by B.B. Pelletier

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Part 1

Well, I’m back to the Plainsman today, and we’re going to look at velocity. I have to tell you–I was surprised by what you’re about to see.

But first, don’t mistake the Healthways Plainsman that I am testing for the Challenger Plainsman–another CO2 pellet gun. The Challenger is much scarcer and commands a higher price.


Challenger Plainsman is a completely different airgun.

Remember that the pistol I’m testing still has a fast leak, so I can’t test total shot count. And I have to be sensitive to when the velocity drops off during a string. That said, though, I believe I got good test figures–and what figures they are!


Healthways Plainsman is a very comfortable air pistol. It has a light, smooth trigger.

Low power
I started with the lowest power setting. I figured the gun would be down in the 200s, with the promised shot count of 100 on this power setting. The Czechoslovakian APP 661 is another semiautomatic BB pistol that gets lots of shots per CO2 cartridge. It gets over 200 per, but the velocity is down below 250 f.p.s. And the 661 uses some of the CO2 to cock itself as you shoot.

This Plainsman started out at 355 f.p.s., but after several shots to loosen the action, it averaged 385 f.p.s. The spread went from 381 to 388, but again I remind you that the gun is losing gas all the time. At 385 f.p.s., this is a brisk little BB pistol. And remember–this is all on the lowest power setting.


The safety is located on the left side of the grip.

Medium power
On some other airguns with adjustable power, the velocity often doesn’t change significantly, so I was pleased to see the average on medium power was up to 415 f.p.s. The spread went from 410 to 419–a tight string! You drop to half the number of available shots when you go to medium, and I don’t think it’s enough of an increase to warrant the additional use of gas.

Firing behavior
As I shot the Plainsman, I remembered why I liked the gun so much as a kid. The trigger-pull is so smooth and light! It’s long, but there’s none of the stacking of effort as the blade comes back. You don’t feel the hammer being cocked. Simply a smooth pull until the release.

High power
On high power, the average jumped to 437. The spread was 435 to 439, so it was very tight. I half-expected a higher velocity on high power because of the claims for penetration, but maybe that’s all it takes to penetrate a coffee can. And maybe my pistol isn’t performing up to par. I think I have to get this gun resealed.


On high power, the adjustment screw is all the way out. The detents are so distinctive that you will make no mistakes when selecting power.

Now, for something special
The Plainsman had another feature that was groundbreaking in its day and is still a pretty good idea. They offered a separate cap for the CO2 cartridges that allowed the use of longer 12-gram cartridges. I have seen one of these in a boxed Plainsman set over a decade ago, so I know they’re out there. The set I saw had the cap inside the box, and words on the box told about it. I don’t know if the cap was also available as a separate option for other Plainsman owners, but that’s what I would think. Now that my interest in the pistols has been piqued, I’m going to look for this set.


With a different end cap, the Plainsman pistol can accept longer 12-gram CO2 cartridges.

Where can I get one?
I found two Plainsman pistols on Gun Broker and one on Auction Arms. One of the two on Gun Broker holds and shoots hard. It’s boxed for $60, which probably isn’t too bad. The boxed one on Auction Arms starts at $135 and the seller doesn’t state whether it holds, so it’s way too high in my opinion. If you want one, they do come up.