by B.B. Pelletier

This one is for anybody who’s looking for a great airgun at a reasonable price. Wouldn’t we all like that?

Internet gun auctions
There are some great airguns on the gun auction sites, but first a big warning. There are also a lot of shysters who prey on honest people. The following is an auction description. See if you can spot the problem.

BSA CADET-MAJOR .177 AIR RIFLE – The gun is not visably marked – I had a hard time finding info on this gun – It is listed on page 35 of Hiller’s “AIR RIFLES THIRD EDITION” – The rear sight is the type that BSA used on their pre-war air rifles (the sight alone is worth at least $40.00) – Their gun had no visable model and name as well since the make and model was lightly etched on top of the receiver –

Know what’s wrong? BSA always marked their airguns. There is no such thing as an unmarked BSA. There are, however, copies of every BSA model…but made in India, Japan or South Africa. These guns are also well made by today’s standards, but they aren’t in the same class as BSA. Sometimes, the Japanese guns have a few characters on them, but I have seen guns without any markings.

If a BSA Cadet-Major is worth $350, one of these guns is worth $150 or less. So, don’t get suckered in. I wouldn’t bother conversing with the seller, but if you do, be kind. He may not have known what he had was not the genuine article. However, I have seen a few who did know and tried to prey on the newer airgunners.

Another common ploy
Here is another very common trick that I see all the time. It’s found on the auction sites, and on classified ads, as well. Can you identify it?

Seller’s Description:

Sheridan Products Inc., Racine, Wisconsin – Made in the USA. “Silver Streak” 5m/m Caliber. Front Pellet Pump Rifle. Fixed iron sights – rear adjustable. Safety is behind bolt. Bore is shiny. 37″ overall length. Used – there are some nicks and scratches in the wood. There is some surface rust here and there. Some surface wear and pitting. All seems to function – I have never used it.

Know what’s wrong? It’s the last sentence. “I have never used it.” Some common variations on this same theme are, “It uses CO2 cartridges and I don’t have any to try in it” and “I really don’t know how this thing works.” Yeah – right! They know how it works and they can get a CO2 cartridge the same as you, but when they did, it didn’t work. They want you to accept that it might not work, while not telling you outright. I avoid dealers with sales jargon like this, and I advise you to as well.

So, are there any good airgun buys to be had?
Yes! There are TONS of them, if you know where to look. For starters, visit a local gun store and ask them if they ever get airguns. Chat them up and you might find they see a lot of airguns, even though they don’t officially handle them. If you give them your card they may call you when a widow comes in to sell her late husband’s gun collection. Or, when someone wants to sell them an entire gun collection, they will enjoy having someone to sell the airguns to.

Pawn shops are another good place to shop. Make friends with several local pawnbrokers by visiting their stores once a month. One day, they’ll surprise you with an Anschutz 250 target rifle that’s about to come out of pawn. Ask what they loaned for it and pay them 20 percent more. A typical buy would be an Anschutz 250 for $120, because they don’t loan much on airguns. So you save a cool $400, as I have done more than once. Don’t think for a moment that the pawnbroker will take the time to buy Blue Book of Airguns and look the gun up. If they can make a quick turnaround on something they don’t normally stock, they’re very happy.

Airgun shows
Bring a pocketful of money and just walk the aisles and talk. Sooner or later you will find the deals. Someone always wants to buy something else and needs money, so they’re willing to make a super deal. This is so common at airgun shows that I see it at every show I attend. In fact, you really have to be up on your airguns, so what I do is limit my deals to guns I know a lot about. I take a super sleeper like a BSA Meteor and wait until I find it for $80 in excellent condition. Or a Diana 27 for $150. You get the idea. I can probably do this with over 100 different models today, only because I have been doing this for the past 15 years. You’ll get there too, if you start today.