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Ammo Crosman’s 160: Part 3

Crosman’s 160: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Fresh from the closet, another fine Crosman 160 emerges into daylight. We’ll watch this one blossom.

Today, I’m testing the Crosman 160 for accuracy. This is a target rifle — originally intended for 25-foot ranges, so 10 meters, which is very close to 33 feet, is the distance I shot for this test. And I shot at 10-meter rifle targets. It’s important to remember this rifle is a .22, not a .177, because the larger pellets will influence the overall group size.

The 160 has a post front sight that isn’t as precise as an aperture, but I learned to shoot on a similar sight, so it still works well for me. I’d disassembled the rear aperture sight during cleaning, so when I sighted-in there was a lot of adjusting to get the pellet on target.

I held my eye as close to the aperture as I could get, because my recent experience with both the Ballard and Remington model 37 has taught me that this is the way to get the best accuracy from an aperture sight. The tiny hole made my pupil dilate and the front sight came into sharp focus, as it always should.

I sighted-in with the JSB Exact 15.9-grain dome and left the sights there. So, the first group is well-centered and the other pellets are a little bit off.

Remember that wonderful trigger I told you about last time? Well, this is where it came into its own. It is breaking so light that I leave my finger off the blade until the sight picture is correct. Then it’s just touch and “Bang!” It breaks at a pound. I’ve bump-tested the gun several times without a pellet just to see if I could jar it off the sear, and it’s holding fine…but it feels like a precision set trigger. Perhaps, having the overtravel adjustment makes the difference.

I remember these 160s as being more accurate than they have a right to be, given their original price, and this one is, too. The first 10 shots went into a group that measures 0.313 inches. The group is very round and gives every indication that the rifle loves this pellet.

Ten JSB Exact 15.9-grain domes made this 0.313-inch group at 10 meters.

Next, I tried the .22-caliber Premiers. Back in the early 1990s, when this pellet first came out, 160 owners discovered their rifles were much more accurate than they had believed. When the 160 was new, it was thought that the best they would do was a quarter-sized group at 25 feet. Now they were shooting into a dime at 33 feet.

This time, the group wasn’t as good as some others I’ve shot. Ten shots measure 0.449 inches between centers. The point of impact shifted to the left a bit, as well.

Ten .22-caliber Premiers made this 0.449-inch group at 10 meters.

I also wanted to try a pellet I’d never used in a 160, so the next pellet was an RWS Superdome. They should do well, being both medium weight and thin-skirted. A thin skirt can be blown out into the rifling by the low pressure of the CO2 gas, which will seal the pellet in the bore quite well.

Before you get excited from looking at these next targets, you need to know that I was interrupted while shooting and as a result I put 5 shots on each target, instead of the 10 on one, as planned. Although this was a mistake, it does illustrate, once again, the difference between the sizes of 5-shot and 10-shot groups.

If you didn’t know there were only 5 shots in this group, you could make up all sorts of claims for the RWS Superdome pellets. The group measures 0.107 inches between centers. This is 10-meter target rifle size — even though it was shot with the larger pellets! But it is only 5 shots.

Five RWS Superdomes measure 0.313 inches between centers. Looks good, but, again, it’s only 5 shots. This group was fired when I noticed the gun was running out of gas.

As I loaded and shot, I reflected on the ease of the bolt’s operation. Opening it requires just the flick of one finger, because you’re not cocking a spring. It’s as quick as pulling back the bolt on a biathlon target rifle. Pushing the bolt forward takes some effort, though, because this is where the hammer spring gets compressed.

The big .22-caliber domed pellets lie in the loading trough and feed without a bobble. Where some guns want to flip pellets around, the 160 feeds them effortlessly every time. I can describe the cocking and loading experience as having an oily smoothness.

Best pellet
Upon examination, I feel the JSB Exact pellet did the best in this test. It put 10 pellets into a group the same size as the final 5 Superdomes made. It would be interesting to shoot another group of Superdomes that were not shot at the end of the gas supply, but I still think the JSBs will turn out better.

Shot count
I noticed on the final 5 shots that the rifle sounded like it was losing power. Since 5 shots were used for sight-in, this rifle has given me 35 good shots on two cartridges. Blog reader Jim in PGH commented that an Archer Hammer Debouncer Device (abbreviated HDD and designed to give the valve stem a dead blow to exhaust gas without valve flutter) installed on a Chinese version of the 167 (a .177-caliber version of the 160) that he owns has increased his shot count to 80. That would be worth looking into, if you decide to go the 160 route.

Where are we?
As I shoot the 160, I cannot help but think of a fine 10-meter target air rifle. Kevin would be proud to shoot one so fine. I think most of you would be impressed with what this gun can do.

This is the last report I have planned for the 160. As I suspected, the owner of this 160 was not too keen about the two CO2 cartridges needed to power his gun, so he sold it to me. I have no plans for it at this time, other than to show it to several firearms shooters to impress them with what an airgun can do. I’m also toying with shooting it at 50 yards, just to see how it does.

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

49 thoughts on “Crosman’s 160: Part 3”

  1. Hello~
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  2. BB;

    Not too keen about two CO2 cartridges? He just didn’t know what he had. His lose is your gain! Perhaps you can try the Archer Hammer Debouncer Device in it one day.


  3. That is a true gem of the airgun world. I actually went the qb78 way because i did not have the courage to mess with such a good rifle and believe that they should not be modified. So i HPA the qb and it shoots 720 fps with premiers, printing solid 1.010 groups at 50 yards. it is set up to shoot silhouette and it does and admirable job at it. as per the 2 powerlets, I also did not like that set up, so I shoot a 180 to get my 160 kick… I also prefer the size of the 180 for informal plinking and trekking with in my local woods. But I also get 35 shots out of 1 powerlet, but at an obvious lesser degree of power.

  4. BB,

    Thanks for the kind comments yesterday.

    I remember the enjoyment I got from shooting my Daisy bb gun when I was a kid, and want them to share this, too.

    Target shooting is an excellent way to develop self-discipline. Understanding guns and being able to shoot accurately might even save their lives someday. It is probably the most valuable thing I can leave them.


      • Matt,

        Melanie was involved in a horrific accident in May. She and her friend Lily were riding their bicycles.
        They went to the top of a local hill (Boot Hill, site of a cowboy cemetery). The two girls swapped bikes.
        On the way down the hill (which for many years had been used for Soap Box Derby races), Melanie discovered the brakes on her borrowed bike weren’t working.

        She entered an intersection at high speed, blowing through a stop sign. A young mother was driving through the intersection on a cross street. She had the right of way. Melanie crashed into the driver’s door of the car so hard she put her head through the driver’s closed windshield. The driver was inured by flying glass. Her baby in the back seat escaped injury.

        Melanie received a concussion, a broken skull, broken cheekbones, and a broken collar bone. She also received leg injuries and cuts. She was flown to a hospital in Aurora, CO.

        Incredibly, two weeks later she was back on the shooting range with me. Shooting CO2 pistols with an arm in a sling. After her shoulder healed, she went to shooting multi-pump pneumatics that would not jar her face (had a metal plate inserted). This week I let her shoot the Bronco, a very gentle springer.

        Melanie and her brother Nicky are members of the Platte Valley Sharpshooters. This is an association of NRA-sponsored air gun shooting teams that compete around the Nebraska Panhandle. They also meet once a week in the winter to teach the kids gun safety and practice. There are two Divisions in this activity (organized by 4H). BB guns and air rifles. The guns are purchased with an NRA grant.
        The bb guns are Daisy 499’s. The air rifles are Daisy Avanti PCP’s. The bb guns are shot at 15 feet. The air rifles are shot at 10 meters.

        The weekly shoots are scored, and a running score for each shooter is kept for the season. The traveling series is a separate points championship.

        This coming season, Melanie and Nicky will have their younger sister Amber in the weekly school. Both Melanie and Nicky are going to shoot one more year of bb guns, then graduate to air rifles.
        Both are doing well shooting my scoped air rifles at 25 yards. Nicky has a Red Ryder and a scoped 760.
        Melanie has a scoped 760. Amber has a pink Red Ryder in her future.


        • Desertdweller,
          Just read this story in horror. Been through my own personal tragedies like this. I hurt when I hear about accidents like this. I can’t even watch shows like “Worlds Dummest Daredevils”. Thank God Melanie is so young. She’ll be fine. Us older people have it a bit rougher. So good to hear that she’s moving on and allowing herself to have fun. She’s lucky to have you. God bless!

    • Les,

      I’ve been thinking about you and your grandkids ever since I wrote that comment, and I think you are doing the most wonderful thing a person can do for a child. It doesn’t even need to be about shooting. Just sharing something that you enjoy with children will mean the world to them in the future.


      • Thanks again.

        Shooting air guns is an inexpensive activity that I enjoy both as an individual activity and with the kids.

        Currently, I am trying to gin up some interest among my fellow members of the local sports club for an adult air gun shooting group. Heck, I’d even supply the guns and pellets to get started.

        We are not allowed to shoot anything outdoors in the city limits, except at the city gun range. This is not open to the general public without jumping through some hoops.

        The gun range is also the local law enforcement range. It is owned by the city and operated and maintained by the Sports Club. For someone who is not armed law enforcement to use the range, you have to be a member of the Sports Club and be trained as a Range Safety Officer. Then a RSO can bring guests to the range, but is responsible for their behavior and safety.

        To use the range, one must sign out on a ledger kept at the police station and get a key for the gate and a red range flag. This includes law officers as well as Range Safety Officers. The range is in the bottom land next to the South Platte River. There is a large sand berm for a backstop, with target frames. Shooting benches are located at 50yards, 100yards, and 200yards. A table is set at 25yards, so targets can be placed atop it and shot at from the 50yard table for a 25yard range.

        The bb gun and air rifle winter shooting is done in a large exhibition building at the county fairgrounds. It is fully finished inside, heated and air conditioned, and includes classrooms and a kitchen.

        All this takes place in Ogallala, Nebraska.


        • Les,

          Right after a group of four of us started the DIFTA field target club at the Damascus Isaac Walton League, we started a weekly indoor 10-meter air pistol competition. Most of us became good enough to compete in regional NRA matches and with other Isaac Walton Leagues clubs.

          All it takes is one gathering to show a few guys how much fun it can be, After that the thing takes on a life of its own.

          As far as I know, that weekly 10-meter meeting is still running today, 14 years later!


      • B.B.,
        Amen to that. I grew up poor, but I never would have know what that even meant. My father was real good about taking us out most weekends to do things like fishing, swimming, or just going to parks. In fact, he would sometimes take us out to pick fruits, nuts, or whatever was available for a few bucks. I also learned about the value of things, and how to negotiate by going to many a swap-meet with him. He even made us toys for Christmas, and candy. I have many fond memories of my childhood, and almost all of them were about some outdoor activity.

    • J-F,

      The closest equivalent of the rifle I’m testing here is probably the QB 78 in .22 caliber. Jim in PGH said that the Chinese have the barrels down pat these days, but I must disagree. I tested a TF 79 target rifle about 18 months ago and it wasn’t as accurate as this Crosman. I think the barrels are still somewhat variable. But a good one is very good, even if the Chinese made it.


      • One of these cheap rifles may be in my future…

        I don’t mind the CO2 use. It’s not worst than a PCP! I can get 500 powerlet for the price of a cheap handpump for a PCP and let’s not get into that carbon fiber bottle thing!

        I’m not complaining about the cost of operation of either. To me it’s just not relevent, like buying a Ferrari and complaining about the mileage.


        • Go for it. They can rival the high dollar stuff, especial with a little help. I have a QB 79 modified for the 9 oz paint ball tanks. $2.00 a fill for almost 600 shots. Never leaks. Used tanks on EBay run about $10.00 each. Had Rich in Mich tune it so power is at 16 ft lbs. He also shrouded the barrel. I added the target stock to balance the the paint ball tank weight. Big old centerpoint scope tops it off. Shoots like a $1200 PCP for about $300. ( not including scope )

          • Hey Volvo!

            Good to see you posting.

            I agree with you. I have/had a frankenstein QB 78/79 that Ron Robinson built and won some kind of match with. He converted it to hpa, did some trigger work and installed a regulator in it. Gave it to a friend that has pest problems. Fill it to 3000 psi, gets 85 good shots, in .22 cal and has a great barrel. Wonderful gun that I paid around $300 for.


  5. Okay, I see why the Crosman 160 and the Chinese variant have such a following. Nice shooting.

    B.B. thanks for the explanation about heating. So it is a matter of duration and increased heat. I recall hearing that the instant a round is discharged in a firearm, it’s like a blowtorch is being a applied to the barrel throat. That will definitely heat up your barrel and it has no equivalent in airguns.

    Edith, on the subject of gifts, you and B.B. sound like the O. Henry story The Gift of the Magi. It is all about the intention. And I’m reminded too of my Dad. He really has to be one of the most mechanically challenged people and the most difficult of shooting students. He can barely load the guns or change the magnification on the rifle scopes, and it took the longest time for me to figure out that he was not using the rear iron sight, only the front. But then my Mom one day mentioned that she liked a very expensive handbag. She’s very hard to buy gifts for and she NEVER asks for anything. Then all of a sudden my Dad got extremely cunning. On his daily walk, he sneaked out the door with his long pants tucked under his arm; got dressed and purchased the bag; kept it hidden in the trunk of the car with great skill; and he somehow distracted my Mom from looking at the charge card bill which she watches like a hawk. This last one was the most amazing feat of all. And he was a total success! So if it really is all about the intention as my relative claimed, then that certainly came through.

    I saw the Bourne Legacy yesterday. I thought it was on the low side of the series. Matt Damon never said much now that I think about it, but he had a kind of cerebral presence. I wasn’t getting much of a read on the new guy. Nevertheless, it more than met my fairly low standards for action films. What speed, what skill, what nerveless composure, and what ability to find people in large crowds. But it sure won’t make you a fan of big government.

    And who’s to say afterwards while shooting my Walther Nighthawk that I didn’t take a bit of the movie with me. There I was jerking the trigger and throwing the shot sideways. But then the Jaws of the Subconscious, or should I say the Bourne Identity, descended like a superior being and drilled the shots right in there. Or there I was missing the target with my single shot snap shooting and then with the double taps I blew the little Shoot ‘n C stickers right off the target.

    Now for the Expendables 2 and the 70 year old Chuck Norris.


    • Matt61,

      The year Tom got the Beeman R1, he also saw the HW gun at a local gun store. He said he wanted it but didn’t pounce on it right away. I called the store and told them to put away for me, and I would come down in a few days & pay for it, BUT they had to keep it at the store until a few days before Xmas. Tom called back a few days later & said he wanted the gun, but they told him it was gone already. He told me that he was glad it sold because he had doubts about whether or not it was really as good as he remembered it. Talk about sour grapes 🙂

      Then, strangely, one day a long box dressed in Xmas paper & ribbons joined the Beeman R1 box (which was wrapped, but a known gift) under the tree. How could this be? How could I know enough to buy Tom a gun without his assistance? What is going on?

      He had no idea that I bought the gun out from under him. He was stunned when he opened the box on Xmas. It was a great moment.


  6. Great post. I’ll have to try some of the JSB’s in mine. There are complete tear down/service instructions on anotherairgunblog if anyone needs to do some fixing. Check the index of guns on the right side and look for posts on the Crosman 160, as well as some of the Chinese clones, TF79 and QB77.

    Dennis Quackenbush did a short run of semi-finished walnut stocks for these old Crosman 160’s a very short while back. They were extremely inexpensive. Since my old 160 had a few small cracks in the stock, it was a no-brainer to order one up. Hope to find the time to get it finished and installed in the next month or so. The stock will need a butt pad but I can’t make up my mind between an vintage looking old-style orange rubber pad or a Morgan adjustable. Any thoughts out there?

      • Fred,

        Yep, the Morgans are really nice. I’ve installed 6 or 7 of the aluminum base versions over the years. I use a grinding wheel to get it close to size and dress it (that is, the grinding wheel) often during the fitting to remove the aluminum debris. My internal debate is probably more about whether or not it’s aesthetics are “right” for this particular rifle. Hopefully this will be my most difficult decision for the week.


        • derrick, didn’t realize it was you, the master of the hobby lathe. BB had recommended the Morgan to me a while ago. it is a great recoil pad. don’t you sell these on your website?

          fred DPRoNJ

  7. It’s always nice to see a report about a more or less vintage gun that performs like this one! Especially when it was never designed to be a top of the line model. Only down side is, the price on these is going to climb now. I know I’d love to have one!…


  8. See folks? There are air rifles that can really shoot. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen nice groups like this on this blog (I think I’ve been paying attention). Feels like a breath of fresh air.

  9. B.B.,

    Your enjoyment in shooting this old friend is palpable. This is one of the many benefits of shooting many guns over many years. When new loads/new pellets become available and we revisist these friends it can become a lovefest of accuracy.

    Thanks for this series. Those groups are the best you have posted in a long time. One hole and well rounded. I really like accurate guns. 🙂


  10. BB
    I have a Crosman 160 my dad taught me how to shoot with back around 1963. I’m going to guess it’s a late 50’s – early 60’s vintage. It also has been in the closet for many years. Can you tell me the best way to sell it? I would like it to go to someone interested in vintage pellet guns that will take care of it. Feel free to contact me via email.

    Thank you

  11. BB.
    Thank you for this blog. I picked up a 3rd var. today at my local pawn shop for $55. It is complete with the sling studs and Sxxx peep sight. I’m assuming it’s the Air Force type you mentioned. I did not know it held 2 carts until I read this blog. When I opened it only one came out. The other may be stuck. I’ll dig it out tomorrow. The C02 leaks off in an hour or so but it seems to shoot well and I expect it to shoot much better with 2 carts. I’m going to let it stand with some of Timmy Mac’s secret sauce in it and see if it will seal up. That stuff is magic. I’m wondering if the depinger you spoke of is still available from Archer. I have well over 100 airguns in my collection and this one will fit right in. I guess it to be 85% – 90%. The blue is great and the wood has just a few minor scuffs. It will get a good cleaning and your trigger adjustment (thank you for that). I’ll report results as soon as they are in.

    • Avator,

      Welcome to the blog. You can squirt some Pellgunoil into the CO2 reservoir and let it sit on its butt for a day to loosen that other cartridge.

      Here is an article that will help you with your leak:


      Just put in 20 drops before you pierce the next 2 cartridges. It’s safe and does not harm the seals. I have tested it for the past 3 years and It’s come though fine.

      Your rifle may be from the Air Force, but without the box there is no way to ever tell. There are no special makings on an Air Force gun that differentiate it from the same model sold commercially.


  12. A buddy invited me to shoot an outdoor course of Air Rifle, something I had never done before. I inherited a 160 with the Crosman peep with some gas cartridges and an old tin box of Crosman pellets.

    I spent 10 minutes zeroing it at 20 yds and then went to the course the next day. 9 stations, 36 metal targets and bells from 7 to 50 yds. 2 of the other guys had some big rigs utilizing a CO2 bottle, small magazines and with scopes.

    I shot a 27/36 my first time out, everyone was impressed! I might have got an extra 3-4 hits but the gas ran low.

    Mine feels like it’s a 2 stage trigger, lot’s of slop then fairly crisp. Hope it’s adjustable.

  13. Tom,
    If this gun still resides in your collection and isn’t seeing much use I would seriously be interested in acquiring it. Not just because it’s currently at the the top of my Airgun bucket list but to have piece of your history as well, it would be my most sentimental piece?

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