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The art of collecting airguns – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Before we begin, take a look at Pyramyd Air’s holiday video. Let it download completely before you play it.

Part 2
Part 1

This report was recently suggested by Kevin and other readers as an adjunct to my report on The art of collecting airguns. And, with Fred from the People’s Republik of New Jersey telling us the tale of his recent acquisition, I see the time as ripe for this.

I know some of you claim to have no interest in vintage or collectible airguns, but every so often I see where one of you has been exposed to a fine vintage gun, and your attitude changes dramatically. When that happens, this report series will be waiting for you.

Pick a trusted dealer or become one yourself
The biggest obstacle to buying and selling used items is trust. Those who haven’t ventured forth feel they’re stepping into a minefield to start trading long distance over the internet. And, let’s be honest, there are unscrupulous dealers who lay in wait for the hapless, so let me give you some pointers to reduce your risk in this area as much as possible.

To begin with, deal only with people whose reputations you can either check or that you already know. For example, I bet there isn’t one of our thousands of readers who would have much misgiving if they found themselves in a deal with Kevin Lentz. If you’ve read this blog for longer than two weeks, you must know that Kevin is a saint. He’s the kind of guy who will bend over backwards to give the other guy a fair deal because he values his reputation above almost everything.

There was a Pawn Stars TV episode in which the owner, Rick Harrison, told a woman that her Faberge pin that she thought was worth $2,000 was really worth $15,000 to him. He could have remained silent and given her what she asked, but he said he had to sleep at night, so he told her what it was really worth. You can explain that away by saying Rick couldn’t afford to let the public see him take advantage of the woman on television, but I got the impression that he’s really like that all the time. He’s always out for a profit, but he’s also inherently honest.

In a recent American Pickers episode, the guys shared a $10,000 windfall with the person who had sold them the two items that netted that amount. They split the sales price with the seller 50-50 well after the fact. That is a pretty good assessment of how Kevin or many other guys on this blog will treat you.

In my position, I get to know hundreds of Kevins that I meet at airgun shows and read about online. If one of them is selling something, I know I can trust both the description and the price. Well, really, the price is what drives my buy decision, but only if I know the seller in some way.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a Primary New York City dart gun made in the 1870s. The seller asked me what it was worth, so I told him. Then he asked if I was interested. I answered yes, but at a price lower than the top of the range I had mentioned. I don’t collect these guns, but if there’s an opportunity to acquire one at a good price, I’m interested. He responded that he would sell it for my offer and we did the deal. Some time after Christmas, I’ll show the gun to you, because Edith and I agreed that it would be my big Christmas present this year.

The point I’m making is this. If I tell you something is worth as much as $800 to the right buyer but that I would offer $500, you know I’m not about to scam you. And if the seller had said he was hoping to get a little more than I offered, I would have been glad to help him find the places to sell it successfully for more money. After all, I’m going to own this gun for maybe the next several decades and then it’ll be someone else’s turn. Like Rick Harrison, I have to sleep at night.

So, point No. 1 is to buy from dealers with good reputations. And point No. 1A is to become such a dealer yourself. I don’t mean that you have to feel sorry for anybody, or help them out of a prior bad deal by overpaying; but as a deal comes together, you should know without conscious thought that you’re doing the right thing. If everybody wins, the deal is good.

Watch your descriptions!
Language is important, and too many people treat it as though it’s paint that can be slathered on the job and you’re done.

One of the most difficult things is to get an idea out of your own head and into the head of someone else so they understand what you’re trying to say. This is not the time to write conversationally, because writing lacks the tonal inflection of speech. Writing is too complex to discuss it meaningfully in a blog report, so instead I’ll give you some things to think about.

The following sentence makes me think the writer is dishonest: “This gun is in exceptional shape for an 80-year-old airgun.” The writer is asking the reader to agree to a standard that’s in the writer’s mind and impossible to convey. Here’s the honest way to describe the same gun: “The blued finish is worn until only 30 percent remains. Some old rust has left a pitted surface on the receiver, but the pits are small and smooth and look like patina. The wooden stock has small scratches and a couple dents from handling over the years. I’ve photographed the worst of these so you can evaluate them.”

The way to describe a gun to someone else is to act as their agent while describing the gun. Look for all the flaws and bring them to the attention of the reader. Your goal should be for the buyer to say something like this after he has seen the airgun, “You described it as much worse than it really is. I was pleasantly surprised when I finally saw it.”

Learn to punctuate! Failing to use the correct punctuation will confuse most readers. “The gun has been used very little after rebuilding which was done last year by a top airgunsmith who only works on this model when he has the time which is not that often unless you want one thats brand new get it.”


Avoid jargon
“The DRD is fitted tight to the muzzle and the de-pinger has increased the shot count by a lot. I’ve installed a 90-gram hammer that works really well with CPH.”

Instead, say that the silencer is fitted tight to the muzzle and a custom hammer de-bouncer has increased the shot count per fill. The gun likes 10.5-grain Crosman Premiers.

Use accepted terminology
Don’t call it a single-pump rifle when it’s really a breakbarrel spring-piston rifle. If it holds more than one round that can be fired without reloading the gun — it’s a repeater. Many newer shooters are calling these guns single shots because they have to do something beyond just pulling the trigger. In their world, only a semiautomatic can be a repeater.

Guns and airguns are never “mint,” so don’t use that term to describe the condition. That’s a phrase associated with coins, though it’s not precise there, either. Guns are poor, fair, good, very good and excellent. If they’ve never been shot and have everything they originally came with, they can also be classified as new in the box. The NRA determines what each of the conditions entails, and the Blue Book of Airguns goes the extra mile for those things in which airguns depart from firearms.

And, speaking of the Blue Book, if you plan to buy and sell airguns, you really need to own one. That way, it won’t take you three pages of description to describe that Red Ryder. You’ll know the difference between a No. 111, Model 40, and a Model 1938 Red Ryder. And, you can add informative things into your description from the Blue Book to help buyers understand what you’re selling.

I plan to have a separate report on photos, alone, because that topic is too large to be stuffed in anywhere else. It won’t be a repeat of my 5-part series on photographing airguns. I also plan to discuss how and where to sell your airguns. I’ve bought and sold guns while thousands of miles from home on business trips, so unless you’re on an oil platform or in a submarine, there isn’t much excuse not to participate.

71 thoughts on “The art of collecting airguns – Part 3”

  1. OK, I promise to dock my submarine until I’ve read your report on photographing airguns for sale. 🙂
    Merry Christmas, Tom…in case I don’t get back here before then. And much love to you both.

  2. BB,

    When doing gun deals on yellow I don’t strive for a buyer to say “wow it’s way better than I thought it would be” but rather “it’s exactly as you described it”. Because the first response risks losing potential buyers. Just posting good pictures goes a long way as pictures have a way of accentuating any flaw.

    Never once have I had a buyer complain I didn’t describe it accurately. To me that is what you strive for, a complete and accurate description with out over or under describing a guns flaws.

  3. BB,

    Another question about gun descriptions for you. If you had a gun that was in super excellent condition but had a low velocity and would only shoot 4″ groups at 25 ft, how would you describe that gun? Would you feel obligated to tell the buyer about that, especially if it would normally be considered as a rare collectors item in that condition?

    Say something like a model 600 crosman in pristine condition with box, and all paper work also in pristine condition but it shoots 350 fps and no better than 4″ groups at 25 ft?

    • pcp4me,

      Absolutely! If your gun is known to you to be inaccurate you should not keep that from the buyer, because he will resent it if it surprises him.

      The best way to go about it is to ask the buyer what he plans on doing with your gun after he gets it.

      I would try to discourage a buyer for a gun I knew had flaws. Then if he disregards me and buys it anyway, I know that he had all the information before pulling the trigger on the deal.


      • BB,

        As I thought. I would disclose to a potential buyer inaccuracy problems by giving them a worst case ctc bench rested group from the gun at my 25′ indoors. Also chronograph information over my basement chronograph. Then he can decide whether he wants it or not.

        I just got a nasty surprise from a seller on yellow. I traded him a 78G S&W that had some issues. I disclosed all them to him. Safety didn’t work, some scratches on underside of barrel and around the underside of the trigger guard. Pics were sent on those. The gun shot hard at 500 – 550 fps but best groups at 25′ were nickel sized and worst were quarter sized. Not as accurate as I would like.

        He was offering a Gamo R77 M6 with walnut factory stock and “no issues”. Pictures showed a gun which looked pristine and indeed it was pristine looking when it arrived. However when I tried to fire it I could not get ONE pellet past the juncture between the barrel and cylinder. Every one of them stuck there. When I contacted him I took him to task for not disclosing the issues. He denies there were any when shipped. Says it worked great when he shipped it. I don’t believe him. For one, he said he bought it 6 weeks ago for $175 and was trying to get $150 before proposing a trade for one of several guns. Why would you sell a gun as nice looking as this 6 weeks after buying if there were not issues?

        A thorough examination of the gun reveals no seal between the breech face and the transfer port and it looks like one belongs there. Contacted Gamo today and they are sending me a couple. Told him if that fixed the problem he owes me for seals and their exorbitant shipping prices. And if that won’t fix it he says he will trade back to me.

        So yeah a full disclosure is always called for as you do not want an unhappy buyer who can post on BOI and ruin your chances of ever selling a gun on yellow again.

        Btw, would I be correct in asking he pay the cost of shipping my gun to me and his to him on the return since it was his non disclosure caused the problem?


        • pcp4me,

          This is the kind of transaction that is best put behind you as soon as possible. I can tell from what you say that it’s eating you up inside.

          I don’t want to “make a ruling” of what should be done in your case. However, the BOI (Board of Inquiry) is where you need to explain your version of what happened and how it was resolved. You should be able to do it incrementally, which gives you some power over where things go from here.

          And, once you are finished, I would never do another deal with this person.

          Your observation as to why he was trading the gun to begin with is the key to the whole thing. Didn’t you feel you were getting into a bad situation when you learned that? Next time, ask that question before letting the deal go forward.

          As far as the gun goes, are you using the same pellets he did? Remember, repeaters are very sensitive to their ammunition.


          • Yes I did consider that before agreeing to the trade. But he has much feed back on BOI and ALL is positive. And I dismissed the quick sell to the phenomena you often see on BOI where some one buys something and there is not a lot wrong with it and then selsl it soon afterward with disclosures as to what they found because it simply is not what they really wanted or thought it to be.

            I have a similar situation with a Mountain Air custom 2300S I recently traded for. The gun is stunningly accurate. It shoots 600 – 650 fps with light lead pellets which is well within specs. It has a real nice BSA sweet 17 3 X 7 scope on it. But it simply does not fit me well at all as a carbine. So if I cannot sell it to recoup what I need from it I will sell the stock, and various other parts though I will keep the scope and custom Ricks grips and buy a new front and rear sight from Crosman and use it as it was intended…..metallic silhouette competition.

            But an I to assume the missing seal simply jumped from its grove and then spontaneously combusted with no traces? I looked all over where it was unpacked, in all the bags it was wrapped in and the flat rate box and also at my down stairs range where I tried to shoot it. No missing seal!

            As to what to put on BOI I don’t know. I do know I will never ever buy from him again. But I simply hope to get this resolved. I will ask him to pay shipping back if it can’t be reasonably fixed, but can’t force him to. However he assures me he will do what ever it takes to make me happy. If he does that I will give him positive on BOI based on customer service.

            And yes, the sooner I can put this behind me the better.

            Thanks BB.

            • pcp4me,

              Okay, here is one way to handle the BOI listing.

              “I traded airguns with ????????? and had some problems with the gun he sent. It’s missing a seal he never mentioned (and if there are other things, you can mention them here).

              So I’m going to leave an incremental report. As of now he sent an incomplete gun. But now we are in the “What do we do next?” phase of the deal, and I am waiting to see how he performs. I have read many good reports about him in this BOI, so I have every reason to think he will take care of the situation.”


  4. B.B.

    A very complete and helpful guide, especially on words. I think this is the hardest part in any deal, as people tend to pay no attention to accuracy of their words and ease of understanding.

    However, are there some specific hints on selling non-antique, “work” airguns in US?
    Here standard set of info is specs (especially for tuned airguns), lists of upgrades and tunes, photos (flaws are not obligatory, but always well-greeted) and grouping on standard distances.
    There’s also a very good feature like recommendation from some well-known and respected community member – a known tuner or builder, or people who shot it on the range.


    • duskwight,

      Our list is the same as yours.

      And sometimes I can improve communications with a little proof. If I’m selling a gun that I represent as being very accurate, having a couple targets to demonstrate what I mean is good.

      When I worked for AirForce and was in their booth at the SHOT Show every year, I took along a 2 by 4 piece of lumber with a hole blown through it by a pellet from their Condor rifle. People could hold that in their hands and see the power I was talking about–they didn’t have to imagine something that many of them simply could not imagine. That wood block was so effective that AirForce still uses it today, five years after I left them.


      • BB,

        I agree with the proof. I have done that and especially with Chinese guns I have found to be very accurate. No one would believe me so I provide them with targets at several ranges. The targets have 5 bulls and I shoot five different pellet groups at each different range. Then when pellet A gets .25″ ctc at 30 yards and pellet D gets 3/4″ ctc groups at same range they can see that is the pellet and not me. And especially when they see the same pellets behave consistently at different ranges. Generally if a pellet groups poorly at 10 meters it will also group poorly at 30 yards. Though the opposite is not necessarily true, it frequently holds true. The further out from 30 yards the more it separates the excellent pellets from just the good.

  5. B.B.,

    Boy is your point about the use of jargon (or acronyms) well taken. The abuse of such things is a great way to short-circuit meaningful communications. In my opinion, this practice reflects laziness and is inconsiderate. Quality communications is self-contained. A reader should not be required to guess, assume, or research meaning of jargon or acronyms. In some cases brevity results in ambiguity, which results in error. No one wants or needs that.

    I’ve sat in many a meeting with a bunch of PhD. D’s throwing terms around as if they were common knowledge, but weren’t. I’d sit there and watch the cross-file of verbal bullets appear to penetrate intended targets, but actually just bounce off skulls, never making the targeted connection. When I’d return to my office, I’d try to resolve what was said, only to realize that there was a gross mis-communication as people were actually talking apples and oranges. There was a lot of nodding of heads and strained looks on peoples faces, but rarely did anyone have the nerve to actually admit that they were clueless about what they were told.

    Maybe we’re just too old fashioned. Consider that we now live in a world of “texting”, where lots of things are abbreviated. Pretty soon we’ll all be communicating with symbols. Maybe it’s time to learn Chinese. I’m sure that Walmart (Without American Labor – mart) has learned this lesson.


    • Victor,

      There’s a saying among copywriters: Never put an officer in an automobile when you can put a cop in a car.

      Simple words hit their mark every time. Complex words do not. Insider terms are great if everyone’s on the same page. But they’re not. Cop in a car.


    • BB & Victor,

      Excellent topic and comments. Words do matter, and the usage of words (as Victor pointed out) in this “text me” society filled with abbreviations, digital sign language and pseudonyms has left a communication void that I doubt will ever be back-filled and repaired.

      Speed of communication seems to be paramount to content and meaning. As noted in this sterling, literary post I copied from an air-soft forum; “NIB AEG M!6looklike w/ HU & sling, not trade $$ only”

      Oh boy, I really want that gun after reading that missive! And, I am even more interested in buying from someone who can’t put a cohesive sentence together. I can only guess that he may very well (also) “abbreviate” his care and feeding of the gun he is trying to sell?

      Good marketing skills are also becoming extinct.

    • Victor,

      Wow! You hit the nail on the head.

      I’m saddened by the widespread deterioration of communication skills. I think the internet, email and texting are perpetuating a laziness and undermining the necessary practice to express yourself accurately and completely.

      I don’t think it’s old fashioned to expect and be able to express your thoughts in writing. On the contrary I believe it’s a skill that is necessary in any civilized society.

      If we continue on this backward path I’m fearful that we will revert to the days when neanderthal’s were communicating with one another using a series of grunts, groans and hand gestures.


      • Kevin, your points are well-taken. However, the blog is one notable counterexample to online communication. More generally, if practice is the single most critical ingredient to becoming a good writer, people today have more opportunity for that than ever before. If only that energy could be turned to a productive use….


        • Matt61,


          When I gave golf lessons we would always talk about the two kinds of practice.

          Practicing old, bad habits or practicing new, initially uncomfortable improvements that need to become a habit. Bad practice vs. Good practice. You have a choice but remember that studies show if you do either religiously for 21 days you’ll create a habit.

          Although people may have more opportunity today to practice writing skills I’m concerned that most are practicing the wrong sorts of writing skills.


  6. Answer for Ken ? from yesterday’s blog…
    At the velocty stated with a cph the 5ft/lb point would be reached at about 155yds. I doubt if you will be shooting game that far .


  7. Answer for Victor from yesterday’s blog…

    Pellet libe…
    Kryteck (sp?) Finish Line bike chain lube might be available in some local bike shops. E-bay for sure.
    Wallyworld sometimes has little bottles of chain lube.
    I have used Dupont teflon/dry lube spray from Ace hardware.
    B.B. has said that Whiscomb Honey (make it yourself) will not burn. It is an oil lube.

    I like wax lubes for some rifles. Clean handling and waxes the bore much like .22 rimfire’s waxed bullets wax a bore and fill in the rough spots.

    Always use lubes sparingly.


    • KryTech.

      I know you’re all probably tired of hearing about the saga of getting my friends .22 Marauder to group AFTER he sent it to a very reputable tuner but I have one more tidbit and then you’ll never have to endure the pain of of listening to the trials and tribulations.

      After all the work that was done on his gun by the tuner and by us the best 10 shot group we could get at 50 yards was about 1″ with Crosman Premier Ultra Mags (same pellet that Crosman puts in the cardboard boxes I’m told but these come in a tin and are supposedly from multiple die lots). The second best pellet in his gun were Crosman Premier hollowpoints. The other dozen pellet types we tried shot 2″ groups or worse. That’s OK. If an airgun is only accurate with one type of pellet it’s still an accurate airgun.

      Since I’ve had problems in the past with premiers leading the barrels of guns that shoot 850fps or more I suggested to Erik that he always lube his premiers. I’ve had good luck using whiscombe honey and KryTech to lube pellets. He had about 30 pellets left in his tin. We lubed them with KryTech and let the carrier dry before he shot them. His 50 yard groups shrank to 1/2″.

      For the first time he was now thrilled with his .22 caliber Marauder and wanted to see what it could really do but he was out of pellets. I had some .22 caliber Crosman Premiers in the cardboard box so I grabbed them off the shelf. He shot two magazines of my crosman premiers and the groups started to open up again. I lubed my premiers with the Krytech, let them dry and he was back to shooting 1/2″ groups at 50 yards.

      As twotalon said, less is more when it comes to lube on pellets. Do not overlube pellets. Use lube sparingly. Here’s some good suggestions on how to apply Krytech:

      Applying Pellet Wax

      Use an old pellet tin, like a .22 cal screw-on Crosman type, shake the KryTech well, put a thin coating all over the inside of the lid. Pour about 75-100 pellets into the bottom of the tin, screw the lid on, then roll the tin around on its edges and flop it around in the manner of turning a coin over and over. Alternate directions and rotations so the pellets get a good chance at rubbing each other and contacting the underside of the lid. Open the lid, pour another hundred in with the first batch, close up and do the rolling and flopping again for another 15 seconds or more. Let dry with the lid off for at least 10 minutes.

      Another proven method is to take a fresh paper towel and wet a strip 1″ wide down the middle. Roll a half tin of ammo thru the wet spot and then transfer to a dry towel to let the volatile carrier evaporate. This procedure was suggested by Steve Schulz (2002 National PCP Champion) and has been used by numerous champions since.

      A Little Does a Lot

      The pellet wax is thick, and if sprayed directly into the back of a pellet cavity, it can dry and make the pellet heavier, which will hurt long range accuracy and promote dieseling in Springers. It doesn’t need to be applied in great volumes, according to LD who did extensive testing of KryTech in spring guns. Even if it is applied lightly every fourth pellet it still has the desired effect of eliminating lead fouling and extending barrel cleaning intervals.

      WARNING! KryTech contains PTFE and when burnt by smokers can cause health problems. Never smoke anything before you have thoroughly washed your hands of the pellet Wax.

      Shoot More/Clean Less

      A thin layer of the KryTech product extends barrel cleaning intervals by reducing the amount of friction between pellet and bore. The wax gets burnished into the pores of the steel and leaves a shiny finish like a waxed car with all the irregularities of the surface smoothed over. Like a waxed car, the cleaning chore is much easier. You never have to pull more than 5 patches through a conditioned barrel to have it spotless and ready to kick butt again. Lubes will not only condition the bore, but protect it from corrosion, and the wax will let your gun shoot a few FPS more as well. The KryTech dries on the pellet leaving only a waxy film that will not attract dirt and won’t attack your breech seals or leave a mess on your shirt or pants from wiping your wet fingers.

      Makes Guns More Accurate

      If you treat your equipment with care its performance will reflect it. LD did exhaustive research to find this lube that will work in Springers without dieseling excessively. Since he owns hundreds of airguns he wanted to use a single lube on all of the pellets used in them. Since I’m his bud, he came to me to market it and it has taken some top guys to another level. Shake well before use and keep in a cool dark place.


    • Twotalon,

      Thanks for the details. I’m sure that others appreciated what you and Kevin have provided here. I wonder if a blog has been written on this subject. This subject of lubricating pellets may not be obvious to people new air guns, especially if they have no experience with firearms.

      A friend told me a story of someone who bought 3 cases of Eley Tenex .22 caliber target ammo. They lived in Arizona where temperatures can reach 120 F. While on travel, this persons parents visited the home and decided that they would turn off the air conditioner to save money. All of the wax melted, reducing this super high end target ammo to plinking ammo. Ouch!


  8. Excellent blog article. Applies to many more things than just airguns.

    One small item – under the section of “Condition”, in the first sentence of the second paragraph, the darn spell checker changed “airgun” to “argues” again . . . . .

  9. B.B.,

    Very kind words indeed. You’re always a gentleman and I appreciate the birthday gift.

    The Pawn Stars episode with the Faberge’ pin is a great analogy. I also remember her wanting Rick to go up even more after he gave her an honest evaluation and a very fair offer that far exceeded her expectations! The real reminder for me was that the reason you treat people honestly and fairly isn’t because you will automatically receive the same in return, it’s because it’s the right thing to do.

    I’m guilty of using airgun jargon too often. This is a good reminder for me to quit assuming and stop being lazy in communicating.


    • Kevin,

      I consider myself an airgun newbie, and I have yet to struggle following any of your posts. I think what we’re talking about is a matter of degree. I think that within a blog, once something has been spelled out, and then abbreviated, then no harm no foul. In my work related writings, I state terms with acronyms enclosed in parenthesis, and then use the acronyms liberally.

      My only concern here is with respect to this blog and it’s purpose. My hope is that visitors aren’t scared away because their impression is that this is a place for “advanced” air-gunners. In some ways it is, but that’s only because these pages are filled with the kind of advanced knowledge that could only come from people who are passionate about airguns. But it’s how we say things that makes this blog accessible or not.

      From the beginning, I have found this blog accessible, and you’ve been very helpful.


  10. I bought a Daisy 790 airgun marked as “complete”–but completely disassembled–for a song this last spring at the Findlay OH airgun show. The seller honestly thought it is was all there–as did I after a cursory glance. Even if it wasn’t all there, the deal was too good to pass up and I’d have a lot of spare parts for my Smith & Wesson 78G (same basic guns with different names on them). Later, at home attempting reassembly, I found that a key piece was missing and I mentioned it on anotherairgunblog (without naming the seller at the time) –I figured I’d be making a part or attempting to find one. Absolutely wasn’t trying to pan the seller–he really didn’t know. Anyway, he saw the blog post and immediately emailed me wanting to return my money AND let me keep the airgun. That’s some serious honesty in our midst. I wouldn’t take him up on the offer and I’ve been fortunate to correspond with several other fine guys as I tracked down the missing part. Do business with him again? Yeah, in a second.

    • Let me add CharliedaTuna as another entrepreneur that is outstanding to do business with. Charlie aka Bob sent me the right trigger after I ordered the wrong one (sound familiar, I’m starting to get worried) and told me to just ship the wrong trigger back to him with the difference in price.

      I think we’re such a small community, only the positive elements have gotten into airguns – so far. Let’s enjoy this while we can! And BB, Kevin, thanks for the tips on where to go next for research on this 5V. It will be a long and interesting project.

      Fred PRoNJ

  11. Hey all, I just got an e-mail back from Diana in Germany. As I feared, they have no records from the end of WW II going back and can provide no information regarding the manufacture of that 5V .22 cal pistol. Anyone have any ideas where else to research this pistol? The Yellow Forum is just as barren regarding information for this pistol in this caliber as the factory.

    Fred PRoNJ

    • Fred,

      This is the kind of project that demands a top airgun library. From each of several books, you get a fact here and another one there. Don’t ignore the different editions of the same titles, either. Often the fact will be in one edition but not in another.

      Catalogs are a very good source for facts on older airguns, but the catalogs are much rarer than the gun you are researching. If someone on the Vintage Airgun Forum takes pity on you they may do a couple of hours of research in their own library. And don’t overlook the non-airgun catalogs like Stoeger’s Shooter’s Bible. There is often pure gold in those pages.


  12. The art of describing the condition of an airgun is one of the hardest things about airguns to me. I can easily make a really nice airgun sound like a pile of crap. How do you describe condition without doing that? The best thing I know to do is to send the best pictures I can make. But the camera can be like a description. It can fail to show what is wrong or look like every small flaw has been highlighted with a marker. For rough guns, I try to sell them in person. That way there are no regrets on either side.

    David Enoch

    • David,

      Better to make the gun sound worse than it is than to disappoint a buyer when he finally sees it for the first time.

      Try using analogies to convey a sense of how things are.

      “This Daisy No. 25 pump gun is uniformly peppered with tiny rust spots. I sprayed it with Ballistol and wiped it down and removed all the rust you could feel with your fingers while wiping them on the gun, but in the strong sunlight the area around each of those now-stabilized rust spots has turned from shiny dark black to a dull dark gray. At 10 feet the gun looks spectacular, but in your hands held so the sunlight hits the metal surface just right, you can easily see what I’m talking about.”


  13. David,

    Better to make the gun sound worse than it is than to disappoint a buyer when he finally sees it for the first time.

    Try using analogies to convey a sense of how things are.

    “This Daisy No. 25 pump gun is uniformly peppered with tiny rust spots. I sprayed it with Ballistol and wiped it down and removed all the rust you could feel with your fingers while wiping them on the gun, but in the strong sunlight the area around each of those now-stabilized rust spots has turned from shiny dark black to a dull dark gray. At 10 feet the gun looks spectacular, but in your hands held so the sunlight hits the metal surface just right, you can easily see what I’m talking about.”


  14. Granting the point about always being careful with dealers, I must say that I am astonished at the honesty and trust of the airgun community. To name two examples, Rich Imhoff allowed me to send a personal check for his tune and even absorbed some extra shipping cost beyond his estimate. When I asked him about this, he told me that he had never met a dishonest airgunner, and I bet that he deals with a lot. Mike Melick didn’t even charge me for the fantastic tune that he did on my IZH 61. However, you have to wonder about the downside of incorporation. If airgunning makes it into a big time sport as we surely hope, inevitably the communal sense will be lost.

    I love the point about concise language. In imitation of rikib, I will quote from two of my favorite authors on this point. Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace writes about a doctor who makes a house call and then gives the family his assessment which they try to process afterwards: “Though the doctor had spoken fluently and at great length, they found that no one could remember what he had said. But in the end, they all decided to go to….” And there is Jonathan Swift describing the lawyers of his time in Gulliver’s Travels: “A society of men bred up in their youth in the art of proving with words multiplied for that purpose that black is white and white is black.” Does this sound familiar? 🙂 That was a very trenchant comment about Ph.D.s and experts talking to each other without anyone understanding. The greatest sin among such people is to appear stupid. Actually, I believe some psychological study showed that people, generally, would rather be seen as evil than stupid(!) Anyway, the result is the paradox that in the highest levels of discourse, the comprehension is at a minimum. To quote Swift again on the jargon-filled expert: “In all points out of their trade the stupidest and most ignorant generation among us, the most despicable in common conversation, and the most disposed to pervert the general reasoning of mankind in every subject of discourse as in that of their own profession.”

    Pete, interesting point about the dichotomy in fighter types, but there is a deeper, underlying paradox. World War I fighter planes with their bi and tri-plane designs were optimized for maneuverability. However, the successes of the great fighters of the U.S. Air Force in WWII were predicated on after-action reports that speed, climb, dive, armor and armament were what won battles. Can’t argue with their results. Fast forward to Vietnam where the large, heavy, expensive fighters of the U.S. Air Force compared very badly to the cheaper and more maneuverable MIGS of the Communist forces. So, is the prime ingredient speed or maneuverability? Military theoretician John Boyd claimed that the ultimate attribute was the “fast transient” which was a sort of generalized notion of maneuverability that applied to whole systems (decision cycling) not just the physical movements of the airplane. Nevertheless, his work produced the super-maneuverable F-16. On the other hand, the F-35 seems to eschew supermaneuverability in favor of stand-off technology e.g. “the first thing they’ll know is when they become hair, teeth, and eyeballs.” The controversy goes on.

    Mike, your points about the p-38 are well-taken. Its complexity had some real disadvantages in the economics of modern war. However, from what I’ve read, the later J and L models were THE ultimate starships of the WWII era with greater range, speed, turn radius, roll-rate, armament, climb and dive rates, high and low altitude performance and survivability than any other airplane. General Jimmy Doolittle said that it was the “sweetest flying airplane out there” and he would know.

    Duskwight, I stand corrected about the combat record of the F-104, none of which is very much to the credit of that plane. I’ve heard pilots say that the Spitfire offered the quintessential flying experience. What is the M.B.5?


    • Matt61,

      Don’t know if this is a real quote from Winston Churchill, but I hope it is: “Any word with more than 2 syllables is superfluous.”

      It brings a smile to my face whenever I think of it 🙂


    • Matt,

      I had a lot of those experiences some 25 years ago, when I worked as an young applied mathematician/software engineer on R&D projects for the Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”). Among other things, I worked on sophisticated mathematical models for various types of systems. Some of these systems required teams of PhD’s of various disciplines. Components that I had to create or integrate including things like Kalman Filters, gravitational models, sensor models (new technologies that were still being designed), etc. Every member of these teams was brilliant, but somewhat narrow. As the integrator, It was up to me to tie all of the pieces together, and resolve all details being thrown around. This is why I was able to identify all of the disconnects. I realized way back then, that I had been given a rare opportunity to gain insight into the ego of men. It helped to put a lot of my future experiences in perspective. Many lessons learned, but I won’t waste any more time here on this.


        • Frank,

          Thanks! I know that we’ve got a lot of very exceptional members here in this blog. Not hard to recognize this. I’ll definitely write to you with my lessons learned. As Kevin noted above, it matters how we practice. One thing that I’ve observed is how practitioners of a certain discipline grew into their “ways” going back to when they were students of that discipline. For instance, as a graduate student helping undergraduates, you’d run into those students who didn’t want to know how to solve a certain problem, they just wanted the solution. I couldn’t see how that approach would help them in a test. Well, you see the same kind of mentality in the “real world”. You see, not everyone has a natural curiosity and passion for the professions (or jobs) that they pursue. For some college students, education is an intellectual endeavor, but for too many others, it’s just a path to a “better” paying job.

          Having a passion for the things that you do is a huge advantage. It is true that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Inspiration, and passion, allows us to reach higher levels of experience and performance. I like the saying, “Obstacles are what we see when we take our eye off of the goal.” Einstein could never have developed his General Theory of Relativity had he not gotten help from mathematicians who taught him Tensor Analysis. This lack of mathematical sophistication would have been a road block for lessor, uninspired, men. But Einstein wasn’t about to let this detail get in the way of his quest to understand gravity and magnetism.

          I’ll close with a short story about Einstein. When he was 8 or 9 years old, and very ill, a friend of his fathers gave young Einstein a compass. Einstein asked, “Why does it always point in the same direction?”. The man, an engineer, answered honestly, “No one knows.”. Since Einstein was 9 years old, he wanted to answer that one question. This became his inspiration and passion, and the rest is history.

          For parents with children, your goal is to help your children find their passion, and when possible, facilitate that in any way that you can. The rest will take care of itself.


          • Bruce, Alan,

            Thanks for you consideration. I’m humbled and very appreciative.

            One very powerful point to be captured from this story of young Einstein, is the honesty of his fathers friend, the engineer. It was true that no one knew why the compass always pointed North. But this man did not try to pretend or prove how smart he was to this young boy. He put his ego aside and just told it like it is. There was power in his honesty. It’s amazing how the little things can matter so much. We have no idea how many good seeds we plant when we try to do the right thing by helping others, and especially to children. They take in a lot more than we realize.


    • Matt,

      M.B.5 is a Martin-Baker (later they made their name famous with ejection seats) prototype fighter. Only 2 were made, and 1 replica is nearing completion, to take part in Reno air races.
      Basically, it was everything learned from Spitfire, refined, trimmed to razor’s edge and mirror-polished. It could out-run, out-maneuver, out-range and out-gun any Spitfire from IX to 22. It was also a wonder to fly, thanks to carefully planned and ergonomically built cockpit, had a 360-degree clear canopy, and it was a dream to maintain and repair, thanks to new building conception – blocks, covered with easily removable plates. Every pilot who tested it told the same: “an aerobatics racer with tiger’s fangs”. Many specialists think that it was THE crown of evolution for a piston-driven fighter.
      It looked like a cross between Mustang and Spitfire, with twin three-bladed airscrew, armed with 4 Hispanos.
      However, making its maiden flight in the spring of 1944 it could not interest Air Ministry – they pressed on jet fighters and calculated that war can be won cheap way – upgrading Spitfires, as M.B. 5 required new production lines and re-education of workers and technical staff.


    • There have been times when I worshipped at the altar of John Boyd. For its era, the F-16 was likely the top air-to-air fighter in the world because of the maneuverability. The fact that is still being built and sold and still in service with around 25 countries says something for the aircraft. OTOH, I don’t think the USAF did itself any favors by forcing mods that reduced maneuverability and converted the plane to basically an attack fighter.

      You said: “speed, climb, dive, armor and armament were what won battles”. I can’t argue; it was surely true in WW2 and accounts, for example, for the different success rates of the F4F (inferior to the Zero on those marks) and the F6F which was far superior under those criteria. But I don’t think either Grumman fighter could out turn the Zero. I really don’t know how good the P-38 Lightning was, but it was gorgeous to watch.

      Gotta go down and shoot!


      • Pete,

        Here is an amusing airgun-related anecdote about the P38. Early models had great difficulty pulling out of a power dive. So on September 27, 1942 test pilot Cass S. Hough took one up to 43,000 ft. over an airfield near Bovington, England, rolled the nose over and dove almost straight down to the ground, to see if he could discover the problem. As the airspeed increased, the control surfaces became harder to move because of the air pressure flowing over them. He almost didn’t pull out of the dive, but he did, and ground-based instrumentation revealed that he had exceeded the speed of sound–perhaps for the very first time a man had done so. That is the reason Chuck Yeager’s actual record stipulates IN LEVEL FLIGHT when he broke the barrier five years later. However, many “references” omit these words, probably because they seem to water down the accomplishment.

        Who is Cass S. Hough? The grandson of the founder of Daisy, and one of many notable Daisy presidents. You can read about his accomplishment in his book, It’s a Daisy.”

        I’m out on a limb with this information because I cannot locate my source material. I think it is in the book, It’s a Daisy, by Cass S. Hough. but I was unable to locate it. So at this time I cannot prove what I have said. I’d appreciate any help in this area.


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