Posts Tagged ‘Ballistol’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I have a story for you. A couple weeks ago, one of our blog readers — a man named Eric — emailed me a link to a local craigslist.com posting. Eric met me at a gun show last year, and I sold him a Winchester model 427 (Diana 27) air rifle. He already knew about fine vintage airguns, and the 27 had been on his wish list for a while, but I don’t think he was a blog reader. Well, we fixed that right away! Since then, he’s been reading the blog and becoming more familiar with his new rifle and airguns in general
The listing he sent me showed a Tyrolean air rifle with the traditional high-cupped cheekpiece and hooked buttplate. What was even more fascinating were the double-set triggers and the large aperture sight located at the rear of the receiver, as well as the sporting sight mounted on the barrel.
The gun was a bügelspanner, or loosely translated, a triggerguard (lever) cocker. I’ve owned 2 bügelspanners in the past, but neither was as nice as this one. And the funny thing is that this was posted on craigslist! That’s funny because guns are sold on gun websites — not on a general website like craigslist.
But this posting had lasted for a minimum of 2 weeks before I saw it. So, I contacted the seller and, glory be, he still had it! We met last Sunday, did the transaction and this was one of those rare times when the gun was exactly as represented.
The gun is a smoothbore .25-caliber gun. The seller, named Joe, told me he had owned it for the past 34 years and had gotten it at the age of 8 as a gift from his father. The gun is much older — probably dating back to around the 1920s or ’30s.
It’s a spring-piston gun that has 2 opposed volute springs that compress against each other. They push a leather-covered piston in the same way that a coiled steel mainspring does in a conventional spring-piston gun, so this is just an odd form of spring-piston airgun.
Two volute springs push against each other when compressed.
The volute spring is a flat spring that’s been coiled and stretched into this shape.
I was attracted to this airgun because of a long, abiding interest in zummerstutzens — indoor gallery or parlor guns used for target shooting. I’ve been fascinated with them since I was a teenager and first read about them in Guns & Ammo back in the early 1960s.
The zimmerstutzen rifle is usually found in the Tyrolean style, but not always. It’s nominally 4mm, but there are more than 20 specific calibers for which the guns were bored. They fire either fixed ammunition (a cartridge) or separate ammo with a percussion cap and round lead ball loaded separately. Rather than get into the full description here, I invite you to read my full article about them. I normally don’t like giving homework assignments; but if you read that article and look at all the pictures, you’ll have a much better understanding of the gun we’re examining today.
The subject gun
I was inclined to believe the subject gun is a dart gun, but what little historical documentation there is mentions using pellets as well. I thought it was a dart gun because it’s set up for extreme accuracy, and I didn’t think that pellets could be that accurate in a smoothbore barrel. But we did do a test of the Diana 25 smoothbore at 10 meters and established that it is, in fact, very accurate at that distance. So, I really don’t know if I’m supposed to shoot darts or pellets in this gun. For the present, I only have pellets because .25-caliber darts are not that common. But I could certainly make some.
This type of gun either fits or doesn’t fit — there’s no in-between. I’m lucky that it fits me pretty well. But that sporting rear sight does get in the way of seeing the front sight. I would have to remove it to use the rear sight.
Why a sporting rear sight? Shooters in the US are not familiar with how European airgunners view target shooting. They use their guns for both precision target shooting and also for sporting use. I guess the best comparison would be to the Hunter Class of field target. Therefore, European target guns often have both a precision rear peep site and a second sporting rear sight located somewhere on the barrel. The subject gun has both.
The front sight is a fine post and bead, which is typical of all zimmerstutzens and, indeed, of many target guns from the 19th century. This sight is very fragile, so it’s protected by steel “ears” on both sides.
The sporting rear sight is adjusted in both directions by a clock key.
Rear peep sight is also adjust by a clock key and can be removed to use the sporting sight, only.
Front post-and-bead sight is delicate, so two steel ears protect it.
The gun has an octagonal barrel, which dates its manufacture to before World War II. It’s impossible to get a more precise date than that because these guns were made from the beginning of the 20th century until the early 1950s. The octagonal barrel also suggests a time before 1940. Most likely this gun was made in the 1920s or 30s, but I have no way of proving that.
The name Original is engraved on the barrel. Several sources say that this is a name used by Oskar Will in Zella Mehlis, Germany; but one source says that name, by itself, was used only by his competitors, and all of his guns also have the word Will on them, as in Original Will.
The name Original may mean this gun was made by Oskar Will of Zella Mehlis.
The gun is cocked by pressing down on the triggerguard, which is actually a long lever pivoted near the bottom rear of the butt. You can see the pivot pin sticking through the rear of the buttstock. A linkage pulls the piston back, compressing the two springs. To load the gun, you press a catch forward on the right side of the forearm, and the rear of the barrel can then be tipped up. You could call this a breakbarrel, but the barrel doesn’t have anything to do with cocking the springs. In that respect, the gun is like the breakbarrel Whiscombe rifles.
The cocking effort is pretty demanding. It’s on the order of 40 lbs., at least. I can’t see how a boy of 8 was able to cock this gun, but maybe his father cocked it for him until he grew into it.
Triggerguard is shown up…in the firing position.
Triggerguard is pulled down to cock the springs.
Push the catch forward, and the barrel can be tipped up for loading.
The double-set triggers on this gun are interesting. They work in the normal way — the rear trigger is pulled to set the front trigger and the front trigger fires the gun. However, there’s one difference. Many guns with double-set triggers will also fire when the front trigger is pulled without being set. This gun will not. If the trigger is not set, the gun cannot be fired.
Double-set triggers function normally, except the gun won’t fire unless the trigger is set. Many double-set triggers will fire when the front trigger hasn’t been set, but not this one.
Joe told me he shot the gun, so I figured it would be okay for me to do, too. First I dumped about 20 drops of 3-In-One oil down the air transfer port and gave it an hour to soak into the leather piston seal. The, I loaded an obsolete 20-grain Diana Magnum pellet and shot it into the trap from just a few feet away. The firing cycle was very harsh, so I won’t be doing that, again, until I can examine the condition of the powerplant. I could hear how slow the pellet moved, which leads me to suspect I’m right about this being a dart gun.
The gun is stocked with a light-colored walnut that’s checkered on the straight pistol grip. Also typical of the Tyrolean stock is the thumbrest that protrudes from the right side of the grip. That makes this a definite right-hand rifle!
This top view shows how thick the buttstock blank had to be to begin with!
The gun’s metal is finished with a combination of heavy nickel plate and hot-tank bluing. I would put the finish at 80-85 percent, which is to say…a lot! There are pepper tracks of rust scattered around the blued barrel, but an application of Ballistol and steel wool has begun to remove them. I’ll keep this up for as long as it takes to get down to smooth metal.
This report will not follow the traditional pattern of velocity testing followed by accuracy testing. For starters, I think the gun is too fragile to shoot that much, plus it does fire harshly. I need to find out what’s going on inside before I do much of anything.
I made this Part 1 so I could come back to it with a second report, though I have no plans for that right now. But as I learn more about it, there will be enough information to make an interesting Part 2.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This Diana 23 has led a hard life.
Today, we’ll see how accurate the Diana model 23 is. This report was supposed to be published just before the Roanoke airgun show, but so many things popped up at the last minute and got in front of it that I held off on this one til now.
Before we begin, let me give you a little update on the rifle. At Roanoke, Larry Hannush, the owner of all those beautiful ball reservoir airguns, came over to my table and handed me a brand new barrel for the model 23. He had read that I was going to refinish it with Blue Wonder and he thought a new barrel would shorten my time on the project. In fact the barrel of the gun was the only part where rust had done some more serious work. The old barrel would have either had pits in it, or I would have had to draw-file them out. This new barrel solved a problem for me, so thanks, Larry!
I decided to test accuracy at 10 meters because of the small size of the rifle. I selected 3 different pellets for this test, but none of them was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellet. I would like to tell you why. Crosman pellets are made from a lead alloy that’s hardened with antimony. As a result, their skirts don’t deform as easily as pellet made from pure lead. In a lower-powered rifle like the 23, that means they may not seal all the air behind the pellet.
The second reason I usually don’t select Crosman pellets for guns like the 23 is that they’re often right at or just under the required dimensions. They work very well in repeaters where their smaller size and harder lead are an advantage. In more powerful guns, their skirts can be blown out into the rifling; but in a single-shot spring-piston air rifle of low power, neither of these things is an advantage. So, I seldom select them for guns like the 23.
Now, let’s begin the test. The rifle is rested at 10 meters, and I’m using a classic artillery hold — though as light as the 23 is, it isn’t easy to hold this way. I had to grip it more than I would have liked just to control it.
RWS Hobby flush-seated
The first pellet I tried was the venerable RWS Hobby wadcutter. At just 7 grains, it seemed perfect for the power of the 23. I seated these pellets flush, but as I did something in the back of my mind sent up a red flag. After all the testing of deep-seated pellets in air rifles of lower power, I reckoned I had to come back and also try this pellet seated deep.
Ten flush-seated Hobbys went into a 0.792-inch group at 10 meters. The group looks okay, but it’s a little on the large side — even for shooting a light rifle with open sights.
At this point, I knew I had to try seating these pellets deep in the breech. I was going to give you a link to the one report where I showed that deep-seating improves accuracy with guns of lower power, but some searching turned up about 20+ reports that all show the advantages of deep-seating! That kind of overwhelmed me. I guess I’ve been doing this for a lot longer than I thought!
The next 10 pellets were seated deep into the breech, using the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Pellet Seater. Of course, you can also use a ballpoint pen to seat pellets; but this seating tool allows you to adjust the depth to which you seat the pellet, and that can be beneficial.
This time, 10 Hobbys made a group measuring 0.52 inches between centers. Not only was it significantly smaller than the first one, the point of impact shifted up about an inch and the group became very vertical. The gun was definitely shooting this pellet differently, and all that had changed was the seating depth.
After seeing the results of this test, I decided to seat the rest of the pellets deep. It seems like that’s what the 23 wants.
JSB Exact RS
Next, I tried the JSB Exact RS dome. In the velocity test of this rifle, you’ll remember that this pellet exceeded both the other pellets in velocity and muzzle energy. I was anxious to see how it did for accuracy. This time, I didn’t fool around with flush-seating — I just assumed deep-seating was the way to go. Ten of them went into 0.618 inches.
Shooting behavior of the Diana 23
Like I said before, the Diana 23 is a light rifle, and holding it with the artillery hold is difficult. On top of that, add a trigger that breaks at almost 7 lbs., and you can see that I was fighting the rifle’s physical characteristics for accuracy. When I break down the rifle for refinishing, I think I’ll take a look at lightening the trigger. Dropping a few pounds of pull could have a major impact on accuracy.
The rifle does discharge without much vibration. The feel of each shot is very solid and quick.
The last pellet I tried was the Beeman Devastator hollowpoint. I’m aware that Beeman refers to this pellet at a pointed pellet, so I’m showing you an enlarged view here. It sure looks like a hollowpoint to me — and it’s designed to perform like one, too.
I decided to try Devastators because of how surprising they were in the Pellet velocity versus accuracy test I did back in December of 2011. They proved that vibration and not velocity alone is what destroys accuracy in a pellet. In this test, 10 deep-seated Devastators made a 0.667-inch group, which is on the high side. I don’t think this is the right pellet for this rifle.
I guess I’m surprised by the accuracy potential of this little spring rifle. It looks so small that I thought its performance would also be small. But it wasn’t. Of course, I’ve learned that this one is shooting a bit slow, so maybe there’s even more to see. I think this rifle deserves a 25-yard test before I strip it down and begin refinishing.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Not as pretty as I would like. This Diana 23 has led a hard life.
Today, I’ll test the Diana model 23 for power. I don’t know what to expect from this airgun, other than not to expect too much. Certainly, the velocity will be low with a powerplant as small as this one.
I said last time that the 23 looks like a perfect 3/4 replica of a model 27. Well, that extends to the cocking effort, too. Believe it or not, this rifle cocks with just 10 lbs. of effort, making it the easiest-cocking breakbarrel air rifle I’ve ever tested. I don’t know if the mainspring is in good condition, nor do I know what the piston seal looks like; so, it may be premature to say this rifle is representative of all Diana 23s.
The trigger is a direct sear type, with no provisions for adjustment. That’s too bad, because even though it’s two stage and reasonably crisp, stage 2 breaks at 6 lbs., 14 oz. That’s a little high for the best work; and on a rifle this light, it’s very high. It will be hard to use the artillery hold as a result of this heavy trigger.
The first pellet I tried was the all-lead, 7-grain RWS Hobby. As light as it is, I’d hoped to see the best velocity figures with this one. Hobbys averaged 381 f.p.s. in this 23. The low was 371, and the high was 401 f.p.s. with a spread of 30 f.p.s. I would have thought they’d go about 50 f.p.s. faster, but I’m still getting used to this gun. At the average velocity, Hobbys produced 2.26 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Talk about your pipsqueak air rifle!
Remember that I did oil the piston seal, which transferred oil to the breech seal, as well. This little rifle should be doing all that it can in its present state.
Crosman Premier lite
Next, I tried the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellet. I think this one is on the heavy side for such a small air rifle, but we’ll see. Premier lites left the muzzle at an average 376 f.p.s. Given what the Hobbys did, I thought that was pretty good. The low was 364 and the high was 389 f.p.s., for a spread of 25 f.p.s. At the average muzzle velocity, the energy was 2.48 foot-pounds.
JSB Exact RS
The last pellet I tried was the 7.3-grain JSB Exact RS dome. What a surprise they were! Looking at the velocity of the Premier lites and Hobbys, I guessed these pellets would be in the same neighborhood, but they weren’t. They seemed to fit the bore looser (not loose, but less tight than the other 2 pellets), and the average velocity was 452 f.p.s. That was what I expected from the Hobbys. So, how does a pellet that weighs even more than a Hobby go so much faster? I have to chalk it up to how well they fit the bore.
The low was 449 f.p.s., and the high was 454 f.p.s.; so, the spread was super tight, as well. At the average velocity, this pellet produced 3.31 foot-pounds of muzzle energy — which, while low, is still considerably higher than either of the other 2 pellets. I think this is one pellet I must test in the accuracy report that comes next.
As I mentioned, I’ve oiled the piston seal and breech seal and also rubbed down the entire rifle with Ballistol. I really don’t know the condition of the powerplant, but I suspect that it’s not as bad as the outside would make you believe. And the wood soaked up the Ballistol to shine almost like it did when the gun was new.
What I forgot to do
I’ve already tested this rifle for accuracy, and it turns out we’re going to be interested in the velocity of these pellets seated deep — instead of flush — into the breech. We’re also going to want to test this little rifle at 25 yards, so there’s still time for me to rerun the velocity test.
After the 25-yard test, I’m thinking of opening up this rifle and seeing the condition of the internal parts. I’m also thinking of stripping all the metal finish and rebluing the gun with Blue Wonder. I think this little rifle will be with us for some time to come.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report is an emotional one for me. The last time I tried to report on the .25-caliber Benjamin Marauder, I became very ill and it took me two years to complete the test. In fact, I never did complete the test myself because I was in the hospital part of the time. My buddy, Mac, drove from his home in Maryland to Texas to test airguns for me so he could bank a lot of data and pictures that allowed me to write my blogs from a hospital bed. Mac is now gone, and I’m starting all over again with this rifle.
I’m revisiting the .25-caliber Marauder because I never really got to test it properly the first time. Also because having tested the .177 Marauder, I felt this big gun needed to be reported at the same time. You see, Marauders are good sellers at Pyramyd Air, and several blog readers asked for this specific report.
There’s one more reason for testing this particular Marauder. It’s an entirely different rifle than the .177 we’ve been testing. Yes, all the controls work the same on both rifles and the external dimensions are the same, but a .25-caliber pellet changes the very nature of the rifle in the same way that a one-ton pickup truck differs from a compact truck from the same manufacturer. The .25 Marauder is a BIG air rifle! Big in terms of the magazine and the hole at the end of the barrel. So, this isn’t the quiet little sniper rifle we’ve come to know. This is a hunting air rifle.
I linked to the recent tests of the .177 Marauder simply because I won’t be covering all of the same ground here that I already covered there. This report will cover new ground.
The lauan stock
We are fortunate to have a test rifle with the much-maligned lauan wood stock. It may be made from lauan…I don’t know, but I’ve read so many bad remarks about this stock that I was shocked to realize that this test rifle has one. Shocked because it isn’t bad at all! It has a nice plain grain. It feels lighter than the beech stock on the earlier .177-caliber Marauder we’ve been looking at, and it’s shaped just as nicely. The checkered areas have grown smaller on the new stock, but the cheekpiece still rolls to both sides of the butt, making this an almost fully ambidextrous rifle. Only the location of the bolt handle, which cannot be changed, favors right-handers over southpaws.
By the way, another name for lauan wood is Philippine mahogany. I’ve seen this wood used in furniture, and it doesn’t receive such a bad rap. It’s a hardwood, but it grows fast enough to be a renewable source of wood for many markets, including plywood products. I think the bad reputation comes from the fact that lauan is often used to skin low-quality hollow-core interior doors. People see that these doors can’t stand up to outside environments, and they think it’s because of the wood used in them. But lauan is not especially weak when used by itself.
I do find this wood to be thirstier than beech when I rubbed the stock down with Ballistol. So far, it’s soaking into the pores quite fast, leaving a dry, matte surface behind.
The test rifle has no scope mounted, so I’m taking the opportunity to install a new UTG 6-24X56 AO Accushot SWAT scope that Leapers sent for me to test. I’ll give you a separate report on the scope, so I’ll just mention it for now. The scope comes with 30mm rings that have Weaver bases, and the Marauder scope rail is for 11mm bases; fortunately, I also have a set of UTG Weaver-to-11mm or 3/8″ dovetail adapters that allow Weaver rings to fit on 11mm rails, so these rings will fit.
Power and setup
I can tell you right now that this Marauder rifle is shooting in the 38-40 foot-pound region, so it’s a proper thumper! I know that from the last set of tests Mac ran in 2010. But I plan to run the tests all over, just as if I never tested the gun at all. I probably won’t tune the rifle to shoot with less power or at a lower maximum fill pressure because we’ve already seen how that goes in the test of the .177 Marauder. I do plan to adjust the trigger to be as nice as the one on the .177 rifle, but I doubt I’ll say much about that because it’s ground we’ve already covered.
The rifle is set up to work with slightly less than 3,000 psi right now, and I don’t see changing that. I’ll confirm what the max pressure is, and only if it’s several hundred pounds below 3,000 will I make any adjustments.
The accuracy test is where I plan on spending most of my time. There are so few accurate .25-caliber pellets, so I’ll do some comparison testing with several pellets at 25 yards. The best pellets from that test will make it to the 50-yard test. I’ll modify my 25-yard test to include more pellets than I normally shoot because the world of .25-caliber pellets is so small that we really can’t afford to overlook a possible good one.
.22 caliber Marauder
While I test the .25-caliber rifle, I’m awaiting the arrival of the new Marauder with synthetic stock. I hope to get one of those in .22 caliber, which will give me my first chance to test this rifle in that caliber, as well as testing the new configuration stock and the altered trigger.
The rifle I’m now testing is 3 years old and was made in .25 caliber from the beginning. The magazine is therefore much thicker than one made for a .22-caliber or .177-caliber rifle. Instead of holding 10 pellets like the 2 smaller calibers, the .25 caliber magazine holds 8.
The rifle’s remaining dimensions and specifications are the same as those of the smaller-caliber Marauders. The overall weight will vary with the density of the wood in the stock, but this new wood seems to be less dense than what was used in the past.
When I picked up the test rifle, I noticed that it’s still holding a charge of air. The last time it was shot was in April 2012, so how’s that for holding a charge?
So, sit back and relax. There’s a lot more Marauder coming your way!
by B.B. Pelletier
Fresh from the closet, another fine Crosman 160 emerges into daylight. We’ll watch this one blossom.
Today, I’ll report on the cleaning of Jose’s Crosman 160 and the adjustment of the trigger. This rifle was quite rusty when I got it, so today it came out of the stock for a thorough cleaning. The barreled action comes out of the stock by removing one nut on the bottom of the forearm and by removing the safety switch. To remove the switch, it must be turned toward SAFE while you push it out of the triggerguard. It will pop right out when you get it in the right position.
The broken safety has been pushed out, and the nut removed from the stock. That’s a new safety to the left of the broken one. The barreled action is now ready to come out of the stock.
Once the action was out of the stock, I could see that it was far rustier than I originally thought. The rust that could be seen when the rifle was intact was just surface rust, but the stock was hiding deep active rust that had to be removed.
This was under the stock — heavy, active rust that must be dealt with!
I used Ballistol and a special scrubbing pad I bought at a recent gun show. A friend of mine says this pad looks like a stainless steel pot scrubber. All I know is that it removes all the rust and doesn’t harm the blue.
I used Balistol in a spray bottle and a special metal scrubber to remove the rust.
I was surprised at how fast the rust was removed. In all, it probably took no longer than 15 minutes to completely clean all the metal parts.
With the gun finally clean, it was time to address the trigger. I mentioned in Part 1 that this trigger is one of the finest ever put on an inexpensive air rifle, and it can be adjusted to a very light, crisp pull. When I got the gun, the single-stage trigger had lots of creep and was breaking at 5 lbs., even. Something had to be done about that.
The Crosman 160 trigger is an adaptation of a 15th century crossbow trigger, where a rotating piece called a nut forms the sear that releases the hammer — in the case of the pellet rifle. The nut is a lever that’s shaped like a circle. It allows a small force (the sear) to overcome a greater force (the hammer spring) through leverage. No filing or stoning of the trigger contact surfaces is necessary, because the trigger doesn’t work like a conventional one.
From Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey’s book, “The Crossbow,” (published in 1903) this illustration of a 15th century crossbow nut shows how a great force can be overcome by a smaller one.
But the Crosman 160 trigger is more sophisticated than the crossbow trigger. It allows the adjustment of the sear contact area and also the point at which the trigger stops. This gives the shooter a safe trigger that breaks cleanly, yet feels like an expensive precision target trigger.
The trigger in the subject rifle was about as filthy as I’ve ever seen. This trigger has a sideplate that allows the user to watch the adjustments of the parts and even to cock and fire the trigger with the parts exposed. Normally, this sideplate keeps the parts inside pretty clean, but you can see from the photo what I saw inside this one.
I’ve removed the trigger unit from the action here. It isn’t necessary to do this, and in fact you must be able to cock the rifle when you adjust the trigger, so leave it connected. I did this for cleaning purposes.
Compare this photo to the previous graphic, and you’ll see all the important trigger parts. This is before cleaning. The rusty red part at the upper right is the nut that’s the sear.
I removed the trigger blade from the trigger assembly and cleaned it outside the trigger box, but all other parts were cleaned where they were situated. Ballistol on cotton swabs worked wonders at removing the rust, dust and dirt. And it left all the parts with a lubricated surface.
The two trigger adjustment screws were stuck in place by dried grease, so Ballistol had to dissolve that before I could clean the threads. The final touch was to apply moly grease to the mating surfaces of the trigger blade and the rotating nut that serves as the sear. Then it was time to adjust the trigger.
The first step was to back off the trigger return spring, which is located at the bottom rear of the trigger box. With this spring relaxed, you can feel the engagement of the sear much better.
Next, I adjusted the top screw, which adjusts the trigger/sear contact area. I set it very quickly because I’ve adjusted dozens of these triggers over the years and I know what they need. You may have to adjust the screw then cock the rifle and fire it several times to get the engagement you want. The engagement needed is very narrow, and it looks like the trigger is about to slip off the sear; so I always give the cocked rifle a bump test after adjusting the trigger, just to be safe. If I can’t jar the trigger off the sear, it’s safe.
The final screw to adjust is the trigger stop or overtravel screw. It stops the trigger blade after the sear has released, and the closer this is to the release point without impeding the trigger-pull, the better the trigger feels. Once the engagement area is okay, it’s easy to set this screw to stop the trigger immediately following trigger release.
With that done, I put the cover plate back on the trigger and shifted my attention to the S331 sight. By the way, Robert of Arcade explained in a comment that the S331 sight was actually made by Mossberg and not by Williams, as I originally said in Part 1. I changed the maker to Mossberg in Part 1, and now I’m telling you.
The rear sight on this rifle was loose when I examined it, so I removed it from the rifle and disassembled it for cleaning. Most of the parts are aluminum, but a couple are blued steel and suffered from rust to the point that there were pits left on their surfaces after the rust was removed. The detents are very crisp and easy to feel as you make the adjustments. This is a simple peep sight assembly, but it works very well and adjusts precisely, which is all you can ask of a sight.
Once the sight was clean and back on the rifle, I put the barreled action back into the stock. I had to use the old broken safety switch because the replacement I have is slightly too large to fit the hole. I’ll trim it down in a separate session so the gun has a complete safety switch. For now, I’ll just keep the rifle off safe.
How does it look?
Because the bulk of the deep rust lies below the stock line, the deep pits that appeared from cleaning do not show. What was above the stock line was mostly just surface rust that’s now completely gone. The metal on this rifle now appears to be 80 percent or better. The stock finish is still flaky and needs to be taken down all the way with sandpaper and reapplied, but it doesn’t detract from the rifle’s appearance.
And the trigger?
The trigger now breaks at one pound, even. It’s glass-crisp, and you would swear that it releases at just a couple ounces if you didn’t see the trigger-pull gauge. I think the owner will be amazed at the transformation this rifle has undergone.
Yet to come
I won’t bore you with the other mundane jobs like the safety and the stock finish, but I’ll test this rifle for accuracy. So, there’s one more report yet to come. We already know the velocity is in the right ballpark — 656 f.p.s. for a 14.2-grain Daisy pellet on a 90-degree day. But I want to show you the accuracy these old rifles can give with modern pellets.
by B.B. Pelletier
Jacque Ryder is this week’s BSOTW.
Fresh from the closet, another fine Crosman 160 emerges into daylight. We will watch this one blossom.
I was at the rifle range yesterday, and a friend delivered an air rifle that another friend had asked him to give me. It’s a Crosman 160, and that’s a classic air rifle that I’ve never reported in this blog, so here we go.
The Crosman 160 and 167 (.22 caliber and .177 caliber, respectively) was first produced in 1955 and lasted until 1972. There were several variations of the basic model over the years, but most airgunners rank them by their triggers. There was a very simple trigger in the first variation from 1955 through 1959, then Crosman put out a very special variation with a super-adjustable trigger in the guns made after 1959. The gun I’m testing has this wonderful trigger.
At some time in the 1960s, the Air Force bought a large number of 160s that were fitted with a Crosman S331 peep sight (made by Mossberg) and sling swivels that held a one-inch leather sling. As chance would have it, several hundred of these rifles were discovered unused in a government warehouse in Maryland or Virginia in the 1990s, and Edith and I bought one. It was brand new and still contained the original Crosman CO2 cartridges that had been used to test it at the factory. I knew they were original cartridges because they were sealed with the patent-dodging “bottlecap” tops Crosman had to use for several years. The end flap of the box had the Air Force Federal Stock Number for the gun, and everything inside the box was new and untouched.
Still rusty and dusty from long years of storage, the Crosman S331 peep sight is a great addition to this accurate target rifle.
I reported on that 160 in The Airgun Letter several times, but eventually I got rid of the rifle. And until yesterday, that was all I had to do with a Crosman 160.
A shooting friend of mine told me a couple months ago about an airgun he had, and from his description I guessed that it was a 160. Yesterday, he sent it to me so I could examine it and tell him what he has. Jose — I have your rifle, and it’s a Crosman 160!
Yours is the last variation they made, which in all ways is the best 160 model to have. It isn’t a former military model, because they all have sling swivels and your rifle has no evidence of ever having them. But you do have the adjustable trigger and the S331 peep sight.
Your rifle has a lot of surface rust that I’ll remove with Ballistol and a special scrubbing pad I’ll show you in the report. I’ll also open the sideplate on your adjustable trigger and clean and adjust it for you. If it’s like the other 160 triggers I’ve adjusted in the past, I should be able to get a glass-crisp trigger-pull of a little less than one pound. I think you’ll be surprised!
Back when these air rifles were new, people thought they were only capable of putting 5 shots into a quarter at 25 feet. What we didn’t appreciate back then were the poor pellets we used held us to that level. Once world-class pellets became available in the 1980s, everything changed and these rifles suddenly became capable of putting 10 shots inside a dime at 10 meters. That is — if they had a good barrel.
Crosman made the barrels for the 160s. When they were good, they were very good. But when they were bad, they were horrible! I’ve heard tales of barrels with only half their rifling and even some that had no rifling at all! It isn’t common, but it happened often enough that old Crosman collectors know about it.
Pellgunoil works, again!
I installed two fresh powerlets and a LOT of Crosman Pellegunoil, and the gun held gas. I then fired 5 shots at a 50-yard target, just to see what kind of barrel it had. I got a group of about 5 inches, but it was a windy day and all I was trying to do was see if the barrel was rifled or not. It is. When I shoot it for accuracy, this rifle should do very well.
The safety switch is broken, which means I’ll have to use pliers on it, because it’s key to disassembling the rifle. The good news is that some plastic aftermarket safety switches exist and I may be able to locate one.
The big problem with a 160 is that it uses gas like a Hummer towing a house trailer! Typically, the two CO2 cartridges give about 30-35 good shots before they give out. Since they cost at least 50 cents apiece, a 160 can cost more than a .22 rimfire shooting good ammunition.
The solution is to convert the rifle to bulk-fill operations. That reduces the gas cost per fill to around 5-7 cents per fill. You still get the same number of shots and the same velocity, but the operating cost is much lower. Of course, you have to have all the equipment that’s needed for bulk-fill to do this, and that does cost some money.
Most 160s I’ve tested pushed 14.3-grain pellets out the spout at between 600 and 630 f.p.s. on an 80-deg. F day. It was about 90 when I shot through the chronograph at the range and the 14.2-grain Daisy pointed pellet (very similar to the current Precision Max) went through the Oehler skyscreens at 656 f.p.s. — right on the money! The rifle can be souped up a just a bit, but at the cost of increased gas usage. There’s really no convenient way around that.
By contrast, the Crosman 180 was a single-cartridge rifle that shot a .22-caliber pellet at around 575 f.p.s. and got about 40 good shots per cartridge. It was the favorite of many shooters. But the Air Force obviously didn’t care about how much CO2 they used, and the slightly more powerful 160 also had a better stock, a longer barrel and better sights. It was the obvious choice for a target rifle. I feel the procuring agency must have bought the gun, not so much for its accuracy but more for its much safer operation when compared to a standard .22 rimfire that was the normal target rifle of the time. A pellet rifle range could be set up safely in a gym, where a rimfire range required more safety measures.
The Crosman 160 is a .22-caliber single-shot CO2 rifle. It cocks on closing the bolt. It needs two CO2 cartridges to operate, though it will work with just one at lower velocity and with fewer shots.
The rifle weighs 6 lbs. and is 39-1/2 inches long. The barrel is 21 inches. The pull is 14-1/4 inches.
The rifle is mostly blued steel in a solid wood stock. The metal was not highly polished and I’ve always thought that the wood stock was some very clever kind of laminate, since it shows more grain than I think it should. I will show you the detail and let you be the judge.
The stock sure looks like a laminate to me.
I plan to clean the metal of this rifle and preserve it with Ballistol. I’ll open the sideplate of the trigger and show you the inner workings, then I’ll adjust the trigger to get it working as fine as I can.
Next, I’ll test the rifle for velocity with several pellets. I’ll also get a shot count for you.
Finally, I’ll shoot the rifle for accuracy at 10 meters with several pellets. I’ve examined the barrel, and the bore appears sparkling clean. The rifling is deep and everything looks okay. We should have some fun with this one.
Jose, you have a very nice air rifle, here. I hope you enjoy this report!