by B.B. Pelletier

I have a new toy. It’s a Remington rolling block rifle in .43 Spanish. I’ve wanted a good rolling block for 20 years, and I just stumbled into this one. Now, my world is suddenly in turmoil. Should I preserve this rifle as is or should I rebarrel it? If I rebarrel it, should it be to a caliber for which I already have the loading equipment or for a caliber I think I might like better than the ones I now shoot?

I want to shoot lead bullets, but the heavier they are the more the gun will recoil. On the other hand, a light 275-grain bullet doesn’t carry as well as a 550-grain bullet. But at 550 grains, the bullets use up my lead supply much faster.

Should I just rebarrel it to .30-30 and shoot smokeless powder, or should I put a bull barrel on to increase the weight to 16-18 lbs. and chamber it to .45-90 to reach out real far? Of course, then I would have to shoot black powder, which brings up a dozen other major questions.

What should I do?
And then it hit me. This is the same process new airgunners go through all the time. If they spend all their money on that RWS Diana 54 or TX 200 I recommend, they have very little left for a scope and mounts. However, that Gamo CFX looks pretty good, and people say nice things about it. Would they like that just as much?

Is there any difference between my dilemma and theirs? Except for the topic, I don’t think so. That’s because every time you make a choice, you always do something else–you EXCLUDE all those other choices you had right up to the moment you decided. What a terrible thing! By choosing one thing you eliminate so many others.

Here’s a good one. A guy wants a powerful pellet pistol. He examines the possibilities and comes up with this list: 

Beeman P1/HW 45
RWS Diana LP8
Crosman 1377
Evanix AR6 Hunting Master pistol

Before he did the research, he thought that 600 f.p.s. was as powerful as air pistols got. In doing the research, he learned about the AR6, which exceeds 600 f.p.s in .22 caliber and is actually three or four times more powerful than any of the other guns.

Now he has even more choices to make. Instead of narrowing the field, he broadened it.

That happened because he doesn’t know himself very well. By that I mean he doesn’t know what he likes until he sees it. And that’s at the crux of many problems we have. Let me give you another example.

John has been reading about airguns for a while and he thinks he wants the most powerful pellet rifle made. So he starts looking around. At first, he finds the Walther Falcon Hunter in .25 and thinks he has found what he was looking for. Then he learns that Gamo will soon bring out their Hunter Extreme in .25 caliber. While he’s reading about that, he stumbles across the .25 caliber Sumatra by Eun Jin and learns that it is more than twice the power of the big Gamo. Wow!

Unfortunately, John then finds out about big bore airguns and he progresses through the 9mm and .45s, on up to the 20mm super guns that are handmade to order. Now he thinks he needs a $1,500 custom big bore air rifle.

Unfortunately, John knows very little about himself. If he did, he might be surprised to learn that he lives in an apartment in Wilmington, Delaware, and seldom leaves town for any reason. If he’s going to shoot, it’s going to be in his apartment or nowhere.

But since he doesn’t know himself, and since his tax refund was only $837 this year, he settles on the Sumatra and a hand pump.

Right after that, Pyramyd Air gets the calls:

“MAN! This air rifle is LOUD!”

Yes, it is.

“And this hand pump is hard to pump to 3,000 psi. And the gun goes through air really fast!”

Yes, it is and yes, it does.

John will probably give up airgunning and try something else pretty soon. But if he had just known a little more about himself we (all of you experts on this blog, along with me) would have advised him to buy an IZH 61. He could have safely shot it inside his apartment and his neighbors would never have known. He could have used the extra money he didn’t spend to buy a Quiet Pellet Trap and lots of good pellets. Maybe even a nice dot sight or Bug Buster scope.

The answer
I lived about 55 years before discovering that this dilemma really can be solved. You have to be honest with yourself–brutally honest. Follow me, on the question of rebarreling my rolling block:

How often will I REALLY shoot this rifle? About 100-500 rounds a year.

Will I EVER hunt big game with it? Probably not.

Will I EVER compete in a big bore silhouette match with it? Absolutely not.

If I were to rebarrel it to a smaller, lighter caliber that’s easier to reload for and easier to clean up after, how many shots per year will I probably shoot? About 100 to 500 per year.

Answer–leave the gun as is and just shoot it. If you feel the need for long-range big bore blackpowder fantasies, watch Quigley Down Under again.

For John in Wilmington–get an IZH 61 and shoot it until the barrel wears out (in 2,000 years). If you do win the lottery and move to Texas and buy a 10,000 sq. ft. house, buy a second air rifle.