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How and when Pyramyd Air got started – Part 1

Josh starts the story of the founding of Pyramyd AIR today. He wants you all to know that he didn’t forget you, but the demands of setting up a new building and the move have kept him pretty busy this summer.

How and when PA got started – Part 1

by Joshua Ungier

Actually, the question should be why I started Pyramyd AIR. But I suppose you will understand how it all came together when I tell you the convoluted tale.

I can trace my first activities in this direction to about fifteen years ago. The original name of my company was Pyramyd Stone. My close friend Joshi Furikawa, a Japanese businessman, asked me if I could secure a thousand cubic yards of well-defined, commercial-grade marble he needed for his hotel chain in Japan. He wanted to cover lobby floors, walls and some ceilings with marble. In addition, he needed wood. Lots of good wood. Russia came to my mind and he agreed. Since I speak that language quite well, I agreed.

I recruited a timber specialist from Virginia, an investor from Alaska and, along with my former partner, we all took off for Russia. A Russian company interested in selling us the goods took us from Moscow to Siberia via the Trans-Siberian Railway toward Altai region to the city of Barnaul. The ride lasted a few days. Lucky for us, we brought enough food and drink. Unlucky for us, we did not bring toilet paper. When I asked the lady conductor what we could use instead (at this point I was hoping for old newspaper), she extended her palm and said that they do not provide this luxury. That was something we should have thought of before we boarded the train.

Presidential suite
While in Barnaul, we stayed in Boris Yeltsin’s Siberian dacha. I was told to sleep in his bed. He was president and I was the president of Pyramyd Stone, so it seemed fitting to them. While there, we had the best food I had in all of Russia!

To reach the headquarters of LesProm (the company in charge of the territory) was a twelve-hour trek from Barnaul. We were picked up by a small bus, then transferred to a modified army six-wheeler called a Kamaz, and then back to a bus. If not for Vodka, I do not think we would have made it to Biysk–the marble and forest region of Siberia.

10-12-09-01

Russian Kamaz 6-wheel truck is not built for comfort!

10-12-09-02

Siberia in November is miles and miles of miles and miles!

Self-serve
The next morning was absolutely glorious. Two feet of snow overnight blanketed the area like a white feather quilt. Voices outside of my dorm room door were talking about a hunt coming up to secure breakfast. I ignored them. But soon the knock on my door reaffirmed my worry. “It is time to get up, Yurij” (my Russian name). “It is time to get breakfast.” The thermometer showed -38 deg. C (-36.4 deg. F). Not too bad for November in Siberia.

No Starbucks?
I am used to getting my breakfast by going to a refrigerator or at least to a bagel shop. However, there are no bagel shops in Siberia, and the refrigerator is located outside, according to the thermometer. A man who looked more like a bear in overalls handed me a shotgun and said “You hunt, you eat.”

I am not a hunter. I suppose, if I had to, I would kill to eat. I have dispatched many injured deer that have wandered onto my Ohio farm after encountering a car or a truck on the highway. I then had the meat prepared for me by pros. But Siberia is apparently a self-serve restaurant. And first you have to provide your own food.

The shotgun he gave me was a side-by-side whose barrels looked very old. Probably turn of the 20th century. To call it rickety would be an understatement. The action was held to the breech by a thick carpentry nail bent at the end so it would not fall out. As beautiful as the Damascus-twist barrels were, I was not sure the shotgun would survive a shot from a modern shell. Lucky for me, the mayor of the village then pulled up in an old truck loaded with our breakfast. No hunting today! We had bear meat and eggs and coffee…hmmm… never had this kind of “Breakfast of Champions” before! Definitely not McDonald’s.

Light bulb!
That is when an idea came to me to supply Russian hunters with American-made shotguns. God knows we have great guns, here. Winchester, Mossberg, Remington.

It took over a year to get all the licenses I needed. And Pyramyd Stone started exporting shotguns to Russia.

Back to our trip. After breakfast, we were picked up by a helicopter and flown over the quarries and forest that we were going to explore the next day for a closer look-and-touch. At this point, the trip only got colder.

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

43 thoughts on “How and when Pyramyd Air got started – Part 1”

  1. A fascinating story.

    I have scoped an IZH-512M with a crosman 4X15 clamp-on scope. I wanted to check the accuracy of the piece before spending on a scope and proper mounts. It hasn't moved in about fifty shots, probabaly because it is so light.

  2. Mr Ungier,

    Thanks for Part 1 in the founding of your company. "Siberia in the winter is miles and miles of miles and miles". "She held out her hand". Wonderfully discriptive writing–thank you Sir.

    I am anxiously awaiting Part 2.

    Mr B.

    PS gotta go save 5%–thanks!

  3. Wow… this looks like it will be an entertaining blog today. Will not get the time to read it until tonight though.

    Right now I have a question. Will this bi-pod mount to a Disco and work and look OK?
    Item#:CG60218[PY-A-2852]
    /product/swiss-arms-bipod-includes-3-mounts?a=2852

    Is there a better more appropriate solution?

  4. DB,

    Not much info about this Bipod on the PA site. If you're planning on mounting it using the stud on the stock I've read that the Disco stock has a lot of meat. Just make sure to mount the stud perfectly or your Bipod will be off. If you're planning on using the barrel clamp I'd suggest calling tech support at PA and make sure the disco barrel will fit the the clamp.

    Have you asked this question/done the research on the crosman/benjamin pcp forum?

    kevin

  5. Kevin,
    Good advice. Will call PA and maybe go the Crosman forum too. But their is a wealth of knowledge hear too.

    Barrel mount would really mean clamping to the air tube on a Disco. I suppose it is strong enough.

    Thanks,
    DB

  6. Mr. Ungier,
    I don't know why but this had me riveted to my seat. It is well written and entertaining. I guess it just amazes me how someone can come to this country with nothing and still be successful while people who are born here can't seem to make a go of it. Please know, Mr. Ungier, that for me, for one, you must proceed. I even reread your previous bio articles on this blog.

    -Chuck

  7. Wow, this is incredible. When Josh asked for toilet paper and the lady conductor extended her palm, I got worried…. 🙂 I've read about how living in modern Russia is a wild experience. Most people don't make it. Survival, even enjoyment depends on "learning to dance with the Russian bear." That bear meat, eggs breakfast sounds pretty intriguing. Despite all of the ups and downs, there's no denying that the Russian industry turns out some pretty amazing guns, both airguns and firearms.

    B.B. and Kevin, okay, no mixing of powders. That makes things simpler.

    B.B. a hand-sized group of 5 shots at 15 yards would make me feel great. I understand that the Beretta 92 can actually be a very accurate gun. The ones used by the Army Marksmanship Unit are supposed to group in about an inch at 50 yards. That's from a rest, I believe.

    As I thought about surplus rifles blowing up, my thoughts turned from guns blowing up to dangers from shooters next to you. These include someone using unsafe practices; shooting so wildly as to pose a danger; or using unsafe loads that cause their guns to blow up. One report said that a person blew up a rifle this way, and the person next to him had to be taken to a hospital to remove a giant splinter from his head. Those dangers are popping up everywhere!

    Randy-in-VA, yes the Force has entered the language as a metaphor for the subconscious, and I think it indicates that this power which seems touchy-feely and esoteric is really all around us. The question is how to access it. I have B.B.'s movies in mind. However, it occurs to me that the elaborate shooting routines described by Nancy Tompkins and David Tubb may not be valueable just for physical reasons but also as ways to engage the subconscious. In other words, it may not matter what method you use to engage the subconscious so long as you use it consistently. This may explain, too, the superstitious rituals that I'm guessing are related to B.B.'s movies which–I think–are about baseball. I'm not much of a fan of baseball myself, but, anyway, perhaps the famous superstitions of baseball players are just ways of engaging their subconscious.

    Matt61

  8. BG_Farmer,

    I read about how the former British Royal Princess, Fergie, went on a moose hunt, and cut her face with the recoil from a high-powered rifle. The British tabloids were out of sympathy.

    All, my RWS Hobbys are on the way from Pyramidair Air! I'll be as excited to get them as I was with my Black Hills ammo.

    Matt61

  9. Josh,
    I love the story — always wanted to live in a place like that. Ironic that half of Remington's shotguns (and some rifles) now seem to come from Russia. Also, the pictures reminded me of the scenes from Tomb Raider, although I don't suppose you were lucky enough to be travelling with Lara Croft:).

    Matt,
    It does happen. Wish I hadn't thought of it as I'm off momentarily to sight in a scope on my '06.

    I've been meaning to give you some bad news, but I don't have confirmation. I saw something to the effect that IZH's won't be imported any longer. Hopefully BB and/or Josh knows this to be untrue, as I know you're not the only fan of the 61.

  10. BG_Farmer,

    Not only is it NOT true that IZH airguns will no longer be imported into the U.S., byt they will actually be imported directly by Pyramyd AIR. This will allow them to order and carry the quantities of guns their customers demand, so the situation should get a lot better.

    B.B.

  11. Hi BB,

    I spotted a NIB RWS 34 at a gun show yesterday and was lucky enough to pick it up for $150. Now I want need a mount and scope, and hope to move on that today so I can take advantage of the discount and free shipping at Pyramyd.

    Not much time for research, and Pyramyd's lines are tied up, so I'm hoping you have a moment to recommend a good scope/mount combo for the model 34 (basic wood stock). I'm concerned about barrel droop, and would like to use the relatively new mount that was developed to provide that adjustability. Please note the ring height (low, medium or high) that would work best.

    As for the scope, something rugged with a moderate zoom that will be good for target with a lighted reticle. I don't compete and there's no field courses set up around here. Perhaps something in a 4-9x or 4-12x.

    Sorry for the bother, any help appreciated.

    Brian

  12. Brian,

    consider a 3x9x40mm objective Leapers Scope. They will all provide good service and decent optics which can't be beat for the price. You should also get a leapers compensating mount (aka the UTG base) for the droop the RWS is bound to have. Here's the link for the mounts:

    /search-results-ext?q=leapers+compensating+mount

    If that doesn't work, just go to the PA website and search for UTG scope mount. You can also search PA's site for the Leapers scopes.

    Fred

  13. Brian,

    Get the Leapers UTG base for the 460:

    /product/utg-scope-mount-base-fits-rws-diana-48-52-54-460-magnum-with-to5?a=2297

    Use 2-piece UTG Weaver medium rings:

    /product/leapers-premium-1-rings-medium-weaver-mount-see-thru?a=789

    Get Leapers 3-9X50 scope:

    /product/utg-3-9×50-ao-rifle-scope-illuminated-mil-dot-reticle-1-4-moa-1-tube?a=658

    B.B.

  14. Brian,

    Although some people are reporting that their diana 34 doesn't droop many do. Until you mount your scope it's hard to tell which base is best for you (some of the new bases designed specifically for diana airguns compensate for droop and the new base has zero droop compensation).

    Since this base was designed for the diana 34 I'd start with this one:

    /product/utg-scope-mount-base-fits-rws-diana-34-36-38-45-with-to5-trigger?a=2298

    Scopes dictate height of your rings. I personally think you're proposing a scope that is too heavy for your gun. You bought a powerful gun and a heavy scope accentuates the stress on your rings, scope, base and shooting technique not to mention it makes the gun very heavy to lug around.

    Scopes are a very personal decision but I'd suggest this scope:

    /product/leapers-golden-image-3-9x32ao-rifle-scope-mil-dot-reticle-1-tube?a=866

    And these rings:

    /product/leapers-premium-1-rings-medium-weaver-mount-see-thru?a=789

    Remember to clean everything well before you mount up the scope.

    kevin

  15. B.B.

    When using a CO2 rifle such as a Crosman 2260 or 2400 Custom for hunting, can you leave a pellet in
    the chamber with safety on for periods while hunting.
    I know you've said that you've stored your CO2's with the cartridge left in but I was curious if loaded made any difference. Realizing that this is a NoNO with springers.

    Thanks- Bubba

  16. BB/whomever,

    Where do you order/buy your handgun holsters from/who do you recommend?

    I have 1911, 92, the Makarov, PPK/S, 357-four (all airguns). I prefer relatively-inexpensive-yet-serviceable-quality right-handed tilt-forward hip, as well as shoulder holsters.

    Holster choices here on Maui are limited, mostly Uncle Mike's for long-barreled hand cannons for some reason.

    Thanks.

  17. BB,
    That's great news about IZH, should be a good line for Pyramyd also.

    Matt,
    Not only did I not rip my face off, but I got my baby back:). My savage had started shooting shotgun groups, and I had tried everything except changing the scope, which is what I did today. After some of my usual dyslexic sight-in antics (left means right and up means down), I shot a clean roughly 0.75" 3-shot group at 100 yards with 150 gr. Winchester Super-X's and a similar one with 165gr. CoreLokts. Nothing wrong with me or the rifle — #)*)@ old scope:).

  18. I like the new PA logo better, the old one appeared to be created with a high lighter.

    BG farmer – some scopes seem to live forever, the others get sold on the yellow. Good think you know who I am. : )

  19. I have been watching the American Airgunner show and find it very informative. I tried to use the e-mail contact there, but it keeps failing. I meant to ask how your camera guy manages to have that hand-held look for many of his shots. Obviously, he would not be as close to shooters and nearly directly in the firing line as it looks on screen. Does he use some sort of suspension system?

  20. Volvo,
    I'm OK with used in many cases, but I have enough bad luck with scopes to know they're like tractors — no one ever gets rid of a good one:). The old one was driving me crazy by shooting to POA on the first shot every day out, then scattering bullets randomly. I was looking at the bore, the lead-in area, copper fouling, heating, etc. Never seen this particular mode of failure, but it sucks bad:).

  21. Regarding the weekend discussion of bigger groups in cold weather, it occurred to me that it is most likely a matter of parallax, since the scope tube will more than likely change length with temperature, while the focal length of the lenses would remain more or less constant. The change in focus might not be noticable, but it wouldn't take much movement to affect parallax. Just a theory.

  22. B.B.

    That's terrific news about importing IZHs directly. No more caveman service from the other importer. Maybe I'll have to pick up another IZH 61 to celebrate.

    BG_Farmer, that's a good group with the 30-06 recoil. Got to love those Savage rifles. The Savage site reports that Team Savage won a whole bunch of gold medals at the F class world championships in Bisley, England. You know the field was packing some heavy gear at a match like that, but Team Savage won with the off-the shelf F class target rifle that retails for about $1200, peanuts at the elite level. Incidentally, the members of Team Savage were all from the Northwest, Oregon and Washington, the land of Wayne. Must be that outdoor lifestyle.

    AZBrian, I haven't followed the Diana droop issue closely enough to give specifics. But I can say that any Leapers scope and B.B.'s droop compensator scope will do the job for you and very well.

    Matt61

  23. Matt,
    I saw that with the Savages. Even if the factory took extra care, its still stock. The PNW is perfect for educating shooters — lots of variety in terrain and conditions. If we can talk Wayne into a Savage, he might be on the team in a year or less:).

  24. I've never traveled outside of America's much hand never been to Russia. But I do know a funny story.

    A group from my church traveled over there for a mission trip and the Russian boarder guards were stern and thumbed through each page of paper work after licking the finger between pages.

    Little did he know that the paper work fell in the toilet the day before… yuk.

  25. Josh,

    This is Mike in Las Vegas.

    That is a great story.

    I must say… I miss the times when you & I would talk airguns for 30-45 minutes on the phone, & now I know you are way to busy, but I am VERY glad that you have been so successful, that you don't have the time anymore.
    At least this means that PA should be around for many years to come. 🙂

    Congratulations on your incredible success!

    Sincerely,

    Mike E. in Las Vegas aka – The Big Bore Addict –

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