by B.B. Pelletier
While I was working on some new American Airgunner episodes at our New York studio this week, a curious thing happened. Paul Capello’s brother was visiting the studio and told Paul he had a gift for him in the car. When Paul opened the trunk he saw a strange-looking gun. It was plain-looking and lightweight, but the metal was blued steel and the stock was hardwood.
I recognized it as a Crosman V350, since I have one in my collection, but this was the first one Paul had seen. His brother asked him to cock it and winked at me, thinking Paul wouldn’t figure it out. But amazingly, he got it within seconds. To cock this spring-piston airgun you grasp the barrel near the muzzle and pull straight back. It cocks like several of the old Quackenbush airguns from the 19th century, but how many people are familiar with them today?
Crosman’s V350 is a powerful, yet plain-looking BB gun that cocks by pulling straight back on the barrel.
Later Paul told us he had been trying to break the barrel down, and by chance it slipped backwards, but I say that’s a lucky chance. Guys who work with their hands a lot tend to have that kind of luck more than most, I guess. Paul is a carpenter by trade.
The V350 is a very powerful BB gun from the 1960s. It later got updated into the V3500 but also into one of Crosman’s most classic BB guns, the M1 Carbine.
The first year Crosman M1 Carbine had a slabwood stock. This is a later model with a more rounded Croswood plastic stock. Though it is more rugged and better-looking, the wood-stock model is rarer and commands a higher price.
A different powerplant
This family of BB guns has a completely different powerplant from the classic Daisy Red Ryder gun. Though it has a spring-powered piston, it uses a poppet-type valve that stores compressed air until it blows open violently. The velocity is indicated by the model number, hence this gun is in the Daisy No. 25 category power-wise.
One design characteristic mitigated against this type of gun–the cocking method. As Paul was quick to learn, the V350 isn’t easy for an adult to cock. It’s almost impossible for a younger shooter unless some measures are taken. One common thing was to hold the cocking hand over the muzzle to pull back on the barrel with greater force. That probably didn’t sit too well with the Crosman legal department when they thought about it.
Look for bluing wear
Also, because of the cocking method, you can easily tell how much use a gun has had by the amount of blue remaining on the barrel near the muzzle. Paul’s gun was nearly new there, so it probably got very little use. Parents used to take the BB guns away from children who misbehaved, and sometimes they never got them back.
As far as accuracy goes, the V350 is on par with other BB guns of the era. The steel barrel is smoothbored with plenty of clearance for the BBs, so don’t expect much less than two inches at 25 feet with a good hold.
The gun holds at least 23 BB shot in a gravity-fed magazine that has a port near the rear sight. You can tell if the gun is loaded by shaking it and listening. Never assume it is empty, though, because there’s no positive way of telling.
If you want a V350, the best place to find one is at an airgun show. They go for $20 for a dog/parts gun to perhaps $80 for new-in-the-box. This is one vintage airgun that is undervalued at the present time. I know Paul is fascinated by his, and I suspect he’ll find a way to work it into the television show this season.