Great airgun finds

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.

27 thoughts on “Great airgun finds”

  1. BB
    Have you ever posted an ad in the local newspaper, “wanted to buy used air rifles”? If so, what section would be best? Any advice here would be appreciated.


  2. B.B.

    Well, getting a good airgun for a cheap price is really up my alley. But I think the operative term here is that you have to know a lot about airguns to go into individual dealing. For the time being, I’ll stick with PA and this blog to point me to good deals.

    Incidentally, the write-up of the Wilson pistol makes me wonder if someday I should actually get a really high-quality top-of-the-line gun. I’ll have to get a lot better to make that worthwhile.


  3. The same advise can be used for just about every pre-owned item.

    Another thing that people should know when buying a used airgun or firearm. If the gun is pre-owned but only a year or two old and looks as if it were brand new, it is probably defective and the previous owner was too lazy to make a warranty claim. When I was a dealer, I seen this happen several times. A person comes in wanting to trade in their used but new gun, saying that it works fine, but that they either don’t like it or need the money. Someone else comes along and buys it, thinking that they’re getting a great deal only to have to send it to the manufacturer for repairs. Many manufacturers will not honer the warranty on a pre-owned gun.

    My advice to everyone looking to get a used airgun or firearm, look for something older that has clear signs of use but is in good shape and not worn out.


  4. BB

    I ran into a “good deal” example in a large sports retailer to also beware of. The closeout floor model. Only God knows what those guns have been through. They had two BSA Lightnings that had not sold from when the store opened, one in .22 and a .177, a little scratched up, a small ding here and there. overall not bad because they were $100 off. Am I right in thinking the real hidden problem is, both guns were cocked and had trigger locks in place and from talking to the sales person behind the counter I was left with the feeling they had been cocked for months if not for the entire year the store has been open. I am guessing the advertised fps ratings are going to be a little low and the refurb would cost quite a bit more than the discount.


  5. thanks for that article! that was helpful!
    i once walked into a small sport shop, saw 2 rifles on the wall behind the counter. i couldnt tell what kind they were so i asked the store guy if they were air guns. he told me that no they were not, they were”high powered pellet rifles”

  6. BB, can you help clear up this on going debate on Crosman Premier pellett LOTS . Lot 1 and 7 are dies correct? Why are some guy’s always saying lot7 is bad, or Lot #7 is great etc. I cannot understand why the die would make great pellet and then turn around and make a shoddy or inferior pellet unless their was some kind of diffence in the metal or lead alloys being used. What gives?

  7. BB,

    I’m the master knife collector! My favorite time was when i got a $500 Microtech scarab for $300. I just got another Microtech about a week ago for about $170 and its normally $250. Its easy with knives, or at least more so than airguns. You should look at microtech, they make my favorite knives. I have more stories but i think that will do!


  8. Just to chime in on the floor model concerns – I have a friend in South Carolina who regularly sees salesmen at a major sporting goods store dry fire spring guns in an ignorant attempt to demonstrate how solidly they kick. What’s even scarier is that many of the customers don’t know any better and learn that this is okay.

  9. One thing that’s tough at the air gun shows is their policy that you are not allowed to dry fire the air gun at all. From a safety point of view, this makes total sense and I wouldn’t change it. It just makes it a little more difficult to really know if it’s going to work or not. Gotta hope that the seller is honest.

    Al in Ct

  10. bb,

    I’m still going through pawnshops when I have the chance, but I’ve not seen much in the way or airguns or airgun accessories.

    A little off topic but I just got my Crosman B272 4-piece Intermount today and I was wondering how tight I should make it. I’m kinda worried about breaking the soldering. Does anyone here know have any suggestions or knowledge?
    Should I tighten it just enough that there is no movement or wobblying? Or should I just go with what feels right?

    Oh, and I just got Crosman pellgun Oil, is that just a couple drops on the pump head?


  11. JWB,

    You’re wearing me out! I’m on the road and driving all day, then writing a blog and answering emails at night.

    Please hold your questions until Feb 14.

    Crosman pellet box numbers are die numbers, but dies alone don’t guarantee quality. The alloy can be off, the machines maladjusted or worn. So the dies number isn’t as important as it used to be, when Crosman paid more attention and the machines were much newer.


  12. BB
    Sorry to post two comments in one Blog. Please enjoy your trip! You deserve it! I suggest you remind us all about the trip on top of the day! I think you flock will understand if you did not post anything for a week!

    Have fun, and please do no respond to this!
    Your friend

  13. Great article, BB!

    I wouldn’t have caught either of these examples. I’ll stick to the in person at a gun show or yard sale. For used, I think I’ll probably stick with what PA lists. At least they’ll inspect and back up what they sell.

    I’m thinking that I will now see a flock of airgunners haunting all the pawnshops from now on. I won”t even be able to walk into one anymore without tripping over one of you guys.


  14. I found a HW77 on a auction site here in South Africa, paid about 40% of the new price and the gun really is in mint condition. The guy even said he’d take it back within one week if I didn’t like it. He also gave me a rifle bag and A set of Anschutz Diopter sights. I still think this is probably the best deal Ill ever find on an airgun.


  15. BB,

    Apologies for another off-topic post. My daughter has enjoyed shooting with me on and off for the past couple of years. She’s 9 years old, and I think a pretty fair shot for her age. She holds her air rifle right handed but sights with her left eye. This looks painfully awkward, and seemed really odd to me until I realized that her left eye is dominant. Any thoughts on that? Should I encourage her to try shooting left-handed? In a way it doesn’t matter— we are just plinking for enjoyment (and of course practicing safe gun handling habits). But I wonder if she’d have more fun, and end up shooting better, if she tried a different way.

  16. B.B.,
    Why are the airgun shows always held in some small cities or towns where you can’t do much except going to the show? You know it is not that easy to sell an airgun vacation package to the wife though 🙂


  17. Cheapskate,

    Encourage your daughter to try to shoot left-handed. Today’s post has a photo of a range, and the rifle is my wife’s BR-50 rifle with an offset scope. It doesn’t work that well and cannot be used at different ranges, due to sideways parallax.

    My wife is also left-eye dominant and thought this would be the solution, but it’s not.


  18. Alan,

    The Baldwinsville airgun show is held in conjunction with a 3000-stall antique show in Syracuse! There are plenty of antique shops around Roanoke, too.

    As for where the shows are held, they are held where there is an organizer to put them on.

    I understand your concern, because I’m at the SHOT Show with my wife. Fortunately it’s at Las Vegas this year, but next year it will be in Orlando, and there is no attraction there for her. 🙂


  19. Reputable bamboo fly rod dealers (I fish them) allow a three-day inspection period when you buy a vintage rod from them.

    It wouldn’t be out of line to insist on something similar from an individual or dealer on an airgun.

    That said, I’ve stopped buying fly rods via ebay due to all the misrepresentations, fabrications, and outright stupidity.

    I’d love to find a deal on a clean 342/392, but after getting burned so often, I’ll probably just go new…

  20. Hi Trout Underground,

    OT- I take it that the “Bury Me With My Phillipson Bamboo Fly Rods” article and Trout Underground blog are yours. I have a question for you.

    I have an old Phillipson Pacemaker that I bought at a garage sale for 5 bucks about 20 some odd years ago. The metal tube it came in is in rough shape. The rod looks as though it needs refinishing. Otherwise it’s in good shape and has its spare tip. Can you tell me what kind of varnish was used and if refinishing it would take away from it’s value? Also, what would it be worth now in its present shape? From reading your article, I realize they aren’t terribly valuable.


  21. Sorry BB got to take issue with you here. I have a BSA Cadet Major which other than the serial number (geniune BSA sequence) is unmarked. Its an old gun, and worn, and some BSA’s did have a very light etching on the blueing, which is now gone. Also no marks on the stock, where you might expect to see the BA piled arms symbol.

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