by B.B. Pelletier
When I was a young man in California in the 1960s, rumors circulated about World War II Harley Davidson motorcycles still in the crate selling for ridiculously low prices. You had to assemble them, and they probably needed new tires, of course, but $100 got you a brand new old bike. I never found any of them, but I don’t doubt they existed because of some other wonderful airgun deals I did happen to get in on. That’s what I’m talking about today.
My first great deal
Putting aside the like-new M1903 Springfield I bought for just $35 in the 1960s (yes, I did that, but my college income was only about $100/month, so $35 didn’t seem cheap), the first big deal I stumbled on was the end of the Navy Arms sale of 1954 Hakim trainers for $65 each. The rifles were made by Anschutz as trainers for the Egyptian Army and I happened to already own one, or I wouldn’t have bought four more. They were advertised in Shotgun News in one of those jumbled ads few people read.
The guns were in terrible condition, with sand mixed in with long-term storage grease, but all four ended up working, as I recall. Today, a clean one will fetch $275 and a beater still brings $200. They will group like a 10-meter rifle at close range, and can be tuned up to 550 f.p.s. with .22 caliber pellets. They will even accept a scope! I just checked and it seems I have never blogged this rifle for you, despite having owned more than a dozen over the years, so we’ll get to that in the future.
When the Wall fell…
Many of you are too young to remember the Berlin Wall except in history books, but I remember when it went up and when it fell. When the former East Germany fell and western eyes went in, there was a garage sale of unbelievable proportions. It’s still going on today in the military surplus world. One airgun incident happened when a South Carolina pawnshop owner bought several hundred target airguns that had belonged to the Stasi (East German secret police). The pawnshop owner contacted me because I was publishing The Airgun Letter, and he wondered if I would tell my readers about his guns.
There were three principal models: a Haenel 310 bolt-action repeater that shot 4.4mm round lead balls, a Haenel 311 bolt-action single-shot target rifle and a Haenel 312 sidelever single-shot target rifle. The 310 went for $49 with one clip; the 311 went for $59 and the 312 went for $79, as I recall. I put the word out and the rifles sold well. So well that he bought a second container of them. The 310 was so popular that John Groenewold imported a ton of 4.4mm lead balls that he still sells by the pound today. For about two years, the airgun community was awash in Haenel target airguns. Then, the supply sold out and today you can expect to pay $200 for a 310 or a 311 and $300 or more for a 312.
Along with the three main types of guns came a handful of oddballs, and the dealer gave me one in appreciation for helping him get the word out. I looked at it yesterday. It’s a breakbarrel Haenel model III-264 that was probably produced in the 1960s or ’70s, and it reminded me of this time and the wonderful bargains we had. I did report on the Haenel 310 as well as the Haenel 311, so you can see what those guns look like. I’ll do the 264 at some point in the near future.
The Crosman potlatch
In the middle 1990s, management at Crosman wanted to divest themselves of their past so they could concentrate on the future. They emptied several “back rooms” full of guns and vintage parts and sold them to the lowest bidder. I happened to shop at the store owned by that bidder – Rick Willnecker. I was there when Rick took delivery of all the old model 101 guns and 1924 Crosman pump guns. There were hundreds of guns. Many were only for parts, but there were over a hundred complete guns. Mixed in with this stuff were several Montgomery Ward model 180 guns that I’d never seen before. They are a dual-powerlet gun that’s shorter than the 160, but larger than the regular 180. I still own the shop manual of Rene Vanderveld, the main Crosman repairman for many decades. A noted airgun dealer from South Carolina bought most of the vintage pumps, because Rick was mainly interested in the parts. But for a few months, Crosman 101 and 100 guns were everywhere.
Yes, you say, all well and good for you old fogies, but nothing like that ever happens now, does it? Yes, it does. Less than one year ago, I told you about the Predom Lucznik target pistol that was selling nationwide for about $50. I bought five of them to use as gifts as well as one to keep. Now, I may be more fortunate than you because I live in north central Texas, where Military Gun Supply was selling the guns with cases and holsters. Heck, they still have a few! So don’t think you’ve missed out. The super deals will keep right on coming for the rest of my life and yours as well, for that is the nature of things.
A wise man once said, “The deal of a lifetime comes along about every 18 months.”
33 thoughts on “The deal of a lifetime! Some fantastic airgun opportunities”
Well said sir. I bought a pair of those Polish pistols from MGS in Fort Worth as well. They are fun to dink around with – had no idea that these pistols for selling as high as $300 a few years ago.
Do you remember the classifieds in Boys Life promising $50 Jeeps and boats and all things that boys to have? Well I could never save the $50, but it made for some great daydreaming.
I did once buy a hovercraft when I was a kid. I remember having expectations of being able to ride around on it. My Mom tried to warn me, but what do Mom’s know, I was going to be in the hovercraft business. When it arrived it was around ten by twelve inches and was made of flimsy plastic. Wow, from idealistic to cynical in ten seconds.
Which brings me to your blog. A few weeks ago I read an article by a web business guy who interviewed you and wrote about your pitch to PA regarding your marketing ideas and the following that you’ve developed. There is a sound reason behind your success. Be encouraged. And, to folks new to this blog; there are no flimsy plastic hovercraft being pitched here.
Thank you for “getting it.” I feel this way and so does the owner of Pyramyd Air, Joshua Ungier.
And there may be a plastic hovercraft here, but I will tell you what it is. I cite the Marksman 1010, the Wamo Kruger pistol and the Gamo Raptor pellet. Then if you want to see what hovercraft are like, at least you’ll know what to expect.
I guess I was as disappointed as you in my youth, so now I want to warn all my friends.
Perhaps that hovercraft would be a good target for a 1010 shooting Gamo Raptors…
I don’t see the Predom pistols on the Military Gun Supply website – should I call them?
I’ve been looking for one lately…
I was last in the store about three weeks ago and they had a couple left in the glass case. But they have things in the back that they don’t put put, so I would expect you might find almost anything there.
Yes, call them. And please tell us what they say.
Well, this has my licking my chops naturally. It also reminds me of how airgunning has introduced me to economics which I have never studied formally; I guess microeconomics would be the field.
Part of me wants to buy everything I want now before prices go up. (35$ for a Springfield 1903!!) Part of me wants to leave a budget in reserve for the great deals that will come along. Part of me realizes that the more great deals I get the more I will be undercutting the earlier great deals which I won’t have as much time to use. But I guess an excess of choices is not really something to complain about.
Yes, indeed, the blog is very much value added to the hardware. The grizzled range officer who was admiring my IZH 61 the other day said that he had just about every kind of gun, yet he had never heard of mine.
I went through a long period of wanting to buy everything before the prices increase. Then I discovered a valuable secret, that keeps me relatively sane. Here it is:
There will ALWAYS be great deals. The secret is to expose yourself to the action and the deals will come to you.
Airgun shows are a great way to do this, and so are gun shows. But even if you never go outdoors, there’s always the classified ads websites, like American Airguns. The deals happen there, too.
And stick with me. I will tell you when there’s a great deal to be had.
I called them up!
$49.95 with $14.95 S&H to Oregon.
I ordered one.
That’s much less than they have been going for on Gunbroker and the various classifieds.
Thanks for putting me onto a bargain!
I do not know where exactly leave this question. It really has nothing to do with the thread.
I am planning to start an afternoon marksmanship course for students grade 6-12. Mostly to increase the student’s safe habits around hunting rifles and increase their marksmanship. This is an area with lots of young hunters.
The students will practice target shooting at about 15 yards. Mostly stationary, but maybe some moving targets once in a while. I would like the rifles to be handling similar to the rifles they use for hunting. I think it would be nice to offer several sight options, such as open, diopter, scope, red dot. I cannot spend much money and I would like to stay below or around 500 fps. Simple, inexpensive, safe, practical.
I believe I have narrowed the search down to two rifles: The Hammerli 490, or the Daisy 953, but I would like to hear any thoughts you have. What do you think about the Crosman Quest 500 or Winchester 500x for instance? Maybe you can direct me to an area where something like this was discussed before. Any feedback or ideas, also in regard to setting up a small range would be appreciated.
I really enjoy it when someone takes full advantage of the things in this blog. Thanks for the feedback.
First of all, there are no threads in this blog. You can make any comment you like at any time. I see all the comments and answer the ones I need to.
For beginning shooters I would not recommend a breakbarrel design like the 490, the Crosman or the Winchester. One mistake and fingers can be cut off. I recommend the 953 for safety reasons. Breakbarrels are okay if there is one-on-one coaching but if there are more shooters than coaches, I wouldn’t use them.
Second, I would first get all the shooters doing well with open sights before exposing them to dot sights and scopes. More potential marksmen have been ruined by optical sights than by anything else. A beginner has to learn the basics first.
Third, I don’t know if you saw it, but there is a short tutorial on teaching people to shoot in this blog. Start here:
All the previous parts of the report are linked at the top of Part 6.
Alright, everything is different now. I have just (15 minutes ago) received word that, after initial support, the administration higher up will not support a course that includes shooting with rifles. I am very disappointed but have not quite given up yet though. Shooting with air rifles is after all an Olympic Sport, we have and are proud of a world class level biathlete, and safety should be something that could be taught in a school. We even have an annual big gun show in the same building.
The main concerns seem to be that shooting air rifles is potentially dangerous (true of course)and that the issue of guns at school is controversial. It is all about perception.
This said, I need information about other school programs. Do you know of schools that currently offer an air rifle course?
Thank you for the warning about the break barrels and finger cutting issue. In this case I would prefer the Daisy if I worked with inexperienced and young students.
BTW, is the Hammerli 490 comparable in size to an adult hunting rifle? Is the Daisy 953 the better rifle even if the teacher/student ration is one/one or the students have some experience? What about the Crosman Quest (495fps version)? Is it comparable to the Hammerli? Like I said, I have not given up yet.
And, I want one for myself. 🙂
Well, thanks to your blog today, I guess I started to rebuild my airgun collection.
I had to be like Nick and grab up one of those Predoms.
Thanks again for giving us the inside scoop on this one!
I don’t know where you live, but in many communities a school rifle team is considered a good thing. Usually it will be part of the Junior ROTC program, which is children older than you were planning to teach, but it isn’t unheard of.
I do appreciate the political environment at schools, and the administration has to be sensitive to the parents of all the pupils.
Here are some additional places to check. They aren’t school programs, per se, but they do work with children in close to the same age group you were interested in. By the way, children under nine years of age are often not developmentally suited for this training without careful coaching. This is such a touchy point that most teams restrict the entry age to 9 or 10.
The JayCees have an international BB gun championship every year in cooperation with Daisy. Several hundred thousand children compete.
The Izaak Walton League of America has youth airgun teams
The National Rifle Association runs an umbrella program for 700,000 to 1 million kids, age 10-20 each year. The teams compete for national titles and this is an entry point into Shooting USA – the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team. Talk to H.Q. Moody
Contact the Civilian Marksmanship Program to locate the nearest youth team to you.
Those are a few leads to work on
I would stay with the Daisy 953 for target training. The spring rifle you mention are accurate, but they don’t lend themselves to a training program (i.e. rough triggers, poor sights, recoil that must be negated with sophisticated handling techniques, etc.).
Will do. You’ve never steered me wrong.
Do you know who you talked to at Military Gun Supply? The peson I spoke with said he has been out of the Predom for a month.
I don’t know who it was, but he said they had them and took my CC info…hmm…
Thank you. Great info. Extremely useful.
I have students not younger than 11, so that could be fine.
Thanks a lot. I hope I will get somewhere.
I don’t think Crosman sold their back room stuff to the lowest bidder.
Don’t know who I talked to either at Military Gun Supply, BUT the first time I called, I was told they’d been out of Predoms for over a month. THEN I saw Nick’s post that he got one today, so I called back and got someone else who processed my order. We’ll see what happens.
On the subject of the type of sights used in learning to shoot, I’m curious why scopes come after open sights. Usually one thinks of the learning process in terms of going from easy to hard, and scopes are a lot simpler to shoot with than iron sights. The iron sights are historically earlier and technologically simpler, but the scope is definitely easier to use. I’m not disagreeing with your suggestion. I think it’s valuable to learn with all different kinds of sights. It’s why I sent back two B30s even though they worked fine with a scope. But when I ask myself why iron sights come first in training, I have to admit that I’m stuck for an answer.
My one airgun bargain was a Benji 22 multi pump pistol for $20 back in 1976. It was used and I’m not sure it was a great bargain or not really.
It was my first air pistol and I still own it today… though it needs new seals.
I re-read your post on the Crosman Discovery since it really caught my interest.
I would like to ask, what do you think is the Perfect First PCP? I am asking that with more weight on the affordability issue since a basic pcp, scope and mount, and pump set will easily go beyond the average shooter interested in moving into PCP.
You learn with open sights first for the same reason that you learn with a standard transmission before going to an automatic – to get the fundamentals down before advancing with easier technology. Doing it in reverse is many times harder and almost never a success, as a result.
The Benjamin Discovery (not Crosman) was created to be the ideal first PCP. That was the whole purpose for its development. I couldn’t possibly imagine another PCP that would be a better first gun.
When that package of gun and pump was envisioned, the price was set below what other entry PCPs cost by themselves. That pump is worth what the rifle is worth and you are essentially getting it for free or for very little.
A scope and mount is a separate purchase, but enough money is saved that the buyer can afford to get a good scope for this gun that really deserves to have one.
The bad part of these type stories is reliving the memory of the one that got away. I passed up a beautiful walther lp53 with box and paperwork for 35.0 once.
I get to relive that day way too often!
Hopefully this id the current blog
Have you performed any tests on the winchester 1000xs? if so, how were the results?
Other than the stocks and sights, are there any other differences between the rws 34 and rws 34 panther?
Will a 3/8 scope mount fit the rws model 34? Is a 14 inch scope too long for the model 34?
This is not the current blog, but you tried, so I’ll answer you here. Get the current blopg page from here:
I have not tested the Winchester 1000X. It’s a Turkish rifle made by Hatsan, and their quality is pretty good, but I haven’t tested it yet.
There aren’t any differences between the 34 and the 34 Panther other than the stocks and sights. I just really like the Panther stock.
It depends whose 3.8 scope mount you are talking about. If it comes from Wal-Mart, then I would say no. But if it is a Leapers scope mount I’d say yes, because their mounts fit 3/8 and 11 mm at the same time. 11 mm is an airgun size, while 3/8 is a .22 rimfire size, and Leapers believes that more people will want to buy rimfire scope rings.
But the cheap mounts at Wal-Mart are too flimsy to hold up on airguns.
ok thanks sorrry for not finding the current blog. Would gamo’s rings be ok?
Yes, they would.
I have a Crosman 160 .22 Pellgun that is wonderful.
I cannot seem to find a manual that explains how to lubricate it and care for it..
The manuals Crossman offers are minimal at best.
I have Crosman Pellgun oil.
I have the same problem with a Benjamin/Sheridan Silver Streak in .20
There isn’t much to lubricate on an air rifle, and you should nerver clean the barrel unless the accuracy falls off.
For the 160, just a drop of Pellgunoil on the tip of each new powerlet you pierce is ALL the lubricating needed.
In the Silver Streak, drop three drops of Pellgunoil on the tip of the pump piston every 6 months. That is ALL it takes, other than a drop of oil on each of the pump linkage pivot points every year.