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Ammo The stuff we do!

The stuff we do!

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Shao Lin is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd AIR gift card.

Shao Lin wins this week’s Big Shot of the Week.

The more I read the old books about shooting and guns written by men who were born in the 19th century, the more I realize how much alike we all are — and I don’t just mean shooters, now. I mean people, in general!

Let’s begin with nicknames or handles. We have some clever ones here on this blog. But are you aware that back in the late 1800s, shooters who posted letters in their favorite shooting publications — which at that time were mostly newspapers — did the same thing?

Names like Medicus and Iron Ramrod shout out from the late 19th century with their concerns that the younger shooters who are getting used to cartridge-loading breechloaders simply do not know the rudiments of shooting like the “real shooters” who grew up with black powder! The new crop of shooters (I’m speaking of late 19th-century shooters, now) have forgotten how to measure a group with string and they want to measure the distance to their targets in yards instead of rods like real shooters do.

Then, there are the experiments they performed. Dr. Mann was the great one for this, and he kept a very compliant Harry Pope busy fashioning the testbeds for his various forays into the arcane world of ballistics. Things like the cylindrical rifle action that allowed Dr. Mann to rotate the action by degrees in a complete revolution, all while the gun was safely snugged down in his 3,000-lb. “Shooting Gibralter” vise. Or the barrel he convinced Pope to rifle after drilling and tapping eight holes through the side of the barrel near the muzzle so Mann could test the effects of releasing gas to the side so it didn’t exit the muzzle with the bullet. Pope had to lay out that rifling job so those pre-drilled and threaded holes ended up in the grooves of his gain-twist rifling and did not cut through any of the eight lands!

I got a call the other day from Dennis Quackenbush, who follows my column in Shotgun News. He became interested in my comments on the rifling twist rate of airgun barrels as it relates to stabilizing those solid pellets that I call bullets. They don’t shoot very well in most airgun barrels because the twist rate of one turn in 16 inches of barrel isn’t fast enough to stabilize them once they exit the muzzle. So, he offered to make me two test barrels — one rifled 1 in 22″ and the other rifled 1 in 13″ — to test what effects the twist rate has on pellet stabilization. I’m going to accept his offer, and we’ll have yet another look at one of the big drivers of accuracy. I’ll also test velocity using the exact same power settings, so we will have a good look at how twist rates affect velocity.

Years ago, Dennis allowed me to cut off one of his smallbore CO2 rifle barrels an inch at a time so I could chronograph the pellets coming out of many different barrel lengths. I reported those results in The Airgun Letter after completing the test, which is why I now have some sense of how long a CO2 barrel needs to be to get maximum velocity.

Then, there’s the famous Cardew experiment from their book, The Airgun From Trigger to Target, where the authors fired a spring-piston rifle in an inert gas environment that didn’t support combustion — all so they could test the power level of a spring-piston rifle that was denied the possibility of dieseling. The fact that they did the experiment was good enough. We learned that all air rifles that shoot above a certain velocity diesel with every shot. But what was really cool was how they did it — by shooting inside plastic bags!

When I worked at AirForce, we had a customer who purchased a .22-caliber Condor, then proceeded to adapt the rifle’s reservoir to a large helium tank. He could then sit at a bench and fire the rifle on pure helium. He claimed to get over 1,500 f.p.s. from his modified rifle. It was useless for anything else, but he didn’t want to do anything other than see how fast it could shoot.

Even my semi-sane buddy Mac bought a 26-inch Weihrauch barrel in .177 just so he could adapt it to his son’s Condor. He was looking for a flat-shooting air rifle and I guess he got it, because his son is now supposed to be able to keep all his shots on the round end of a soda can at 80 yards.

Let us never forget the great pogostick repeating airgun! That one is now in Vince’s protective care, awaiting his verdict on whether or not it can be made operable.

Left-eye dominance
Here’s a problem many shooters have. Their dominant eye is on the other side of their body from the side that dominates the motor skills. The most common is a right-handed person whose has a dominant or master left eye. This can be overcome in a number of ways — including tinkering! Back when Edith was shooting BRV, she discovered that she is left-eye dominant; but Gary Barnes, who made the rifle she competed with, made her an outrigger scope mount that put the scope in line with her left eye. The mount had to be boresighted for just one range; because like the pellet drop, the gun also shot to the left from the shooter’s perspective. No problem in BRV, though, because it was all shot at one distance.

Edith’s outrigger scope mount helped her sight with her left eye while shooting right-handed.

But Edith is far from the first shooter to have this problem. Take a look at the lengths a shotgun maker will go to satisfy his client.

A friend owns this shotgun with a crossover stock. It was made to aid a right-handed shooter who is left-eye dominant.

A couple months ago, I bought an unusual Schmidt-Rubin Model 1911 rifle at a gun show. This one has been carefully transformed into a fine target rifle. I could spend a whole blog on just this one rifle, but here are some highlights. The military stock has been completely reshaped into a target style with a deeply curved pistol grip. The bolt handle that used to be two cones of red plastic (yes, I said plastic — though they may be almost any synthetic, since this is a 1911 rifle) now has a steel ball for a pull. It looks odd but it works. And the front sight is a thing of beauty. A man has taken the time to hand-make a target globe front sight with replaceable inserts. I got only the one insert that’s in the sight now, which is two brass wires arranged like scope reticles. They look crude up close; but last week at the range I put four cast lead bullets in one inch at 100 yards, and that was the first time I ever loaded for this rifle.

Someone converted this Swiss Schmidt-Rubin model 1911 rifle into a target rifle. The stock is fashioned from the original military stock.

He replaced the conventional red synthetic bolt knobs with a steel ball, which he welded to the bolt handle.

The amount of time and care that someone put into making this target sight is amazing! This is where enthusiasts will take the sport when they have the time, motivation and skills.

I remember attending an airgun breakfast sponsored by the NRA at the Annual Meetings in Kansas City. Dennis Quackenbush and I sat on either side of the man who was the CEO of Crosman Corporation at that time. We got onto the subject of all the people who modify Crosman airguns, and the executive said he was surprised that shooters would spend time and money on a $39 airgun. Dennis told him, “Oh, but they do. You sell them the gun for $39 and I sell them $125 worth of accessories. Your guns are keeping me in business!”

From the look on the man’s face, I don’t think he believed us. And from his perspective, maybe he was right. He might sell 50,000 SSP air pistols in a year and Dennis might sell the parts to modify 500 of them in various ways. So, each man had an entirely different perspective on the situation.

As a writer, though, my eye is always on what people are doing, or what they say they want to do. I can’t be interested in a buyer who responds to a point of sale promotion at a discount store, because he may lose interest tomorrow. It’s when he finds his way to this blog through the tanglefoot of the internet and asks that first question that tells me we’re about to gain another potential member in out growing ranks. It’s at that point that my mantra becomes one of flypaper.

Almost anything can be interesting if it’s presented in the right way. And with airguns, one of the right ways is to wow the audience. Make them say to themselves, “I didn’t know that!” If you can do that, we’ll gain a lot of new shooters who are interested in learning.

Another way to attract new people is to help them through the minefield of hype and hyperbolae. The marketing people are doing all they can to attract people to the hobby, but it’s us veterans who will make things inviting enough that they’ll want to stay. And that is what I want, more than anything.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

104 thoughts on “The stuff we do!”

  1. Testing different twists of barrel rifling outside of the norm for airguns is brilliant. Thank you Dennis Quackenbush for this contribution to airgunning and airgunners! Thank you B.B. for taking on another monumental experiment.


    The range experience with the Schmidt-Rubin Model 1911 must have been a fun eye opener. You’ve always been an inspiration for pushing the envelope in getting me to try new guns. Nonetheless, I sense a recent, elevated passion that is extremely contagious. This is a fun ride and I’m not getting off.

    I gotta go now since I need to originate a second mortgage.


  2. Congrats to Shao Lin, he looks like …… what was that show, the Thunderbirds? Where the “actors” were these cool-looking puppets? There was another show, Captain Scarlet, that was like that too. All 1960s SuperSpy space-agey with a bit of WWII air force thrown in. Very cool.

    • SuperCar
      Captain Scarlet
      Joe 90

      Stingray was the first in color, and Captain Scarlet was the first to have circuitry small enough to use properly scaled heads.

      • I liked all the different space ships and planes in the Thunderbirds! Especially the swimming pool that would slide back so the rocket-shaped one could launch, and the big egg-shaped one that swallowed up the little one.

        Great times!

        If you can get a wifi-enabled laptop or even a netbook, you can still visit us, a lot of places have free wifi now. Places like Safeway (you have to look at their specials first then go anywhere, it’s super fast!) McDonald’s, coffee shops, all kinds of places.

        I was urging you to pick up some instrument, if you’re inclined that way, because a little busking income could make a real difference. I recycle metals and do all kinds of stuff, and don’t own a car just a bicycle, and I’m getting by. I just paid off money I borrowed for EMT school almost 2 years ago, and am saving up for a minivan that may help me make money at some of the swap meets around here and besides, as they say in Silicon Valley, as long as you have a car you can live in, you’re not truly homeless. I may not be able to afford to drive it much and just stick with the bicycle for most things, but if I only put about 3000 miles a year on it my insurance may be fairly cheap.

        • Well, on the way back from a free lunch {except for the cost of having to live through the presentation of a signed SBIRS photo by the rest of the program team <G> ), I stopped off at Fry’s Electronics to see if DSL modems had gotten cheap enough to justify trying a third modem before spending hours of phone time persuading Earthlink that the modem is dead [as reported, their’s died 2.5 years ago]. $50 was in the price range — though ALL of the boxes [both NetGear and D-Link basic DSL modems] had Fry’s “repackaged, we warranty it” stickers, and half the $150 DSL-wired Router/WiFi Router combos had them [sales rep stated that a lot of people apparently try to use ADSL modems on AT&T U-Verse, which is a different protocol].

          The new DSL modem seems to be working (though differently — the original Earthlink/Netopia had never been configured by me and ran in some sort of packet pass-through mode [MAC Encapsulation?], and my separate router negotiated the PPPoE login directely; the old D-Link needed configuration and passed name server and gateway IP addresses down through the DHCP process to the router, and from the router to my computer. The new D-Link seems to be reserving the DNS servers and gateway to itself, and passing just its own local-private IP address for those.

          But… in the end — it all seems to be working, including the POP3 email that NEVER worked with the other D-Link router.

          Hmmm… I don’t recall if the rapid response jet (Thunderbird 1) or the space rocket (Thunderbird 3) used the swimming pool. Thunderbird 2 was the modularized cargo carrier that looked like a fat frog, and used a runway where the palm trees flop over to provide clearance.

          If you’ve not seen Stingray — when the base goes on alert basically all the parking lots split open and missile launchers rise; at the same time, all the multistory housing/command facilities drop underground. And how they ever kept the 7 or so mile tunnel from the base to the Pacific from collapsing in a California earthquake is beyond me.

          • If you’re going to Fry’s Electronics you’re likely living (or were living) in Arizona or California, and most likely living somewhere in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. If so, yeah, moving back in with the parents in the Midwest is going to be a lot more affordable.

            • I still remember my first trip to Fry’s in the mid-80s… It was slightly larger than a large 7-11, and half of that was the contents you’d expect to find at a 7-11 — bread, milk, soda, chips… I was buying 32 memory chips ($400!) to expand my Amiga A-1000 to a whopping 2.5 MB!

              Worked at Lockheed Martin, Sunnyvale.

                • Maude & Mathilda? Wendy’s & 76 gas station, Grocery & Valero gas station, credit union, and chiropractic facility (Google lists a “residential care” home just south of the Best Western (former Captain’s Cove).

                  There is an apartment complex south of the grocery: Mathilda & Indio (access to Central Expressway west)… I think the complex has had at least one unit burn out a year, given how often the fire engines are blocking the street…

                  • Yeah the one I lived in is called Montclaire. The one on the other side of Indio is even shoddier. The fire station’s right down the street on the other side and deploying all the time.

                    That mall with the supermarket and all kinds of crap has cool stuff like this Indian-run liquor store that’s friggin’ HUGE inside and has *all* kinds of beer, and has a nice wide sidewalk in front of it so bums have more room to right (true!!).

                    I lived in the back of the complex and it was like 100 steps from my door to that of the liquor store. There’s also a 7-11 back in there on Maude, and that’s where the cool people go. Cool people defined as, the kind of people who you never ever see in the daylight.

                    Ah, the memories…

  3. Most people who explore the world of airgunning do such by purchasing a Wally World special. They quickly discover that they have a hard time hitting a soda can past 10 feet with it no matter how tightly they hold that buzzy, bucking bottom of the line springer. So that “cheap piece of @#$%” is relagated to a life in the back of the closet or sold in a yard sale.

    Also, where I live the gun laws are a bit more lax than in some parts of the country. A decent .22 rifle costs half as much as an air rifle that is worth having (and they probably do not know even exists).

    I discovered the world of arigunning from the opposite end. I do not remember what I was searching for a few years ago, but I stumbled onto Gary Barnes’ website. WOW! Those do not look like Red Ryders to me! I had no idea this world existed!

    I researched airguns for several years before I purchased my first one two years ago. B.B. helped me in my decision as to which one to start with by writing his reviews. I have a long journey ahead of me. Hopefully I will introduce others to this world along the way.

    • RidgeRunner,
      I think that I am about 2 years behind you. I recently purchased a Gamo Whisper IGT 0.22, using my own 1-2months of research on the topic. I haven’t had an air gun since I was 15, now 47.
      But in my heart, as a Metrology Scientist for 20+ years, not Meteorologist (that’s weather) Metrology is the science of measurement, I’m looking for the challenge of pushing my body to precision rather than just my understanding. BB’s recent blog review for the new Gamo Whisper got my interest and I hope to use this new found info and instrument to bring my passion of Metrology to a new hobby.
      You are correct, I can’t seem to hit a soda can at 10ft. In reality, I’m presently shooting 2 inch patterns at 18 meters with the Whisper. But I KNOW that it is somewhere around 95% me and not the gun. So the challenge is on and I look forward to challenges. I suspect that I picked a relatively tough gun to start off with, but keeping the right perspective between my skills and the guns capability will likely keep me engaged and make claims like “cheap piece of @#$%”.
      In fact, I’ve been thinking a lot about the way this industry tests and report accuracy for guns. I will be interested in seeing how the scientific method is applied to testing of these guns in light of my experience with gage repeatability and reproducibility testing. For example, in gaging the accuracy of a gun there seems to be two primary factors, 1) the RAW gun performance, as might be demonstrated with Simple, or Static, Repeatability testing on a fixed stand test bench, then 2) the Reproducibility of the gun, as typically demonstrated with the gun in human hands. Usually Reproducibility is tested with 3-5 different operators with maybe a spread of experience. The ratio of these two, or the differences in population spread, would maybe also indicate an “ease of use” factor that would indicate how easily a human might expect to reach the Raw performance level. So, Raw gun performance and an “ease of use” factor would be, to me, a good way to compare guns.
      These are just my quick thoughts, but I haven’t drilled down into this industry enough to know if such “standards of measurement” exist. Maybe BB will blaze a trail in this area, if not.

      • dg,

        Congratulations on the gamo purchase. I’m curious if you don’t mind….What were the deciding factors for you in choosing the Gamo Whisper IGT in .22 caliber?

        Your proposition of securing a gun, out of human hands, “on a fixed stand test bench” for “Repeatability testing” prompts a comment. I’ve never had a springer or gas ram gun achieve its potential accuracy in a static, secured rest. A springer and/or gas ram especially require the “Artillery Hold.” B.B. has written a lot about this important technique. You may want to use the search box over on the right hand side to get details on this critical element to shoot your gamo more accurately.

        Good luck.


          • Kevin and Edith,

            My decision for this gun was for a few reasons, maybe some good, maybe some bad.
            I first decided what I originally wanted it for. First, general fun plinking around. Target shooting. Occasional varmint control. But high on the list was a hobby to share with my two sons: 14 and 16 yrs old. They both love Airsoft and Paintball shooting, particularly the younger son. I think the added skills and safety training would be great. I honestly could see my younger son really getting into serious target shooting competition. He just seems to have the kind of patience, mindset and interest.
            Then, I decided between 0.177 and 0.22. I really liked the idea of a flatter trajectory of the 0.177, but in the end I thought I can predict gravity better than the wind, so the heavier gage won in my thoughts. The higher fps numbers maybe meant a flatter heavy gage to boot.
            Next, the super-sonic “pop” from a 0.177 worried me about neighbor noise. So again, the subsonic 0.22 I would not worry as much about, I thought.
            Next, I am a techno-geek at heart and was somewhat swayed by the idea of the Ram-piston rather than the standard springer. Smoother action, less “ping” from the spring, and able to stay more consistent over temperature range, kin-of sold me.
            Next, price. I really wanted something below $300.
            Finally, Gamo seemed to be reasonably well known.
            I know I’m taking a bit of a chance with a new gun just hitting the market, with not a lot of data to support it yet, but I figure this will not be my last gun, and again the boys will want their own also, so learning on a demanding springer may lead to good form and practice for the next choice.
            Eventually, I would LOVE to get MUCH better and advance to a true precision target gun like a Steyr LG 110. But that is a completely higher level of experience and money than I am ready for at the moment.
            Hope that makes sense.

          • Edith,

            Thanks for the reference to the “artillery hold”. I’ve read up on this quite a bit and trying to continuously improve. This is where my biggest challenge is at the moment, to concur this hold. I can definitely tell when my shots were well executed, or not, without even looking at the target. I can stay focused on the position and posture of the 1000’s of muscles used for maybe 4-5 shots, then I have to clear my mind, but then things change again the next sets. It’s not second nature yet. I’m not sure if I should continue on my own or seek some additional input from an instructor. I’ll try to focus and create good habits to burn it into my natural stance. It’s going to take some time.

            • dg,

              If you live near a field target club, I suggest you go to one of their matches just to watch. If it’s like the club B.B. & I used to belong to in Maryland, there will be a number of shooters who shoot offhand and use the artillery hold. Observe these masters of control, and you’ll pick up some good pointers. Everyone’s built differently, so it’s a good idea to see how different body styles & sizes incorporate the artillery hold to fit their needs.


          • dg,

            Welcome! Matt is reloading center-fire cartridges. You reminded me of why and how I found this site a while back. I bought a Gamo as well and then proceeded to do exactly what has been layed out by RidgeRunner, Frustrated because I couldn’t hit anything, air rifle in closet, learning the springers are hold sensitive…

            Matt, you’re a maniac! Good to hear you’re reloading is fun. I’m a bit discouraged due to inadequate equipment and insufficient funds to correct!! Got some good calipers and a scale on list for continuing my reloading.

            • Nothing wrong with Matt61’s approach to handloading. But, you don’t have to be as precised as he is to load good ammo. As long as you follow the basics, your reloads will be fine.


              • Mike,

                I know. Thanks. But I don’t trust my scale, I suspect it measures the weight of flys in the room! I have to keep turning it off and resetting it. The time it is taking me to measure, check the measure, load 5 more, check the measure again, then go back and recheck the previous 5 or 6 to find out that 10 plus are not loaded with the same amount of powder is a real “not good”. It’s a digital scale that came with the Hornady kit and like I said, I don’t trust it. What would you do? .

                I have reloaded and shot over 1000 of my .45acp loads and have confidence that they are safe, not to mention that my groups are noticeably better. Well, I’m hitting almost everything I’m shooting at. (steel silhouettes at the range).


                • KidAgain,

                  Try holding your breath while weighing your charges. Or, at least breath the other way while it is settling out. Any slight air movement will register a few tenths on your scale. Personally, I use a Lee and a Lyman balance and like them very well. The Lee’s assignment is a little hard to get used to, but it’s pretty hard to beat gravity and a razor edge balance for repeatability!


                  • Dave,

                    LOL! With my scale I hold my breath AND cross my fingers! Seriously, I have noticed fluctuations with breath as well as heat from my hand. What really bothers me however, is that it will graduate in it’s reading, sometimes higher, sometimes lower causing me turn it off and back on and reset the tare. Then of course going back and checking what I just painstakingly loaded to find out they are off graduating higher or lower with the scale. I’m really not too bugged about it, just have to buy another scale when I get some more dough! If I load twenty rounds or so It’s not too bad, I live with it while triple checking each round. But when I loaded 500 it was a pain and I learned bullet pulling a few days later!


                    • Another one word per line…

                      Rather than turning it off and on, can’t you just reset the tare — you might be encountering thermal effects… Though better; do you have calibration weights for the scale so you can recalibrate it?

                  • Yeah, bullet pulling….. I finally got sick of my inertia hammer not working for 5.7x28mm’s and bought a hornady collet die and collets. Sure made my life easier! 🙂


  4. B.B. –
    I’ve had a Schmidt-Rubin K31 for several years, and shoot it a lot. It’s one of my all-time favorites, and I can relate to your excitement. Even with the issue sights, it will consistently surprise other shooters at the range with its accuracy firing cast lead bullets. I know that you cast bullets yourself, so it will be interesting to hear about how they work for you in your S-R 1911.

    – Jim in KS

  5. Way to go, B.B., another thought provoking treatise. Personally, I got into airgunning in an attempt to improve my offhand shooting – I thought it would be a cheap and easy way to practice without going to the range (NOT!). In the last 5 years I have gone from a Daisy 953 to a Steyr LG 110, and I am still trying to improve my shooting. I have learned to work on the guns, and some of my experiments have been to fit Lothar Walther barrels to Chinese (Archer AR2029) airguns to improve their accuracy – works pretty good.

    This branch of the shooting world has something for everyone, so keep writing for those of us who still have a lot to learn.


  6. I got into air gunning with a Ruger Air Hawk. Actually it was a Gamo Whisper but I didn’t like that rifle so I took it back to the store for the Ruger. That was the extent of my research. I wanted a shooting hobby, I went to the store that sold some, there I picked out a rifle I thought looked good, took it home tried it and then got rid of it for another.

    THEN, I Googled the Air Hawk to see what other people thought about it. That’s when I hit BB’s blog. Now, I wish I had a dollar for everytime I said the words, “I didn’t know that!” while reading this blog, because then I could afford that Anschutz.

  7. dg,
    I should explain why I didn’t like the Gamo Whisper because you might think I’m dissin your rifle and I’m not. When I shot it it kicked pretty hard and wasn’t as quiet as I thought something called Whisper should be plus wasn’t very accurate. I think the gun was damaged in the store before I bought it because when I asked the clerk how much more quiet it was he dry fired it a few times to demonstrate. It did sound a little quieter in the store compared to another brand he dry fired (don’t know what it was).

    Being the only Whisper left in his inventory I bought that one. Then I read on this blog that dry firing is a nono (“I didn’t know that”). Therefore, I reasoned that the harsh firing cycle was caused by the many time he must have dry fired it to demonstrate how quiet it is to other customers. I also thought the Ruger name lended respectability and quality to the Air Hawk.

    So there it began. Now I have spent way too much money on air rifles and associated ammo and equipment but I’m enjoying it anyway, learning a lot, better than watching TV, I get to comiserate with and irritate a lot of folks on this blog who are way more knowlegable than I, I love the challenge of precision shooting ( or should I say the attempt), and will continue to spend more, I’m sure.

    • Chuck,

      Great story. Before the gun even arrived I read the riot act to the boys about dry shooting. So I was prepared.
      I too was drawing by the “silent” proclamation. But in the end, when my wife said “wow, that’s not as load as I thought it would be”, it was worth its weight in gold, whether true or not. Maybe the sight of something trying to make it quite altered her hearing. 🙂
      So it sounds like you moved to the Air Hawk?
      Not sure if you got a replacement to the Gamo to truly compare, but any comparisons?

      • dg,
        You’re right. Can’t compare. I would say the Air Hawk was probably not a move up from the Whisper. I haven’t shot another Whisper since then to see if my “damaged by dry firing” theory held up, though. But I have moved on to many other airguns since then. I did loan the Air Hawk to a buddy once and he used it to shoot rabbits that were menacing his back yard. He was very impressed with it and was dropping rabbits with one shot from about 10-15 yds, but I couldn’t talk him into buying it. He ended up buying a Benjamin 397 which reminded him of one he had as a youth. I still have the Air Hawk but never shoot it anymore. I may get it out some day just to remind me how much nicer my PCPs are to shoot. 🙂

        • Chuck,
          Thanks. I hear you about the PCPs, but I specifically did not go this route only because I didn’t want to deal with all the support equipment. Maybe my mind will change as the need for more precision increases. I just like the idea of self supporting systems.

          • dg,
            I agree with that. There is great value in being able to freely carry anywhere, anytime and shoot. I shoot exclusively at home on my indoor 10m range so the need for that much freedom isn’t at the top of my list. I’m also a scuba diver so owning a tank and getting it filled is no biggie.

            I do have hope that someday there will be a springer/nitro that shoots as smoothly and easily and accurately as a PCP. There are some that come close, but Olympians didn’t switch to PCPs because they needed the extra air to breath.

            • Chuck,
              Maybe a magnetic rail gun is the future for the pellet industry. Should have the same low recoil characteristics of a PCP. It’s just that huge backpack of batteries you have to carry.

                • I was just kidding, but go look at the “gauss pistols” that people are playing with. They even admit that you would do better using a slingshot. But who knows…one day.

              • Ah. crud! I can’t find the link I saw yesterday on the failure of Six Flags” accelerator for the Superman ride. Hmm… come to think, Maybe that was a Disney ride. Such is the life of a Southern Californian when the rides and amusement parks can’t be distinguished, one from another!! Whatever, the point is that even the magnetic technology for rail car acceleration isn’t without failure.



    • I believe Gamo advertises a 3dB drop in sound pressure level.

      That would imply that the felt sound has half the energy — whether that translates to a subjective half the volume is another matter.

      {Note: even having faked my way past the Amateur Extra license test, I still have problems keeping track of when 3dB is half vs when 6dB is half… and which applies to sound. Amp & Volt is half at 3dB, but I think power [Watt] is half at 6dB]

  8. Yes, indeed, I do like to connect with history through guns. I fancy while looking down an M1 or a Mosin Nagant that I am experiencing for a moment exactly what the original users of the guns were experiencing. So, it’s nice to receive other confirmation that they were really the same as us.

    Wulfraed, bummer. Your vast knowledge will be missed. Reconnect when you can.

    Flobert, I’m amazed and impressed that you are proceeding with your violin studies in the midst of all. One of my ambitions is to learn the piano properly and make up for those years of lessons wasted as an abominable student. It’s also a lot of fun. But other things get in the way.

    CowBoyStar Dad, I would recommend to your friend to definitely get his Mosin or any other surplus rifle safety-checked by a gunsmith. Who knows where they’ve been or what’s been done to them? For the Mosin, I would say highly accurate and reliable at a very cheap price. Those are the biggest appeals, along with its extensive history. Maybe my own motives might be of interest. I’m drawn to the Mosin as arguably the greatest sniper rifle in history, used by the highest scoring snipers in the worst conditions in the biggest numbers for the longest time. That is pretty distinguished. Also, it’s worth knowing that the Mosin sniper rifles were pulled off the production line and given minimal modifications including a scope, and these guns were MOA. That says a lot about the general quality of the production rifles.

    Here’s a weird one. I just heard that at my shooting range in Hawaii, one of the range officers who is a master shot with all sorts of awards and achievements fired a flare gun down range into an area of heavy, dry brush and set it on fire. People ran down to try to put it out but were unable to climb the berm before the fire got out of control. The range was closed as well as the surrounding area and hikers on a nearby hill had to be evacuated by helicopter. The range officer has been put on administrative leave and is facing indictment. He could end up losing his job and if convicted be forced to give up his guns. Now why would a guy like that shoot a flare gun downrange…..?


    • Matt – thanks. To understand the motive behind my playing violin now, as the world is essentially crashing down around our shoulders (“That civilization is crashing slowly does not mean that it’s not crashing” – Kurt Saxon) you’d have to read a book by an author named Nevil Shute, fine Limey name, and the book is “On The Beach”.

      I’m not all that old, just turned 49, but I’ll consider myself very lucky if I can wring out another 10 years.

    • Matt, I had to go back to the last gun review and read Wulfraed’s last post. Sad. Looks like he’s dropping back to about 1997 in Internet access, and of course it will get worse from there. This is why I wished him the best and to pick up any kind of instrument that works for him, street music is 1000’s of years old, and can be counted on to at least provide some sort of income. I wish him the best.

      As for the guy in Hawaii, if he’s “haole” which means Caucasian, it doesn’t matter what really happened, they’ve decided to get rid of him in favor of someone more racially-correct and that’s that. It won’t matter who shot a flare gun into the brush or whether one of the “braddahs” just lit a match down there. What will matter is, your rangemaster friend is in real danger of ending up in one of the prisons there and getting killed. Yeah, it’s that bad there, I know, I had the misfortune to grow up there. Do all you can for him, help out with lawyer fees, anything you can do, his life is literally in danger.

  9. Almost on topic…the stuff we do…but not guns.

    This winter the outdoor cats have a new kitty house.
    Started out as a cheap Wallyworld dog house, but got some improvements. Two inch foam insulation, feeding area, upper and lower lounging areas, kitty cam (doubles as a vermin cam). Has a heated pet pad and there is a heated water bowl outside.

    Vermin surveillance also includes an infrared motion sensor with indoor alarm, and a trail camera with infrared flash (the neighbors can’t see it go off) . These get used for both cat and varmint inventory and control as necessary.



      • Done that before. Trouble is we have too many indoors, and some of the cats in the neighborhood are packing some pretty nasty diseases. We do our share to make life as easy as practical for them. They don’t care for the dead starlings though. They also don’t eat the dead coons and possums that made the mistake of coming to get their share of the cat food.

        Food, water, and shelter all year.


        • Very nice of you. I hope your not in the northeast, like me, where we had 3 ft of snow on the ground for a month straight. I can’t see how any outdoor cats survived in this area last winter. Keep up the good work.

          • Northwest ohio, but not where we get the lake effect snow.
            The cats wait until the snow stops and dig themselves out of wherever they were holding up. They manage to make it here somehow.
            Some stay in the cathouse and only venture out for water (a few feet away). We keep everything dug out.


    • To say your cats have it made,is an extreme understatement.Twotalon,you could market them!!
      My dog has a doghouse that is like new.She would rather stand in the rain than go near it!

    • TT,

      Nice! Though I have to say that’s got “here raccoon, raccoon, raccoon…” written all over it! You may have to spring for one of those ND-3 units!



      • I have killed my share of coons and possums. One of them will eat as much as at least three cats.
        I bait them and shoot them out in the open (most of the time) or bag them with a box trap…then shoot them. Skunks take a bit more care.


      • Wonder if anyone makes optical bench holders that fit an 11mm rail…

        I could fit my green “Wicked Laser” to it — though I’d need to rig a remote momentary contact switch, as it isn’t cooled, and is only rated for 30-60 seconds of on-time. Forget if I spent the money for the 125mW version — it WILL burn through black plastic electrical tape!

  10. I finally got around to watching the Artillery Hold video. Well done and very interesting! The friction with your left hand looks like it’s playing the role of the damping cylinders on a real artillery tube. But this leads me to two questions:

    1) How does the artillery hold translate for a recoil-absorbing springer such as the FWB-300 series or some of the Dianas, and does it matter if the absorbing is with a sledge system or a Giss 2-piston system?

    2) Is or was there a version used for off-hand shooting? After all the HW-55 was originally a 10 meter competition gun, so not intended to be fired from a rest.

    Am I right to believe that the Arty Hold is irrelevant for a compressed gas gun, CO2, SSP or PCP, because the recoil is far less?

    Did Roanoke get drowned in yesterday’s rain storms? Our basement took on water for only the third time in 18.5 years.


    • Sorry to hear about the basement.What is it with the weather this year?? I can only hope in the far off future this year’s weather is remembered as atypical,and not the beginning of the “new norm”.Yesterday’s rain in north Alabama varied from drops so small they floated around,to a gullywasher.A “rogue wind” brought down 2 medium sized limbs from a sugar maple……second time this year.Aside from one gust,there was NO wind to speak of! Very odd.
      I was suprized to read yesterday that John Whiscombe advocated the artillery hold for Whiscombes too.

    • Pete,

      When I spoke to Tom, he didn’t mention that there was any rain in Roanoke. Lots of big players didn’t have tables this year: Dennis Quackenbush and Wes Powers, just to name two. Wes used to take 10 tables.

      Tom will have to answer your other questions.


    • Pedte,

      The FWB 300 anti-recoil mechanism does the artillery hold work, so the rifle can be rested directly on the bag.

      Offhand shooting is by nature a variation of the artillery hold. Sometimes they even hold the rifle on their knuckles or fingertips, just as we do on the bag.


      • Sounds right to me. With either of my 10m rifles I use a padded competition glove on my left hand and rest the forestock on the fingers on top of a balled fist. I never realized that was getting close to the artillery hold.

        By the way, for anybody shooting any rifle from standing, a good glove is just about the cheapest way to improve your performance I know!

        It’s a glorious blue-sky day in the Washington area after a week of lousy weather. Hope Roanoke and the route home is the same.

    • PeteZ, oh no, it looks like they found the problem with the neutrino experiment!!!!


      As you had suspected, it has to do with the gps measuring device. If I’m understanding this article, the original scientists forgot to account for the relativistic effects of the gps measuring satellite moving relative to the reference frame of the experiment. Doing so removes the 64 nanoseconds margin above light speed that the neutrinos were supposed to be traveling at. What a downer. 🙁 I guess I was more of a fan of high velocity than I thought. I hope your people in Japan can reproduce the experiment!


  11. For those new to airguns and the rest of us, you can often get some real deals on used airguns. Folks often just want to get rid of them. Example, my Diana 52 in .22 cal. was purchased used in very good condition for $75.00. Keep your eyes open!


  12. B.B.

    I need a clarification regarding the S&W 78G and 79G airguns. I was reading your different articles on them and noticed a discrepancy. As I’m currently on the hunt for just the right 79G, I need your clarification.

    In your July 3, 2009 blog you wrote, “The early guns . . . were finished matte black. Later guns had a shiny black paint. ” However, in your September 6, 2010 blog you wrote, “The first version of the gun was finished in shiny black paint . . . later . . . the paint was changed to a dull matte finish that was more uniform than the shiny black.”

    I know I want an early 79G with the two power levels and the adjustable trigger, but many on-line sellers, believe it or not, are unable two answer whether their specimen does or does not have those traits, and usually the important things are not visible in their photos.

    Help, which is earlier, shiny or dull?



  13. Home again, Home again, jiggity jig. Returned from Roanoke last night after dropping off Tom the Navy Seal. On the way down, we ran into monsoon type rain storms where even the white line on the road was almost invisible, let alone the car 100′ in front of us. However, we drove out of it into crisp, blue skies. Didn’t look like it rained much, if any, in the Roanoke area.

    The show, while having most if not all of the floor space taken, was not particularly crowded with shoppers. Lot of good looking guns there. I ran into Ridgerunner and Paul Hudson but just missed Lloyd of Rogue fame.

    Kevin, it’s a good thing you weren’t there. There were plenty of 10M rifles for sale and without you, it meant less competition. Paul Watts had a killer-looking FWB 300 there but I made the decision that if I was going to buy a 10M rifle (and I did), I might as well buy it from people I knew so I ended up buying one of Mac’s FWB 300’s with the Daisy name stamped on it. Then he and I traded rifles – a Discovery .177 (mine) for a modified Benjamin 392 (even though your tag said 397, Mac) with the pump assist. Very neat!

    By the way, Mac, it took me a couple of shots but I found out how one is supposed to use an aperture sight. But that trigger – it feels as if I can release it by blowing on it! I’m very happy owning what was cutting edge technology back in the ’60’s and early ’70’s. Tom enjoyed talking to you and he just might show up at your work place for the “nickle tour”.

    I won’t spoil BB’s description of his major find at the show for the blog but it left him cash poor, his won words but he sure had a smile on his face when he showed it to us! I don’t know if he sold anything but Mac was successful in selling a few of his 10M rifles. Thank you again, Mac and BB, for letting me put my rifles on your tables even though nothing sold. Safe trip home!

    Fred PRoNJ

        • Pete,

          the tag (which I haven’t taken off yet!) says “just re-sealed” and who am I to doubt Mac? I finally figured out that I needed to get up real close to the aperture with my eye. Mac had warned me that the action or at least the eyecup on the sight might hit my eye when the action moves back on the rails to absorb the recoil. It suddenly dawned on me how this how business is supposed to be used and I put three pellets (only had time for the last three) into one hole on the x ring on my 10 M target printout sheet. Very sweet. Wonder if I can do this off-hand without the leather strait-jacket everyone wears?

          Mac had a $400 price on it Pete and I couldn’t get him to move off that. Bluebook reference value puts that price against an 80% rifle and I think it was a fair price.

          Fred PRoNJ

          • Perfectly fair price. I got mine from Pilkington for $350, but the stock was a beater; I plan to refinish it one day in the sweet bye and bye. The action was perfect. Daisy-marked.

            I know I can’t put 3 in the x-ring offhand w/o the strait jacket. I keep being told I would come up 10+ points a target if I would buy one… but I don’t quite believe it, and anyway, I have no plans to compete in AR, and it’s too much trouble to get sewn into it whenever I want to shoot for fun. Having had a few years of experience on and off with the FWB-300 series, I think you might find it easier to shoot without the eye cup. You can get closer to the pinhole if the eyecup isn’t taking up a couple of inches. Remembering that with it or without it, the action is going to come back at you.

            If you go to http://www.feinwerkbau.de and look around you can find the complete instruction book for the rifle, including some basic trigger adjustments. I like a firm first stage and just barely enough second stage to be safe from a twitch in my finger. And of course, good sear engagement so it doesn’t go off if you bump the rifle. If you have trouble navigating the site, let me know and I’ll send you either link or file.

            • Thanks, Pete. If it’s all in German and there are no translation choices, I’ll either get back to you or wait for my father-in-law to come back up to NJ for Thanksgiving. He was born in Germany and I know he’d love to help me out so I just might save this for him to give him something to do.

              Fred PRoNJ

              • The manual is trilingual (German, English and French), and the website has German and English versions. The site usually opens in German, with a small British flag in the lower right for the English version (which is less complete than the German, but never mind). But maybe that’s how I set it up a couple of years ago. I’m fluent in German, and the German versions of their publications are much more intelligible than their Deutschlish equivalents.

                I was going to send you a direct link to the manual, but the site is being unresponsive this morning, and none of the downloads are working. So here’s a link to the download page for whenever it works again:


                This gets you to the English home page:


                And if you’ll send me your e-mail address to peter [dot] zimmerman [at] cox [dot] net, I’ll shoot you a copy of the entire manual in PDF.

          • Finally discovered a real target type peep sight, heh!

            The closer the eye is to the aperture, more apparent an off-center eye position becomes — if you aren’t centered, you don’t see the front sight at all… whereas the same slight off-set from a few inches back will still let you see the front sight — and think you are on-target…

    • What ever happened with that Benji pump-assist? I see it’s been discontinued at PA. No interest? I just picked up a 397. Man, is it a workout to shoot….! Trigger needs some work too. Other than that, it seems to have pretty good accuracy!


      • /Dave,
        If you want to reduce the workout on that 397
        do a search on the yellow or green forum for the
        spring and washer valve mod.It looks fairly simple
        to do.There is also a trigger mod or you can get
        a sear replacement that supposedly makes a
        nice 2 stage trigger,but there is one permanent
        change that has to be made to the
        inside of the trigger housing.

        • Cool! Thanks, JT. I might look into that for the trigger. If my carpal tunnel can stand it, I like the workout. It’s exercise with a purpose! 🙂 Guess I’ll see in a week or 2 on my wrists.


          • /Dave
            Sure hope it “works out ” for ya 🙂
            Pumpers are my favorites and the 39x
            series seem to be the best available as new.
            They just seem to need a few tweaks but then
            what off the shelf items don’t these days :>(
            The Sharp series seems to still be produced
            although not a japanese Co. any more,wonder if these
            will ever be readily available in the U.S.?

    • Fred,

      Sounds like it was a good show even though a little smaller than last year. Nice score on the FWB 300. Great guns.

      I’m going to stick my neck out and guess that B.B.’s find was a sheridan supergrade.


  14. Very interesting blog!

    Just as a point of interest, I’ve seen several Walther springers, LG 53’s and 55’s, over the years that had a factory-made “kruppelschaft” stock–offset for left-dominant-eye shooters. As Tom Strayhorn and others have often pointed out, Walther wasn’t shy about special-order work, which only enhances the fun and challenge of collecting those vintage beauties.

  15. Am I the only one who can’t help thinking
    about the old TV series,Kung Fu,where
    David Carradine plays a character who is a
    “Shao Lin” monk?
    If so sorry to bring it up lol.
    P.S. wasn’t his characters name:
    Quai Chang Kane or however it might be spelled

    • To me he looks more like the character Napoleon Solo (played by Robert Vaughn)in the TV series Man from UNCLE!

      And Kwai Chang Caine would never use a gun. Probably never wore shoes and socks for that matter!

      Great memories!


    • JTinAL,

      He looks too good to be Kwai Chang Caine to me. I had to think hard and use Google, but To me he looks like the suave spy character Napoleon Solo in the old TV series Man from UNCLE.

      I posted a similar comment just a while ago, but it didn’t show up, so I thought it may have gotten screened out for potentially offending our friend. (Edith?) I don’t want to offend, so if this doesn’t show up either, I will drop it. 🙂 If it shows up… sorry all for the re-post!!


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