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Education / Training Knowing what to do – Part 2

Knowing what to do – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Before we begin,
Pyramyd AIR is running a new video contest.

Well, the last time I wrote on this subject I failed to take into account the television schedule that has me running all the time. So, I haven’t done anything yet with the two Czech rifles I talked about last time. They’re still on hold, so I’ll keep the series alive with other nuggets of airgun information.

Starting with pneumatics
Remember the rule of keeping a pump of air in every pneumatic rifle? About 0.05 percent of the airgunners know to do that–maybe less. So, it isn’t getting done. Consequently, most vintage pneumatics you encounter are suspect as leakers. But not all of them leak.

A Crosman model 101 may not leak, but it also may not shoot. That’s because its owner has overpumped it beyond the point of valve lock and doesn’t know what’s going on. The gun will never shoot, but every so often he puts in another pump, just to see if it has healed.

A rifle like that needs to be partially disassembled and the valve stem needs to be rapped with a hammer to exhaust the excess air. It’s a common fix, but only to those who know airguns.

And on the 101, I unscrew the hammer weight, which is at the back of the gun, to keep pressure off the valve stem. My gun holds a pump of air for years at a time.

A Sheridan Supergrade (officially called Model A) will not pump from empty unless you cock it first. To store this rifle with air, you must cock it first, then pump, then ride the bolt down slowly so the hammer doesn’t hit the valve stem.

Many people have seen CO2 leave a vapor trail from the muzzle on a warm day, but pneumatics can do it, too.

And then CO2
A Walther PPK/S may lose its charge over a period of two weeks. But if you put several drops of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of the next cartridge you pierce, it may hold for the next 12 months.

Vintage CO2 o-rings may swell in the presence of CO2 gas. They will look huge and the end caps are difficult to remove right after a fill or when the cartridge is exhausted. You can tear a vintage o-ring by being too aggressive when it’s swollen this way. That corrects itself in a few hours, and they’ll be back to normal in all ways.

Many barrels on CO2 guns are brass to avoid corrosion when the chilled gas condenses water vapor while shooting. You don’t have to do anything about them. No cleaning. In fact, they’re easy to damage when being cleaned.

Don’t leave CO2 guns or tanks in a hot car in the summer. They can build pressure to dangerous levels and blow up, damaging the car.

Spring forward
The stroke length of a spring-piston gun is important to its power. Stronger springs often don’t increase power, while guns with long strokes are difficult to tune down.

Oiling a mainspring is an infrequent job. Most spring guns never need it. If the coils bunch and spring during cocking, the mainspring may need some oil. Spring gun oil is good for this. Silicone chamber oil isn’t good because it’s too thin to protect the inside of the powerplant from galling (metal-to-metal scraping).

Oil a gun with a leather piston seal every month or 500 shots, whichever comes first. Oil a gun with a synthetic piston seal every 3,000 shots or whenever the piston honks like a goose when the gun is cocked.

Cleaning your airguns
The barrel is the part most people want to clean, and it isn’t required most of the time. As long as the gun shoots accurately, leave the barrel alone.

Wipe outside blued steel parts with Sheath or Barracade or something that neutralizes fingerprints. When a gun gets wet, be sure to wipe it dry before storing it.

A cloth impregnated with silicone is good for wiping metal parts.

“We have met the enemy, and it is us!”
The following is made-up, but based on things I have actually witnessed over the years.

Sharky is hot for a Flabbengaster 190W from all he has heard on the internet. So, he springs for one.

His initial report:

I bought the Flabbengaster 190 from Plumbum Pushers, and I had it drop-shipped to Idaho Ike whose tunes everyone says are the best. I wanted screamin’ power, so I had him put in the Red-Butt Baboon seal with the Kooky Kangaroo mainspring. Based on the advice of Dreadful Doug on this forum, I had him clip three coils off the spring and install a stack of five power washers. I also opted for Snail Snot on the mainspring.

When Ike finished, I had him send the rifle to Robert Bobbet to have the barrel cut back to 10 inches. Then I had him silver-solder one of his Hush-A-Boom moderators on the end, so the gun will be super-quiet. I live in an apartment, and I set up field targets next to the dumpster in the parking lot. I live on the third floor and shoot out my bathroom window, so I rigged a remote control reset for the targets, because I don’t want my neighbors seeing the reset string.

Report number two:

This thing is a bear to cock! How do you guys do it? I figured the 19-inch factory barrel was overkill and that the three-inch can I installed would make up for it, but it doesn’t. Also, the trigger is way too stiff, so I disassembled it to stone all the surfaces and put moly on everything. Now I can’t get the gun to close without firing unless I block the safety lever with my finger, so that’s how I shoot it. I put my finger between the trigger and the safety lever and just slip it out when I want to shoot.

By the way, my Red Star scope is shifting something bad! Any recommendations?

Post three:

This Flabbengaster 190 is a P*S! I don’t see what all the good reports are about. Mine didn’t shoot from the start! I’ll sell it with a Red Star scope for $100, shipped.

Poor Sharky never even shot a Flabbengaster 190, did he? He shot a butchered mess that he created and then sold when it didn’t work.

Like I said, I’ve seen every one of those things before. Just not all on one gun.

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.

35 thoughts on “Knowing what to do – Part 2”

  1. And here I was going to do all that once I got my Walther Falcon… Anyway, I might have asked before, but do you have proceedures for a rifle that's been immersed in water, or exposed to heavy rain while hunting? JP

  2. Today's report is hilarious !! Red-Butt Baboon seal with the Kooky Kangaroo" is out of this world. LMAO !!!!!!!!

    An airgun blog in addition to a comedy skit. What else can a guy ask for ………….

    Just Fantastic !

    Jeff in Dallas,

  3. B.B.,

    What a critical message you've relayed with comic relief. This article should be re-run on a regular basis.

    Can't help but think of the many messes that have been made out of classic's like the R1's, R7's & R9's. These guns customized by owners/airgun smiths that know what they're doing is one thing. Unfortunately, the novice reads enough about these customizations to be dangerous and ends up butchering a fine gun. There's a reason these guns became classics. They shoot well, after a break-in, from the factory. Any tampering and you've potentially undermined the very design that elevated that airgun to the elite status that it has been earned.


  4. Sooo… how much blame gets put on Sharky, and how much on the tuners who did all this stuff to his gun? I certainly understand the tendency to give the customer what he wants… but there comes a point where the tuner really oughta tell the guy – "You might not want me to cut 30 coils and make it into a snub-nose"

  5. B.B.,
    Been reading this blog for about two years now and have bought four different air rifles during that time. I always thought I might be missing something on all my air rifles because I never tuned them or did any customizing…Yet, I always saw blogs with people bragging up ALL they have done to their rifles just like you wrote about today. Guess I'm more than happy that I just shoot mine the same you test them on this blog. STOCK !
    Thank you for one of the best blogs ever .


  6. Fused, that might not always be the case. Sometimes the 'modded' guns are merely owned by enthusiasts who then want to move on to something else.

    MY big objection to 'modded' guns is that they were tailored to someone's particular tastes, and it is doubtful that those tastes are comparable to my own. Just about any time the barrel is chopped you loose the provision for open sights – which pretty much kills it in my book. And its far easier to replace a super-stiff non-factory spring than it is to unchop a barrel!

  7. Morning B.B.,

    I gave you my requirments for a pellet rifle. Your recomendation was a Talon SS, a 24" barrel, and to LEAVE IT STOCK. You explained that most of the problems you saw with returns, while you were working at the AirForce factory were caused by folks trying to mod their rifles. Was and still is good advice.

    However, power washers– who sells them?:)

    Mr B.

  8. B.B.
    Power washers….which end of the spring do they go on? The piston end to effectively give the piston more weight, or the rear of the spring to give more preload?

    Just a matter of curiosity…have no intention of doing it either way.

    E-mailed you some 79G pics also.


  9. I've not played with 'power washers' much, and I suspect they're pointless unless you've got a situation where the free length of a spring is so short that it won't set when it first gets installed.

    Spring steel will only take a certain amount of stress in each coil before it yields. When a typical spring is installed, the first time you cock it the spring is stressed beyond that point. The coils 'relax', or bend slightly, until the stress drops below that yield point. That's what a 'spring set' is.

    So once a spring is broken in, every time you cock the gun you are taking it up to just before that yield point. Seems to me that if you install spacers, all you're gonna do is stress the spring beyond that yield point again – and the spring will take a new and shorter set. This would eventually result in the same overall preload – and the same general level of power.

  10. If you refer back to several Blogs by BB and review the Cardew's book, "Airguns, From Trigger to Target", it seems power is a function of swept area, shape of and length of transfer port. A more powerful spring alone doesn't provide more power. As Vince said, the washers would only increase the pre-load on a spring and you may introduce a coil bound problem with too many. It doesn't appear that only a stiffer spring will give you a significant increase in power.

  11. twotalon, Vince and Fred,

    I need to go on record and say that my comment about "power washers" was very much a "pellet in barrel" type of comment.

    Mr B.

    PS thank you all for your thoughtful remarks thought.

  12. I agree with Vince that you have to wonder what the tuners were thinking. So far, I've had very good luck with mine, and I don't ask for anything special.

    BG_Farmer, okay astronomy would do it. I'm actually attracted to the high-end modifications of the 10/22 like the Clark custom gun and the USST race gun, but not some of the weird militarized and cosmetic ones that you see. The .22 rifle is such an important class of guns that it cries out for some kind of flagship, but I think you're right that the Ruger 10/22 would be premature. There's quite a history to be learned. The Remington Nylon 66 comes to mind as another important example.

    All, I have to say it: Airborne at last. 🙂

    The problem was that my original radio control plane was too hot. I got an easier, more forgiving model and the simulator training kicked in.

    Which leads me to a what if scenario…. Without the PA blog, I probably would have bought a Crosman Quest as my first pellet gun. My airsoft research showed that springers are the easiest to use and the cheapest. I wouldn't have known how to set-up an indoor range, so my shooting would have been very sporadic. Without knowing the artillery hold, I would have shot all over the place. Pain is worse for the strong… Gradually determination would have died. I would have quit, feeling confirmed in my horrible rifle team experience growing up. My shooting aspirations would have turned to gnawing bitterness over the years and scar tissue covering self-inflicted wounds….

    Maybe not that bad. But I must say of all the many valuable things I've learned here–and I've learned a ton–the most important is the artillery hold for springers. It radically improves performance and makes sense of it all. I wonder if this might be a bottleneck in the sport of airgunning. I suspect that most people, like me, would go for a cheap and easy design to start with and would probably go for a springer. The Daisy 953 and Benjamin 397 series are the only non-gas/pcp alternatives that I can think of. Novices probably wouldn't shoot a springer well. I gave my IZH 61 to an army recruit to try. He assumed a pronounced forward-leaning offhand position for a military-style gun and couldn't hit anything. Without good reinforcement, a lot of new people would probably find a reason to quit. Airgunning seems to be growing fine anyway. But I'm sure that if the artillery hold could be publicized, you would have even more people.


  13. Matt, you are so right, this blog has been invaluable.
    When I was much younger (like 25 years ago) I shot competitive .22 rimfire on a local level.
    Did pretty good.
    Gave that up after my career got to hectic and about 15 years ago bought a Webley (can't remember what it was, other than a very nice .177 sidelever) for plinking, as it could be done by driving 10 minutes into the countryside as opposed to the hour to get somewhere a rimfire could be safely shot.
    Got rid of it a year later. Using the same hold that worked so well with my .22 Anshutz I couldn't consistently hit a 25yard rimfire target (shooting at 10m)…and I mean couldn't consistenly keep the shots on the paper.
    Even the store where I bought it said 'yup…that's what you get with an air-rifle'.
    Fast forward to last year, this blog, the artillery hold and my CZ 630. At 10m I can easily keep 5 shots in the size of a dime with the stock open sights.
    Sure wish I had that Webley back…it was gorgeous.
    CowBoyStar Dad

  14. I agree with the above sentiments also. This blog had been indespensible to learning to shoot an air rifle, and for navigating the waters on which are the best buys etc. I can honestly say that Tom Gaylord taught me how to shoot, and that is saying something!

  15. BB,
    I agree 100% with today's post. Now, I have modified a couple of low-priced pellet rifles, but only because they either didn't work as needed or broke. The need to have a custom built entirely by others is a sign of our decay as individuals.

    On many forums you will see the list of expensive guns with "big-name" accessories or reworks, which I find to be nothing more than "conspicuous consumption", i.e., look what I can afford to spend money on, or I can't shoot a stock gun, so I'm buying my way to expertise. It must impress about half the people in the world, with the other half being stuck somewhere between irritated and amused. Conversely, I only know one person with a truly awesome collection of exceptional rifles, and he's likely to keep any one of them under the seat of his truck, ready to use:).

  16. Hello B.B.,

    Of course there are obvious reasons why you wouldn't leave a CO2 gun in your car,…but what about a pneumatic gun like a Benji 392, or Crosman 1377 pistol. I live in a part of the country that is very hot and very humid during the summer (Florida).

    Is it OK to leave my pneumatics in the car all year long,…even if there a long periods between when I take them ou to use them?


  17. You should be able to answer that question better than I, because you live there. What do you do with similar items?

    I would worry about oils and greases getting thin and running away from where they should be.


  18. B.B.,

    Thank you sir. I was waiting for that comment! I'll be chuckling to myself for the rest of the day.

    Yes, thank you B.B. for all the time and effort you put into this blog. Also thanks to all the folks who post their helpful thoughts and share their knowledge with the rest of us.

    Mr B.

    Word verification: dincophy, another name for ganster rap?

  19. B.B.

    Earlier this week I purchase a GSG-5 Carbine made in Germany by German Sport Guns and imported into the US by American Tactical Imports. It is a 22lr clone of the HK MP5. Check it out at http://www.americantactical.us/gsg-5.html. It is fairly heavy at 6.7 pounds and appears to be made mostly of polymer and aluminum. Overall the quality seems pretty good and using the rotary aperture sights seems to offer respectable accuracy. I've fired 1050 rounds with only 5 misfeeds. Seems to like CCI Mini Mags. For anyone looking to upgrade from an airsoft or who just like MP5s this might be something to check out. If a similiar message appears on the blog I apologize, having computer problems.


  20. I wouldn't leave a pressurized PCP in a car. A heated gas will expand, and if the gun was filled to 3000 psi at 70 degrees, you risk catastrophic failure if the gas inside the reservoir heats up to 120 degrees.

    As for aftermarket kits, the ones I see as most useful are aftermarket ergonomic grips and adjustable stocks.


  21. BB BG and all
    Have yall seen these?


    Hi folks I've made a few posts the
    last couple of days but managed to
    lose them somehow when posting???
    I put this one in note pad 1st maybe it
    will work this time to just C&P:)

    I like the pump .22's also.been tryin to remember what they used in the fair and
    carnival shooting galleries around
    here years ago.And didn't Browning make
    a pump RF for a few years?

    THe Gamo Extreme looks like a good lefty
    shooter.We need more of those,I live in a house with 4 leftys and thats one thing
    I hear a lot,not enough lefty gear.
    Around here I'm the one who has to adapt most of the time,and I'm tired of hearing
    the old saw about only leftys bein in
    their right mind:)

    I was also taught never to eat small game
    until after the first hard frost and only
    in months with an "R"in it.We were taught to look for something the old timers called
    "wolves"don't know the proper term but it's
    a parasite that lives under the skin and
    leaves lumps you can feel and see.
    "not ticks"

    I'm also fortunate enough to have learned a lot here,from BB and many others.The best thing is I didn't just learn about AG's
    or other material stuff,but about who I am and am still trying to be.
    Thanks to Tom and Edith and so many others on here who are always willing to help
    with advice,kind words,and a good joke or
    two when needed,not to mention material
    help from folks like Wayne and Vince,and
    all the rest who come here to be part of
    something more than just another
    airgun site:)


  22. LOL!!! knowing what to do….my list would be pretty short.

    Leaving anything in a car is just asking for trouble.

    I was checking out this sponser page for americian airgunner…Xplore technologies is a little different.


    There are some good tuners out there. But, but like cars, if you up the power you will most likely void any warranties and lessen the life of the airgun. Making things shoot smoother, more accurately and quieter is not a bad thing.

    Some reputable tuners/restorers/parts:



    others that may not be on there:

    Big Ed
    RB Grips

    I see Macarri has a new heavy tar II grease, now even thicker than ever. Probably needed since Rich from Mich super sticky heavy tar had such good reviews.

    and the list goes on and on….

    but always check out reviews on their work before you have anyhting done.

  23. Matt61,

    Your post a little while back that ventured into the periphery of the political arena had me concerned but your post earlier today has provided you total redemption in my little mind.

    One of the best comments I've seen in many months.

    I couldn't agree more with the amount that can be learned from this site. Without this invaluable resource I would have given up on airguns before giving them a fare shake. The artillery hold is only a fraction of what I've been taught by B.B. but one of many examples of crucial information that seems to elude even the most basic airgun manual or information given to newbies.

    I think many of us need to pat ourselves on the back for being amongst those sick few that don't give up on a hobby because we can't find a solution ourselves and have the initiative to seek out and then listen to an informative source like B.B.

    hooray for us. Happy 4th of July everyone. My family asked if I intended to read the Declaration of Independence again this year at our traditional bar-b-que/cookout. I said I wouldn't if someone could recite it verbatim or would read it instead of me.

    I guess I'm reading it again this year.


  24. JT,
    I like the little Sharps, although I would have to have a need to spend that much:). In that price range, I would also be tempted to choose the Pedersoli "Quigley Rifle" in .45-70 with the tang sights. I'm still working on ideas for a springer simulating one for the bucket shoot:).

    I remember hearing what you were talking about, although I always thought they were ticks. I also always heard to avoid deer in warm weather like we had last fall. Of course, the old-timers had some more way-out superstitions, too: my grandfather was convinced that it was fatal to get a haircut in March. I never have figured that one out, but I never get a haircut in March and I'm still kicking:).

  25. BB,
    What happened to that Co2 .177 BB Kalashnikov made by cybergun? I thought I saw it at PA for 2months or something. I'm waiting for a quality co2 bb AR-15 (can't stand airsoft) and hope the AK wasn't taken off for legal reasons.
    Shadow express dude

  26. BB,
    HA! Enjoy your GSG-5, I've heard some that were good and others that lasted little longer than their airsoft counterparts(still a good 14,000rounds or so). I'll stick to a TAPCO 10/22 for run and gun exercise. There was a GSG 5K (the pistol version) at my local store with a mangled bolt, I didn't ask what had happened.

    P.S. watch out with their .22 1911

    Best of luck
    Shadow Express Dude

  27. Bruce Springsteen's new album : Banned in the USA

    Bought an airsoft in Chinatown
    The first shot I took everyone hit the ground
    The BATF said that it looked too much
    Like an AK-47 and what a fuss

    It was banned in the USA
    It was banned in the USA

  28. so and airsoft with orange tips are legal? ahhhh

    Bought a airgun in Chinatown
    The first shot I took everyone hit the ground
    The BATF said that it looked too much
    Like an AK-47 and what a fuss

    It was banned in the USA
    It was banned in the USA

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