by B.B. Pelletier

This post is for me. I answer questions posted to this blog every day, 365 days a year, except when I’m out of the country. Some of those questions are simple, fundamental things that are explained in the owner’s manual that comes with a gun. In fact, a lot of the time, I end up reading the manual and quoting it back to the person who asked the question (and he should have a copy of the manual tucked in the same box the gun came in). Since I don’t own every airgun ever made, I use the excellent online owner’s manual library right here on Pyramyd Air.

What to expect in an owner’s manual
A good owner’s manual tells you important things, such as how to load the repeater’s magazine. Some folks look at an airgun and assume it works like a firearm they’re familiar with. With airguns, that’s usually wrong. I remember once handing an Colt M1911A1 to a guy who, “Knew all about the 1911,” only to have the dummy dump a brand new CO2 cartridge when he attempted to pry the “magazine” out of the gun. What he did was press the button that, on the firearm, would release the mag. On the CO2 pistol, it pops out the left grip panel. By prying down on the “magazine” floorplate, he really worked the cam lever that relaxes tension on the cartridge! Big laugh for him, and half a buck out of my pocket.

Then, there was the guy who “Knew all about the M16,” so I let him shoot my Armalite (Classic Army) M15A4 airsoft gun…unsupervised. I got it back with the charging handle pulled out and the spring broken. There was absolutely no operational reason for him to pull that handle, but he “Knew all about the M16” so he just did it anyway! That one cost more to fix.

I’ve seen firsthand the guy who doesn’t read a manual and jumps into the gun just far enough to screw it up. However, when someone posts a comment to this blog, I have to take his word that he knows what he’s doing. Sometimes, if I ask enough pointed questions, the guy will reveal that he hasn’t got a clue how his gun operates, and then we can get to fixing the problem. I always wonder where the owner’s manual is while this is going on.

All manuals are not the same
Owners’ manuals range from very comprehensive and detailed to the bare minimum. The German, Austrian and American manuals are the best. They show the most detail and are usually written in tutorial terms that assume little gun experience on the reader’s part. The Spanish and Russian manuals are good, but can be a little thin. The Russians are better, but they often don’t pay to have their words properly translated, although EAA has gone far in correcting this. The Chinese and UK manuals are the worst, and it differs from maker to maker and even gun to gun. It’s not unusual to get a Xeroxed pamphlet from a UK maker when buying a $2,000 airgun! The Chinese don’t bother to translate their manuals well, resulting in hard-to-follow English. Other Asian countries are somewhat better than the Chinese, though in some cases they ship guns without manuals!

What manuals don’t contain
There’s been a shift away from providing detailed information over the past 25 years. It’s not common for a manual written today to contain disassembly instructions or a schematic or even a parts list for the airgun. Oddly, the more expensive guns are the ones that do still have this info, and the UK manuals that I just criticized are also the ones that tell you step-by-step how to disassemble their guns! My Whiscombe came with a Xeroxed pamphlet that has such instructions. However, the Brits still write at a very high level, so you are expected to know the language well if you want to follow their instructions.

Most manuals tell you how to cock, load and charge the airgun but not how to tear it down or make repairs. That’s fair. After all, your car owner’s manual doesn’t tell you how to rebuild the engine, either!

Bottom of the home page
If you lose track of this posting, you can always access the manuals library from the home page of Pyramyd Air’s website. Scroll to the bottom and click on “Manuals” under the “Customer Support” heading.