Crosman Triple Threat Part 4

Crosman Triple Threat Part 4

Changing barrels and increasing accuracy

By Dennis Adler

Samuel Colt knew there was no one handgun that was perfect. He began by making Pocket Pistols, but even after producing the large .44 caliber models (beginning in 1847), he still offered small caliber Pocket Pistols for concealed carry in a coat or trouser pocket. With modern day manufacturers, the same type of choice in caliber and barrel length remains the standard established by Sam Colt more than 150 years ago. There is still no one handgun that is perfect for every situation. Interchangeable barrels, does, however, present one interesting solution.

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.

Colt made 12 inch barrels for the 1851 Navy (this is long before the Buntline Special Peacemaker) and cut down barrels, like the example at the bottom, fit any 1851 Navy frame, so you could have had all three of these barrels and one 1851 Navy.

The Crosman Triple Threat makes choosing between a snub nose, a duty size pistol, or target pistol no choice at all. You get all three for one price. 

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.

Making the switch to the 8-inch rifled barrel gives the Triple Threat a much more impressive look and I suspect an equally impressive increase in velocity and accuracy.

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.

Crosman had this design dialed in a long time ago with its Colt Python style models (at a time when the Colt Python was still in production). The Crosman Model 357 Four came out in 1983. The basic design of this cast metal frame is still used on the Triple Threat, including the molded in Colt-style cylinder latch. (Photo courtesy Robert Lutter/Bluebook Publications)

Looking more familiar the Model 357 Six was also introduced in 1983. These early guns still used an external CO2 seating key, but they did have handsome wood grained plastic grips like a Colt. (Photo courtesy Robert Lutter/Bluebook Publications)

This is the 1984 version of the Triple Threat with the 8-inch barrel, the Crosman Model 357 Eight. This gun sold for $85 in the 1980s. (Photo courtesy Robert Lutter/Bluebook Publications)

And now we have, no not the Triple Threat, but the Crosman Model 357GW, which was introduced in 2005 and produced until 2007. It was offered with the 6-inch barrel (shown) and an 8-inch barrel. It sold for $100 and came with a padded case. Aside from the cast metal frame, this is the direct predecessor to the new Triple Threat which delivers the same design with three barrels for less money. (Photo courtesy Bluebook Publications)

Changing barrels

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.

So, here we are 14 years later with a plastic frame that looks pretty much the same and interchangeable barrels like Crosman models of the past. The switch from one to the other is about a minute. Half a minute later…

…the screw is out, the 6-inch barrel slipped out of the lug and the 8-inch barrel ready to fit in place. Half a minute later…

…and you have an 8-inch barrel revolver. It doesn’t get any easier than this. A good hollow ground screwdriver of the proper size (as you will find in gunsmithing screwdriver sets) will help keep the anodized finish on the screw looking good.

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.

Two inches closer to the target and sending lead downrange at an average velocity of 454 fps, the Crosman Triple Threat is ready for the 10 meter test. Along the way I switched to H&N Sport alloy pellets and velocity climbed to an impressive 527 fps. Accuracy at 10 meters rivaled some more expensive fixed barrel guns.

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.

At 21 feet for the chronograph test I switched to the H&N Sport 5.25 gr. alloy wadcutters, and this was the result for 10 rounds. The rear sight was still set for the 6-inch barrel and the gun shot a little low, but delivered a tight, dime-sized group.

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.

At 10 meters with the rear sight readjusted for the 8-inch barrel, and shooting off a Hyskore pistol rest, the Triple Threat kept the H&N Sport wadcutters pretty much in the red. Total 10 shot spread was 0.75 inches with eight hits inside 0.5 inches. I have to put the Triple Threat in the same category as the Diana Chaser, not a lot of money but a lot of fun for the money!

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.

4 thoughts on “Crosman Triple Threat Part 4

  1. I can’t resist, with all these pictures, the temptation to ask if you have experienced shooting an Avenging Angel and what is to be expected in the accuracy department.


    • Bill,

      Yes I have fired an Avenging Angel Colt Police model (1862 Police with cut down barrel, see photo) and it is an interesting percussion pistol to shoot. Good at close range out to about 25 feet with fairly deadly accuracy. I have also shot the same type gun made from an 1860 Army, which has a lot more kick and a flame that shoots out about a foot when it goes off. I have tested all of these various guns in Guns of the Old West over the years. Far more interesting than modern handguns!

      Dennis


  2. Looking at that little Colt, think it would make a nice co2 cartridge revolver and an even nicer 22lr revolver. Has always amazed me that none of the replica companies ever offered a 22 lr conversion of the Colt Pocket Police and Navy revolvers


    • It’s easy to make one. Just look at Kirst cartridge converter. And by cutting the barrel to the length of the .22 insert you have your home made Avenging Angel, and in two calibers.


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