Hand pumps for the ancient big bores: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Air intake and outlet valves
  • The key to the test
  • That’s not all
  • I tested one, too
  • More questions answered
  • Maintaining consistency
  • Three-stage hand pumps
  • Summary

Today I will hopefully answer all your questions about the hand pump test that Dennis Quackenbush and I did many years ago. Remember — we were trying to determine how powerful the old big bore airguns had been. One part of that was knowing what kind of air pressure they used, and that is all we are looking at in this report.

Air intake and outlet valves

First I want to address a question from reader GunFun1. He asked about the pump’s air inlet valve. I told him there was no inlet valve. There is an air hole located at the top of the pump cylinder, and when the pump piston head rises past it, air is sucked into the cylinder — exactly the same as a conventional piston port 2-stroke engine. No valve is required. When the piston head drops below the air hole, the cylinder is sealed again and the piston is able to compress the air that’s now trapped inside.

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Hand pumps for the ancient big bores: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • How powerful were antique big bores?
  • How were they filled?
  • No one knew
  • Hand pumps of antiquity
  • Empirical testing
  • Early rapper
  • Single-stage pump tradeoff
  • But wait — there’s more!
  • Summary

Dennis Quackenbush has always been helpful when it comes to the difficult questions about airguns. Over the years, he and I have experimented with several fundamental questions; the most recent being the $100 PCP. I should have an update on that one for you in a couple weeks.

How powerful were antique big bores?

Back in the 1990s — the days when I was still writing The Airgun Letter and Airgun Revue magazine — I had a prolonged discussion with Dennis about the performance of big bore airguns of antiquity. He had just come out with the .375-caliber Brigand that was about to start the airgun world on its modern journey toward big bores, and there was a lot of interest in them.

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Air canes

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • What is an air cane?
  • What was their purpose?
  • Air cane styles
  • One special air cane
  • Shooting air canes
  • Fascinating hobby

This report was requested by several readers after seeing a cased air cane in an earlier history report.

In the 19th century, the airgun world developed many curiosities, but none made more of an impression on today’s collectors than the pneumatic walking stick, or air cane, as it has come to be known. They survive by the thousands and fascinate all who see them. Today I’d like to examine the air cane!

disassembled air cane
Here we see a complete simple straight cane disassembled. From the left the parts are: the lower outer shell, the upper outer shell that is also the reservoir, the smoothbore barrel and lock, with the firing valve removed from the reservoir, the rifled barrel insert and the ramrod that doubles as the cane’s outer tip for walking.

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How and why airguns change over time

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • They don’t make ‘em like they used to
  • Are today’s airguns better?
  • 1. Technology — back then
  • Technology — now
  • 2. Understanding the principles — back then
  • Understanding the principles — now
  • 3. Company staff and leadership — back then
  • Company staff and leadership — now
  • 4. Market trends — then and now
  • Summary

Happy New Year! May 2016 be a good year for all of us.

They don’t make ‘em like they used to

Ain’t that the truth? Nothing is the same anymore. Usually when people discuss this subject they only remember the good things from the past. Things like the heavy metal Detroit muscle cars that had huge engines. They forget that those engines had to be tuned up every 10K miles, or that they often leaked oil.

As far as airguns go people remember blued steel and walnut stocks. They remember airguns that were made like firearms, and they both looked and felt like it. But a lot of facts are edited out.

Before 1970, an airgun that could achieve 800 feet per second (f.p.s.) velocity was considered a magnum. Today, the same gun would be a youth model, or at best an adult plinker. Today’s airguns top 1,000 f.p.s. regularly. The fastest exceed 1,400 f.p.s.

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Handguns — one hand or two?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • It depends
  • One hand for me!
  • One hand target hold
  • Limp wrist
  • Why ever hold with just one hand?
  • Why use two hands?
  • What I’m not discussing
  • Last word

I’m writing this report for all the newer readers we have been getting over the past few months. I see a lot of discussion about handguns and many people are having problems with the hold. What’s right — one hand or two?

It depends

Like most things, this issue has no single correct answer. It’s a situational question. What you are doing dictates how you should hold your handgun.

One hand for me!

I started out only holding handguns in one hand. I was in my 50s before I ever tried holding with two — I was that rigid! My teachers were men like Elmer Keith who held handguns in what was considered a classic fashion at the time. It wasn’t until the 1970s that I saw a person hold a handgun with two hands, and when I did I was shocked. Then I learned that law enforcement was teaching this hold and that people were doing so much better with it than with a one-hand hold.

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Melvin Johnson’s Indoor Target catapult gun

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Johnson Indoor Target Gun
Johnson Indoor Target Gun was an impractical post-war BB gun.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Sometimes you just can’t win!
  • Johnson gets shafted
  • The first time
  • After the war
  • Enter the Johnson Indoor Target Gun
  • Repeater
  • It uses surgical tubing
  • Weird cocking!
  • How much power?
  • The cost
  • Do you want one?

Sometimes you just can’t win!

Melvin Johnson was a gun designer of note who left a lasting impression on the world of firearms. Today’s M16/AR15 and all of its variants owe their existence to his marketing attempts with the United States Army. He did not design the gun — that credit belongs to Eugene Stoner. Johnson was the man who convinced the Army that a .22 caliber bullet flying at high velocity was better than a .30 caliber bullet in many ways. It was smaller, lighter, cheaper to make, flew faster and, under certain circumstances, was just as lethal as the larger projectile.

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Resurrecting a classic airgun

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Your new air cane
  • Oh-oh!
  • But I saw this on TV
  • Back to reality
  • What can break on a vintage air cane?
  • Dialing it back
  • Does this really work?

Merry Christmas! I hope this day finds you smiling and joyful.

Today I want to discuss a topic that seldom arises, yet is at the forefront of every novice collector’s mind. Namely, “Should I (and can I) shoot my antique airgun?” Many of you will agree there is no one right answer to this question, because the answer depends on many things. Today I’d like to discuss a few of them.

Your new air cane

Let’s say you went to an airgun show and were captivated by a beautiful air cane that was still in its original case with all the accoutrements. When you saw it for the first time your heart melted and your wallet popped open with unaccustomed speed. You wanted this air cane!

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