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The difficulty of selling quality

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Randy Stratman 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! Congratulations!

Randy Stratman took this week’s winning photo.

I made a remark in a comment this week that surprised me. Blog reader /Dave asked me to approach Crosman about resurrecting the Sterling rifle and I told him the following:

I doubt anyone will ever make this airgun again. As well-made as it is, this would be a $500-600 air rifle.
It’s sad that it’s just too nice to be made today, but that’s probably why Crosman decided to drop it when they took over. After the initial 300 sold to enthusiasts, they would sell maybe 50 a year. They need numbers of a thousand or more.

I made that comment rather quickly after reading his request; but after I read what I had said, I thought about it for a long time. Is quality really that difficult to sell today?

You might argue that it isn’t and use any one of a number of products to support your point. Rolex has long been a name used to connote quality among watches, though there are other makers like Audemars Piguet and Patek Phillippe whose products are made just as well if not better. And in the world of automobiles, Rolls Royce is the name everyone thinks of when they think of the best.

I could go on, but I’m sure you see my point. So, why do I say it’s difficult to sell quality?

Because it can be.

It’s particularly difficult to sell quality when the brand name is either not known or when the name has been used to brand similar products of a lower quality to benefit from the marketing cachet of the original good name.

What’s in a name?
Take the name Luger. The name Luger was never officially applied to the handgun we all call the German Luger. Lugers weren’t called Lugers — they were the model P08. But the Stoeger Corporation purchased the rights to the Luger name in 1923 and has used it ever since. Ask any gun collector whether a Stoeger Luger is a real Luger, and you’ll get a laugh. Yes, the guns they sell are legally Lugers, but no firearms collector categorizes them that way.

Here is another example. In the 1960s and ’70s, Daisy was very interested in getting into formal target shooting in a big way. One thing they did, and it’s a mistake that a lot of companies make, was to import FWB target rifles with the Daisy name imprinted on them. Those guns sold — not because they said Daisy on the outside, but in spite of it. The Feinwerkbau name was so well-known in the world of target shooting that it negated the Daisy name on the gun. To American shooters, the name Daisy is forever connected to inexpensive BB guns. Hence, the reason Daisy created their Avanti line — to distance their own name from target guns.

Back to quality
But this report isn’t about brand names — it’s about quality and how difficult marketing it can be. Let me illustrate the problem with a couple hypotheticals.

Let’s say Crosman decides to remake the Benjamin Sterling. This time, they’ll “do it right.” They won’t just use a Lothar Walther barrel — it will be a match-grade Lothar Walther barrel. And yes, there is a difference. They have the Sterling drawings, and they decide that much of the gun can be made on a CNC machine — lowering production costs in the end. They currently own several CNC machines, but all of them are operating at full capacity, so this project requires the purchase of a new six-axis, dual-spindle machine that can handle all the machining operations. It will cost them $330,000.

They’ll make the trigger on an EDM machine that they are using only 75 percent of the time, so figure $5,000/month for that. They calculate that the special dies they will need for various small parts like the sights will cost $115,000. The time spent inputting the drawings into the CAD software and debugging each routine will cost another $50,000. And so on. Let’s say that after the miscellaneous tooling gets added in, the cost is up to $600,000. That’s just for startup.

Now, let’s build the gun. The barrels will cost $71 each, unfinished. That’s the price when you buy 1,000 at a time and guarantee at least 5,000 per year. Finishing adds about $8.50.  The other raw materials for the action will cost $86, and the additional processing costs on all of them will add $157. The walnut stock blanks will cost $27 each, and the processing costs for shaping, inletting, checkering, sanding, sealing, staining and finishing will bump that up to $49. Add all the material costs together and the labor required to assemble, test and package each rifle and the number comes out at $401 delivered to the loading dock. Crosman adds their markup on top of that, and their top-tier distributors are able to purchase the rifle for $512 (I’m being extremely conservative — they would want to make a lot more than that for an expense this large!). So the lowest street price you will ever see for this new model is $635.

But this new rifle is wonderful! It’s easy to cock, smooth-shooting and has a delightful trigger. On top of that, the finish is flawless and the woodwork is stunning. It compares visually to the TX200, which is a simpler design because of not having the Sterling’s bolt. But the new Sterling is also 11.5 foot-pounds, at best. Think of an 8-grain .177 pellet traveling 800 f.p.s.

Why did they do that? Why would they build a marvelous air rifle like this and leave it anemic? Well, they tried to boost the power, but it required either a larger-diameter piston or a longer stroke. Either modification added hundreds of thousands of dollars to the development costs. You and I look at an extra inch of spring tube and figure five dollars, and maybe that’s all it costs to buy the raw materials, but the cost to redesign all the powerplant parts that have to be changed to accommodate the extra inch is what the manufacturer has to think of. The piston, piston rod, cocking lever link and perhaps other parts all have to be changed just to accommodate the extra inch. And they need a new longer stock blank to hold the longer action, so all that work must be redone, as well. And all those parts have to be entered into CAD software and input into various CNC routines and then debugged, etc.

Now Crosman tries to market this beautiful new air rifle and what happens? They’re met with a hailstorm of criticism on airgun forums all over, telling them what they should have done. And people are leaving snide remarks that say, “If only they built it this way, I would buy two!”

TWO? With over half a million dollars of development costs and a large part of their engineering time invested, they really need to sell more than just two. Or two hundred, or even two thousand.

Before you manufacturing guys jump down my throat, I’m aware that the whole purchase cost of the new CNC machine doesn’t have to be paid off the first year, and yes, they will probably schedule the machine to support other product lines at some point. But when you’re standing before the CEO pitching your “great idea,” these are the kinds of things he’s going to want to know.

Quality lesson two
There’s a better path to quality, however. Let’s say you have a company called Mendoza building airguns for you, and let’s say their guns have some important features. They have accurate barrels and wonderful triggers. One day they send you a rifle that looks like it was designed by Pablo Picasso on an acid trip. But take the barreled action out of the stock, and you have a nice youth-level rifle for a very affordable price.

You get a custom stockmaker to build you one custom western-looking stock for the rifle that you then send back to Mendoza and say, “Make them like this.” You also ask them to leave out the fiberoptic sight elements and eliminate the oil hole on the side of the spring tube. You keep the name Bronco, and add a bucking horse to the spring tube. A new model is born.

This “development” cost only a couple thousand dollars (because of a consulting trip for the designer and several iterations with the manufacturer sending samples back and forth), and you’ve got a spring rifle for older youth and adults that can sell at an extremely competitive price. Why was this so easy?

Mendoza was already making good barrels. They already had a wonderful, if somewhat quirky, trigger reminiscent of the Savage Accu-Trigger. They had superior metal finishing on their existing guns, so nothing had to change. The modifications you made didn’t disrupt their business in a major way. The biggest thing that changed was the stock, but you worked with them to accommodate their existing plant, tooling and personnel. So, after getting a commitment to purchase X-hundred rifles per year from Pyramyd AIR, they began production of the new Bronco.

The lesson?
The lesson is that you don’t ask Rolls Royce to make shopping carts and don’t ask McDonalds to cater the Oscars. Quality is hard to sell, but not impossible. If you spend the time and money to build and promote a high-quality product, people will buy your Rolexes. But if Rolex starts making pastel plastic fashion watches tomorrow, or if they outsource their main watch models to China, I give them one year before their name is utterly destroyed.

As a final note, you younger readers may not believe what I am about to say, but when I was a kid in the 1950s, the term Made in Japan meant something was cheap and worthless. When Japanese cars first hit the U.S. shores, they were too small, underpowered (remember the Subaru 360?) and had the dark cloud of Made in Japan hanging over them.

This past Christmas, my gearhead brother-in-law was so proud to show off his new/old Lexus—a 12-year-old creampuff sedan he recently acquired, which his wife wrested away from him the day he got it. This guy who used to restore vintage ’50s T-Birds and Vettes as a hobby now refuses to drive anything that isn’t made by Toyota.

It’s possible to go both directions on the quality highway. Going up can take decades. Going down happens overnight.

194 thoughts on “The difficulty of selling quality”

  1. And then there is the universal lament about the poor triggers that come with otherwise very good airguns. While happy with almost all of my airguns, I think there’s something wrong about always having to buy a fairly inexpensive aftermarket trigger that just drops in. Quality exists in most products, except for a relatively small detail like this. Charlie Da Tuna is smarter than some manufacturers, it seems.

    • Victor,

      It’s not hard to be smarter than some manufacturers, because their people aren’t airgunners. They haven’t got a clue what the market wants, so they go with high velocity and the words Extreme and Tactical, hoping to sell to the crowd that wears baseball caps backwards.

      What escapes them is that this crowd is rapidly maturing and becoming more demanding of performance. They are growing out of their herd mentality. But there are enough replacements for them that many manufacturers haven’t awoken to that fact, yet.


      • BB

        Sounds like that Crosman executive you were chatting with years ago that was astonished that there was a cottage industry producing parts to mod their $45 airgun. I spent several times the cost of my 1377 modifying it.

        A large part of Steve Jobs success was that techies knew that he was one of them, and he demonstrated it.

        • SL,

          You remembered that?

          Yes, that was the former president of Crosman, before the current CEO took over. He didn’t get it, but the next guy did, and turned the company around.

          Now, if only the same thing could happen at Daisy!


  2. It all comes down in the end to a cost benefit analysis by the bean counters. ROI for equipment & engineering for the “BUSINESS” If a company can produce thousands of airguns with triggers that 90% of the purchasers don’t have a problem with why spend money upgrading it for 10%? Until the guns require an upgrade due to poor sales it’s not going to happen. We have to take off the hobbyist rose colored glasses & remember the avid airgun hobbyist on forums makes up a very, very small % of actual sales. When Joe the plumber stops buying the $120 airgun for his kid from Wally-World or big Box retailer because the trigger is 4 pounds with a long creepy 1st stage, then it’ll get replaced, but don’t hold your breath for it.

    • Scott in Hawaii,
      That’s the thing. People are turned off by bad triggers. They may be willing to live with one unsatisfactory trigger (i.e., just accept it), but then the either don’t buy another, or they don’t promote it to their friends. The point about the cheap trigger upgrades is that they ARE CHEAP, and require minimal effort, something that the OEM could have done.

    • Scott in Hawaii,

      You nailed it! But the business model doesn’t have to end at that point, either. Every once in awhile, someone will come along and show the world that there is a huge untapped market, just waiting for better products. In the case of airguns, that market is the thousand-times larger firearms crowd.

      The challenge is to find ways to appeal to this larger market and sell them products that aren’t available elsewhere because the competition is either focusing on that tiny rose-colored glasses segment you identified, or they are trying to compete in the one area they know — velocity.

      I talk a good game, but seeing into the future is just as difficult for me as it is for anyone else.


    • Scott,
      Here’s another take on that: we should not buy that airgun at all. I say that because, if we are satisfied with buying that airgun and putting in an aftermarket trigger, the maker will never spend the extra effort and resources to improve it. He is still making the sale without it. How many times have I heard on this blog (paraphrased, of course), “It’s a good rifle but get the GRTXX trigger and you’ll love it.” Instead of, “Don’t buy that rifle, period – it has a crappy trigger.” Which one would make the maker stand up and take notice?

  3. That is a very good point.
    I know the situation is completely different here in Brazil, but some of that logic applies to our shooters:
    people will buy cheap, even if it´s terrible. Famous names, like Air Arms will make ANYTHING spectacular and people will pay dearly for those.
    Now, whenever you say a 600 dollar air rifle is “expensive”, it makes me both sad and amused because it reminds me that over here, 600 dollars gets me a barely acceptable air rifle.

      • Thanks for the warm welcome. I´ve been reading you for years, just never felt I had something meaningful to say.
        Regarding the Brazilian market, we have a lot of laws and taxes that makes importing a nearly impossible chore to mere mortals. Airgun shooters don´t need a license to buy and own an airgun, but you DO need a license to import one. Taxes and fees amount to around 100% of the original price (which is already a lot) but those who do manage to fulfill all requirements sell those guns with a huge mark-up, so a TX200 ends up being sold for around USD3,000, without official factory warrant or the like.
        Honestly, I don´t know why big manufacturers like Crosman don´t have a strong presence here, so I can only speculate that it´s either the big mess of laws pertaining airguns or a simple lack of interest in our market. Maybe a little of both.

        • Guilherme,

          Well, you just explained why some wealthy Brazilians travel to the U.S. for airguns.

          It’s sad when a country hurts itself with laws that they thinks are protecting their home market and tax structure. An open economy is always the wealthiest, because the people (consumers) make it so. In a restricted economy all you get is a large black market and extensive use of the barter system.

          But welcome to the blog! Please feel free comment on the Brazilian airgunner’s point of view.


          • B.B.
            You hit the nail right in the head. Sadly, I don´t see this changing, at least not for the better.
            On a lighter not, you can be sure I will be participating more.

  4. Let us try this again.

    Once again, B.B. has expressed some very astute observations.

    If we want to see quality air rifles on the market, we as consumers must be willing to settle for nothing less. This means paying the extra for such and refusing to buy what does not measure up to our expectations. If we continue to buy products that do not have the quality we would like and “fix” them, the manufacturers will continue to build products that need “fixing”.

    Also, what is in a name is indeed very important. How many of you would buy a Crosman Marauder? Many will buy a new BSA springer, not realizing it is really a Gamo.

    Sometimes manufacturers learn. As B.B. pointed out, the Japanese learned. The Koreans are starting to learn. Perhaps one day the Chinese will.

    • RidgeRunner,

      Yes, but I don’t want the Chinese to learn! I want Americans to learn! And it is possible for them to do so.

      The Benjamin Marauder you mentioned is a classic case of an American product beating the pants off the rest of the world in terms of quality and price. The Discovery is the same. So is the Bronco, though in that case the product is made in Mexico and marketed in the United States. If the Chinese were ever to study the success of the Bronco they could shave a decade off their spin-up time, but they never will, because the Bronco isn’t in the box stores — yet.

      What I want to see is THOUSANDS of American workers making the finest airguns in the world, right here in this country.

      Crosman is doing it to an extent. They are very successful and they haven’t let their Chinese vendors take over the store yet. They are running multiple shifts each day, just to keep up with demand.

      AirForce is doing it to an even greater extent. Every time I visit them I meet two more new employees or see another machine that will streamline their business even more.

      Heck — even Dennis Quackenbush is doing it! He may be a one-man band, but he can’t keep up with his orders because he produces a quality product at a reasonable price. Contrast him with every other boutique airgun builder who was a flash in the pan and then left the business when he couldn’t take the pressure and you’ll see what I mean.

      Having said all that, I am not an isolationist. I love Air Arms, Weihrauch, Daystate and FX, as well. Those companies have established the bar for airgun excellence, and they make the rest of the world (with the above exceptions noted) work hard to catch up. Good for them! But why can’t more American factories make the same quality products and sell them at reasonable rates? Why isn’t there an American airgun barrel-maker with the world at their feet, like Lothar Walther?

      People can say that our culture prevents it, but Crosman, AirForce and Quackenbush demonstrate that they are wrong.

      To succeed in any complex product-oriented business such as airguns, the manufacturer has to understand the product and enjoy it. The problem is there are too many people who think a business education is the cornerstone, when it’s really a love of the product and of the customers who use it.


      • BB there are some who see a bright future for cottage industry in the US. I’m about to (any day now ….) start building circuit boards for a guy on my home my desk here, or more likely, I’m setting up a tech bench in my office trailer so I won’t have to tear down my set-up all the time. I’m working at a place one day a week right now, the electronics lab is one bedroom in a big house in the mountains. I *may* be building circuit boards for another guy who works out of his house, and I may just for the fun of it bring a product for market that I’ve had in mind for a few years now, that I’ll build at home here.

        I *LOVE* the idea of thousands of US airgun makers, tinkering away in their garages. I was car-pooling to the job up in the mountains with a couple other workers and one was reading a magazine, “Mopar Muscle” I think, and it was amazing the neat how-to’s in the thing. I dunno if we Americans invented hot-rodder culture but it’s one of our strong points. There are a *lot* of inventive, creative people out there and some of ’em are young kids, there’s hope.

        • flobert,

          The ‘rodder culture isn’t going anywhere. We just find them in different places now. Mostly in forums on the net… Seems like the printed magazine is going the way of the Dodo to some extent, but not its content. There are very few hobbies that don’t have ‘rodders in them. Even martial artists are trying to gain an edge with special routines and supplements. I guess it’s just human nature to be competitive. Cottage industries are alive and well in most of my hobbies. From the guy who has micro-cnc machines in his garage making rc model parts to the guy building Arduino boards for various applications on his desk in the bedroom. I think most of our best innovations and inventions come from people like these, not from big companies with huge r&d resources.


          • LOL now you’ve got *me* rolling!

            There’s no money in simply making circuit boards. There’s very, very little money in electronics in general. The guy driving the forklift out in the warehouse *always* made more than me and got a lot less hassle from co-workers and bosses because it’s a job that stereotypically fits a white person. A white person is not really supposed to do electronics. At least in all of the Universe I’ve been in until very recently.

            However, it seems there is some money in building circuit boards right. There does, strangely, seem to be some demand for someone who can find out a problem, and come up with a fix, and not take a week to do it when one day will do.

            Also, the place up in the mountains I’m working for, has a real problem finding people who will go up there to work. Frankly, I’d probably get $10 an hour for the same job in the flatlands, but $25 because it’s way up in what I call the hobbit roads.

  5. I for one, appreciate quality. But, then again, I’m in a position that I can afford it. Sure, I’ve got the Remington Vantage, Crosman G1, and several other low end guns. But I also own an FWB 700 Alu, a TX 200, and a couple other higher end airguns.

    I shoot paper, hunting doesn’t appeal to me. But I have nothing against hunters. I want to be able to shoot the X on a paper target and hit it consistently. I don’t want a gun that is only capable of hitting a soda can, I want a gun that’ll shoot a fly’s gonads off at 50 yards. I want to know, when I miss a target…. that it’s MY fault and not the gun.

    And I don’t want to buy after market items to bring the gun up to my specs. I want it turn key, with perhaps only adjusting trigger pull/weight.

    I don’t know where I’m going with this, other than to say…if a manufacturer produces a better product, than another manufacturer that only produces a so-so product, 9 times out of 10 I’m going for better and of course more expensive. There is a market for higher end merchandise, unfortunately it’s a much smaller market than those items that are produced for the masses.

    Let them eat cake…. 🙂

    • chasblock,

      You say that the better product has to be more expensive. What if I told you that it doesn’t?

      When I went to Crosman with the idea for what became the Discovery, I had already shown the same exact idea to another airgun manufacturer and had been told that it was impossible to build such a gun. Crosman didn’t think so, and after hearing the fundamentals of my first presentation, they prototyped the Discovery in three days!

      At that time I told the Crosman management team that they would be entrenched in PCP airguns within two years and by five years they would dominate the market. So far they haven’t proven me wrong. They didn’t just build the Discovery — they built the Marauder, the Marauder pistol, the Silhouette PCP pistol, the Challenger PCP target rifle and the Rogue. They are so much like NASA that it’s scary!

      Now, what if I told you that it might be possible to build a PCP that could retail for $150, and still be a good fundamental airgun? Would you think that was impossible? You probably wouldn’t, but almost every airgun company would, and several of them have told me so already. Yet if they had such a gun (it is possible) and sold it through volume channels, they would open the gap wider to the five million firearm shooters who are now aware that modern airguns have something going for them.

      In other words, selling 100 low-cost, low profit PCPs would expand the market for those $500 PCPs. And expanding that market would, in turn, expand the upscale market, as well.

      Look around! Construction workers are buying five-dollar Starbucks coffee every morning. Something that, if you had said it in the 1980’s would have branded you a fool.


      • B.B., you are definitely a leader in the field and we all appreciate what you have done over the years to promote the airgun industry. And, you are absolutely right in everything you wrote. I started my recent interest in airguns only two years ago starting out with the low end guns. I kept saying to myself, “there has to be something better out there.” And, there was. My interest started with a $100 airgun and progressed to an Olympic grade rifle.

        I wish we could get to the point in PCP’s, where we could get away from the expensive refilling equipment. Pumping gets old real fast. Once I get my HW100 pumped up, shoot the 40 or so shots and have to refill it again… my heart is pounding so fast, I couldn’t get on target if my life depended on it. If only someone would come up with an inexpensive air compressor (not including the shoebox of course), they would have a hit on their hands.

        The airgun industry has come a long way in recent years, mostly thanks to folks like you who get their great ideas “published”.

          • That’s a dream gun… a cross between a PCP and Multi-pump pneumatics would be great, I’ve been saying it for a while and I’m sure it can be done better than the FX Independence.


            • J-F,

              I didn’t invent that concept. It was done in the 1600s!

              But how many airgun executives today know that?

              And how many know that Benjamin re-did it in the 1930s? Not with one gun but with at least two, if not three.

              All I’m doing is reevaluating what will work (again) and saying that the time is ripe.


              • I had no idea it once existed!

                I subscribed to a firearm magasine, it’s like looking at a Playboy mag when you we’re younger (if you ever did such a thing), page after page of stuff I’ll never hold in my hands. But reading the articles (like the “other” mag they’re articles in there you know) it seems many manufacturer have former military and/or pro shooters on staff, why don’t airgun company do the same thing?
                Maybe having pro-shooters is a bit costly for airgun companies but many of the guys here know airguns and what would be needed to make them work how about giving out contracts to “normal” people to test out some guns? Just giving someone a production gun after the testing is done could do it, and they would have guns that people actually WANT instead of 1250fps monsters that are impossible to shoot.


                • Something pretty similar was around when Lewis and Clark mapped the West. But I doubt that the cost in then year dollars would translate to $300 in 2012 dollars. But it very nearly could.


            • J-F,

              It’s too bad that Al Nibecker seems to have given up making his Quigley. That one was sort of a self contained multi shot pumper. Pricey, but hey! 30+ fpe first shot! Follow up shot was about half that, but I wouldn’t hesitate to take a squirrel with 15-20 fpe…


          • B.B.,
            This is exactly what I was asking for/about awhile back. I’d love to see such a gun. Until I found this blog, I only had two air-guns. Both of them are pumpers. However, I loved shooting them so much that I could shoot them for 12 hours straight during the summer, leaving me with blisters. Now I mostly shoot springers, but prefer the shooting characteristics of a pumper. Some engineering professors say that engineering is all about compromise. There’s a lot of truth to that. Give me a pumper that stays charged over several shots and you’ll find me back out shooting for 12 hours again.

  6. B.B.

    Let me add one more thing. Growing up in the 60s and even 70s, getting a toy that was “Made in USA” was like winning the lottery. It was a good as made in West Germany and less than nothing.


      • You’re not alone, brother!

        Take a product: Chinese sneakers. You ever go into Wally World and look at the prices now? They’re $30 and up. Can an American, with some simple jigs and fixtures and tools, make say, 6 pairs a day in their garage? I believe they can. That’s a good living, and the American made garage-sneakers will be repairable, re-soled for say $10.

        Look at what brooms, hoes, all kinds of garden and household tools cost, an American can make these things at a competitive price, and make a good living.

        We’re getting there, we’re not quite there yet, but we will come to the point where the Chinese-made product will cost more than a better product made here, and there are not enough gov’t goons to shut down all the garage entrepreneurs, and that’s the last group the gov’t wants to piss off because they can and WILL fight back, and in inventive ways.

        Enough people spend enough years out of work, and the creative ones are just going to *make* jobs for themselves. I seem to be selling test equipment and doing circuit board work now, but before that came tumbling into my lap, I was planning to get going making Made-In-USA toys and stuff for the local antique stores, those little old ladies have a hell of a network of colleagues out there who want to buy US stuff and hate having to order from India or Eastern Europe.

  7. I have read that when Hornady decided to introduce the .17HMR they had to commit to buying a certain number of the brass cases from CCI. That minimum came to 5 MILLION of them just to see if it would fly. As for triggers that are usable and are not lawyer grade . That can be summed up by the insurance crisis that is destroying business in this country. The single most aggravating and expensive thing a business has to deal with today is liability . I ‘m reminded of that every month when I have to pay my liability insurance premium. It is required by law here and frankly I’m tired of paying to protect stupid. As far as quality , today some companies have become so greedy and are run by folks that don’t know the products that they sell and don’t care either. BB, your comment about your brother in law hit home with me. Just a couple months ago we needed a new car, and we have always bought Chevys. This time we bought a Kia made in South Korea, and it wasn’t about price either. If you don’t care about me as a consumer you are not going to get my business .

    • Robert,

      You’re singing my song, brother!

      But somehow, in this liability-infested market, Savage managed to make the AccuTrigger. So it is possible. But the people who run the companies have to care that it is and they have to love their products and their customers.


      • BB:
        I’m counting on you to pitch the idea to Crosman of a MSP like the Benji that shoots either .25 or .30 cal RB, and has a magazine , while your at the Shot Show next week. I’d even accept it if it had a black plastic stock and fiber optic sights. Can’t believe I just said that about the fiber optic part…

          • B.B.,
            I’ve gone through this kind of experience with management change. It can be very frustrating when new management has built in blinders and ear protection to drown out important advice. In one instance, slogans about being technology driven, with all kinds of buzz-words floating around, replaced actual engineering. R&D became about buying new fancy tools and adopting new trends, but never about hard engineering to elevate or distinguish the company through it’s own internal efforts.

            According to historians, every great empire falls when it becomes more of a consumer than a producer. Sound familiar? A year ago I read an excellent article about the fall of SUN computers. It fit this model to a T. Where their history showed that their success was earned through hard internal R&D, they eventually stopped relying on internal R&D, and started to buy technologies from seemingly everywhere. Trouble was, they didn’t know what to do with all these new toys, and had completely neglected their true strength from within.

            In any case, I’ve personally witnessed and experienced such foolish misdirection, always with predictable results. Hopefully Crosman won’t go down this road. That would be a shame. 🙁


          • BB,

            I’d have to say that after Crosman’s recent successes (due in no small part to you), they would be fools not to seriously give consideration to what you have to say.


    • Robert,

      I’m so glad you and others pay that liability insurance to protect the stupid! Otherwise, stupid might become endangered and die out altogether! Imagine, a world without stupid! What a….. Wait a minute, someone wake me up from this nightmare!! 😀


    • Robert

      Unfortunately, I will need to let my beloved, 20 year old BMW 325i out to pasture soon. I will need to buy a car. The only marks I am considering are Toyota, Scion (also Toyota), and Ford since they didn’t take the TARP handout. I can’t think of a single Chevy (Government Motors) I would want. Showing up to beg for hand outs in a corporate jet tells me all I need to know about these clueless leeches. Like my BMW, these idiots need to be put out to pasture. Perhaps common-sense will make a resurgence in this country soon, but I am not holding my breath.

      • SL,

        No industry was ever more complacent than the American automobile industry, and I showed. I saw it back in the 1960s, when everybody was saying that these small foreign cars are death traps.

        I bought Volkswagens back then — not because they were the best cars but because they had the best service. That’s changed over the years, but that’s how I buy things.

        Today I buy only used cars and I like them old and dirty — looking! They must be completely functional and reliable, but the more they look like the inside of a rental bowling shoe on Sunday morning, the better.


      • I think I had that same BMW, a 92. Great car, although at even 10 years old there were parts that needed to be replaced after putting in 10 years of noble service. SoCal traffic can be crazy, and I’m fairly convinced that car saved my life a time or two and maybe someone else’s too.

        I’m aiming for a continuum: I have a bicycle, with a basket that can carry a fair amount of stuff. Then, I just got a motorcycle, and plan to put a big Pelican case on the back. Great for long commutes. I’d actually consider setting up LED lights for turn signals and brakes, and set up my Burley bike trailer to tow behind the motorcycle on non-freeway roads around here for picking up stuff locally. Then I want a car or truck or something, and I go back and forth between a minivan, pickup truck, or a Mercedes diesel wagon which can carry a fair amount and can pull a light trailer (I didn’t say fast!)

        It’s not impossible that in a few years, the Mercedes could be kept going on grease or sunflower squeezings, the motorcycle may make it on woodgas with burner where the Pelican case was, and the bicycle will be the main game if I can stock up on enough tires and tubes.

        But meanwhile, there’s nothing like the sound of a classic 4-cylinder rice burner!

  8. As far as I am concerned….

    I would really like something that is perfect in the first place, and consistently so from gun to gun.
    I know that this is not going to happen. If there is a fairly easy fix, then I can live with it. The ones that are total abortions are something I will not put up with. When too many things are wrong, and the defects vary widely from gun to gun….well…they are off my list.

    I don’t mind dropping a Vortek kit into an HW to kill the buzz. I don’t mind un-drooping the barrel if necessary.

    I don’t like anything that is a total wreck. I don’t like package deals with crap scopes and rings.

    After too many years of wasted time and money looking for good rifles, I have come to the conclusion that….buy cheap, get cheap.

    And …thank you PA for selling more than just cheap junk.


    • twotalon,

      Look at what you have written! It’s an indictment of the airgun industry!

      These problems CAN be fixed! W. Edwards Deming and Joseph Juran taught the Japanese and much later the American companies how to do it. These two men are given the most credit for America responding as well as it did in manufacturing and logistics during World War II. Deming is called the “Father of Japanese Management” and both men are National Treasures in Japan.

      Motorola, who once made television sets, was turned around in the 1980s by this process. They had their famous Six-Sigma program that turned the entire company inside-out.

      If a motivated company like Crosman or AirForce were to use the same management processes they could own airgunning!

      But they don’t believe it. 🙁


      • I think Motorola made one of the first car radio receivers, hence the name, Motor-ola. They got the first contract for a military walkie-talkie for WWII, and I think they were called the something Galvin company then.

        They’ve been “the” name in radio-frequency transistors for a while. They also were leading-edge in cell phones, I dunno what happened there, I don’t see or hear about Motorola anything connected with cell phones now.

        • flobert,

          I’m swyping (typing) this on a dual processor smartphone, the Motorola Atrix, that absolutely kicks the iPhone 4s’ patoot. (imho, of course, but I have used my wife’s iPhone 4 and a friend’s 4s for comparison)


  9. BB, let’s try this one. The HW57 has a bad reputation here due to some that had alignment problems years ago. The problem has long ago been fixed and the HW57 sells well in Europe but not in the US. If Crosman would import the HW57 and sell it as the new Sterling it might work. They might even incorporate their gas ram technology just to add a little twist on it.

    David Enoch

  10. To me, the difficulty of selling quality is easily illustrated by my many experiences recommending a bicycle (or airgun) to a new potential enthusiast.

    It is perfectly reasonable and prudent to set a budget for a new piece of equipment. On the other hand, this budget is often arbitrary because it is based on no experience. The Bronco is a perfect example. For the price, you get an outstanding gun that is a pleasure to shoot. But if you can get a Chinese ‘Beeman’ at Wallyworld with a scope and two barrels and more velocity for $30 dollars less and putting it under the all important $100 budgetary restriction, it is difficult to describe the intangibles that make the Bronco so much better.

    This goes double for bicycles. Sure, you can go to Target, Wally or whomever and buy a shiny new bike for a couple hundred bucks. These bikes are so heavy, clunky, crappy and often dangerously cheap, that they rob their owners of the exquisite exhilaration of a great bike ride. Instead they sour the experience, and the bikes get hung up in the garage to gather dust, or die a slow rusty death in the back yard.

    I majored in marketing. The concept of buying a company whose name carries respect and caché, just so the formerly sterling name can be used to sell cheap, substandard products en mass, is the epitome of absurdity. Beeman comes to mind. In the bike world, Schwinn and GT are perpetrators.

    “Going up can take decades. Going down happens overnight.” Indeed. I couldn’t have said it better.

    PS- The big shot of the week is cuter than a button. I hope she enjoys a lifetime of shooting enthusiasm. I need to round up some of the neighborhood kids, and photograph them with my guns. God knows I will never win BSOTW with a photo of myself.

    • SL,

      Five years ago I bought a bicycle for myself. I knew better than to buy from Wal-Mart. I researched long and hard and Mac let me ride his bike, so I knew I wanted something that was lower, had wider tires and had a stout gear system.

      As I researched I saw some questions of others who I felt were making huge mistakes. Like the one who wanted an easy-to-pedal bike (like I did) that had no gears! That’s impossible!

      After lots of research I abandoned the Marine Corps air-droppable bike (the Gamo Magnum of the bike world) and went with a well-made Giant. I guess Giant is like the Crosman of the bike world, but I bought a comfort bike (offset sprocket) with 21 gears (I use them all) and suspension in the seat and front fork. I weighed 270-280 at the time and that bike was rated to 225, but the bike store salesman assured me it could handle the overload.

      Well, I weigh 200 today and the bike is still doing its thing. I am delighted with it. Could I tour with you on a 60-mile trip? I doubt it! But that’s not how I ride. What I got suits me perfectly and Wally World couldn’t convince me to spend 25 percent as much as I ended up paying for one of their super-slick mountain bikes.


      • BB

        It gives me a great deal of pleasure to picture you out on the road on your bike. Giant is a great brand. I would consider Giant to be the RWS of bicycles.While more costly than a Wally bike, it is a quality piece that will last the rest of your life, unless you decide to tackle the trails of Canada. In that case, God help you. The BC and Alberta Canadian bike trails are mind bogglingly insane.

        Could you match me on a 60 mile ride? Only if you are willing to drag me crying and twitching across the finish line. On the other hand, a few years ago I did a 100 mile ride, which I had the wisdom to do on July 4th, in Atlanta, with 100 degree heat, wearing a tank top. After 80 miles with 20 to go, I was praying for a quick death. Later, the ensuing sunburn on my formerly pasty white freckled back kept me in agony for at least a week.

        As an aside, none of my airgun memories contain anything near this sublime anguish.

        • Giant is the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world. They still build price-point bicycles for any importer who wants – from Wallyworld to Ross to no-names. Must be 20 years ago that they started to bring bikes into their country under their own name but upscale bikes with decent components – bearings that are really hardened, Shimano shifting components and so on. They make decent bikes and just like in the air gun world, you get what you pay for. Nothing wrong with Giant.

          Fred PRoNJ

          • Matt61,

            it depends on the price point. Many or most US bike mfgs like Trek, Gary Bank, Fischer, Cannondale make their own frames and use imported components. The top producer of components for the longest time and still a great product is Shimano. While well known in the fishing world, Shimano makes outstanding components at different price points. The Sora line is their low or entry level line while the 105, Ultegra, and Dura Ace are high lines. Shimano seemed to have gotten complacent in their high end and pricing, having no real competition (please SL and Derreck, feel free to jump in with your comments but don’t flame me about Suntour and Campagnuolo) and along came SRAM. I don’t know if SRAM components are made in the USA or Germany but at least Shimano has some competition. Back to TREK. Depending on the price point, you may have a Giant bicycle frame or a frame made in America but both with various components quality wise depending on the price needed to be met.- Those components can be Japanese, Taiwanese and so on. Japan has also outsourced to China. Bottom line, TREK makes a great product and stands behind it. I would gladly ride a TREK road bike if the dealer I support carried them but he carries Fuji and that’s what I ride.

            Fred PRoNJ

            • I don’t do a lot of fishing, couple times a year in Ontario, but when I do, it’s important to have the correct equipment. I always buy Shimano open face reels and bait casters now. I used to buy Diawa but they’ve disappointed me with broken springs on their open face reels. Their bait casters are ok but I trust Shimano more because of the better quality open face ones. See how that works? Diawa makes ok bait casters but their open faces sucked so I don’t even consider their bait casters. Kinda supports what we’re saying here, eh? Go ahead makers and slash your own throat.

      • Yes, cheap bikes. In the city near where I live. The police are always picking up stolen bikes that have been left near homes or businesses. They store them in a garage attached to the police department. About twice a year, they move them to a storage building when there isn’t any more room in the garage. Then once year they sell them. It is rare for someone to come and check to see if their child’s bike was recovered. I guess they just go to Wally World and buy another! I know if my child’s bike were taken, I would check. I guess I am just too old school.

        BTW, “You also ask them to leave out the fiberoptic sight elements.” I agree 100%.


        • Beware of the bike thieves in Boston. I knew someone who worked at Harvard who had something like 11 bikes stolen from her in three years. They defeat the U lock, the sturdiest known defense by spraying some compound on it to freeze it and make it brittle. Then, they slip a pipe over one end and use leverage to snap the lock. Another approach is to hide behind a corner, tip the biker over as she passes and grab her bike. If her foot is clamped into the pedals, a quick twist, breaking her ankle in the process, frees the bike….


      • B.B., when I saw the video in which you visited Paul Capella in the air hut I was astounded at how dwarfed Paul looked.
        I have thought about the Discovery, as you suggested. I would like to shoot for a .25 caliber Marauder but the extra couple of pounds (and larger caliber) might be pushing it. I have at least six months maul it over.
        I still have many more archived reports to look through (and I appreciate their availability).
        Thank you.

      • B.B., when I wrote about your visiting Paul in the air hut I also intended to say that I hope your weight is at least close to where you want it to be, for health’s sake.


          • I’ll venture to say that daily exercise is probably the desired condition for everyone regardless of health. What is done is much less important than that it is done.


          • B.B., I also noted that you are a tall fellow; I hope your regimen keeps you running well for another few decades at least. During basic at Fort Polk in the spring of 1973 I gained 10 pounds. That put me at 160; recently I topped out at 220. You’re an inspiration; I expect to get down between 170 and 180 and stay a while.


          • B.B. Look at a book called *Younger Next Year* I believe it will do you a TON of good. A friend lent me a copy after I test-rode this killer motorcycle I just bought (Kawasaki ZL600 that’s been souped up a bit) and hurt like hell the next day. I was like …. w…. t….f? I’ve ridden a ton of motorcycles, done some crazy stuff, but I’d taken the last couple of years off of riding and wasn’t exercising either. Biiiiig wake-up call.

            Now I can see it’s imperative to get back to the program. I used to follow a program years ago that was basically, upper body one day, lower the other, on lower-body days I’d run. I was doing about 5K I guess. It was simple stuff like push-ups and sit-ups and chin-ups, stuff with dumbbells, and some arcane stuff that I felt was important like neck exercises. Fortunately I live in a great neighborhood for running, and I can build whatever gym equipment I want here. I came up with my program because I was seriously expecting to go through Army Basic again at age 30 or so, and wanted to shine. But, just do basic stuff, if a brisk walk makes you pant, that’s your level and work up from there. That’s the thing I’ve learned: Know how to start S-L-O-W and …. keep going! Consistency is the main thing!

            The upshot was, I had people thinking I was a boxer or gymnast, and had basically no health problems when I spent an hour a day or so on my program. Now that I know it’s essential, I am right back on it, and will probably get some punchings bags too so if they think I’m a boxer they’ll be kinda right, good luck to ’em if they think I’m a retired gymnast though.

            “Younger Next Year” it’s cheap on Amazon

  11. In this respect we are our own worst enemies (well, about 75% of us).
    This attitude that we now have in North America…’I want everything, and I want it now’ has led to the credit crunch and the acceptance of so many mediocre products.
    And quality can be built in North America at a reasonable price. Witness some of the products from Crosman and Daisy. I’m amazed at the quality of my Avanti 853c with the LW barrel…brand new for $300 out the door (in Canada). The Gehmann sight I just ordered for it (yes, I sprung for it after your comment about it the other day b.b….my wife is starting to hate it when I mention your name, ’cause it means I’m going to be spending money) is 2/3rd the price of the complete rifle…and it weighs all of 2 ounces. The quality is good, in my opinion about the same as the Avanti…proof that made in USA can come very reasonably priced.
    But when I mention to friends that I have now $500 invested in this rifle they are aghast…$500 for an air rifle??? I got mine at Walmart for $79 and it’s a great gun.
    I shudder to think what they’d think if I showed them a Steyr or FWB pricelist.
    And of course it spans the marketplace. Nearly every day in my work I field a phone call that goes like this:
    -caller “hi, I’ve been told I take real good photos so I’m thinking of buying a good camera and starting a part time wedding photo business…how much is a pro camera going to cost me”
    -me “well, I’d estimate a minimum of $2500-$3000 for a basic starting up kit”
    -caller…long pause…”oh, gee…I was wondering what you had for about $300″
    I just want to cry!

    • Cowboystar dad,
      I can’t agree with you more about us being “our own worst enemies”. I think making better products is the easy part of the problem. The hard part is changing our “attitude” to start looking for more value instead of price. When I tell people “I have three grand in this air rifle” I get the same response you do. When I tell them that I can’t afford the $79 Wal-Mart gun they look at me as if I have three heads.
      BTW, Thanks for the link the other day on the Gehmann sight. I didn’t know that someone (I maybe wrong but I don’t think Gehmann manufacture anything, just rebadged and market products.) was making a better rear sight replacement for the 853s. Please let us know if the sight has “value”. Are you using the stock stamped steel front inserts or have you found something better?

      • Caveman, I’ll let you know how it works when I get it. It should be here Monday as long as Canada Post does their job.
        I’ve been using the Daisy (Gamo copy). But as B.B. mentioned the backlash (I prefer the term ‘slop’) is highly annoying. Sometimes I can make a 1 or 2 click adjustment and I get a POI shift…at other times I have to adjust 4 or 5 clicks and then back off 2 or three for anything to happen.
        I’m also looking forward to being able to use filters and anti glare tubes.

  12. B.B.

    Off topic..

    Due to the larger variety of .22 pellets I got for testing with my .22 R9, I decided to fool around with the 48 a little yesterday.
    Found that the 48 also refuses to follow “the rules”.
    It kicks out the highest FPE (a litttle more than 20) with 16 gr Exacts. Not the fastest, but they are the most efficient. Tightest chrono also.
    Also see lighter pellets shooting slower than heavier pellets, depending on which pellets are compared. And also kicking out less FPE.
    I can’t say that weight alone is making the difference, because that does not pan out. It would look like there is an efficiency curve relating to pellet weight, but there are too many exceptions.
    Pellet fit also does not work out in a logical way all the time.

    So going by fit or weight alone does not cut it.

    So switching rifles at this point….
    R9…most efficient with RWS Super HP, FTT running second. Chrono fairly tight on both. I would rather shoot the FTT than the RWS pellets because of BC and down range stability. So second best is going to be better in the long run as long as the rifle agrees .


    • TT,

      I only chrony the pellets that are most accurate in the particular rifle and that I would use. It saves me a lot of time. As someone said, only accurate rifles are interesting and if I can’t hit what I’m aiming at with a particular pellet, I don’t care how fast the rifle will throw it.

      Fred PRoNJ

      • I usually only test with domed pellets, but got a weight assortment to play with. Most of them I would not use except for very close range, but wanted to try some different stuff just for the heck of it.
        Since the weather is not suitable for outdoor testing, I thought I would see what the power plants liked or disliked.
        The domes that look the best over the chrono are the ones I look the hardest at for real life shooting.


  13. BB:
    If I was to go anywhere to find answers to these questions and solutions it would be Germany I think.
    They can manufacture and sell high quality products in quantity without much problem.
    What is ‘our’ problem and by that I mean the USA and UK economic and political model is our system is now based on the quick buck,the headline grabbing political initiative,nothing in the way of planning or investing for the future.
    Not totaly of course but it seem a large part of our business activity this last 30 years has been asset stripping and loan sharking,which has been overseen by governments(Political parties) whose sole objective is just to achieve and then hold onto political office.
    As the saying goes,
    ‘You don’t have to be clever to make fish soup out of an aquarium’
    Makes me wonder why our politicians and captains of industry are paid so much.
    I could have buggered things up for a fraction of the cost.

      • Matt61:
        Indeed the prices are higher but not extortionate bearing in mind the quality and this balance seems to work well for the German manufacturers in all their products.
        As far as I’m aware no German company is foreign owned and their main production base is still in Germany itself.
        To cater to the lower budget market,the Germans will buy a foreign firm like ‘Skoda’ for example and use that name to sell cheaper cars.Not risk the reputation of VW.
        Even then,so good is German expertise that the ‘Skoda’ brand is now considered above average from where it was when I owned a Skoda car in the mid 80’s.
        What is the Germans secret?
        Many things,but amongst them is looking years ahead and not just at the annual shareholders meeting like we do in the UK and possibly the USA.

  14. I suspect that one reason is the perceived market size. Only in Germany and surrounding countries is it possible to go into a store and see a selection of high quality adult air guns. Even there, you have to look around to find a store that has a couple of different ten meter guns to look at and test. Almost every small town and most villages have shooting clubs, most of them geared to adults as well as youth, and virtually all geared to air guns because getting a firearms license is tough. Of course German firms cater to this available market, and of course US firms seem to cater to the reproduction firearm market (even if most of the guns actually come from off shore), air gun hunting, and the Joe Pellettin who goes to WallyWorld to pick up a cheap “Beeman” with a scope and a tin, all for $100 bucks.

    This country has comparatively little organized shooting and really very little organized competition. If I lived around Stuttgart, Germany again, I could find 4 active clubs within a 20 mile radius or less. There’s an IWL range in Fairfax County, but I don’t think it’s much used. Certainly the air program is near zilch unless you’re a “junior”. I dunno, could I get an age-subtraction operation so I could learn with the kids?

    There is no reason why Lothar Walther should have a near global monopoly on just-short-of-Olympic-quality barrels. If they can charge that much, there ought to be room for competition.

    Hey, the FWB (etc) match triggers don’t even have safeties. They can go to sub 500gram for pistols, and sub 100 gram for rifles. What do they do so the lawyers leave them alone? If you sell it here, you’ve product liability for it here.

    And, BB, you’re absolutely right about expanding the market. It could be done as you suggest. But let me add some caveats:

    You have to appeal to a different group of people, I suppose the same kind who do want upscale cameras, and you have to get them interesting in high-accuracy shooting (even if it’s hunting).

    You have to take some of the blood and gore out of the adverts; the guy who buys a Gamo to hunt wild boar with a .177 air gun is unlikely to step up to a 10m match gun.

    I’m afraid you have to downplay some of the self-defense politics; there are people out there who would like to shoot and might spend the money if they weren’t turned off by the extreme Second Amendment types. Some of us do vote Democratic, in fact. This blog is a perfect example of a gun blog where gun control types who shoot are still welcome. We need more of those people in the air gun sport. The more participants in the sport, the bigger the market, and the more room there is at the top for a high quality American built precision air gun.

    • Pete,

      You’re probably not close enough, but in Rockville the Izaac Walton League is extremely active in adult airgun competition. I used to compete there, and also at my own IWLA in Damascus, Maryland. The NRA is closely tied in with the Rockville chapter, which is where I got my Sharpshooter rating. For air pistol that an average score of about 535.


      • If only we had another bridge over the Potomac. The Rockville IWL is probably 10 miles as the crow flies and 30+ to drive it. Damascus is a long way out; the best way is to drive out to Point of Rocks beyond Leesburg, VA, cross the river there (or, OK, at White’s Ferry), and then head inwards again.

        Does the Rockville group do 10 meter competition or just field target?

        If I ever get past my health problems, 535 wouldn’t be so hard. Right now, it isn’t possible.

  15. B.B.,

    In view of the subject of your blog today and all the posts responding to it, I think it would be great to see more reviews on your blog centering on airguns (past and present) that have set the standard for quality at a reasonable cost, i.e. airguns that rank high in terms of the refinement of their essential parts (trigger, barrel, etc.) for which I don’t need to take out a loan. You can probably think of several airguns that fit into this category (you already mentioned the Bronco multiple times, as well as the Discovery; for me, the first thing that comes to mind is the RWS 34). I would really appreciate hearing more of your thoughts on the subject.

  16. I will toss another log on the fire BB.Anyone remember back when Case (W.R.Case & sons) was practically the pinnacle of American made knives? Yes,I know……Buck was “just as good”.30 yrs. ago you could start a fistfight (remember them?) in church over which was better! Zippos are made in the same fine place,Bradford Pennsylvania.Case was bought by an unscrupulous fellow who proceeded to make “cheap” knives that looked like the “good ones”……and relied on the name Case to sell his products until the American consumer got wise.In the interim,he made millions AND the original knives skyrocketed in value.Oh,how the times have changed!

      • But the Chinese are making Apple-branded iPhones and iPads (and I guess iPods are still in production), and quality-wise they are wonderful. China turns out a lot of crap, but it also makes a lot of really good stuff — even if they rarely engineer that themselves.

        Chinese labs are now accounting for about 1/3 of all the papers submitted to The Physical Review, the US’s and the world’s premier physics journal, so it may not be long before they do their own R&D competitively.


    • Frank B

      I have two Case knives. One of them is quite old, and was rusty when I found it. I polished it up, lubed the pivots, and gave it a caveman-quality sharpening. It is the kind of knife I would have traded my teeth for when I was a kid.

      My other is one my mother bought me for Christmas a few years back. It looks and feels almost exactly like the old one. Only difference is that the older one has an antler handle, the newer one is simulated antler with a turquoise color. The Case lettering is just slightly different. A blind person would never be able to differentiate the two. It is unfortunate that such fine makers will gladly sully their reputation by selling crap. It does make me happy that I have a couple of the good ones.

      I also have a Schrade multi-tool I got for a gift. After using the phillips head to tighten a screw, my brute strength twisted the frame out of shape. I took it back to Home Depot, with no receipt and no packaging, and they gladly replaced it with a new one.

    • I’m crushed! I spent a lot of my vacation swinging around a Case Bowie knife. It’s my favorite Bowie design of all with a little extra belly than you usually see. My home was once visited by an an expert in Japanese martial arts (and former Marine) who scoffed at the Bowie as a “chopper.” Wrong, wrong, wrong. With the clip point design that originated in Mesopotamian times and its other distinctive features, I don’t believe this knife has an equal. It positively sings in the hand. Unfortunately, I can’t find a version sold by Case for practical use. All, including mine, have a mirror finish for display only. To hear that the quality has been reduced too from former times is sad.


      • I should have included a time line for when all this happened.Case was sold away from the family and into the waiting arms of a venture capitalist in the 80’s.It seems that more recently nearly any quality -connoting cutlery name is fair game……Hen&Rooster,Boker,Benchmade,Cold Steel,Kissing Cranes……take your pick! All have either “dealt with the devil” or been victim of black market copying.All this peeing in the pool has had another effect:companies see no need to maintain market image…….the Emperors PJ’s….you either see ’em or you don’t.We,as consumers……have drank the punch.We no longer EXPECT a TV to last more than 5 years! We’re all good little consumers it seems.

          • Matt,you may actually have one that my grandfather made……how cool is that? He worked there full time from age 11 (legal then) till he retired at 65.Working 54 years for the same company seems crazy now,but he did.His name was James Balistreri.He didn’t live very long after he retired…..I wish I was older when I knew him.Imagine what I could have learned!

  17. Very good comments today. I remember BB’s story from a ways back about the Lewis and Clark air rifle.
    That would be a wondergun today (don’t let the Indians see you reloading, they think it shoots forever).

    Maybe we got into trouble in this country when MBA-types with no background in any specific business decided they were more qualified to run businesses than those who understood and loved their products. “How can we make this better?” Was replaced with “How can we make this cheaper?” The answer: “Build it in China!” It is almost criminal that the people who actually produce the Chinese guns are not allowed to own them. The Chinese products seem to have gotten a lot better over the years, much like the Japanese before them.

    BB has answered the question I posed a couple days ago, about why PCP guns can’t be built to sell in the price range of springers and multi-pump pneumatics. The answer of course is they could be, it’s just that no one is doing it.

    It is unfortunate that once a company’s name is sold, the buyer is free to cheapen the product while profiting from the reputation the seller had established. It seems that it is very rare for a company to change from selling cheap junk to selling quality.

    Maybe this is due to corporate raider mentality. If the objective is to turn a quick profit on a brand name before the customers get wise, then unload it, that might explain it. But I think every successful manufacturer owes that success to a genuine interest in building a quality product. When a new customer is burned by an inferior product, that is what will be remembered, not the money saved by buying junk. Worse, it can turn a potential lifelong customer off on the whole hobby.

    Back in the 1960’s, Japanese cars were a joke. The first one I developed any respect for was the Toyota Land Cruiser: a tough little vehicle. I drove a Volvo back then (along with a 1948 Ford and a 1957 Chevy). People kept wanting to race me, thinking it was some sort of fat VW.

    The Japanese cars are no longer a joke. But I still own only American-made cars: an ACR Neon coupe (from Belvidere, IL, not Toluca, Mexico); a Lincoln Continental Coupe (Wixom MI) and a Ford van. No one should ever forget the GM execs flying to DC in their corporate jets to beg for a taxpayer handout. Disgusting!

    On another note, in the North Platte (NE) newspaper today is an article about a squirrel hunter who uses an air rifle. His choice weapon? Beeman RS1!


  18. Hi BB

    It seems to me as if a lot of the older air rifles were of a much higher quality than many of the current crop of air rifles. Many of today’s premium brands were the run of the mill brands of yesteryear (and those prices, as I seem to remember, were also much more affordable than today). A case in point is the little Gecado Mod. 25 that I am currently restoring for a friend (not because I’m an expert, but rather because he is absolutely clueless about guns). Even after many years of neglect, the cocking action is still effortless and smooth as butter with a crisp trigger action. There is no plastic anywhere to be seen and the wood stock, although simple, is beautifully finished. In fact, everything is simple. No safety, no micro-adjustable optics sights, no scope-rail; just robust simplicity. After cleaning and lubricating it, you could easily hit (and penetrate) a soda can at 30 yards.

    Now I am going to abuse the privilege of using your blog and ask your advice on how to remove the rust from the surface of this little rifle. I will have to re-blue the surface anyway, so I’m not worried about damaging the finish when removing the rust. Although it is fairly severe, it is only superficial and the bore and action are not affected. I would obviously prefer a chemical method rather than sandpaper and steel-wool and would like your advice on what to use. Please bear in mind that any commercial products you may recommend may not necessarily be available in South Africa, so please also recommend a home-made alternative.

    I will really appreciate it if you (or anyone else) could be of assistance.


    • Vasco,

      I use Balistol and OOOO steel wool. If you are lucky, it won’t remove much of the remaining blue.

      For rebluing nothing works as well as Blue Wonder. Follow the online directions and get the metal very warm when yo apply the blue.


      • How warm is warm? And does PA sell Blue Wonder? I need to reblue a couple of CO2 tanks for my rifle. They got a trace of superficial rust that I tried to remove with rust remover… forgetting that bluing was a kind of rust.


        • Pete,

          Who are you — Bill Clinton? Warm means warm. When it gets too warm, we call it hot.

          No PA doesn’t sell Blue Wonder. Get it anyway. It isn’t a rust process — it’s photographic/chemical, and it works well.

          I have reported on it several times on this blog:



          • I was just left wondering by the BluWonder video showing the guy using a propane torch to heat the barrel. That looked “hot” and not “warm”. My thought was to put the CO2 tank in a pot of very hot water for a few minutes and then fish it out (with the valve end held out of the water of course) or to use a hairdryer, but they vary between a heat gun that will scorch your skin and barely warmer than a summer’s breeze off the Sahara.

            Not Clinton, but I was an appointee in his administration…

          • Another Blue Wonder question: you said in your blog report to do 5 to 15 coats. Is there any recommended drying time between coats or do you just put it on and start over? Do you re-heat the area between coats?

          • PeteZ has a point. In the novel Smilla’s Sense of Snow there is a ship’s cook who uses freshly baked bread as a weapon. He threatens to put glass slivers into it for people he doesn’t like. But mostly, he handles the bread with his bare hands when it comes out of the oven at 400 degrees. What’s warm to him is devastating to others. In one case, he applies his bread to the throat of a female villain with devastating effect.


  19. Howdy Mr. B.B., Ms. Edith & “The Gang”,
    GREAT stuff, thanx. 2 words, Harley Davidson. From best to worst (gutter ball years) back to one of the best. Brand recognition & loyalty, second to none. Price is only an issue in the absence of value.
    On subject, interesting link: http://cdnapi.kaltura.com/index.php/kwidget/wid/0_04vzdsr5/uiconf_id/5590821
    For 25 years as a radio station programmer, I took a little puff of air, created an image for it that people wanted to “own” & be a part of. Not that tough ta do if ya KNOW your audience & LISTEN to ’em.
    Have a great weekend & thanx again, y’all.

      • B.B., thanx for your time, I’m honored. A few years ago, I was at the ground breaking for a friends new H-D dealership & one of the mucky mucks there was Vaughn Beals, the AMF exec. who spearheaded the take back. Sadly, majority of those in attendance had no clue who or what he was. Got to shake his hand, thank him & get a pic. You are in that same catagory sir & I thank you.

        • When I was little I was behind the curve in learning to ride a bike. My Mom got me this AMF …. thing … it was a sort of I dunno, 12″? 14″? wheeled minibike looking thing that you could pedal. If you were a little kid. I went ’round and ’round and ’round on the stupid thing and then realized it was stupid, and didn’t ride it for a bit …. later one of my younger sisters decided to ride it down this big hill up the street, went into the “wobble of death” and crashed and was rescued by a nice family with a huge dog who liked you a lot of you had beef jerky in your pockets. Good times….

          I test-rode a 1200 Sportster not too long ago and it’s a NICE bike and seems tailored for me. I liked it better than the Kawasaki ZL600 I have now, which is really at least as quick, and sadly (since it’s been souped up a bit) at least as loud. I just had to settle for the $2000 bike vs. the $12,000 bike.

          Harleys have a lot of parts made in places like Mexico, Taiwan and Mainland China. Their clothes and boots etc are made in China. But that being said they do make some good bikes, the frames and engines of which are made here and of course a ton of aftermarket parts are made here, and they seem to be easy to maintain yourself.

          • Yo Flo, I give my buddys who ride metric a hard time, but truth be told most of ’em are more “biker” than the majority of the RUBs (Rich Urban Bikers) ridin’ Harleys these days. What ya ride ain’t important, why ya ride is. 4 wheels move the body, 2 wheels move the soul. I grew up ridin’ & racin’ metric, but would sit on the porch w/my pals drinkin’ Apple Beer & eatin’ Twizzlers & talkin’ about someday…Mine was always a H-D & a Vette. Got my first Sportster in ’78. A couple years later bought a matching 75th anniversary bagger. Sold those & got Softail in ’87. In ’08 got another bagger, a new Street Glide. Had a pocket full of cash, was between appointments so ta kill time I stopped by the dealership ta discuss options. Next thing I know, I’m standin’ in the parkin’ lot w/my new bike. Had never even ridden it. My next appointment is w/a ridin’ buddy, so I “wobble” on up to his house & he’s in the garage wrenchin’ on his when I pull up. The tranny’s so new & tight, I can’t hit neutral. Finally do, then sit there lookin’ all over for the petcock so I can shut ‘er down. ZZ walks out of the garage & asks me what I’m doin’ & I sez, tryin’ ta shut off the gas. He sez, ’08 right? I say uh huh. He sez EFI? I sez, huh? He sez Electronic Fuel Injection, no petcock, it has a fuel pump. I sez ok, I’m goin’ home now ta read the instructions & figure out what I just bought. This thing has everything on it I swore I’d never have on MY bike. I used to sit at stoplights on my slammed, 16″ apes w/4″ risers Softail & when a Bagger would pull up next ta me w/the stereo blastin’ & I’d think ta myself, Spanky, ya have no idea what a dork you look like. My how times change. Now I’m that dork. Last year I let my ’87 go cuz it sat in the garage & NEVER moved for 2 years. Bottom line these new twin cams are a completly different world. My buddys call my FLHX a “Geezer Glide”. Don’t know squat about airgunnin’, but if ya ever decide to come over from the “dark side” & go H-D, lemme know, I have people. Ride safe,

            • Ahh yes, I call it the Passing Of The Petcock, modern bikes don’t seem to have ’em! Or carbs, now what’s the point of not having carbs so you can easily fix your carburetion problems that you get when you have carbs?

              I like to laugh at H-D names, Wide Glide, Fat Boy, Soft Tail, etc. And how the H-D riders call the Sportster a “girls’ bike” because they’re jealous, the girls want to get on it with you! The proper thing to do is to remind them of that fact then ask them if their bike is a “boys’ bike” lol.

              Sadly, and living near a large H-D dealership there are plenty of Harleys rumbling around here, most of the riders are indeed weekend warriors. But as we lurch into the “Olduvai Theory” (look it up) future, H-D’s actually in the best place to provide economical transportation for Americans. They’re building the engines and frames here, and the rest of the stuff can be tooled up for in a million garages. Harley understands hard bags and top boxes, which is something few other makers do.

              I do actually own one Sportster, a Coleman Sportster, which I have running right now to warm this place up, my rule is to run it when I get up if the indoor temp is below 40, and it was 38. Love it.

              • Flo, anybody who bad mouths a Sportster, is clueless. A couple of the ones they’re buildin’ now, i.e. the 88 & the Nightster are very cool sleds. Have a buddy who has a machine shop that specializes in flowing H-D heads. Name of his shop? MoFlo.

                Apologies to the rest of “The Gang” for flapin’ my gums about bikes on an airgun blog, but as a rookie here & what hooked me is the similarities. At least for me, I don’t constantly tinker & try to improve w/my bikes & guns cuz I have to, I do it cuz I want to & can. Almost every time I go puttin’, at least 1 will walk up & let me know how he’d never own a Harley cuz they leak oil all the time (they don’t leak, they just mark their spot + it’s a built in idiot light, if it ain’t leakin’, it’s outa oil.) & you’re constantly workin’ on ’em (yup, cuz I want to & can). That plays to the theme of this blog which is the rep of the pre ’84 Harleys still applies to the Evo’s & Twin Cams in alot of peoples minds, even though the V-twin motor configuration, 2 wheels & brand name are about the only similarities, the stigma attached to the name is still there & that’s a tough hill ta climb back up when you’re tryin’ ta sell quality, after a few years of rollin’ “gutter balls”.

  20. B.B.

    Thanks, that’s a bullseye!
    Sometimes it’s all about people’s mind, not actual quality. I’ve got yet another story: here a well-known maker launched a new model. Least to say it could not achieve 20 mm group @ 50 m, it was unstable and suffered lots of bugs. However, people still bought that and spent money on making it to shoot right, just because it had _the_ name on it. However, when a new model was launched (actually – a deep rework of the unsuccessful one, debugged, refined and made proper way, very precise and butter-smooth) – nobody wanted to buy it and talks were “X-M is just the same rusty bolt as X, so save your money and avoid this useless rifle imitation”. Maker was on the edge of the abyss, when someone advised – “Change the name, make different grooves on the receiver and use colored anodising”. And ta-da, it worked.


    • DW,
      Yup, perception is reality to most. The internet is todays version of the ‘ol bathroom wall. As a newbie here & to airgunnin’, I’ve learned enough, that when I’m researching a new “gotta have it”, I read the reviews on PA, then come here ta see what you guys KNOW. Think it’s cool that Ms. Edith has started tellin’ some, “if ya don’t KNOW what you’re talkin’ about, sidown & shudup!” But she does it so well most of ’em don’t even realize they’ve been called out!?!
      Have a great weekend & thanx,

      • Beazer,

        What you’re seeing on the customer gun reviews is a review from someone who’s written an otherwise-acceptable review except for one or two points. I don’t want to decline the review just because they have either made a typo or they have misunderstood something, so I make a comment to correct the review and set the record straight. This has much less resistance from customers than if I simply decline a review. When I used to decline those types of reviews, the customers would be very unhappy & swear to never buy anything from Pyramyd AIR again. By commenting, they’re learning something.

        Most recently, I approved a review where the writer said the mfr shouldn’t be so cheap and should use metal barrels. Well, of course, the rifle had a rifled steel barrel. What the customer was referencing was the barrel cover, which was plastic.

        The No. 1 thing that makes me decline product reviews is when someone says a gun can kill a certain animal…and they’re wrong. You just can’t kill a coyote with a .177 600 fps BB/pellet gun. You may think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. The ones that are just a bit tougher for the customers to take are the powerful air rifles that they claim can kill deer, coyotes and wolves (not kidding). Personally, I cannot imagine using a single-shot air rifle to kill a wolf. If you don’t do it right with the very first shot, you’re facing an aggressive, injured animal with big teeth and a penchant for survival. I cannot endorse that type of hunting.

        The Walther Talon Magnum is the gun that seems to impress owners the most, and I once had 4 reviews from different owners IN ONE DAY that claimed it could easily kill a wolf, deer, wild hog or coyote (each review named one or more of these animals as suitable quarry for the gun). All got declined. I don’t want to take a chance that someone will read the review but not my rebuttal.


        • Ms. Edith, Thanx for takin’ the time to respond. I saw the steel/plastic barrel review & your comment & that is exactly what I meant. You are just waaaay more pc & smooth than I am, which is why reading your comments to reviews is more informative (and amusing) than the actual review. You’re the best. Funny, I just got an email this mornin’ from a buddy back home in Idaho w/pics of a few “wolves” taken up there this season. Those hybrids are scary, freaky HUGE killing machines. Here’s your new airgun, Spanky, sic ’em!!!
          Thanx again for all you do,

    • Thanks for the forward. It’s always good to hear about the fundamentals from a champ. When did you do your pistol shooting? Was it the same time as you were doing small-bore shooting–in high school?

      Any suggestions on how to counteract heeling the gun when shooting a .45? My Dad has come off his cloud from his lucky initial bullseyes and is now in the toils of heeling the 1911 and shooting low. The low horizontal bar of our target frame was pulverized in one session and only hung together with duct tape. He is seriously stuck there. My solution to my own version of this problem was to shoot lighter ammo (185 gr.) and work on the follow-through. Unfortunately, my Dad remains highly skeptical about the importance of follow-through in shooting since “the bullet is already gone.” My analogy of follow-through in tennis is not convincing him. He seems to be relying on the notion of “not anticipating the recoil.” This is okay, I guess, but it seems intrinsically harder to try NOT to do something than to try to do something. I expect heeling is a common problem. Anyone know some good remedies. How about the zen one: “There is no such thing as a slump.” 🙂


      • Matt61,

        You’re covering a lot of ground here. If you read what Stan had to say, dry-firing, and watching the sights very closely throughout the entire process, including follow-through are essential fundamentals that are necessary, even at the championship level. Follow-through is critical, even with live rounds. Imagine firing a shot, following-through, and noticing that when things settle back down that something about your sight picture has changed, or possibly your whole aim-point. That would tell you that you were doing something wrong from the start. But you wouldn’t know any of this unless you faithfully followed-through.

        Yes, Stan trained me in air-pistol while I was shooting small-bore rifle. I had moderate success as a junior with air-pistol (an FWB). But rifle was where I spent probably 98% of my effort.

        I still remember everything that I was taught by Stan. However, had I been a “real” pistol competitive marksman, I am absolutely sure that Stan would have taught me a lot more. Stan was a very humble man of few words. His lessons were always targeted for a specific audience (i.e., at a specific level). I was told by someone that after Stan retired, that someone asked him to help him make it to an Olympics. This person traveled out of state to train with Stan, and did in fact made it to the Olympics. I am sure that this pupil was trained at a whole different level than my training.

        In summary; focus on perfecting sight alignment, focus on perfecting trigger pull, follow-through, focus on perfecting your “natural point of aim”, and train to be in peak physical condition. All technical details must be done while dry-firing. All great shooters dry-fire. There are no exceptions.

        Stan spoke of a Eastern European shooter who could clean slow-fire blind-folded, once he found his natural point of aim. Stan attributes this ability to perfect muscle tone, and muscle memory. Stan had huge forearms and very strong looking shoulders. But he wasn’t built like a body builder. More like former Los Angeles Dodger, Steve Garvey. He was VERY fit. He also had a training diet, which included eating huge amounts of food, but also burning off every calorie.

        World and Olympic champion, Dave Kimes, told me that multi-Olympic-Gold-Medel-Winning, Malcolm Cooper, also perfected these same things, especially natural point of aim. He would get into the kneeling position, find his natural point of aim, and then have someone turn off the lights. It was said that he could clean a bull with 10 shots. Of course, that’s why he consistently shot at a level that no one else could.

        Regarding follow-through and anticipation. You solve the “anticipation problem” by following-through. I’ve shot enough tournaments to experience the worse case effects of not following-through. In one National Championships, I was super tired towards the end of my relay. I was doing pretty good going into my final 3 three shots. On my 38th shot, my entire wrist broke, causing me to barely catch the outer scoring ring, and my losing the match. My team mate won. I had beat him in the state championship just prior to this. Fortunately, I was able to come back and beat him at the US Internationals by a single point. But again, this is why physical condition is so important, and why I use to run at least 5 miles a day.

        The article addresses the issue of “slumps” in shooting. The answer is in what I’ve been saying before, namely, that you can’t do anything about shots already down range, so they don’t matter. On the other hand, future shots don’t exist, so there’s no point in thinking about what might be. The only thing that matters is the shot that you’re in the process of taking. Not only is it not good to allow yourself to get upset about a blown shot, it’s also bad to allow yourself to get excited about how well you’re doing. Such things can become subconscious distractions. You really can’t do two things at one time, including within your mind. A funny thing about the article is how one of the champion shooters talks about NOT allowing yourself to get thrown off by a first shot that is a 10.

        Regarding recoil. When Dave Kimes set a world record, while winning a world championship in 300 meters, he pretended that he was shooting an air-rifle. He trained himself to ignore the recoil, and thus tame anticipation.


        • Victor,
          Your experience is extremely valuable. Thank you for your time and for even considering us wannabees worthy of your time. We will most suredly benifit from you.

          • Chuck,

            Thanks! I really appreciate your kind and supportive words. I’m not trying to monopolize this blog in any way. There is simply so much detail bottled up in my brain, and practically dormant for decades, about the subject of shooting, almost all of which I was taught to me by giants in the sport.


        • One other thing about psychology. While past and future shots are a negative distraction, being able to visualize (and actual KNOW) the perfect shot is a positive re-enforcer. While practicing, you should always try to REALIZE the perfect recipe, such that when it happens, you capture the moment (that perfect shot) in your mind as crystal clear knowledge and experience. Rather than allowing each shot to be a random event, make the connection between the goals and that perfect execution, and commit it to memory.

          • I seem to recall somewhere that visualizing has a neurological basis in that it causes many of the same nerve endings to fire as if you were physically doing the motion. There’s a novel where a gunfighter is extremely PO’d against a terrible violation against his family: “So, he said goodbye to the girls and went looking for dead men numbers 7, 8, 9 and 10.” On his travels between wiping these people out, he spends his time visualizing his shooting motions with such intensity that onlookers think that he is in a trance.


        • Also, probably 99% of what Stan Hulstrom taught me applied to rifle as well. Stan is brilliant, so he saw the big picture for us, even when the rest of us couldn’t. He went beyond technical details, and into the realm of creating winners. I claim, and have told others, that Stan’s sphere of influence was powerful, inducing change without force. The thing about Stan was that he know how to get us to focus our energy into things that we can control over and that were essential. In other words, he was a master at relieving us from distractions. While I won’t compare anyone with Jesus, there are important things to note about him, and great men (remember, Jesus was born a human – flesh and blood). The lessons taught by Jesus are of practical value to us because we can take to heart that Jesus understands us as flesh and blood. When Stan taught, he was relating to our own personal weaknesses. A self-serving man is only of value to himself. He cannot be great. The great ones are humble enough to reveal their flaws, frailty, and failures. The great ones can help guide us out of our own pits of loss and despair be revealing themselves at a practical level (i.e., lessons learned).

    • Thanx for the link Victor. The basics mentioned in the article are exactly what I’m strugglin’ with. Trigger control, sight picture, follow through, etc. Know how to shoot, do not know how to shoot well & consistently & tryin’ ta learn. Have looked a couple places for books on the subject, but best way to find a good book is ask those who’ve read a few. That would be you & the rest of the gang. Any suggestions, please?

      • Beazer,

        I completely sympathize with you about building the bridge between knowledge and practical skill. A book may provide you with rules, or a recipe, but that really isn’t enough. There are two facets to being taught and/or learning that may be lacking from a black and white presentation of “the facts”, namely; what you must figure out for yourself, and nuance that gives a rule personal meaning and significance. Lones Wigger says that the key to championship level performance is intellect. In other words, YOU the shooter must be a problem solver. Regarding rules and nuance, it helps to actually have someone who actually knows tell you what it means to refine some detail and what a particular goal actually is. I’ve said some of the following here before, so I hope I don’t annoy anyone with my repeating them here again. According to Stan Hulstrom, the goal is to deliberately squeeze the trigger such that the gun goes off without disturbing your sight alignment. The word “deliberately” is key here. But there is nuance here, as it takes personal investigation and analysis (intellect) to determine precisely how deliberate you need to be for a particular guns trigger. B.B., once talked about struggling with a certain gun, until he finally realized that a faster (more deliberate) trigger squeeze was necessary (i.e., something that probably border-lined on being a jerk, and not what one who knows better should normally do – B.B. knows what he’s doing). The point here is that it’s possible to squeeze a trigger so slowly that it introduces other problems. “Squeezing the trigger” means to set the gun off without disturbing your sight alignment, and not trying to see how slow you can do it, which we sometimes inadvertently end up doing. Some of us have limited patience and breadth control, among other things. B.B., wasn’t jerking the trigger, but rather squeezing it fast enough to overcome deficiencies in the trigger system. It came down to a matter of compromise, so he chose the optimal, but not perfect, path. Perfection simply was not obtainable. But that is a bit of an extreme case. Another very important high level detail is working with your wobble area. THIS IS CRITICAL! It’s counter-productive to fight your wobble area. Accept it, because fighting it will be a losing battle, leaving you misguided and frustrated. Your wobble area is the last thing that you should be concerned with. The absolute best that you can do is to deliberately squeeze the trigger, such that the gun goes off without disturbing your sight alignment. Of course, this must be preceded by finding your natural point of aim, most stable stance, and grip that naturally aligns your sights when you bring the gun up to the target. What I love about the article is that Stan says exactly the same thing back then, as he did decades later. One very important detail that goes hand-in-hand with things like follow-through and natural point of aim is the following … Stan advised that you NEVER shoot a shot unless you’re +&$+!(1&$ are hanging to your knees. (Sorry!, but this is very true.)

        For more detail, write me at vector@collector.org.


        • Victor,

          I’m sorry but I don’t get the last sentence. Can your re-phrase it? I’m not being sarcastic or trying to be cute here, I honestly look forward to the advice you (and Pete Z and Kevin and a host of others that would make this post into it’s own blog) impart about shooting accurately from your years of competition and want to understand everything you say. For instance, you’ve just told me it’s possible to squeeze the trigger too slowly and I realize that I have been doing that upon occasion so thanks for that!

          BB, once again you picked an excellent topic to end the weeks’ series of blogs with!

          Fred PRoNJ

          • Fred PRoNJ,

            Oh, no. I wouldn’t interpret your question as sarcasm. or anything negative. Matt61 is correct. A certain part of the male anatomy (testicles) provides a strong indication that you are truly relaxed. It’s serious advice, and not an attempt at being crude. B.B. has also added good advice about establishing a rhythm, or mental groove, by consistently taking several breaths between shots. That helps relieve yet another form of anticipation, namely, anxiety or excitement.


  21. Another thought for the day on quality: Is there different quality or is quality, quality. Today there are different levels of quality and the only one worth having are the highest quality, inherently most expensive ones.

    If low cost guns were high quality then there would be no market for the high cost, high quality guns. See what I’m saying? The Bronco would be in the Olympics. So, the low cost, low quality and the high cost, low quality guns must exist in order to make money and to make the high cost, high quality guns marketable and something to strive for.

    Therefore, low cost, low quality is good for the market. If not for them, we would each have only bought one gun, and it would have been a great one.

    • There can has has been high quality and low cost. High quality does not have to mean best of type. It can mean well made and does the job without frills. Examples would be the Sheridan Air Rifles, Remington 788 series of center fire rifles, Mossberg Shotguns, Schrade Knives (The Old Ones), and Tasco Scopes. You have to look for it and it can be hard to find.


      • Mike,
        I agree with you but, for example, how many of these “satisfied” owners have not pined for the $2,000+ FWB 7XX Olympic quality rifle? We will never be satisfied until we cover the X with every shot (well, I know I won’t be).

    • Chuck,

      This notion of having a Bronco based Olympic event is not too far off the mark as a form of competition where the everyone is competing on a level playing field. That’s what ISU (ISSF) “Standard Rifle” was designed to achieve when I competed. Every rifle was the same, no extensions, and with minimal support by clothing. The rifles were light, and the stocks had to conform to specific dimensions. No hook butt-plates, or anything else that improved on hold. Standard rifles were very similar to the FWB 300 precision class rifles of the 70’s. There’s no better way to show what the shooter can do, versus a huge investment in external support. I wish there was more of this type of competition, especially for kids, because it’s also the most affordable path, thus making competitive marksmanship accessible to more people.


  22. Anyone remember the car commercial where the old lady says, “Whoopee-do for my Subaru!”

    I have recently stumbled across the four fundamental principles of bureaucracy!

    1. Avoid threat or embarrassment at all costs.
    2. Never appear like you are avoiding threat or embarrassment.
    3. Never discuss behaviors 1 and 2.
    4. Never discuss the undiscussability of the undiscussable.

    This explains quite a bit…

    Thanks for the info about 30-06 service loads. These are clearly deep waters.

    Flobert, all I can think of with the scopes on machine guns is an instance in one memoir of the Eastern Front that I read. In the later days of the war, the Germans became annoyed at a sign that the Soviets posted 400 yards away that boasted of their imminent victory. So, the Germans set up an MG 42 and chopped it to pieces. I believe that the German tripods had some mechanism for setting the elevation and windage with great precision, or maybe they used a scope. More generally, it could be that our sense of the capabilities of machine guns is very limited. I was reading a book by a Vietnam Vet named Karl Marlantes called What It is Like to Go to War. It’s good, and Marlantes has quite the resume–Rhodes Scholar, winner of the Navy Cross and a host of over combat decorations. Anyway, he describes a 6’4″ Marine who carried a cut-down M60 with an extra handle welded on so that he could fire it offhand. He had rigged up a system of straps for carrying two ammo cans that fed the gun, so that he used it as his personal weapon. On a dare, he blew apart C rations cans 30 yards away from a standing position, then he disintegrated a tree at a greater distance with an entire belt fired off in one burst.

    I see I was quite misinformed about the new competition for a U.S. service pistol. Apparently, they have set few or no limits in terms of caliber or anything else and most of the major commercial manufacturers are entered. But the easy front-runner appears to be the Smith and Wesson M&P in a caliber yet to be determined. The Marine Corps, however, is going with the 1911 design for its MEU CQB pistol. It also appears that the universal attitude towards the M9 after decades in service is quite negative.

    On the general subject of branding and its effects on sales and demand, I think it’s quite true that brands or images can take on a life of their own that are resistant and sometimes almost impervious to actual experience. In this vein, I came across quite the interesting find last night. It starts with a fellow named Jeff Quinn who writes the Gunblast webzine. Operating from deep in Tennessee, Jeff cultivates quite the country demeanor with his Old Testament beard, bulging arms, sleevless tee-shirts and banjo soundtracks, but he is very knowledgeable about guns and quite a shot. He’s also pure patriot and has claimed that children should be familiarized with the AR rifle before the age of 10 for citizenship training and general education. Recently he was testing an American-made AK by IO corporation. He was up front with his prejudices about the AK being a primitive mud gun compared to our “more refined AR” rifle. However, he shot sub MOA targets with his AK and has the pictures posted.

    To quote the evil emperor in Star Wars: “All is coming about as I have foreseen!” With virtually an entire industry of its own marshaling vast resources, the AR design has achieved a basic viability and some real distinctions in competition and hunting. But inquiring minds want to know what would happen if anything like the same effort were applied to the AK design. And the answer would appear to be that you get equal or superior performance in every category for about one-third of the price. It is a little sad to see the AR manufacturers giddy with enthusiasm with their latest modifications of piston and caliber only to see that the Soviets developed all of this over half a century ago. Well credit where credit is due. The AK is a rifle of genius, and I’m only to happy to see an American manufactured one of good quality.


    • I find that story about the 6’4″ Marine believeable. At 5’4″, maybe 5’3″ in those days, I was handed an M60 to carry through “hell weeks”, the last couple of weeks of Reagan-era Basic, and it got to feel as light as an M16. Also, it’s quite accurate.

  23. Edith, the software is making fun of me for posting a duplicate comment without posting it. 🙁 Did it get caught in the spam filter. This is the comment about the old lady in the Subaru commercial. At least this time, I saved a copy. 🙂


  24. Say I notice that the simple math required to post is identical to the number-bound theory behind the math that my niece is studying in 1st grade. The idea, originated in Singapore, is that students become fluent with all the different combinations that can be added to equal a given number. Not only do they learn faster and better. But their brains are subtly prepared for the abstraction of a variable an for algebra. We can educate young airgunners this way. 🙂


  25. WARNING: Plot spoiler ahead for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

    We went to see the new Tinker-Tailor movie last night. The book is one of my all-time favorites, and the original 6+ hour TV series with Alec Guiness is second only to “Smiley’s People” on my list of best spy movies. The new version is compelling cinema, despite some liberties with the book in detail. Well worth seeing. Even if Gary Oldham is not as good a George Smiley as was Guiness.

    Now the spoiler: In nearly the last scene the Soviet mole is shot and killed at apparently long distance. Does anybody recognize the rifle? Is it (as has been sometimes done in the UK) a good looking air rifle substituted for a firearm because of the licensing laws?


      • They are extremely cerebral. They are complex novels that happen to be about people in the intelligence business, not genre spy novels. There’s not a lot of action. The books make pretty severe demands on a thinking reader to keep the threads of a complex and complicated plot straight. And yet, the climax is often heart pounding (see the last couple of chapters of “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” for an example.), and sometimes heart breaking.

        The four classic books by Le Carre, “Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” “Tinker Tailor”, “Honourable Schoolboy” and “Smiley’s People” are probably the defining books of the Cold War spy novel. The last three of that group form a trilogy and should be read in sequence — but they don’t have to be.

        On a personal note, I’ve never been in CIA or any other intelligence service, but I’ve been a “customer” of their products (as I’m pretty sure some others on this list have been). The Le Carre books do a good job of capturing some of the atmosphere, and also some of the tedium, boredom and sheer drudgery of an intelligence officer’s life as well as the moments when you accomplish something that shifts history. Highly Recommended *****!

    • Pete,

      I was trying to determine the same thing. I ruled out spring piston due to the stock not having the tell tale split for the barrel link for cocking. The bolt that the actor pulled back looked very substantial – more so than my Discovery or Marauder have so I tend to doubt (but will not rule out completely) that it was an air rifle. However, that barrel break at the end of the rifle did seem more indicative of something to use for cocking the rifle….Yeah, that last scene wasn’t in LeCarre’s book. The movie was a bit slow moving and ponderous at times….

      Fred PRoNJ

      • Fred,

        If forced to guess, I would think about one of the early model British-made PCP guns. It didn’t have the give-away split for a barrel breaker, and the bolt did seem a bit heavy. But filling in the split is nothing that a good prop man couldn’t do in a couple of days time (waiting for the finish to dry…). After all, the gun did not have to fire. The screen blacks out at the instant of firing. And if the bolt looked dinky, it could have had a fatter handle welded on.

        Sounds like a lot of work? Not compared to getting a fire arms certificate for the production company and the actor who is going to “shoot” it. Remember the James Bond poster 🙂


    • I haven’t seen the movie yet but could this be the rifle used?

      They don’t list other rifles used in the movie.

      IMDb (Internet Movie Database) is popular and very useful and has a few offspring, my favorites are the one I used to find the rifle, the IMFDb Internet Movie Firearm Database:
      and the actual movie page:
      and the IMCDb (Internet Movie Car Database).

      These are awesome reference website and very useful to settle arguments 😉


      • I don’t think so. The fore end is very different, and the rifle in the movie doesn’t have what appears to be two triggers. Also, the gun in the movie has what looks to be a muzzle brake or a cocking aid.

  26. On the general subject of generating useful products, I wonder if one paradigm of this process consists in a creative repurposing or reapplication of something that already exists rather than creating something out of the blue. McDonald’s takes the innocuous hamburger and makes it the center of a multi-billion dollar fast food business. Mikhail Kalashnikov takes the fabulously intricate and complicated M1 design and turns it into a sort of hamburger of service rifles that transforms the world at the cost of less than a live chicken in Africa. Email, which was an esoteric technology of the Defense Department designed to survive nuclear war, becomes the popular media of choice. Angry robot dancing of disaffected youth becomes the industry of hiphop and (ugh) Justin Bieber. I understand that some insignificant aircraft part was converted into one of the best rifle slings of all time by the Browning corporation.

    In evolutionary terms, the eye is considered one of the big obstacles to classical evolutionary theory in that it passes belief that such in intricate mechanism with its many interdependent parts could result from trial and error and random mutation. As a result, the eye has become a basis for belief in direct divine intervention in the form of the concept of Intelligent Design. One response to Intelligent Design is that the eye did not come about through random chance but was evolved slowly with each stage of development having some particular purpose that was then converted to some other application so that the eye evolved in a step-wise fashion. Waiving the question of whether God was involved and just how, this process of re-application does have basic energetics on its side. Rather than committing large resources out of the blue, each investment is leveraged into something else. There is a kind of surfing of the economics of investment, chance, and opportunity. And maybe what works for evolution would work in market capitalism as well. So as the historian James Burke would say, “The future is all around us, waiting to be discovered.”


  27. I followed some links to Blue Wonder, and one of them led me to this, http://www.huntingclub.com/magazine/blogs/articletype/articleview/articleid/13712/would-you-spear-a-whitetail, an article about a guy who took a whitetail deer with an atlatl spear and spear throwing stick. Sounds like quite a feat recreating one of the most ancient of hunting weapons, and I suppose having researchers do it once or twice to understand its lethality and effectiveness is OK.

    But I cannot see allowing it for sport hunting. The animal struggled off for 150 yards after being hit, and the hunter didn’t report having a modern weapon to finish the animal off humanely. Seems a bad idea. But a lot of states are passing laws allowing it.

    • Even with center fire rifles, a deer will often travel some distance before it dies. A deer shot with an arrow or bullet could go that far. Only a central nervous system hit will guarantee an instant kill.

      I speak from experience.


  28. We forgot to announce this on Friday’s blog, but Tom’s in Las Vegas at the SHOT Show. He left this morning, and his flight arrived without incident 🙂

    That’s the reason you haven’t seen many comments from him today. He’ll be back home next Sunday.


  29. We should have caption contests for the pictures!

    I’ll start, for this one:

    There was a little girl, who had a little curl
    Right in the middle of her forehead
    And when she was good, she was very very good
    And when she was bad she was horrid

    • I should enlarge on this little rhyme and why I have it stored so handily in my head. Thomas Edison was a real character, very fond of rhymes and doggerel and corny jokes. He’d read somewhere that laughter was good for you and that only increased his interest. This is why he recited “Mary Had A Little Lamb” on the first public showing of the phonograph. Chances are, the first, in-lab recordings were a fair bit funnier and more risque’. His notebooks are full of cartoons and drawings and verses. One example is,

      Who took me from my nice warm cot
      And put me on that cold, cold pot
      Whether I was ready or not
      Mother Dear!

      He used to keep a small pipe organ that was given to him at one end of the lab, and after a long work day is music time! Since he was pretty deaf, you can guess how loud that got.

      So at one meeting some gov’t regulator or other, maybe it was something to do with music copyrights, he had to meet with some official who in fact did have a little curl, right in the middle of his forehead. This verse came out of the phonograph. Supposedly he was not all that pleased.

  30. BB

    Refering the following you wrote……

    “This past Christmas, my gearhead brother-in-law was so proud to show off his new/old Lexus—a 12-year-old creampuff sedan he recently acquired, which his wife wrested away from him the day he got it. This guy who used to restore vintage ’50s T-Birds and Vettes as a hobby now refuses to drive anything that isn’t made by Toyota.

    It’s possible to go both directions on the quality highway. Going up can take decades. Going down happens overnight.”

    In my opinion, what I see happening in the air gun scene is that low quality is being forced upon us directly or indirectly.

    Sure a good airgun is expensive but one has to look at it as an investment over at least a decade and probably more, which will give happiness and joyous moments, which can’t be measured with money or anything else.

    As I have told you before, air guns are premium products in our country and hard to find. I literally spent a fortune to get an HW77K and another to get a used FWB300S junior. It was not an easy decision monetarily speaking, but I wanted the HW77K since looking it up in a british airgun magazine in the mid 80s (I got it in 2010) and I wanted a FWB for shooting 10mtr air rifle competitions.

    I am glad I got both. They are one of my most prized posessions……….

    Bottomline, if one is into shooting for the long term……don’t hesitate to get yourself a quality (even if expensive) air rifle or air pistol……

    Thanks for the read…..


    • Manish,

      Hi! It’s so good to hear from you!

      You understand what I’m saying completely! You pass the “bargains” ands hold out for what is really good.

      I’m doing the same thing with my firearms, too. Thinning the herd and getting fewer pieces that I really care for.


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