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Education / Training The 2010 Roanoke Airgun Expo – Day two

The 2010 Roanoke Airgun Expo – Day two

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

The airgun show continued on Saturday, and a firearms show opened in the same civic center complex. Paying admission to the firearms show also got you into the airgun show, so we saw several of those buyers walking in our aisles. It’s odd to see a guy carrying a firearm at an airgun show, but that’s what happens when two shows are run at the same time.

On this day, I got a first-time attendee’s appraisal of the show, which is always interesting. He said he came to the show with no expectations and was pleasantly surprised. I guess that about sums it up for most of us. If you came to buy just a Beeman R11 and didn’t find one, you might think the show was a bust despite being in the presence of some of the rarest, most collectible airguns ever assembled. If they didn’t have what you wanted, for you the show was bad.

No expectations
But arrive without a preconceived notion of what you might find, and a show like this can bowl you over! For example, I’ve been wanting a Sheridan Supergrade multi-pump pneumatic to replace the one I had to sell years ago when The Airgun Letter went out of publication. Money was tight, so a number of firearms and airguns were sold. That was back in the days when a Supergrade in nice condition would bring $600. Only two years ago, the same gun might have brought $1,500-2,000. But at this show, I sat just 10 feet from a beauty that was listed at $1,300 — a very good price for a nice Supergrade. I’d just enough to buy it at one point, but it would have tapped me out completely, so I had to let it pass. That is the agonizing that Lloyd wrote about yesterday.

This very late model Sheridan Model A (called the Supergrade) was only a few feet away. The price was as nice as the gun!

A Sheridan Supergrade doesn’t shoot any harder or more accurately than a Blue Streak, but it does it with style.

I told you yesterday that reader and guest blogger Paul had found a special air rifle at the show. What he found was a boxed Walther Lever Action rifle, the one that looks like a Winchester 1894, that impressed him very much. In person, the Walther is quite stunning, with only wood and metal touching your hands. I could tell by his smile that this rifle made his day.

But, as he was telling Mac and me goodbye, he kept eyeing a Beeman C1 of Mac’s on the table. I think he expected his wife, who was with him, to talk him out of it, but when he returned to the table a short time later, he mumbled something about her being an enabler. In other words, Paul’s wife is a lot like my Edith! Long story short, he went away with another fine air rifle.

Fabulous Hakim
Remember me telling you yesterday about the Falke 90 rifle and how it may have been the gun from which the Hakim was copied? Well, I wanted to show Mac why I thought that, so I glanced around for a Hakim to use in demonstration. And there, in a rack close by, was the finest Hakim I’ve even seen — short of one that Larry Hannusch completely refinished! Its owner/seller said he had hand-picked it from a Navy Arms pile back when they were first imported to this country back in the 1980s. There was at least one other Hakim at the show, and it wasn’t too bad, but this one was exceptional.

More fine vintage stuff
Over at Davis Schwesinger’s table, I spotted not one but two rare Winsel bulk-fill CO2 pistols. I recently used one of these as an example of a rare airgun, so seeing two of them in one place is similar to seeing two Stradivarii at a fiddlefest.

The Winsel was a bulk-filled CO2 pistol that required the owner to mail in the reservoir for refills. The gun on the left is missing its reservoir.

Nearby was a beautiful Warrior air pistol. These are quite rare and very beautiful examples of a quality-made handgun. The bluing and heft of the gun is very firearm-like.

The Warrior is a heavy, all-steel sidelever air pistol that’s worth a used car.

But, perhaps, the best thing I saw on Dave Schwesinger’s table was a collection of old Beeman catalogs. Among them was a super-rare first catalog with a San Anselmo address. If you’ve followed my report on the history of Air Rifle Headquarters and Beeman you know that San Anselmo was the Beemans’ home, and they used a P.O. box for the business. Inside this catalog was a price sheet that reveals all the retail and dealer pricing for cataloged items in the first catalog. So, now I know how much my San Anselmo FWB 124 sold for in 1973. I’ll be covering that in another report very soon, as I have a little surprise for you coming in the 124 series.

So, I’m looking at this catalog that was valued at $500 about five years ago — and who knows what today — and Dave tells me, “They told me I should get $425 for that catalog, but if someone gave me $200 for it, I’d foxtrot around this hall.” So I gave him $200.

Davis Schwesinger dances with his wife, Luba, to honor our deal.

I know that seems like a lot for just a paper catalog, but this is the very hard-to-get first edition, and I’ll be using it for the rest of my life. And that, more than anything, is why I felt I could not spend all of my money to buy that nice Sheridan Supergrade. Because you never know when something pivotal, like this catalog, will pop up.

Rarest of all Beeman catalogs, the first edition was mailed from San Anselmo.

Elsewhere in the hall, I encountered still more fabulous deals on collectible vintage guns. One that really tickled me was a Crosman 150 pistol kit. The 150PK consists of a pistol in a metal case that doubles as a pellet backstop. In years past, these were always going for $150 when in good condition, but I found one at this show for only $100. And the pistol was a beauty!

Of course, there are always the bizarre guns, and this show had plenty of them. I saw things that nobody could guess what they were or how they worked. But collector Larry Behling probably sums up this category best with his bazooka.

No, it’s not a target gun. Collector and author Larry Behling holds his new acquisition, an air bazooka.

Vintage target rifles
Usually, there’s a theme to an airgun show, but I couldn’t see one this year beyond the memorial to Fred Liady. However, if I were forced to pick a theme, it would have to be vintage target airguns. I saw more of them than I think I’ve seen in many years. On my table, alone, Mac had two FWB 300s, an FWB 150 and an NIB RWS Diana 75. I’ve already mentioned some of the other great ones, such as the NIB HW 55.

Ten-meter target rifles were all over this show. Mac had four on his table, alone.

I managed to snag an HW 55 Custom Match that I’ll be showing you in the days to come. That’s a pretty nice version of the HW 55 that’s fairly scarce, considering the rifle’s long production history.

As Saturday grew old, people were asking whether the show would run again next year. Dee Liady told me right at the end of the show that her brother and Davis Schwesinger are planning to hold the show again. So, apparently there will be a 21st year gathering at Roanoke. I hope that many of you will be able to factor this into next year’s plans and join us in this beautiful southern Virginia city for the world’s largest and oldest continuous airgun show.

70 thoughts on “The 2010 Roanoke Airgun Expo – Day two”

      • Thanks,I’m trying to ascertain just how rare they really are,as in how many current known survivors.I thought my LG 55 Tyro with double set triggers was really rare….until one sold yesterday on the Yellow classifieds.

            • Frank B,

              Yes, they were made for olympic competitors. The DST triggers were outlawed very shortly after they were introduced which is a major contributing factor to the rarity.

              Here’s another piece of trivia that stuck in my head when I did research prior to buying my LG55DST.

              Did you know that the Walther factory used the Mauser 98 DT (aka DST on airguns) trigger for the LG55DST? Only minor modifications are necessary for this trigger to be a drop in fit on the LG55. The only reason I remember this is because I have a K98 DT.

              Pretty common knowledge that the Walther factory used whatever they could get their hands on (in those lean years) and the DT’s were readily available from K98’s so they used those triggers.


  1. B.B.

    To continiue on custom airguns – I’ve stumbled upon “ISP airrifles” on the web.
    They seem to make PCP airguns looking almost like high-grade hunting rifles. First – I’d like to ask you – have you ever shot their production? And second – maybe they’re the guys to build for you your PCP Sharps airgun?


  2. B.B.

    Regarding the C1 I was delighted to realize it is the one that you used in an earlier blog article. A carbine with a great history! I hope to get all three new guns to the range this weekend.

    Another nice find was a number of interesting pellets. I found two sealed tins of the .22 Vortek Lampreys (one for testing, one to keep unopened). Most curious to me were the .22 Lasers – the Beeman label is clearly pasted over the original Mount Star painted logo and lettering. It is probably a very early Laser lot; that one will be left unopened.

    Paul in Liberty County

  3. Morning B.B.,

    You walked me through the show this morning while I was drinking a cup of coffee, for a minute I was there while you were telling me about your first addition Beeman catalog.


  4. Does anyone know a place to obtain a Scuba tank at a good price? I had no trouble hand pumping my Discovery, that was easy. Last night, I finished hand pumping my new TalonSS to 3000 psi for the second time. I’m looking at hand pumping in a whole new light now. Toward the end, I need to put just about my full weight (ok, I’m a lightweight) on it. That’s a whole lot less entertaining, doable yes, but it has made me look at the possibility of a tank.

    Also, is anyone here using a Shoebox compressor? With those little pistons, I’d think it would burn up pretty fast, like rapidly pumping a PCP hand pump and not letting it cool down. Looks like a good option, if it works reliably.

    • It may not and probably will not work best at a full 3K of pressure. Figure out what it likes. It is a lot easier at 200-300 psi less than max.
      A 3000 psi scuba will have less than 3000 psi left after one fill even if it was filled to a full 3000 psi in the first place.


      • Right, I know that. Unfortunately, I don’t have a chrony to do the strings to determine what that is. The local shooting range has one that I can borrow, when it is around. It like to take long walks apparently on it’s own, but eventually comes back. Worst case, I shoot without it being at it’s optimal balance, which would leave it at only very powerful and perhaps not quite as efficient as it could be. I’ll get a chrony, but not quite yet.

      • twotalon,

        True but I have been able to talk my dive shop into filling my 3k psi to 3300 psi. Still gives me only about 12 – 15 refills if I let it go to 2000 psi.

        Best solution is to go to high pressure tanks, though they are expensive. My options are 3500 psi 106 cu ft used steel tank at $300 or 4350 psi aluminum hoop wound Kevlar tank at 100 cu ft at $400 used or various carbon fiber wound from 17 cu ft to 44 cu ft or 75 cu ft or 88 cu ft at 4500 ps at from $450 to $650 plus sometimes you need an adapter to fit the tank and your gun!!

        The 4350 psi hoop wound Kevlar is actually an 80 cu ft aluminum tank in the beginning and hoop wound with Kevlar cord and then over laid with fiberglass to give it added strength. It would give me the absolute most refills compared to the other options and costs in the middle of them.

        Basically if you get a gun with 3000 psi or higher you pay a bundle for the tanks or work your buns off pumping them up!!!

        Pay your money and take your pick!!!

        • The only times pumping got bad for me was when I was tuning and testing. After that it was no big deal.
          Also have about as many scuba shops around here as there are in the middle of the sahara.

          Have two pumps still working after several years. Lunched a cheapo after about 6 months.

          Could probably get nitrogen easier than a scuba refill.


    • Bristolview,

      I would first recommend you go to a dive shop and see what a new aluminum tank costs versus used. Eighty cubic feet is standard and probably big enough for your needs. There are larger and smaller tanks. BB did a blog about a year ago so if you use the search function to the right of the blog, it should come up. Remember that a used tank will require a hydrostatic test plus a visual inspection so add maybe $50 to $75 to the cost of a used tank (depends on area and labor prices). Then you will need to order a K valve to fit your tank (DIN probably if you get a high pressure tank), guage, pressure line and fitting (Foster for Crosman and paintball guns) but I believe Pyramydair sells this at as good a price as anywhere you’ll find it.

      If you want to go used, look on Craigs’ list. That’s where I bought my tank, a “low” pressure steel tank (2400 psi) and after the $75 sale, invested another $75 for the testing and another $150 for the fittings. The dive shop told me they could have sold me a new, aluminum high pressure tank (3300 psi) for $150 so live and learn.

      Fred PRoNJ

    • Bristolview,

      I’ve been watching the reviews on the shoebox compressor. Lot of praise so far but it’s such a new product that, in my opinion, the jury is still out on its longevity. I’m sure you know that the shoebox compressor is really designed to be a “booster” for a larger compressor. Although it can be run as a stand alone unit it’s not designed as such and I think its life would be dramatically shorter.

      Don’t overlook the new 88 cu ft carbon fiber tanks that have a 20 year life vs. the current 15 year life. Although good used steel dive tanks seem a bargain when you calculate number of fills and factor in their weight and bulkiness I think you’ll find the carbon fiber tanks a bargain.


      • Agreed on the newness of the shoebox. Yes, it uses a standard shop compressor to do the first stage compression, it then takes over for the subsequent compressions. The theory is fine, and I’m sure it works. I’m just concerned how long it works. If I pumped a hand pump that fast, it would heat up and burn up it’s seals until it could no longer hold and compress any air. I’ve heard that those little pistons get really hot, so I’m expecting their seals to fail too. I’m hoping to be proven wrong.

        Yeah, carbon tanks are nicer in every way really, except for initial cost. Used perhaps, but I cannot justify getting one right now, as much as I’d like one. Just got the Talon you know. Perhaps later. Thanks for the tips.

        • Bristolview,

          Yes the shoe box compressors DO burn up! Lots of early ones did! And they replaced the parts even though it was operator error.

          They clearly tell you in their instructions that they MUST be lubricated every 6 hour without fail. And almost all of early buyers failed to do that. Hence burned up parts! And the manufacturers graciously replaced the parts with a warning that they would not do it again!

          For me, I do NOT want anything which is so fragile! Filling an airgun is not a problem as that can be done in 15 minutes to an hour or so depending on the size of your airgun tank. However most of those which were burned up were people who tried to fill scuba tanks to 3000 psi or higher and that takes 24 hours +! So if you don’t lube it every 6 hours at least you get burned up parts!

          When/(IF) they ever come up with a water or air cooled pump capable of filling a 4500 psi 88 cu ft tank in 2 hours or less without burning up at about $350 I will apply for a distributorship and sell them like hotcakes!!! Hmmm…….off to the drawing boards. Gotta invent that puppy and get real rich!!!

          Gotta run now! Gotta invent that puppy b4 some one else does!!!

    • bristolview,
      I bought a new aluminum tank last year for $150. Make sure that whatever you choose you can get it filled at a convenient location. Don’t assume a shop will fill it. A dive shop most likely will not fill anything over 3500. I’ve never gone to a paintball shop but I suppose they will do 4500 fibers. But check before you buy.

      I took mine in for a third fill recently and the dive shop operator saw that the inspection date needed renewed the current month. He filled it anyway this time because he knew I wasn’t breathing off it but the next time I take it in I know it’ll need inspection. I don’t know what the cost will be.

      I was going to send you links to what you need to connect the Talon SS to a scuba tank but I think you should call PA instead and tell them you have a Discovery and a Talon and they can fix you up so you can fill both easily using the Foster quick disconnects.


      • CJr,

        I am lucky to have a dive shop less than 1.5 miles from my home which will fill any legal tank with a good hydro and visual inspection to 4500 psi for me! No other dive shop within 20 miles of me will do that!

        Most won’t go over 3700 psi no matter what!

        Interestingly enough, this dive shop has been there ever since I moved here 6 years ago, and I passed it hundreds of times and did not realize it was there till I went to the local fire department to get 4500 psi fills and they directed me there.

        The manager is a great guy and when I explained what I was doing he showed an interest in seeing my airguns and assured me he would fill my tanks up to 4500 psi as long as they had a legal hydro and visual and were rated for that pressure.

        So yes, check around and make sure your dive shop will fill the tanks and what pressure they will fill to. Some won’t even fill the tanks unless you buy it from them! So make sure you can get a fill to the pressure of your tank before you buy it!

        Also try paintball shops and local fire departments. Some fire departments will fill for the public. Mine won’t! Make sure your paintball shop knows the size of your tank. While most can fill to 4500 psi, the paintball tanks are around 40 – 90 cu in and a 88 cu ft carbon fiber tank is 550 cu in of water! Big difference and some cheap compressors won’t fill that big a tank without seriously stressing them!

        And DON’T buy one of the cheap $150 to $170 80 cu. ft. aluminum tanks unless you are ABSOLUTELY sure you will never fill to more than the 2000 psi of the crosman guns!!! I did and now I have a gun which requires 3K psi and find myself in the unenviable position of having to find a new tank or a pump to fill my new gun once my tank pressure drops below 3000 psi. Right now I am refilling my 3000 psi 80 cu. ft. aluminum tank to 3300 psi once a week at $5 a pop! That is $260 per year and I don’t want to do that long!

        Yes I know a lot about filling air guns now. Unfortunately I did the research AFTER I bought my first tank! So my lack of knowledge is going to cost me money now!

  5. Hello BB and All:
    I had a real busy day yesterday so have just caught up with the blog.
    Not withstanding all the fabulous air guns shown,seeing some of the guy’s in the flesh,so to speak,is marvellous.
    Heart warming stuff BB.Thank you.

  6. B.B.,

    Looks like Dave Schwesinger is fox trotting before all the tables were set up. If so, then your “best deal” of the show happened before the show opened to the public. Fairly common in my limited experience.

    You don’t talk about it very much but your airgun library is a collection all by itself. I think the new Webley Air Rifle book by Chris Thrale belongs in your library. It’s a comprehensive history of all Webley Air Rifles from 1925-2005 and contains over 300 illustrations. I’ve put my name on the list since it’s going to be a short production run. If you’re not on the list you may want to consider it:



  7. Great reports b.b.!
    It’s been a standing joke for the last little while between the dealer I support in Canada that the next step up for my boys (7&9) is a CO2 powered RPG.
    I need the poop on that air powered bazooka 😉

    • CSD,

      I’ll give you what I have tomorrow. It’s made from PVC pipe and plastic parts, though the lettering on the side says the fill pressure is 3,000 psi, Larry Behling and I both suspect that part was taken from something else. This gun is more likely pressurized to 100-300 psi.


  8. BB

    This series could be titled, “To all those that missed the show, read it and weep.”

    That Supergrade certainly is beautiful. I would never have guessed that it would bring $1300 and more. Shows you what I know. Any guess what the MSRP was?

    I must admit I was a tad disappointed with some of the pictures. People never look like you imagine them. So there’s Kevin in a black polo. Where’s the tuxedo? I always imagined Kevin in a tux, or at least something like Indiana Jones would wear, or the Marlboro man. I don’t think he resembles Ron White very much, except for the glazed look. He does look a little like John Elway, but Elway had better hair. I think he looks a little like Bill Clinton, but better looking and younger and like he is spotting a fresh intern for the first time.

    Then there is FRED PRoNJ. I pictured a thinner Tony Soprano, with a fat cigar. Instead there is this very distinguished looking guy working the area with a Navy SEAL in tow. Hmmm, makes me wonder what he is up to.

    Mac looked pretty much like I pictured him, like a young strapping Wilford Brimley that could kick my ass in a heartbeat. Lloyd looked like he was having a great time. Lots of plaid. I like that.

    BTW: were there no AA Shamals to be found?

    • Slinging Lead,

      Last things first. Yes, there were several Shamals at the show. Better yet, I was offered my original .22-caliber Shamal back for what the guy paid for it! That will be something to think about. The offer is to me, alone, as a gesture of friendship. As beautiful as that rifle is, it may prey on my mind.

      The original price for the Sheridan Model A (the supergrade) was $56.50, and it held throughout all the years they were listed. They ran from 1947 through 1954, I believe.


    • My thoughts ran in the same direction, but the picture I had of Kevin, without being really conscious of it, was quite different. I pictured somewhat older, small and lean, a thin-lipped mouth and iron jaw beneath a cowboy hat pulled low. Sparing of words and with a heart of gold but not to be laid a hand on with a slight bulge in the jacket in the armpit area. Maybe the Colorado connection got me started. Otherwise, I guess the movies will be the death of me. 🙂 I missed the picture of Mac.


    • Slinging Lead, I guess you can put my capacity to guess people’s looks based on their internet writing in the same category as my ability to maneuver through airport security or make hassle-free trips to the shooting range. Some time ago, I made regular calls to a reference librarian with questions that were too difficult for my facility to handle. This woman had an extremely feminine voice reminiscent of Renee Zellwegger without the Southern accent that piqued my interest. When I made a field trip up to her location, I made a point of asking to meet her. The woman who was summoned must have been a bodybuilder with enormous, sculpted arms extending from her sleeveless top and a sort of crewcut. The voice was the same, though.

      On another note, I can report that leaving a tiny white space beneath the bull for my six o’clock hold seems to be working. The point about overcorrecting with this method is well-taken, and some shots have gone astray for that reason. However overcorrecting can be a problem with any sight picture. Overall, for whatever reason, the sliver of white seems to work for me.


    • Slinging Lead,

      Although the picture doesn’t show it my polo shirt did have ruffled cuffs. Actually everything on me was ruffled after 10 hours in airports and on planes to get to Roanoke.

      I looked hard at the one AA Shamal that I found. If it would have been in .22 caliber I would have bought it.


  9. I tossed that Beeman catalog in the trash when they started making them in color. I’m a moron.


    Honestly, in the beginning for some reason I thought you were a chick, so imagine my disappointment. ( I think their is a girl on another forum with a similar alias)

    • Volvo

      When I read your first line I took exception to it.

      Then I read your second paragraph, and reconsidered my view on the first.

      We all know what you look like, we’ve seen the posters at the post office. As for me, picture a better looking Dale Earnhardt Jr. but without the millions of dollars or the warehouse full of exotic cars or the Wrangler jeans.

  10. B.B. & everyone else: I have been reading this blog for over a year now and thoroughly enjoy every bit of it. So I guess its about time to come out from the shadows. My wife and I made it to the Roanoke show she is not an air gunner, she just likes to go camping in the Smokies when we go that way.The highlight of the show for me was meeting Tom (B.B.). Other then that I was like the proverbial kid in the candy store and I’m 69. I came away with three nice guns a Webley Tempest a IZH 60 and last but not least the A/A S200 Sport that B.B. tested and brought back to Pyramyd. love that super accurate S200 and the stock on it that nobody likes, but now it looks and feels better all the time. I shot my first field target match three weeks ago, at Heflin, Al. I’ll talk about that next time.

  11. I have plans in my head for a shoulder cannon with a home made button, rifled 2″ pvc barrel and a taser ignition system.The way produce keeps inflating in price….I’ll have to grow my own ammo!

    • I must be demented.
      I just pictured taking out a starling with a 2.0 caliber squash wadcutter. SPLAT!!!!
      Another beer or two and I would laugh myself into a coma.


      • You’ve gotta see my inspiration! Air rifle headquarters 4th gallery,shows a freakishly beautiful #2 bore
        barrel with a dinky little .68 cal ball sitting in the muzzel.The caption says it will be shoulder fired w/
        a 3,500gr projectile!!!!!!!! NOT my shoulder!

  12. And for today’s Talon question….

    When I learned to shoot, I learned to steady the rifle with a sling around your left arm (shooting right handed). I still shoot like that, when I can. So, back to the question. I see the very easy airforce sling mounts for the Talon, a dovetail for the front and the rear attaching to the base of the HPA tank. Is the connection between the tank and the Talon frame strong enough for that stress? Seems like that sling attachment would put, or could put, a lot of pressure on where the tank and frame attach. That also seems like a place you really don’t want to bend, either the tank screws or the frame itself. Is this problematic at all? Seems to be not very strong through that area, is it not a problem?

    And to switch topics, that Sheridan Supergrade is a beauty. Ok, when will they be re-issued?

  13. Bristolview ,

    I have a sling on my Talon SS that I sometimes use for carrying the gun which doesn’t stress the tank and frame connection much at all. I’d be leary ofusing it as an aid to steadying the gun while shooting. It might be too stressful on the tank/fame connection.

    However, that’s just my opinion not a shred of empirical data to support it. Perhaps some here has had personal experience on using a sling as you suggested.


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