by B.B. Pelletier
QB78 is a good copy of Crosman’s famous 160/167 air rifle. It is available in both .177 and .22.
Many airgunners are fond of saying they wish such and such an airgun was remade. “If they would just remake the Crosman 600, I’d buy one!” Well, in 1986 Daisy remade a very accurate copy of their pre-1920 No. 25 pump BB gun, and I didn’t buy one – despite being one of those who was most vocal about wanting it. Years later, I had the privilege of paying nearly twice what Daisy had asked when the replica was new.
The Crosman 160
Not long after Crosman quit making the 160 rifle, the same cry went up from the airgunning crowd. Used gun prices escalated and everyone said they would buy a replica if they were made again. So, a man named Henry Harn did just that. He had Tim McMurray build a custom 160 with several of his most popular modifications, and Harn took it to China to have it copied. The resulting rifle was called the QB22 in .22 caliber and the QB77 in .177. The price of the new rifle was apparently so high that sales were not as good as anticipated, and within a few years the gun was becoming hard to find.
By then, the Chinese came out with their own version of the gun, a rifle they called the QB78. This rifle exists in both .177 and .22; the model remains the same for both. It sold for less than half what the other copies retailed, and sales were brisk from the start. A QB78 looks like a QB22/77 that hasn’t been given the same attention to finishing. At its heart, it is a rather faithful copy of the original Crosman 160/167 in its most-evolved form. A discussion of those features follows.
The final Crosman 160 trigger was adjustable, and a very nice one for the price. The QB78 also has an adjustable trigger with a manual safety. To adjust it, the action is removed from the stock, and then a sideplate is removed from the unitized trigger. You can adjust pull-weight, sear engagement and overtravel – very sophisticated for this under-$100 price range.
The 20″ barrel is the one shortcoming of the 78. Not that it is inaccurate, because plenty of them are very accurate. But quality control hasn’t been as good for the QB78 as it was for the Crosman and QB22/77 rifles that preceded it. If you get a good one, you can rejoice. Most of them are good, I’m sure, but there always exists the specter of a bad barrel.
Power source is one area where the Chinese have surpassed Crosman. The basic rifle uses two 12-gram Powerlets to get a good number of shots. I’ve heard up to 80 shots reported from a set of Powerlets, though I would rate it more conservatively at 60 shots. The old Crosman 160 got only 30-35 shots per set of Powerlets, so things have advanced pretty far. Once a shooter gets the QB bug, Powerlets soon give way to bulkfill. The original Crosman also had a bulk adapter option, but the technology has advanced way beyond where Crosman left off. The target version of the gun even has a lever to exhaust the remaining gas and chill the gun to receive a full fill. That’s to prepare it for a 60-shot match.
The gun has also been adapted to operate on paintball tanks – sort of a People’s AirSource cartridge. So, the filling options are many, and shooters can operate this airgun quite inexpensively.
The QB78 comes with adjustable open sights. More importantly, it has an 11mm dovetail rail for scopes. That’s something the old 160s lacked. The target version of the rifle has optional aperture sights from China. They copy an old version of the FWB 300 sight and are very useful for match shooting.
This is the 78’s real strength. Because it’s so affordable, a great number of people are offering modifications. Many airgunsmiths learned their trade of this rifle and are now pleased to pass it along.
Because of all the modification possibilities, the only performance I can report is what the factory rifle gets. The .177 rifle gets somewhere in the mid-700 f.p.s. region with lighter pellets, and the .22 gets about 600 f.p.s. That’s just under the final Crosman 160 power level; but, as I said, modifications are everywhere, so you can change things if you want. The biggest change in today’s guns is that the majority are .177, while .22 was preferred in the past.
On a calm day, a stock QB78 should keep all its shots on a nickel at 20 yards, or a quarter at 25. Shoot Crosman Premiers and JSB Exacts for best results. It’s a good idea to clean the barrel of a new gun, but you must be careful to keep bore paste out of the transfer port (located in front of the loading trough). If you have a fresh charge in the gun, you can blast a few shots of gas to clear the transfer port, but be sure to thoroughly clean the barrel and breech afterwards.
The QB78 is one of those good ideas whose timing was nearly perfect. Had Crosman stayed with the gun, it probably would have increased in price by this time, while the Chinese copy is well under $100. As long as you understand the quality crapshoot, this is a hard bargain to pass up.