Air in war — the Vesuvius dynamite cruiser

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Dynamite guns
  • More stable than nitroglycerin
  • Air provides a way
  • U.S.S. Vesuvius
  • Close-support ship
  • Technical specifications
  • Accuracy poor
  • Thanks

Dynamite guns

When we think of airguns we think of quiet, low-powered guns that are safer than firearms because of their limited range and reduced tendency to ricochet. But that’s not the whole story. Over a century ago there was a special type of airgun that was used on the battlefield and the high seas to do major damage. I’m referring to the so-called dynamite guns of the late 1890s.

More stable than nitroglycerin

Dynamite was invented in 1866 by Swedish inventor, Alfred Nobel. He took nitroglycerin, another recent invention (1846) and stabilized it by combining it with silica to turn the sensitive liquid into a malleable paste he called dynamite. He discharged the dynamite with one of his blasting caps, originally perfected in 1863 to discharge nitroglycerin with shock rather than heat.

read more


2015 Texas airgun show: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Setup
  • Big bore draws a crowd
  • The match
  • Texans galore!
  • What about the show?
  • Vortek and the Diana 34
  • More to come

Setup

The Texas airgun show is a one-day event. Everyone knows they have to get in quick, set up quick and get everything accomplished in one short day. The Parker County Sportsman Club that hosted the event provided dozens of volunteers to run the ranges, park cars, sell tickets, prepare and serve food and drinks, and generally help anyone who needed it. As a result, the event was set up and running smooth when the doors opened to the public at 9 am. But, unlike last year, there was no line at the door. The tickets were sold at a gate outside the compound because we had vendors in two different buildings this year. Even so I was surprised and a little disappointed when I didn’t see the immediate crush of people at 9.

read more


They overstepped the line!

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The history of airguns

This report covers:

  • What “they” did
  • Rocky Mountain Arms Corporation
  • Young minds go astray
  • Bad ideas abound!
  • Percussion cap guns
  • What about cartridge primers?
  • Summary

What “they” did

The history of airguns is fascinating to those who enjoy applied creativity. But sometimes when creativity is carried too far it becomes a liability. And that’s the case with today’s guns.

Rocky Mountain Arms Corporation

In the 1970s the Rocky Mountain Arms Corporation (RMAC) created a little gun for kids who wanted to shoot with their fathers. They referred to it as a .22 caliber, though it shot a number 4 buckshot that is really 0.24 inches rather than 0.223 inches in diameter. That didn’t matter because a 5-pound bag number 4 buckshot was available for a few dollars. For that you got thousands of shots.  Nobody worried about the size of the ball that much.

read more


The timeline of airguns

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Table of contents
  • What is an airgun?
  • The first airgun
  • What we do know
  • The load-compression airgun
  • What came next?
  • Bellows gun
  • How rare were they?
  • Multi-pump pneumatics
  • Spring-piston airguns
  • Catapult guns
  • CO2 guns
  • Single stroke pneumatics

Table of contents

Before we begin today’s blog, I want to tell you there is a link to the History of airguns table of contents at the top and bottom of this pager. Go there and you will see all the historical report linked.

Today’s report will sound like a continuation of Friday’s report on the power of big bore airguns of the past, but that is just a coincidence. Today we look at the timeline of airguns.

What is an airgun?

Before we proceed we need to agree what an airgun is, or the rest of the discussion will be meaningless. Most books about airguns start with the primitive blowpipe, which is also called a blowgun. Does that make you think of natives on tropical islands, hunting birds and monkey in the trees? Would you be surprised to learn that the blowgun was also very popular in Europe during the middle ages? There are tapestries that show hunters using blowguns in exactly the same way as the islanders in the tropics, only they are doing so in European and English forests. The blowgun has been a very popular air-powered weapon all around the world.

read more


2015 Malvern airgun show: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

  • My HW35
  • Hannusch display
  • Early BSA Airsporter
  • A missed deal
  • HW85
  • USFT
  • Vulcan
  • Other guns
  • Summary

I made part 1 of the report on the Malvern airgun show about the 3 new products I saw. I did that because I’ve never seen 3 entirely new products at an airgun show before. I have plans to test each of these for you, because I think they’re all very important to the future of airguns.

Today, I want to tell you about the regular things that went on at this show. I will talk about the guns I saw and shot and some of the people I got to meet and know. Because Malvern is a small show, it does give you a chance to meet and talk to people. I had more people introduce themselves and tell me they read this blog or watched American Airgunner than at any other show I’ve attended. That’s nice, and I think it indicates that the airgun community here in the United States is beginning to open up. People are no longer surprised by what modern airguns can do.

read more


2015 Malvern airgun show: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Layers of intrigue
  • Seth’s bullets
  • Rocket Shot
  • AirForce Airguns Texan big bore air rifle
  • Dennis Quackenbush
  • Mike Melick
  • Pellet Head Gauge
  • RAI
  • WOW!

Malvern is a show that has evolved over the years. Originally, it was the Little Rock, Arkansas, show and was held in Benton, Arkansas, inside an empty mall building for many years. Then, it moved a few miles to the west to the county fairgrounds for several more years before the promoter decided to give up the show.

Layers of intrigue

Seth Rowland, who makes bullets for big bore hunters, took over promoting the show and moved it to the old country fairgrounds in Malvern, Arkansas, about 20 miles further west on Interstate 30. Of all the airgun shows being held, Malvern is the smallest and the quietest, but it’s also one that has many surprises every year. This year, I’ll say that I saw layers of intrigue to the show. That’s what I’ll discuss today.

read more


Airguns they should make

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Weihrauch
  • Crosman
  • Diana
  • Up for grabs — Umarex?

Today, I’m going to talk about some airguns I wish were made. I’m not talking about the fine guns of 60 years ago that were made of blued steel and nice walnut. I understand that level of hand work costs so much that it is practically impossible to build today — outside of a handmade proposition. What I’m taking about are airguns that could be made with very little risk or cash outlay by the manufacturers. The basis for some of these guns is in the inventory right now and require only minor changes to make entire new models that I believe shooters will embrace. This is how the Air Venturi Bronco was designed, and also how the $100 PCP was created.

read more