Smith & Wesson 586 & 686

By B.B. Pelletier

The June 15th post was titled Shoot in style with Gamo’s wheelgun. I compared the Gamo R-77 revolver to the Smith & Wesson 586-6, but at the end I waffled and said the S&W was an all-metal gun, so the comparison wasn’t fair. Today, I’d like to look at the airgun that sets the standard for revolvers.

They don’t come any better than S&W!
Smith & Wesson is a leader among revolver makers. Their 586/686 .357 Magnum revolvers are a clear statement of why that title is deserved. So, when Umarex decided to make a CO2 revolver, they were wise to choose this one.

I was very skeptical that Umarex could achieve as good a feel as an S&W firearm, but I’m darned if they didn’t! The airgun weighs almost exactly the same as the firearm, and the grips are rubber – the kind you have to buy as an option on the firearm!

The airgun’s cylinder swings out to the left side on a crane, but it also detaches from the gun. It holds ten .177 pellets and can easily be replaced with a full cylinder for faster reloading. Extra cylinders are available in packs of three, though they are only available in black, and nickel revolvers have to use them, too.

Super accuracy!
I think the big story is the super accuracy you can get with the CO2 revolver. I found it more accurate than any other Umarex pistols, by a wide margin. At 33 feet, I was able to hold groups under one inch, and the best I can do with any other Umarex pistol is an inch and a half.

The rear sight is adjustable in both directions, so you can zero your pistol for exactly where you want to hit. And, the trigger is a real surprise, being pretty close to the trigger on the firearm! Double-action is lighter than the firearm, and single-action is close but not quite as crisp.

The Powerlet is housed inside the grip without making it too fat. You’ll be surprised to find these grips are thinner than the ones on the firearm. I like that because my hands are on the small side, and these rubber grips fit just fine.

Quality costs money
If there is a downside to the gun, it’s the price. Quality doesn’t come cheap, and I’ve seen these same airguns selling for over $225 in gun stores, so the prices you see here are very reasonable. The ability to change barrels is one of the greatest features, but I always opt for the 6″ barrel as a starting point.

Angled shots reduce pellet drop

By B.B. Pelletier

This is another post on using a scope. Let’s talk about shots that are angled up or down from the shooter’s perspective.

On the level
When shooting with a scope, you have to know the pellet’s trajectory so you can hit targets at different ranges. I addressed this in the June 1 posting – At what range should you zero your scope? In that discussion, all shooting was done on level ground, with the target at the same elevation as the shooter. That kept the barrel parallel to the ground, which is the only way we could discuss trajectory without confusion. A lot of shooting is done that way, but there are exceptions.

What if you’re hunting squirrels that are high up in trees, or sniping rabbits in your garden from a second-story window or deck? In both cases your barrel won’t be parallel to the ground and gravity will act differently on the pellet in flight. To hit your target, you’ll have to compensate for this.

Up or down – they’re both the same
Whether you shoot up or down, the effect on the pellet is the same. The actual drop of the pellet from the effect of gravity is reduced. Another way to say this is that the trajectory will be flatter.

The easy way to picture it
Think of it this way. If you were shooting straight down, there would be NO arc to the trajectory. The pellet would travel in the same direction as gravity’s influence, which would be a straight line.

If you were shooting straight up, the effect would be the same. The pellet would travel in a straight line, as long as it was not influenced by wind or anything else. Eventually, gravity slows the pellet to a complete stop and it reverses direction, falling back toward the pull of gravity. It gains velocity again until it reaches a speed where it can’t go any faster because its wind resistance holds it back.

These two illustrations are to help you understand the dynamics of the situation. When you shoot up (at a high target) or down (at a target below you), the same thing happens to the pellet, though not to such an extreme. The slant angle of the shot determines the amount of the effect.

If you’re confused, here it is in a nutshell
Imagine your target is NOT up in the tree but on the ground and level with you. That distance is the one you should be sighting for! To hit a bird that’s 50 yards up – but the tree is only 15 yards away from you – aim the same as if the bird is JUST 15 YARDS AWAY! Gravity acts on the pellet as though it is only 15 yards away because of the extreme slant angle of your shot. That explains why hunters often shoot OVER their targets when they are high in a tree!

Shooting BB guns: a message for parents and teachers

By B.B. Pelletier

The American BB gun is recognized everywhere and the Daisy company along with it. Perhaps no single model is as well-known as the Red Ryder. Because many parents buy BB guns to teach their children the fundamentals of shooting safety, I am devoting today’s posting to that gun.

Safety first!
The movie A Christmas Story revived the popular saying, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” That dates to the late 1920s when Daisy changed from lead air rifle shot to steel. Suddenly, guns that no one gave a thought to were injuring young shooters with rebounding BBs. A lead ball striking a hard surface deforms and bounces, if at all, away from the shooter. Steel does not. It resists deformation, rebounding straight back toward the shooter with much of its initial velocity intact. So, safety is the first concern for anyone shooting BBs.

Do NOT use a pellet trap for BBs! Use a BB trap!
Pellet traps are made of steel for lead pellets and will cause the worst kind of rebounds if used with steel BBs.

Shoot only into a trap that prevents rebounding. This can be a commercial trap or a box filled with crumpled newspapers and backed by a thick, tough carpet. Two traps that I like a lot are Daisy’s own Sound Blaster Target, which is a perfect match for the Red Ryder, and Crosman’s model 850 BB/Pellet trap.

The Daisy Sound Blaster makes several distinctive sounds, depending on where the BB strikes the target, so the shooter gets immediate feedback. The Crosman 850 has several tough ballistic cloth screens that prevent rebounds and keep stray BBs off the floor. For that, alone, they are well worth the price. Be sure to back either commercial trap with a large piece of carpet to catch stray BBs.

Everyone wears eye protection
As a further precaution, everyone in the vicinity of the gun should wear either safety glasses or shatterproof eyeglasses. The safety glasses cost very little and protect your eyesight, which is priceless.

The stock may have to be cut down
For smaller children, the Red Ryder stock is too long, so it may need to be cut down. To find the correct fit, have the child stick his arm straight out to the side and bend at the elbow with the trigger finger extended and pointing up at the ceiling. With the butt rested on the inside of the elbow and the rifle also pointed toward the ceiling, the trigger finger should go about a half-inch past the trigger.

If you don’t want to cut up a fancy Red Ryder stock, consider buying the Daisy Model 105 Buck. It’s less decorated, less expensive and has the same solid wood stock that lends itself to alteration.

For older children, Daisy’s model 95 Timberwolf is a larger, more powerful gun that features Daisy’s widebody frame. It’s attractive and will please the bigger kids. Daisy has discontinued this model; when stocks are gone, there will be no more.

BB guns are a great for teaching shooter safety, as long as we follow safety rules!

Crosman air pistols: then & now

By B.B. Pelletier

This posting was requested by a reader who commented on the S&W 78G posting on April 7. That post has received a lot of interest, and his request was that I compare the old Crosman pistols to a new model, such as the 2240.

This Crosman 150 has seen better days,
but it still holds gas and shoots hard!

Crosman’s 2240 is the grandchild of their model 150
The 150 was the first Crosman pistol to use a Powerlet, which was also invented by Crosman. It was available in .22 and .177, though at the time (1954) .22 caliber was more popular.

The 150 evolved into the 250, which became today’s 2240. As you can see, it bears a strong family resemblance. The 2240 is available only in .22, and its velocity of 460 f.p.s. is an honest number. When the 150 was sold, velocity was not commonly advertised, but I have seen speeds from the low 400s up to the low 500s with lightweight pellets. The 150 was a bit of a gas-guzzler, getting 45 to 50 shots at best. The 2240 probably does the same or just a little better.

For many decades, 150s have been modified into powerful carbines by the addition of longer barrels and shoulder stocks. The valve is very similar to the one in the Crosman 180 rifle, and rifle velocities of up to 700 f.p.s. are possible with a longer barrel.

The 2240 has also been modified by many airgunsmiths, with, perhaps, Dennis Quackenbush being the leader. He has converted many 2240s to .25 caliber and one special one to shoot 60-grain 9mm pellets! He has stopped producing 2240 parts, but there are several people who still offer mods in one form or another.

Oldies are goodies – but not necessarily more accurate!
Accuracy, then and now, was the big question our reader asked about, and here I go – out on a limb! The 150 is probably not quite as accurate as the 2240, though there is a lot of variation from gun to gun. The 150 was never as accurate as either the S&W 78G or the Crosman Mark I, but I do find that the 157 (the .177 version of the 150) is just as accurate as the .22/150, if not more so. I’ve seen a few bad barrels among the 150s I’ve examined, which may account for my experiences.

By contrast, the 2240 seems to have a consistently well-rifled barrel. This is probably due to better quality control built into the modern machines now making Crosman’s barrels.

A few other differences between the old & the new
The other big differences between old and new – the 2240 now has a bolt that both cocks and loads the pistol, and the receiver is made of plastic instead of steel. That causes people to long for the “good old days,” even though the new gun is more accurate and may get more shots. Enjoy it while it’s here because some day THESE will be the good old days!

Gamo Shadow 1000 Combo – one of the best buys in Gamo’s line!

By B.B. Pelletier

If you want to get into adult airgunning, the Gamo Shadow 1000 combo is an affordable entry.

Great power in a lightweight package
Of all Gamo’s line, the Shadow 1000 is unique because of its light weight and easy cocking, yet powerful punch! Most Gamo rifles shoot a light .177 pellet at around 1,000 f.p.s., but this one does it in a package that’s nearly the same size and weight as Beeman’s little R7! That’s packing a lot into a very small package.

The Gamo 1000 has a very grippy synthetic stock that is a trifle short compared to the average adult spring rifle. That means this rifle fits a much wider range of adults. Cocking effort is under 30 lbs., which is reasonable for the power.

Tru-Glo sights are standard
You don’t HAVE to scope a Gamo 1,000. It comes with great open sights. But the combo package includes the scope and mounts for less than $30 extra, and that’s well worth it. The scope is a BSA 4x32mm, which will be very bright. Since the Gamo 1000 has a scope stop built in, there is nothing more to buy than pellets.

Accuracy secrets
To get your 1000 shooting its best, REST the forearm on the open palm of your hand at the balance point. If you move forward to rest the cocking slot on your palm, my experience shows the gun will shoot all over the place. Don’t hold the gun tightly anywhere, including the butt against your shoulder. Let the rifle kick freely, and you’ll be rewarded with tight groups.

Never rest a spring gun directly on sandbags, cushions or any other material. They want to ride lightly on your open hand. And, NEVER grab the stock like a firearm or you will throw away all the accuracy the gun has. This is how top shooters hold their guns!

Gamos respond best to LOTS of shooting
Gamos are unique – they come right out of the box ready to go in many respects. I’ve never seen a prolonged break-in improve accuracy or velocity with one. However, the trigger needs LOTS of shots to smooth out. It’s a lot like the old German BSF rifles that started out with horrible triggers and, after 4,000 shots, had smoothed out considerably. Veteran Gamo owners will tell you that the creepy trigger becomes sweeter with every shot you fire.

The trigger adjustments don’t seem to change much when the gun is new. But after a few thousand shots, you can get the trigger adjusted to a good release. It will never rival a Rekord trigger, but it will be better than when brand new.

Which pellets to use?
Usually, I like Gamo pellets, but the Gamo rifles are too powerful for their Match wadcutters at anything beyond 15 yards. I would try Crosman Premiers in the 7.9-grain weight or JSB Exacts. I would expect the JSBs to be the best, but only if your shooting technique is very good.

The Gamo 1000 is perhaps the best buy in the entire Gamo line, and this combo makes it that much better. If you’ve wanted to step up to adult airguns, this package makes it easy. Let’s hear what veteran Gamo owners have to say!

How to pick your first PCP

By B.B. Pelletier

Now, don’t think I’m going to tell you which guns to buy, because I’m not. But, there are some basic things to think about when buying your first precharged airgun.

How PCPs differ from springers
The thing to remember about PCPs is that they generate lots of power with very little effort on your part. Where springers generally become larger and harder to cock as they get more powerful, PCPs do not. In smallbores, the AirForce Condor is the biggest dog on the block, yet it weighs 6.5 lbs. and cocks easily with one thumb. A Career 707 is almost as powerful, weighs about 8 lbs. and has a handy lever to cock it. No smallbore PCP is as hard to cock as a mid-level spring rifle.

What caliber should you buy?
With a PCP, you can forget the idea that .22 caliber is too slow. Any powerful PCP will shoot a .22 pellet over 1,000 f.p.s., which is too fast for accuracy. You’re going to have to slow it down.

On the other hand, a .177 PCP is wonderful for long-range target shooting. I wouldn’t choose one for hunting, but for shooting inanimate targets, they’re cheaper to shoot and just as much fun as the others.

Do you want a repeater?
PCPs come as repeaters as well as single-shots, so here’s your opportunity to sling some lead. But understand this – the nature of the magazine used with a repeating PCP determines which pellets will work and which ones won’t. Guns with linear magazines such as the Career 707 will not feed pointed pellets reliably, while MOST guns with cylindrical magazines – like the FX 2000 – have trouble if the pellets are too long. The Korean rifles with cylinders are the exception to this because they were made for pellets like the Eun Jin heavy domed pellet, and everything else is shorter.

How do you plan to fill the reservoir?
This is a tough question if you’ve never handled a PCP gun, so let me tell you what I have seen. Most shooters favor the scuba tank as the best way to fill. The more often you shoot and the more pellets you fire when you do go shooting, the truer this is. A hand pump is for a certain kind of person who wants to be freed from having to drag around a scuba tank. That said, I recommend starting out with a scuba tank first. Many PCP owners end up buying a hand pump after shooting PCPs for several years and owning a number of PCP guns.

A secondary issue is how to connect your new gun to whatever refill system you buy. Make certain you buy all the necessary adapters for YOUR GUN! They’re not interchangeable – and if you don’t have one thing that’s needed, it can spoil the entire experience.

Getting into PCP guns means there are things you’ll have to learn. At first it seems impossible, but after you’ve solved a few little issues, you’ll experience a whole new world of airgun enjoyment!

What’s it worth?

By B.B. Pelletier

The most-asked question at Pyramyd Air is, “What is my airgun worth?” We all want to know what our stuff is worth, and for airguns, finding the answer is as easy as looking in a book!

Blue Book of Airguns, Fourth Edition

THE authority on the value of airguns!
You can’t just look in ANY book, of course – it has to be the Blue Book of Airguns. It’s THE ONLY authoritative price guide for new and used airguns available anywhere. Other price guides have been published over the years but they were either too narrow in scope or were created for the specific purpose of deceiving someone. Some of them valued guns extra-low so their publishers could continue to buy them at great prices, while at least one guide over-valued airguns so the author could sell his collection at a great price!

The American B.B Gun

The American B.B gun
The one book that did have reasonable prices when it was published was The American B.B Gun by Arni T. Dunathan. But it was only published one time, then republished decades later without attempts to update prices. As a result, nothing in that book has been reliable, price-wise, since the middle 1970s. Also, this book only covers BB guns, leaving pellet guns high and dry.

The Blue Book has been published annually since its inception, and each edition gets progressively better. The fifth edition is due out in a short time and will be the most comprehensive book published to date.

Don’t trust internet prices!
Some gun dealers and internet sellers haven’t got a clue what they’re selling. I see “Benjamin Franklin” airguns for sale all the time (no such airgun ever existed!). Their owners don’t know they have common Benjamin airguns, worth very little because all the black nickel and silver nickel underneath has been rubbed off. So they ask $250 for a “Benjamin Franklin” 130 whose brass has been shined up like a trumpet. Such a gun would be worth $50 if it held air – and most don’t.

Beware of antique shops and gun shows!
These are the places where you find a Daisy Red Ryder from 1995 in beat-up condition selling for $90, when it is really worth $10. Or, you might find a “real Winchester” model 423 (Diana model 23) for $350, like I once did. Gun-show buyers are often not too savvy about airguns, and they’ve heard stories about Daisys worth $10,000, so a beat-up Number 25 pump with engraving (1936 model) that should sell for $40 becomes “rare” and valued at $325. It happens!

The last word
And just because a gun is “worth” such-and-such in the Blue Book doesn’t make it so! If the seller has a price of $1,000 on a Quackenbush model 5 because he found that number in the Blue Book, it’s your job to inform him that without the floating firing pin and in the 20-percent condition his gun is in, it’s really just a $500 gun to you. Then, the two of you begin the famous tarantula dance of two guys in a hot deal, and both will survive to tell the world how they overcame the other guy!

The Blue Book of Airguns belongs in your library!