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The condition of used airguns

by B.B. Pelletier

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

Connor Moynihan is this week’s BSOTW.

This report just bubbled up on its own. I was scanning Gun Broker the other day when I came across a listing for a “Benjamin Franklin” model 312 air rifle in exceptional condition. Whenever I see a listing for a Benjamin Franklin airgun, I know the person doing the listing doesn’t know anything about airguns, because there never was any air rifle that was called a Benjamin Franklin. That was just a title on certain Benjamin airguns as a play on the company name.

Instead, I concentrated on the “exceptional” condition that was mentioned. A model 312 is a multi-pump that has a Tootsie Roll pump handle. It’s made from all brass that’s been plated with silver nickel and then plated with something we call black nickel, but I don’t think that it actually is. The black wears off quickly with handling. The silver lasts a lot longer. And, finally, the gun wears down to the brass, which the owner often shines up like a trumpet. The gun in question was a shiny brass one.

In other words, far from being the exceptional gun mentioned, this was a well-worn air rifle with no original finish remaining. It graded good, at best. That started me thinking about the condition of used airguns and whether they should ever be refinished. That’s what I would like to talk about today.

Is condition everything?
If you’re in the middle of a large, deep lake in a small boat, you want that boat to be waterproof, first of all. The question of whether the cushions match the paint scheme can be tabled until you are safely ashore. So, in certain circumstances, functionality trumps appearance. You can equate that to most things that we use and also collect.

If you bought a Feinwerkbau 125 (a very rare 5mm version of the FWB 124) to hunt with, and subsequently cut down the barrel to carbine length, you now have a nice spring carbine that’s no longer collectible. The fact that it started out as a collectible doesn’t matter after the gun was changed. As a hunting rifle, your gun has value. As a collectible, it has none. But it’s not always that clear, is it?

Let’s say you bought a nice Crosman model 101 multi-pump that was made between 1925 and 1940. It’s not a rare airgun; and when you bought it, it wasn’t holding air, so you had the gun resealed. You spent $100 for the gun and another $40 to get it resealed, so you now have $140 in it. But you’re something of a handyman and decided to refinish the outside of the gun. You strip it, sand it, repaint the metal parts and refinish the wood. The gun now looks like new, and you have about $175 in it. At this point, you probably have a little more money in the gun than it’s worth. As nice as it looks, who knows? Someone might pay $175 for it. Or perhaps they’ll even pay $200.

The point is that this particular gun has gone as far as it can go. As the years pass, the gun will increase in value, but it won’t increase very fast. Compare that to a genuine like-new model 101. This one really is in like-new condition and still has all the factory finish on it. More importantly, the owner can prove that it’s all original. This gun might bring $500-600, even if it doesn’t hold air. Why the difference, when it looks no better than yours, and perhaps not even as good? Because it’s in all-original condition, which is something collectors want. This airgun is collectible, where yours is a good-looking shooter and no more. Add an original box to this gun and the value might easily double. Add a reproduction box to your own refinished gun, and the price won’t increase by a nickel!

Wait a minute!
If what I just said about guns that have been fooled with is true, then there are practically no original M1 Carbines remaining in the world! Why? Because over the past 50 years, ill-advised collectors have stripped the guns and replaced them with parts all made by the same manufacturers — in spite of the fact that when they were made this never happened! Finding a Carbine in factory condition is next to impossible today, unless something very unusual happened to it to preserve its integrity along the way. So, has almost every M1 Carine been reduced to the status of a shooter? Absolutely not!

In the case of the M1 Carbine, collectors accept the fact that all the guns have been fooled with by the swapping of non-original parts. By non-original, I mean parts that were not put on the gun when it was manufactured. The parts are, in fact, genuine M1 Carbine parts — they simply weren’t installed on the guns they’re found on today, because the government had an aggressive program of swapping parts between manufacturers in the Carbine program. It was designed to promote interchangibility, and it’s why a gun that has mostly Winchester parts or mostly Inland parts today was not originally manufactured that way.

But collectors of Winchester firearms are very different! They want their guns to either be exactly as they were produced; or if they’ve ever been changed, they want those changss to have been done and clearly marked by the Winchester company.

Colt collectors are much the same as Winchester collectors, with a few exceptions. The most common exception is the 5-inch artillery model single-action Army Colt, the Peacemaker, that was manufactured during certain years in the late 1800s. This gun, alone, is allowed to have grip straps and triggerguards with different serial numbers than the frame of the gun, because these guns went through an arsenal rebuild process where they were all disassembled and put into piles of parts for refinish. When they were reassembled, no attention was paid to the serial numbers matching, and that fact is understood and accepted by Colt collectors for this one model and range of guns. But it doesn’t apply to any other model of Colt.

And so it goes. Each collectible firearm or airgun has its own set of rules. No one can give a single set of rules that fits all models and circumstances. I could go on with various anecdotes, such as the Schmeisser-type bolt-action air rifles that often have their stocks cut in front to fit inside a duffle bag, so they could be brought back from the European theater after World War II. But for the sake of brevity, I will stop right here.

Airgun conditions
Now, I want to talk about airgun conditions and tell you what’s official, what’s accepted and what’s wrong.

NRA Modern Condition Descriptions
Let’s start with the NRA standards for modern firearms. These are published and maintained by the National Rifle Association and are the accepted definitions to describe the conditions of any gun. However, if you obtain these standards from other sources, many of them will be paraphrased, resulting in confusion. I have copied these from the Blue Book of Airguns, whose publisher, Steve Fjestatd, is a long-time board member of the NRA. If any source can be considered accurate, it is this one.

New: Not previously sold at retail, in same condition as current factory production.

Perfect: In New condition in every respect. [NOTE: This is often listed AS NEW]

Excellent: New condition, used but little, no noticeable marring of wood or metal, bluing perfect (except at muzzle or sharp edges).

Very Good: In perfect working condition, no appreciable wear on working surfaces, no corrosion or pitting, only minor surface dents or scratches.

Good: In safe working condition, minor wear on working surfaces, no corrosion or pitting, only minor surface dents or scratches.

Fair: In safe working condition but well worn, perhaps requiring replacement of minor parts or adjustments which should be indicated in advertisement, no rust, but may have corrosion pits which do not render article unsafe or inoperable.

Then there are a separate set of NRA standards for antique firearms.

NRA Antique Condition Descriptions
Factory New: All original parts: 100 percent original finish, in perfect condition in every respect, inside and out.

Excellent: All original parts; over 80 percent original finish; sharp lettering, numerals and design on metal and wood; unmarred wood; fine bore.

Fine: All original parts; over 30 percent original finish; sharp lettering, numerals and design on metal and wood; minor marks in wood; good bore.

Very Good: All original parts; zero to 30 percent original finish; original metal surfaces smooth with all edges sharp; clear lettering, numerals and design on metal; wood slightly scratched or bruised; bore diregarded for collector firearms.

Good: Some minor replacement parts; metal smoothly rusted or slightly pitted in places, cleaned or reblued; principal lettering, numerals and design on metal legible; in good working order.

Fair: Some major parts replaced; minor replacement parts may be required; metal rusted, may be lightly pitted all over, vigorously cleaned or reblued; rounded edges of metal and wood; principal lettering, numerals and design on metal partly obliterated; wood scratched, bruised, cracked or repaired where broken; in fair working order or can easily be repaired and placed in working order.

Poor: Major and minor parts replaced; major replacement parts required and extensive restoration needed; metal deeply pitted; principal lettering, numerals and design obliterated; wood badly scratched, bruised, cracked or broken; mechanically inoperative, generally undesireable as a collector’s firearm.

The difference between airguns and firearms
Airguns are often made from materials that are very different than those used to make firearms. They don’t have to endure the same working pressures, operating abuse and general ruggedness standards to be acceptable to airgunners. Let me illustrate this with an example. The Desert Eagle firearm is made of steel, is extremely robust and can stand up to the hardest abuse and still operate. The Desert Eagle airgun is made of large amounts of plastic and, while acceptable to shooters, it cannot withstand any of the rugged treatment the firearm can.

The Schimel
I mentioned that certain firearms (Colt SAA artillery model, M1 Carbine, etc.) are treated differently than the NRA standards dictate, for various reasons. This also holds true for airguns. The Schimel GP22 is a single-shot CO2 pistol from the early 1950s. It was designed to resemble a Luger pistol, even to the point that the loading bolt was part of a toggle linkage that was manually raised up from the receiver to load each pellet — much the same as the toggle link works in the semiautomatic firearm — every time it fires.

The Schimel was a CO2 pistol made in the early 1950s.

The Schimel was constructed of potmetal parts with reinforcements for needed wear durability. For instance, the rifled barrel is a thin steel tube that’s pressed into a potmetal jacket that resembles a barrel on the outside. Because two dissimilar metals were in contact, many guns suffered electrolysis over the decades, and these parts are now welded together.

Schimels were painted with a flat black paint that did not hold up well over time. As a result, most guns have lost some to all of their original black finish.

Schimel grip panels were made of a synthetic that shrank over time. Most grip panels will show some shrinkage, which makes me suspicious of any Schimel with grip panels have not shrunk.

I’ve never seen a Schimel in 100 percent original condition, and I’m pretty sure one doesn’t exist. I’ve seen a couple of 80 percent guns that I thought were refinished. I’ve seen Schimel grips that were not shrunk, and I am all but certain that are not original parts.

So — what would make a perfect Schimel collectible? I think a gun that has as much as 25 percent of the flat black (don’t handle this gun because that paint is still flaking off!) and shrunken grips in a nice original box is about the best you can hope for. Anything beyond that is either a gun that was in a mammouth’s mouth when he was flash-frozen, or it’s been refinished. That’s my opinion, and it’s not necessarily true.

Back to the first gun I talked about — the Crosman 101. If the American Pickers suddenly discover one that has been housed in a warehouse in a dry climate, it may be possible that it has its original finish. But 99.999 percent of this model that have 100 percent finish have been refinished. They may be worth as much as $200, where a good shooter might bring only $100. But that one lone gun the American Pickers found is worth whatever anyone is willing to pay.

Rarity means very little
Every airgun is potentially unique in this respect. And, despite the efforts to which some refinishers have gone to make the guns shine, their collector value remains low because of the major changes that were made to get the gun in the finer condition.

I own a Falke model 90 underlever spring rifle. According to the best information available, there may have been fewer than 200 of these airguns made in the early 1950s. Mine is in fair-to-poor condition because of the vandalism of a former owner who tried to carve his initials into the stock. If my gun was a Winchester that was just as scarce, it would be worth five figures in this condition. But as it is, my Falke has been offered at several airgun shows at $450 in working condition and has been ignored. If it was in 80 percent condition (even if restored to that condition) and had the rear peep sight, it might bring $450. But it probably wouldn’t bring a lot more.

In contrast to the Falke, Sheridan produced 2,130 model A (Supergrade) rifles from 1947 to about 1953. One of these that works and has been restored to near-new condition will fetch about $1,400 today. That’s despite the fact that this rifle is in no better condition, from the NRA standards standpoint, than my Falke.

Slang terms used to describe condition
Here are some terms that are commonly used to describe the condition of airguns.

Pristine: Meaningless, but it conveys about the same as NRA Excellent condition.

Mint: Same as Pristine. Meaningless for firearms or airguns. Minty is a subset of Mint.

LNIB: Stands for Like New in Box. It conveys that the condition is New and there is also a box.

Excellent condition, considering its age: Watch out for anything sounding like this! The seller wants to cover the true condition by having you imagine what it might be. Whenever I see this phrase, I think I’m about to be swindled. The only time you should consider the age of an airgun is after you’ve been told what the real condition is, as in, “This gun is in Good condition, which is not too bad when you consider its age.”

Also watch out for sellers who try to mix the condition ratings, like, “This gun is in 95 percent excellent condition. The one thing that keeps it from being rated that high is a small area of deep pitting, where moisture from the box rusted the left side of the slide at some time.” He has taken a gun that is in NRA Fair condition (the deep pitting) and upgraded it to almost Excellent by how he worded the description. This is dishonest but probably not intentional. Watch out for it, nevertheless. Like blurry closeup photos — you don’t know whether the guy is covering something up or is just a lousy photographer.

Be concerned when someone tries to come across as your friend when they describe a gun. Such as, “This gun was obviously loved a lot by some proud little boy,” is code for “It’s a wreck!”

What does it all mean?
Collecting is complex. That’s the lesson I think you can take from today’s report. Rarity, alone, often has little bearing on the value buyers will place on an airgun. However, there are things to watch for. Guns that have been modified have generally lost all collector value, if they ever had any. That doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable — just that collectors won’t see them that way.

Restoring an airgun can add to its value — to a point. And that point will differ with each and every model.

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

84 thoughts on “The condition of used airguns”

  1. So interesting that you chose a Crosman 101 to illustrate your point.I just read about one example that had been proudly refinished by it’s owner.Then he learned (by posting before/after pics online)
    that he had a relatively rare version with original crinkle paint….but a bit too late!
    Many years ago,when “Antiques Roadshow” was still kinda new,I recall a man that had an oil painting appraised.The disgusted appraiser informed him that the painting WAS worth at least $50,000.That was BEFORE he & his son very carefully converted it into a jig saw puzzle! It’s current value: $5.
    I love & hate having an older or rare model airgun with excellent finish…..it is so much more to worry about when using it.Forget taking it outside,I sweat like like a politician in church! All my airguns ARE for shooting though.I just shoot some of them indoors only.Yesterday I was shootng a Haenel Model 1 DRP made in the late 1920’s….in .177.This is a stunningly accurate little breakbarrel!
    It was actually grouping nearly as well as a FWB 150 in my hands.Very satisfying little plinker to own.

  2. Condition and Rarity.

    Although I own more guns than are necessary for many years I’ve always cringed when called a collector. Maybe semantics but in my mind a collector is flush with money, acquires related things, doesn’t use them but enjoys displaying them especially in front of other collectors. I’m off track already.

    Condition. This is a pet peeve of mine with most airgun sellers and nowadays with many firearm sellers. It wasn’t that long ago that the NRA MODERN GUN CONDITION STANDARDS were the terms that we all used by all of us to describe condition of a gun. This was before you had to press 1 for english and before ebonics so maybe my timeline should be considered the Dark Ages. I digress. Sorry. I blame medication and clouded thinking.

    Unlike the old days, I can forgive an inaccurate description of Condition IF multiple good photo’s are provided. It’s too easy with an inexpensive digital camera not to be able to provide decent photo’s of a gun today. If your photo skills are as poor as mine there are online darkroom/digital development programs that can correct our faults with a click of a mouse. B.B. promised a subsequent blog on this since it’s so important today and since he’s so experienced at taking photo’s of guns and since Mac has upped the ante his skills have improved.

    Rarity. “The few collectors of LEFT NOSTRIL INHALERS can become so focused and enamored with their obessive desire to acquire that they can create the market.” Both of them.

    I had a thing for Colt Bisley’s for years. I probably owned 200 over the years. Became so focused that very few folks would pay for a model in the right condition that I would. I’ve been selling out of the Bisley’s. I kept the rarest. They still fetch decent money BUT I now must accept the fact that I paid for rarity since I knew and appreciated it and most buyers today don’t have the knowledge or don’t appreciate the rarity and therefor won’t pay for it (do I sound like a typical seller?). I’ve taken this hard learned knowledge to my airgun purchases and rarely allow rarity to enter into the equation when I purchase since I’m not a collector but a shooter.

    I understand the Falke 90 example. I think I was at Roanoke when it was acquired? I’m sure if it was listed on the Falke forum it would sell for what it was worth.


    • Kevin,

      200 Colt Bisley’s?

      While I know you are a shooter, your passion might put you at the upper limits of the label?
      I was content with my Ruger New Vaquero, ( I traded in my Blackhawk & some $$ for it).
      But after reading your post know I must own one real Colt while I can still hold and shoot it.
      However, I have never cared for the Bisley grip look, even if they are a better fit in the hand.

      Any particular reason you fancy the long grip?

      • Hey Volvo!

        Good to see you here.

        My fascination with colt bisley’s began in the late 1960’s. We had a neighboring ranch owner that carried a colt bisley and was deadly with it. He killed rabbits on the run with that gun. He taught me how to shoot a pistol with that gun. My fascination with colt bisleys grew from those memories rather than the long grip.

        Colt Bisley’s are uncomfortable for most people to shoot. The straight grip (think of a 1911) combined with a short trigger reach is ackward when someone picks up a colt bisley for the first time. Back in the colt bisley’s heyday many target shooters were attracted to the colt bisley because they’re accurate and published their suggestions on a proper grip for shooting a colt bisley. These shooters writing these articles all had one piece of advice in common…keep your wrist straighter when shooting.

        The ruger bisley kept the straight grip but modified the trigger reach and trigger guard to allow for a more convention revolver hold. You may want to hold and shoot both guns before deciding. The ruger bisley is more of a shooter since the frame will allow for hotter loads and a antique colt bisley will not.

        I never owned 200 colt bisleys all at once but over 40 years of buying and trading I’m sure the number came close to that.


  3. Hello Folks. I am a collector. In my wife’s eyes. The fact that I now own 14 more Weihrauchs, pistols and rifles, than I did 3 years ago, makes me a collector. I defy the man or woman to tell my wife anything less. Evan if they were 14 guns, all of different manufacture, the song would remain the same. What I’m getting at, and I think what B.B. is telling us. It isn’t the number of guns you own. It’s what you choose to own. And if you choose to own a particular model, or models, it is desirable to be as knowledgeable as possible of each model you have. There may come a day when a certain model falls out of favour with you. Or you need some ready cash to help a grandchild further his/her education. Kept in top condition and knowing everything about the gun, will bring you top dollar. I shoot and enjoy all my air guns. I take pride in wiping them down after each session. I use only quality oils, sparingly. All my guns have been purchased new from a dealer. And I have kept all my sales slips and relevant documentation as proof that they are “one owner”. I often look at the yellow pages and wonder what a Feinwerkbau 124 in perfect or excellent condition would be like. I have yet to take the plunge into that world of collecting.
    Caio Titus

    • You have any buzz problems with those HWs ? I only have five, but three of them needed kits to stop the buzz. As far as I can tell, if you get an HW (other than an R7/HW30) , you might as well send Vortek some money.


      • TT,

        the HW 50S I bought new at Roanoke two years ago (from Pyramyd Air’s silver tongue tech, Gene), has a nice buzz to it. I like the darn rifle so much and it’s so accurate, I don’t feel the need for the Vortek kit. Is that wrong?

        Fred DPRoNJ

          • Good points. While I have gotten into the habit of checking stock screws before I fire any of my spring piston rifles, I will keep your message in mind!

            Fred DPRoNJ

            • Do a hack tune on that HW50S, you will love the results.
              You give up about 15-20 fps but that is of little concern in the real world.
              You just need some JM heavy tar and a screw driver to force a little at a time in the cocking slot. You can always add more, but you can’t easliy reome it – like salt in recipe. So go slow.

      • Twotalon
        Yes, there is some spring buzz. Mostly with the HW77-97 under levers. I read an article, the source escapes me at the moment, where a pro tuner in England sourced most of the spring buzz to the cocking arm. The spring in the end of the arm that enables the end button to release the arm from it’s cradle. His solution was to drill a small hole in the arm, about 3 inches from the button, and force Molly into it with a syringe. He then tapped the hole and put in an allen head grub screw. Apparently, this stopped the buzz. By the way, he was working on an HW97. I do believe he put in a V-Mach tune kit also. I don’t mind a bit of buzz as long as the groups stay tight. I do see a V-Mach kit in my future though.
        Caio Titus

        • I had a little ping from the cocking lever retainer I think, but that’s no biggie. The problem was the horrible vibration from the power plant running through the stock.
          Tried loctite on the screws. Tried the plastic thread locker on the screws. No good. Busted a 4-16 Centerpoint in one tin of pellets.
          Tried a JM kit and it helped some, but not enough. The Vortek fixed it.
          The R9s were not as bad, but still a problem. Vorteked them too.
          R7s ? No problems with buzz at all.


        • Something to watch out for….
          The breech seal will eventually get squashed down too much and start leaking. Drop a small nylon washer in the breech when you are not shooting. The end of the lever will hang down an inch or two. This takes the pressure off the breech seal.
          The symptoms I had were..
          Groups started to get “loose” (97K). Chrono showed a slight velocity increase and a wider velocity spread, and it started smoking a little.
          Took about 20 shots after a new seal for it to settle back in. Had to get the lube burned off.
          Always has a nylon washer in the breech now when not being used.


          • Twotalon
            Interesting that you mention the problem of the breach seal gradually flattening. I have had this happen once in my HW97 .22cal. I know a place here in Canada that sells Weihrauch breach seals and piston seals. So, as the price was right , I purchased a half dozen. I have had to change the seal just the one time in three years. This was about a year ago. The seal looks good so far. Using a nylon washer in the breach when not in use seems like a sound idea to me. One thing that I have noticed with the .22cal. 97, is although JSB 13.43 grain pellets give good velocity, I don’ use them because of noticeable piston slam. Not as bad with the 14.35 grain, and negligible with the 15.9 gram JSB pellet. I was told this was because of the thin lead skirt. I would think it would happen to my HW77k .22cal as well. Power being equal, it likes the lighter pellets. This hobby will give a guy headaches if you think too hard on it. I have been doing my own long term experiment with JSB pellets and sub 500fps. guns. After 6 months, I am beginning to see definate trends. Always something to keep this hobby interesting. Straight shooting.
            Caio Titus

            • I have had some problems with JSB myself.
              My German guns in .22 (R9 and Diana 48) have the best numbers (spread, velocity, and FPE) with RWS pellets. But they don’t shoot very good. They don’t like JSB at all. They seem to prefer FTS, with CP second best even though they don’t look as good on the chrono as the RWS. I have two widely different sizes of FTS….5.50 and 5.56. Difference in loading difficulty, but the rifles do not seem to care. They both hate FTT in all three sizes that I have. All fit very tight. Would like to try a smaller size if I could get them.

              The .177 R9 and 97K like FTT in 4.50 and 4.51. They generally don’t like JSB unless you count the AA field pellets in 4.52 (in the R9 only). Interesting that the R9 goes nuts with the AA 4.51, even though the feel when loading is almost indistinguishable between the two sizes. The R9 also likes the JSB heavies, even though it gives up a little power with them. Niether one likes RWS SD.

              The R7s (.177) like a lot of things reasonably well, but top out with Exact RS.

              I try to stay away from CP as much as possible because of leading issues. They may do reasonably well in the .177s, but I have seen them lead a barrel too fast.

              At this point, I am inclined to believe that JSB generally are more of a PCP pellet, even they work once in a while with a springer.


  4. COMPLETELY OFF TOPIC: Question for folks…If I have a CO2 pistol, say the 2240, how long can you leave the CO2 cartridge in there assuming you keep it stored at room temperature? Do you pretty much have to use it up right away, or could it sit for a few days and be fine? THANKS!

      • THANKS! If it runs out, just replace it…sure.

        Another question. I have a Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk .177 and I ran 7.4 grain pellets over my dad’s chrony with 925 fps being about the avg. speed. Considering trying the JSB monster 13.4 grain pellets but do not have access to a chrony. Is there anyway to estimate the speed of the heavier pellet?

        • Presuming the power-plant can still transfer all the energy to the pellet (so that energy is a constant in the energy/mass/velocity equation) I get this from ChairGun Pro

          7.4gr @ 925fps => 14.06 ft-lbs
          14.06ft-lbs with 13.4gr => 687fps

          The caveat being that most spring (and I’d presume the gas unit works similarly) transfer energy most efficiently with lighter pellets. Within a range of weights you get similar ft-lb output, but go over that range and the energy drops.

          Maker Style Wt (gr) Velocity (fps) Energy (ft-lbs)
          Gamo NRA 1000 Special .177
          RWS Hobby 6.9 926.7 13.16
          RWS Super-H-Point 7.4 926.1 14.09
          RWS Superdome 7.7 852.2 12.42
          RWS SuperPoint 7.7 894.2 13.67
          RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle 8.3 850.6 13.33
          Predator Polytip 9.2 723.4 10.69
          Benjamin Discovery (RN-HP) 10.5 709.5 11.74
          Eun Jin Domed 15.6 528.0 9.66

          Note how, from 6.9 to 8.3gr this gun is essentially a 13ft-lb class. Stuff a 15gr pellet in it and it now drops to 10ft-lb.

          Assuming a 3ft-lb drop for your sample gives

          11ft-lb with 13.4gr => 608fps

          • That has got to be one of the most direct, simple to understand, brilliant explanations I’ve ever read re: the science of airguns! THANK YOU!

            I want to go to a heavier pellet because of the tremendous pressure the recoil is putting on the scopes with the lighter pellets. But I want to balance that with the flat shooting of a faster pellet versus energy delivered to target. So now I will focus on the 10.5 grain type pellets and try to get the best of both worlds, keeps me in the 12 foot pound range at the muzzle that I desire and should still fly fairly flat from 15 to 30 yards with a 20 yard zero (~8 ft. lbs. at 30 yards or so, enough for a rabbit). Thanks again!!!!!

            • One thing that may contribute to the sudden drop in energy is that when you get to those heavy pellets you end up with a LOT of lead riding the rifling. The more common pellets can gain weight by reducing the degree of waist or filling in part of the rear skirt. A heavy pellet either becomes too long to feed in some magazine based guns, or too long to spin stabilize — so instead you get a large cylindrical section rather than an hourglass.

  5. Lead free pellets: More Feedback – Barracuda Green 0.177 / Beeman Eco

    I know this is a few days late, but in the lunchtime break I shot with some new pellets aquired yesterday, still trying to see which shoots best, thus far it was JSB Exact 4.52 8.44… The rifle (HW97KT) has had a local (South Africa) spring kit upgrade, (12ft/lbs) and it has shot about 100 pellets including today… so maybe it is still settling.

    Amongst the lot was the Barracuda Greens (cause I’m a bit of a greenie and I have a 2yo that likes to mouth everything) very light, but fits nicely in the barrel. No feeling of dry-fire, which I unfortunately know quite well… And it grouped (5shots- I am not that consistent a shooter) about .6″ or 15mm from a seated (FT) position at 25m. I admit this is not the best of groupings, but I had one of THOSE days and the JSB 4.53’s would not group at all, the 4.52’s were still decent saving them for tomorrows FT shoot, and the HN FTT 4.52’s were OK too. POI on the greenies were about 25mm higher at 25m than with the 8.44 JSB’s and FTT’s

    So at 25m they were doing about as well as I can, and it actually felt like the gun liked them quite a bit. It seemed a bit more settled shooting these.
    Take into account I’m rather new at shooting, so take everything except the distance and the groupsize with a pinch of salt…

    Love your blog, been reading back-issues for about 3 months now… sortof caught up in the last week.

  6. A comment on the build quality of firearms vs airguns.
    There is a scene in Quigley Down Under, where Quigley hoists himself through a skylight, using his Sharps to bear all his weight to hoist through the window.
    Hefting my friends Enfield (about the same build quality) I think this is entirely possible, though not something you’d want to make a practice of.
    I can’t at all imagine doing this with my Slavia or Avanti 😉

    • Irrelevant to the question of quality. The quality of a good, high-grade Swiss army knife is going to be better than a cheap chainsaw. But if I was going to cut down a tree, I’ll take the cheap chainsaw.

      • Semantics Vince. An irrelevant comparison in my opinion.
        The average person not into guns would look at a Sharps and a Slavia and without actually playing with them would assume they were much the same.
        I think that same person, looking at a chainsaw and a Swiss Army Knife side by side would immediately assume a difference.

    • I remember cringing when Quigley pulled that stunt. Remember thinking “that could cause barrel droop!”

      May give him the benefit of the doubt, as he WAS escaping a burning building by doing that.


  7. I was also surprised, didn’t expect it.


  8. Another firearm that collectors what original, original, original are Lugers. If the numbers don’t match or they have been re-blued, they are shooters.

    But, I see folks asking collector prices for shooter grade Lugers. Perhaps some who don’t know better pay those prices.


  9. Not to stir up a hornets nest, but…..


    According to my Guns and Ammo weekly email, Google is now censoring find and ammo shopping.


    At least for me…. Stop using Google and Google related as much as I can.


    • Well, I just tried a search for “.40 S&W” with lots of hits. I also tried with “Samsung TV”…

      The main visual difference: “.40 S&W” didn’t have anything in the right-hand side of the results page whereas “Samsung TV” had three or four “buy xxxx” offerings.

      From that, admittedly unscientific test, one could conclude that Google is not accepting paid advertisers for the products, but is not blocking the searches themselves.

      • I didn’t think the searches would be blocked, but I can’t see supporting a company that follows such an asinine trends such as this. I don’t willingly use Paypal, or buy Conoco gas and Weyerhauser products for the same types of reasons either.


        • Dave, Wilfraued,

          I,too, just did a Google search on “firearms for sale” and turned up about 11.5 million hits. While there are no “ads” on the right hand side of the screen, I do have “paid advertisers” at the bottom of my screen. Like you, Wilfraued, this is a rather unscientific determination of what Google is or is not doing.

          Whether /Dave wants to use Google or not is a personal decision but I can’t see that they are censoring any gun ads. There is nothing wrong with Firefox’s browser, however.

          Hoo-ray for the weekend.

  10. This discussion goes right to the question of whether guns (air guns or otherwise) derive their value as useful tools or collector pieces. I would say that would depend not only on the item itself, but the owner’s tastes.

    With very, very few exceptions, things I buy are bought to be used, not as investments to be kept pristine. If you are going to take a gun out to the range or in the field and shoot it, then it is inevitable it is going to accumulate some “range rash”. Even my newest air rifles, my Bronco Target Rifle and my Winchester 1028 show some minor dings from being used. Although I find this annoying, it is not enough for me to keep them in the gun case.

    My first air gun, the model Daisy replaced the Red Ryder with ( a virtual RR except in name, with a plastic stock) was literally worn out. Would I like to have it again? Sure, but it would not have value to anyone but me. If I had hardly used it, and if it had survived the years, it would not mean as much to me, although it may “be in good shape for its age”.

    I have a very nice Trapdoor Springfield, in NRA “Good” condition. This gun has been handed down to me through several generations of my family. About 20 years ago, I had it stored in a closet when a water heater burst open, resulting in a rusted butt plate. My father had it restored for me: replacement butt plate installed, metal parts reblued, stock refinished. It was also test-fired by the gunsmith. Since the gun has been refinished and contains at least one non-original part, the NRA would not rate it any higher than “Good”. But, to me, it is worth a lot more than it was when it needed work. I have a gun that looks as good or better than any of that model I have ever seen in museums. And I have no intention of selling it. Its worth to me exceeds its market value.

    If you want to buy something that will keep its value forever and never wear out, I suggest precious gems. These things don’t wear, although the settings can. If you have, say, a cut diamond, you can always have it reset. It is the setting that wears out, not the stone.

    Dave: What did Paypal, Conoco, and Weyerhauser do to tick you off?


    • Les,

      I agree. All of my stuff is being used too. And a lot of it has more value to me than what it’s worth on the street… 🙂

      Paypal will stop a “firearm or related” transaction and won’t back up a transaction gone wrong if they suspect it had anything to do with that. (i.e.- a firarms related transaction that slipped under their radar)

      Conoco and Weyerhauser both fired employees for having firearms locked in their cars in the company parking lot. LOCKED in their vehicles! Not carrying them around on company property, but locked up in their personal vehicle for use on their own time and for use off of company property! They weren’t threatening anyone. That to me is an invasion of privacy that goes far beyond any entities right to dictate policies. They were not searching for stolen company property, but conducting a witch hunt!

      So, now Google has followed suit with their new weapons policy. I’ve unstalled Google Chrome and told them why on their feedback form. I won’t use any Google products from now on if I can help it. Unfortunately, for now I am stuck with my Android phone which has some Google defaults. But my contract for it will expire too…

      I vote and speak with my wallet.


      • Vote with your wallet! An excellent idea!

        No matter what goofy agendas these guys have, you can be sure they take a backseat to the good ole bottom line!


      • Empire Arms has a lot of negative things to say about PayPal. I haven’t gotten verified because of their claim that once PayPal gets linked to your bank acccount, they might clean it out. And you will have a devil of a time getting satisfaction.


        • I actually spent $10K through them.Never an incident,yet the began “insisting” that I link them to my bank account.They claimed it was necessary “to continue to trust me”.That’s NOT how you keep MY buisness! Shameful at best….not unlike the Cosa Nostra. AKA “protection racket” LOL None for me,thanks.US PO Money orders & I’ll fight my own battles.

          • Frank,

            I’ve used pp in the past and still do occasionally when I’m given no choice and it’s something I can’t live without. I’ve had to play their “verification” game, which really is like dealing with the mafia, and only had one instance where I needed their assistance in rectifying a matter. They were worse than useless in helping me and I eventually got it solved on my own, no thanks to paypal. Never personally had an airgun transaction stopped, but of course heard enough stories to steer me away. That and their policy states such… So, for the most part, if I can’t get it with a MO, CC, cash or trade, I don’t need it.


  11. I’ve got an old kitchen table I would not mind turning into gun $$. It is has “Mochi” marked on the top. It is white with a black design on the enamel. I would guess early 1940’s. Good \ Very good condition. Any guess as to the value?

  12. Greetings …

    That is what I put down on the application for “Old People’s Dating Service” … Excellent condition considering his age.

    BB … today seems like a good day to toss out a red herring. The question I have comes from some pub conversation over last weekend. We all are pistol guys and have noticed that there seem to be more and more “cocking extensions” or “cocking aids” showing up these days, the most recent being the Hatsan 25 which offers us a threaded barrel so the cocking extension can be left in place. We all know that lots of different devices are added on to the muzzle end of an airgun. I think that the question we finally settled on is this … Does the size of the bore and/or the length of the extension have any effect on the flight of the pellet? To give a silly example, what if a person attached a tube to the muzzle of a rifle and the tube had an ID of 3/4 inch and a length of 3 feet. Is there some point where increasing the diameter or the length of the barrel extension changes the flight of the pellet?

    By the way, a great topic today. Your basic rules apply to anything … cars, motorcycles, clocks, etc.


    • 36″ tube of 0.75″ ID… Sounds like a rather long but narrow shrouded barrel.

      I wouldn’t expect much trajectory effects unless:

      1) the velocity is such that the pellet drop will impact while inside the shroud
      2) the diameter is insufficient to drop air pressure behind the pellet, leading to blow-by turbulence [though this situation may be comparable to the matter of a perfect crown]

      • Hi Wulfraed … The idea of a shroud was not what I had in mind unless you try to imagine a shroud that begins where the barrel leaves off and the bore is larger than the barrel bore.

        Without our hypothetical tube or pipe or whatever we choose to call it, the pellet leaves the barrel and is discharged into the atmosphere. What if we were to add this hypothetical tube, that is some amount larger than the bore, and of some length, beginning at the muzzle. Would there be any effect on the flight of the pellet? And, if there is, what would it be?

        I am sure that if this tube were make long enough, the pellet would eventually run out of energy and just slide along inside the tube. But, before it gets to that point, does the still air in a tube work on a pellet that has been spun by its rifling and thrust by the air/gas behind it?

        I can already hear the response from some people saying, “What the … ??? Why does he need to know that?

        I have a project in mind and the answer to this question may change the way I approach my project. So, does anyone have an opinion on what effect an extension to the barrel would have on the flight of a pellet?



        • There is air in front of the pellet even while it is in the barrel and against the rifling.

          As I believe I mentioned (I’m not in the mood to keep scrolling up and down this thread [pity the reply box doesn’t appear under the comment one is replying too]) the main effect I can see would rely upon how much residual pressure there is left behind the pellet as it leaves the support/seal of the barrel.

          With a lot of pressure, you have a blow-by situation compounded by the narrow channel directing the gases around the pellet (whereas if the barrel muzzle is the very end, most of the gases will disperse to the sides).

          The tube might reduce the effect of cross-winds (though since it is at the most energetic point in the pellet flight, that reduction is likely minimal).

          The main concern with the length of your extension is in what the free-air ballistics are — low-velocity target guns may have sufficient trajectory drop to have the pellet skid on the tube (presuming the sights are high enough to see over the end of the tube to start with). Higher velocity guns should still be similar to a shroud — just one in which the expansion space is all forward of the muzzle. The muzzle weight of my USST Daisy 953 (think 853 using the cheaper 953 action/barrel) already extends about two inches beyond the actual barrel crown.

          The physical mass would, as others have mentioned, change the harmonics of the barrel, resulting in a different point-of-impact (and, if the new frequency is unfortunate, put the pellet exit at the least accurate part of the swing*)

          * Since pellet velocities are not identical from shot to shot, the time-to-exit varies some. But the concept is that the barrel action harmonics will tend to be the same (based more on the power plant motions). The most accurate point for the pellet to exit the barrel is not at the center of the vibrational range, but at the extreme of vibrational flexing.

          At the extreme, the muzzle is slowing down and reversing direction — minor differences in time-to-exit will still have the pellet aimed in the same narrow range. In contrast, if the average time-to-exit equates to the “at-rest” (centered) muzzle position, then the muzzle is swinging from side-to-side (up/down; diagonally; whatever Lissajous pattern it develops) the most rapidly. Even a small delta in exit time could have one pellet “aimed” to the right while the next ones is “aimed” to the left; opening up the spread.

    • NRS,

      I think the answer to this question is that the extension changes the harmonics of the gun, and therefore how tight it attaches and remains must also come into play. I know this new Ruger Mark I does not like the cocking extension left on the hun.

      And some cocking aids cannot remain on the gun. The Walther LP III comes to mind, because it has a spud that goes into the counterbored muzzle to grab the barrel. So that one has to come off.


      • I don’t know why nobody has come up with a barrel sleeve that acts as a leverage extension,but retracts to fire.Maybe it’s not practical? More importantly the “lawyers’ probably wouldn’t sign off on it.

        • I’m somewhat surprised to find so many “attachable” assists… After all, for a country that controls silencers under the same system as full-auto machine guns, the attachment system would be a blatant support for a silencer to mount…

          I can visualize a permanent assist — but have no idea if the construction would be sturdy enough, nor reproducible in latching.

          Fit a good steel bar (or a U channel) over the top of the barrel, with a hinge at the muzzle end. Mount the sights to this bar, and have a latch on the rear of the pistol to hold it down.

          To cock: unlatch the rear, flip the sight-bar 180 degrees so the front sight base is now pressed against the muzzle (use a recessed crown). (the U-channel probably has better strength). Would need some sort of padding under the rear-sight, and that is the part one would grab to pull down on the barrel…

          • I was thinking much simpler Wulfraed.Now granted,I’m NOT an engineer or material scientist…..but how about a polymer sleeve with an ID close to the OD of the actual barrel.I’m thinking something like an old fashioned telescoping antenna sleeve.the same springs that friction the fit could index the position (fore & aft) AND lock it open.A simple push button under the tube could unlock it.
            Using a sleeve would afford a comfortable feel by maximizing the palm contact area,and the tubular cross section would afford maximum rigidity as well as marry the strength to the barrel efficiently (think telescoping baton).Hell,put an endcap on it & you have a telescoping shroud as well!

            • I should further add……that simple design also allows the front sight to be (a)Adjustable for sight radius, & (b)out of harms way during cocking,much like a breakbarrel rifle.
              Only such barrel to sleeve overlap as is necessary to marry the two rigidly.A 20-25% overlap would still yield a massive leverage advantage over the barrel alone,as I’m sure you can calculate in your sleep.

  13. I’m so delighted with how much and how easily I can shoot my airguns that they are all shooters. I save matters of culture and history for my firearms. With my surplus rifles, I’m spanning the spectrum. With my M1, I wanted to maximize this classic design, so I had it completely rebuilt and accurized. My Mosin 91/30 was refinished by the Russians, so that, combined with its history, is enough for me. My SMLE I want to restore but will not accurize. But the final goal is a Russian capture K98 Mauser. That I would have cleaned and function-tested but otherwise leave as it is. The embedded history is just what I want. I was watching another YouTube documentary of the Eastern Front and apparently, the SS division Der Fuhrer kept fighting Soviet counterattacks outside of Moscow even when the temperature dropped to -50. The defense held but only 35 men were left outside of 2000. Whew.

    Does anyone know what “co-witnessing” means in relation to reflex/red dot sights? My guess is that it means you can hold both the image in the scope and everything outside in a single field of view with both eyes. I know that reflex sights are supposed to be fast but the scope borders restrict your image which would slow things down for a dynamic situation with many moving targets. Maybe co-witnessing is the answer where the non-shooting eye keeps track of the big picture and feeds individual targets into the red dot view for the shooting eye.


    • “Co-witnessing” means that you see both the iron sights and the electronic sight aiming point at the same time through the electronic sight. Both are normally sighted in for the same point of impact.
      If the electronic sight doesn’t work, you can still see the iron sights through it.


  14. Hello Folks. I have a query to ask of you, B.B., and/or anyone else who wants to chime in. If you cast your memory back a few months, you may recall a question I posed about purchasing a Weihrauch HW77k, or the longer barreled HW77. Both models being .177cal. You were quite adamant on the shorter barrel of the HW77K model, so that is the one I chose. I couldn’t be happier with my choice. I bought a Hawke 4-12×50 airmax scope and an adjustable Sportsmatch one piece rest to complete the picture. I received the gun about a month ago, and I have been shooting with the iron sights exclusively. Regularly achieving 1 inch groups at 20 meters. It is truly a pleasure to shoot as I did when I first discovered airguns . On to my question. I purchased an HW80 in .22 cal yesterday. I also purchased a factory .20cal. barrel with the breech block, breach seal, and factory installed detente pin. I had a choice of 500 mm. (19.68 in.), or 410 mm. (16.14 in.) barrels. I choose the 410 mm. barrel based on the information you supplied concerning the HW77k. Before my credit is accepted and/or buyers remorse sets in, I would like to know , am I making the proper choice based on the HW77K criteria? Do break barrels present any quirk that would “turn the tables”, so to speak. The increased effort in cocking a shorter barrel will be no problem for me. I want the most accurate barrel of the two available. Not an unreasonable expectation. Correct? Thanks in advance for your input, B.B., and fellow airgun addicts. This should be my final airgun purchase. Ha, you think? Well, for a while. Unless a deal or —-.
    Caio Titus

    • Length alone does not affect accuracy. The quality of the barrel does.
      Barrel length can have some effect on balance and handling. Also if using open sights you get a bit more of an edge with the increased sight radius of a longer barrel.

      My first consideration would probably be how well suited the caliber is for the power plant. Next might be the selection of ammo for that caliber.

      B.B. might make his choice based on something else.


    • Titus,

      There is no way to determine which of the two barrels will be the more accurate without testing each one.

      Don’t downplay the extra leverage a longer barrel give. I know of many Beeman R1s (HW80s) that were sold after the owner got tired of the additional cocking effort.

      It’s not that you can’t cock it. Just that you don’t want to. In a breakbarrel I will usually vote for the longer barrel. In a gun as powerful as an HW80 I will take it every time.


  15. I just wanted to check in to let you all know I’m still alive. The recovery from radiation therapy is taking much longer, and is far more debilitating, than I had expected, and for that matter than my doc had expected. I seem to respond slowly: various unpleasant effects showed up about a week later than in normal people, and to go on for days longer than usual as well. Right now I’m totally deaf in the ear that got zapped, said to be temporary and due to swelling in the canal. Weak as a kitten. Almost totally free of appetite. Etc.

    I have lost almost as much weight as Tom did a year or two ago. From well over 230 down to under 180, and I’m planning on a new wardrobe soon.

    And my arm and wrist have gotten too weak to hold a pistol steadily!

    I think it was TwoTalon who warned me what was in store; he was right, and I thank him!

    On the other hand, I have been told that as far as it is possible to tell, I am totally cured of cancer, which makes the rest of it seem pretty silly to worry about.

    We endured 5+ full days without power thanks to the storm that hit the DC area. So bad was it that all cell phone service in my area was also knocked out from Friday evening until Wednesday, which meant that I had absolutely no way to connect to the world.

    Best to all, and BB, thanks for today’s column!

    • Didn’t mean for that to be anonymous. I had to swap my old iPad2 for a new one under warranty about 3 weeks ago, and was too lazy (for many and obvious reasons) to bother synching all the registrations and other data.

      Edith, how do I log in here?


    • Pete…

      Yeah, it’s rough. I got the whole works. Surgery, chemo, and radiation. Still have aftereffects from the treatment that started three years ago. Some of it will never go away.
      Improvement can be so slow that it takes weeks or months to tell that things have gotten better.


        • You might as well get back to it. Work those muscles and work at your concentration.
          Unless your doc says otherwise, go for protien in your diet, take vitamin/mineral supplements, and maybe drink Ensure or the Wally brand for the calories . The one for muscle building and repair . I was also drinking the one for immune system for a while. I drank the chocolate. The strawberry gave me acid stomach. Boost helps too by the way.

          Don’t work at it so hard that it runs you down. Stop when you start to get tired.
          Don’t try to shoot something that is flat out way too heavy or hard to cock. You decide on a reasonable stress limit. Pick up a more difficult one once in a while, but don’t shoot it much. You gradually work your way up. Going too fast is counter productive.


        • Also…
          What I said IF your doc does not have any restrictions on weight or excercise on you. Otherwise, go with the nutrition anyway unless your doc wants you to stick to something special.


    • Pete,

      It’s good to hear from you again. I’m sorry about the side effects, but if the cancer is gone, you have won the battle.

      It takes time to recover from major trauma. Start slow, but be persistent and you will make it.

      You are in our prayers!


  16. BB,

    The new PA catalog came a few days ago. On p. 39, top left, is a Crossman 1720T PCP pistol. The rated muzzle velocity is a bit high for 10m, but it looks almost in that accuracy class. How well does it work? The “book” talks about 1 hole groups, and it suggests using for silhouettes. The price seems amazing, even if you do have to mount sights.

    How does it perform?


    • Whoops… missed the “reply to” button the first time…

      Looks like a rebadged Benjamin Marauder without the shoulder stock option, and a permanently installed single-shot feed tray.

  17. Nice post and will very helpful for the newbie’s and instructors too.When it comes to give a lesson on fishing guns or any other equipments to a newbie having some basic then it is always good and easy for instructor to train him but sometime its too tough for them to teach the newbie first time having no basic idea. This post is going to help all newbie’s and instructors too. Thanks a lot for the post, keep on going…

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