by B.B. Pelletier

Happy New Year! I’d like to thank everyone from around the world who wished us a Happy New Year on this blog. This one will be a quickie.

2008 was a real good year for airgunning, but before I look at a few of the highlights, I have some super news for those who are looking for good deals. These are models that are being discontinued; after the guns in stock are gone, there will be no more. Pyramyd Air has also cut the prices of both models quite a lot.

RWS 46 Stutzen. Down from $536.25 to $399.99.

RWS Diana 52 Luxus. This is the walnut-stocked version with basketweave checkering. These are available in both .22 caliber and .177. Pyramyd Air bought out the remaining stock from RWS and expects to receive them soon. Down from $595.00 to $419.99.

2008 started off with a big bang for me because the Benjamin Discovery was about to be launched. I took the concept for the rifle to Crosman a year before and I worked with them throughout 2007 to make the new rifle a reality. Now, at the start of 2008, I was about to travel to the SHOT Show where it would be unveiled.

The Disco, as it has become known, is the best entry-level PCP ever made, in my opinion. It has the benefits of price, a 2000 psi fill level, dual-fuel capability, and many other high-grade features packed into a neat package. In fact, the package with a hand pump was part of my original concept. The gun comes to you ready to shoot. I’ve wanted a gun like that for two decades, and now it exists.

Air Venturi gas springs also made a big splash this past year. I actually began testing them back in December 2007, which is when I tested the incredible Gamo Whisper with a gas spring. That rifle continues to be the smoothest gas spring conversion I’ve ever tested…bar none! I then tested the Webley Patriot with a gas spring–the rifle made in the UK, that is. I raved about how smooth the gas spring made the gun, but then you readers took things even farther when you started talking about the Walther Falcon Hunter with a gas spring. You said the gas spring changed the nature of the gun, which they will do.

I continued to test Gamos with gas springs and even today I’m far behind the power curve in that testing. But gas springs are here to stay!

In the middle of the year, Leapers brought out their new scope base for RWS Diana spring rifles. I’d also worked on it in 2007, similar to the Discovery. Instead of something brand new, this base was the answer to a question that I had been dealing with since I began writing about airguns in 1994. Namely, how to mount a scope on an RWS Diana spring rifle.

The new base tested well, but as they were sold we learned that not all rifles suffer from barrel droop. In fact, the RWS Diana 350 Magnum rifles don’t seem to have much droop at all. So, Leapers rushed to create a base with zero droop. And by the end of the year, there’s a scope mounting solution for all RWS Diana spring rifles except the model 46, which doesn’t have the same base on the receiver. This new Leapers base has become an important part of a spring airgunner’s tool kit.

I also tested both the Evanix Renegade rifle and the pistol for you last year. They offer a greater number of shots and fast double-action shooting for those fast follow-up hunting shots. Air management with the rifle is quite good, and accuracy is certainly where it needs to be. There are still two Renegades yet to be tested in 2009.

The AirForce Edge target rifle didn’t make it to market in 2008, but the sight set almost did. I got to test both front and rear sights, and we know that a great alternative to the $400 European sights is coming down the pike.

So, where are we headed?
I have a few projects coming in 2009, too. One is a new kind of pellet that, if it works as envisioned, should impact hunting in a positive way. I’m also associated with the development of a new type of powerplant that promises huge gains in efficiency. And there’s another project that I will announce in two weeks–on day one of the SHOT Show. That project, which is as real as it gets, could change the lives of American airgunners in a very positive way.