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Best engineering practices for airguns

by B.B. Pelletier

While installing a scope the other day, I encountered the same problem that’s bothered me for years with scope mounts. How come the manufacturers make them to use three different-sized Allen screws when it would be just as easy to design them to use only one size screw all around? That way, only a single Allen wrench would be required to install the mounts and to mount the scope. That got me thinking about airgun design in general. Why is it that most manufacturers haven’t got a clue as to how their customers will use their guns? Most of us simply speculate that that is the case, but I’ve talked to enough manufacturers and engineers to know that it’s true.

What is needed, I think, is a handbook of best engineering practices that can be followed when designing airguns so foolish mistakes are never made. It would be a tutorial for the newer designers and a place to record the institutional memory for those with experience in the field.

Since there’s no way such a manual will ever be compiled by a manufacturer, I thought it would be useful if the readers of this blog could pool their experience and create one. We would share it with anyone interested in it. Who knows? It could ultimately help someone design an airgun the way we think they should. Even if nobody ever reads it beyond us, it’ll be a fun thing to do.

So, today I’m going to propose a few design practices that I think would be helpful to airgun designers. You’ll quickly see that these “practices” are not specific instructions. They’re more like the corporate values of our hypothetical design team. You can comment on them and submit some practices of your own. I’ll copy the practices you submit and paste them into a document for the record. With the level of expertise available in our readership pool, we might come up with an interesting read.

I can’t think of a good way to categorize these practices yet, so I’ll just write them down as they come to me. When there’s a larger body of them, perhaps some order may be suggested.

1. Use fasteners of common size whenever feasible.
Common-size fasteners reduce the number of tools needed to work on a gun, plus they simplify the supply chain. Common size refers to the size of the tool needed to tighten the fastener, as well as the thread pitch and count and the diameter of the shank. Obviously, the length of the fastener shank depends on the application; but, whenever possible; that should be kept standard, too.

2. Select materials that are understressed for the application.
Do not select a material that only meets the performance requirement, but one that exceeds it. For example, do not use a seal that seals only when it’s fresh and new, but one that still seals a long time after it’s put into operation. As an example, a seal with a lower durometer rating may work well when new, but over time it may deform due to its softness, while a seal with a higher rating will continue to hold its shape and work much longer. Or, a synthetic part may be barely adequate for the application, while a metal receiver would continue to function for a much longer time. If you know beforehand that you’ll be building the receiver out of metal, you can design it to require less fabrication.

For this practice to work in the real world, we need to be practical. If a synthetic receiver, for example, costs $3 to manufacture or purchase, while a steel receiver would cost $14 with an added cost of $7 of overhead expense (when you make it rather than buy it you have to pay the workforce and amortize the tooling into the cost). It makes sense to go with the synthetic receiver because any cost in manufacturing has to be multiplied at least five times to allow room for wholesale tiers and profit. When the cost is very close, I’m suggesting to go with longevity over cost, alone.

Okay, now I’m going to get up on my soapbox. If I owned a manufacturing company and someone who worked for me uttered the phrase “build to a price” I would be extremely angry. As far as I’m concerned, anything that’s “built to a price” is made by bottom-feeders who manufacture products for landfills. As long as I’m in business to make things, I want them to be the best that I can make them. However, I’m not foolish about this. I would build rifles like the Bronco, for example, instead of something even cheaper that shoots twice as fast for the limited time that it works. The
Bronco is a nice air rifle, but it doesn’t have a Rekord trigger or a Lothar Walther barrel, so it’s still very affordable. It’s a good package of performance that should last for centuries rather than months. I recognize that the Bronco won’t thrill the armchair enthusiasts with useless high velocity, but neither will it turn off thousands of potential newcomers to airgunning with crude performance that quickly sours their opinion of the whole hobby. There — I’ve said my piece and am now stepping down from my soapbox.

3. When designing guns to use common platforms, invest more time designing those platforms to adapt to as many applications as possible.
Time spent in up-front engineering pays huge dividends downstream when no additional work needs to be done to make significant changes. In other words, if you’re designing a single-shot action, do so with an eye toward adding a repeating function later on.

4. Have your design team and marketing team test the gun before it gets produced.
How many times have I shot an airgun, only to remark to myself: “I bet nobody in the company ever tested this.” If they had, they’d have recognized how bad it is. It doesn’t take an engineering degree to recognize that an air rifle is too difficult to cock (e.g., Hatsan 135), falls apart within a short time or has way too much barrel droop to use a scope (e.g., any Diana 34), etc.

5. Don’t offer features that shooters don’t need.
This is the age-old marketing ploy: “If we can’t advance the technology, give them something different.” It doesn’t matter that they don’t need it — offer it anyway so the list of features on the outside of the package is longer. I’m referring to things like scope sights that you can see through to supposedly enable you to use the open sights while the scope is mounted. No experienced shooter does that, but you’ll find a mountain of see-through scope rings on the market. The truth is that those see-through rings are nothing of the kind. The 15-foot-long aluminum extrusion they were cut from was made with that hole to conserve aluminum, period. Yet, they’ll tell you it’s both to lighten the rings and to see through.

6. When you can, design in a modular way.
Make a trigger whose parts are all contained in one unit that can be handled outside the gun without regard to losing parts. Make a powerplant that can be disassembled in a straightforward way with no need for holding fixtures or jigs.

Well, there you have 6 of my ideas for the better engineering of airguns. Now, I’d like you to add yours in the comments section. Don’t strain to invent something new, just to have a submission. Your ideas should be things you’ve wanted to say for a long time but were unable to find the right place to say them. I’ll save those that are clear and understandable; and, if there are enough of them, I’ll publish a list of all of them in the future.

104 thoughts on “Best engineering practices for airguns”

  1. Pyramyd Air Blog Index for January 2011

    3. The art of collecting airguns – Part 6
    4. I’m from China. Do you know my name?
    5. Marksman model 60 – Part 2
    6. Hy-Score 805 – Part 2
    7. Tech Force TF79 Competition Rifle – Part 1
    10. Marksman model 60 – Part 3
    11. To B3 or not to B3 – Part 1
    12. To B3 or not to B3 – Part 2
    13. Tech Force TF79 Competition Rifle – Part 2
    14. Why do you need a chronograph?
    17. Tech Force TF79 Competition Rifle – Part 3
    18. Diana 300R repeating underlever: Part 1
    19. Diana 300R repeating underlever: Part 2
    20. The Walther LGV Olympia – Part 3
    21. Benjamin Marauder pistol – Part 4
    22. Tech Force TF79 Competition Rifle – Part 4
    25. RWS Diana 350 Feuerkraft in .177: Part 1
    26. More about Gamo Match pellets: Part 1
    27. More about Gamo Match pellets: Part 2
    28. The art of collecting airguns – Part 7
    31. Best engineering practices for airguns

  2. B.B.
    Yes, that’s annoying when I’m changing a scope, and I have all the tools spread out, and you have to sift through all the allen wretches to find the three right ones!

    On a side note, I’ve got a Williams 64 Peep sight, and a RWS 350 Compact rifle scope(scope’s a week old, I got one instead that had mil-dots). Looking to sell both. Email me and make an offer if interested: Conorkilian@clearwire.net


  3. OH, this is good. I don’t just get to vent but have a chance that my gripes will reach the right ears. Here’s a couple of my pet peeves off the top of my head.

    First let me add to catagory 1. “Use fasteners of common size whenever feasible”. Why do I need 3 allen wrenches of different sizes to adjust your triggers? This is absurd.

    Let me add to catagory 2. “Select materials that are understressed for the application” for those manufacturers that are bringing springers to the market. Do you actually use your product? Do you realize how common it is for users to remove the action from the stock frequently? It’s necessary to lube tune, replace seals, adjust triggers etc. Do you realize how often that the stock screws must be tightened if you actually shoot the gun? Please install brass screw cups at the factory.

    Speaking of scope mounts. Would you please bring back the simple beeman type mounts with rings that have a screw on both sides of the mount to tighten it onto the dovetail rail that allows adjustment for windage without touching the scope turrets? Please make these out of steel and not aluminum. Thank you. I feel a little better.


  4. Cocking slots should be factory deburred. If the piston seal somehow avoided being shredded when it was installed, there’s no way I’ll be lucky enough to get it out for a lube/tune without some slicing and dicing.

    Even on higher-priced springers, factory spring guide tolerances are often atrocious. Why?

    The issue of factory lubes and dieseling needs to be addressed. I can understand a handful of shots to burn off the carrier in moly, but it should not take 500 rounds to clear the smoke out of the barrel because the manufacturer dipped the entire powerplant in 30w.

    – Orin

  5. Stamped steel sight inserts should NEVER cost 30$ for a set of 5.Fiberoptic sights should be durable enough that a playful 6 week old kitten poses NO threat! Check to see if an employee CAN operate
    your product BEFORE you hire him to write the operating guide!

  6. Ah yes, spring guides. An easy way to optimise power and reduce twang and vibraiton is to have a spring guide that actually fits the spring. Is it too much to ask to get manufacturers to take the trouble to machine a good tight fit here? Many of theother wayus usd ot reduce vibraiton would be unecessary if they did this. Same with top hats, nothing complex about making and installing these.

  7. B.B.,
    You may have opened a real can of worms!
    Manuals that have more than just the boiler plate safety warnings the lawyers wanted, but that have nice exploded views and parts lists that have specs for commercially available items. Don’t just say “item 49, interface seal”, add some info:”005 o-ring, 90 duro, Buna-N”.

      • I’ve been busy working a lot. I don’t have much time for anything now days. When I get a second here and there it’s been the daisy 853 indoors and the disco .22 out doors. I’ve only had time to thin the crow population as they tend to flock togather in large numbers this time of year. The freezer is pretty empty. I may go out and get some fish before the seasons up…..but I have a cold now….so that will probably be the end of that idea. I still have my Quest 800…still shooting smooth after 4 years thanks to all the advice on the airgun forums. Maybe that’s what should be included with every airgun sold, this blog websight blog along with others too.

        BTW…has Vince ever sent and airgun to landfill?

  8. Would it be too much to ask that manufacturers adopt a standard width dovetail for mounting scopes? PA had to machine a mount for me to tightly mount a scope on my Gamo CFX.

    Throughout the world there are “standards” established for many products. The airgun industry would do well to adopt such. Yes, the price of some airguns would increase, but many would pay a little extra knowing they would have the assurance of a certain level of quality.

    • There is a standard, it’s 3/8″ or 11mm and that is universal.

      PA machined a scope dovetail for you? Was the OEM fitting too small? Rings are about 9.5mm to 11.5mm adjustable, hard to believe that any stock scope rail would not work?

  9. BB
    “As far as I’m concerned, anything that’s “built to a price” is made by bottom-feeders who manufacture products for landfills.”

    You say a mouthful there! I can’t agree with you more.

    On upper end guns, a fitted case would be nice and makes sense to me. Even an inexpensive musical instrument is shipped in a decent fitted case yet a $2000 FWB comes in Styrofoam and cardboard.


  10. When it adds little or nothing to the cost, why not make a a gun ambidextrous or easily reconfigurable for us lefties? Here’s an example: I just read the other day that the new Marauder pistol has a bolt that can be switched to work on the left. That’s great, but why not do the same thing with the Marauder rifle?

  11. B.B.,
    All fiber optic front sights should have a protective housing-metal or plastic, slotted or perforated to allow light in. All metal parts should be deburred, especially trigger components.

  12. One should be able to field strip the gun, with few or no tools.

    Also, it would be nice if the gun had a few options to select from (e.g. Wood or synthetic stock, what particular kind of sights, scope or not, case or not, extra-large bolt handle or not, a few length of pull options).


  13. Morning B.B.,

    How about designing stocks for scope use from the get go. I’m tired of trying to use a chin weld rather than a cheek weld on my springers .


    PS Add my yes to standardizing allen wrench sizes.


  14. 1) Owners manuals written by people who have actually shot the gun
    2) Owners manuals that are gun specific with diagrams and parts list that are clear with descriptions.
    3) For spring guns, a few words as to why you should never, ever dry fire a spring gun! Don’t the manufacturers realize why so many spring guns are returned after only a week or so in uninformed hands?
    4) Ditto as regards cleaning, lubricating and tightening fasteners on spring guns.
    5) An explanation of the artillery hold and it’s purpose (see #3 above, returned guns).
    6) Put all the legal garbage in the first 4 pages of the manual and be done with it.

    • Or… maybe not?

      As noted earlier “if I have to read more than a few lines printed in an ad or on a box, I don’t think it’s going to work out for me…”

      Maybe the bulk of manufacturers see the world in the same way? Thus the lack of quality or depth of info in most owners manuals? The manuals are written at what age level and education?

      Let’s do this instead..page 1, lawyer language, page 2, stick-man shown pointing gun at something other than himself, page 3, where to return gun when convinced that uniformed shooter can’t POSSIBLY be the problem!

      • Brian,

        The English language has suffered tremendously in recent decades, so we have to adapt when we write instructions for the general public.

        Read some of the product reviews on Pyramyd Air, and you’ll see that many shooters do not know what to call the basic parts of a gun. “Muzzle” has become “tip.” “Thingy” is just about any part of the gun, but most people refer to the cocking bolt or trigger with that term. I could go on, but you get the idea.

        What really drives me insane is the company that shows a gun in their manuals, and they identify the gun parts with incorrect terms!

        In the past, the basic ground rule of writing for general consumption was to write at the 12th-grade level. Several years ago, it changed to the 9th-grade level. I think the next jump is the 6th-grade level.

        There are some products that I know will be bought by people who are relatively young, so I try to use words that are simple, easy to understand and have no more than one syllable. I also work very hard to avoid compound sentences.

        Several years ago, I started converting all descriptions on Pyramyd Air to bulletized lists. One bullet=1 thought. I believe that will enhance comprehension. It’ll take years to complete the task.


        • Yup, the bullet type list does draw the eye to each, concise statement. And yes, I cringe a little each time I read a review with words/grammar that’s obviously 3rd grade at best and with no comprehension of even the basic physics at play in air guns. ” these pellets are waaay powerful and my barrel was lined up with the target at 100 yards every time the scope was used”

          I guess it was also a little disappointing to see one of our own bloggers remark “if I have to read more than a few lines…” etc.

          So much for reading, learning, improving and becoming more informed.

          I too want to be an expert target shooter with 9 out of 10 shots dead center in the bull but, I don’t want to be too informed about the gun I’m shooting cause I get bored after reading and thinking about….

          Average attention/retention = 1 on the 0 to 10 scale. Maybe we write to the 3rd grade level after all?

    • Brain: Your number six on your list about being done with the legal garbage, expands on that bottom feeder remark of BB’s. It touches on why there are cheapened parts in otherwise sound guns. There is only so much bottom line to go around. I fully expect to see an airgun someday with a orange painted muzzle and a oversize shroud with and glow in the dark arrow,and the words “front” emblazened on it in six different languages. If you have a business, and have to pay for liability insurance geared to the least common denominator, and have ever survived a nusiance suit, you would understand why I could envision this,Robert.

  15. A lot of your points are good, B.B., but what you’re describing is a way to construct a semi-premium gun for an educated customer. It probably sounds great to all the people who read your blog (me included, with some nitpicks) but for the other 99.9% who will never lube a gun, aren’t capable of disassembly, and just want to make holes in things… it’s money they’re not going to pay, even if it’s only another $25.

    Eg, as I’ve progressed through my airgun addiction I’ve involved one of my co-workers. He’s OK with learning about things and looking at the price/quality/longevity equation. We’re still learning, trying to figure out what’s worth it to us. His brother, however, wanted the most FPS he could get for the least money and a Big Cat was purchased the same day.

    • JeffT,

      I think you are missing the point. The Air Venturi Bronco is not a semi-premium air rifle. It’s a cheapie. It just isn’t a down-and-dirty cheapie that insults the buyer at every turn, like some of the Chinese guns do.

      If the engineers start out with good design ideas before they start cutting metal, they can use the best ideas to create a product that people will actually like, for no more money that they can one that is a disaster.

      The Benjamin Trail series is an illustration. They put a Weaver base on the gun from the git-go. It would have been just as easy to put an 11mm rail on the guns, but the Weaver base means that the Trail series of guns will have no scope movement problems.

      Now, just do that at every opportunity and you have designed a worthwhile airgun instead of a piece of crap. That is all this exercise is about. The best engineering practices is a written set of guidelines that remind engineers what the best decisions are, so they can incorporate them in the design when the time comes.

      I see from the responses that several readers are also missing the point and suggesting things they would like to see included with airguns instead of engineering practices, but we still have collected many good basic practices thus far.


      • BB: The Crosman and Benjamin breakbarrels have two soft plastic washers on each side of the receiver /barrel hinge. Their design violates number two on your list.They wear after a couple tins of pellets and the joint becomes loose, and groups widen. That’s an example of poor engineering and cost cutting, on an otherwise well thought out gun. What would two metal washers add to the cost of that product? Robert.

        • Robert,

          That is a good illustration of what I was trying to say. Properly-lubricated metal washers would last much longer than soft synthetic ones. Even better would be to design an action fork that doesn’t need washers. It would be cheaper to build and there would be two less parts to keep track of. But how many engineers think like this?

          Instead of finding the best part to use, design the item to not need the part at all.


          • Plenty of engineers think like this. Maybe my take is too cynical, but I’d doubt it’s the right mind-set for a sub-$200 rifle.

            IMO, it isn’t that metal washers are more expensive, it means tighter tolerances on the fork and pivot, which leads to higher reject rates. Unless you go with a higher quality fabricator, which means you’re going to pay more that way.

            Another way they could deal with it is to have somebody assemble the guns with a selection of shim washers available and compensate for the variation that way. However, that means stocking shim washers and paying somebody skilled enough to actually do a good job rather than minimum wage. Again, cost goes up.

            Plastic washers have some give to soak up the variations, feels good enough to keep people happy past the warranty period, and you get to keep your people employed. It may not be the option that people like, but it beats closing the factory since somebody else started importing guns with plastic washers and ate into your sales.

            And finally, for those people that it really bothers… they’ll take it apart, measure out the plastic washers and then order metal ones from McMaster or wherever and fix it themselves. Probably cheaper too.

          • GAMO did this. I recently “tuned” my neighbors Big Cat, and the synthetic breech block is flared out where washers should be. Worst design I’ve ever seen.

            I know that’s not what you mean by “design an action fork that doesn’t need washers,” though. 🙂

            – Orin

      • BB to your point;

        1) All metal parts to have edge-breaks .005 to .015″
        2) All metal surfaces 125 RMS finish unless noted (e.g. breeches and compression bores should be 32 RMS)
        3) Use direct measurement practices wherever possible (e.g. fps over a Chrony doe not directly measure the finish of a bore or rifling, or the concentricity of a seal to the compression chamber/tube)
        4) Standard machine tolerances are + / – .010″ for three place dimensions, .001 for four place dims.
        5) Chem-Etch or Laser Etch Model and Serial Number etc. No metal Stress, looks prettier etc.
        6) Assy & Shipping, no rust or mfg. debris. Lightly oil / protect blueing and wooden stocks

  16. One of my biggest beefs is the lack of an option for open sights on some rifles, such as the TX200, and Marauder. Sure, most people will use scopes on rifles such as these, but give us an option! With a name like ‘Marauder’ doesn’t it sound like it would have nice open sights on it? Rear sights should adjust with click wheels, not screwdrivers.

    Secondly there is the issue of fasteners. No, accushot rings (just one example) should NOT require 3 different allen wrenches, even if they are included. Fasteners should be easy to remove if necessary. Roll pins and rivets are a pain. I wish the world would just quit using phillips head anything. They are the easiest to bugger up and they collect gunk. I personally favor standardization to torx head fasteners. They are nearly impossible to strip out if you use the right sized wrench.

    Thirdly, if said fasteners have a finish on them, such as bluing, it should be durable enough for the foreseeable purpose for which they were designed, ie when you remove a screw properly with the right tool, it should not look as though it was attacked by a crazed monkey with a ball-peen hammer.

    As far as #6 on your list, two examples of doing it well: Air Arms TX200 and the Crosman bolt action guns. The TX200 is tremendously well built, has good power and is easily taken apart without a spring compressor.

    The Crosman guns are about as modular as it gets, which accounts for the extreme level of ‘mods’ these guns are adorned with. Not only are they a breeze to disassemble, but if you do one, you’ve done them all. This includes the 1377, the 1322, the 2230, the 2240, the 2250 the 2260, the 2289, the Discovery… did I leave any out. A bad thing about this series of guns is that microscopic allen head screw in the breech that is dying to strip out. A slotted head might be better in this application.

    Stay tuned for more wailing and whining.

    • That 22XX breech screw is a tough one, I think it is also a bevel head is it not?

      Shallow surfaces, tough access and very small diameter screw. Similarly, the rear screw that bolts up thru the frame at the top of the back strap can’t be accessed straight on with a normal screw driver. Once you get it out, you replace it with a socket head bolt so you can get back at it when the need arises.

    • If using a screwdriver for adjusting a sight is painful — never look at the rear sight of a true HK-91 (nearly spelled that out — then remembered the ampersand is deadly to RSS).

      The “sight adjusting tool” starts life as a stubby philips, whose handle has been mostly bored out to hold a short, hollow, metal cylinder with spring loaded fingers on one end. In use, one removes the cylinder from screwdriver, aligns the fingers with the slots in the rear sight containing spring loaded pins; one then pushes screwdriver into the cylinder until fingers are parallel to the cylinder — this disengages the pins from the slots. One now rotates the sight drum (four position: battle V, 200/300/400m peeps) left or right to the next pin/slot alignment, removes screwdriver, removes cylinder… [There is a bit more for more serious adjustment that actually uses the philips head but I’ve not had the HK out since the Peoples Republic of CA required me to supply fingerprints for it]

      BTW: the “tool” cost $25 back in the early 1980s — a time when the HK91 with two 20rd magazines sold for under $800

      ON to more applicable topics… What ever happened to the days when scope rings used coin-slotted thumb-wheels for clamping to the mount base? Apparently the idea that one could dismount and remount a scope without losing usable zero has faded. Granted, that still left one needing a wrench for the screws clamping the rings together.

      Pity Sako rings/bases wouldn’t work on a spring/air… for recoil in one direction, Sako’s double-dovetail mount actually tightens the fit under recoil. Looking at them from the end, they are about a 1/4″ tall dovetail \—-/; But when looking down from above, they are also dovetailed with the widest part toward the muzzle. A spring/air would just shake them in the dismount direction…

  17. Everyone,

    Tell me what you think of these owners’ manuals. I won’t be offended by any criticisms. The manuals were vetted by Pyramyd Air’s tech department and B.B. I’m sure they’re not perfect, but I hope they’re useful. I wrote them 🙂

    1. IZH-46M, IZH-60 and IZH-61:

    46M — https://www.pyramydair.com/airgun-resources/manuals/izh-46-m-air-pistol-manual.pdf
    60/61 — https://www.pyramydair.com/airgun-resources/manuals/izh-60-61-manual.pdf
    I used the original manuals provided by the former importer (EAA) and redid them with current info and all new images.

    2. Tech Force breakbarrels:
    This is very generic. I didn’t look at the Chinese manuals at all since they’ve garnered so much criticism. The manuals are based on the very generic Beeman manuals (for HW guns), which I also redid (see #3).

    3. Beeman breakbarrels:
    Loosely based on the manuals originally provided by the Beeman company before their sale.

    4. Beeman spring-piston air pistols:
    Loosely based on the manuals originally provided by the Beeman company before their sale.

    Thanks for all your comments on these!


    • Edith: I think that all manuals should come with exploded views of the product with numbered parts lists like the Izzy manuals. Even if you don’t wish to dis-assemble them, it would provide a point of reference to those who do.

    • I vote for the Izzy Manuals! Very well done as compared to the others on your post.

      Don’t like the generic “Beeman” P1 P3 P17 HW70A multi gun, no particularly useful info about any one of the guns type of manual.

    • Wait a minute…

      Grip, Barrel, Bolt – aren’t those actual airgun terms? Arrows pointing to specific parts? Pictures and exploded diagrams? Safety warnings condensed into one section? Standardized section headers? Adjustment and maintenance procedures?

      Completely unacceptable.

      – Orin

    • RE: Manuals & lead

      I do not think that pellets come with any of these airguns. So I’d omit the lead warning inside the rifle manual. Rather I’d think that Crosman, Gamo and who ever else supplies lead pellets to PA should supply a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) also. A copy of the manufacturer’s MSDS could be made available on the PA website, or if the customer requests in the order, or via mail.

      I doubt that many of PA’s customers are familiar with chemicals or MSDS. I think the law is such that a manufacturer has to supply a MSDS if one is requested by an employee. However the “pellet” once manufactured becomes a “consumer product” and I wonder if it is a “chemical” at that point. There isn’t a reason that the “internal” MSDS shouldn’t/couldn’t be made available to retail customers.

      While working in manufacturing for IBM I found two questions that you didn’t want to ask. If you were foolish enough to ask “Is it safe” or “Is this legal” everything ground to a halt and you ended up going to a lot of meeting that you didn’t want to attend. 😉


      • Herb,

        We include the lead warnings because sometimes lead pellets may be included with the gun (promotions that may include pellets come & go).

        Also, it’s possible that guns shipped to California require that warning even if no pellets are shipped with it. All I know is that I am required to put that in any manual I create for an airgun.


        • I wouldn’t be surprised at the PRCa needing that warning in the documentation… After all, if the manufacturer or dealer shot the gun with a lead pellet even once there is the chance for the barrel to contain lead residue. Molybdenum disulphide impregnated lubricants probably qualify too.

          My apartment has a Prop. 65 warning on the laundry room — because the washing machine and drier have been used with who knows what detergents, bleaches, fabric softeners AND the wiring may contain tin/lead solder. We’ll not speak of the unexpended can of Freon-based propellant that came with my first gas air-soft gun (some day I’ll manage to extract the valve from the magazine and see if heat shrink tubing can repair it). Wouldn’t surprise me if the “green gas” now used (propane, as I recall) also qualifies just on being a hydrocarbon product.

          I keep wanting to find a nice metal Prop. 65 warning that I can stick on my apartment door… My “linen” closet is full of art supplies: pigments made from chromium, cadmium, etc.; inks containing formaldehyde as a preservative… The gun case with all that nasty lead in cartridges and pellets…

    • Edith,
      Good job on the Tech Force manual. My only suggestion would be to add a section devoted to care and maintenance. Include some pics showing how and where to oil and then give the link to the PA Web Site where the recommended oils and lubes can be found.

      • Pete in the Caribbean,

        Thanks for the compliment. I was 4 months late on getting that manual together. So, I did just the basics and left it at that. I agree, though, that manuals should have some lube and maintenance info. Maybe I’ll find some time in 2012. I definitely won’t have any time this year!


  18. HI Tom;

    I understand your frustration with different size screws for scope
    rings. I have had that thaught also and prefer BKL rings which use all
    the same size.


    There are many newer shooters that do not know when to stop turning a
    screw. If the scope strap screw were smaller they would have to use an
    allen wrench that would allow less torque and not as likely to deform
    the scope tube. In reality the correct size screw for the ammount of
    maximum force that should or could be aplied to a specific area is
    appropriate. Smaller screws for the strap and nice large ones to hold
    them to the rail.

    Anyway just thaught I would lend a word of reason behind different size
    screws for scope mounts that could be a good reason.

  19. OT but a question I’ve long puzzled over—————————

    Having been ‘fooling around’ with airguns for @ 67 years at this point I have the Olde Pharte capacity to see trends in historical perspective. The one under consideration with this post is easily witnessed by the numbers under ‘Categories’ in the RH sidebar. In descending numerical order the blogs concerning types are:
    Spring Piston rifles 83
    CO2 38
    PCP 25
    Multi-pump pneumatics 4
    Gas-spring guns 3
    Single-stroke pneumatics 1
    There’s even one on Rubber-band guns and 17 about BB guns!

    Having grown up in a nation where the 3 major pellet gun makers built their empires around the multi-stroke pneumatic principle I have witnessed Rob’t, Law set up his tent to preach the gospel of springers and Dr. Beeman trump Laws’ evangelism with his own equivalent of a professionally-produced TV ‘ministry’. So I am hardly unaware of historical trends.

    With those thoughts in mind I find it more than a little unbalanced that in the land of the supremacy of the multi-stroke pneumatic that there are only 4 columns devoted to them. What say you BB?

    • Tom @ Buzzard Bluff,

      The associated blogs in the section you reference are only those that have those categories selected. This blog has been on this site and in this format (and with those categories) since May 2010. Less than a year.

      Scroll down a bit further to find 5 prior years of blogs that are not categorized on this site. The listing may, in fact, not be as unbalanced as you believe.

      As B.B. said in his response, multi-pumps are not on the front burner. There are very few guns that are multi-pumps. Most are springers.


  20. Take a close look at the AirForce guns. They ain’t perfect, but the forethought and design come a lot closer to the ideal than most of the alternatives. Good materials, designed-in adaptability, simple to work on, etc. Somebody was paying attention.


  21. Good Topic BB. I think there are some simple ideas that might be adopted.

    I recommend using allen head screws whenever possible. Flat slots and phillips heads all eventually get marred up.

    I recommend ambidextrous safeties.

    I recommend manual safeties instead of automatic safeties.

    On PCPs, the neatest thing ever has been the 3 power levels on the FX rifles. I wish all PCPs came with this.

    I would suggest not using roll pins or even solid pins. Thread the top 1/8″ of the pin so that it is a threaded pin that will stay in place but be easy to remove.

    On a springer, don’t put anything on the end of the receiver tube that would be damaged by a spring compressor.

    Check all dimensions of a stock to make sure it is comfortable to shooters of different sizes and builds.

    I am sure I will think of others.

    David Enoch

  22. BB,
    I agree with what you are saying in general, and most of the particulars. However, designing to a spec.(which includes cost (= price), performance, and funtion) is indispensable to producing a viable product.

    I once saw the results of a semiconductor design team unfettered by building to a price, charged only with producing the best design possible for a specialty graphics market segment, where “cost was no object”, which they took a bit too literally it seemed. When they were finally understood to be way behind schedule (another reality), with a design that was almost unbelievably large, that still had anomalies, and that favored the very structures our manufacturing process at the time was weak on, my team was asked to help them out discretely. My buddy and I were perplexed (me) and amazed (my co-worker) at the intricate complexity of the algorithm, but it was clear that it had gone beyond rescue, at least in the time we had. We sat down and designed an algorithm that could approximate the desired output of the original, had no chance of anomalies, and used the structures we could manufacture best at the time, making use of existing algorithms (=functional blocks) that were understood well and had been optimized for other products. The output was either comparable or better, according to the customer’s test cases, and the projected gate count was about 10% of the original (that is significant). The original team pronounced our design “low-cost” (true) and “low-quality” (perhaps true, but it was actually preferred visually to the original by a large margin in many cases, and by people who did not know the respective costs, so I don’t think they could push that argument very far 🙂 ).

    Most of this we did with greater than normal enthusiasm, owing to the haughty attitude of the original team, but that approach, i.e., starting with some regard for and knowledge of reality, always seems to pay off. Even if cost is truly no object, it probably will be at some point.

  23. Statistical operator control. It’s what Harley Davidson adopted from the Japanese that adopted from an American consultant – involving statistical operational sampling of parts as they come off the manufacturing line. I have to pull the book this evening to give you the exact name but essentially it involves sampling every tenth or fiftieth part and when any dimension grows to half of the allowable specification, the machine tool line is stopped and tolerances re-calibrated to the exact engineering spec. For example, if you need a barrel diameter of .1995″ plus or minus 10%, you measure every 10th or 50th barrel produced. When the size of the diameter grows to plus or minus 5%, you re-adjust your machine tool back to the called for specification. I’m making these numbers up for the sake of explaining this sampling ratio for quality control. I think the products that prime manufacturers are having built in China under contract need this type of supervision.

    It greatly improved quality and cut way down on warranty costs for the Japanese. It’s what Harley went to after their Employee buy-out of the company from AMF.

    Fred PRoNJ

    • SPC = Statistical Process Control, sorry Fred for the acronym, and it was Dr. Demming that the Japanese embraced when we (USA) shunned his ideas.

      That’s why the first Lexus sold in the US kicked the pants off Cadillac and even Mercedes and BMW. $5k less than those cars at that time, and about $50k better in quality.

      • Brian, that’s the guy I was trying to think of and that’s the process he devised shortly after WW II! Everyone here in the States said it wasn’t necessary. Unfortunately, after I posted it I realized it wasn’t what BB was asking for.

        However, you want to talk about engineering to a price, I give you Lucas Electrics, also known as the “Prince of Darkness”. The electrical systems on those English bikes in the 50’s and 60’s up to when Triumph went out of business the first time, were atrocious as were those MG’s and Triumph automobiles. Hey, UK Dave – I understand the English learned to drink warm beer because Lucas made the refrigeration equipment. (Sorry, couldn’t resist – it’s my way of getting back for those times the lights blew out on my bike at 1 in the morning).

        Fred PRoNJ

        • Fred PRoNJ;

          I do think this is part of what BB was trying to determine! SPC and continuous improvement are meta-engineering concepts. (Kind of like the Golden Rule in human relationships as opposed to the zillion laws that we have.) So instead of trying to optimize how you can make something cheaper and get by, the engineers are always trying to determine how to make the overall product “better.”

          The other extreme is of course “gold plating.” There are a few enthusiasts who be willing to pay extra for a zebra wood stock, but is the herd willing to pay the extra money for such bling on say a Daisy 22SG power plant?

          I’m convinced that the “problem” with the Chinese airguns isn’t the Chinese but us as consumers. The Chinese make all sorts of electronics products which are very complicated products to manufacture by comparison. The problem with Chinese airguns is forcing a $59 (pick your number) manufacturing price rather than detailing the specifications that the airgun must meet. The truth is that a lot of the Chinese guns can be ‘tuned” into very decent airguns. Additional steps in the factory to mitigate the need for such tuning would have increased the manufacturing price, but overall the quality of the airguns would have been increased greatly.

          Getting back to the point about us as consumers being the problem, I’ve spent an inordinate amount on “cheaper” airguns. I haven’t yet developed the expertise to tune them and I don’t have any machining tools (lathe, milling machine, ect) at all. Although the M-Rod wasn’t available when I started, I’d been far better off buying an M-Rod rather than the dozen cheap rifles that I now have. But like an idiot I was just looking for price, not performance. So I believe that I’ve experimentally proved BB’s Consumer Law – You don’t get something that you didn’t pay for. I finally got a RWS 34 which is good enough for my needs.

          But how many of us read all of BB’s blogs BEFORE we bought our first airgun? Reminds me of the Men’s Warehouse commercial – “An educated consumer is our best customer…” I can honestly say that if I knew then what I know now that my purchases would have been different. But I got my education by making bad decisions.

          • Herb,
            I think you’re on the right track. What I hear you saying is, we as consumers want a low priced gun, so the Chinese give us one. We got what we asked for. What I hear BB saying is, be careful what you ask for, chances are it may not be what you want. What I hear this blog saying is, listen to me, I will educate you so you will know what to ask for.

            • I don’t think it works that way as we’ve seen with some of Vince’s and BB’s comments – the top notch, well manufactured pellet gun from a Chinese manufacturer that wowed the importer only to find that the shipment he ordered was well below the quality of the sample. The Chinese were/are notorious for changing manufacturing processes/materials in order to make more profit. Case in point – I have a very good friend who is a very talented musician. He and a bandmate discovered a Chinese made saxophone that was an identical copy of a Selma Mk VI – the FWB of saxophones. They got very excited, thinking they would go into the import business and sell to stores. The next dozen samples the factory sent were absolute crap. They refused the shipment. My friend still repairs woodwinds during the day and plays gigs during the weekend.

              Fred PRoNJ

          • Herb,

            I used to teach Total Quality Management to the Department of Defense. In that course were the tools of Dr. W. Edwards Demming and Dr. Joseph Juran, both Japanese National Treasures and both the founders of the “Japanese Management” principals. That is really what is behind my “best engineering practices” document.


  24. I second Slinging Lead’s comment on open sights. Generally, limit the number of extra tools required such as Allen wrenches for locking scope turrets when this can be done by hand. As another example, avoid requiring disassembly to adjust power on pcps like the Marauder. Have a power wheel like the S410 and Talon rifles or an internal computer like the Rogue. I like Clint Fowler’s advice that you should disassemble a rifle as little as possible.

    More generally, think in terms of refining the genius of the past or advancing it incrementally than coming up with something brand-new. The AK-47 was designed almost entirely from the good ideas of other guns. Look at the 1911 in its hundredth year! And do not slash quality to save money. Look at the pre-64 Winchester and the metal receiver IZH 61. The customers will figure it out and be very upset.

    Kevin, I live in northern California near Sacramento. Yes, go ahead and gloat. 🙂 Your transfer fee has me green with envy. I would probably have more guns if I were in your environment.

    Victor, thanks for your observations about FWB air rifles and Anschutz smallbores. Sounds like it is pretty much a dead heat and the differentiating factor has to do with ergonomics and the gun/shooter interface which is what one hears. I had never heard of Lanny Basham. It sounds like the competitive attitudes for elite shooting are the same as other sports as one might expect. An environment that selects for winners is going to get competitive people. I actually like Michael Phelps’s statement on this topic: “I hate to lose. I absolutely hate to lose. I can’t stand it.” There is a purity about this. But this doesn’t mean you have to be hostile to the other competitors. I understand that Nancy Tompkins is one of the nicest people you could meet and will even give tips about reading the wind to competitors. And she says that shooters are the nicest people you could ever meet, so there must be others like her. And then there’s Rafael Nadal who was very gracious about losing in the Australian Open. And then there are the Russian commandos that I met. In their environment, you obviously want to win, and they do. However, the manner is not that commonly associated martial arts with the howling, screaming, and over-the-top aggression such as commonly found in competitive mixed martial arts (MMA). (I was looking at training tapes of USAF “Karate” from the early 60’s and it was spasmodic and pitiful.) One of the Russian gurus says that your mindset in self-defense should be as calm and detached as when you are buttering your toast in the morning after waking up, and he and his people do achieve this from what I can tell.

    So, what is the theoretical limit to shooting and how would that be measured? I have been thinking about this very thing in connection with a Stephen Hunter novel. A mystery assassination turns on the fact that a sniper was shooting the equivalent of .10 MOA. This was supposed to be evidence that no ordinary human could have shot those groups (incorrectly characterized as a second of a second!?) and that he must have been using a special scope. This is identified as the “iscope” (I like this) which is a technology a little in advance of what exists which will calculate ballistics with wind speed, humidity and other parameters and display your exact aimpoint on a complex reticle. The assumption is that by eliminating uncertainty involved with vision in this manner, one could shoot this well, which presumably would be a theoretical limit. I don’t believe that with the very good natural vision at the elite level plus the optical quality out there that there is that much uncertainty in sighting to remove. And I do not believe that one could reliably hold steady enough for .10 accuracy. I understand that is beyond benchresting which shoots a little less than .20 MOA and not for an extended string. So, what are the theoretical limits of shooting identified by the U.S./Russian team?

    On a related subject, you, as Mr. Spock said about Kirk split into good and evil halves, present an unprecedented opportunity to study the human mind! More specifically, the idealized ratio between rested/prone and offhand and kneeling scores since you have eliminated fundamental shooting errors. So we should get a pure ratio. The test involves comparing your offhand ratio with the experimentally-derived 3:1 ratio of standing groups to rested. The problem is converting that into the point scores that you’ve used. My method here is take the width of the 10 ring as a fundamental unit, and use it to measure the width of the other scoring rings which, I’m guessing are pretty standard. Cleaning prone gives you a 1. Multiply by three and count outwards should get you an 8. So, I’m guessing that your offhand scores were high 80’s out of a 100 or low 90’s? Kneeling should be somewhere in between, so mid 90’s?


    • Matt61,

      I’m not gloating today. It’s only 14 degrees. High tomorrow is predicted to be 2 below. Yes, high temperature in the metro area 2 below. I’m glad we’re leaving Thursday for a warmer climate. I need to thaw out.


    • Matt61,

      Interesting that you live in northern California. In the 70’s, the best 4 position shooter was Karen Monez, from San Leandro. She won the 4 position California State Championship 4 years straight with a score of 797 / 800. she was about 5’2″, and usually cleaned offhand. I shot a 788 my last year. I had more trouble with the sitting position than most (it was considered the next easiest position after prone). If I recall, I dropped around 5 points that day sitting, but shot around a 195 offhand, so I probably dropped a couple of points kneeling. So to answer your question about offhand scores, I was shooting around a 97 / 98 offhand. This was one of the last tournaments that I ever shot.

      Almost all shooters that I knew were very nice and helpful. Some more quieter than others, but all nice. However, as competitors, they were fierce. I’ve seen shooters cry after losing a close match. I’ve heard of some of the greats having tantrums after losing a big match that they thought they were going to win.

      Lanny Basham won the 1976 Olympic Gold. He set a world record in 3 position with a score of around 1170.

      Regarding theoretical limits. It was once thought that a perfect score could not be shot using the ISU targets (which is why they were used). For example, throughout the 60’s and up to the early 70’s, only one 600 had ever been shot in the prone position (English Match). Vic Auer shot a 600 in the 1972 Olympics, but was penalized when a controversial call was made, claiming that his position was too low during one shot. They deducted 2 points, and he was awarded Silver. But the point is that these targets were thought to exceed the capacity of a human to shoot a perfect score.

      Well, in 3 position, it was thought that the limit was around 1188, I believe. Lanny Basham was eventually shooting close to 1170. This was at a time when shooting 1150’s could be expected to win Gold. Less than a hand full of shooters could break 1160, including; Lones Wigger, Lanny Basham, and David Kimes. The limit was based on everything from barrel accuracy to physiology (mental stamina, cardiovascular condition, muscle tone, vision, breath control, etc.). Of course, these limits can’t apply anymore, as a decade or more later, world records would reach these limits. For instance, these days American Eric Uptagrafft will shoot a 600 occasionally. All of this is with iron sights only.

      Again, shooters were VERY nice people, in my experience. I played various sports, but preferred individual sports. A common complaint from parents was about the politics and unsportsman-like conduct of parents in other activities, like Little-League baseball. Shooting had little or no such thing.

      I was taught to be a gentleman and sportsman at all times, and to control my emotions. For instance, even when I saw my target up close and realized that I had won a big tournament, I would NOT show emotion, or let anyone know how elated I really was. The idea is to be sensitive to others who might have hoped to have won. The same went for blowing a match. We were not to behave angrily, and instead showed that we were happy for the winner. If this is your culture, then it does happen naturally.

      Apparently something happened during the 80’s, according to friends, and things started to get more “competitive” and unsportsmanlike. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon in sports for a winner to get “in the losers face”, or run around in celebration. I never saw this in shooting, but heard that it started to happen in the 80’s. I teach my kids to be graceful, win or lose. I’m not concerned with others standards, or lack of. I believe that what I was taught was correct.

      One last thing. An interesting thing about competitive marksmanship (and other sports, I’m sure) is that it is VERY personal. What works for one person, may not work for another. Coaches have to know this because, what they thought they knew, absolutely, may not be complete enough for some of their shooters. Shooters will discover something new, or unique, that works for them. Our bodies are different, so we have to find that one last detail that can make a huge difference in our ability to break out of a plateau. We evolve into each plateau, and then try to evolve into the next one. However, once we do reach a certain plateau, we are a different animal. The change is real.


    • Can this be real? At the bottom it goes on to say;

      “Five years later, the state-run Xinhua news agency infamously used an x-ray image of Homer Simpson’s head to illustrate a story about the discovery of a genetic link to multiple sclerosis.”


      • Kevin… and “The Ministry of Tofu” is cited in the article which is a dead link!?

        I guess with Tofu being so tasteless, there is also a Dept. of Dim Sung?

        The internet, read 100%, believe 10%, maybe.

    • I’m not all surprised. Intellectual forgery is also a huge problem in China. Why they bother faking anything is what I don’t understand. We’re giving them everything for free, or almost free. They just need to wait a bit.

      There was a case where Chinese engineers at Rockwell, later to become Boeing, in southern California, were caught stockpiling engineering files with the intent to pass them over to China (many probably were). What I found interesting is that they labelled this “Industrial Espionage”, and not military or defense espionage, which is closer to what it was, in my opinion.

      I just get the impression that we’re not taking China serious enough.

  25. BB wrote:

    Entirely true—to our loss! But I for one—and many more I highly suspect—would be excited to see a ‘modern’ MSP. Ask yourself, “Just what might Crosman be able to do if they put the same amount of development and technological innovation into a self-contained MSP as they have in PCPs over the past decade”? That thought should encourage a rush of excitement into anyone whose ‘keeper’ and go to rifle around the house is a Blue Streak!

    Nor do I see evidence that this blog is limited to “the front burner of airgun development”. You have written—and well—about a lot of collectibles and guns of historical significance over the years and I have enjoyed it tremendously. I don’t think the subject of MSPs is exhausted at all. And if we don’t discuss it how will Crosman know that the public retains interest in the Crosmans that launched so many of us on the path? I think a door to opportunity is standing open and Crosman looks here for trends unless I’m badly mistaken. One of the greatest inhibitions to PCPs I’ve seen revealed on forums and the net is the ancillary impedimenta required to keep them charged. I think the next ‘great advance’ will be rifles with on-board charging systems.

    • Tom @ Buzzard Bluff,

      “how will Crosman know that the public retains interest in the Crosmans that launched so many of us on the path”

      I don’t know if the above is a valid assumption about multi-pump pneumatics.

      It’s more fun to pull the trigger instead being the powerplant. You get a lot more shooting time when the gun has a less labor-intensive power source. I’m not lazy…just practical 🙂


    • Tom@Buzzard Bluff,

      It’s interesting to note that the introduction of new msp’s, by any company, has slowed to a trickle. I know that B.B. has a soft spot for msp’s since a quick search of the old blog revealed at least 100 hits when I typed in “multi stroke pnuematic”. He’s constantly recommending the 392 and 397 especially as a first gun.

      I hope you’re right when you say “I think the next great advance will be rifles with on board charging systems.” The recent introduction of the FX Independence is a wonderful design when you consider effort vs. output and the few reports from the few owners seem to indicate a very accurate barrel and nice shooter. People aren’t flocking to this new msp gun though. I’m sure the price point is partly to blame but could this also indicate that the current generation of airgunners are too lazy to appreciate the msp powerplant?


    • Tom, check out the FX Air Rifle, “Independence” model. Although not quite self contained (PCP for initial charge) it goes to your point of where is the innovation on MSPs?

      I’m not a hydraulic or pneumatic engineer but, when I consider the 3 and 4 stage hi pressure hand pumps used to charge or fill PCPs, I can envision similar pump technology in a side lever design that could potentially give a MSP type rifle enough oomph to send a .22 cal pellet down range at 800+ fps? If the lever were as long as those on the RWS 48s and 54s, that’s a lot of leverage.

      Maybe a ratchet device at the receiver end of the lever that allows for several pumps without the doubling and trebling of effort in each stroke?

      • Brian,
        How about a hybrid. Co2 to give it the initial pressure and then the multi pump to take it the rest of the way to produce that 800fps shot. Do you think something like that could ever work????

        • If what I’ve read of CO2 operations… I doubt it would work (that is, if you mean to have the CO2 cartridge and the pump feed the same chamber). The CO2 would fill the chamber until it hit equilibrium with the cartridge (~800psi). Then using a hand pump to add air to the chamber would probably take the CO2 above its equilibrium point, and it would begin converting back into liquid form in the chamber. You’d get minimum pressure increase until all the CO2 had liquified.

  26. Great analysis there, Matt!

    I want to make a much simpler point. I would like to see all springers equipped with either provision for installing scope stops, or with Weaver rails. A simple threaded hole would suffice.

    How much could it add to the cost of manufacturing to drill a hole and tap it?


  27. the air gun industry needs a Bill Ruger type to come out – high quality bomb proof product for the average worker. I don’t care if it’s metal and wood, or loads of polymer. As long as it shoots reasonably well and lasts. I believe that there are new ways of doing these things but that flash of brilliance as to how hasn’t happened yet.

    As an aside, if some company would step up to the plate and offer a Colt SAA clone air pistol, it’d sell like hotcakes.

    • As would an M14 and AR15 clone as an airgun.

      The platforms already exist as air-soft guns, don’t know why this isn’t happening.

      How easy would it be to bury an 8 round Walther type magazine in an M14 size air rifle!?

      Now that I would buy!

  28. I would like to know if these idiots would like to use the guns they make (or sell).
    Do they want a piece of crap that needs to be fixed before it can be a decent gun ?
    Do they want a piece of crap that CAN’T be fixed ?
    Would they want to need a part then find out that they can’t get it ?
    Do they ever look at what they make or sell ?

    We don’t want junk toys . We want something that works from the start and can be fixed if necessary….eventually, but not right away.


  29. For those expecting a fast delivery from PA this week…
    Don’t expect a fast delivery. We are about to get wacked with some bad weather. Really bad.

    I am prepared as well as possible, I think. It is going to suck.


  30. Tom@Buzzard Bluff

    Some years ago Tom Gaylord wrote about a man named Al Nibeckers (an engineer) that designed and built a new type of powerful pump air rile. It was very innovative and I hoped it would have come to the market. I think Tom indicated at the time that maybe a manufacture would show interest if the the readers stowed interest in the gun. I wonder if Tom could shed some light on what happened to the Quigley II as the gun was called.

    • Tom @ Buzzard Bluff,

      A couple years ago, Al’s daughter emailed me and asked if we could give her the article and images about the gun that we published years earlier. Al’s daughter and her husband lived in Hawaii and apparently they were running Al’s business.

      Airgun hunter Jim Chapman has an article about one Nibecker’s guns on his website.

      I noticed that Nibecker’s website is gone, so I’m not sure what’s going on.


  31. I’m gonna posit an unpopular suggestion – standardize on torx-head drives. A few years ago I would’ve been the first one to scream bloody murder when I saw these on an airgun (Gamo), but something changed my mind.

    I had to build an outdoor ramp for my wheelchair-bound Dad a couple of years ago and used a ton of decking screws. The first couple of boxes I bought were torx-head, and after going through both boxes the original bit was still perfect and I had NO driver-slipping-out-of-the-fastener issues. The NEXT box I bought were Phillip’s head, and after maybe a dozen I was wishing I had more of the torx headed stuff.

    Simply better all around than slotted, phillips or allens. I know – more tools to buy. But I suspect that in the long run both fastener and tool durability would make it worthwhile.

    • Hey slow there Mr. I didn’t hear anyone complaining about buying more tools here…
      I almost like getting new tools and gadgets as much as I like getting new guns 😉
      If it works better I don’t see why someone would complain about getting a few bits.

      Talking about screws and tools, I don’t why you guys (in the US) don’t have square headed screws, they work really well, the head of the screw is like any phillips screw but instead of a cross it just a well made square hole and the bit used is just a square piece of steel (or stronger materials) as long as you buy good quality stuff the head and hole match perfectly and won’t strip. They’re very common here and are available in many different sizes. Works like a charm and is the same price as the phillips screws and bits.


      • J-F,

        We do have square headed screws here, but they are more common in specialized applications. For instance, pocket screws that cabinet builders use to hold face frames together are almost all square heads. But you’re right, they are few and far between, and I don’t know why either. For a while, square head deck screws seemed to be catching on, but I haven’t looked for them in so long that I don’t know if they every truly gained popularity.

        – Orin

  32. BB and all, to sum up tonight, I think that approx 50% of the airgun products and their target markets are still stuck in the expendable/toy genre. Not sure if that will ever change and thus the quality or lack of there. The $50 to $200 market)

    Another 30% are increasingly upscale guns and better informed customers but, some folks are still lacking in some fundamental understanding of power-plants and designs, materials etc. Some in this group even profess to not wanting to read the boxes or ads. The guns in this category can still be mediocre designs with only adequate fit and finish. (the $300-$500 price range market)

    The last 20% are the perfectionists or wannabe perfectionists, collectors, hunters (real hunters) admirers of the better airgun aesthetics and designs, part time tinkerers and modifiers, etc, etc.
    These folks pay $400 to $1200 for an airgun when a comparable firearm would be $300 to $900. Why? That answer has yet to be fully formulated, but the Quackenbushe(s) and Jim Chapman(s) and Robert Beemans of this world hold part of the answer. To answer your question today about engineering standards and principles, I think the aforementioned folks and many others expect the same design and mfg. standards applied to a $700 air rifle that would be found in a $700 hunting rifle/firearm. Fit, finish, robust design and aesthetics. Not a lot to expect for $700 + is it?

  33. Brian in Idaho,

    I’ll try to give my perspective on several of your questions.

    Yes, I’ve paid more for some airguns than some of my firearms. Why? Primarily because I can shoot my airguns where my firearms are not allowed. In addition, it’s cheaper to shoot my airguns. Plus, many of my airguns are more accurate than my firearms at the ranges that I shoot them. My evolution in airguns has stunned many but no one is as shocked as me.

    If you would have asked me 4 years ago (yes, I’m a newbie) if I would ever spend $1,000 or more on an airgun I would have laughed and asked if you rode the short bus to school.

    Initially, an airgun for me was to solve a pest problem. Nothing more. The pests were too numerous to trap and poison was not an option for many reasons. I grew up with a gun in my hands and knew I could eliminate them with a gun but a firearm wasn’t an option. I got on the internet and found this place.

    A long story short, I rediscovered my passion for shooting and my appreciation for fine guns that I could shoot daily (again) on my property. Once this obsession was rekindled the search was on for the best fitting, quality finished and most accurate airgun for me. Hand in hand along this journey has been learning about airgun scope mounts, airgun ammo, airgun rings, filling pressures, tuning techniques, scopes suitable for airguns, aftermarket triggers, hold techniques for airguns, understanding parallax, etc. etc.

    All of this is from someone that at 8 or 9 years old was shooting a .22 semi out the back door. I carried a shotgun in the field when I was 11 or 12 years old bird hunting. I was a big game outfitter for years that specialized in elk hunts in Colorado. I thought I knew everything when it came to guns. Airguns have truly humbled me.

    I’m not a perfectionist but I do strive for perfection. Hope I never lose the attitude that I can still learn something even when I think I know it all.

    Confession concluded.


  34. Surprised no one mentioned triggers (if they did, I missed it). The trigger is the first part of an airgun I look at, after whatever made me pick up the gun in the first place. I’d like to see airguns whose triggers are at the very least on par with Crosman’s 357 pellet pistol series, or their discontinued M600. A friend once bought me a Daisy 15xt BB pistol. It had one of the worst triggers (to me) I’d ever encountered. Fine I suppose for taking tin cans at 10 feet. Another infamously bad trigger was the Crosman Auto Air II design whose trigger operated an ‘elevator’ that raised the pellet into firing position before let-off. Sometimes I couldn’t even achieve let-off without using my other hand’s finger as well, and by then the sights had wandered miles off target. I returned the pistol the same week I bought it. A couple years back, I tried out three different Gamo pistols at my local Sports Authority that I found attractive. In each case I rejected the pistols because the triggers felt ‘wrong’ to me. OTOH, my Crosman SSP-250 and my newer 2250 both have great triggers for such inexpensive airguns.

    So while on this subject, let’s have designers build ‘good’ triggers, with crisp let-off, as well as single-size Torx screws for our scopes.

    And that is /my/ soapbox rant. 🙂


  35. I’ve wondered why the manufacturers of under-lever spring guns do not [as I have just converted a TF87 to] incorporate a cocking “handle” to the cocking lever; to start the cocking process by slapping the end, as in cocking a break barrel rifle…? Bonus= longer/easier cocking.

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