The Skanaker: a Crosman pistol you may never have seen!

by B.B. Pelletier

Think you’ve just about seen it all? Well, don’t get bored just yet. Think about the days when Crosman tried to enter the Olympics!

Crosman’s model 88 Skanaker 10-meter target pistol was a huge departure from the company’s normal line.

They did WHAT?
Yep! Crosman built two target airguns capable of competing at the world-class level. In 1984, they brought out the model 84 rifle. It was a bulk-fill CO2-powered target rifle with a digital gauge on the right side of the stock that showed the pressure remaining in the gun. No other air rifle ever had such a gauge and none has had one since. The rifle was hand made by Crosman and probably just over 100 guns were assembled. At over $1,295, it was priced beyond the competition, plus the world-class shooters were just beginning to move away from CO2 as a power source.

The Skanaker
The Skanaker model 88 pistol was designed in consultation with Swedish free-pistol champion, Ragnar Skanaker, hence the name. It is a large, heavy air pistol that seems quite dated today when compared to modern target guns. In its day (1987 to 1991), it was closer to what shooters wanted but never in the same class with Steyr, Feinwerkbau and Walther. And, by missing that level, the pistol was assured of never placing high in the world standings. I shot one briefly in regional NRA competition, but several design aspects conspired to make me glad to trade up to a different gun. The last retail price in 1991 was $795, very high for a pistol.

When I acquired mine, Skanakers were a glut on the market. They had ended production several years earlier, but Crosman dealers had a difficult time getting rid of the remaining guns. The dealer who sold mine practically threw in the kitchen sink just to make the gun change hands. I got three of the removable CO2 cylinders – two of which are shown in the picture. There was also a larger one that held more gas but also made the gun frightfully muzzle-heavy. There were three different muzzle weights and a complete set of tools that any 10-meter pistol might have (wrenches, tank spanners, screwdrivers and bulk tank adaptors). The gun came in a large hard case with everything, plus a set of spare O-rings for a rebuild. The dealer threw that in on his own accord. I also got a 5-lb. CO2 tank to take to matches.

Some strange features!
The Skanaker had EXPANDING grips! It’s the only gun I ever saw that did, other than a “try” gun used by shotgun makers for fitting the gun to the shooter. The gun’s CO2 tanks have bleedoff valves opposite the inlet valve, making this gun the most efficient CO2 gun to fill in the field. The power was a bit brisk, too, with velocities in excess of 600 f.p.s. with light pellets. That’s about 100 f.p.s. too fast for target shooting and it makes the gun recoil noticeably. Plus, it’s always the loudest gun at the match. Neither thing is very desirable. It lacked the sophisticated grip angle adjustments the big boys were starting to incorporate, but the grip was built with a rotation angle that made a right-hand shooter lock his wrist to shoot. That was a good thing.

A good silhouette gun
The extra power makes the Skanaker perfect for airgun silhouette, which is where a lot of them have gone. They will be scoped and their extra weight will not matter when shooting from the modified Creedmore position that handgun silhouette shooters seem to favor.

Their value today
Skanakers have grown in value, though they are still not a top-flight investment. You should still be able to buy one with two tanks, all the tools and adaptors in a case for $400, or thereabouts. It’s not the gun to take up 10-meter pistol with, especially with the IZH 46M being so affordable and available. But, if you want a butt-kicking CO2 pistol with accuracy and a flare of its own, maybe the Skanaker is for you.

15 thoughts on “The Skanaker: a Crosman pistol you may never have seen!

  1. Interesting b.b I have NEVER heard of ANY pistol at 600 fps,much less a co2!It also strange how crosman priced it that high as their guns seem to be always lower priced then guns of comparable match of other companys.

  2. Well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? When Crosman imported the Logun guns everyone told them it was a mistake because their name is tied to a certain market impression. Yet, they have kept the Benjamin Sheridan names for the higher-end guns that they make for the similar market. THAT they understand! I guess it’s all tied to how “real” the company views the business.


  3. well the benjamin/sheridan guns in my oppinion are the best by for the low prices they offer,a 800 fps .22 break barrel ben/sheridan for only $165 is a very good price,I dont understand the obsession with the gamo cf – x which isn’t even available in .22 caliber in the U.S. I think I am giong to buy the legacy 1000 looks like a all around powerfull quality and fairly accuarte gun for a very low price.I do not understand how somone could by the way over priced logun models,there are other companys that are selling guns for $1000 which is rediculus unless you are a sirious world class compition shooter.

  4. well maybe if they sold logun models for low prices yes,but I would never buy a U.K. model because they are just plain too expensive.I cant understand the point in spending $800 on a gun like the gladi8tor

  5. If you won’t buy a UK model I hope you at least get the chance to borrow someone’s TX-200. It would be a shame not to experience it.
    I went from a CF-X to the TX-200. It is like night and day.
    Thanks BB

  6. Off topic, has anyone had any experience with the BSA air rifle scopes? Seems they make a 3-9×40 and a 3-9×43 with the later being priced slightly higher and the 43 seem to weigh a bit less. Any thoughts as which is better or is one replacing the other. I plan to put one of these on a RWS 52 using a Gamo one-piece adjustable mount. I know this is not a top quality set up, but it is affordable and I already have the Gamo mount. Any thoughts would be most appreciated.

  7. I have a BSA 3-12X40 on my CF-X and I am happy with it. I know I have shot over 1000 pellets since mounting the scope. Be careful of the adjustable mounts, I had a hard time stopping mine from moving.

  8. Coupla points on the Skanakars (I have 2): They aren’t that heavy — ligher, in fact than the FWB 80 and 90. The grip is adjustable for both size AND drop angle; trigger has several internal adjustments besides length of pull, shoe angle, etc. Velocity is adjustable, front sight post is three-sided and rotates for different widths, different rear sight inserts snap in, and the breach is adjustable for seal compression/wear.
    All in all, ahead of its time and as accurate as anything else out there in its day.

  9. I have had mine since 1989, still shooting and love it. I know that there are better air pistols on the market, but this pistol shoots very consistently. It is loud and it does recoil, but when I do my part I am very happy with my scores. I guess I am simply too cheap to upgrade and since I shoot only against my last score and not in competition with other shooters, I reckon I can stick with what I have and be happy. Kris

    • Still shooting my Skannaker, still happy with it. I also still have my Czech B96 (Aeron) and enjoy it also, the Skannaker groups better, but sometimes having a 5 round repeater to work on timed and rapid fire is enjoyable. I still am considering parting with the money to pick up either a Steyr LP50 or a FWB P58, both will likely be discontinued before I make an order however. I simply enjoy my Air pistols and rifles as they are easy to shoot daily and when I go to the range to shoot my rim and center fire pistols and rifles the homework with the Air guns make them worth far more than I spend to acquire and maintain them. I currently have the Crosman Skannaker, the Aeron B96, a Gamo Compact and for rifles, the RWS models 75U and 75T as well as a Gamo (Daisey) model 126 single pump pneumatic. I have rebuilt the Model 126 twice and it is a royal pain to work on. I also have several high velocity spring piston field guns that do well during Squirrel season. A great Friend and fellow Gunsmith turned me onto Air gun shooting back in the mid eighties, my scores in the 2700 matches improved radically within two years thanks to shooting daily with the air pistols, I have never regretted taking Jim’s advice to invest in both Air pistols and Air rifles. He had a FWB 65 that was well used and a blast to shoot as well as a RWS 75T. Back when I was going to monthly rimfire silhouette matches, the model 75U that I purchased made me a better competitor as I shoot daily and most of the other shooters only shot on the days that they could go to the range, huge advantage, especially using the scale 10M indoor targets and the actual air rifle silhouette targets in the back yard. Unfortunately the club stopped conducting the matches, no issues as I still enjoy shooting silhouettes anyway, matches are great, but sometimes the best competitor is your last score.
      Thank you for posting articles as I do enjoy reading them.

Leave a Reply