who attend gun shows don’t know what airguns are worth. You can benefit from that.

Nobody knows what airguns are worth!
Across the aisle from me, a dealer had a Daisy model 21 double-barreled gun laid out. When I examined it, I noticed that it was really beat-up. It was a 20 percent gun, at best.

The dealer said he wanted a thousand dollars for this gun, because he’d seen one new in the box selling for $3,500 on the internet. He knew his was a junker, but he figured it must be worth that much at least.

He probably saw the asking price for the new-in-the-box gun. There are lots of outrageous prices like that online, and they usually never get a nibbler. But some people use those bogus prices as their starting point, and this dealer was one of them.

I’ll be attending the Roanoke Airgun Expo in a couple weeks, and I expect to see half a dozen to twenty model 21 Daisys, ranging from $300 for beaters, like the one I described, up to perhaps $1,400 for one like-new in the box. Yes, the price spectrum is really that broad, but it doesn’t continue on up into the stratosphere like many people hope and dream.

So, here’s an idea. Get a real cheap model 21 and bring it to a gun show! While you’re at it, there are many more airguns you can dispose of in this manner.

Airguns that firearms people like
You can’t go wrong with any of the Winchester-marked Diana breakbarrels. At the gun show, they think the name adds value. So your $200 Winchester 427 is now worth $250 or even more.

Older Benjamins and Crosmans always seem to go well. Since I am old myself, let me explain that by old I mean pre-1960. Pre-war is even better. And by pre-war, I mean before World War II.

Older and classic Daisys sell well. Older Daisys command attention wherever they are. But there are classic guns that don’t have to be old. The No. 25 is the poster child of all classic BB guns, and guns made in Rogers in the 1970s are very attractive to non-airgun buyers. You can pick them up cheap everywhere and make a nice profit when you sell them to someone who doesn’t know how common they are.

Another certain seller is an older, well-made gun like a Webley Senior or a Tell III. However, you have to buy them right, because gun show guys just don’t understand $300 pellet guns. Guns like the Weihrauch HW 45 (Beeman P1) are not so good, because you’ll usually have to pay too much to get them; or if you do get one right, it’ll be too hard to explain it to a non-airgunner.

But whatever you bring has to function, because these guys don’t want to collect them. They’ll be reliving their childhood with the treasures they buy from you. Spend the money to get them sealed and working before you lay them out, and you’ll be surprised at the response you get.

Older, vintage-looking guns
There’s a small market for wall-hangers at gun shows. I recently sold several cheap shotguns to guys who just wanted them as accent pieces for the wall. Well, what about older Daisys and Kings that reek of the 1920s? What about a real old Benjamin model D that isn’t worth fixing, but has great lines? Just be sure to pay pennies for guns like this, because you’ll sell them for pennies, as well.

Safety first
One thing you absolutely cannot do at a gun show is dry-fire an airgun. People do it at airgun shows, and I think some folks believe it’s okay. If you do it even one time at a gun show, you’ll be ejected from the show and banned from returning.

Become “the airgun guy”
Pick a gun show and attend it regularly. Soon, the dealers and veteran attendees will know you as the airgun guy. Whenever someone brings an airgun to the show, they’ll be directed to your table. Whenever someone asks about where the airguns are, they’ll be sent to you. You won’t have much competition at most of the smaller gun shows, from what I’ve seen.

The more regularly you attend a show, the more traffic you’ll build. These are people who will come to the show just because they know you’ll be there. They may have a gun that needs to be fixed or they may have just bought a collection that included airguns. Whatever the connection, if you’re the airgun guy, all the business will come to you.

More on collecting airguns

by B.B. Pelletier

I was watching American Pickers last week. That’s the show where two men called pickers travel around the country looking for old things to buy and resell at a profit. Pickers have been around for many years. I can remember my grandmother who ran an antique store buying from them back in the 1950s, but these two guys on American Pickers have put the show on television and made it interesting.

Except for one thing. Sometimes they walk right by the major find and act thrilled to find something on which they can make a couple hundred dollars. The show I watched last week was one set in Florida in which they were picking a bar that had closed. They stood in front of two antique BB guns on the wall and talked with awe about finding a risque neon sign. One of the BB guns was a Sentinel, worth perhaps between $1,500 and 2,500, depending on the condition. Okay, it was way in the background, so maybe it was trashed out and only worth $500. They didn’t even mention it on the show, despite the fact that BB guns is one of the categories on their buy list.

That got me thinking. Have I ever walked past some airguns worth a lot of money, only to dismiss them for some reason? The answer is YES. I passed on not one but two Sentinels at a local flea market years ago. They were priced at $100 and $110 apiece, and at the time they were probably not worth over $400 each. I passed on them because I didn’t know for sure what they might be worth. When I found out, the price was already beyond $1,100 and the two guns were long gone. This was several years before I started writing The Airgun Letter, and no Blue Book of Airguns existed so I may be forgiven my lack of knowledge, except that deep down inside I knew they were valuable. That’s why I caught them so quickly when they made a brief appearance on American Pickers.

I’ll never forget the Haviland & Gunn BB pistol Edith found at the same flea market for $5 (she won’t let me forget it). She sold it to a collector a year later for $500, and today they are worth over a thousand. It was in a case of “smalls” on a guy’s table that consisted mostly of Avon decanters. He thought it was an old squirt gun from a carnival game and had marked it $10, but Edith got him down to $5. I bet he never had an offer on that gun before she came along.

Edith paid $5 for this 1872 Haviland & Gunn BB pistol at a flea market. She sold it a year later for $500.

Decorative art
Most of you know that I’m not a fashionista. To me, style means a mechanical device for counting people as they board the train. I see on television that, besides gout, depression and retirement worries, I’m supposed to have something called a “man cave.” Back when I was still able to feed myself and hold my own drool cup, I believe such places were called dens, and every home had one. Today, the trend is toward diamond-plate refrigerators and vintage neon bar signs. Well, vintage airguns go with that decor quite well, I think.

Here’s where I’m going with this. You’re an airgunner. You can acquire airguns that every other airgunner knows are not worth the powder to … well, you know. But they look cool. So ,you take that old King Model D BB gun that looks like the airgun version of a handlebar moustache and you peddle it to an interior decorator as the perfect accent for some man’s wall. You paid $60 for the BB gun (and thought you took a bath), but the decorator pays $250 to acquire this rare and vintage piece that will set off her client’s I’m-a-man-and-don’t-you-forget-it wall to perfection. It’s crystalized testosterone in the eyes of the decorative arts community.

You might not pay very much for this common King model D BB gun, but where else is a decorator going to find one?

A few years ago, this Daisy Targeteer BB pistol with shooting gallery might have brought $300. Today they bring half that. But they still make great accent pieces.

Or do the same with that old Marksman BB pistol that you can throw faster than it shoots. Or the vintage Daisy Targeteer. Selah.

Do you see where this is headed? You go to an airgun show, buy up as many cheap but decorative airguns as you can find, then resell them for a good profit to an interior decorator. Do it again and again and soon you will have enough leather to make shoes for all your children — to mix a few metaphors.

Oh, but you don’t know any interior decorators, do you? Of course not. So you start a website where decorators can come to look and buy your items, knowing they can always count on you to supply those hard-to-find knickknacks for their clients.

But you don’t set up a table at the next airgun show. The airgun shows are where you go to buy. You sell elsewhere.

My last big tip
Okay, here’s my final tip for those who would like to make money in airguns. Buy the old beater guns, then cut them up and make cutaway guns for display. With some skill, time and a $50 beater spring rifle, I’ll bet you could make a display piece worth at least $500. Cutaway guns are always in demand, and cutaway airguns just don’t exist. Oh, I’m sure there are a few, but they’re very rare. Imagine if someone were to begin offering them as decorations!

There are plenty of other things that can be done with old airguns, I’m sure. The thing is, you know where to buy them, while the average person does not. You have the advantage. What you do with it is up to you.

My eyes are too bad to use open sights

by B.B. Pelletier

I keep forgetting to tell everyone that the April podcast is up.

I’ve heard that excuse for mounting a scope for the past 30 years, and for the first 15 years I bought it. Then I realized that I was wearing bifocals and still shooting fine with open sights. So I wondered, “What gives?”

What gives?
Confidence is at the heart of this complaint about weak eyes. Most of those who blame their eyes are really doubting that all they have heard about open sights and target alignment really works.

Old eyes
Please understand that I’m not talking about people with really poor vision. I do know that there are those who absolutely cannot see the sights and target at all, and they are right to seek optical aids, but the guys who are like me with just tired old eyes are complaining without cause. I know this because of something that has happened to me within the past four weeks.

About one month ago my eyes suddenly started changing their prescription throughout the day. One moment they are 25/40 and the next they may be 30/60. One minute I have to wear my glasses and the next I can see better without them. But the near vision is now uniformly worse than it has ever been. I had to buy +2.50-diopter reading glasses just to see the computer monitor that a month ago was very clear. I could see it through my bifocals but that meant tilting my head back all the time.

So imagine my frustration when I tried to shoot a handgun with open sights. Those sights are now very blurry when the gun is held at arms length. Yet I found a way to do it, and even do it well. Want to know how?

I wear the new reading glasses when shooting and focus on the front sight. The thing I have said all along, and the thing that all champion shooters know, is that if you can see the front sight, the target can be blurry and you will still hit it. Oh, I can’t compete like I used to, and what was once a ten is probably now an eight or a nine, but they ‘e all still landing in the black.

Thanks to Edith!
I never would have believed this could be done, but one day recently when I had to stop a test because I couldn’t see the front sight, Edith asked me if wearing my new reading glasses might help. I thought she was crazy to suggest it because how in the world could I ever possibly hope to see the bull when wearing these glasses that focus so close? But having nothing else that was better, I tried it. And it worked! The front sight is now sharply in focus (more so than in several years) and the bull is only a little blurrier than it used to be with my unaided eyes. And I was able to group my shots as well as before.

Nothing new
Then it hit me. This is nothing new. It has already been done by optics manufacturers for the shooting sports. You can buy rear aperture attachments that have optical lenses to sharpen the front sight. In fact, they work just the same as my reading glasses, but are many times more expensive. Those attachments are for rifles, only, but my glasses work well on both rifles and handguns. You don’t need to stop shooting or to use a scope just because your eyes are going south.

If my prescription were stable, I would get a set of prescription glasses for this, but in the current mode, where my prescription is changing every hour or two, I can’t be sure of anything. So I’ll just continue to use these El Cheapo reading glasses until things settle down. It works well enough that I’ll be using it for precision shooting in my tests in the future.

Now, I’m probably the last person to figure this out, but I never got the memo that you guys must have read. So, to me, this is a brand new discovery. Maybe, one of you didn’t know it also, and I’ve helped out someone else.

Update on the Malvern airgun show
Kevin correctly identified a nice BSF S70 on my table at the show, and I thought I would tell you about it. Three years ago, I spotted that rifle at the old Little Rock airgun Expo that was the forerunner of the Malvern show. I didn’t have enough money for it after buying a Weihrauch HW 55 SF that I really needed, so I sat on my hands and waited to sell some guns. Finally, on the second day of the show, a big deal brought me the needed cash and, as Mac can testify, I actually ran over to the table where that rifle was, only to see cash changing hands between a young man and the dealer. My S70 had just been sold.

Just like you read about in the magazines, I went up to that young man and went through the “If you ever decide to sell that rifle…” speech. And, being a polite lad, he “Yessir’ed” me right back, which is usually all she wrote…or ever writes.

However, this time was different. While I was out of the Malvern show building getting a Subway order for Mac and me, the owner of the rifle walked in the door and Mac spotted him. He then song-and-danced for 10 minutes, stalling the seller for me to return. When I did and I saw the rifle, the youngster quoted a price range for the gun, and I immediately paid his highest asking price. The price I paid was substantially less than the rifle had on it three years before.

So, Kevin, you can see that that S70 was always meant for me. But the price needed some tenderizing, so it marinated in someone else’s closet for a few years. That young man is now of an age where pretty girls and cars are probably more interesting, but I find that I still like S70s, having already gotten the pretty girl.

2011 Malvern airgun show

by B.B. Pelletier

I missed the first running of this show last year, so I have nothing to compare it to except other airgun shows. Every show is different and almost all of them have at least one big surprise, and this one was no different in that respect.

The show opened on Friday, April 15. I’m used to seeing a number of older dealers at the start of the show, but we have either lost them in the past year or they didn’t make this show. While I recognized many of the dealers who were there, the veterans were mostly absent. In fact, Mac turned to me after the show was over and observed that we were now among the old-timers. I have no comment for that.

It’s rare that a manufacturer or importer comes to an airgun show, but this show had several, including some pivotal ones. AirForce Airguns was there with owner John McCaslin showing several of his company’s new products. Among them were a new drooper mount from BKL that looks to be rugged as well as precise. Then there were new styles of camo patterns on the guns that included things like carbon fiber and skulls as well as the more traditional woodland and digital desert patterns. These will be special-order items for a while, to give the company time to assess the marketplace.

New camo patterns from AirForce put a different look on their guns.

But the big deal that I saw at this show was a new air tank that has both a manometer (pressure gauge) and a male foster fill nipple, allowing fills without removing the tank. There’s a new type of tank bushing in the gun that the new tank screws into and the factory will retrofit that bushing to all older models. So everybody gets to use the new-style tank.

Scott Pilkington, the owner of Pilkguns, had several tables of 10-meter guns and related parts and supplies, including all sizes of his famous American-made Vogel target pellets. The Vogel was one of the top pellets in the long test of the AirForce Edge, and Crosman also recommends them for use in their Challenger PCP.

Ten-meter rifles by the fistful! Pilkington bought over 200 vintage rifles and was blowing them out at the show.

Big deal
But Scott had one of those big deals that I mentioned happen at almost every show. He recently bought several hundred 10-meter target rifles and his table was loaded with FWB 300 and 300S rifles, Walther LGR single-strokes as well as a couple Steyrs and some others. Under the table were even more of these rifles, and Scott was really dealing on them! I saw a beautiful FWB 300 and another nice 300S go to new owners for $225 — and the guns had sights! In a year, just the sights will be worth more than that. Mac obtained a well-used FWB 300 for just $150, and another with sights for a little more. Both will need seals, but like the 150 you read about last Friday, that’s just a job that can be done. In fact, at the show I learned that Dave Slade at Theoben USA is also sealing these rifles. So, now there are two places to send your guns.

To he who has, more shall be given
So, Scott happened to be standing in the exact best place when a bluebird seller walked into the show with a small collection, wanting to sell the whole thing for one price. Scott bought it and immediately sold the key pieces to recoup the cost of the deal. I was able to buy three unopened tins of Japanese Mount Star pellets from the 1970s. Those were the pellets that Beeman branded as the Silver Ace and the Silver Jet, among others. But the story doesn’t end there.

At another table, a guy was selling a couple thousand dollars worth of vintage guns for $1,350. One price took everything, and even a newbie could calculate what a deal it was. That one didn’t last but a few hours before a buyer stepped up and bought it. And, as he was claiming his new possessions, the sales of individual pieces started immediately. Just ask our blog reader David Enoch about that.

Benjamin Rogue first sighting
Caught your breath yet? Neither did we, because Crosman Corporation had a table and were letting people shoot the new Rogue ePCP rifl. I shot it several times, and Lloyd, I have to say, Crosman has done you proud! When old B.B. can drill an X offhand with a .357 caliber big bore, we have an event worth noting. The trigger is a long single-stage that always releases at the same point, because it is really electronic. The software allows you to tell the rifle how to behave — whether it’s to act like a coyote-buster or a 100-yard turkey-hunter. Special Nosler ballistic-tip bullets and two new Benjamin lead bullets will also be available from major airgun retailers to augment the hundreds of different .357 lead bullets already available in the reloading market. Thank goodness Crosman was smart enough not to fall into the 9mm trap, which would limit the bullets their new rifle can use!

Dennis Quackenbush
I’m not done with the manufacturers because my tables were in the same room where Dennis Quackenbush was selling his big bores and talking to interested potential buyers on both days. Mac scored early on Friday by buying one of the few .458 Long Action rifles Dennis actually had available to buy at the show. For those who aren’t familiar with Dennis’ work, a Quackenbush big bore rifle doubles in value the moment the initial owner takes possession. It’s hard to lose money that way!

Mac scores a Quackenbush bog bore! Believe it or not, customers don’t like this black laminate stock!

You have to have your money ready, though, because Dennis always has ten times as many buyers as he has new guns to sell. That’s because he’s also faithfully filling airgun orders from his order book and doesn’t make rifles to sell at the shows. When a customer backs out of a deal or a gun isn’t what they wanted, or heaven forbid there’s a blemish, Dennis brings it to the show.

Next to Dennis, big bore hunter Eric Henderson was talking about his guided hunts and generally stirring the pot of airgun hunter interest. On Saturday, the local hunters flocked in to meet and talk with him and to watch him film his next YouTube video.

Shoebox air compressor
My two tables were next to the Shoebox Air Comressor, which I have to say was one of the hits of the show. For one-tenth the cost of a regular compressor, you can add the Shoebox inline with your shop air compressor to get 4,500 psi output. The guys buying them seemed fixated on filling carbon fiber tanks, but to my way of thinking that’s too much to ask. The compressor can do it, but it takes too long. To fill a single gun, this is the ideal way!

The Shoebox air compressor was a hit at the show. This is the model with the cogged belt drive that’s very quiet.

I heard others talking about making similar compressors; but from what I can see, they will fail because these guy have done it right. As long as you maintain the machine, it looks robust enough to last a very long time. I watched two of them operate the entire show, filling tanks and guns in demonstrations.

Collectible stuff
Although this was a small show, there were many collectible guns there, too. Maybe there weren’t as many of each gun to choose from, but the range of collectibles was broad.

A beautiful Schimel pistol that still works! It’s for sale.

Mac and I had two tables with some interesting guns to sell. I had thought Mac would sell all three of his FWB 150s; but with Pilkington’s pile in the next room, he didn’t have a chance. This was the show for 10-meter stuff.

Mac and I had two tables. Look close, because there are some future blogs there!

Tom Strayhorn is an advanced collector who usually has an educational table at every show he attends. This one was no exception, and I’m showing you his table to drool over.

Tom Strayhorn had his usual table of beautiful vintage rifles.

End of the show
The show ended on a high note. Three teenaged boys came to my table to buy two airsoft rifles I had. Grandpa went out to find an ATM to get the cash, and Mac noticed that the one boy wasn’t getting anything, so he gave him a nice breakbarrel pellet rifle. The boy was flabbergasted, and when grandpa returned we asked him to clear the gift with mom. What a wonderful way to end a very exciting airgun show.

Buying airguns at a gun show

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Pyramyd Air recently got in three new Sam Yang PCP air rifles. One is the Recluse, which is a 9mm (also shoots larger .357 bullets). The other two are Dragon Claws, and both are .50 caliber. One has a single reservoir, and the other has two air tanks. Now, on to today’s blog.

Last weekend, Mac and I had tables at the Dallas Arms Collectors Gun Show. I didn’t think I would get a blog out of that experience because they prohibit the use of cameras at the show, which is common at gun shows. But as things turned out, I saw so many airguns and related things that I just have to tell you about it.

More money
Right off the bat, I noticed that gun buyers are freer with their cash. While they bargain just as hard as airgunners, they pull out their wallets when it comes to the end. At airgun shows you see a lot more tire-kicking, and sometimes over ridiculous things like a $15 accessory. Firearm buyers don’t seem to clench up much before the $200 mark. So, by the end of the show, I had a real bundle of cash for the items I’d sold.

More tables
While some gun shows are still as small as airgun shows (75-125 tables), this one had over 800 tables. And the weekend before there had been a 4,000+ table show up in Tulsa, which is a four-hour drive from Dallas. More tables mean more people. Yet, that’s a very sad thing, because at an airgun show you will see more collectible and new airguns than at 20 gun shows — this big one included. To my way of thinking, it’s worth a thousand-mile drive with $4 gas to go to one airgun show. At least it is if you want to see some interesting airguns. But, I discovered that gun shows can also have their unique finds.

More thievery
The last gun show I was at where I sold firearms was over 30 years ago, and I was completely unprepared for the level of thievery that goes on today. Losing something off a table back in 1980 was so uncommon that the whole show talked about it when it happened. At this Dallas show, I was advised to watch my table like a hawk. And, sure enough, I did have a revolver cylinder stolen on the first day. It was priced at just $50 and the guy who got it will be surprised to discover that it doesn’t fit any cartridge, yet, because it was in the middle of conversion to .44 Special from .357 Magnum. But there you are. We had to lock all the guns to the table with cables — rifles and pistols alike! At an airgun show you can go out for lunch for an hour and just ask your tablemate or even the guy at the next table to watch your table in case someone wants to buy something while you’re gone. When something is stolen at an airgun show, the whole show still talks about it, so in that respect an airgun show is like a gun show of 30 years ago.

Shop talk
Just like airgunners, firearm buyers often shop the entire show before making a decision to buy, and therefore they often miss the better deals. One man brought only checks and credit cards to the show, so after he bargained for a price of $450 on a gun he was surprised to learn that I only accept green cash money. He had to go out to an ATM, during which time another buyer slipped in a bought his hard-negotiated treasure. And, no, I don’t hold guns for anyone. A long time ago I would hold a gun, but so often I was often left holding the bag at the end of the show. These days it’s the first cash that buys it. That’s pretty much the norm at airgun shows as well. Forget your credit cards; take cash. And, pull the trigger on those great deals when and where you find them!

Incredible prices!
The prices for airguns are all over the place at gun shows, which is something I was prepared for. Although I haven’t sold at a show in a long time, I’ve attended them often enough to know about how airguns are priced. Let me give a couple of examples to illustrate.

Diana model 35
There was a very nice-looking Diana model 35 breakbarrel on one of the tables. A nice 35 should bring $150-175, but this one was priced at $650. Oddly enough, the fellow who had the table was a semi-airgunner! He loved to shoot his vintage Sheridan Blue Streak, but he didn’t know that pellets were still being made for it. I told him about Pyramyd Air and how accurate the Benjamin domes are (they look like Premiers, but are less expensive) but he was convinced that vintage Sheridan pellets from the 1960s red tins were the most accurate pellets in his rifle. I bought an H&R Topper with a 20-gauge barrel an a .30-30 barrel from this guy for $105, so he wasn’t pricing his firearms out of sight, but he was way over on the one airgun.

Benjamin 112
On another table, a fellow had a 95 percent model 112 Benjamin transitional pump pistol for sale in the box for $165. That one was right on the money for a nice gun in non-working condition. Spend $40 for a reseal, and you have a fine collectible airgun from before WWII. That guy was also an airgunner who knew what things should go for. I could have bought it for $150, which would have been a pretty good buy.

Elsewhere I saw a zimmerstutzen that came out of an estate recently. It was missing the spoon that serves as the breech, but the man sold it for $350. It was a beautiful rifle, with flawless bluing, silver furniture and carved animal faces in the stock surrounded by acorns. The octagon barrel was swamped (tapered larger at the muzzle). There was silver or platinum lettering set into the barrel. So it was a quality gun. Fix it up to shoot and resell it for $800.

The really nice thing about this zimmer is that it takes a No. 9 ball. Neal Stepp, the 10-meter supplier from Ft. Worth, happens to stock them. I steered an airgunner to this table, and he was fortunate enough to buy this rifle. It should be back in action soon.

Also at the zimmerstutzen table, I mentioned what I did for a living and the guy pulled out an air rifle with a broken stock from under the table. It was a BSA Supersport Mk II (think Falke 90). I got it for $75, and it’s worth $100-125 right now. With another stock, it’ll be worth $275-300. This is a very collectible airgun, plus it’s a really nice shooter. I’ll blog it for you some day. My point is that the airgun was priced right.

10-meter rifle
Mac bought an FWB 150 that turned out to be very nice and just had a Beeman reseal a year ago. I’ll tell you in a few weeks why that’s so important for a 150, but for now take my word that it is. He’ll take it to the Arkansas show this weekend and put it on the table alongside the other two 150s he brought from home, so the guy who comes looking for a bargain 10-meter rifle should be able to score this coming weekend.

The interesting thing about this rifle is that once Mac saw it the first time, the guy kept after him to buy it. At the end of their tarantula dance (where two negotiators dance back and forth over a deal, and the first one to blink gets bitten), I had to flip a coin to see what final price the gun would bring. The other guy called it and won, so I cost Mac $25 extra on the deal. What fun!

Sheridan CO2 rifle
At another table I saw a vintage Sheridan CO2 pellet rifle that is somewhat collectible and goes for $125-150 in working condition. I wanted to pay $50 for this one of unknown operational readiness, but they thought it was worth $350, so we never reached an accord. At an airgun show, that person would soon discover that they were out of line and either change their price or leave. But at a gun show, these are all BB guns and who cares?

Then, I was offered a Marksman 1010 in the box, but it was no more than 20 years old and all I offered was $10. They just aren’t collectible when they’re that new. Somewhere else I saw an original Marksman made in Los Angeles in the ’50s. That one was marked $10, but I didn’t know if it worked. If it had been in the box, it would have been a $75 value. By itself, it can take a long time to sell. Because this was a gun show, there was no possibility of checking the operation without getting kicked out of the show.

The ones that got away
The real deals of the show were the ones I didn’t see. On the drive home after we packed up, my other tablemate asked me what I thought of the two tables of collectible airguns that were at the show. Well, of course, I had never seen them (this was a huge show and most of the time I was at my table), and he neglected to mention them to me while the show was still going. “I thought you would have seen them!” he said. The widow of an airgunner had two tables of Daisys that included some cast iron guns, but I never saw them.

That sort of thing happens at large gun shows, and I’ve even had it happen at a couple airgun shows. I’ll be walking out to my car with the last load of stuff and someone will ask me if I found everything I was looking for at the show. I’ll answer yes, except for that Sheridan Model B. And he’ll say, “You mean you didn’t see the gorgeous one Bill Breechclot had on his table? He wanted only $800, and it was worth twice that, if it was worth a dime! It sat on his table for the whole show, and he took it home half an hour ago!” That kind of stuff does happen to me, I will admit.

My observations
I’m going to start doing the larger gun shows again, because there were enough airguns at this one show to interest several airgunners. A real airgun show would have as many airguns on three tables as were at this entire show, but there are precious few airgun shows happening. Besides, at a gun show there’s always the chance of scoring big, because, as I’ve tried to point out, firearms dealers simply do not know what airguns are worth.

A shrine built for a Feinwerkbau 124 – Part 14

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 13
Part 12
Part 11
Part 10
Part 9
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

Airgun Academy videos #19 and #20 are now available.

2011 airgun show calendar
Before I get to the report, here’s a calendar of all the 2011 airgun shows I know of. If you want to go to an airgun show, here they are.

March 5 & 6
Pacific Airgun Expo
Placer County Fairgrounds
Roseville, CA
Contact Jon Brooks @ 707-498-8714

April 9
Flag City Toys That Shoot
Lighthouse Banquet Facility
10055 S.R. 224 West
Findlay, OH 45840
Duane Shaferly @ 419-435-7909
Dave Barchent @ 419-423-0070
Dan Lerma @ 419-422-9121
To register contact:

April 15 & 16
2nd Arkansas Airgun Extravaganza
Fairgrounds, Exit 98A on I-30
1605 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Malvern, AR 72104
Contact Seth Rowland

June 11 & 12
5th CT Airguns Airgun Show
Windsor Elk Lodge
Windsor, CT
Contact Kevin Hull @ 860-649-7599

July 15 & 16
Airgun Show and Shoot
American Legion Post 113
Baldwinsville, NY
Contact Larry Behling @ 315-695-7133

August 21
Daisy Get Together
Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds Expo Center
Kalamazoo, MI
Wes Powers @ 517-423-4148
Bill Duimstra @ 616-738-2425

September 17
St. Louis Airgun Show
Stratford Inn Garden Room
800 S. Hwy. Dr.
Fenton, MO 63026
Contact Gary Anthony @ 636-861-1103

This is the 14th report I have made on the FWB 124. In all that time, I was mostly tracking a single 124 — the one I obtained that had been packed for eternity in a wooden case like an Egyptian sarcophagus. We went through many tunes with that gun and saw what each one did. Then, I tuned a 124 for Mark Taylor, a shooter I met at Roanoke. That one wasn’t planned, but it did give us a look at a later and different rifle.

Today, I’m reporting on the bluebird buy I happened upon while registering a firearm several weeks ago. The guy at the gun store owned this 124 that had suddenly stopped shooting, a fault that is common with this model because of a bad formula of synthetic used in the piston seal. You’ll also see it in FWB 150 and 300 rifles, Walther LGV air rifles and probably a lot of other airguns made back in the 1970s. The fix is to install a new seal. You’ve already seen me do this several times in this series, but the one thing I haven’t shown you is what the old seal looks like when it’s broken up inside the gun, and that’s something all airgunners should know.

I originally thought I was going to tune this for the guy at the store, but he wound up selling me the rifle, so I’ll do both a velocity test after the tune and an accuracy test using the curious little Bushnell scope that came on it.

How the new gun differs from the old
Before I tear into the action, let me report on how this later 124 differs from the ones I have already shown you. The Deluxe models weren’t made when this one was built. It’s called a Sport, but it has a checkered grip and sling swivels, two features from the older Deluxe class. Gone, however, is the Wundhammer palm swell, and the cheekpiece that’s on the left of the butt of this later rifle is so small and ill-formed as to make the rifle nearly ambidextrous. With the ambi-style safety and the ease of breakbarrel loading, it should have been an ambi from the start.

When I tore into the gun, I initially wondered if it had ever been apart. The serial number is 42,648, which places the gun very late in the production cycle. So, it could have been a virgin rifle, but it wasn’t. The mainspring was coated with moly grease, a sure sign that someone has been inside, because the factory used only clear grease. From the look of the tune — moly on the mainspring, an FWB mainspring instead of an aftermarket spring, a replacement FWB piston seal (a Beeman trademark, even though they knew about the disintegration problem) and the trigger adjusted very nice — I believe this rifle was last tuned by Beeman. All those characteristics are the ones Beeman would do. As good as they were, even Beeman could not prevent that piston seal from decomposing. And, that’s what I want to show you.

This is what a decomposing FWB seal looks like. The brown particles you see used to be hard, tough synthetic. Now, they’re soft, waxy particles that break apart easily.

In this view, you see hundreds of smaller particles in the tube; and at the bottom (the end farthest from you in this picture), the top of the piston seal has broken off and wedged itself against the end of the compression chamber. The small hole at the lower right inside the compression chamber is the air transfer port. All of this mess must be removed before the rifle can be tuned.

There isn’t much left of the piston seal after it disintegrates. Most has been left inside the compression chamber, but this root has to be cut out of the piston top. Like most of them, this one popped out easily.

I won’t say anymore about disassembly and reassembly except for one thing. Installing the bolt that holds the trigger assembly in the gun is a tricky job. The trigger assembly has the spring guide and is what keeps the whole powerplant together. The bolt is hardened steel, but the trigger housing into which it threads is softer aluminum. You can easily cross-thread the bolt if you aren’t careful. If you do, the trick is to remove the trigger housing from the gun and carefully thread the bolt into the hole, keeping the head aligned straight. It’ll reset the threads in most cases and you’re home free. You can then assemble the gun, and the bolt will not cross-thread anymore. This is the biggest reason you need a mainspring compressor to do this job.

This large bolt with the two flats for gripping is what holds the 124′s powerplant together. It threads into the soft aluminum trigger housing and can easily be cross-threaded. This photo shows an older 124 trigger assembly, not the one from the newer gun I’m testing in this report…which has an aluminum trigger blade.

Many tunes — final satisfaction
I tried several combinations of springs and piston seals until I settled on the Maccari Mongoose spring and seal. At first, the seal was way too tight, as it’s supposed to be, so I sized it by hand-sanding until it had just a little resistance in the compression tube. The spring was lightly lubed with moly grease, and the seal also got a coat of moly before going back into the gun.

Crosman Premier 7.9 lites
The first pellet I tried with the new tune was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain “lites.” They’ll be among the most accurate in this rifle; history has proven many times. They averaged 761 f.p.s., with a spread from 752 to 770 f.p.s. The average velocity produced a muzzle energy of 10.13 foot-pounds. All pellets were tight in the breech

RWS Hobbys
Next, I tried RWS Hobbys, a 7-grain pellet that’s the speed-demon of the lead pellet world. They averaged 821 f.p.s., but a curious thing was happening as I shot them. The velocity kept increasing! Shot one went just 767 f.p.s., but the fastest shot among the 10 I fired went 832 f.p.s. With the average working out to 821, you can see that velocity was climbing all the time. I think this tune will wear in to the point that the Premiers will go about 800 f.p.s., and the Hobbys will get up to 860 or so. At the average velocity, the muzzle energy was 10.48 foot-pounds.

Beeman Silver Jets
The last pellet I tested was the vintage Beeman Silver Jets that are no longer available. They were the No. 1 go-to pellet when the 124 was in its heyday. Back in Part 10 of this report, I tested them against the best of today’s pellets, with the result that they weren’t far from the leaders.

The 8-grain Silver Jets averaged 732 f.p.s., with a range from 721 to 747 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they were generating 9.52 foot-pounds.

I mentioned that this rifle has a nice trigger. It’s sort of a single-stage, by which I mean that pressure is there immediately when you begin the pull, and there’s no obvious hesitation. It breaks with only 26 oz. of pressure, and it feels like less than a pound. I have to be very careful, because I’m used to three-to-five-pound triggers on the rifles I shoot the most. This one feels like nothing to me.

Most 124 triggers have more creep in them than this one. When I owned Mrs. Beeman’s personal custom 124, the Queen Bee rifle, I found that the Beeman company could really adjust a 124 trigger very finely. Whenever I feel a good one, I always suspect someone from Beeman has been inside.

Well, that’s it for this test. Next time, I’ll see about sighting-in the rifle with that unusual scope.

The art of collecting airguns – Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

In case you haven’t had a chance to view Pyramyd Air’s 2010 Xmas video, here it is!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Before I start today’s blog, please note that I’m undergoing another outpatient procedure this morning and will be out of the loop much of the day. Edith will monitor the blog and answer comments as she’s able. I would appreciate it if the blog readers could help out by answering the comments from new people and others who might usually get an answer from me.

The covert deal
I call this report the covert deal because that’s what it’s about. I’ll explain a few of the uncommon deals I’ve made as an airgun collector/buyer and seller. I’m doing this to encourage those among you who want to get out and try this for themselves but haven’t gotten up the courage to try it, yet. Hopefully, you’ll see from what I am about to tell you that there are plenty of great airgun deals still to be made. Okay, here we go.

While you’re standing at your airgun table at an airgun show, someone comes up and offers you a firearm. He tells you that he knows nothing about firearms and he recently inherited one that he wants to get rid of right away. Without saying so, you gather that he is uncomfortable around firearms, and he sees you as his chance to get rid of this one.

Think it can’t happen? I’ve had it happen many times at different shows; so much so, in fact, that I am now prepared to talk to this person, because I know exactly what he wants and where he’s coming from. I won’t bore you with all the details; but the quick and dirty is that he somehow feels owning a firearm makes him a marked man, and he wants to keep this transaction as quiet and private as possible. That’s what you need to know — keep things quiet and private and let this fellow go his way, unencumbered by any firearms.

He says he has in his car what looks like a Civil War musket, and the plate on the right side just says Springfield with an eagle and the date 1873. There appear to be additional words on the gun, but they’re impossible for him to read. You can relax, because what he has is not considered to be a firearm by the ATF. It was made before 1898 and is classified as an antique. This is no M4 that was used to rob a liquor store last week, then thrown into the bushes during the getaway.

Also, if you know that the American Civil War lasted from 1860 until early 1865, you know that this isn’t a Civil War gun. With that date of 1873, it’s most likely a Trapdoor Springfield.

Now, this could either be the real deal from the late-19th century, or it could just as easily be a modern reproduction. You won’t know until you see it. The genuine rifle in overall good condition should be worth about $700. A modern replica in excellent condition is worth about $800-900.

You wander out to his car which you notice he’s parked far from the show entrance. He asks you to get in the back seat, where you find the rifle wrapped in a dirty beach towel. It turns out t0 be the real deal, so you ask him what he wants. “I saw something on your table that I’d like to trade for, if that’s okay. He describes it and you know he’s interested in an IZH 61 that you have priced at $75.

This is a real Trapdoor Springfield.

The nickname “Trapdoor” comes from the way the breech bolt operates. This one is in just good condition, because all original finish is gone. But, the barrel is clean and shiny with sharp rifling. That means that if the rest of the rifle is in good condition, it’s safe to shoot with vintage-powered ammunition.

You answer, “Sure, I’ll do that, plus I’ll throw in some pellets and targets to get you started. Let’s go back inside, and I’ll show you how it works.” You take the Trapdoor over to your own car and lock it in the trunk. Then the two of you head inside to finish the deal.

Have you just taken this guy to the cleaners? I used to think so, until I came to realize that he has absolutely no interest in guns, and you’ve just done him a big favor. That Trapdoor Springfield is worthless to him, and every time he has to venture out in public with it is a big risk, as far as he is concerned. Besides, you may not get a fair market price for it if you decide to sell it, because the market is severely depressed these days. Yes, you’re going to make money on the deal, but since you didn’t define the terms of the deal and, indeed, didn’t look for the deal to begin with, accept what has happened as a little windfall.

Now, had the gun been a prime German Jaeger hunting rifle with engraving, gold inlay, fluted barrel and bas-relief carving on the wood, it would have been worth four times as much, and then I think you should have given him some money to boot. But the point is, you didn’t seek this deal out. He came to you, and if you have satisfied his needs, then you have done him a kindness.

Here’s the big question. Why did he come to an airgun show? The surprising answer is that people who don’t like firearms also can’t discriminate between them and airguns. Everything at your show looked like a firearm to him. He doesn’t know exactly why airguns are not regulated the same as firearm, but he does know that they aren’t, and he just felt under less pressure at your low-profile airgun show. Bottom line, he had a gun to get rid of and he knew that you were the right guy to turn to.

The desperate seller
It’s getting on toward the end of the airgun show and a man you don’t know walks briskly up to your table. He’s holding several boxes, plus a nickel-plated Daisy Targeteer. “I want to sell you all of this stuff and I’m going to price it right. How about $100 for everything?”

“That’s all the money I have at the moment. I’m flying home in three hours and I’ll need some money in my pocket for that,” you respond.

“Aww, you can probably resell this for three times a hundred dollars in the remaining time the show is open. Come on!”

What he is offering you is a nickel-plated Daisy Targeteer in 98 percent condition, a blued gun that’s in 80 percent condition and a very early 100-percent blued gun in the box with everything. On top of that there are seven red-white-blue metal tubes of Daisy .118 copper-plated steel shot. Each of the shot tubes is worth at least $10 , the boxed gun is worth $150, the nickel-plated gun is worth $90 and the other blued gun is worth at least $50. This whole package is worth $360, or just a little more than he estimates.

You pull out all your money and buy it. He is happy because he needed gas money to get home. And you now have a quick sales job to do. Just because something is worth a certain amount doesn’t mean that anyone at this show wants to buy it. Mr. Desperate knew that when he came to you.

So the safest thing to do is lowball the whole deal away. You sell the Nickel Targeteer, the 80-percent Blue Targeteer and six tubes of steel shot to a Daisy collector for $100. You keep the boxed pistol and one tube of shot for yourself. Mr. Desperate hasn’t left the building before you have your money back and people are wondering why you are selling so cheap.

The boxed Targeteer is worth more than the asking price for the whole package.

The buyer with specific tastes
Here’s another one that I don’t have a picture for. A guy comes up to your table and offers you a Weihrauch HW 55 target rifle for your Diana model 24 youth rifle. You tell him that his gun is worth five times what yours is and he responds that it’s okay, because he still has three more 55s and he has been searching for a 24 like yours all year. You do the trade and everyone is happy.

Sound impossible? I can assure you it isn’t. Sometimes having a surplus of certain models can devaluate them in the owner’s mind. Familiarity breeds contempt.

In fact, all of these stories are true ones and the guns shown are the very ones that came from the deals described. I have changed the description of the deals to disguise the other party, but these exact things have all happened to me.

Things like this can happen to you at an airgun show, so always be ready to step into prosperity.

Now for a small homework assignment. I’m going to show you several bad images that were recently used in auction sales. I want you to discuss them amongst yourselves, and be ready to critique them so we will be ready for the next part of this report.

I see three things wrong with this picture. It’s so insulting that it might stop me from doing a deal with this seller.

The photographer was so close on this one. He just missed one thing.

This photographer has made the classic mistake. Can you tell what it is?

Another classic gun photo mistake. What is it?

Alright, that’s a wrap for today. In the next report, I’ll get into the fundamentals of taking good pictures to sell airguns.

Top-notch springer
Air Arms TX200 air rifle

When it comes to spring-piston air rifles, the Air Arms TX200 Mk III is a favorite of many airgunners, including airgun writer Tom Gaylord. His favorite caliber is .177. While the gun will initially impress you with its beauty and superior craftsmanship, you'll be even more impressed with the incredible accuracy! Tom claims this is "the most accurate spring gun below $3,000." Beech or walnut, left-hand or right-hand stock. Isn't it time you got yours?

All the fun, none of the hassles!
Uzi CO2 BB submachine gun

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