Posts Tagged ‘Industry Brand B3’

To B3 or not to B3 – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This is the second part of Vince’s guest blog about the B3 air rifle he turned into a decent gun.

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.

by Vince

The anti-beartrap mechanism.

Notice that this is the type that’s engaged by default. It’s not put on SAFE by the lever being cocked. Rather, it’s put on FIRE when the lever is returned to the stow position.

Next comes the fun part — getting the spring out. I did it my way, which first involves tapping out the single pin with a punch or a phillips screwdriver slightly smaller in diameter.

When the pin comes out all the way, the spring retainer jumps out a tiny bit but is safely retained by whatever you used to knock out the pin.

This may seem dangerous, but there’s little that can go wrong at this point. The retainer won’t even try to escape until the pin is all the way out, and that won’t happen until the punch is all the way in. Unless the spring is powerful enough to shear off the punch, everything is hunky-dory. So, don’t use toothpicks or bamboo skewers as a punch.

My two-step spring-removal method.

What I do is really very simple. I grasp the action with my left hand and hug it close. With my weight (and I’ve got lots of weight to spare!), I bear down on the action while feeling the punch that’s still holding everything together. When I feel the punch loosen up, I know that I’ve taken up the entire force of the spring and slip it out with no surprises. I use my right hand to help steady it, let ‘er up and it’s apart.

Now, I’m looking at the good, the bad and the ugly. The ugly is my own reflection in the spring tube. The bad is the spring retainer/rear guide. The good is everything else. I’m seeing acceptable condition in all the other parts.

The B3′s spring tube parts.

The piston seal is the standard Industry Brand bottom-feeder clip-on synthetic type, which is in remarkably good condition:

The original piston seal is in good shape and doesn’t need to be replaced.

Good thing, too, ’cause I don’t have laying around, and I SURE don’t plan on buying anything for this gun. That still leaves me with the whole rear guide/retainer issue.

This is what came out of the rifle.

I took some measurements. The overall length is about 4.5 inches, and the rear guide diameter is 12mm. And, no, .50 inches won’t fit inside the spring. the first thing I did was rummage around my boxes of miscellaneous parts, and I come across a Crosman Quest rear guide/retainer that looked like it might just be workable.

I hacked off the remaining vestiges of the smashed guide and bore a hole down the middle of it to accept the shank of the Crosman guide (first two pictures). I separated the Crosman guide from its retainer block, trimmed it to length and tapped it into the original retainer (last 3 images).

I still have the issue of the spring perch that spaces the rear of the spring and gives it a bearing surface. It appears that the original design had plastic EVERYTHING in this area, which yields a very short life expectancy.

I figured that I can take care of the spacing duties with a piece of CPVC pipe, which happens to fit over my new guide very nicely.

The new retainer.

I cut it to length (approx. 26mm) and squared it up. I can’t let the spring actually seat on a plastic part (even if Shanghai can), so I dug up a rusty old lockwasher and refinished it.

And after flattenning, cleaning and grinding to the proper dimensionsm I’ve got an almost-proper spring seat using this rehabbed lock washer.

As long as I was at it, I decided to really go all out and clean the barrel. This means using a .22 caliber brush and some Brownell’s J-B Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound. Frankly, I’m wondering if the B3 is worth the additional $1.79 worth of material. But, hey, it’s Christmas, right…well, it was Christmas when I was doing this. The time of miracles?

After the barrel is clean, I goop up everything with moly goo and put it all back together. Now comes the fun part: Cocking it for the first time!

Perfectly uneventful, as it turned out, and it cocked like a cheap gun in decent working condition. Which is, by no means, universal for a B3. Firing the gun with Crosman Premier hollowpoints were up first. After three shots, I gave up. Next were “The Peak” Chinese pellets, which sometimes do well in lower-powered guns. Funny thing happened — 4 scattered shots, but 2 in the same hole. Next up were the Gamo Match, and I had 3 go into a surprisingly tight group with 2 opening it up.

Last pellet was the Daisy Precision-Max wadcutter, which is a very soft and mediocre pellet (especially in .22). Four shots went into a pretty tight group, with one about 1.5 inches away. I shot a sixth, and it went into the same place as the other four. If I throw out the flier, I’ve just shot a .40-inch group with my B3 and a $5 scope.

The next, oh, 100 shots or so, were spent chasing down tantalizing groups with agonizing fliers. One thing was certain — the B3 was getting better the more I shot it. The sound of the gun wasn’t changing at all, so I’m guessing the not-terribly-well-finished barrel is sensitive to seasoning. It got to the point where I started wondering about the scope, so I popped on a CenterPoint 4×32 I had laying around.

My rehabbed B3 and CenterPoint 4×32 scope.

I also switched back to Gamo Match pellets and found that things continued to improve.

Gamo Match pellets plus the new scope, and this level of accuracy became pretty commonplace.

I got about a .50-inch group — with no flyers! — which is, oh, about a zillion times better than I imagined it would ever do. I also tried shooting the gun while resting it on a Pyramyd Air gel pad which it most certainly didn’t like. So, the B3 has the nerve to be somewhat hold sensitive. It’s a fair assumption that I could get better results if I really took the time to learn how to hold it and to deal with the still-annoying trigger — and if I tried more types of pellets.

But, I’m not going to bother. Why should I? Even with acceptable accuracy I’ve got other rifles that are far more pleasant to shoot, just as accurate or more so, and don’t threaten my fingers with amputation. Besides, all I wanted was a useable B3 in my collection, whether it ever actually gets used or not.

What does this say about the horrible quality of the B3? Hard to tell, frankly. Is quality control all over the place, but I got a good one while B.B. got a bad one? Or, is it just that the barrel needs a lot of cleaning and seasoning before it’s any good? Who knows?

The rest of the innards, while still being obviously from a cheap gun, really were made better than I expected. The only thing I can say with any certainty is that when a shooter claims to do well with one of these things, well…you never know. He just might be telling the truth!

To B3 or not to B3 – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Vince is an airgun fixit guru. He’s been on a roll lately and has sent me a number of great guest blogs about fixing airguns, taking junker guns and making them whole again, and making airgun parts.

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.

by Vince

To B3 or not to B3…that, as they say, was the dilemma of the day.

You know, there’s a dark side to being a collector (sort of). I’m up to about 70 air rifles and have room for about 20 or so more, so I’m just sniffing around for stuff I don’t have. I came across a gentleman selling a box of guns, four in all–well, three-and-a-half, actually–for pretty cheap, and I had examples of NONE of them! Two were Shanghai-built Industry Brand B3 airguns, one was an unidentified Chinese sidelever and the last was the action part of a QB51.

I’ll cover the sidelever in another blog, but the B3 guns…What can be said about them that hasn’t already been said? Love ‘em or hate ‘em (and there’s no shortage of shooters that go both ways), it doesn’t change the fact that I DON’T HAVE ONE. Imagine a rich Mustang collector; he NEEDS to have a 1974 Mustang II Ghia with a 2.3L 4-cylinder and an automatic in his collection. It’s a horrid little car, but that doesn’t matter. There’s a spot for it.

But not two. So, I test-fired the B3s; one’s a .177, the other’s a .22. I ditched the .177. It was actually smoother and more accurate, it wasn’t missing its rear sight, and although velocity was low (no better than the .22, really), it was obviously the best one. I figured I could get $15 for it as opposed to $5 for the .22. I WAS RIGHT! Sold it in no time!

The .22 B3. At least I found a home for my $5 scope!

I’d recently been testing .22 pellets to find out what worked best in some of my lower-powered guns. When I was done, I figured “What the heck? I’ll see what the B3 likes — if anything!” I got exactly 2 shots off before the bad cocking cycle got to the point of “You try to cock me one more time, and you’ll regret the day you were born!”

Hence, my pickle.

I hate to let anything good go to waste. Since I seldom buy ANYTHING good, I rarely get the chance. But, that attitude sorta spills over into the not-so-good, the pretty bad and (not infrequently) the trash. And, so, I started wondering (for some strange reason), if I ought to even put five minutes into this thing. I mean, “time is money, money’s scarce and that ain’t funny!” I never made a habit of taking personal advice from The Kinks, so the B3 goes to the workbench.

The B3 action comes apart in the usual fashion, and the wonders of bottom-feeder Chinese engineering become immediately apparent.

The circles show the half-baked way in which the articulated cocking link is kept in place. No fancy rollers or bearings for the B3! We’ll make do with a plastic button and some perpendicular serrations on the link JUST TO MAKE SURE the button wears out fast! Ah, but they didn’t count on MOLY! I’ll foil their plans for premature wear!

Next, I took apart the trigger. Fortunately, it waited for me. Shanghai uses non-peened pins for the trigger blade pivot and stop, and sometimes everything falls out on its own accord when the action is taken out of the stock. When the gun is assembled, the close fit of the stock keeps them in place. Or, at least, in the same neighborhood.

The trigger.

For longtime readers of this blog, these parts might look just a tad familiar. Go waaaaayyyyyy back to B.B.’s review of the TS45. No, not the one he did in September 2009. You have to reach back to January 2007.

You’ll see the neat X-rays of the trigger. Very similar. If you want to try to smooth the trigger action, all you have to do is smooth the areas circled above. I hope that the hardening treatment at the factory went deeper than .0000001 inches. You could even play with the angles! Given that this is a sliding-cylinder gun that can de-tip your digits, I’m going to leave it be.

Next, out comes the pivot for the cocking lever: a simple screw that also contains the front sling swivel.

The whole cocking linkage assembly just lifts out. That leaves the trigger interlock exposed, which can be yanked after removing the one screw that holds it in.

Tune in tomorrow to see the rest of Vince’s disassembly and the reassembly!

I’m from China. Do you know my name?

by B.B. Pelletier

Blog reader Vince has been very busy! Last week he gave us a 2-part guest blog, and this week he’s given us another blog. Like mysteries? Get out our magnifying glass and help Vince uncover the name of this air rifle.

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.

by Vince

I know there’s something to be said for mystery, even when it’s balanced by intimate familiarity. Still, I REALLY want to know what to call you.

‘Twas a dark and stormy night — or not — when she came along in as innocuous a manner as possible. I had spotted a “dump sale” on one of the sites (don’t remember which), where a fellow was getting rid of four bottom-feeder Chinese guns. I believe he had a business, and these guns didn’t move — but I’m not positive about that. In any event, the airguns included a pair of Industry Brand B3 rifles (.177 and .22, a cult gun if there ever was one), an old half-eaten Industry B7/QB51 (folding-stock breakbarrel missing the stock) and this orphan. It’s a nondescript Chinese sidelever that I thought at first might be a KL-3B Fast Deer (another cult gun that was sort of a flash in the pan about 5 years ago). But no, there was no safety on the starboard side above the trigger. Then, I thought it might be an old TS-45, which I always wanted for no particular reason. But the stock shape didn’t seem quite right. No matter, I’ll find out when it gets here, right?

The package finally comes into my possession, and I start going through the box. The B3 rifles were what you’d expect — ugly. Turns out that the .177 version has about the same velocity as the .22, and the accuracy with either was rather tepid. The .177 was sold off for $15, and I kept the .22 just to have one.

But that sidelever….

Well, the price was cheap enough. Are those serial numbers? Who knows!

Even up close, I’m not sure what it is. There are some numbers stamped into the wood near the buttplate. Whatever it is, it certainly isn’t a model number of any sort. I looked on the compression tube and found the obligatory Made In China (NO! REALLY?) stamped in the metal along with the just-as-obligatory Chinese characters. Above that is some sort of mountain range motif. Maybe Snow Peak? I don’t see any snow. Don’t see any scope dovetails, either.

The logo isn’t exactly on par with Diana throwing away her bow and picking up an air rifle.

So, I’m thinking, “I shall call you Pointy, and you shall be mine.” But that’s kind of a stupid name for a gun, so I’ll continue examining the rest of the rifle for clues.

I was always under the impression that Snow Peak was an early manifestation of Industry Brand, but the gun does NOT seem to have that special lack-of-attention-to-detail that distinguishes (extinguishes?) the early Industry guns. Even the stock — while the varnish on it is applied unevenly and is a bit orange-peeled — isn’t hosed down with that orangish-brown goo that Industry used in abundance.

Next, I looked at the sights — the AK47-style sights. The rear has a push-button slider with markings at each position for elevation, and no windage adjustment. While the front sight is adjustable for windage (with a punch or an AK47 sight tool) and elevation (again, with the AK47 tool):

Front sight is fully adjustable, rear sight is adjustable for elevation only.

For afficionados of cheap Chinese (guns, not food), this smacks of the old BAM B4-2 underlever that bore a passing resemblance to the inferior Industry B3. That makes me think about the BAM XS-B7 — the sporter version of BAM’s old XS-B3-1 AK47 lookalike sidelever:

The new gun sorta looks like this…in some ways…but not really. (Photo courtesy of the former Pellettrap website)

No, the stock shape is all wrong. The XS-B7 does NOT have the AK-style sights, but it does have a safety in the triggerguard. Pointy doesn’t have one at all. It makes do with an interlock that keeps the shooter from pulling the trigger when the arm is open, but that’s about it.

One last detail. My gun has a fairly substantial set of sling swivels mounted on its underside.

The gun comes with a full set of sling swivels. The rear screw on each swivel is actually one of the bolts that holds the action to the stock. I don’t thing they’re going anywhere. Despite the differences in stock shape, with these swivels I’m again leaning toward calling it a TS-45.

X-ray of the TS-45 trigger shows it’s the same as the B3.
(from Tuning a cheap Chinese airgun – Part 2)

The TS-45 has the same trigger as the B3, which has the trigger blade holding the sear in place until it’s pulled. Even without taking the gun apart, I can tell that Pointy has a simpler direct sear.

At this point, I’m flummoxed. So, I set the whole ID issue aside and just started shooting it.

The gun itself is very much full weight and size at 6 lbs., 14 oz., and 41 inches overall. As you’d expect from a sidelever, it balances well (since the cocking linkage is close to the shooter), and the pull length of 13.5 inches is well within the average range for adults. The sight is clear enough, with plenty of depth to the slot in the rear sight, although the notch is a bit too wide for the front post.

Side note: Why do some manufacturers get so danged stingy with the depth of the rear sight notch? Am I alone in finding that an open-leaf sight with a really shallow notch is a pain to use?

Anyway, holding and shouldering the gun doesn’t feel bad at all, the stock seems well proportioned. Meaty without being fat, it’s probably a good compromise for a variety of hand sizes. The not-so-smooth finish on the stock actually makes it easier to grip. Poor man’s checkering? Uh, yeah…that’s it.

Of course, old Chinese guns aren’t known for mechanical refinement. Pointy’s direct sear trigger (with a 6-lb. release), graunchy cocking cycle and dry, hollow-sounding firing cycle do nothing to dispel this reputation. And, I discovered something else the first time I cocked it — this gun is SHARP! Literally. They didn’t do much to bevel the edges at the end of the cocking lever. Ouch! Not rough or uneven, mind you, and not enough to cut skin, but darned uncomfortable. Glad it doesn’t take more than 20 lbs. to cock it.

I started punching paper at 10 meters so I can start adjusting the front sight windage. And, that’s when the rifle started doing things like this:

Just when you think you know how a gun’s gonna shoot…it does something like this.

Hmmm…. that’s about a .32″ group with Crosman Premier Hollowpoints. With open sights. Guys, laugh if you wanna, but this passes as a very good open-sight group for me at this range. It did the about the same thing with a group of 5 Gamo Match pellets and a little worse with RWS Super-H-Point and RWS Diabolo Basic pellets

So, whatever it is, whoever made it — they certainly paid attention to the barrel. What else did they pay attention to? Well, now I’ll get down and dirty to find out.

The action is dirt simple.

What am I seeing? The mechanism is certainly basic enough, with the direct sear trigger pivoting on the same pin that holds everything together. The stampings are straight, and the spot welds all seem to be spot-on.

Out come the main pin and parts.

Once apart, I found the expected leather seal, and the general mechanism is reminiscent of the horrid Industry B1 and B2 rifles I’ve worked on. But wait! Something’s different! That pin! That 5mm pin that holds everything together and holds the trigger!

The 5mm pin that held it all together.

Notice anything strange about the pin? It’s STRAIGHT! That’s strange, because every old Industry gun I’ve worked on with the same arrangement also had a bent pin (metal too soft). But not this one. What else did I notice? The sear mating surfaces weren’t significantly worn.

The sear mating surface wasn’t worn to a nub.

My experience indicates that would CERTAINLY be unusual on an Industry rifle. In fact, the sear faces on the old Industry B1/B2 guns can wear so much that they start shooting without you.

That rear guide seems to be machined out of a solid piece of steel, rather than fabricated from a sheet metal tube and a washer.

The rear guide isn’t the usual cheap manufacturing process I’m used to seeing.

The piston seems well made, and the piston rod is STRAIGHT and centered in the bore of the piston. All in all, I’m now certain that Industry didn’t make this gun.

Pointy was dry as a bone when I took it apart, so the gun goes back together with the typical moly goo I use. Since it’s a lower-powered gun, I didn’t bother with tar on the spring, but the leather seal did get roughed up and soaked in 30-weight oil. Cocking and shooting behavior is smoother, and the velocity seems to have stabilized in the mid-500s with Crosman 7.9-grain pellets.

But, I’m no closer to identifying the gun. So far, the sights and general build quality still make me think that it’s related to the old BAM XS-B3/B7 rifles, but now I’ve got pictures of the innards! So, I go perusing the internet til I find an exploded view of the XS-B3 variant so I can compare the general construction.

Exploded view of the XS-B3.

After noting some of the details — the rear guide and spring retainer, the trigger, the construction of the beartrap and of course those sights — I believe I now have part of the puzzle. Pointy is probably a product of the BAM factory before it was actually called BAM and provided the basic design for some of their subsequent rifles. I’m also guessing that this gun was produced at a less frenzied pace than their guns today, affording them a bit more time for QC.

So, I know where you’re from, and I know where you went, and I know you shoot well. But, I still don’t know your name. Who are you?

Industry Brand B3-1 – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This inexpensive Chinese underlever has been around in one form or another for many decades.

Today, I’ll finish the report on the B3-1 underlever rifle. I did this report for C-S, who now goes by the handle Milan, and for a couple other readers who said they wanted to know something about these older Chinese airguns. We ran Mac’s report of the Weihrauch HW97 underlever at the same time, so if you wanted to compare the two rifles it was possible. Actually, there wasn’t much to compare — just a lot to contrast, because these two air rifles couldn’t be farther apart.

I shot the rifle from a rest at 10 meters because I wasn’t confident that the rifle could perform at a longer distance. At least at 10 meters it would stay on the target paper. I used the artillery hold with the rifle rested on the backs of my fingers for maximum stability.

The firing behavior is quite harsh. Until I actually shot at targets and aimed the rifle, I didn’t notice how harsh it is, but today I can report that this rifle really hits you back when it fires. It doesn’t vibrate for a long time the way some spring guns do. Instead, it has a sudden, harsh jolt when the gun goes off. It’s not at all pleasant.

Also, I was bothered by the short pull of the stock. I had said in part 1 that it didn’t bother me that much; but when coupled with the sharp slap on firing, I find the stock too short for good work. I think this is more of a personal taste issue than an ergonomic observation, because the Air Venturi Bronco’s stock pull is even shorter, and I don’t mind it at all.

RWS Hobbys
The RWS Hobby pellet was up first. They shot high and to the left at 10 meters. I could adjust the rear sight to the right, but it was already set as low as it will go, so this rifle is probably regulated for 20 yards or so. Nothing wrong with that, but you do need to know it.

Ten RWS Hobbys went into this mediocre group at 10 meters. It measures about 1.5 inches across.

The firing cycle was quick and harsh. I didn’t appreciate how harsh it was during velocity testing in Part 2, but with the rifle held against my shoulder, it really irritated me. And, the trigger-pull is far too heavy to do good work.

JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes
The next pellet up was the JSB Exact dome. These weigh 8.4 grains, and they seem to fit the breech of the rifle quite well. However, once again, the group was around 1.5 inches for 10 shots at 10 meters.

The group is centered in the bull better, but really no tighter than the Hobbys.

Crosman Premier lites
The last pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet. Usually, it’s very accurate in most guns, but the B3-1 didn’t seem to want to shoot anything well. So, another 1.5-inch group of 10…more or less.

Another so-so group with the B3-1. At least the rifle is consistent.

As you know, I tested this rifle to satisfy the curiosity of several readers, but also to satisfy my own curiosity. For years, I’ve been reading that the Chinese airguns aren’t that bad. Well, if this one is any example, they still are!

I’ve also read many glowing reports on the internet about fantastic B3-1 rifles that deliver performance beyond that of the finest airguns Europe had to offer. Don’t you believe it. These rifles are at the extreme low end of performance and only by careful tuning can they be brought up to a level that is partially acceptable.

Industry Brand B3-1 – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

The August podcast was posted on Sunday. Sorry it was late. I apologize for the weak sound of my voice. I actually feel stronger than my voice indicates. I expect things to return to normal some time in the near future. Now, on to today’s blog.

Part 1

This inexpensive Chinese underlever has been around in one form or another for many decades.

Today, I’ll check the velocity of my B3-1. I’ll also check a couple other things for you. Cocking effort first.

Cocking effort
I mentioned in Part 1 that the cocking effort seems high for the power range of this gun. Well, it tested lower than I expected, so I’m just a weakling. To test the cocking effort of an underlever, you place a non-digital bathroom scale on a table and position the cocking lever near the middle of the footpad on the scale. When I did that, the rifle took 31 lbs. of force to cock. I would have sworn it was above 35, but the scale doesn’t lie. I do believe that if the internal parts were deburred and properly lubricated, the effort to cock would drop by a couple of pounds.

Trigger-pull and firing behavior
The B3-1 has a two-stage trigger of the simplest construction. The second stage is very distinct, but the letoff is mushy and unpredictable. My gun fires at about 6 lbs. of effort, and it feels like more. While the cocking cycle is noisy, the firing cycle is relatively quick and vibration-free. Now, let’s take a look at velocity.

JSB Exact 8.4 grains
The first pellet I tested was the JSB Exact dome that weighs 8.4 grains. They averaged 548 f.p.s. in this rifle, but only one was way off the pace, at 528 f.p.s. The remainder were between 547 and 556 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy is 5.6 foot-pounds.

RWS Hobbys
The lightweight 7-grain RWS Hobby pellet averaged 636 f.p.s. The range was from 628 to 644. The average muzzle energy was 6.29 foot-pounds.

Crosman Premier lite
The final pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet. It averaged 579 f.p.s., with a spread from 571 to 590. The average muzzle energy was 5.88 foot-pounds.

I have to admit that I was surprised by the rifle’s performance. I expected less velocity and less consistency from such a crude design. Maybe those who sing the praises have something at that.

In the next report, I’ll test accuracy, and we’ll see just how accurate an inexpensive Chinese air rifle can be.

Industry Brand B3-1 – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

I’m writing this report for C-S and for all the other readers who ask about the Chinese airguns. I go back to the 1980s with the B3 design, because I bought one of the first ones through an ad in American Rifleman in the mid-1980s.

That rifle was the epitome of crude! It had poorly finished, poorly fitted metal parts sitting in a pallet-wood stock finished with too much orange shellac. The front sight was rotated to one side, and the synthetic breech seal was cracked and flaking off. The metal parts looked as if they had been dragged behind a tractor a few days, then given a blue from the 14th use of the salts. The word I’m searching for is disgusting.

And it shot like it looked. It was very buzzy; and although I did not own a chronograph back then, I’m quite sure it wasn’t producing more than half its rated 800 f.p.s. velocity. I base that on my back-door-to-the-hickory-tree chronograph.

Want to know why I bought it? Curiosity, pure and simple. Here was a Chinese air rifle selling for $49 that claimed to be made of all wood and steel. I wanted to look at the thing. I wanted to experience it. So, I bought one.

Although I wasn’t yet heavy into airguns at the time, I had already owned an FWB 124 and a Diana model 27, so I knew something about what a quality airgun should look and feel like. However, I had also owned two Chinese Type 56 rifles from VietNam, so I was also prepared for the shoddy woodwork and general lack of care. However, the B3 air rifle took shoddy to a whole new level! All the plastic parts were cracked and split when my gun came out of the shipping container. A sort of reversal of the Beeman experience, if you will.

Don’t get caught!
And there was also the liability issue with the original B3. There was no anti-beartrap device on the first imports, so there were several digit amputation accidents before liability suits forced the Chinese to rethink their design. The B3-1 rifle that followed has an anti-beartrap device, though I advise never letting go of the cocking lever while the sliding compression chamber is pulled back.

The B3-1 is quite evolved from the original B3 underlever.

The rifle
I actually did a short review of the B3-1 back in January 2007, but that wasn’t a complete report. This one will be. I’m aware that there are newer versions of this design, but a B3-1 is what I happen to have, so that’s what I’m testing.

The B3-1 is an underlever spring-piston air rifle that uses a sliding compression chamber, much like the TX200 and the HW77. The metal parts are finished with black oxide, which is what most “bluing” is these days. Not much work was done to prep the parts before finishing, so the finish is satin with a lot of tool marks. The stock is an upgrade from pallet wood and is some kind of hardwood with an uneven sprayed-on plastic finish. There are several spots where wood filler was used, with no attempt to conceal them. And, at $29 retail, why should they?

The front sight is riveted to the barrel inside a housing that contains a globe over a tall post. The rear sight is adjustable in both directions and looks like it belongs on a much more expensive rifle.

Front sight is an assembly riveted in place. Hope their jig was aligned!

The rear sight is too nice for this grade of Chinese airgun. Someone got carried away. Crisp click adjustments in both directions!

The underlever doesn’t go all the way to the muzzle and is held to the underside of the barrel by a sheetmetal clamp. It has a knurled metal handle that was flawed plastic on the B3.

The cocking handle is much more upscale than the original plastic one.

The wooden stock is finished brown rather than orange and is shaped a lot better than it was 30 years ago. I can see where a lot of effort has gone into making this air rifle more acceptable to a foreign market.

The rifle is 40.25 inches long with a 17.5-inch barrel. The pull measures 13.25 inches, which is a little short, but not as much as the SKS. In fact, I should say this now: the B3-1 reminds me of an SKS in profile. The weight is right at 7 lbs., but the weight of the wood will affect that some.

The trigger is non-adjustable, as you might expect. No one wants you messing with that part!

My rifle is bone-dry. When it’s cocked, it creaks like an old wooden ship full of empty glass bottles and at anchor in a storm. You can hear each coil of the mainspring as it slips into movement, and the cocking effort is definitely higher than the power would require. I’ll give you an exact number for that when I test velocity.

I’ve read reviews on this airgun from all over the internet, and they’re split into two opposing camps. One side hates the gun and has nothing good to say about it, while the other claims it will out-shoot all manner of world-class spring-air rifles. One fellow claims his will shoot groups the size of a penny at 50 yards.

I will pull no punches when I test it for accuracy. We’ll see what my rifle, at least, is capable of. And that brings me to my final comment for today. The barrels they put on these rifles can vary quite widely. They tend to run the rifling buttons too many times, and some guns will have tight bores while most are on the overbore side. If the button starts out a little large, it lasts longer…at least that seems to be the philosophy they follow.

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