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Theoben Crusader breakbarrel air rifle

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Today, blog reader Paul Hudson shares his Theoben Crusader rifle with us. The Crusader is not as well-known in the U.S. as some other Theoben models, so this will be an interesting report.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.

Theoben Crusader air rifle left
With its walnut stock, the Theoben Crusader is a large, handsome airgun.

The Theoben Crusader is a high-power breakbarrel airgun, identical in size and performance to the Beeman R1. Its stablemate, the Theoben Eliminator, seems to get far more press since it’s one of the most powerful breakbarrel airguns available. That power comes with a high price — a cocking effort of 50+ lbs. — that most shooters are not willing to endure for very long. The Crusader, on the other hand, is far easier to cock and is a more practical airgun. Based on the used guns I’ve seen for sale, either the Crusader sales are much lower or people tend to keep them. Few are seen on the usual airgun sales sites or at airgun shows.

Theoben Crusader air rifle right

The Crusader is a high-quality spring-piston rifle.

Measuring a full four feet in length and weighing 8 lbs., 3 oz. unscoped, the Crusader is a large airgun. Mine is .177 caliber; but .20, .22, and .25 calibers are also available. The Lothar Walther barrel is 16 inches long, and a muzzlebrake is standard equipment (.22-caliber Crusaders have an Anschütz barrel). There are no baffles in the muzzlebrake. No open sights are supplied by the factory, making an optical sight a necessity. My rifle has a right-hand walnut stock, but an ambidextrous stock can be had from the factory as a no-cost option. The pressed checkering does give enough grip to be functional. A very good non-slip recoil pad keeps the rifle in place. No plastic parts are used on the rifle.

The metal work on the Crusader is first-rate, with a high polish that’s typical of many British airguns, and the wood-to-metal fit is excellent. Allen-head screws are used throughout the gun except for one screw that secures the triggerguard.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Schrader
Behind that screw, a Schrader valve allows the owner to change the air pressure in the gas spring. Note the thumb rest in the stock.

A gas spring
Like all Theoben springers, the Crusader uses a gas spring, not a metal spring. Cocking is butter-smooth and requires 38 lbs. of effort. The piston includes a sliding weight that reduces piston bounce and felt recoil. A Schrader valve at the rear of the receiver allows the pressure in the gas spring assembly to be adjusted to vary the power of the gun. Upon firing there’s no spring twang or vibration, just a quick snap. The sound level is moderate. And, due to the size of the gun and careful tuning, the felt recoil is mild for the power level.

Theoben Crusader air rifle breech
The lower bolt is pinched between the breech block and the locking wedge to prevent vertical barrel movement. Note the taper at the rear of the barrel to make pellets easier to seat.

The barrel pivot setup on the Crusader is a little unusual. Most breakbarrels use a breechblock that’s close to the width of the forks of the receiver. Wide, thin shims may also be present between the breechblock and the receiver forks. The pivot bolt is then tensioned to the point that the lateral barrel movement is constrained. The breechblock on the Crusader has much more side clearance. Belleville washers are used to control the lateral movement. Belleville washers are cone-shaped from the side and are actually considered to be springs. A second bolt behind the pivot bolt mates with a hook on the back of the breechblock. The locking wedge pulls the breechblock tightly against this bolt to control the vertical movement of the barrel. Like many classic Webley rifles, the Crusader takes a bit of a slap to open the barrel for cocking.

Theoben Crusader air rifle cocking linkage
The unusually wide breechblock/fork clearance is visible from below the action. (The photo is overexposed, leading to the yellow stock color. This was necessary to bring out the detail within the cocking slot.)

The trigger
The Evolution trigger of the Crusader and other models has been criticized by some; and given the price of the gun, that may be justified. No creep is felt in the first stage, but the second stage is not as crisp as a Rekord trigger. As the gun came from the factory, the second stage breaks cleanly at 1 lb., 13 oz. The safety blade resides in front of the trigger and automatically sets when the gun is cocked. It can also be manually reset. Overall, I would rate the Crusader trigger as very good, just not quite as good as a Rekord or TX200 unit but not a reason to avoid the gun.

Theoben Crusader air rifle trigger
The trigger blade is almost straight; the automatic safety resides in the front of the triggerguard and is pressed forward to fire.

Velocities with the Crusader are similar to what’s found in a Beeman R1, and some lighter pellets in a .177-caliber rifle will go supersonic and ruin the accuracy. I tried a couple H&N Field Target Trophy Green pellets, but they traveled almost 1200 feet per second and missed the bullet trap at 25 yards. Extreme spreads with most pellets were under 20 feet per second, and a few varied by less than 10…very good for a springer.

Theoben Crusader air rifle spreadsheetThese are the velocities the Crusader can deliver with the selected pellets.

25-yard accuracy
Many pellets gave 5-shot groups around an inch in size at 25 yards. Several gave very good accuracy, including a few that surprised me. To get the best accuracy shooting from the bench, I had to hold the airgun loosely with my right hand and keep my left hand open. If I let my fingers touch the forearm, I had to make sure I didn’t squeeze the gun at all or the groups would open up. In other words, use the classic artillery hold. You cannot grip this airgun tightly and get good accuracy; it’ll take practice and proper technique to get the best results.

All groups were 5 shots at 25 yards, and the sights were not adjusted for the different pellets. It was interesting to see the difference in the points of impact. Predator Polymags and 8.4-grain JSB Exacts shot especially high in relation to the other pellets. Unfortunately, neither 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lites nor 10.5-grain Premiers heavies did much better than one-inch groups at 25 yards. While that’s not too bad, a number of pellets did far better.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Baracuda Hunter group
Five H&N Baracuda Hunters made this 0.50-inch group.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Predator group
Five Predator Polymag pellets made this 0.40-inch group. Good enough for hunting.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Gamo TS-10 group
Gamo TS-10 surprised me with a 0.45-inch group; but their size seemed a bit inconsistent, and there were some flyers with this pellet.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Skenco Big Boy group
Skenco Big Boys gave this nice 0.43-inch group. The group is almost twice as wide as tall.

Theoben Crusader air rifle JSB Monster group
The 13.4-grain JSB Monster also produced a 0.43-inch group.

Theoben Crusader air rifle JSB Exact group
The Crusader really liked the 8.4-grain JSB Exacts, as this round 0.24-inch group shows.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Beeman Kodiak group
Best accuracy came from the Beeman Kodiak pellet. This group above is just 0.23 inches.

Adding it all up
Why buy a Crusader? After all, it costs just over $1000, and that price will keep many away. Compared to a Beeman R1, the size and power are identical. The R1 has a better trigger, but the Crusader has a better firing behavior due to the gas spring. The Crusader also has a far nicer stock, better metal finish and includes a factory muzzlebrake. Between my Crusader and my R1, the Crusader shoots more pellets accurately and will shoot slightly smaller groups, probably due to the fine Lothar Walther barrel. Unfortunately, the Crusader is more hold sensitive than my R1.

Both rifles should last a lifetime with proper care. It’s possible to upgrade an R1 with a new stock, a gas spring, muzzlebrake, etc., but you’ll end up spending more than the cost of the Crusader and still do not have the nice metal work. If you can afford it, the Crusader offers very good accuracy in a nicely finished package.

Theoben Production ceases
In October, 2012, Theoben Ltd. in England announced that they were entering liquidation (bankruptcy). It remains to be seen whether another company will take over production rights for Theoben springers.

81 thoughts on “Theoben Crusader breakbarrel air rifle”

  1. Well done Paul. Thanks for the contribution.

    IMHO you did a great job of reporting but it’s important to put great emphasis on hold technique since the crusader in .177 jumps and in .22 kicks (I owned both) and my eliminator that I took on trade got shot 10 times before being traded.

    I also suspect that your crusader was sent to dave slade to get the trigger adjusted to 1 lb 13 oz. I fiddled with the trigger, got input from dave on the trigger, fiddled with the pressure (since I had a pump), even took it down to 12 fpe hoping it would act like a fenman like I had read about and although we had an interesting courtship I couldn’t marry this gun. Loved the look and finish. Couldn’t connect with the personality. Wanted to. Just couldn’t.

    Not sure you or anyone else will understand my failure to connect since in looks, specs and most others opinions these airguns are movie stars.


    • Kevin,

      I bought the Crusader from David Slade a couple of years ago at the Little Rock (Malvern) airgun show. He may have adjusted the trigger but he did not mention it and I did not think to ask.


  2. Theoben declaring bankruptcy? This does not bode well for my ‘bucket list’ of air rifles I need to have. I was on cloud nine when I opened B.B.’s blog, and there was Paul’s guest blog on one of the guns at the top of my list. They have such a great reputation with the airgun world, I can’t see someone not stepping up to the plate. I just hope they are true airgunners at heart, and not a “lets make them as cheap as we can over in China” bunch. I know, China has a poor reputation when it comes to producing quality goods. But you need more then man power ( women power as well), when assembling a quality gun such as this beautiful Crusader. You need to have love and the dedication to build the best airgun you can. When people pour their heart and soul into a project, the results are always superior to the less dedicated, nine to fivers. Maybe this thinking is how the Monday and Friday cars from Detroit, and Windsor up here in Canada used to get their reputation. For those younger folks who may not of been around in the 50’s and 60’s, let me explain, Monday cars were assembled by hung over workers, and the Friday cars left the factory with rattles, missing parts and more as the workers took shortcuts in anticipation of another weekend partying. I say this with tongue in cheek, as there were many dedicated workers on the assembly lines who took pride in their work, regardless of the calendar. However, this was how my Dad explained it to me. Anyway, most myths contain more then a tad of truth.
    O.K., time for me to climb off my soapbox. You have a beautiful rifle Paul. Thanks for sharing and giving us a look into it’s secrets. I know I could spend a few hours and days at the range, as I unlock some secrets to my very own .20cal Crusader.
    Caio Titus

    • Joe,

      Guess I was a little vague on that point. According to the Theoben literature, their gas spring systems include a “floating inertia” weight that is supposed to contact the piston just after it first stops its forward travel. The intent is to reduce the piston bounce before the pellet leaves the barrel and increase the muzzle energy. A heavier piston will tend to give the same result but will increase the recoil. I have no way of knowing to what degree the setup on the Theoben works; it would be necessary to disassemble the gun, remove the parts, and retest. Other companies have used variations of this same idea.


  3. To Titus Groan and all that THINK like him,
    Could someone please tell me WHEN China begin producing guns (firearm & airguns) in mass production? We (Western countries) has been making guns for several hundred years, and we learnt many lessons along the way. Our gun NEVER started out nearly as good as they are now. Now it is China’s turn to learn HOW to MAKE GUNS, and they too (like us) will learn many lessons along the way. When you compare a European Gun Maker to a Chinese Gun Maker, you are comparing Apples and Oranges. The Chinese don’t know as much as we do about how to make an accurate gun, but the Chinese are learning FAST.

    • Joe,

      I agree with you. There is no reason why high quality guns cannot be made in China. We should not assume that the Chinese do not care about the quality of their products. To the contrary, their country’s economy depends on producing goods that are competitive on the world market.

      I think the blame for poor quality on goods from China lies with the companies that contract for production in China. The people who run these companies have to be willing to actually send and keep people in China who will provide close quality control and supervision to the workers building their product. It is not enough to do quality control by examining samples from production sent over here.

      Employers also have the responsibility to provide appropriate materials to go into their products. You cannot build a good product out of low-quality raw materials.

      I am getting tired of accounts blaming low-quality products on the fact that they were made in China.
      How often are these poor goods the result of cheap materials and cost-cutting imposed on production whenever possible. Guns produced anywhere under these parameters are going to be of poor quality.
      But it is the Chinese workers who are invariably getting blamed. Remember when Japanese goods produced under the same conditions were considered junk?


      • According to a Chinese native I used to work with, the entire Chinese production philosophy was “get it out the door”. It was a common joke that if you bought a pair of Chinese shoes, they’d fall apart before you got them home. She noted that the BEST products were generally produced for export.

        I would think that if the Chinese were uniformly conscientious about quality, sending inspectors over there shouldn’t be all that necessary….

        • I think the problem lies at the governmental level. There just hasn’t been enough government inspection. When you look at the population and number of companies in China it must be an overwhelming task to be up on all the manufacturers.
          I completely agree that when proper QC is in place, the Chinese are completely capable of putting out good quality.
          A couple of personal examples. One of my sons is a budding rock star. About a year ago he wanted to take up the guitar, so for Christmas that’s what he wanted. Being 10 I wasn’t going to spend a fortune…at least not till we knew if it was something he’d stick with.
          So down to the nearest music shop where he quickly picked out a Statocaster.
          Not at $800!
          Then the salesperson showed us the Squier Stratocaster. A Fender factory, in China building clones of the Fender version. We looked at them pretty closely and there wasn’t much difference that we could see. Then the clerk, who was obviously an accomplished guitarist in his own right played them both…damned if I could hear a difference (I’m sure professional musician would). Then he showed us a list of all the well known bands whose players use the Squier..
          At $200 it was a steal in my opinion.
          Obviously Fender is a company that set up shop in China, hires labor at the going rate and abides by their quality control standards.
          2nd example. The other son is into target archery. A Win&Win (a Korean company) Olympic recurve bow (riser and limbs) will set you back at least $1000. The T-Rex (same bow but made in their Chinese factory) comes in at around $400.
          Look and shoot the same.
          I don’t think it will be long before we see quality air-rifles at a decent price from China.

          • CSD,

            The Chinese factories need close quality control, but I don’t see how that should be a government responsibility (except perhaps to protect their reputation, which is admittedly not the best).

            It should be the responsibility of the company whose name appears on the product. If a company wants to produce guns cheaply in China, it is their reputation that is more likely to take a hit than the reputation of the Chinese in general.

            There are several well-known brand names of air guns whose management has chosen to have their lower-end products produced in China. I am not going to name them, our readers know who they are.
            But these companies have built their reputations on quality products. If they choose to have air guns produced in China to save production costs, fine. But if their brand reputation slips as a result, it is their responsibility to make sure production build standards are maintained.

            If this is done properly, quality might even improve with Chinese production. I have seen this myself in my model railroad hobby. Goods that were formerly produced by a well-known US-based company were sourced from Taiwan and Hong Kong. When production was shifted to mainland China, a marked improvement in quality resulted. Not only was mechanical performance and parts fit improved, but even paint job quality improved. These products now compete (and are priced comparably to) with premium products produced in Japan, Germany, and the US.

            If Chinese factories are expected to produce only low-priced, low-quality products, that is exactly what they will produce.

            The Chinese air gun industry will mature when Chinese manufacturers begin to compete with well-known brands with their own products produced under their own brand names, rather than simply crank out cheap generic designs intended to be sold under traditional brand names. Or turn out bargain-basement versions of foreign designs.



            • That was valid point.And who know what company will take that chance.Didnt some company did copy the R9 and put their logo on it that was the closest that came to a quality break barell.All the best break barrel makers are small family owned that had very long expereance in machineing that were past on for generation to another ( BSA,BSF,Diana,Webely,Wiehrach at some point these companys made firearms,bicycles,and other metal machined parts.)They were good at fabricating and master craftman.So who will take a chance and set up shop and start small like the old Benjamin Co or Sheradin Co did.I know that was a long shot.

            • Desert…to a point your correct, quality control starts with the factory.
              But if there are no government controls and consequences for lack of control you end up with melamine in the milk or lead in widespread use in paints and cheap metal products, as has been all too common in China.
              These things make it cheaper and easier to build some items. They are illegal worldwide but if a company can get away with it and not suffer any consequences (if I recall it was the children in China who died because of the chemical melamine in the milk that brought this to the fore in China).
              Even in the U.S., which wants as little government interference as possible, at some said government gets involved in quality control. You can bet auto recalls which cost the manufactureres millions aren’t done without government prompting.

    • Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the Chinese invent gunpowder? Wouldn’t you think they’ve been making guns at least as long as Europe. But then if they did why did they rely on Russia so much for guns?

      “The earliest depiction of a gunpowder weapon is the illustration of a fire-lance on a mid-10th century silk banner from Dunhuang.[6]”
      “The first record of firearms in Vietnam Đại Việt is the death of the Champa king Chế Bồng Nga in 1390 killed by a volley of Huochong[11]”
      “The Koreans adopted firearms from the Chinese in the 1300s”
      “The Europeans certainly had firearms by the first half of the 1300s.”

      The Chinese should know how to make guns by now, I would think. They’ve certainly had enough time.

      Here’s a small piece of that history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_firearm#Firearms_in_China


      • Joe,
        Research on China is difficult, as you might expect, but I did find information that China was mass producing military gun in the 1930’s.

        You can go downt this list and find many that were Chinese copies for WWII.


    • Joe. Just how long are you willing to wait for the Chinese to play catch up with the rest of the world? I want quality gun, and they are available now. When I was a kid in the early 60’s, made in Japan was a buzz word that meant junk. Did the Japanese say “Hey people, wait a few years till we get our act together”? No. They studied all phases of industry, and eventually earned respect by making quality and made in Japan, synonymous. Toyota and Nissan did what no one, least of all the Big Three in Detroit, could have predicted. They took over top spot, and WE had to look inward, and phase out the crap we were producing. The market place is too competitive to wait for a Country to get it right. There was a saying one of my employers lived by. You earn your reputation. For good or bad. Finally, I hope China does build a better airgun. Just as I hoped the Turkish Hatsans would prove to be a gun I would be proud to own. Hatsan needs more development if they want their line of springers to succeed. They make a great pcp though. I just hope Theoben can stay afloat, and keep building great guns.
      Caio Titus

      • I think we all know the answers to the air gun industry and why different gun are priced higher.For example the Russisn 513 break barrel is made of deceant quailty and performs good for the price,so is the Diana 34 for its asking price,and definitly is the new LGV for its price.Point is nobody can make a air guns like TX200 orHW95 ect, ect for $99.It takes a lot of skill and real craftsman to produce these guns.We are not talking bout Daisy Red Ryder that are produced 50,000 per yr.Ok that was a bad comparesin.

        • Chris,

          I think you hit on a key point with the phrase “decent quality and performs good for the price.”
          Chinese-built air guns can certainly do that already.

          While I like to fantasize about owning $1,000 air rifles, I find it more practical to actually buy the ones I can afford. For me at present, that means $200 or less. Even for that kind of money, I expect to be able to buy the best guns I can in that price range.

          Some of these guns are perfectly acceptable to me once they are broken in and settled down. Two Chinese-built springers I own were rough to the point of breaking the factory scopes when new. My Crosman Storm XT broke its Centerpoint scope and even sheared off the scope stop pin. I substituted a TASCO scope and a dowel pin. Now that the gun is broken in, it is one of my favorites.

          My Beeman RS2 was so violent, it not only broke its factory-supplied scope, it literally shook itself apart. I exchanged it for another RS2, substituted a TASCO scope and Leupold scope rings. These held up while the gun broke in, but the biggest improvement in performance came when I fitted it with the .22 barrel and started shooting the heavier .22 pellets.

          Neither of these guns is equal to an RS1 or this Theoben, but they are good performers for their price.

          My Daisy 866 made in China is actually an improvement over my older 866 made in the USA.


      • In one of B.B.’s article and I forgot which, he stated that Chinese airgun makers can make an accurate airgun, but have not done it in large volume. I think the Chinese know how to do it, but because an accurate airgun with good fit and finish is expensive to produce, no one is willing to pay the higher price airgun that said “Made in China.” For a little more money, I can buy an airgun that is the same quality and accuracy that is “Made in Germany.” So do you understand this now?

    • I don’t think that extrapolating the Western development curve to the Chinese is as straightforward as it looks. The Chinese have been actively copying state-of-the-art Western designs down to the last detail which Westerners were not able to do when they started. Similarly, quality control does not follow automatically from raw knowledge. The Chinese have had for some time the ability to make outstanding products. Quality control is related to culture and to the capitalistic ethic in a way that may translate to Chinese culture and may not. For example, how willing are you to invest in the customer and the longer-term rewards of a good business reputation over the short-term benefits of screwing the customer with a bad product? It remains to be seen.


    • Fred,

      Thanks for the kind comments. I would be no threat in a real match – I can shoot fine from a bench, by myself but I have not competed in any kind of match yet. Offhand I am really bad.


  4. Nice write up, Paul! Really nice shooting too! I have an HW90 with the Theoben gas spring. Shoots nice but pretty hard to cock. I’ve always wanted to let some air out and experiment that way but I don’t have a Theoben pump. I do have a Benjamin pump and that will supply the pressure needed, but I wonder which kind of adapter do I need for it to fit the valve. Any ideas?


  5. “My rifle has a right-hand walnut stock, but an ambidextrous stock can be had from the factory as a no-cost option”

    They get it! Theoben gets it! Thank you Paul for that little ray of left-handed hope.


  6. Great long airgun (just doesn’t sound right, does it). So, great air rifle and great article. B.B. continues to do a great job and it’s nice that he lets other challenge him to keep on his game. ~Ken

  7. I have a small question. When an air gun shooter says they shot using Crosman Premiers, what pellet are we talking about here? I use two very different Crosman Premier pellets, the Premier wadcutters, and the Premier hollow points. These both come in tins of 500. I understand there are Crosman pellets that come in both small “milk cartons” (like school milk cartons), and in the large brown cardboard boxes. On the Big Island of hawaii even the two Crosman Premiers that I use can’t always be found (last week Wally World was out). You apparently can’t get other favorites of mine here at all (RWS Hobbys-a pellet I really like a lot). Are there other Crosman Premier pellets beside the two that I use?

    Thanks, Jon in Keaau, Hawaii

    • jon,

      That’s not a small question LOL!

      Short answer. I assume when someone says they’re shooting crosman premiers they talking about the .22 caliber 14.3 gr domed pellet that comes in either a tin or a cardboard box. Rumor is that the ones that come in the cardboard box are from one die lot and the ones in the tin (that you see at wally world, etc) are from multiple die lots.

      There are many crosman premier pellets. Crosman premier ultra mag are the .177 10.5gr domed pellet that comes in a tin and the crosman premier heavies (CPH) are the same .177 10.5gr domed pellet that comes in the cardboard box. Again rumor is that the tins are from many die lots and the cardboard box is from one die lot. Crosman premier .177 7.9gr pellets come in a tin. Crosman premier lights (CPL) are the same pellet, .177 7.9gr and come in a cardboard box (same die lot stuff applies). There are also crosman premier match pellets (wadcutters). There are also crosman premier super point pellets (pointed pellets). As you noted there are also crosman premier hollow point (CPHP) pellets. Most of these pellets can be found in .22 caliber as well but the .22 caliber crosman premier in the tins and cardboard boxes only come in one weight (14.3gr) unlike the two weights (CPL & CPH) offered in .177 caliber.

      The only crosman pellets I’ve seen that come in a milk carton type container are the crosman hunting pellets (pointed) and crosman competition pellets (wadcutter). I’ve never seen the name PREMIER on any of crosmans milk carton type containers of pellets.


    • Jon.

      I can’t speak for others, but when I write about Crosman Premiers, I link to the actual pellet I mean. In all cases, that will be the Premiers that are packed in a brown cardboard box.

      Premiers used to only be the pellets in the cardboard boxes, but Crosman has expanded its use to many pellets that come packaged in metal tins and other containers, as you have noted. Hence the confusion. If I were to reference one of those other types of Premiers, I would give a lengthier explanation of what it was, as well as providing a link to it on the website.

      B .B.

  8. Nice article. So why is it that certain high quality brands like Theoben are not sold by PA? Are there exclusive importing deals at work?

    Look at those JSB Exacts. My shipment arrived yesterday, and I can’t wait to try out the JSBs with my B30 and my new killer shooting technique tonight!


  9. I continue to be amazed at the shortage of firearms ammo. How long will this go on? You would think that the shortages must come to an end because either people will stop worrying that guns will be outlawed or they’re going to start running out of money. I saw a statistic that something like half of Americans live from one paycheck to the next, so how can they keep buying guns and ammo in this way?


    • Matt,

      They’re scared. Ammo takes priority. Colorado used to have background checks done in 20-40 minutes. For a long while we had 8-14 DAYS! They just got through the backlog, but I think Coloradans are arming themselves to the teeth in response to our current administrations’ threats to our freedoms. Both federal and state are making too much noise about gun control which is kind of like getting to prevent obesity by banning 32 ounce soft drinks at fast food restaurants…


    • Matt61,

      A couple years ago while at the SHOT Show, I asked about the availability of their new 1911. They told me that they had so many orders that they stopped taking orders because of a huge backlog.


  10. I understand that Theoben in England went into liquidation, but there is Theoben USA. What’s the difference? are they two separate entities from the same owners, same or different quality airguns?

    • Rob,

      There was a lot of buzz about this last summer when Theoben UK declared bankruptcy.

      Here’s my recollection. Theoben USA is alive and well. I believe Theoben USA is Dave Slade aka airgunwerks. He was the Theoben importer, authorized service center and according to another airgun retailer also makes Theoben pcp’s. Theoben pcp’s are also still made in the USA (Tennessee) by Martin Rutherford, who worked for Theoben UK for 20 years or more. Martins company is Rapid Air Weapons (RAW).

      You can still buy a new Theoben pcp but the gas rams/gas springers are no longer produced.

      Maybe B.B. can add some clarity. He has all the inside info on the airgunning world.


        • Tom,

          Have you been following the introduction of the RAW TM 1000?

          Although it’s offered in all 4 calibers, can be adjusted from 12fpe to 30fpe and multiple stock configurations this gun is replacing EV2’s and USFT’s in Bench Rest and FT competitors hands. Mark brought his new TM 1000 to his first ever formal bench rest competition and took second place.

          Yrrah (Harry from down under) waited a year to receive his and has posted some of his best groups ever shot with a pellet gun at long range using his TM 1000.

          I guess Martin learned a thing or two after working for 20+ years on designing airguns for Theoben.


    • York counties are nice looking rifles, in general. Two things to keep in mind when you get to .54 and esp. .58 are butt width and drop. The butt width on that one looks fine, but it appears to have a little too much drop for a large caliber. Too little width and/or too much drop can make shooting a pain with bigger calibers. I assume you know why you want .54 or .58, but be aware that something like a .40, .45 or even .50 will be cheaper and more fun to shoot. .45 and .50 are crossover calibers: light enough for fun shooting, but can be pushed for some hunting. If hunting only is the aim, go for bigger, and watch the stock configuration. Where you hunt also makes a difference. Here, 50 yards is adequate range in most cases, so a smaller caliber (e.g., .45 or .50) is fine for whitetails. Out west, people need more range, so they go to .50’s and mostly even larger calibers, esp. for elk and the like. If target shooting and plinking are more likely, smaller caliber is recommended and funkier stock styling is possible without much pain. Just my top of the head reaction, so take it with a grain of salt.

      Do you like the furniture on that one in particular? If so, I’ll look in my books and find some similar York county rifles for you.

  11. I have been to one of the China factories more than once. They can make first quality air guns but there is no market for them here in the states. The large companies that buy their products want them as cheap as possible so they can sell as many as possible. The factory makes the rifles the way the customer wants them even if it isn’t up to the standards the factory wants, the customer gets what the customer wants. One factory that is now out of business made some very high quality rifles and tried to sell them here, no sales just because they were made in China…

    • mikeiniowa,

      Companies are in business to make money. If they’re not in business for that, then they usually go out of business or stay on the sidelines barely limping along.

      Faced with these 2 choices, which do you think companies will choose:

      1. Make good-quality guns, sell 5,000 a year and make $150 on each.
      2. Import guns from China, sell 500,000 a year and make $15 on each.

      Most people would pick No. 2.

      I think we’re actually kind of lucky that many companies pick both options. They don’t have to.


    • Mike, that is probably a very good point.
      Guitarists (and even archers…see my previous post on these Chinese products) probably outnumber airgun shooters by a fair margin.
      A lot of people won’t buy ‘chinese’ on principal, so it does tend to be the lower end stuff that gets produced. If there is a big enough market companies like Fender (guitars) and Win&Win (bows) set up Chinese plants because the market is going to be big enough to make money.
      They’re probably just aren’t enough airgunners who would buy a TX200 knockoff (for example) at, say $300 to bother building.
      People expect a Chinese airgun to retail for $175, tops.
      But you bet they can. I know that you guys down south don’t get the Norinco brand. But they have an M14 clone http://www.marstar.ca/dynamic/product.jsp?productid=75635 that is very popular up here because a good gun smith and about $300 can turn it into a tack driver in Service Rifle competition at about 1/3 the price of a ‘real’ accurized M14.

    • Mike,
      I think this just proves the point that reputation is paramount. Unfortunately, I think the consumer’s cheap-gene kicks in and then they think the real quality non-Chinese guns are just being greedily overcharged for while the more inexpensive Chinese gun, which is “exactly the same” as the expensive Western ones (but really aren’t), will do just as well. Until it’s delivered. Then they find out the cheap-gene is unreasonable, misinformed, and grossly mistaken. However, I will admit that some guns are being greedily overcharged for, especially because of this administration’s current and forthcoming panic producing policies, which muddies these waters.

  12. I believe i read somewhere that Ben from Theoben is now working with Milbro and working on a rather splendid PCP, but we are still talking serious money for an air rifle here. Really enjoyed the article, the pellet performance chart was a nice touch and lovely photo’s of a rather sexy air rifle.


    Best wishes, wing commander Sir Nigel Tetlington-Smythe

  13. (PLEASE HELP!) I have a crosman TR77. I recently bought crosman rmcoil for the compression chamber. I put 1 drop of it in the compression chamber and left it like that over night. I got up the next morning to hunt and when I took a shot at A squirrel… The gun made a very loud bang and tons of smoke came out of the end of the barrel. I live in suburban area and cannot afford to shoot it again(due to the loudness). Was that just an after effect? Or is part of my gun damaged?

    • Ryan,

      That was a detonation. It happens when powerful spring guns are oiled. Your gun is not damaged, so just keep shooting it.

      But hold off oiling it in the future, because it probably doesn’t need it but every 4,000-5,000 shots.


  14. I understand that quality costs money, but when you look at what is produced today, it amazes me that certain items have their price point. Fx guns are handmade at a small company where the owner takes control over production and is actually a part of the production cost. Also as an engineer I love his work, and can almost justify the +$1000 price. But In general look at the world today. The touchscreen marvel of a microcomputer (iPod touch) is built with incredible technology at tolerances on the micrometer scale. It seems that if you can build an iPod for $200. A $200 air rifle that shoots well up to fifty yards Gould not be an impossible task. When I finish my degrees I hope to step up to the plate and help bridge the gap between ingenuity, quality, and price.

    • James McGall,

      The iPods are made in China. The FX guns are not.

      I wish you luck in changing the culture of Chinese manufacturing and society. China could have followed in the footsteps of Japan, but they’ve opted to remain bottom-feeders. Quality control is, for the most part, anathema to them because it would limit production.

      While Japanese goods after WW2 were shoddy and known to be junk, they didn’t have a communist gov’t running every facet of their lives. They eventually rose to the top of the heap and now just about own the automobile manufacturing industry along with several other industries.


      • You’re right Edith but like James and you mentionned apple products are made in China and at very tight tolerances and with very high technology so why couldn’t an airgun manufacturer also go to China and have them build his product but with very tight tolerances? They CAN do it when they want to.

        But I guess it’s hard to make a worker understand that what he’s doing has to be well made when he has no idea what the end product is for and will never be able to see or touch the finished product let alone BUY one.


          • I know, that’s what I meant by “they can when they want”.
            I think the raw talent is there but they’re missing the people to bring everything together. They need to care and be proud of their work but that doesn’t work in a communist country.

            I was talking to a familly member who spent a while there and he was saying that to them it’s like he just wasn’t there. To them us occidental white people are soul less beings so they act as if we’re not there…


    • James,

      There is a vast difference in the scale of sales. iPods sell in the tens of millions. Airguns sell in the thousands. Also, iPods are based on silicone that is cheap to manufacture. There are huge sunk costs in the manufacturing technology, but once you are operating at capacity, they are paid for.

      Airguns are hardware-based. Just try to find a new typewriter for cheap today.


      • Not to mention that a lot of the electronic gizmos are being sold at a loss — on the basis that one would make up the money on the accessories and software ($20 for a conductive plastic “stylus” for a Nook HD?). Low-end inkjet printers for $80 — but a set of replacement ink cartridges will cost one >$50.

        How many people would buy an airgun for $80, if a tin of pellets cost $50?

  15. Agreed. It is a little bit of a false analogy to compare the two products (iPods made in china to airguns made in china). My main point is that china can produce these high quality goods, and I do understand it relies of the pressure of a picky company such as apple to create the standards for quality control enforced in the manufacturing process. I do still believe that if you take a look at the manufacturing process there are ways to increase quality control without a huge sacrifice to cost. And hey who says that aren’t already doing that now. I’ve heard good things about Xisico. Thinking about buying an XS-B50. I’d love a rws or FX or even a Matador by Edgun, just don’t have the funds being that I’m in college still.

    • James,

      It’s not that the companies aren’t picky and need to apply pressure. It’s that the Chinese do not care in many cases. Heck, they’re poisoning their own people (and people in other countries) while KNOWINGLY producing contaminated products. If they’re willing to do that with food and supplements, then airguns are a no-brainer when it comes to shoddy work.


  16. A couple of points on vintage Theobens,
    I still have one I purchased direct from Theoben in 1986, the Countryman Carbine. Its been a good servant and recently I stripped it down to replace the near 30 year old seals in the ram. No problem with that but re assembling the trigger which I believe is a modified Webley unit has caused some problems and completely baffled me. Any info relating to it would be gratefully received.
    The other point I would make is that although the wood stock looks very much like Walnut all the early models were stocked with a West African timber called Hyedua, a little Alkanet in the stock oil brings it up just like Walnut but at probably half the price of a piece of Walnut

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