Characteristics of a classic airgun

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Airguns are easy to use
  • Airguns are quiet
  • Airguns cock easily
  • Airguns are accurate
  • Airguns have good sights
  • What about plastic?
  • Triggers
  • What have I missed?
  • Why is this in the history section?

I celebrate my victories quietly. One of them has been to expose the elements of classic airgun design, so people who need to know can understand what it takes to make something timeless and enduring. We all know that the airgun manufacturers are silent readers of this blog and its comments. Today I am dedicating this report to them — a compilation of design aspects that will ensure a classic airgun. I’ll tell you why at the end of the report.

Airguns are easy to use

Yes, there are people who only shoot airguns. Before I wrote this blog I had no idea there were so many of them, but there are. They are a sizable element of the shooting population and designers need to be aware of them. But their numbers are overwhelmed by the number of firearms shooters who also shoot airguns from time to time. And why do they do it? Because airguns are easy to shoot. I can pick up a Diana 27 and snap off 5 shots at targets of opportunity before you can pack your AR-15 with bipod and sniper scope into that oversized black tactical bag! And we both know the rifle isn’t all you need to go to the range. You load the car with stuff, while I carry my 6-pound breakbarrel in one hand, and a tin of pellets in my pocket.

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Webley Senior straight grip air pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

A history of airguns

Webley Senior straight grip
Webley Senior straight grip air pistol.

This report covers:

  • Lubricated
  • Breech seal
  • Velocity — Eley Wasps
  • JSB Exact RS
  • RWS Hobby
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Evaluation so far

Several readers liked Part 1 of the report on the straight grip Webley Senior. What did they like about it? They liked that the gun was made of steel. They liked how quirky it is. And, much like me, they liked it just because it exists. Well, today we’ll start learning how good it shoots.

Lubricated

There is more to this gun than just its historical value and charm. I told you in Part 1 that I replaced the breech seal and lubricated the action after I bought it around 1978. I have oiled it over the years, but never fully lubricated it since the first time. Later in this series I’ll disassemble the gun for you and show you the insides, but for now know that the piston serves as the mainspring guide and the pistol is sealed by a metal ring, much like the piston of an internal combustion engine.

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Webley Senior straight grip air pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

Webley Senior straight grip
Webley Senior straight grip air pistol.

This report covers:

  • Design
  • Piston ring
  • Power
  • Sights
  • Trigger
  • Quirky

Today we start looking at a Webley Senior straight grip air pistol. This model was made from 1930 to 1935, according to the Blue Book of Airguns, 11th edition. There were two versions — a first version that has a trigger adjustment screw sticking out the front of the triggerguard and the second version, which is the one I have. I bought the pistol at a small gun show in Kentucky in the 1970s, when I was assigned to Fort Knox. I paid $75, which was considered a lot at the time, but I owned the first edition of the Airgun Digest and I knew what this pistol was. It’s worth a lot more today.

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What you want

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Wake management
  • Zombies and pink
  • The story of Kevin
  • Bronco
  • But it looks so cool!
  • The secret
  • Just ask Chris USA

Before I begin, here is an update on my eye. The doctor says the operation was a success. I can keep the eye and now I can hold my head upright. I still have a gas bubble in the eye causing distortion, but that should be gone in another week. Thanks for all your prayers and good wishes. Now, let’s get to today’s report.

I know what you want, even if you and the airgun manufacturers don’t. You look at specifications day after day, comparing one airgun to another, until the balance between the finalists rests on a razor-thin edge. You think this is getting you closer to what you want. Well, it isn’t. When I tell you what you want you will realize you have been looking for the wrong thing all along. You thought you wanted that supermodel, right up to the moment that you fell in love with the girl next door.

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The rise of the accurate pellet: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Accuracy taken for granted
  • Crosman 160 opened my eyes!
  • In the beginning
  • The ball or bullet
  • Smaller calibers
  • Pellet shape
  • Birth of the diabolo
  • A long way to go

Accuracy taken for granted

I was speaking with a group of very advanced airgunners recently and found myself amazed by what we all took for granted. The subject was airgun accuracy and topics like distance, powerplants and pellet shapes came up, but no one in the group seemed to remember the time when none of those things made any difference. They didn’t because there weren’t any pellets on the market that took advantage of them. Until around the 1960s, accuracy with airguns was iffy, at best. The problem was not the guns — it was the ammunition!

Crosman 160 opened my eyes!

I remember buying a new-old-stock Crosman 160 target rifle that had been produced and sold to the U.S. Air Force. The rifle hadn’t been fired since Crosman tested it with CO2 at the factory some time in the 1970s. The Air Force bought an unknown number of 160s that came with slings and the Crosman S331 rear peep sight. Presumedly there was a plan to use these rifle for some type of training, but that must never have happened, because hundreds of them were found in a military warehouse in the 1990s in unused condition. When I opened the gas reservoir to install 2 fresh CO2 cartridges, I found the original cartridges Crosman had used to test the gun before packaging in the 1970s! The rifle was brand new, as were hundreds of others just like it!

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Hatsan 85 MOBU Sniper Combo: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Hatsan 85
Hatsan 85 Sniper rifle combo.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

This report covers:

  • Bipod
  • Trigger baseline
  • Trigger is naked and exposed!
  • New trigger screws
  • Buldawg’s instructions
  • Can’t waste any time
  • Got it!
  • Results
  • One more accuracy test

We’re back with the Hatsan 85 Mossy Oak Break Up combo, and today we will look at changing those screws in the trigger unit, plus get an update on the bipod. This is turning into a long series, and I hope that newer readers appreciate the depth of detail they are seeing. I normally do not look at any one airgun this close.

Bipod

I was contacted by Hatsan USA and informed that bipods have been removed from these combo packages. They said that decision was made two years ago and were surprised that I got one, but sometimes decisions proceed actions by a very long time in retail. If the supply chain is a long one, as it certainly is in this case (Turkey to the U.S. to the dealer to the customer), then it takes a long time for things to rectify. But the bottom line is there shouldn’t be a bipod with the gun anymore, so I will forgo that test. I did not hold out much hope for it anyhow!

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Hakim — Egypt’s pellet rifle trainer was better than the firearm: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Hakim
Hakim is Egypt’s air rifle trainer for their 8mm battle rifle.

A history of airguns

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Shoot directly off the bag
  • Eley Wasps
  • RWS Superpoints
  • JSB Exact Jumbo RS
  • Summary

We will shoot the .22 caliber Hakim trainer today and see what the old classic is capable of. I think you will be surprised.

Shoot directly off the bag

Because the Hakim is so mild-mannered and also because it weighs 10 lbs. 7 oz., which is heavier than an M1 Garand, I rested it directly on the bag rather than use the artillery hold. I shot at 10 meters and put 10 shots into each group. The first group landed in the bull but a little to the left, and I just went with that sight setting for the rest of the test.

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