The dawn of CO2 guns

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Invention
  • Marketing failure
  • Crosman Corporation
  • Shooting galleries
  • Post-war
  • The Crosman CG
  • Marketing misstep
  • From separate tanks to reservoirs
  • The dawn of the CO2 cartridge
  • The 12-gram Powerlet
  • Summary

Invention

The first successful CO2 gun was invented and produced by Paul Giffard in the early 1870s. He adapted the pneumatic guns he was already building to use this new gas and the guns he produced were operationally successful. But he failed to market the gun properly.

Marketing failure

Giffard made gun owners return the gas tanks of their guns to a central point where the tanks were refilled. And the customers stayed away in droves! Nobody wants to buy something expensive, only to be held hostage by the lack of a critical item, i.e. gas for the gun. In short, he failed because he didn’t provide the proper support for the gun.

Oddly enough, the Giffard lesson was not learned by everybody. In about 1948 the Winsel company
sold their “Jet-Powered” pistol with two removable CO2 tanks and a heavy cardboard tube for mailing one of them back for a refill. Very few guns were sold (50?) and the company went out of business with many tanks not returned to customers. The tanks the company held were ultimately destroyed.

Giffard pistol
This Giffard CO2 pistol is loaded via a rotating tap. The quality is first-rate. This wasn’t a cheap gun.

Winsel pistol
Those not familiar with history are doomed to repeat it. In 1948, Winsel made the same mistake as Giffard and quickly failed.

Crosman Corporation

Because of Giffard’s failure, I will jump forward from the 1870s to the early 1930s, when the Crosman Corporation first started playing with the gas. Their engineers knew that CO2 was a good propellant for pellets. The relatively lightweight .22 caliber diabolo pellets flew much faster and farther than Giffard’s 6mm (.243 caliber) and 8mm (.32 caliber) lead balls. But even Crosman didn’t figure everything out on their first try.

Shooting galleries

Their initial thinking was that CO2 guns might replace rimfires in public shooting galleries. The operational cost for the galleries would drop because lead pellets and the gas to propel them cost much less than even the lowly .22 short cartridge that was in use at the time. Before WW II shooting galleries were popular around the nation. At the turn of the 20th century almost every town had at least one. New York City had many, and indoor shooting was very popular.

Crosman did plan to make and sell entire galleries that included one model of repeating CO2 rifle that is practically unknown today. The Crosman model 102 Camp Perry “hose gun” was a .22 caliber repeating bolt action CO2 rifle that was based on the model 102 bolt action pneumatic repeater. It made no sense as a pneumatic, though, because even though working the bolt loaded a round ball into the breech in the blink of an eye, the shooter still had to pump the gun for every shot. With CO2, of course, the shooting was continuous. It was called a “hose gun” because it was tethered by a hose to a large gas tank (for shooting gallery use) located under the gallery counter.

I have seen Crosman literature for shooting galleries from as early as 1932, but they didn’t seem to catch on. Perhaps that was because the .22 rimfires were firmly entrenched in the galleries.

Post-war

After WW II, though, the returning soldiers had enough of shooting for the rest of their lives. They wanted to get back to civilian life, start families and enjoy the good life they had been promised. Shooting galleries were falling out of favor everywhere — not rapidly at first, but the trend was in motion.

The Crosman CG

Crosman scrambled to convert from the production of wartime materiel to making airguns again, and someone in the company discovered several thousand 4-oz. CO2 tanks that had been used to rapidly inflate large ocean-going life rafts. They bought these surplus tanks and converted their model 101 single shot pneumatic rifle to use CO2. This new gun became the famous Crosman CG (for compressed gas) CO2 rifle with the slant and straight tank.

Crosman CG rifle
The straight tank model CG rifle is a later variation that began with the slant tank. All of this was to use the 4-oz. CO2 tanks that were surplus left over from the war.

Crosman was still thinking shooting galleries when they brought out the CG rifle, but not public shooting galleries. They were thinking of league shooting run by workplaces. That was in line with what was happening at the time, because bowling leagues were popular in the 1950s. These leagues were as much for socialization of the employees as for sport and recreation, and companies embraced them as an early form of team-building.

Crosman gallery
This Crosman shooting gallery was for league shooting. This employer installed one for their employees. A straight-tank CG is clearly seen in the hands of the woman second from the left.

Marketing misstep

But there were some missteps here, as well. Crosman must have thought that if they made the caliber proprietary they would corner the market on ammo sales, so many of the CG gallery guns were made in a .21 caliber that is not available on the market — then or now. Those guns were sold with complete gallery kits intended for league use.

They also made some CG rifles for direct sales, but these were made in the far more common .22 caliber that met with public acceptance. There were already pellets available everywhere in this caliber. Filling the CO2 tanks was still a problem, but Crosman’s engineers solved it with adapters that league gallery teams and presumably private individuals could purchase to fill their tanks from common fire extinguishers.

From separate tanks to reservoirs

The supply of surplus tanks finally ran out, so the company had to do something different. They provided a tubular gas reservoir that ran parallel underneath the barrel of each gun. Thus was born in 1950 the model 114 in .22 caliber and the model 113 in .177. I covered the 114 in a three-part report. A separate fill tank was needed to fill these guns, so Crosman provided the model 110 10-oz. CO2 tank that came packaged with each gun.

They were still on the shooting galley kick, though, and one version of the rifle was a repeater with a hose permanently attached. Collectors speculated for decades whether this was a real airgun or not, but paper evidence found about 10 years ago proves that it was at least prototyped. The model 117 was never sold to the public, but in 1952, Crosman added an onboard tubular reservoir to the gun and renamed it the model 118.

The dawn of the CO2 cartridge

The Benjamin Air Rifle Company was one of many companies (Americal Luger, Carbo Jet, Schimel, Challenger Arms, etc.) who seized on the possibility of powering an airgun by a CO2 cartridge in 1952. All of them used the 8-gram cartridges that were also used in seltzer bottles. At the time, seltzer bottles were very popular for making mixed drinks, and the cartridges were plentiful. Benjamin was the only company with airgun experience and distribution channels though, and within a few years in the mid-1950s all their competition went away.

In 1954 the Crosman Corporation brought out the first iteration of their iconic model 150 air pistol. This single shot .22 pistol replaced the Models 111, 112, 115, and 116 pistols that were all bulk fill. The 150 (.22 caliber) was soon joined by the 157 (.177) and quickly became a mainstay of the Crosman lineup. We can still see remnants of it today — 60 years later — in the model 2240 pistol and associated airguns.

Crosman 150
My old Crosman 150 has seen better days. I bought it as a project gun and fixed it with Pellgnoil.

The 12-gram Powerlet

What was most important about the 150 was the 12-gram CO2 cartridge it used. It was the first airgun to use that size. There is 50 percent most gas in that larger cartridge, which means guns that use it can be more powerful or get more shots. That cartridge became the world standard and for 20 years I referred to it in my writing as a Powerlet, because Crosman trademarked that name for it. They didn’t invent the cartridge, they simply capitalized on it with great success.

Benjamin continued to sell their CO2 guns, but they lost a lot of customers when Crosman’s 12-gram Powerlet came along. Other companies like Heathways Plainsman, who made a BB repeater that featured 3 power settings, started with 8-gram cartridges, but developed an adapter for their gun that allowed the use of the more popular 12-gram size. I wrote a 4-part report on this gun back in 2009/10.

About 5 years ago I noticed Crosman no longer pushes the use of the name Powerlet. It’s still found on their packaging, but not in their advertising. So I decided to stop calling the 12-gram CO2 cartridges Powerlets and reverted to the generic term cartridge.

Summary

There you have the dawn of the  CO2 powerplant. We looked at its invention in the 1870s all the way to the development of the 12-gram Powerlet. I could have gone on and mentioned the use of the larger 88-90 gram cartridges, but that push has already started showing signs of fragmentation. There is industry disagreement on the size of the cartridges (they should all be identical because their specification is controlled by someone outside the airgun industry).

The 12-gram cartridge shows no signs of letting up, though. Even Umarex decided to redesign the grip of their Single Action Army BB revolver, rather than to revert to the smaller 8-gram cartridge that would have fit inside the standard grip.

Bulk-fill guns are still with us, though they are far in the background. They have the advantages of allowing the gas to conform to oddly shaped reservoirs, plus they cost about a tenth as much to operate as cartridge guns, once the shooter has invested in the equipment to fill his own bulk tanks.

I think CO2 will continue to be popular, but I doubt we will see much that is new coming from this propellant. Its uses are now well-known and will continue to be used in the best ways to power pellet and BB guns.


Crosman model 116 .22-caliber bulk-fill CO2 pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Neat fix for bulk-fill CO2 guns
Part 1

Crosman 116 pistol
Crosman’s 116 bulk-fill pistol is a .22-caliber single-shot pistol.

Today, we’ll look at the velocity of the Crosman 116 .22-caliber bulk-fill CO2 pistol. A couple things will complicate this test. First is the fact that the pistol has adjustable power. I’ll account for that with several power adjustments, but that isn’t all that’s going on.

The bulk-fill process is itself somewhat complex; because if the bulk tank doesn’t have enough liquid CO2 in it, or if the tank and the gun are both warm, the fill will be less dense and will therefore produce fewer total shots. Let’s look at the fill process before we examine the gun.

The bulk-fill process
Filling an airgun from a bulk tank requires that the filling tank has sufficient liquid CO2 inside to transfer the maximum amount possible to the gun. When I say the maximum amount possible, I mean what’s maximum under safe operating conditions. It’s possible to overfill a CO2 tank or gun and create a dangerous condition.

CO2 pressure is controlled by the ambient temperature rather than by compression. If you make the CO2 storage vessel volume smaller somehow, you don’t compress the gas inside. Instead what happens is more of the gas condenses into liquid. It will continue to do so right up to the point that there’s 100 percent liquid inside the tank.

While that sounds good, it isn’t; because when the liquid inside the tank heats up, it tries to expand into gas again. As long as there’s space inside the tank for the liquid to evaporate into gas, you’re safe; but when the safety volume is filled, all the liquid CO2 can do is increase in pressure. It does so at an astounding rate, quickly developing over 10,000 pounds per square inch at temperatures that are still well within human tolerance. That’s why tanks rated for CO2 storage contain safety burst disks to prevent the tank from becoming a dangerous bomb. It’s also why several airgunners have been startled when their tanks’ burst disks actually burst while stored in their cars on hot days. Once the burst disk ruptures, all gas is lost and the burst disk must be replaced before the tank can be used again.

These days, most airgunners get their bulk tanks filled at paintball stores; but in my day, they filled them at home. There were even larger bulk tanks of CO2, holding 20 pounds of liquid. They came from the food and beverage industry, or they were large fire extinguishers. I own 2 of these 20-lb. CO2 tanks that I use to fill my bulk CO2 tanks for guns.

Filling bulk tank
The 12-oz. paintball tank is coupled to the 20-lb. CO2 tank for filling. This big tank has a siphon tube, so only liquid escapes the valve when it’s in the upright position. Couplings are custom made for this.

Once the smaller bulk tank has been filled, it’s time to fill the gun. Remember, the object is to transfer as much liquid CO2 as possible for a dense fill. That doesn’t give more power — it gives more shots. The CO2 controls the pressure, depending on the ambient temperature.

filling gun
The 12-oz. paintball tank is then coupled to the CO2 gun like this. With the CO2 tank hanging down, the liquid in the tank is just behind the valve, where it will flow readily from the tank into the gun. This paintball tank has a special adapter with a wheel to control the opening of the valve.

Filling the gun takes just a few seconds. It actually makes a sound, and you can tell when it’s full because the noise of the transfer stops abruptly. The outside of the gun may become cold and wet with condensation when the new CO2 inside evaporates to gas. As long as you do this transfer at room temperature, everything will be safe, for the liquid CO2 will evaporate and stop the fill before the gun accepts too much liquid. The gun is now full and ready to test.

Shot count
Because the pistol has adjustable power, I tested it on high power first. I found that there were 21 good powerful shots with the gun set on the highest power. Then, I adjusted it to medium power and finally to the lowest power. Medium power was very close to high power in all respects, but on the lowest power the total number of shots per fill increased to 32.

Crosman Premier
This is a Crosman gun, so Crosman Premier pellets sounded like the best place to begin. On high power, they averaged 390 f.p.s. The range went from a low of 384 to a high of 409 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 4.83 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

On medium power, they weren’t much slower — averaging 386 f.p.s. But on low power, they averaged 331 f.p.s. for an average 3.48 foot-pounds of energy.

RWS Hobbys
Next, I tried RWS Hobby pellets. In .22 caliber, these weigh 11.9 grains and average 423 f.p.s. in the test pistol. That’s a muzzle energy of 4.73 foot-pounds. The low was 413 f.p.s., and the high was 435 f.p.s. On medium power, Hobbys went an average 402 f.p.s.; and on the lowest power, they averaged 369 f.p.s. That’s good for a muzzle energy of 3.60 foot-pounds. On low power, the low velocity was 355; and the high was 383 f.p.s.

RWS Superdomes
The last pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome. This pellet weighs 14.5-grains in .22 caliber and is a favorite among many airgunners for all 3 powerplants. On high power, Superdomes averaged 376 f.p.s. The low was 362, and the high was 391 f.p.s. At the average velocity, Superdomes generated 4.55 foot-pounds. On medium power, they averaged 367 f.p.s.; and on low power, they averaged 345 f.p.s. On low power, the low velocity was 341, and the high was 348 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they generated 3.83 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Trigger-pull
The trigger-pull on the test pistol measures 4 lbs., 2 oz. That’s a little heavy, but it’s very crisp, so it’s going to be okay for target work. There are no provisions for adjustment on this trigger; so if I want to change the pull, I have to do some gunsmithing.

Odd note
I noted that when the gun was fully charged, the velocity always started lower and climbed into the good range — just like a precharged gun that’s overfilled. On the lowest power, the gun sometimes failed to discharge. CO2 guns aren’t supposed to do that, so I assume either the valve return-spring has weakened over the past 60 years, or someone has been inside the valve and changed things. Either way, that’s a good reason for an overhaul. The transmission sealer worked and now so does the gun; but it doesn’t work exactly as it should. That’s also probably why the number of shots per fill was lower than expected.

Overall evaluation
To what can I compare this air pistol? How about to a Crosman 2240, which is also a .22-caliber single shot but runs on 12-gram CO2 cartridges, but in many other ways is like the test pistol? The 2240 has a 7.5-inch barrel, so it’s a little faster than this 116 with a 6-inch barrel (Premiers averaging 448 f.p.s. to the 116’s 390 f.p.s.). Its sights are fully adjustable. The grip, while a bit larger, feels very much the same. So, if a 116 and bulk-filling aren’t in your future, know that there’s a good alternative.

I do think the test pistol is shooting a little slow for a 116. Maybe it would be best to get it overhauled to see what one in top condition can do


Crosman model 116 .22-caliber bulk-fill CO2 pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Neat fix for bulk-fill CO2 guns

Crosman 116 pistol
Crosman’s 116 bulk-fill pistol is a .22-caliber single-shot pistol with power and accuracy that surpasses many of today’s air pistols.

Before we start, a word on the “fix” for CO2 guns that Dennis Quackenbush gave me. Some folks are concerned that this will ruin the guns it’s put into. Well, it will soften the seals, and eventually those seals will dissolve into a jelly-like material that won’t seal the gun. How fast that happens depends on how much of the automatic transmission sealer you use. But here’s my thinking. The gun already doesn’t work. If this restores it to operation for a few years, or even for only a few more months, that’s more than you have now. In the end, you may need to replace all the seals anyway, but that was what you faced when you decided to do this. No permanent harm has been done. And you got some use from a gun that needed seals.

Don’t add the sealant if you don’t want to — that’s always your decision to make. But some of you are glad to know that there’s a quick, cheap way to fix many of these guns right now.

For those who are paying attention, we’ve actually reported on the 116 in the past. One of these is a blog that I did, and the other is a guest blog by blog reader Paul Hudson. Today’s blog is just the beginning of a traditional 3-part report, so we’ll be looking at this gun in greater detail.

History of bulk-fill CO2 guns
Carbon dioxide guns descended from pneumatic guns in the 1870s, when Paul Giffard first started building and selling his 4.5mm, 6mm and 8mm gas guns for the public. They were based on the Giffard multi-pump pneumatics that had been around for 20 years, but these new guns offered something the older pneumatics didn’t. They could be fired many times from one charged tank of gas. When the tank was finally depleted, it had to be returned to a filling station, which was hopefully located in the same country as the gun! That inconvenience overpowered the novelty of the guns that fired without gunpowder, and they did not last very long.

Giffard air pistol

Giffard gas pistols can be restored to work today — 130+ years after they were made!

Crosman started experimenting with building and selling entire commercial shooting galleries for the public in the early 1930s, and they chose gas guns for these galleries. Each rifle, designated the model 117, was tethered to a large tank of CO2 (that was essentially a fire extinguisher) located inside the gallery, and they must have gotten tens of thousands of shots from one tank.

After World War II, Crosman redesigned the model 117 into a rifle that used a self-contained 12-gram CO2 cartridge, and they designated it the model 118. Perhaps a number of unsold model 117 rifles were rebuilt into model 118 rifles and sold to the public because 117 airguns are extremely rare today. Model 118 air rifles, in contrast, do exist in numbers large enough for many collectors to have them.

But these aren’t the guns we’re looking at in this report. We’re looking at guns like the model 111 (.177 caliber) and 112 (.22 caliber) gas pistols that were filled from 10-oz. tanks of CO2. These started selling as early as 1950 and ended production in 1954, according to the Blue Book of Airguns. The 10-oz. tanks that filled them were designated as the model 110, though not very many people know it. These 2 pistols had 8-inch barrels and got as many as 70 shots per fill of gas. Of course, that depended a lot on the density of the fill, or how much liquid CO2 was put into the gun’s reservoir.

Bulk-filling in brief
When you fill a gas gun from a bulk tank, the liquid CO2 inside the tank used for filling is under tremendous pressure from the gaseous CO2. Carbon dioxide has a vapor pressure of 853 psi at 70˚F. When it’s forced as a liquid into a reservoir of any size, it evaporates instantly until the pressure inside the reservoir reaches the same pressure as is inside the tank that’s doing the filling. This liquid will remain a liquid until the gas pressure in the tank drops, such as when filling another tank or a gun. Then, some of the liquid will flash to gas, boosting the pressure back up to whatever is dictated by the ambient temperature. So, CO2 is a gas that regulates its own pressure. Unfortunately, it’s also a world-class refrigerant!

As CO2 liquid flashes to gas and expands, it takes a lot of heat from its surroundings. So much, in fact, that shooters run the risk of instant frostbite when a CO2 cartridge exhausts to the atmosphere. Because of this, CO2 will cool the gun in which it is used. As it cools, its vapor pressure drops. Guns that are fired fast in rapid succession will shed hundreds of feet per second of velocity. Many shooters think this is the CO2 bleeding off and losing pressure, but it’s really just a reaction to the rapid change in temperature. Shoot the same gun slower, and the velocity will remain high and consistent much longer. That’s true for all CO2 guns, whether powered by cartridges or bulk gas. Just for clarification, fast means as fast as you can pull the trigger, and slower means waiting at least 10 seconds between shots.

The 116
The 115 and 116 models are very similar to the models 111 and 112; except, instead of 8-inch barrels, both these pistols have 6-inch barrels. The Blue Book says they were introduced in 1951 and lasted until 1954, but what I think actually happened was all 4 pistols went away when the first model 150/157 came out. That was the first gun Crosman made that used a 12-gram CO2 cartridge. Their gas reservoirs, which are brass tubes under the barrel, are scaled to fit the shorter barrel, so of course they hold less gas. I’ve seen a .177 version of this pistol — the model 115 — get as many as 50 powerful shots on a fill, but I think 30 is a more realistic number. We’ll test the 116 over a chronograph and figure out the actual performance data for ourselves.

All 4 pistols and the 2 rifles that were their companions (models 113 and 114 in .177 and .22 caliber, respectively) have adjustable power! That’s right, they had adjustable power all the way way back in the early 1950s. A screw at the rear of the receiver is turned in to put more tension on the striker and thus give longer valve open time and more power. In that respect, these pistols function very much like modern PCPs.

Crosman 116 pistol power adjustment
Turn the lower knob in to increase the power — out to slow down the gun and get more shots per change. The upper knob is where you grab the bolt

The sights are also adjustable. The rear sight is a simple notch and the front sight is a tall squared-off post. The rear sight leaf slides from side to side in an oval slot with a lock screw holding it position. A second smaller headless screw provides a range of elevation.

Crosman 116 pistol rear sight
The rear sight slides from side to side and also adjusts up and down.

If the grips appear similar to what you see today, they are! Crosman got it right the first time and really didn’t change it that much over the decades and across the models. These grips come in 2 pieces that wrap around the grip frame, where today they’re flatter panels that leave the frame showing through; but the overall shape and angle are very similar.

The finish is paint, which was completely expected and acceptable in the 1950s. The barreled action is painted with a gloss black paint and the grip frame is painted with a crackeled finish. Hobbyists can reproduce these finishes today, so it’s not surprising to see an old gun that looks like new.

The barreled action is made mostly of brass tubing and parts, and the grip frame is made of pot metal. Small parts such as the trigger, sights, screws and power adjustment knobs are steel.

The grips are plastic, and the .22 models started out with reddish-brown grips, while the .177 models were sold with whitish grips that sometimes have thin lines of other colors running through them. Of course, you can find any color grips on a gun today because the grip frames are all identical and a lot of swapping has been done in the past 60 years. The grips are ambidextrous and only the crossbolt safety keeps the entire gun from being completely friendly to people favoring either hand.

The pistol has a conventional turnbolt that both cocks the striker and opens the breech to load a pellet. I call it conventional, but it will only seem so to someone who has seen a lot of 1930- to 1950s-era airguns. There’s no bolt handle. Instead, you turn a knurled knob counterclockwise; and when it unlocks, pull it straight back until the sear catches the striker. Then, the pellet trough is open to load one pellet. Pushing the bolt back home and twisting it clockwise seats the pellet into the rifling and also aligns the gas transfer port with a hole in the bottom of the hollow bolt.

Trigger
If these pistols can be said to have a weak spot, it’s the trigger. It’s a thin blade acting on a direct sear that releases the striker. It can be easily gunsmithed to be a light release, as long as you appreciate that it may not always be safe that way. I’ve owned all 4 models of this pistol, and a 111 that was my first one had a very nice, light trigger. The trigger on this 116 is neither light nor especially crisp. It’s better than a lot of modern pistol triggers but is only average for one of these older vintage guns.

Accuracy
I’ll never forget the accuracy of my first 111 pistol. I actually thought it was almost as accurate as a 10-meter target pistol. At 10 meters, I had little difficulty keeping 10 shots on a nickel. But since I haven’t shot this 116 yet, I have no idea where it’ll be. I do know that Crosman called it a target pistol, and it’s hard to argue that it isn’t. I think you’ll be surprised when I test it.


2012 Arkansas airgun show

by B.B.Pelletier

Every airgun show is unique. I’ve said that many times before, but it’s always true — and this one was no different. What I look for when I try to describe an airgun show is how it stood out from all the others. That’s what I’ll do today.

An airgun show is small, in comparison to0 a regular gun show, but there are more airguns on a single table then you’ll see at most big gun shows. And the guns range from inexpensive Daisys and Crosmans to then most exotic airguns imaginable. So go to gun shows for and crowded aisles, but to airgun shows to find airguns.

I didn’t get away from my table for the first half of the first day. When I finally did, the show immediately began to reveal itself. It was jam-packed with big bore air rifles! I mean jammed! Dennis Quackenbush and Eric Henderson are always the mainstays of the show; but this time I met Robert Vogel, whose business is Mr. Hollowpoint. Robert casts each bullet by hand from lead as pure as he can make it. His bullets mushroom on game perfectly and rip huge holes in living flesh, making the most humane kills possible. I bought a bag of 68-grain .308-caliber hollowpoints for the Quackenbush .308 test I’m conducting, and he threw in a second bag of .22 pellets for free. These will have a special debut in a smallbore test in the near future.


Robert Vogel (standing) is Mr. Hollowpoint. He has thousands of different bullets for big bore shooters to try.

But Mr. Hollowpoint wasn’t the only bullet maker at the show. Seth Rowland, the show’s host and promoter, also supplies the big bore airgunning community with cast bullets in numerous sizes and shapes. And their customers can hardly appreciate the untold hours they spend at the lead pot, casting and sizing these silver slugs one by one.


Need bullets? Seth Rowland has them in different sizes, shapes and weights.

10-meter guns
Another theme that’s common to all airgun shows is 10-meter target guns. This year’s Arkansas show had plenty of them, both from dealers like Scott Pilkington of Pilkington Competition Equipment in Tennessee, as well as numerous private individuals. I mentioned several weeks ago that Mac was bringing some recently overhauled FWB rifles to this show, and on day one an interested buyer sought him out. This man was serious about buying a target rifle, and he had done his research on the internet. But this was the first time he’d seen, felt and shot these rifles.

Mac took him out to the shooting range to try out an FWB 150 and a 300; and from his testing, he decided the 300 was the gun he wanted. Because it lacks the barrel jacket, it’s lighter than a standard 300S. He was buying the rifle for his wife to shoot in competition. They made a deal, and he went home with the exact target rifle he wanted — an overhauled ex-club rifle at a price that was several hundred dollars below what he would have paid for a gamble on the internet. For this man, driving all the way to Arkansas made good sense.

I’m sure that same scenario was played out numerous times at this show, because that’s what happens at an airgun show that also has a shooting range. You get to try out the guns before you buy — something that’s impossible at a regular gun show.

The odd and wonderful
You never know what you’re going to see at one of these shows, but there are a few people who always seem to have interesting things. Larry Hannusch, the top airgun writer for the past 30 years, is one person who can always surprise you. This year, our tables were together, giving me the opportunity to look at his guns more closely than normal. He had a Crosman 113 bulk-fill CO2 rifle, which isn’t unusual, except the owner of this one had inlet a pellet box into the right side of the stock — much like the patchbox found on certain muzzleloading rifles.


Some owner made this patchbox in the stock of his Crosman 113 bulk-fill rifle.


He built the “patchbox” with a built-in spring. There were pellets inside.


When was the last time you saw one of these? A French ball-flask pistol from the 1700s.

The big find
Often there will be a big find of some certain airgun that shows up at a particular show. I remember one year someone was selling piles of brand-new-in-the-box S&W 78G and 79G pistols. There were at least 50, but as my memory serves there might have been as many as 100 brand-new guns that were at least 20 years old at the time. Another year, it was Scott Pilkington who brought almost 300 club target guns for sale. You could buy an FWB 300 for $150-$200! Of course, it would have been a beater and would have needed to be resealed, but it certainly was the budget way into a 10-meter gun.

Then there was the year that someone had over 20 Johnson Target Guns, the submachinegun-looking plastic catapult BB gun from the late 1940s. They were all new in the box, and the cloth backstop that was in the box to stop the BBs inside the box lid that also served as a backstop had turned to dust. But they were complete. To collectors, they were a wonderful find. I actually saw two of these at this year’s Arkansas show; so even after more than 10 years, they’re still slowly dissolving into the collector population.


Two brand-new Johnson Target Guns in the box with all the literature and accessories.

When I walked into the second large room in this show and turned the corner, I ran into Randy Mitchell’s booth, where he was selling a pile of recently discovered TS45 sidelever air rifles for $20 each! I blogged this rifle several years ago, and Vince also wrote a guest blog about the same rifle. Until now, there were no new guns you could buy. You had to find one by chance and would always be one somebody had owned and possibly modified. Now, Randy Mitchell, who runs his Adventures in Airguns store, has a huge pile of these rifles to sell. They aren’t very safe and are the very guns that chopped off thumbs when their anti-beartraps failed; but if you cock them safely and load while restraining the sidelever, they’re fun to shoot and are often accurate.


Randy Mitchell found these old/new TS45 sidelevers and brought them to the show. It’s stuff like this that keeps me going to every airgun show I can make!

Collectibles
Of course, there are too many modern guns to name here, but know that at any show you’ll find almost every modern classic airgun for sale. If you’re looking for good TX200s or old R7s, they’re usually available — and they were at this show, too. But what you also see are airguns that are so rare and hard to find that some of them won’t even be seen in airgun books. This yearm Ingvar Alm had both a Winsel CO2 pistol in the box and a Giffard CO2 pistol from the 1870s on his table. Giffard invented the application of CO2 for gun use, and Winsel made only 50 guns in the early 1950s. Neither gun is represented well in any airgun book I know.


The Winsel pistol was a bulk-filled CO2 pistol that required the owner to mail his tank back to the company to be filled. Yeah, that’s going to work! They made 50 and quit. Today, they’re a prized collectible.


Giffard pioneered the use of CO2 in guns in the 1870s. His pistols are many times rarer than his rifles. The empty pop bottle is for contrast — like Cindy Crawford’s mole.

Big bores
There were more big bores at this show than I see at other shows. Perhaps, that’s because the focus of big bore airgunning seems to center around Texas, where the LASSO match is held. Dennis Quackenbush delivered his guns to eager buyers, but the only rifle he had to show was his own .308, which he doesn’t want to sell. Eric Henderson and Big Bore Bob Dean were both there with some guns to sell, as well as Robert Vogel. But the one maker with a lot of guns on display was Jack Haley, whose table was a rainbow of laminated stocks.


Jack Haley’s table was a colorful display of big bore rifles.

Oops!
Then there was the big bore that has been a joke in the airgun community for many years. The gun itself is fine. It was made back in the 1980s by Ben Patron, whose name is clearly on the side of the receiver. Somewhere along the line, some person got ahold of it and displayed it at the Springfield, Missouri, gun show as a “U.S. military .50-caliber sniper air rifle.” The label for that display was still inside the guitar box that held the gun, and Dennis Quackenbush remembers seeing it at the Springfield show. After that, it somehow ended up in an Arkansas pawn shop where Big Bore Bob found it and bought it.


Some previous owner had concocted a colorful background story for the Patron big bore of the 1980s.

The drawing
Many shows have a drawing, but airgun shows are so lightly attended that you actually have a chance of winning! This year, they gave away several very nice prizes at the close of the show, including a scoped TalonP pistol from AirForce! Then came the drawing for the frame-extended silencer for the Talon SS. I knew before the little girl picked my ticket that I would win it. How ironic is that? I’m testing a Talon SS with a bloop tube right now, so of course I’m going to win another one! But the supreme irony came when Randy Mitchell, a big bore hunter, won the .50-caliber Dragon Claw donated by Pyramyd Air.


Randy Mitchell (right) won the Dragon Claw. Show host, Seth Rowland, standing, ran the drawing. The young lady added a lot of sparkle and enthusiasm to the show. I see an airgunner in the making!

On the trip home, Mac and I relived the show many times. That’s another benefit. I can remember snippets from most past shows, and this one will now be filed away in the library.


Bulk-fill from 12-gram cartridges: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Guy Roush is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card.

Guy’s winning photo.  He says it’s a “great gun and very realistic feel!”

Part 1

Related reports.
Crosman 114 — Part 1
Crosman 114 — Part 2

This report is getting convoluted. I’m reporting a device I found at the 2011 Roanoke Airgun Expo that allows the use of 12-gram CO2 cartridges to fill Crosman bulk-fill guns, but I used the Crosman model 114 rifle that already had two reports from 2009 before it broke and had to be resealed. So, the report is really about how this bulk-fill device operates on a Crosman model 114 rifle, but the performance of the rifle is also being examined.

Confused? Well, I will try to keep it simple from this point. Today, we’ll look at the velocity you can expect from a Crosman 114 when it is filled by this device.


The Crosman 114 is a .22-caliber, single-shot rifle from the early 1950s. The new bulk-fill device allows you to shoot it with minimal additional equipment.

Mike Reames, the inventor of the device, told me the CO2 in a 12-gram cartridge would not transfer entirely to the gun, so I should expect some gas loss when I disconnected it. There was a loss of gas as he said, so one of the things I want to determine is how many shots can be expected when the gun is charged this way.

When the gas and liquid flows into the rifle during charging, the CO2 reservoir cools immediately. That’s caused by the liquid CO2 flashing to gas as it enters the reservoir. When it does, it absorbs some of the heat of its surroundings — in this case, the metal reservoir tube.

One way to maximize the fill is to cool the gun before filling. When the CO2 enters, it encounters cooler surroundings; and when it flashes to gas, the pressure of the gas is lower. Since the CO2 cartridge is warm in comparison, it’ll have higher pressure and will push more gas and liquid into the gun. This is an old bulk-fill trick that I’ll try to see what difference it makes — if any.

Velocity with a regular fill
First, I filled the rifle in the normal fashion (i.e., at room temperature). The first pellet I tried was the Crosman Premier. As I test the gun, you must keep in mind that Rick Willnecker, who resealed it, has a policy that he will only return a vintage airgun to its specified power. While there are other repair stations that will soup up the powerplant, you can expect Rick to repair the gun so it will shoot like it did when it was new.

Crosman Premiers averaged 535 f.p.s. The spread went from 531 to 539 f.p.s., so a tight 8 foot-second spread. I have owned one other 114 that shot the same pellet 15-20 f.p.s. faster, so this is well within the ballpark.

Next, I tried RWS Hobby pellets. They averaged 549 f.p.s., but that number isn’t a good one. Because after only three shots, I could see the power drop in the traditional fall-off that happens after all the CO2 liquid has turned to gas. So, the rifle had come to the end of its useful charge. You can look at it in several ways, depending on what you’re doing with the gun, but there were anywhere from 13 to 20 good shots on a fill. If you were just plinking, that might stretch to 30 shots.

The first three Hobbys went 563, 558 and 558 f.p.s., respectively. The next one dropped to 551, which is still okay; but after that, each successive shot went slower. After shooting the string of 10 Hobbys, I fired a Crosman Premier pellet and got 499 f.p.s., so the rifle is definitely off the power curve.

The fill from a 12-gram cartridge is from 20 to 30 good shots. Compare that to 50-70 good shots that you will get when the gun is filled by a large bulk tank. I’ve always used the 10-oz. Crosman tank, so that’s what I’m using to get this number.

Chill out
It’s time to chill the rifle and check the fill afterward. I placed the rifle in a chest freezer and left it in there for about an hour.

Let me caution you that what I am doing is considered dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. I know that the entire contents of a 12-gram CO2 cartridge cannot possibly overfill this rifle’s reservoir; but if I filled the chilled gun from a normal bulk tank, it could easily be overfilled. The consequences of overfilling an airgun like the 114 that has no pressure release device is that if the gun gets too warm, the gas pressure inside can build to the point that the brass reservoir blows apart in a catastrophic failure. That happens because the cold gun accepts too much liquid CO2; and when it warms up, the liquid has nowhere to go. The gun needs space for the liquid to become gas, to relieve the pressure, which is how it normally operates. If you fill at room temperature, the physical properties of CO2 will take care of stopping the fill at the right spot for you; but a chilled gun will continue to accept more liquid than it should.

However, in this case, the quantity of liquid inside a 12-gram cartridge is less than the gun is built to hold, so all that should happen is that more of the liquid goes into the reservoir. The test for that is to see how many good shots we then get from a fill.

After taking the rifle from the freezer, a layer of frost formed on all the metal parts. The fill was far more complete this time, with just a small puff of gas as the device was disconnected. However, the gun was now very cold and would not perform well until it returned to room temperature, so more waiting.

Two hours later, I shot strings with both Premiers and Hobbys. The first string of five Premiers averaged 515 f.p.s., and I thought something had gone wrong. It ranged from 498 to 522 f.p.s. But right after it, I shot the first string of five Hobbys and they averaged 570 f.p.s., which is where they should be. They ranged from 568 to 574 f.p.s. Next was the second string of five Premiers, which averaged 530 f.p.s., so they were now in the ballpark. The range went from 524 to 534 f.p.s. Then a second string of Hobbys averaged 567 f.p.s. with a range from 564 to 571 f.p.s. That’s the first 20 shots from the gun, and all are good except for a couple at the start.

Another string of five Premiers averaged 523 f.p.s., taking the total to 25 good shots on this fill. However, I could see the power tapering off within this string, which ranged from 519 to 528 f.p.s. From that point on, the velocity fell off in a straight line, which indicates the liquid is used up. So, filling this way extracts everything the CO2 cartridge has to give, which is about 25 good shots. If you were just plinking in the yard, there are probably 10 more useful shots in the gun.

The 114 action
When the Crosman 114 was selling new, I was still a kid who knew nothing about genuine bolt-action firearms. If I’d ever seen a 114 back then, I would have thought it was a conventional bolt-action because that’s what it looks like. However, it’s far from conventional.

A bolt-action firearm has lugs to engage the receiver and lock the bolt closed against the thousands of pounds of force the cartridge puts on it. The 114 bolt hasn’t got any lugs. Instead, a single metal stud engages an inclined plane at the rear of the action to push the bolt forward as the handle is turned down. At the front of the bolt, a hemispherical enlargement mates with a socket in the breech. Contact between these two metal surfaces, controlled by how hard the bolt is pushing forward, seals the breech against gas loss.


This 98 Mauser (firearm) bolt has two lugs at the front that pull the bolt forward and lock it to the receiver.


The 114 breech. There’s a lot to see in this picture. First, notice the enlarged bolt face that mates with the breech to seal gas behind the pellet. The pin on the rear of the bolt below the handle fits into a socket with an inclined plane to push the bolt forward tightly. The knurled wheel beneath the bolt is the power adjuster that all these bulk-fill guns have; and note the rear peep sight that I’ll use for the accuracy test.

Trigger
The 114 trigger is single-stage and quite hard in the factory form. That can be altered with careful gunsmithing, but nothing can ever make it a great trigger. The simple design mitigates against it.

The safety is a standard crossblock pin that’s set into the stock. Punch in from the left to put the rifle on safe and from the right for fire. Back in the ’50s, this was a very common type of safety on inexpensive guns.

What’s next?
Now that I know the characteristics of the gun and how many shots I can expect, it’s time to test accuracy. I’ll use the peep sight that came with the rifle for this.

As far as the bulk-fill adapter goes, I have to say that it has fulfilled all expectations. In fact, I’m surprised that it works as well as it does — especially when the gun is cooled first. I don’t know if Pyramyd Air will ever carry it. If you want one, contact Mike Reames directly.


Bulk-fill from 12-gram cartridges! Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

If you’re a veteran CO2 user, the title of this report will confuse you, because bulk-filling and CO2 cartridges are two different ways of charging a CO2 gun. But, today, I’ll show you a device that lets you use a CO2 cartridge to bulk-fill a gun. And there’s a lot more to this story than just that!

Over two years ago, my good friend Mac traded or sold me a .22-caliber Crosman model 114 CO2 rifle — we can’t remember which. The rifle was in nice shape except that it didn’t hold gas, which is the kiss of death for a CO2 gun. No problem for me. I sent it off to Rick Willnecker in Pennsylvania to be resealed.

A couple weeks later, Rick called and asked if I would like to have the metal refinished, too. He said he had a friend who owed him a favor, and I could get the rifle refinished for nothing if I was willing to wait. I was in the middle of reporting on the gun at the time, but the work had stopped the report, so I figured why not? Little did I know that it would be two years before I would see this gun again.


Since the Crosman 114 was refinished, it looks like a new gun again.

If you’re interested in the first two parts of the report, they are linked below.

Crosman 114 — Part 1
Crosman 114 — Part 2

Back to today
Back to the main part of this story. At this year’s Roanoke Airgun Expo, I spotted a small device on Mike Reames’ table. It turned out to be a device that lets you charge a bulk-fill Crosman gun with a 12-gram CO2 cartridge. When I saw it I knew I had to report on it for you; and with the recent return of my now-refinished 114, I had the perfect test vehicle.


This device, made by Mike Reames, will attach to any fill port on a Crosman bulk-fill gun with an internal reservoir. It cannot be left on the gun when firing, though, because it will be hit by the pellet.


The bulk-fill device attaches to the rifle in the same way that the Crosman bulk tank did (read Parts 1 and 2 to see that).

Now that you have seen it you may be interested in where to get one of these. They run just over $30 with shipping, and I’m darned if I have the contact info for Mike. I thought I got it at the show, but a search has turned up nothing. However, I bet one of our readers has Mike’s info and can get it for us.

What is bulk-fill?
You probably know that most CO2 guns today rely on 12-gram or 88-gram cartridges to get their CO2. But it didn’t used to be that way. Back in the 1870s, Giffard of France made many CO2 guns that had a separate tank. When the gas ran out, you exchanged tanks; and they had it set up so you could mail them in.

Crosman made CO2 bulk guns starting is 1932 and continued building them until about 1955. Some of them had tanks that were separate, but others, like the 114 we are looking at today, had the reservoir built-in. In fact, when I initially had the idea for what turned out to be the Benjamin Discovery, I was thinking of a bulk-fill CO2 gun. When Crosman built the first prototype, they built it on the now-discontinued Crosman 2260 frame. Just the reservoir on the prototype was changed to hold the compressed air.

There have also been quite a few target rifles and pistols that operate on bulk CO2. For these, like the early Crosman guns, a separate bulk tank of CO2 is connected to the gun to fill it.

Back to this report. There was also a .177-caliber model 113 rifle that looks exactly like this .22-caliber 114. These were both single-shot, bolt-action guns that didn’t change substantially throughout the years they were manufactured, which was 1950-1955.

The 114 used to get around 70 good shots on one fill of gas when I filled it from a separate bulk tank. If you took the time to cool the gun before the fill, you could get even more shots than that.

A 12-gram CO2 cartridge doesn’t have that much gas inside it, plus some is lost when you make the transfer, so this isn’t the most economical method of filling the gun. It just lets you fill your guns without the need to own a bulk tank. Some people will like that, while others will complain that it’s costing too much to fill their guns. For them, I caution that what I’m showing today is not the best solution. However, if you’re like me and want to shoot your bulk Crosman guns occasionally, this is probably the most convenient way to do it.

Filling the gun
To fill the gun, simply attach the device to the fill port of the gun and insert a 12-gram cartridge. Screw down the top on the device, which pushes it onto the piercing pin and starts the gas flowing. With this device, there’s no way to stop the flow of gas; so when everything gets quiet, you know the gun has taken all the gas it will accept. If you dry-fire the gun one or two times at this point, you might get a denser fillbecause dry-firing lowers the temperature of the gun, causing more gas to flow.

Once the gun is filled, you just keep cocking and loading pellets and shooting until the power seems to go away. This is done by listening to the rifle’s report and is fairly easy to learn.

As far as shooting the 114, I was just about to get to that back in 2009 when the gun failed, and that’s where we are now. There’s a lot that needs to be tested on this rifle, but I’m going to end this tale right here. I’ll save the velocity testing, number of shots per fill, which in this case is also the same as the number of shots per cartridge, and accuracy for another day.


Crosman 116 CO2 pistol

by B.B. Pelletier

Today, we have a guest blogger. Paul Hudson has done other guest blogs for us; and true to form, he’s been very thorough. This blog is about the Crosman 116, which is a great vintage gun that’s the father of the Crosman 150. I’d say this is the ultimate test, as he tried 18 different pellets!

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.

Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Take it away, Paul!

by Paul Hudson


In 1950, Crosman introduced a line of CO2 pistols and rifles that were filled by an external tank. The .22 cal. 116 model (6-in. barrel) shown above was one of them.

This guest blog could almost be labeled as “Part 2” since B.B. did a very good review of the history and details of the Crosman 116 bulk-fill CO2 pistol. I had an opportunity to borrow a Crosman 116 from Jason, my brother-in-law. During the months I had it, I resealed it and did some testing. This 116 originally belonged to Jason’s grandfather, who used it for pest control. It was passed down through his father to him and has seen a lot of use over the years, but the bore is still in excellent condition. A few hours spent stripping and repainting would make the gun look almost new. It turned out to be a lot of fun shooting this old pistol; and with the right pellets, it’s surprisingly accurate as we’ll see later.

What sets this pistol apart from most other CO2 guns (and the reason I like it) is that it’s a bulk-fill gun. It doesn’t use the familiar Powerlets but is, instead, recharged using an external tank. The old Crosman 10-oz. tanks are still available, but many filling stations will not service them. However, with a simple adapter, you can charge these guns from a paintball tank that’s inexpensive to refill and will provide over a thousand shots.

Introduced in 1951 as a companion to the 8-in. barrel models, the .22 ca. 116 was produced in a time when American manufacturers could afford to put more hand work into making a gun. Most of the gun is made of brass to avoid rust. The breechblock and front sight are silver-soldered to the lower tube and fix the barrel in place. Overall, the pistol gives the impression of having been solidly built for years of service. All of the bulk-fill Crosmans were phased out after 1955 and were replaced by similar guns using the now-familiar Powerlets. The modern equivalent to the 116 is the 2240, which has the advantage of being modular and thus easily upgraded with a longer barrel, improved trigger, and many other parts.

At 23 oz., the 116 has a nice weight — heavy enough to be steady without being muzzle-heavy like the long-barrel models. A square front post and fairly wide rear notch are easy to use and work well at plinking ranges. The rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation and can be locked in place once adjusted.

Anyone who has used a 1377 or 1322 will immediately recognize the grips, trigger and safety of the 116 since they are identical to the 13xx models. The trigger-pull measures right at 5 lbs., but it feels far better than my 1377. There’s almost no detectable creep, and with a little practice it’s easily controlled.


Top wheel cocks the gun; bottom wheel adjusts the power.

The bolt is opened by rotating the upper knurled bolt handle and pulling back until the striker clicks. A pellet is then loaded into the breech. Push the bolt forward and rotate the handle into the locked position and you’re ready to go. Unlike my 1377, there’s no screw head in the breech area, and pellets almost never flip during loading. The longest available pellets load easily. Below the bolt handle is a power adjustment screw that controls the amount of tension on the striker spring. Backing the screw out reduces the tension and the velocity. It also conserves CO2.


Long pellets load easily and there is no screw hole to make them tip!

Shooting the 116
The 116 was shot at both full and reduced power. At full power, it gets about 30 to 35 shots per fill and is roughly as loud as a 1377 at six pumps. With the power adjuster three full turns out, it’ll get around 42 to 48 shots per fill and the pistol is noticeably quieter. For indoor shooting, this would be a real plus. At full power, the velocity spread was surprisingly low — never more than 11 fps and in several cases less than five. On low power, the spread was as much at 27 fps. With the lighter hammer blow, the valve is probably operating outside of its optimal range but accuracy didn’t seem to suffer. The temperature was around 80 degrees, and I took about 45 seconds between shots during all testing.

Velocity results
All pellets were tested at full power and some with the power adjuster three full turns out (the low column is on the right):

Pellet Weight FPS FtLbs ES Low FPS Low FtLbs Low ES
Beeman Crow Magnum 18.2 380 5.8 7 273 3.0 20
Beeman FTS 14.6 422 5.8 6 376 4.6 22
Beeman Laser 13.3 440 5.7 3 318 3.0 20
Crosman Premier Ultra Magnum 14.3 431 5.9 3 329 3.4 27
Crosman Premier HP 14.3 407 5.3 11
Eun Jin Domed 28.2 285 5.1 4
Gamo Hunter 15.3 402 5.5 3 360 4.4 14
Gamo Match 13.9 422 5.5 9 378 4.4 12
Gamo TS-22 22.0 340 5.7 8
Beeman H&N Match 13.6 430 5.6 8
JSB Exact RS 13.4 432 5.6 8 323 3.1 13
JSB Exact 15.9 382 5.2 7
JSB Predator 16.0 391 5.4 3 287 2.9 5
JSB Straton 16.0 397 5.6 10
RWS Hobby 11.9 474 5.9 6 376 3.7 22
RWS Super Dome 14.4 430 5.9 9 356 4.1 10
RWS Super-H-Point 14.4 410 5.4 10 294 2.8 17
RWS Super Point 14.4 413 5.5 5


A pistol scope really aids the accuracy of the 116.

New meets old
To get the best accuracy from the 116, a BSA 2×20 pistol scope was added using Crosman intermounts. With just the open sights, the best groups I could get were about 1″ at 10 meters. With the increased precision of a scope, several pellets grouped well under an inch at 10 meters, and 25-yard hits on soda cans were easy. None of the pellets performed poorly; most gave 5-shot groups in 1″ to 1.5″ at 10 meters. There were a couple of standouts, however.


RWS Hobby pellets were about average in the 116, giving groups like this 1.05-in. example


RWS Super H-Point pellets produced this nice .60-in. group.


Gamo Hunters matched the RWS hollowpoints with a .60-in. group.


Crosman Premiers gave the best group at 10 meters at .53 in.


At 25 yds., the Beeman FTS pellets grouped in 1.55 in. The scope definitely helps at this distance.

Where do you get one?
There are plenty of Crosman bulk-fill guns still around, and they can be found at most airgun shows and on the usual auction sites. The 116 is probably the most common of the pistols since .22 was the preferred caliber in the 1950s and the shorter guns are more handy. Expect to pay about $90-$100 for a working sample in good condition. Many of these guns have not been shot for many years and are in need of resealing. The parts are readily available, and there are people who will do the job for a reasonable cost. If you have one of these guns, there’s no reason to let it lie around. With new seals and regular use of Pellgunoil, they’ll give many years of service. It would be a shame to leave one of these fine, old airguns sitting in a box and gathering dust.

I’ve had a lot of fun shooting the 116. Part of the charm is getting a 55-year-old gun working again. The 116 is also more accurate than I expected. For short range at low power, they’re a real joy. Lots of shots with no pumping!