by B.B. Pelletier

Crosman’s CG was a standard 101 pneumatic with a CO2 tank hung below the action. It held CO2 for hundreds of shots!

The longer I study airguns, the more I’m convinced there are precious few new ideas. No doubt that you are aware of Crosman’s 88-gram AirSource CO2 cylinder introduced a few years ago. It holds enough CO2 liquid and gas to power a gun for hundreds of shots. But, the AirSource isn’t a new idea. There were Crosman guns with massive CO2 tanks in the 1940s, just after World War II. Today I’d like to share one with you.

Military surplus
The popular story (which sounds true) is that the military had thousands of brass CO2 tanks left after the war. They had been used to inflate life rafts. When someone from Crosman located them, they thought it was too good to leave alone. Before the war, Crosman had been working on some shooting gallery rifles that were tethered with hoses to large bulk gas tanks. These small 4-oz. tanks seemed ideal for making an autonomous gun, so that’s just what they did.

The Silent makeover
Taking the Silent pneumatic (the model 100 and 101 from 1924), Crosman tweaked the valve to run on CO2 and hung the tank down from the gun. This also wasn’t a new idea, since ball reservoir airguns had done pretty much the same thing with a spherical air reservoir since the middle 18th century. The new gun was called the model 100/101CG, for compressed gas. None of the guns had model numbers marked on them, as Crosman wasn’t doing that at the time.

Other than how the gun is powered, the rest of the rifle is the same as a 1940s 101 pneumatic…the same maple and walnut stocks, the same peep sights and the same painted finishes. My rifle has a steel barrel, which I think was more common than brass in that era.

Besides the rare .177 and the far more common .22 caliber rifles, they also made a ball-firing .21 caliber rifle. The idea was that a proprietary caliber would force shooters to come to Crosman for ammunition. That caliber was somewhat scarcer than .22 but a lot more common than .177. No ammunition is available today, except in collections.

The slanted tank
The straight vertical tank shown here is the most common variation of the CG rifle. There was also a version in which the tank slanted backwards on an angle. It’s somewhat scarcer but not at all rare.

The CG guns were powerhouses for their day. The one shown above gets 575 f.p.s. with .22-caliber Crosman Premier pellets. The valves in both the rifle and the tank were refurbished by Rick Willnecker about eight years ago to bring them up to specs, and the CO2 tank has never been allowed to run dry since then. It will probably hold for the next 40 years.

Compare that performance to a modern Benjamin AS392T, which gets 610 f.p.s. with the same pellet. Accuracy is equivalent to a Crosman pneumatic of the same period, which is almost the same as a Benjamin 392 pneumatic today. The trigger is lighter because there were far fewer worries about product liability in those days.

You’ll pay $250 and up these days for a CG in working condition. I find it a pleasant rifle with funky looks and a reminder that there are seldom completely new ideas.