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Education / Training Hand pumps of antiquity – Part 3

Hand pumps of antiquity – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

I returned from the hunting trip yesterday afternoon. I looked at all the back questions and then answered just a few. The rest I didn’t answer, so ask them again if you really want an answer.
The hunt was very successful. I will tell you all about it next week, but tomorrow’s post will be that new item I promised. Now on to today’s report.
How pressure relates to velocity
The bottom line of this research is to provide some insight into how powerful the antique big bore airguns are by knowing what kind of air pressure they work with. There’s no formula to calculate such a relationship, and it may be such a complex relationship that there never can be; there’s a fair amount of information gathered from observation. For starters, let’s look at Quackenbush’s Brigand. On CO2, we get velocities around 575 f.p.s. with a .375 caliber lead ball weighing 83 grains. CO2 is nominally 900 psi. With the same rifle running on air at 1,200 psi, the velocity increases to somewhere between 730 and 775 f.p.s. Pressurize the gun to 1,500 psi, and the velocity drops to around 600 f.p.s., until the high pressure is lowered to the optimum range. Then it picks back up.
What we can say about the CO2 Brigand is that it has a valve that functions best with air pressured to between 1,000 psi and 1,200 psi–and it will function with limited results between 600 psi and 1,700 psi. That’s a broad range of pressure but a much narrower band of optimum performance.

Looking at the outside lock rifle built by Gary Barnes, a rifle I haven’t yet reported on, but will in the near future, we see an optimum range of performance from about 500 psi to 650 psi, with a working range of 300 to 800 psi. Oddly, although the outside lock functions at about half the pressure of the Brigand, it gets a few more shots on each charge of air. What’s involved is a combination of caliber, barrel length and weight of the projectile.

To achieve high efficiency with low air pressure, the valve needs to remain open longer to allow air to continue to push the projectile until it’s free of the muzzle. A large caliber provides more volume to lower the air pressure after it leaves the reservoir. The farther down the barrel the projectile gets, the more volume there is behind it, and big bores increase in volume faster than small bores.

To push a heavy projectile fast, you have to maintain the force pushing on it for as long as possible. That means a longer bore. A longer bore will diminish the air pressure behind the projectile very rapidly, unless the force is applied continuously.

What this means is that big bore airguns must leave their valves open much longer than small bore guns; to do that, they have to run on lower pressure. Note that when Quackenbush went from 1,200 psi to 3,000 psi, his velocity increased by only 118 f.p.s. (775 vs. 893). To get even that increase, he had to redesign the valve, because the standard valve wouldn’t have functioned at the higher pressure.

What can we learn from this? Well, when we see a vintage .36 caliber air rifle shooting a round ball at 675 f.p.s., we now know it’s about where it should be. Perhaps it might get up to 750 f.p.s. But a claim of 1,000 f.p.s. for a .65 caliber rifle with a 48″ barrel should be met with some skepticism because of what it would take to actually achieve such performance.

I hope you were not waiting for some magical air pressure/energy calculator. I don’t have one and I would doubt seriously anyone who said they did. A single gun and valve can be modeled fairly close, but once the design starts changing, all bets are off.
This process could be modeled, no doubt, but it would take more work than most people might imagine. There are variables that don’t even become apparent until you start trying to estimate performance of a real design. So be wary of the person who tells you this is a simple linear relationship, because it is anything but.

The way antique big bore airguns are designed, there’s no reason to over-pressurize them. They work well only within the narrow band of pressure for which they were designed and (sometimes) tuned. So, by knowing the specifications of the pump used to charge them, we can know what their operating range is, and that, in turn, reveals their performance in a general way.

My thanks to Dennis Quackenbush for providing the test data and the test pumps used in this article.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

69 thoughts on “Hand pumps of antiquity – Part 3”

  1. bb-
    Glad you had fun on your trip. First, would the noise level of a Benjamin discovery compare to that of a 22 rimfire cb round? Also when crosman comes out with their new pcp, will it be an entry level like the discovery, or much more expensive?

  2. Good morning B.B. Glad you got back safe and sound with alot of tales to share with us. Perhaps a look at the valves in the vintage airs guns for a future topic. Myth Busters has done some interesting shows with air cannons.

    Wayne, my brother-in-law just got back from an elk hunt in Montana. Too hot, in the 60’s, and the elk never came down from the mountains. Only difference was their 2,000 drive to get home; I’m going to share your experience with him next time we talk. Yo hunt the elk the way we hunt white tail deer on the East coast. Cheers Mr B.


    You wrote a few days ago that the 54 was in your experiences not hold sensitive and that you get equally results whether on a palm, towel, etc.

    If you are sitting and you shoot two 6-shot groups, one group shot with your hand an inch further forward on the stock, then both groups are identical? Same POI? Same C-T-C?

    My POI will shift depending upon whether the rifle is resting on a towel or my hand, and where on the wood the hand or towel is touching. The groups stay just as tight. My whole rifle resonates differently depending on where it it held, and now that it has a moderator it resonates differently than it did prior to its installation.

    Thank you in advance for your responses. What you have written to date is very interesting re. this air rifle.

    – Dr. G.

  4. Dr G,
    RWS 54
    Rather than trying to recall exactly how my 54 responded using different holds and rests, I will shoot some groups this weekend and let you know, probably by Sunday evening. Too bad we couldn’t have had science experiments like this back in school!
    Thanks for asking,

  5. B.B.,
    Glad your trip was fun. I’m looking forward to your reports.

    Great blog. Hearing about how these guns actually perform from someone who has shot them, or at least has a solid knowledge base to make a few assumptions, is so much more helpful than 3rd and 4th hand information. A big difference between theory and practice.
    I second Mr B’s curiosity on the valves used in the antique big bores. The relationship between valve functioning and air pressure seems to be a love/hate relationship in some cases.

  6. Good to have you back BB. Glad to hear that your hunt went well.

    (Open Question)
    Is there an air rifle that you guys think would meet the following criteria?

    Looking for an air rifle to hunt crows with on some farm land. Currently I’m using a 20 gauge sxs (old stevens). It’s good for a crow or two, but I know that I could bag more with the right set up.
    I need it to be accurate up to 40-50 yards. They feed in an open field and there isn’t much cover. It also needs to be on the quieter side, so I thinking something that has a shroud. Lastly, and this is important, the rifle needs to be able to take some abuse. The area is prone to flooding and it gets pretty nasty down there. Lots of mud/clay, brambles and so forth. It would need to work under those conditions.
    Any ideas?

    Al in CT

  7. BB,

    I have always wondered about those high pressure pumps, vintage or modern. Glad you dedicated a blog on them.

    One request though. I would like to see more diagrams and/or pictures. How is that pump able to compress more pressure than a plain bicycle pump?

  8. Al in CT,

    The quietest set-up I have personal experience with that will definitely put down crows with one chest shot, from ANY direction to at least 30 yards is my .25 Condor with CO2 and Anthony’s shroud (see previous blog posts for his info). I use h.p. and Kodiak pellets with equal killing effectiveness, although the Kodiaks are more wind resistant and can reliably hit the head or neck and do not have to be aimed to the larger chest area.

    Although I have not tested it out further, I get very consistent under 1 ” groups at 30 yards using CO2 and any of the h.p. or Kodiak pellets. Based on my knowledge of the energy that is coming at these crows from this set-up at 30 and 50 yards, I have no doubt that it will work for you even better at the longer distances, as the crows will not hear your air rifle. For past 30 yards, I think the Kodiaks are the pellet to go with, whatever propellant is used.

    The heavy, larger .25 is preferred as the .177 and .22 do not kill as reliably, no doubt, any which way about it. The .25 is far more shocking to the heart, brain, and CNS, and when you are 1/3″ off due to wind or whatever, the crow still get the point when hit by a .25.

    I trade accuracy (with air and dialed down, it is more accurate and more noisy than with CO2) for less noise by using CO2. But you could use air and dial down the power, and it is still quiet. It is the difference between a soft clap of the hands and a medium-soft clap of the hands. It makes a difference to my crows.

    With CO2, I sometimes get more than 1 crow before the others realize something is up. Also, they come back quicker when thier cronies die a quieter death.

    That air rifle, with its plastic, rubber, and metal seems that it was made to get wet and dirty and cold and dusty. It is so reliable, and so simple in its design – a true reliable simpleton must have designed it, and my hat is off to him. It is rare that people are dissatisfied with these air rifles, very rare indeed.

    – Dr. G.

  9. Bicycle pump,

    A bicycle pump is made of sheet metal. The pumps of antiquity are made of solid steel or iron. It’s like asking how a Mazda pickup truck compares to an bulldozer.

    I could do a diagram of an antique pump, but it is so dirt-simple that I bet you can figure it out on your own. A hollow cylinder with an air hole at the top and another one at the bottom, where the reservoir connects. The piston is a solid steel rod that moves up and down.

    The intake valve in the reservoir is what makes the pump work. It admits the pressurized air and doesn’t allow it to escape.


  10. B.B. ,
    PCP question …. Have you had a chance to hear or see about the new Evanix Blizzard that is out ?? I can grab one on a site now for $160.00 and was wondering why the huge price difference to the ones pyramyd carries ?? Says it shoots a .22 at 60 joules !!

  11. dr. g

    Thanks, I’ll look into the Condor. I’ll have to look at the .22 version since hunting with an air rifle over .22 cal in CT is restricted. How durable is your Condor? Do you feel that it will function reliably under mud/snow/rain?

    Al in CT

  12. Al in CT,

    I am surprised and curious what statute prohibits you from .25 air rifle hunting of crows, as it is quite appropriate. I wonder what is the punishment for a first offense, and more importantly, I wonder how many cases were charged and how many were successfully prosecuted in your county over the past 5 years?

    Regarding your question as to the reliability of the air rifle under snow/rain/mud, this is your lucky day…as you know, it is raining now in the area. I just went downstairs and tested the Condor, and even though the crow was all wet from the rain, he died just like all the other ones do.

    I will have to wait a couple months to test in the snow. I have never shot a crow with snow on him, and I see no reason why he won’t die as well. These crows never get into mud, so I will leave that to another blogger.

    – Dr. G.

  13. Dr. G.

    🙂 Good to hear that you got a crow.

    I don’t know the exact reasoning behind it, but I think it has to do with the fact that CT is a small state and populated areas are never too far away.
    On state land (even though the farmland is privately owned) you are limited to either muzzleloader no greater than .36 cal, rimfire rifles or handguns no greater in size than .22lr, or .22 cal air rifle. I’m worried about bullets traveling far, so I’m not going to use a .22lr either.
    Recently one of our oldest public gun ranges was shut down for a bit due to people finding bullet holes in their houses some distance away. Bullets were also found on a nearby hiking trail.
    I could get away with the .25 cal on the farm, but then I wouldn’t be able to take the rifle on to state land.
    As far as the mud and snow, the area gets flooded and it’s not uncommon to trudge through spots of mud well above your ankles. The crows tend to stay out in the open, well enough away from any surrounding cover. Getting close to them involves stalking them and getting “down and dirty”.

    Al in CT

  14. David, did you see it at Taylor Gunsmithing (San Francisco)? I’m guessing they have a mis-entered price, the rest of their prices seem to be in line with other retail prices. Maybe it was supposed to be $500 or $600 (transposed digits).

    .22 multi-shot

  15. Al in CT,

    I’ve got the Condor in .22 with a bloop tube… how can anyone tell, at a glance, what cal. it is… Do they actually come and look into the breech? I would think that the .25 cal would travel less far….. Anyway, why not get the Condor with both a .22 and .25 cal barrel?

    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  16. Wayne,

    I hear what you’re saying. Believe me though, the DEP Wardens here are known for being tough and crafty. I’d rather not chance losing my privilege to hunt.

    Al in CT

  17. .22 multi-shot,

    Yes, Taylor Gunsmithing is exactly where I saw the Evanix Blizzard advertised for that price and that’s why I was wondering why such a low cost ?? Must be a typo then …. Ususally if things appear too good to be true then they are !! Thank you and B.B. for your input !!

  18. Valves and shots per fill.

    Valve lock seems to be the most important issue here….

    The Discovery low pressure system, (2,000 lb fill) gives about 50 shots if you can live with the first 15 shots being low from the valve lock, the 20-25 shots on the POI, and then 10-15 trailing off low again.. Or fill to only 1,700 or so and get just the 25 shots on the POI…

    The Air Arms S310 .22 cal does a similar pattern, but 90 shots total. Which is similar to the new S410s that I sent back with broken mags.. and the FX Timberwolf and BSA Lonestar, that I got used.. All have a valve lock issue, in some way more or less…

    The Air Arms S410 .22 cal I just traded for (I put up a link of it yesterday) The guy selling it put up string of over 100 shots.. But it too showed valve lock in that string…

    The only PCP that I have shot, that doesn’t have a valve lock issue, is my Air Arms S410 .177 cal. A string of 130 shots with the power adjuster set on half, gives a steady string that just keeps getting lower and lower.. without starting low, peaking out and low again..
    This particular gun, has the power adjuster turning the opposite direction of the other Air Arms S410 I have had, but I don’t know what that might have to do with it..
    I wouldn’t know what to look for, but someone with knowledge (B.B.) might figure out why this one is different..
    I can’t be without it for very long, she’s my baby… but after the USFT and .22 cal Air Arms S410 get here, I could let her take a little trip, maybe… for the sake of science..

    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  19. Al in Conn.,

    Why not call or do an internet search and discover what is the summons for using a safe .25 with CO2 vs. a far more dangerous .22 rimfire? Perhaps it is like a parking ticket, and worth the price.

    – Dr. G.

  20. you guys don’t realized how lucky you are to be able to even hunt with an air rifle, never mind what caliber is allowed. Here in NJ, the law clearly states air rifles are not considered acceptable for hunting.

    I had purchased an RWS 52 with the T01 trigger from a local store going out of business about 2 weeks ago. Shooting in my basement using Beeman Silverstings and RWS R-10 match pellets, the groups were all over the place and I thought of Dr. G and his problems with the 54. I had tightened all screws including the front site and still, no matter how I held or rested this rifle, I couldn’t get a decent group and again, started to wonder if it was me or the rifle. Then I grabbed a handful of JSB Exacts. The 5 JSB’s gave me a 3/8″ group at 8 yards with the iron sites! There ought to be a law against selling those other pellets!

  21. I will be interested in the report of your hunt.
    My question is What ever happened to your review of the Career Fire S201? Back in September you replied to a question about the 201 by saying “I will review it next week. I plan on buying one and would really like to know your thoughts about it before sending my money.

  22. Fred,

    “Those other pellets” do quite well sometimes:). One of my clunks will shoot Crossman Copperhead Wadcutters into tiny groups, but the JSB’s only do average groups. Lots of variables, including breech and bore variations. Also, be aware that JSB exacts come in two or three different sizes, so you might conceivably get a tin that won’t group at all if your rifle doesn’t like them. It’s just like rimfire ammo: my old Marlin 60 eats Golden Bullets and shoots them reasonably accurately, but some people can’t even get them to fire consistently, much less group.

  23. Al in CT: A Talon SS with the optional 24″ barrel and Shroud on air at No 12 on the power wheel is silent except for the hammer slap. The type of shooting you’re doing is about what I’m up to and the above is what B.B. recommended to me. I haven’t ran it through the chronny yet, but BB said about 1,000fps shooting CP’s. My targets with that gun consist of shoot at and hitting pellet hole in a piece of cardboard. Just my suggestion Mr B.

  24. B.B.

    Glad you’re back. You’ve done it again. With the first blog on radio-controlled helicopters, I took a passing interest, but now I’m hooked. Part of the turning point came when I was watching people fly R/C sailplanes off of a cliff. Fantastic. They were like top guns in miniature. Have you mastered hovering?

    The trouble is that there is no equivalent of a PA blog in this field, so progress will be much slower. And this activity seems much more complicated than airguns with its radios, “servos” and whatnot. However, learning about airguns and firearms has charged me with confidence….

    Incidentally, I ran across a video of people flying an R/C jet that was a reproduction of an F-14 and about 15 feet long. Once it got airborne, you lost perspective and it looked like the real thing. I can hardly imagine an airgun equivalent, maybe an Olympic Feinwerkbau rifle or a Whiscombe or a completely custom gun.


  25. B.B.,

    RE: Springers & Hold sensitivity

    Question 1: Is springer so twitchy because piston doesn't move directly along bore line?

    Question 2: Has anyone ever made a springer where the center of the piston travels along the bore line? Was that gun twitchy?


  26. mr b,
    I know what you’re saying. I didn’t write the laws, but I have to follow them responsibly. I enjoy hitting the crows on the wing with my shotgun, but as soon as I take a shot, the rest hear the blast and fly off. There are so many that sit on the ground in the field that I think that with a quieter air rifle, I could pick off a bunch before the rest of the crows caught on. Least that’s the idea I have.
    I was looking at the Talon SS as well with the shorter barrel. Looks very good.

    Dr. G
    As far as paying a fine, around here they are more apt to just strip away your hunting license for a period of time determined by them. And confiscate your rifle.

    Al in CT

  27. Herb,

    I’ll be interested too to hear about the source of sensitivity in springers and why some like the Gamo CFX are not hold sensitive. It seems to be true that breakbarrels are more sensitive than fixed geometry barrels, so the piston location is not the only factor.

    Al in CT, you’re wise to be careful. I have a policeman friend who keeps a bolt-action .22 rifle with a scope in his car, and uses it to dispatch pests. I asked him if it was general issue, and he said that it was lifted off of someone for an infraction. Apparently, the police get a lot of nice gear this way. My friend says that it’s not uncommon to present things as such: We’ll confiscate your weapon and not report you this time, but don’t do it again.

    Dr. G. I’ve been reading up on birds and want to add to my store of knowledge by learning about their behavior from the viewpoint of airgunners. Specifically, what is it that has so many people out to get crows? I would never have believed that small animals like squirrels can do the damage that they do by eating through houses and wiring, so what do the crows do that make them so obnoxious? All I can learn about their behavior is that they work in groups (“murders”) and for this reason, perhaps, are very noisy. They seem to be opportunistic feeders sometimes working in groups to hunt, not unlike wolfpacks, and they are clever as birds go.


  28. Al in CT,

    Re: Crows spooking

    Never hunted crows, nor tried to shoot birds on ground. I doubt that you could whack many before the rest took off. Birds spook easily, and no matter how silent the gun is, the !!WHACK!! as the pellet hits a bird would probably be enough to spook them. As soon as one starts to fly, they will all go…

    Anybody had experience shooting crows on ground?!?


  29. Matt61,
    From what I have read, crows are supposed to be the amongst smartest birds.
    In CT the season on crows is Jan 1-Mar 1 and then Oct 18 – Dec 31. For CT this is a very liberal season. There is no limit to either the daily amount you take or seasonal limits.
    I believe they are considered a pest species of bird here. I know that they can cause much damage to crops and that the farmers are glad to have people thin the herd.
    Once they are shot(and dead), we leave them where they are. We have packs of coyotes in the area, not to mention hawks and fischer cats that are always on the lookout for a free meal.

    Al in CT

  30. Matt,

    RE: Break barrel

    I assume (ass out of U and me) that break barrel also has slop because of latching the barrel. Any error in latching the barrel gets magnified as the pellet travels downrange. A 0.01 of an inch variation for the tip of the barrel at 30 inches is 0.36 inches at 30 yards.

    For the springers I see in the pictures at PA, the open sights are entirely on the barrel. I assume the slop in latching the barrel is the reason.


  31. Herb,

    I was thinking of trying for the ones on the outside of the grounded flock, or as Matt61 informed us, murder, but I understand what you’re getting at. I have a feeling though that you are right.

    Al in CT

  32. Herb,

    The TX 200, RWS 48/52/54 and several other rifles have a piston concentric with the bore. But so is the Hy Score 800 spring pistol (and the 700, 801, 802, and 803). ,Sometimes the guns are accurate and other times not.

    Vibration, not bore concentricity, is the problem.


  33. First, is the scope that comes with the diana 34 panther striker combo on pyramyd air any good. It’s a leapers 4x32A0. I was thinking of getting the leapers 3-9×32 instead, but that’s probably not neccesary. Also, what is the best pellet in .22 for the diana 34 panther. Are the crosman premier hollowpoints any good? Those and the gamo hunters are the best deals I could find. If those are not good I would probably go for the JSB jumbo exacts.

  34. I have enjoyed the history and background on the FWB 124 posted in the past on this blog. I recently put mine back into shape after 30 years – replacing the piston seal and spring.

    Can the Williams peep sight that I bought from Beeman when I got the 124 be made to work at 10 meters? I can not sight it in with the stock foresight on the rifle and have been tempted to make my own foresight. Before I invest the time, I wondered if anyone had any experience with the Williams peep sight at 10 meters and could suggest a replacement foresight that would fit the foresight barrel grooves without significant modification. I’d like a sight with interchangeable inserts?

  35. toveysnake,

    All Leapers scopes have a good reputation, so the one that comes with the combo will be fine. The question is whether it has the features you want.

    Don’t look for cheap pellets. That’s false economy. If yu can get JSB Exacts in either weight, get them. Premier Hollowpoints are very good as well. Some people like the Gamo Hunters, but I haven’t found them to be in the same class as these two pellets.


  36. When the Williams sight is mounted on the rifle in the scope grooves, the vertical arm with the ruled lines contacts the stock on the left side before I can adjust it low enough to zero the gun at 10M.

    I’m new to this but it seems to suggest the front sight needs to be lowered.

    The rifle shoots too high even when the peep site is as low as it can go.

  37. Al in CT

    I have an Airforce Talon with the 18inch barrel in .22. I have had it since last December and the only problem I have had in 4,000+ shots is a plastic bushing on the cocking knob wearing out. Airforce replaced the bushing for free. I have shot with it in the snow, rain,and also hot(90-100 degree) and cold(5 degree) weather. If you need it to be quiet the shrouds from Airhog work great.


  38. Al in CT,

    Never been to a crow shoot, but doves are hunted in a field by having a number of shooters who will keep the birds circulating. If you’re just shooting one end of the field, then the birds fly into the other end. If you shoot the edges and the field is large enough, then the birds fly to the ground in the center. So you need enough hunters to keep the birds flying around. Have no idea if a flock of crows would do the same thing. Dove tend to come into a field in small groups 1-3, not as huge flocks.


  39. Williams sight,

    The pellets go opposite where the front sight goes. If you are shooting too high, the front sight has to come UP to lower the pellet. You can test this by holding the front sight UNDER the target, as if the sight were taller.

    An extension for the front sight base may be possible to buy. Please read tomorrow’s blog.


  40. Williams sight,

    There should be a white line on the part of the sight that actually fastens to the rifle pointing to the ruled lines on the vertical arm. When the vertical arm is all the way down, is that single line pointing at the topmost ruled line on the vertical arm?


  41. Hey B.B.:
    Hope you had an excellent hunting vacations!!! While I was studying for a Biochemistry and a Human Anatomy & Physiology test… I really envy you…. LOL… Anyways, I was reading one of your articles about "How to fill a precharged gun from a scuba tank"… And you say somehting about putting oil and lubricating O-Rings of the adaptors (or something like that)… My question is: Isn't it dangerous to put oil in places were compressed air passes rapidly??? Won't it create an explosion?? I've heard about paintballers that have put oil in their reservoir tank's fill ring and it has exploded when the scuba tank is opened….

    P.S.: Don't know if you understood me.. please let me know

  42. Reflexes:

    This past spring I was traveling on the interstate in the usual fashion we all drive a well-known route, when I suddenly noticed a truck tire and rim at windshield height.

    Without thought, I glanced in either direction and gave the steering wheel a jerk.

    The tire and rim went on its marry way, as did the offending pick-up truck that was now beside me.

    Secure your load well. The drivers behind me were not so lucky. That instinctive reflex spared me what would have been unpleasant at the very least.

    Family time:

    I’m showing my two year old grandson a nest of newborn bunnies under a barberry bush. He squats as toddlers do, and actually obeys the no touch command.

    He and my girls keep tabs on the bunnies for about two weeks, very cute.


    While out in the yard doing, well yard work; I hear the scream of a baby rabbit. I go to investage and see a flock of crows that take turns for about an hour killing the unfortunate bunny. I cannot interfere as it is off my property on the other side of a neighbor’s fence. It is loud enough and long enough to draw the attention of another neighbor two doors down.

    Now I admit, I have sent my share of bunnies to bunny heaven.
    But this is not the same.

    I see the offending crows off and on during the next couple weeks, but I cannot risk a shot when they are in the treetops.

    Fast forward about month. The same flock of crows has decided to pay a visit to my wife’s freshly stocked bird feeder. One actually rocks it while the rest await the spoils falling on the ground. I am upstairs in the second floor bedroom when I notice them.

    I am in the same mode as when the truck tire came at me. I run full speed. In the basement I by-pass the HW50S that is lying out in favor of the Beeman HW97 in the safe. With a multitude of pellets on the bench, I grab a single JSB exact.

    On the way up the stairs I take two at a time and twist the AO on the scope to 40 yards. I see the flock is still in the yard from the family room window, so I load the solitary pellet. I go out a side door and use a Sears’s propane grill for cover.

    I have 5 or 6 crows to pick from. I don’t choose the closest, but the one that looks authrative, if that is possible. I touch the trigger and it makes a single wing flap and is dead.

    The flock has not landed in my yard since.

    Conclusion, I found out I trust my HW97 and JSB pellets the most, I don’t like crows, and I am a tad vindictive.


  43. Re. Crows/JSB Pellets

    JSB pellets are about the best of 17 types of pellets in my 54.


    Crows are satisfying to shoot for awhile because of a collection of reasons. Although big and shiny, they are nenetheless challenging to kill. They are smart indeed, and quickly fly away from the garbage dump and birdfeeder where I hunt. They make a lot of noise, and so are a satisfying target in part because of this factor. They stay away longer than any other bird that I know after one of the crew has fallen. They are really tough for a bird, and I have seen some take .22 air rifle shots to the side and look badly wounded, only to fly away.

    I shoot them on the ground, because when they are in the air I cannot hit them. After one is hit on the ground the rest fly into the trees. After another is knocked off, they all go away for at least 25 minutes, and sometimes several hours. I also shoot them off the top of the garbage pile. I only kill 1 or 2 this way at any one time, and then they are all gone. If I use a loud air rifle, all disappear after the first shot, and seem to stay away longer. Sometimes I do not shoot them, and simply enjoy watching them have their meal.

    – Dr. G.

  44. Dr. G.

    I believe the saying from our friends across the pond is .22 for fur & .177 for feathers.

    I have a book buried somewhere on airgun crow hunting, and the conclusion of his testing showed that the feathers act in away that can block larger caliber pellets.

    (side hits, not front)

    He had actual velocities required for penetration in all calibers if I recall.


  45. The crow stories are very illuminating. Thanks to all. Volvo, that was incredible. That’s pretty gruesome about the bunny. Maybe a garden hose would have been the weapon at the time, but I can identify with wanting to even the score. I’ve since found out that one theory behind the origin of the name “murder” of crows was their practice of killing a dying member of their group.

    One of my favorite crow stories was a blog post about crows on “steroids” by a writer who claimed that direct head shots with a Gamo CFX had no effect on them. Some speculated that he was probably missing.

    As to the armoring power of feathers, the Bishop Museum in Hawaii has a display of one of the ornate feathered capes of the Hawaiians at the time of their discovery by Captain Cook. The display claims that the capes contained 8000 feathers sewn in by hand and could turn a musket ball.


  46. Most of the time, the crows win — one shot is about all you get normally. I did as a kid, however, shoot and hit one on the wing with an blunt-tipped arrow, which must have knocked him silly, because he folded his wings and started falling. Unfortunately, he recovered before he even hit the ground. Before anyone calls PETA, I was only about 10 at the time and even then didn’t think I would hit one.

  47. I picked up a new 1377 the other day, B.B., in large part because you spoke so highly of it. At the same time I was led to a tin of Beeman Silver Stings to go into it. They gave me a nickel-sized group from a sitting Weaver hold some 20 feet from the target with five pumps of air. The coated Beeman hollow point and Crosman tinned wadcutter pellets wouldn’t even stay in the black of the 10-meter air rifle target I was using. (The only air pistol targets I had were the two-sided Crosman targets. They didn’t score cleanly; instead, they ripped on impact. That is why I was shooting air rifle targets, and that’s why I was so close; I couldn’t see the bull from further away.)

    I may just have to go get another 1377 so I can stick a steel breech and a 25 caliber barrel on it then upgrade the piston and valve for some increased velocity with the wider pellet.


  48. B.B,

    hope I’m not a pest re-writing this message as you told..

    I just read how Mr. Smith tried to measure the pressure by welding the pressure Gauge to the system…there is a far easier, more accurate and non-invasive way to get the data. All you need is a precise scale.

    First, get the exact valve volume. Second, weight the gun uncharged. Third, pump it up and weight again. The extra weigt is the compressed air, and it’s easy to calculate the pressure from valve volume and weight of the compressed air. All you need is a good precision scale.

    Concerning the “magical air pressure/energy calculator” – I actually spent an afternoon doing some integrations, and came up with a spreadsheet that is exactly such a claculator! email me (melchiormenzel@googlemail.com) and I’ll send it. Alas, it omits friction and the building up pressure in front of the projectile, so it can only give you trends – which match your predictions about pressure, calibre and barrel length exactly.



  49. Mel,

    RE: Weight rifle to determine air capacity

    Nice idea but I don’t think it would work for a rifle. This just isn’t something that you could do on a postage scale.

    I’m an analytical chemist by training, and I’ve used a lot of good balances. A good analytical balance wouldn’t have the weight capacity to weight a whole rifle. Also such a balance is generally enclosed so as to avoid air currents.

    Might work, but you’d need some very expensive and very specialized equipment.


  50. Herb,

    I’m a chemist, too 🙂 you are right about the problem of scaling a complete rifle. However, you can remove stock, barrel etc, and end up with a pump assembly weighting 2-3 pounds. One cc of air weights approx. 1/1000 of a gram. The air intake of such a rifle is – my guess- about 50cc, so ten pumps are half a gram – a good scale can handle both the 3 pounds and give accurate pressure data. I agree that such a scale is very expensive, but every lab, University etc. has some of them.

  51. Jony,

    You will have to give me the specific posting where I said to put oil on a PCP seal, because as far as I know, I have warned against it all along.

    As another reader pointed out, only high-flashpoint silicone oil can be used on a PCP.


  52. elnhuk,

    Can we just do this with a comment?

    I tested the 9mm Fire 201 several years ago and found it to be the best of all the 9mm big bores. It is that because it is a single-shot and can accept 9mm lead pistol bullets of all weights.

    I have seen the rifle fire a 275-grain bullet, which is double the weight of the maximum bullet weight you should ever use, but the rifle handled it well. It wasn’t very accurate, but it produced over 200 foot-pounds, which was the goal that time.

    Get the gun! It’s the easiest way to get into big bore airguns, in my opinion. It is well-made, reasonably accurate and gets more shots per fill than one of the .45s. You should get 5-8 shots per fill.


  53. Matt61,

    The author of the airgun-hunting book was Tom Holzel. I received it and Tom’s R-1 book in the same order from Beeman.

    I would guess it was 1993 or ’94. Not sure if you could still find it.


  54. B.B.
    I’m sorry… It was my mistake… I wrote it wrong because I was in a hurry… But I am aware of what you’ve said always… Thank you very much… and sorry for my mistake… Take care

  55. Williams site on FWB 124

    The scribe on the gun mount for the Williams site is 2-3 lines from the topmost line on the vertical piece when the vertical piece is in contact with the stock.

    I don’t want to notch the stock so I guess I will just have to get used to aiming about 5 mm below the intended POI, if I stay with the original foresight.

  56. Williams sight,

    Another fix might be to remove three or four lines worth of material from the bottom of the vertical arm of the sight. That would avoid the necessity of modifying the rifle. Taking off one more line’s worth of material than is above the witness mark should also leave enough clearance that the rifle can move in recoil without whacking the bottom of he vertical arm.

    Does it look like you could take some material off the bottom of the vertical arm without getting into the sight’s mechanism?


  57. Williams sight

    Taking 2 mm off the vertical arm is a great idea. I hadn’t even considered it. Since the sight comes apart easily, I can work with the component that has the vertical arm only.

    I’ll either file or grind off 2-3 mm and let you know how things go.

    Thanks for the suggestion.

  58. First of all, thank you for everything you have contributed to the airgunning field. I have learned a lot about airguns from you. I tuned my R1 by following the directions in your book “The Beeman R1”. My question is how certain are you about the amount of tar to apply to the mainspring? Is the amount based on any testing you or anyone else has done or just a good guess? Maccari recommends a light coating on the O.D. only I believe. It looks like from your photos of the HW55 and R1 spring in your tuning blogs that you applied a medium coating. Shouldn’t the amount of tar depend partly on the power of the spring i.e. the stronger the spring the more tar necessary to dampen vibration? Also, you said that you use velocity tar I presume from Maccari, but Maccari no longer sells the velocity tar. Is there any other source of velocity tar? If using heavy tar instead should less be used than the amount of velocity tar shown in your photos? Thanks for any response.

  59. Tom,

    Just a quick update on my and the Grand Son’s quest for a PCP gun. After 4 months of research and many hours of weighing out the pros and cons of the boy’s and my shooting needs we decided to go with a AF Talon SS with all the bells and whistles. I’m almost ashame to say I did not get the gun from Pyramyd, the problem was when we finally got hot to buy, they were out of stock at Pyramyd with a maybe date of Dec. 2nd. Imediate gratification won out. I have another gun on order from Pyramyd and for sure in the future will have my normal weekly order pending ith them. One thing I can say for sure, you just can’t beat them for price.

    Any who come Monday AM we will officially be Talon SS owners. I really want to thank you for all the wonderful information the boys and I have gleened from your well written blog. It seems like it’s taken for ever but we just recently finished printing out all your archives. The Boys at the moment prefere it over their normal bed time reading I do prior to hitting the sack at night.

    Logan did ask to post a question. I had no clue so I said I’d ask you…

    How are pellet made? are the cast or are they stamped out? (We have a small casting studio and work in both gold and silver) Would centrifically casting your own pellet be any big advantage?

    More later, and again Thanks.

    Pete Peterson
    Mesa, Az

  60. John,

    There are many ways to lube a mainspring – not just one.

    In the R1 book, I show a heavy coating of Beeman Mainspring Dampening Compound. But in the latest tune of the HW 55, I used a super-light coat. The picture of the spring was of what the last tuner put on it.


  61. Pete,

    This is for Logan.

    Pellets are swaged from lead slugs called preforms. Casting is difficult because of the shape of the diabolo pellet and swaging makes a more uniform product.

    Centrifugal casting would probably work, but pellet makers have to think in terms of hundreds of thousands of pellets per shift, so swaging is best.


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