Posts Tagged ‘Sharp Ace’

Guns I should not have sold

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

Blog reader Fred put me up to this report. When he suggested it, I knew I wanted to do it because there have been several guns, both firearms and airguns, that I shouldn’t have sold over the years. And I bet some of them will surprise you. Since this is Friday, this should start a good weekend’s worth of discussion and lamenting for all of us.

I did a report like this a couple years ago. It was titled, I wish I hadn’t …. I purposely did not read that one again until almost finished with today’s report — just to see how many things made it onto both lists.


Ruger Blackhawk
Let me begin with the gun that I always remember first — a Ruger Blackhawk in .44 Magnum. Ruger stopped making Blackhawks for many years, but they recently reintroduced it. Mine was a very early gun, and it had one special thing: The barrel was 10 inches long!

Ruger today makes a Super Blackhawk with a 10.5-inch barrel, but the gun I’m referring to was balanced better and felt good. It was accurate and recoiled very little for a .44 Magnum. When I got rid of it, I told myself that I could always get another one, but that would cost over $2,500 today. The truth is that I can’t really get another one, and I’ve tried several times to get something similar to take its place. But, no joy. I shouldn’t have gotten rid of that one.

Custom .22-250
I had a .22-250 bolt-action rifle that was built on a Springfield action. It had a Douglas bull barrel; and before I got the AR, it was the most accurate rifle I’d ever owned. One time when I was shooting at 100 yards, I hit a hovering bumblebee that was just in front of the target. I don’t remember why I got rid of that one, but I probably wanted something else and needed the money to get it.

This was one of the first rifle cartridges that I reloaded, and I remember being concerned about the cost of bullets. Since I couldn’t make them by casting, I must have freaked out at the cost, or the potential cost, of something that was beyond my control.

VB Bernadelli .25 auto
This little pistol is one of the ones I don’t expect many people would imagine was ever a favorite. But this one was because it was so incredibly accurate. I could put 3 shots through the bottom of a Coke can at 10 yards — offhand! But what made me sell it was the tiny cartridge was too darned hard to reload. That and I had to buy the bullets again. However, I think about it a lot, so a couple weeks ago I bought another one off Gun Broker. The price was right and the gun works fine; but at 45 feet, it puts 5 shots into 6 inches — not what I remember. This new one will go away, and I’ll always remember that super-accurate .25 autoloader I once had!

Sako Vixen 461 Mannlicher rifle
It was my hunting rifle in Germany. I killed more roe deer with it than with any other rifle I had, and one of them was a one-shot kill at 225 yards. It was also an uncommon Sako because it had a 24-inch barrel, while most Sako Mannlichers had 20-inch barrels. But it was worth a lot of money; so when I returned from Germany and wasn’t going to hunt roe deer anymore, I sold it. Got a pretty penny but couldn’t buy one like it for 3 times as much today.


Okay, enough firearms. What about airguns I regret selling? What about airguns I regretted selling so much that I bought them back? That’s a twist you don’t read about much these days.

JW 75 and Beeman R1
I sold my Whiscombe JW 75 because we needed the money and a lot of nice things went away at the same time. But the Whiscombe was special, and I knew it even then. Fortunately for me, something happened that almost never happens in real life. A couple years later the guy I sold it to honored my right of first refusal to buy it back. I had an M1 Carbine that he wanted back, so we worked out a cash and trade deal that left both of us satisfied.

He only charged me a little more than it had cost him and the market was already starting to rise on Whiscombes. I had also sold him my Beeman R1 — the one I wrote the book about — I had to sell that one, as well. So I bought them both back; and, unless things change in a bad way, I won’t sell either one of them again.

Sharp Ace
The Sharp Ace is a multi-pump pneumatic that was originally made in Japan. It was made to the same level of quality as a Benjamin Marauder and was considered quite the airgun to own. I actually had two Aces — and one was restricted to 12 foot-pounds for the UK. It had a blowoff valve that would open suddenly as you were pumping it. The pump lever would suddenly crash down against the gun as the excess air was exhausted.

Although the Ace was a simple rifle by modern PCP standards, the woodwork was impeccable and the object of admiration. The bluing was only fair — not smooth but very matte. The fit of the parts was quite good. Construction was more like that of a PCP than that of a Benjamin 392.

The full-power Ace I had was good for up to 25 foot-pounds, although that was just a trick and not very practical. At about 20 foot-pounds, the rifle was very calm and accurate. The valve in this rifle was/is one of those that can be pumped an indefinite number of times. The trigger could always open the valve, no matter how much pressure was in the reservoir, but the trigger was a sore point. It became heavier as the reservoir pressure increased and there was nothing that could be done to fix it. As the resistance in the reservoir went up, so did the trigger-pull because it had to force the valve seat open against that pressure. And that’s what made me decide to get rid of the gun.

I can tolerate a lot, but a 10-pound trigger isn’t something I like very much. So, the Ace went away. The UK-spec Ace never got to high enough pressure that it mattered, but it was just under 12 foot-pounds; and in a multi-pump, that’s too much work (the pumping) for too little performance. Selling it was a no-brainer for me.

Last one
This one is another firearm, and also a bitter life lesson. The first thing you need to know about me is that I don’t like silver guns. I dislike nickelplated arms, and stainless steel leaves me cold.

But my shooting buddy, Otho, traded me a Smith & Wesson model 25 in .45 Colt caliber that was both stainless and also very accurate. The trigger was superb, and the recoil with stiff loads was quite low. In all, there was nothing to complain about.

But I got greedy when I saw someone was offering a Remington Beals revolver for trade, so I offered up this revolver. After all, it isn’t every day that you can get a $1,500 antique for a $750 gun that can still be purchased new.

Short story is that I made the trade and the revolver I got was a counterfeit, made from a 1960s-era Italian import. Back then, the Italians didn’t mark their guns well, and the fakers found it easy to age them and apply false stampings. And it goes without saying that the guy who traded it to me went missing.

I felt (still feel) like a fool for losing a fine shooting firearm for something a guy cooked up in his garage, just to con an unsuspecting fool like me. I was so embarrassed that I knew I could never tell anyone except for my wife, Edith. But several months ago I told Otho, and he, in turn, told me of an equally embarrassing deal he’d made. He said he’d never told another person about it because he felt so bad. Well, I write about guns and sometimes give advice…how bad is that?

I always said to myself that I would tell you guys about this incident, and today it just popped out. I guess it was time.

How about that? This blog is so much fun to write, but it’s also my therapy.

Okay — take it away!

Myths of the multi-pump

by B.B. Pelletier

When I started The Airgun Letter back in March 1994, I did so out of frustration. I had just subscribed to American Airgunner magazine and they folded, leaving me with half a subscription unfulfilled and an unquenchable thirst for more information about airguns. I could buy all the gun magazines I wanted, because there were over a dozen titles on the newsstands back then, but there was never one about airguns. And, the few articles gun writers wrote about airguns were trash back then…just as it is today.

Edith suggested that I write my own magazine about airguns, and I thought she was crazy. I told her I didn’t know enough about them to fill a whole magazine, so she suggested that I write a monthly newsletter, instead. I still thought she was out of her cabeza, but at her suggestion I sat down one day and wrote the titles of all the articles I knew I could write about. When I had three-and-a-half legal sheets filled with one-line titles (about 150 titles) I figured it might be worth a try.

The rest of the story is that we started publishing the newsletter in March 1994 and added 50 percent more pages a year later because I needed the extra space. Then, we also published six different 100-page magazines called Airgun Revue, for which I wrote historical airgun articles.

The only reason we stopped publishing the newsletter was we were losing money. People were copying the newsletter and sending it to their friends. I had thousands of readers the world over, but most of them were not paying for a subscription. Plus, the internet was growing, and we also found some of our articles online. In those days, it was harder to shut down another website for infringing on your copyright.

But back to today’s report. One thing I did when I wrote my newsletter was address topics that no other writer would. There were deep dark secrets back in those days, and various interest groups didn’t want the great unwashed (that’s everyone except themselves) to know these things. So, I wrote about them in a column called “Balderdash.” Two of them have to do with today’s blog.

There were several myths about multi-pump pneumatics that were being espoused on the few chat forums we had back then. One was the myth that a multi-pump loses power when left to sit for a long time after pumping, because pumping generates heat (the heat of compression); and when the gun has the chance to cool off, it will slow down significantly.

Another myth was that the cadence at which you pump each stroke has a tremendous effect on the power output of the gun. I’m going to answer those myths right now.

I tested both questions, using my Sheridan Blue Streak and a Japanese-made Sharp Ace I owned and found that pumping the gun fast or slow had virtually no effect on velocity. There were differences, but they were smaller than the total variation of velocity both guns had, so the results were “in the noise,” as electronic engineers like to say. There was no difference in the velocities of the guns whether they were pumped slow or fast that could be supported with statistical confidence.

What about shooting immediately as opposed to waiting for a long time? Would velocity vary then? Many said that it would, because the heated reservoir (and the air inside) would have time to cool and therefore lose energy. W.H.B. Smith claimed in his classic book, Smith’s Standard Encyclopedia of Gas , Air and Spring Guns of the World, that there would be a difference from the loss of heat over time, but it would be very small. Back in 1995 when I ran this test, Smith’s book was one of the only books on the subject of air-gunnery in existence. We knew even then that there were errors in the book, such as the low results he got with the HW 54 EL Barakuda ether-injected rifle that was probably due to a blown piston seal. But since it was just about all there was, we read it and thought about it and this idea of power loss through cooling became a fact.

The test I ran with my Sharp Ace indicated a small difference in power that favored the hotter gun over the gun shot later, but the results were, once again, very close. At about 770 f.p.s., the two results were separated by just seven f.p.s. for 10 shots. I concluded that the difference might actually exist, but that it was too small to be of practical interest.

But let’s set those two questions aside now, because yesterday, blog reader Aaron prompted me to write this blog when he responded to my test of accuracy between the Ruger 10-22 and the AirForce Talon SS that wrote about in yesterday’s blog. Aaron said that he could not understand comparing airguns to powder burners. That each was created to do a different thing and that any comparison was therefore senseless (I’m using my own words to paraphrase his thoughts here).

I agree with Aaron that we shouldn’t compare airguns and firearms — except that so many people do. When I was growing up, I heard a lot of older boys and even men saying, “That old Benjamin of mine is as powerful as a .22. I just pump her up 30 times and she cracks like a rifle!”

Overlooking the fact that the gun they were talking about probably was a rifle, I understood what they meant and I’m sure you do, too. What they meant was their multi-pump, when pumped about 30 times, had (they assumed) all the velocity and (they assumed) power of a .22 rimfire cartridge.

At this point, blog reader twotalon chimed in to tell us he knew what the outcome of this test would be. Well, he was right, but there is a VERY important point that we all need to understand. While conducting the first test about the speed of the pump strokes affecting the velocity, the first time I ran the test I actually proved that it did! And I published the results that way!

Several people took exception to my findings, and at about the same time I was testing the Beeman R1 for the articles that would eventually become the R1 book. Well, I discovered that my ancient Shooting Chrony chronograph that I bought used from Paul Watts could be “tricked” into displaying velocities faster or slower, depending on the angle of the pellet path through the skyscreens. I had to throw out a lot of R1 test results after I found out how to “cheat” the machine by angling the barrel for the shot. And that made me wonder about everything else I had tested with the same machine, so Edith and I bit the bullet and I bought a new Oehler 35P chronograph.

The new chronograph showed that there was very little difference between slow and fast pumping, so I had to print a retraction to the earlier article. I also learned the value of good equipment, because I had to rerun a lot of the R1 tests that were already in the can.

I’m not saying anything bad about today’s Shooting Chrony chronographs. I use one most of the time these days. But the one I had been using for those tests was one of the very ancient ones that had cardboard “windows” above each skyscreen, and the ones on my machine had been so shot to pieces that the results were unreliable. You’d get a three-digit number, but how close it came to the truth was anyone’s guess.

Back to the report
At any rate, I’d always wondered if the old guys were kidding themselves by thinking an overpumped pneumatic was more powerful, so I conducted a test. I really didn’t want to pump my Blue Streak more than eight times because ever since it was brand new in 1978 I’d been so careful to limit my pumps to a maximum of eight, just like the manual advised.

I’m sure that I conducted that test and published the results somewhere, but I can’t find it anywhere in the index of the Airgun Letter. So, I had to run another test for you today. Once again, I drafted my 1978-vintage Blue Streak for the job. And we remember that the manual that I lost years ago, but which Pyramyd Air has in their online library of manuals, says that 8 pumps are the maximum. So, let’s roll!

For this test, I used my old Blue Streak, which I oiled especially for today. The pellets are all 14.3-grain .20-caliber Crosman Premiers.


Well, that chart shows what I was talking about, but not as well as I’d like. You can see the power drop off after the tenth pump stroke. But a Blue Streak should be doing that on pump number nine and the velocity should be much higher.

I could tell at pump five that my old Blue Streak wasn’t feeling well. It looks like the old gal finally needs some attention, because the last time I recorded the same pellet at 8 pumps it was going 643 f.p.s. and a few years before that it was close to 675. There’s reason No. 12 to own a chronograph.

Next, I pressed a Benjamin 392 into service. These days there isn’t much difference between the 392 and the Blue Streak, except for the caliber. My 392 is a pump-assist model that I reported on several years ago, but the powerplant is stock.

Same Crosman Premier 14.3-grain pellet was used, but this time in .22 caliber. Again, the gun was oiled before testing began.


That wasn’t the clear and obvious test result I was hoping for. In the past, I’ve seen velocities turn around after pump eight, or in some guns after pump nine and everything thereafter was slower. This time, the gun kept increasing until pump 13, where it went slower for the first time, but after that it seemed to want to remain at about the same velocity no matter how many pumps were put into the gun. This wasn’t from residual air pressure remaining in the reservoir, because I was dry-firing the rifle after each shot from seven pump strokes on. Usually, I’ll be able to hear when the gun hasn’t exhausted all its air because there will be a small crack from the dry-fire afterward, but that didn’t seem to be happening with either my Blue Streak or this 392. The Blue Streak just needs an overhaul but there could also be some dynamic about the pump-assist conversion I’m not familiar with, I guess.

But the main point  I wanted to make today was that the gun doesn’t just keep on getting faster and faster with each additional pump stroke, and that was proven in both tests. So, the myth of 30 pump strokes turning it into a .22 rimfire is just that — a myth.

I’m not blaming Aaron for any of this. He only said he didn’t think we should compare airguns to firearms. He never mentioned any of these old stories, but that was enough to set me off on this strange quest to expose some old-wives’ tales about our airguns.

Now, I have yet another sick air rifle to care for. It seems that the cobbler’s children will have to go barefoot a while longer.

B.B.’s airguns – What I kept and why – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Today, I’ll continue the story of what airguns I hung onto over the years and why I kept them. I’ll also throw in a few firearms just to spice things up.

Crosman M1 Carbine
I kept the second M1 Carbine BB gun I ever got, but I let the first one get away. It was a wood-stocked model that’s considered more collectible, though I think the plastic-stocked gun looks more realistic. I kept this one because it was a gift, and I have the original box it came in plus the original owner’s manual. I also kept it because it’s an M1 Carbine, and I have told you many times how I love that little gun.

A military M1 Carbine above and my Crosman M1 Carbine below. It’s very realistic!

S&W 78G
I kept a boxed 78G that I bought in an auction years ago, then had Dave Gunter reseal and soup up a little. It’s a fine-shooting air pistol, though it cannot compete with a 2240 accuracy-wise. I keep it because I’ve sold several boxed 78Gs and one 79G over the years. Ten years ago, these guns were being sold new-in-the-box at airgun shows for $100. I knew it couldn’t last, and it didn’t; but when there’s a pile of 50 of anything, it tends to lose value in my eyes. I’ll hold on to this one because it would cost too much to replace it.

The S&W 78G is a single-shot copy of S&W’s model 41 target pistol.

Daisy 499B
I keep the world’s most accurate BB gun because every so often I write about it. I need to have one to remind me of how really great the gun is. And I bought a case of Number 515 Precision Ground Shot, so I’d never run out for the rest of my life. I just opened the second box after 10 years. There are 23 more boxes to go, so you might plan on buying them at my estate sale.

Diana model 27
I’ve owned several Diana 27 rifles, both in .22 and .177, but the beautiful one I bought from Richard Schmidt at the first Little Rock Airgun Show I attended 17 years ago is the one I will keep. I’ve had it apart several times for photography and tuning, and I love the way it shoots. I’ve had several .177 model 27s, and I can say that I never warmed up to any of them. For some reason, the .22 caliber gun is the one I love.

I love my little Diana 27, which is a Hy-Score 807.

Airguns I no longer have – the Hakim
I’ve owned at least 15 Hakim spring rifles over the years. For a couple of years, the Anschütz-made Hakims were my weakness, just like M1 Carbine firearms are today. For some reason, I lost interest and slowly let them all get away. They’re great air rifles, and you really should shoot one, but I’m no longer fatally attracted to them.

Now, if you have a BSA Airsporter you’d like to get rid of reasonably, we should talk. The Airsporter is a BSA-made Hakim design in a sporter stock. Same for the Falke model 80 and 90, though both of those rifles are much more collectible and sell for a lot more.

The Hakim used to be on my must-have list…but no more.

The Sheridan Supergrade
I owned one long enough to learn that it is neither more powerful nor more accurate than a standard Sheridan Blue Streak. But it’s quite the air rifle from the style side. I don’t normally care about style, but the Supergrade is one exception. Mine was an early rifle that had the long bolt handle, which I find particularly attractive. I had to sell it to raise money to live on, and then the prices tripled inside two years. I probably won’t get another.

Sharp Ace
I’ve owned three Aces. Two were Japanese-made and one was made in southeast Asia. One of the Japanese guns was regulated to 12 foot-pounds and had a beautiful barred walnut stock. The other Japanese model was full-power and got up to 25 foot-pounds in .22 caliber.

The Ace trigger gets stiffer as more pumps are put into the gun. I could not reconcile that, so I let them all go. They’re terribly accurate, though. Way more than the Sheridan rifles.

Daystate Sportsman Mark II
This is a sidelever multi-pump rifle that looks and feels like a PCP. It’s just as accurate, too. But it weighs over 10 lbs. scoped, and the sidelever makes it unbalanced. I could not reconcile that feel, so I sold it. I still see it for sale every so often at airgun shows.

The Daystate Sportsman Mark II is a multi-pump made to look and perform like a PCP.

Air Arms Schamal .22
This rifle was a heatbreak to sell. It was another natural shooter, like the R8 I just reviewed for you. It had a great number of shots per fill and was reasonably lightweight. The stock was figured walnut that I thought was breathtaking. At 40 yards, it shot one-hole groups. I’ve seen other Schamals that didn’t excite me, but this one was special. I sold it to get the money to live on, but if I got it again I don’t think I’d let it get away a second time.

Baby Bernadelli .25 ACP
Forty years ago, I owned a .25 ACP Baby Bernadelli, which is an Italian copy of the Baby Browning. For some unknown reason, that little pistol was dead-nuts accurate. I could put three bullets through the bottom of a pop can at 30 feet every time. I’m talking a one-inch group! It was a natural shooter that I let get away…and have regretted it ever since.

Ruger flattop .44 Magnum with 10-inch barrel
I’ve owned eight Colt Single-Actions, including three that were first generation guns. I have also owned a genuine Remington 1875 single-action. Yet, I don’t really miss any of them as much as I miss this Ruger. It was collectible when I owned it in the 1970s, and it’s super-collectible today. I liked it because it was accurate and because I could load it to .44 Special power and it didn’t kick much. I doubt I’ll ever spend the money to buy another one like it.

Well, that’s enough sob stories for one day. How about the rest of you open up between now and Monday with your own tales of woe? I have many more to come, so don’t worry. We’re just getting started.

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Air Arms TX200 air rifle

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