Crosman Triple Threat Part 4
Changing barrels and increasing accuracy
By Dennis Adler
Those of us who are sport and recreational shooters have experienced the differences that varying calibers and barrel lengths have upon accuracy and the effectiveness of handguns. This is a historically proven fact that goes back to the early days of Samuel Colt, who started in the 1830s by making 5-shot, small caliber, Pocket Pistols years before his famous .44 caliber Dragoons and the Civil War 1860 Army. Both the Dragoons and 1860 could be fitted with shoulder stocks and used as revolving carbines. Colt still made .32 and .36 caliber Pocket Pistols as well, with barrels as short as 2-1/2 inches. There was a caliber and barrel length suitable to every need. With the design of Colt’s early open top pistols, if you had a spare barrel you could have it cut down and actually have interchangeable barrels on a Colt revolver.
Technically, barrel lengths are broken down into categories by various shooting organizations, as well as firearms publications like Combat Handguns where I have written reviews over the years on almost all of the centerfire handguns that are offered today as blowback action CO2 models and revolvers. You can categorize barrel lengths, frame sizes, and optimum shooting distances into four groups. Full Size Duty: (1911 Gov’t, 4” or longer, K-Frame and N-Frame S&W, rifle caliber pistols, etc.) 25 yards. Mid Size Duty: (4” or shorter, Sig Sauer P229, K-Frame S&W revolver, etc.) 15 yards. Compact Concealed Carry: (4” and shorter, Glock 19 and similar sized semi-autos,) 10 yards. Sub-Compact CCW: (3.5” or shorter, Ruger LCR, LCP, .380 Autos, J-Frame S&W, etc.) 7 yards. The only centerfire handgun that has crossed all of those categories is the Dan Wesson (Pistol Pack). For a CO2 revolver, you would need interchangeable barrels and presently only Crosman makes such an airgun.
Crosman has a long history for building some of the best and certainly most interesting air pistols from the early 20th century to the present. Beginning in 1923, Crosman has continued to be one of the best known names in airgun manufacturing and just to point out how significant the company is, back in 1931, Crosman CO2 guns were showcased at the National Camp Perry Matches. In 1958, Crosman was selling the Hahn “45” or more popularly, the Model 45, a 6-shot BB firing copy of the Colt Single Action Army revolver. The origins of the Crosman Triple Threat date back to the 1980s and the first topbreak models, 357 Four, 357 Six, 357 Eight, 3576W (the first with finger grooved molded grips) and 357GW. These are all relatively collectible Crosman models today (cast metal frames, rifled steel barrels), and comparatively more expensive in their time (with corrected dollar values) than the Triple Threat is today.
The only way changing barrels on the Triple Threat could be easier is if you just had to clap your hands and the barrel changed itself. You still need two hands to removed one screw, slip the barrel hinge off the frame, slip the replacement barrel hinge in place and put the screw back. It takes less than a minute and you have a different gun in terms of velocity and accuracy.
I used the same test protocols to chronograph the 8-inch barrel and average velocity changed from 421 fps to 454 fps average with a high of 461 fps, just about the advertised “up to” velocity. I’m going to cheat the specs though, and run a second velocity check with H&N Sport Match Green alloy pellets and see what this 8-inch barrel can really deliver. And boy does it. Average velocity with the lighter weight alloy wadcutters accelerated to 527 fps, with a high of 551 fps, and the majority of shots between 519 to 528 fps. More importantly, at 21 feet the 8-inch barrel was hitting a little low and left, but punched 10 rounds into 0.625 inches with the H&N. With Meisterkugeln, the 10-shot spread measured 0.875 inches.
Of course, you should be able to shoot a dime-sized group (0.687 inches) with an 8-inch barrel at 21 feet, especially with a pellet firing air pistol. The real meat of this gun, with this barrel is at 10 meters. To see just how accurate and consistent the Triple Threat is with the long barrel, I’m going to shoot this 10 meter test off the Hyskore pistol rest using the higher performance H&N ally wadcutters.
The rear sight was still adjusted for 10 meters with the 6-inch barrel so I did a quick POA test and the gun was shooting a little left. I added one full turn to the windage screw and that put me on center again. Elevation was too close to worry about adjusting. I shot 10 rounds into 0.75 inches with eight hits inside 0.5 inches. Shooting off hand with this gun from 10 meters, I don’t think I could keep it quite that tight, but with the 8-inch barrel it is obviously capable. Remember, this is still just a $70 air pistol we’re talking about, and it is shooting to the level of fixed barrel CO2 revolvers costing considerably more. It hasn’t got the bells and whistles, but it has got three barrels, and at least two of them can keep a tight group at 10 meters.
When I wrap up on Saturday, the 8-inch barrel bows out and the snub nose 3-inch gets its turn, and just to make it interesting (though hardly fair), I’m going to shoot it against the 2-1/2 inch Dan Wesson for comparative accuracy.