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Education / Training Air shotguns, part 1: the Farco

Air shotguns, part 1: the Farco

by B.B. Pelletier

Air shotguns are too big a subject for a single posting, so I’ll do it in steps. Today I’d like to talk about the model that put the air shotgun on the American map.

Farco air shotgun was a huge 28-gauge CO2 monster that renewed American interest in big bore airguns.

The Farco
In 1972, the Philippine government cracked down on private ownership of firearms and seized all the guns! The lesson to be learned from that is join the National Rifle Association and be glad to pay your dues! The United States may be the last free country on this planet, and liberals all over the world don’t want that to last much longer.

When they seized all the firearms, the government grudgingly allowed airguns to remain, because much of their rural population (and parts of the Philippines are VERY rural) survives by subsistence hunting. So, airguns suddenly became important, not unlike the UK, but for much more essential reasons. One gun that immediately sprang to the forefront was the Farco 28-gauge (.51-caliber) CO2-powered air shotgun.

How much power?
The Farco is a crudely made brass gun with a simple bent bolt that’s sealed by O-rings and a huge slow-operating valve that passes LOTS of gas when the gun fires. The combination of a long barrel and the hot Philippine climate encourage the most from CO2. CO2 only generates pressure in the 1,000 psi region, but, when the barrel is as long as the Farco’s, that’s enough to accelerate a 120-grain .433 Hornady lead ball to about 500 f.p.s when the temperature hovers around 80 degrees F. In the Philippines, it gets even hotter so the velocity will be higher.

Since the gun is 28 gauge, you can use the same plastic wads as a shotshell uses. That seals the bore very well for maximum efficiency. That velocity nets you just over 65 foot-pounds at the muzzle, or about what you get from a .22-caliber AirForce Condor.

What about shot?
The same plastic wad holds around 245 grains (about 1/2 oz.) of #8 lead shot and spits it out the bore at about 450 f.p.s. under the same conditions. That amounts to a whopping 105 foot-pounds! I tried shooting hand-thrown clay pigeons with a Farco, but the shot just bounced off. I believe that if I had used a larger shot size such as #2, perhaps, I might have had some success.

America’s wake-up call for big bores
What put the Farco on the map was Air Rifle Specialists owner Davis Schwesinger taking a much-publicized wild boar in Florida. Now, the truth of how he did it was that he charged his gun with air to 1,200 psi. Air, being thinner than CO2, flowed through the valve much faster, so the gun dumped more of it behind the ball and Schwesinger got nearly 200 foot-pounds from his modified gun. But that wasn’t necessarily a good thing!

Other less-thoughtful tinkerers began charging their Farcos clear up to 3,000 psi! Their guns made a thunderous crack when fired until one of them failed in the receiver and blew the right thumb off the shooter! Then all the other hobby airgunsmiths got very quiet on the subject of hopping up a large brass airgun. Eventually, sales fell off – not because of the accident but because of newer big bores from Korea that the Farco couldn’t compete with.

Farcos are still available
A few hundred Farco shotguns were sold in this country. With today’s crop of powerful big bores, they still don’t command a premium. You can pick one up in new condition in the box for $300 to $450 at the larger airgun shows. In a few years, they’ll come into their own as collectables and prices should rise, so now is the time to buy if you want one. They are covered in detail in the Blue Book of Airguns, Fifth Edition.

There, Turtle! I have begun to fulfill my promise to tell you about air shotguns. We still have many different guns to look at, so stick around.

33 thoughts on “Air shotguns, part 1: the Farco”

    • I’ve spoken to Dave Schwesinger recently ( we have an arrangement that I’m going to purchase ARS Farco air shotgun serial number 001) and I have one that needed a little bit of work, and when he can find it, he’s sending me a whole new receiver ( already purchased 1 of only 2 stocks he had left).
      I told him what B.B. said about him using air instead of Co2 to kill that 78 lb boar.
      He was very adamant that he ABSOLUTELY DID NOT use air it was a 60 yard head shot the penetrated the thickest part of the skull, and he found the slug in the neck, just under the skin of the other side of the boar.
      He used Co2!!! He made that quite clear on the phone to me, and he still has a few of the Farco foot pump rifled barrel guns.
      He is a wealth of information and knowledge, and I totally believe him.

        • I can forward you the text message where said it also.
          I com see Dave Schwesinger lying about ANYTHING.
          You were with him on the hunt in Florida?.
          Take a look at 3rd edition of Airun Digest page 165.
          It show him, the boar, and the actual slug removed from the boar.
          He said put a big tag on every gun he sold saying “DO NOT FILL WITH AIR! CO2 ONLY.”.
          When did you speak to Dave when he told you he filled his ARS Farco air shotgun with 1,200psi of air?

          • Bryan,

            Relax. I don’t doubt you or Davis. But I had a long conversation with him many years ago about this and he told me what I wrote. He also agreed with me that too may people are pushing the envelope and going to have problems, putting air into a brass gun.

            Maybe his memories have shifted?


            • That could very well be, B.B.
              He just had surgery to remove a cancerous growth on his face.
              He said they called a plastic surgeon to sew him back up.
              He said,”Well, I guess I got a free facelift.”
              I think very highly of you as well as him, and have much respect for both of you.

  1. B.B.-With all the talk of airguns for hunting,I would be interested in a frank discussion of caliber selection and applications,limitations,etc.I am puzzled why .177 is almost dismissed as an effective choice.What is your opinion of the 4 major airgun calibers as they relate to hunting?

  2. Lefty,

    I have touched on hunting in several posts.

    March 1
    March 30
    April 12
    April 26
    May 13
    May 17
    Jun 14
    June 29
    July 28
    September 2

    I do not advise hunting with .177 because the pellet is so small it can slip through game without causing serious enough trauma to stop the animal. They then run away to suffer over a protracted period.

    I like .22 caliber best for hunting. There are more pellets than for .20 and .25, and the powerful .22 pellet rifles can get the job done.

    That’s my opinion on hunting with an airgun.


  3. BB,
    My survial Airgun would have to be.
    A Talonss hands down.
    I’ll tell ya why because you. Can adjust the power with out alot.
    Of pumping i know you’re going.
    To say you could brake a hand pump.
    But you could also do that to a pump up gun too.

  4. I can’t argue that a hand pump is as robust as the pump on a gun. As long as it is given proper rest periods, a hand pump should last for decades.

    A Talon SS is a good choice, except for one thing. It needs a scope and my Blue Streak doesn’t.

    Oh, there are open sights for the SS, but I don’t find them as easy to use as the sights on a Blue Streak. And I rule out the scope in a survival situation because of the complexity and potential to break.

    As for the SS having adjustable power – so does the Blue Streak. What the Blue Streak doesn’t have is the extra 10 foot-pounds the SS develops.

    Just my opinion,


  5. Is there a true ‘handpump’… something smaller than lugging around a second rifle? or are you guys talking about the bigger manual pumps like by FX?

    The size of charging eqipment seems the limiting factor of any PCP while on foot. I guess it just depends on what you can carry or stash away for the “situation”.

    In anycase B.B. without any legal liability for the comment, are modifications like those sugested in the origanal post considered basicly conventional, or even safe among the airgun comunity? Would you feel safe with a gun modified in that fashion next to your face?

  6. Turtle,

    Absolutely not! When I saw the guy shooting it at Little Rock, I left the room. He lost his thumb the next year.

    I don’t tell everything I’ve seen, but this one is an object lesson for the new guys. Stick to factory guns, boys!


  7. You are a bigoted moron. I am a liberal. I am also a gun owner. When someone comes to your home to seize your guns, it won’t be liberals, who beleive that the government has already way overstepped the limits of it’s authority by spying on you. You should apologize for the way you have insulted liberal gun owners.

  8. Brucealmighty,

    There are no liberal groups fighting for the second ammendment. All they know about is the first, which they mistakenly think grants the right to say anything they want.

    I may well be the bigoted moron you say I am, but I’ll continue to enjoy all the rights granted in the Bill of Rights – not just the one selected by some group I allow to do my thinking.

    I’m glad you enjoy the shooting sports. Just remember that no liberal ever turned a finger to preserve them for you. Liberal and socialist governments all around the world have been actively siezing the guns of their honest citizens and subjects, to the approval of their growing criminal elements.

    Today, the United States is one of the very few nations with this freedom remaining. And you know as well as anyone that the battle rages to take it away.


    • Hi B.B, I messaged you a couple of years ago about an ARS Farco air shotgun.
      I have purchased serial number 001 from Davis, never been used, even the inside of the stock has 001 with pencil lines marking where to carve. I know these are quite crudely made, but Davis tooled up and made me 40 brass shells, sent me a new 10,oz charging cylinder,wad cutter, an old catalog in color, a notarized letter from Davis with his signature and a large photo one of his customer sent him. They took a full size deer with the Farco.
      Also sent me a Farco t-shirt.
      Now this Farco serial number 001 with all the paperwork and provenance is the ONLY one in the world.
      Surely this one is worth much more than any other Farco air shotgun.
      If you had to put a price on it ,what would you value it at.
      Just curious, because I’ve had several offers, but not ready to let it go for $2,000.
      Give it another 10 years, and I believe the value will increase as it’s the ONLY ONE.
      I don’t care if you’re Tom Cruise or Warren Buffet, it can’t be bought.
      Now, grant you, there are some examples still left, but not in brand new condition.
      First one Davis imported and fit and finish is much better than all I’ve seen.
      I’ve had one other Farco air shotgun, and sold it for $900, but it was in great condition and all accessories.
      I would just like to know what you would value it at.

  9. Last summer I had the opprotunity to to shoot a Farco .22 that my uncle borrowed from a friend. It was a precharged pumatic(sp). You would pump it with its intergraded pump, you hold a strurip at the barel end, then grasped the stock and do a up and down motion, like churning butter. I think you would get i shot for every 10 pumps, don’t remember. I shoots great, and takes a beating. I only wish I had taken a pic. of it

  10. Farco shooter5,

    Actually the rifle you shot was not a precharged airgun – it was a multi-pump pneumatic. A precharged gun is PRE CHARGED from a scuba tank or an extrenal hand pump. A multi-pump pneumatic has the pump built into the gun, like the Farco survival rifle you shot.

    I have owned the Farco survival rifle. It is as rugged as you say, but not very accurate. The barrels were too crude for precision shooting. But for hunting, it was and still is a fine airgun.


  11. I found a manufacture in the philippines calles Filarms, they make PCP air rifles. I think one of them is called “Tornado” looks really nice with it’s thumb hole stock. If anyone is intrested just google them. I would like to get one imported.

  12. Hey B.B,

    I think you should do a shotguns part 3 on the Shark 13mm CO2 powered shotgun. It’s made in Argentina, and sold here by Sunshine Airguns for $250. This thing has tremendous power with just shot, as its plastic shell holds more than twice the payload of my Crosman 1100. The manual says it can shoot shoot from 500-600 fps, and according to the penetration in trees and boards, this doesn’t seem to be far off at all, when I use .177 round balls as shot, they penetrate almost as deeply in a board as my Crosman 160. It can also shoot a 180 grain 50 cal ball at a good speed, enough to penetrate a little past its own depth in solid wood. The ball can also blow a big chunk out of its exit wound in a canteloupe. This air shotgun is really worth looking at and writing about.

  13. Hey BB,
    Would you be willing to do a write up of your findings? I’m interested to hear what your opinions are of this gun, regardless of whether they’re good or bad.

  14. Please elaborate. I though my blog was my findings.

    Are you looking for more information on the gun? Airgun Digest 3 has more on the gun. And there are issues of The Airgun Letter that reviewed it, though they are hard to find on the used market.


  15. Hey B.B,

    Do you have any updates on the Shark Air Shotgun yet? I haven’t taken mine out for a while, now, I’m waiting for the weather to warm up some.


  16. I tried to purchase a Farco air shotgun, and sent the seller a money order, but there seems to be a problem.
    Like.I said, I didn’t really trust this seller, and haven’t received it as of yet.
    I requested a refund.
    We’ll see..

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