Daisy’s 953

by B.B. Pelletier

We have one or possibly two readers who want to know about the Daisy 953 TargetPro, so I thought today was as good a time as any to look at it.

Technical specs
The 953 is a single-stroke pneumatic rifle that Daisy lists with their Powerline guns. It comes in .177 caliber only and shoots lead pellets. The maximum muzzle velocity is listed as 560 f.p.s., so the 953 is faster than the 853. Our reader wanted to know how the two rifles compare, as far as accuracy is concerned, so I did some research. Daisy says the 953 will put all its pellets into one hole at 10 yards if the shooter does his part, so you can consider this to be an accurate rifle. When I spoke to the Daisy folks at the SHOT Show last February, they told me that they thought the 953 would be an affordable alternative to the costlier 853 for shooters who just want to shoot informal target.

The rifle weighs 6.4 lbs., which is almost a full pound heavier than the 853. It has a rifled barrel with (I believe) 10 grooves. It’s not the same Lothar Walther barrel that’s found in an 853, which is where some of the savings comes from, I’m sure. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not accurate. Daisy has a lot of confidence in this gun as a target shooter, so I’m sure it’s accurate. It comes with front and rear fiber optic sights, which are ideal for general shooting.

The 953 has a five-shot clip that indexes the next pellet when the bolt is cocked. A single-shot clip is also included, if you want to load and shoot one at a time. The pump handle is long enough to ease the pumping effort. Because this is a single-stroke, you pump it only once for each shot. The trigger is a two-stage with a lot of creep in stage two. This is no different than the 853. You can get used to it, because tens of thousands of kids compete with the 853 every year.

Pellet choices
If you want to shoot targets, a nice wadcutter is the best choice. For my money, there is nothing better than the Gamo Match pellet. They are somewhat less expensive than other top brands, yet I find they shoot just as good. For hunting, I would go with the Daisy pointed pellet. They’re also priced right, and I’ve used them enough to trust them in most airguns.

Sight choices
If you really want to shoot targets, consider the Daisy 5899 receiver sight. It’s the same sight that comes on the 853, and you’ll get fine click adjustments between sight settings. This sight has some slack in the gears, so be prepared to turn two or three clicks when changing the adjustment direction to remove the slack.

Of course, you can go a different direction and select the Daisy Electronic Point Sight. This is a red dot sight that doesn’t magnify the target. It projects a red luminous dot on a glass screen, which superimposes itself on the target when you look through the glass. It’s a quick way to acquire your target and about as accurate as open sights.

Pest control
The 953 is also touted as a pest control airgun. It can do the job as long as you keep the range reasonable. Rats, pigeons and ground squirrels within 20 yards are okay with head shots, but I wouldn’t go after anything much larger.

Daisy officials told me they created the 953 to be for general shooters. They knew a lot of folks were buying 853s for plinking, and the 953 takes over that job very nicely.

Airgun power with heavy and light pellets

by B.B. Pelletier

We received a lot of comments to last Friday’s post, Why foot-pounds is the most meaningful airgun power rating. One of them was a question from “cold shooter” about something I said in that post: “Please explain why a CO2 pistol would prefer or gain more energy from a heavy weight pellet.” The full statement I made went something like this: “Spring-air guns are more efficient (have more power) with lightweight pellets, while pneumatics and CO2 guns do better with heavy pellets.” Today, we’ll examine this phenomenon.

First, a new book
Trust me, this book is very much related to this discussion. The Practical Guide to Man-Powered Bullets by Richard Middleton has just been published. It’s an excellent discussion of energy transfer, momentum and the design of catapults, crossbows, bullet-bows and airguns. I think this book clarifies the spring-air versus pneumatic question quite well. It’s related to energy transfer.

If you want to understand airguns better, this new book provides many excellent discussions on energy, momentum and the ballistics of airguns.

To acceleration, time is everything!
One of our readers was the first to explain this in the comments to the same posting where the question was asked. He said, “A quick answer to cold shooter’s question. Heavier pellets stay in the barrel longer, which allows the released CO2 gas more time to expand and transfer more thermal energy into kinetic energy.” To simplify that a bit, the more time the gas has to push on the pellet, the faster it will go!

Spring-air guns are quick!
A modern spring-piston airgun, like the Beeman R11 MkII generates power when a steel piston is rapidly shoved forward by a coiled steel spring. The piston compresses the air in front of it, shoving it through a tunnel called a transfer port, where it travels to the breech of the barrel. If a pellet is in the breech, the air is stopped and cannot move forward, so the air pressure builds instead. An immovable pellet on one end and a piston compressing air on the other causes the air pressure to rise quickly in the transfer port. When the pressure reaches a certain point, the tiny lead pellet can no longer restrain it, so the air shoves the pellet up the barrel.

Springers just puff!
While the air compressed by the piston is at high pressure, there isn’t very much of it. Once the pellet starts moving, the pressure starts dropping as the volume of the bore behind it increases. By the time the pellet has travelled 9″ to 11″ up the bore, the air is almost back to normal pressure, so it stops shoving the pellet. By this time, the pellet is traveling as fast as it will ever go. Since the time of acceleration is very short, lightweight pellets tend to go much faster than heavyweights. They resist the air pressure less so they start moving sooner, affording more time to accelerate.

While gas guns blast!
Both pneumatics and CO2 guns use a greater volume of gas than the spring gun generates. In the case of CO2, it’s not at a very high pressure (900 psi, compared to about 2,000 psi in a spring gun) but there is so much more of it that it keeps on pushing far longer than the tiny puff from the spring gun. As long as the barrel is long enough to put the pressure to good use, both pneumatics and CO2 guns will accelerate heavy pellets to higher velocities than spring guns can, and that’s where they get their extra power. If you were to cut the barrel of a pneumatic very short, you would also cut the power. The AirForce Talon SS provides an excellent example of this. With the standard 12″ barrel, the gun gets 830-850 f.p.s. with .22 caliber Crosman Premiers. When you install an optional 24″ barrel on the gun, the velocity of that pellet jumps to just over 1,000 f.p.s. – without changing anything else!

However, the Talon SS still generates more power with its 12″ barrel with heavy pellets than it does with light ones (26 foot-pounds with Beeman Kodiaks versus 23 with Crosman Premiers), because the pellet is accelerated all the way to the end of the barrel.

CO2 is even more dramatic!
CO2 is a gas that changes pressure with temperature, so if the gun you shoot is relatively warm, the gas maintains its pressure much longer. Also, the large size of the CO2 molecule means the valve has to remain open longer, so fresh gas is replenishing the supply in the barrel. The results can be dramatic! A Farco air shotgun, for example, can generate 100 foot-pounds on a warm day, due to a very long barrel and CO2. And, the Farco provides the perfect example of light versus heavy pellets. A 120-grain .433 ball produced 65 foot-pounds in my gun, while a 245-grain load of shot made 105 foot-pounds on the same day. It doesn’t get more dramatic than that!

This is a good experiment for your new chronograph. You will find some anomalies, but in general, this rule will hold true.

How to sight in an airgun with open sights

by B.B. Pelletier

We have an emergency today. Seems one of our readers received an air rifle for Christmas and needs help sighting it in. Here is his comment, “I have just got a new Gamo Shadow 1000 and I was wondering if you knew how to sight in the open sights?” The nice thing about answering this question is the answer applies to all open sights on all airguns – not just the Gamo.

First – what is the sight picture?
With open sights, there are a number of different sight pictures to choose from. The one you select must be used every time you sight the rifle, or else the sight-in will be invalid. The Shadow 1000 comes with fiber optic sights, front and rear, so the sight picture is a red bead resting down in the U-shaped rear notch between two green dots. If there were no fiber optics, this would simply be a front bead resting down in the rear U-shaped notch. The front bead is held on the spot where you want the pellet to go. This is called a center-hold sight picture, and it is commonly used for sporting purposes.

Starting the sight-in
I like to start sighting in an air rifle at 10 feet. When I’m that close to the target, I know the pellet will land somewhere on the paper, no matter how far off the sights are. Be sure to wear safety goggles if you do this, because you will be hit by lead particles splashing back off the backstop. To minimize backsplash, cover the face of the target trap with cardboard, and mount the target paper to that. I like to use a clean sheet of paper, approximately 9″ tall by 6″ wide. I simply take a real target and turn it around so there is nothing on the paper. I draw an aim point with a ballpoint pen. It should be a circle about 1/4″ across. Fill it in with the pen, so it looks dark.

The first three shots
Using the proper technique for a spring-piston air rifle, because the Shadow 1000 is sensitive to hold, shoot three shots at the aim point. Use the center hold sight picture. The three shots should be very close to each other. The center of the group is where your rifle is currently sighted. I like to bring the group over to the center of the aim point (left/right) first. Here is the big tip of this post – always move the rear sight in the same direction you want to move the shot group. If your first group is too far to the left, crank the adjustment knob on the side of the rear sight to move the notch to the right. On the Gamo, there are index marks on the sight plate and numbers on both adjustment wheels to let you know which way you are going. I like to watch the rear notch actually move as I adjust it.

The Shadow rear sight is clearly marked for adjustment.

Get the shot group centered, left and right
Keep adjusting the rear sight windage wheel (the one on the right side) until a three-shot group is centered on the aim point. Don’t worry about the elevation yet. If you adjust the windage knob in the wrong direction (it happens to me all the time), simply crank it back that much more on the next adjustment. Once the shot group is reasonably centered, left to right, you’re ready to adjust elevation.

Elevation adjustment
Note how high above the center of the bore the sights are. It will probably be less than one inch, but pretty close. That is how far BELOW the aim point we want the pellet to strike! The adjustments are made with the large elevation wheel located in front of the rear notch. Turning counterclockwise elevates the shot group. When you have the shots centered on the aim point and as far below the point as the sights are above the center of the bore, it’s time to move on.

Move back to 10 yards
At this distance, you want the pellet to strike in line with the aim point left to right and one inch below the aim point. Make the necessary sight corrections to do this. When you are grouping in the right place, it’s time to finish sighting-in.

Move back to 20 yards
Here you want the pellet to strike the aim point. You’ll probably have to make a new target with a one-inch aim point in order to see it. Try to get your group in the center of the aim point at this distance. Once you’re satisfied, you will be sighted-in at 20 to 35 yards, with the Gamo Shadow 1000. At any other range, you will be low. Shoot several groups at distances outside the sight-in distance to learn where your groups will be.

This procedure takes longer to read than it does to actually perform. You should be sighted-in within 5 to 10 minutes this way.

Can you hunt with a BB gun?

by B.B. Pelletier

Today’s posting is inspired by a question we received last week. “I’m looking to buy my first bb gun. Should I look for a combo (bb and pellet) or should I look for one or the other? Are bb’s less accurate in a combo? Also, at what power can you start killing a squirrel?”

I consider this to be three separate questions, and that’s how I will address it. Since killing squirrels seems to be the ultimate objective, let’s start with that.

1. BB guns ARE NOT for killing squirrels!
A BB gun is not a good hunting gun for many reasons. First, some BB guns (such as the Daisy Red Ryder) are too weak to reliably kill anything larger than a small insect. When we hunt, we want to kill as quickly as we can. BB guns don’t do that. The second reason BB guns are bad for hunting is the BB, itself. It’s made of steel and, therefore, does not deform in game. Deformation causes tissue damage, speeding death, and a steel BB is as far from that ideal as you can get. Finally, a steel BB is too small in caliber to do enough damage, no matter how fast it travels. Even when it goes 750 f.p.s., a speed some airguns can achieve, it’s still too slow to do the job in a humane way. I consider a .177 caliber pellet too small for hunting, but there are a great number of airgun hunters who prove me wrong all the time.

For hunting, you need this!
You need an accurate pellet that will penetrate to a vital part of your quarry and not over-penetrate. A pure lead pellet will deform the best, and deformation causes tissue damage (good) and expends energy in the quarry (also good). Synthetic, lead-free pellets often travel completely through the animal, exiting the other side (not good) and leaving a painful, but not immediately deadly wound (definitely not good). So, the animal runs off to hide and may suffer a slow and painful death. BBs are as bad as synthetic pellets when it comes to inflicting non-lethal wounds.

Do NOT discipline animals with a BB gun!
This is just cruel. Even a weak BB gun can break the skin and start a septic wound in a small animal. Find another way to make your point.

2. Are BBs less accurate in a combo?
This refers to a gun that can shoot both BBs and pellets, like the Crosman 760 that so many airgunners love. However, the question is stated backwards. BBs aren’t accurate in ANYTHING except the Daisy 499! All other BB guns are area-fire guns, at best! What is less accurate in a combo gun is pellets! Because the bore has to be made for both .177 pellets and .172 steel BBs, it can’t possibly shoot pellets as accurately as a dedicated barrel. So, if you plan to hunt with certain airguns, it would be wise to select one that is not a combination gun. If that’s all you have, limit your shooting distance to the range at which you can hit an American quarter (a 1″/25mm circle) every time. And, use lead pellets!

3. Should I look for a combo?
The decision is yours, alone, but here are some reasons to buy combos. You like shooting and may not always have pellets readily available. BBs are cheaper, so if your gun shoots both, you have the best of both worlds. Or, you want the fastest BB gun you can buy. The combos are usually at the high end of power for BB guns. Or, maybe you are just fascinated that a gun can shoot both types of ammo. I know people who will buy them for that reason, alone.

The bottom line is that I do not recommend hunting game with any BB gun. For hunting, I usually recommend a pellet gun shooting lead pellets in .22 caliber. I know a lot of hunters will disagree with my opinion, but this reader asked, so I told him.

4. At what power can you reliably kill a squirrel?
I’ll tell you a little secret. Squirrels are very tough critters! Plenty of hunters hit squirrels with 40-grain lead bullets from a .22 long rifle and still lose their game. Squirrels are very tough animals, especially when compared to similar-sized game such as rats. A rat dies twice as easily as a squirrel, in my experience. I would recommend a .22 caliber rifle that shoots no less than 12 foot-pounds at the muzzle. Personally, I prefer a 25 foot-pound .22 pellet rifle for squirrels. I like good head shots as opposed to body shots, and I stay within the range at which I know I can hit a quarter. One of my favorite hunting air rifles is a .22-caliber AirForce Talon SS shooting JSB Exact pellets.

To get my hunting license in Germany, I had to pass both a written test and a shooting test. It took weeks of classes and study to prepare for that test, but I learned a lot about animals, anatomy and bullet placement. I wish we had the same requirement in this country, so hunters would know something about the game they go after before they go afield. Short of that, I guess the best thing to do is to read about your sport as you practice it.

Lubricating your spring gun: Part 2 – cocking linkage, breech seal and trigger

by B.B. Pelletier

Happy day after Christmas! I hope your holiday was as happy as mine.

Because I unknowingly repeated a posting last week (Tod brought it to my attention), I reviewed the posts made since the September 30 index. I also looked over your comments and discovered I hadn’t answered some questions. Other readers stepped in for me and I’m grateful, but there was one request that I would like to act on. Bill asked if I would post some close-up photos of some of the technical parts and terms of airguns that get tossed around in the blog. I think that’s a great idea, so I will do it over a series of future posts. I’ll not run them together, to keep from boring the old-timers, but perhaps at the end I will post a mini-index of these things. Or, maybe, I can talk Pyramyd Air into letting me make all the posts into one article they can put on their site!

Okay, let’s get going with today’s topic: lubricating spring guns. We’ll start with the cocking linkage.

Cocking linkages
There are several types of spring-gun cocking linkages, but they all do the same thing, so they all need the same treatment. A cocking linkage connects the piston and mainspring of an airgun to the hand of the shooter. This varies in only one instance that I know of, and that’s the Rutten rifle, which uses a high-torque electric motor to cock the gun. Cocking linkages need to be lubed with either moly grease or a good-quality petroleum grease. Some people use a lithium-based grease, and that would also work well.

The breakbarrel spring gun uses the barrel as a lever for cocking. The barrel rotates on a large bolt that is part of the cocking linkage. On better guns, there are thin washers on either side of what is called the baseblock (the metal slab the barrel rides in), and they keep sideways play to a minimum. The best lube for both these washers and the barrel pivot bolt is moly grease. The moly penetrates the steel surfaces under cocking pressure, and your gun is practically lubricated for life in this area.

When the rifle is cocked, the barrel baseblock pivots on a bolt held between between two action forks. The cocking link connecting the barrel to the piston attaches to the bottom of the baseblock. All these joints need lubrication.

The other place(s) breakbarrel cocking linkages need lubrication is in the movable joints that connect the barrel to the piston. Use moly here, too, if you can. If your gun has a sliding steel connector that rides in the piston and receives the end of the cocking link, like Weihrauchs do, lube all those moving surfaces with moly.

A sidelever or underlever spring gun uses a separate linkage for cocking while the barrel remains still. This mechanism gets lubed the same way the barrel pivot joint and cocking linkage does on the breakbarrel. There will be no large washers in the main pivot joint of this type of cocking linkage, because the linkage is designed specifically for this job – and a little sideways play in the lever doesn’t hurt accuracy.

That dark circle around the bore is a leather breech seal! It’s been there for 28 years and still works.

Breech seals
There are two types of barrel breech seals – leather and synthetic. Leather needs to be lubricated often; synthetic seals pretty much take care of themselves. The breech seal keeps the breech tight when the gun is fired. At that moment, there is a small amount of high-pressure air trying to exit the transfer port, but it is blocked by the pellet in the breech. For a tiny fraction of a second, that air is contained by the breech seal! If you put talcum powder on the breech of a breakbarrel rifle, you’ll probably see a tiny puff of powder when the gun fires. More than a tiny puff means the seal leaks, BUT – don’t assume a seal leaks just by its appearance – be certain! Breech seals can look horrible but still work just fine.

Some triggers must never be lubricated because they are permanently lubed at the factory. All AirForce rifles have their triggers permanently lubed with a dry moly coating. If you were to put oil or grease on them, you could ruin the trigger’s function and void the limited lifetime warranty.

Other triggers can benefit from a small amount of moly grease at just the right spot. The Rekord trigger, found on Weihrauch and Beeman R-series rifles (except the RX-2), and the close-copy TX 200 trigger benefit from moly grease at the sear contact point.

The Beeman R1 book describes in detail how to disassemble spring-piston air rifles.

Some disassembly required
Some spring guns can be made very smooth through the proper lubrication. I’ve purposely not gone into the disassembly required to get to many of the parts mentioned above. Those who can get to them will find a way, and those who shouldn’t are better off not taking their guns apart. There are a few books that show how to disassemble these guns such as the The Beeman R1 Supermagnum Air Rifle. If this is something you want to do, please get a book first. Otherwise, you’re better off sending your airgun to one of the airgunsmiths who can do the job professionally.

Why foot-pounds is the most meaningful airgun power rating

by B.B. Pelletier

I posted an article on foot-pounds back on July 15. A fellow calling himself “nordattack” took issue with what I said. I told him I would need to think about what he had said, then make my reply. Instead, I forgot to do anything about it. On December 21 an anonymous poster very clearly made the argument I should have made, so I’ll give the credit for this post to whoever that was. Here is why I believe foot-pounds is the MOST ACCURATE method to rate power in an airgun.

nordattack proved my point!
nordattack said, “If we are simply told an airgun has 25 foot pounds at the muzzle, again without knowing the weight of the pellet, we are clueless. I mean it could be a 900 caliber pellet going 5 feet per second!” No sir, we are not clueless. I can tell you A LOT of things about an airgun that produces 25 foot-pounds at the muzzle. Here goes!

No manufacturer is going to show their own gun in a bad light.
We know that a spring gun almost always generates greater power with light pellets, while a pneumatic or CO2 gun does just the reverse. So, depending on the powerplant, we can at least determine the range of pellet weights used for testing, if not the exact pellet. If the gun in question is a Diana RWS 350 Magnum, which is a spring gun, and .177 caliber, it has to shoot 6.9-grain Hobby pellets at 1,277 f.p.s. to generate 25 foot-pounds. Since that’s too fast for that rifle (it tops out at about 1,150 f.p.s. in .177), the stated energy is probably false. In .177, an RWS 350 Magnum probably produces a little more than 20 foot-pounds (6.9-grain pellet moving 1,150 f.p.s. at the muzzle).

If, however, the spring rifle happens to be a .22 caliber 350 Magnum, then to produce 25 foot-pounds it would have to shoot 11.9-grain .22-caliber Hobby pellets at 972 f.p.s., which IS believable! And, if it does that, it will probably also shoot 21-grain .22-caliber Kodiaks at about 700 f.p.s., which generates 22.85 foot-pounds. Can I rely on that number? Not exactly, but I can be reasonably certain that the rifle won’t shoot .22 Kodiaks as fast as 775 f.p.s., but that it will be faster than 675 f.p.s. I arrived in that ballpark from the stated foot-pounds, even though I know that, to get those foot-pounds, the manufacturer had to shoot the lightest pellet it could find.

How do you know spring guns get more energy from light pellets, while pneumatics get more energy from heavy pellets?
Simple! I tested several different pellets and observed the results. You can do the same. While this phenomenon is not 100 percent guaranteed, it will turn out that way most of the time.

Knowing the muzzle energy tells you a lot about the airgun!
If you tell me a certain airgun produces 30 foot-pounds in .22 caliber, I know from experience that the gun has enough power to shoot 28-grain Eun Jin pellets. If it’s a spring gun, I know it was tested with light pellets and will only generate about 25 foot-pounds with Eun Jins. Going to the energy calculator on the Pyramyd Air website, I can convert that to a muzzle velocity of 634 f.p.s. If the gun is a PCP, I know that it was probably tested with Eun Jins to get the stated 30 foot-pounds. That’s 694 f.p.s. And, I know that it will get less energy with Kodiaks, perhaps 27 foot-pounds or so, which turns out to be 761 f.p.s. Those numbers are not exact, but they are in the ballpark, and that’s what the energy level of airguns can tell me.

Velocity, alone, has much less meaning
Telling me the muzzle velocity alone is like saying, “Here’s a partial score – Cleveland 11….” You didn’t tell me who they were playing nor what kind of game they were playing. I remember reading about a Beeman P1 that some guy converted to shoot 1/8-inch ball bearings, just so he would get 800 f.p.s. The converted gun was a smoothbore, so the accuracy was lost, but he had that magic number! Velocity by itself is meaningless.

Muzzle energy tells the whole story!
Muzzle energy, however, is the combination of both velocity and the weight of the projectile. Because we know the general span of pellet weights for each caliber, muzzle energy clues us into BOTH pellet weight and velocity at the same time. Knowing the performance of the various powerplants (i.e., spring guns favor light pellets, PCPs and CO2 guns like heavy pellets) allows us to quickly determine the gun’s performance range with all types of ammunition.

Johnson Indoor Target Gun

by B.B. Pelletier

The Johnson Indoor Target gun was a slingshot with a stock!

In the 1940s and early 1950s, the Johnson Indoor Target Gun was sold by sporting goods stores like Stoegers. Although I am calling it an airgun, it isn’t actually operated by air. It is really a catapult gun – sort of a slingshot with a trigger.

Blue Book!
I have touted the Blue Book of Airguns Fifth Edition so many times that you’re probably sick of it by now. However, in the case of the Johnson, they have a few errors. First – is the name. They call it the Johnson Indoor Target “RIFLE,” when it doesn’t even have a barrel, let alone rifling. I’m showing a closeup of the printing on the right side of the gun, and we’ll let you decide.

Clearly a gun and not a rifle, the Johnson doesn’t even HAVE a barrel!

Second – they list the caliber as No. 6 birdshot, like the Daisy .118-caliber Targeteer and the Sharpshooter catapult pistols. In reality, the Johnson shoots regular steel BBs. It’s a repeater in that it stores many BBs onboard in a spring-loaded magazine on top of the gun, but it seems more like a single-shot because of a rather involved cocking procedure.

A very expensive gun!
In 1948, the price for a Johnson was $15. At the same time, there were two Savage .22 rimfires for less money, and a Benjamin 132 pistol went for $13.50! Perhaps, that’s the reason we encounter so many new or nearly new Johnsons today. About 10 years ago, brand-new, old-stock Johnsons still in the box were being sold at airgun shows for $100. I saw one of these as recently as three years ago at Roanoke. Although the price had climbed to $120, it was still an unused gun! This availability of pristine examples has conspired to keep run-of-the-mill guns under $60.

The boxes are all disintegrating
Johnson boxes are made from acidic pasteboard and, as a result, every one of them is disintegrating today. The ends fall off and a cheesecloth screen pasted inside the top is turning to white powder. I suppose a paper conservator could stop the damage, but I doubt whether many boxes will be saved. In 50 years, there probably won’t be a Johnson box left.

Each gun sat inside a box that turned into a shooting gallery with metal spinners on a wire stand that connected to the box. The cheesecloth hung behind to stop the shots. There was also a small bundle of replacement rubber bands.

The gun has fully adjustable front and rear sights. The rear is a peep sight that actually works very well, while the front adjusts for windage. The crisp trigger-pull makes it possible to hit very small targets at close range.

Surgical rubber tubing makes a handy replacement for the original Johnson rubber bands. This arrangement is inside the top cover, where the band can be captured by the launcher during cocking and loading.

The mechanism that both cocked and loaded the gun

Weird cocking!
To cock and load, a pair of metal fingers at the “breech” are squeezed together and pushed forward, pushing a plastic launcher in front of them. A groove in the launcher captures the rear of the rubber band and the entire mechanism now slides to the rear, where the sear catches it with a click. As it passes a metal release lever in the magazine, one BB is dropped into the launcher seat.

Velocity depends on the strength of the rubber band, and my own gun can fling a BB up to 101 f.p.s. It never varies by more than two f.p.s., which makes it even more stable than an airgun. Of course, 100 f.p.s. isn’t much, but the scale of the target gallery is perfect for it.

I admit I don’t shoot mine very much. It’s too cumbersome and too slow! But, I’ll always keep it for the sheer curiosity of the thing.