by B.B. Pelletier

Well, Vince is back with another fantastic tale of gunsmithing, gun renovation and making parts. I’m just a tinkerer compared to Vince’s vast talent. I enjoy his guest blogs because I always learn something new. You, too?

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Now, let’s get on with Vince’s “Impossible Dream”

by Vince

Ha ha, I know. Vince is gonna clean up his workbench and maybe even get all his tools sorted out. Yeah. Like that’s ever gonna happen. No, what I’m talking about is a task that is so incredibly incredible, so unbelievably unbelievable, and so hopeless hapless that only an absolute FOOL would even THINK about attempting it!

I’m gonna accurrize me a Marksman 1010!

The Marksman 1010 Classic.

I can already hear the guffaws and howls of laughter. And frankly, well, there’s a reason for that. After all, the Marksman 1010 is a legend without peer in the field of inaccuracy. When B.B. tested one over 3 years ago, he couldn’t stay on the 5″x5″ target paper–from 10 feet away. I distinctly remember shooting at some cans with mine one evening and knocking one over… one that happened to be about a foot away from the one I was actually aiming at. At about 12 feet. The trigger-pull weight is generally comparable to, say, a Diana 52 with scope. Not comparable to the Diana’s TRIGGER weight, mind you, but to the weight of the WHOLE GUN.

So, why even bother?

Actually, the 1010 had a couple of things going for it, especially the old metal ones. First, is the “cool factor.” Let’s face it; it was all-metal and full-weight before all-metal and full-weight became popular buzzwords. Nobody was going to ever mistake it for the real 1911 it was modeled after, but the resemblance to a real firearm was unmistakenly there. It had REAL heft to it and could be a very formidable close-quarter weapon (well, if used as a club, anyway). Second, it was and is cheap. Third, it was popular, so they’re still available in copious quantities for the aforementioned cheapness.

While I was accurrizing Wacky Wayne’s Markham Model D way back when (by fitting a Daisy Avanti 499 barrel to it), I got this crazy idea: Why not use a hunk of the other barrel I bought and see if something could be done for the ol’ 1010? So, that’s exactly what I did.

And then forgot about it. Better late than never.

Without going into personal details, let’s just say that my life started getting rather complicated around the time I played with this thing, and I never really gave it a proper test. Well, things are settling down quite a bit now and I’m in the process of going through all my airguns, deciding what to keep and what to ditch. When I came across my old 1010, I remembered my barrel retrofit and decided to give it a real test before deciding what to do with it.

So, I go to my 15′ basement BB range, set up a target, filled up the 1010 with new Daisy BBs and let ‘re rip. The first group was pretty bad, but I was shooting offhand…and I’m a LOUSY offhand pistol shot. To give it a proper test, the next group was shot from a rested position and gave me (Are you ready?)…ALL SHOTS LANDING ON THE PAPER!

Actually, it did much better than that. It gave me a 5-shot group of slightly under 1.75″. For a smoothbore springer with me pulling the 50-lb. trigger isn’t all that bad. And coming from a Marksman 1010…well, that group size might literally be 1/10 the size it would have shot as it came from the factory.

5 shots, Daisy BBs, using a rest: 1.75″ group

Now I’m in a bit of a pickle. Even though the 1010 is not a serious gun for the serious hobbyist, I AM sorta honor-bound to help out poor, overworked BB with a mediocre guest blog once in a while. It’s something that I’m not sure has been tried by anyone else. It did work pretty well, and I do have some interesting results to report. But I’ve got one problem: I don’t really remember how I did it.

Fortunately, for me (and less so for the you guys), I took pictures when I did this conversion. Even more amazing, I was able to find those pictures over a year later. Since this sorta jogs my memory, well, this blog ain’t over yet. What I’ll do is step through these one by one, in more or less the proper order, and give a running narration of how I remember this coming together.

Step one: Get a grip
The 1010 is a surprisingly complicated air pistol for such a cheap little peashooter. It requires a level of patience all out of proportion to the lowly nature of the gun. So be prepared. Just for reference, this is what the “naked gun” looks like:

Gee, I’d never seen this side of you before.

Step two: Do everything else
The next three pictures are a bit of a cheat. I had never photographed the very first steps, so these are recent. Cock the gun halfway (pull the slide back, but do not return it forward), remove the front screw and loosen the others.

Loosen the circled ones, remove the front one. Please note: the cocking slide oughta be pulled back.

Gently pry the halves of the gun slightly apart at the muzzle. NOTE WHERE THAT LITTLE SPRING IS! You’ll need to put it back, and it probably won’t cooperate. Once you’re familiar with where it goes, spread the gun halves just enough to get out the barrel assembly.

Remember where this puppy goes!

Just enough to get it out.

Now, we have to figure out how to get the old shot tube out. Take a look at the barrel assembly from the front. Obviously it’s not coming out that way!

Turn around the barrel assembly and remove that rubber grommet/seal in the back…

…and slide the shot tube out.

If you lay the Daisy 499 shot tube next to the barrel housing, you’ll get a general idea of how it needs to go in. The outside diameter of the old tube is 1/4″, while the OD of the 499 is 5/16″. Except for the very end, where it’s VERY conveniently turned down to 1/4″ from the factory:

Marksman barrel housing and Daisy 499 shot tube.

Here’s where I may have inadvertently taken the long way around. I suspect it would have been easier to turn down the OD of the Daisy tube to 1/4″, cut off a hunk of the proper length and just slide it back in the way the old one came out. But, NOOOO! Easy ain’t for me. Besides, I don’t have a lathe, so I did it the hard way. I drilled out the front of the barrel housing with a 5/16″ bit.

Please. Do a better job than I did.

Make sure that the plastic bosses on the underside of the housing are cut away as necessary.

Disembowel where indicated.

If I make it long enough, it’ll reach all the way to the target!

The new barrel can be slid in from the front until it’s even with the back.

At this point, you’ll find that you can just put the breech grommet back, just as with the original shot tube.

Pull the grommet back out. The shot tube length has to be cut down and the muzzle crowned…crowned the KING of cheap BB pistols, that is!

A little needs to be ground off the bottom to clear a screw boss.

Grind where circled.

Slide out the shot tube, smear it with a little epoxy and slide it back in. DON’T GET EPOXY IN THE BARREL! Let it set, reinstall the barrel housing into the pistol frame and…voila! You’re done!

Now, your beloved 1010 or 2005 (you know, they’ve got some nerve naming the horrible 2005 something so close to the excellent 2004!) or whatever should now be transformed into a passable plinker. And by that I mean hitting soda cans pretty reliably at BB-gun ranges. Can’t help but think that it might even do better with Avanti Precision BBs, but I don’t have any of those.

My biggest regret in all this is failing to document the before and after performances. However, I don’t think that’s too much of an issue here. As I said before, the 1010 and its derivatives are notoriously horrible in the world of BB pistols–a world that is hardly populated with precision shooting instruments. And, yes, I’ve got airsoft pistols that will shoot under 1″ at 15 feet, but that’s not really the point.

As I said before, the 1010 IS a cool looking pistol. How many kids AND adults had been horribly disappointed over the years by it’s absolute lack of accuracy? Which just ain’t right. So, I guess you could say that this was simply a pursuit of justice. Righting a wrong. Bringing balance to the universe and so on. You could say that, but it’d be a wad of horse manure. I just wanted to see how well it’d work, which I did. And I wound up with a 1010 that shoots almost straight, so I can lift up my head and shout to the world: “I’M LIVIN’ THE DREAM, MAN!” The Impossible Dream, that is!