Two firearms made by airgun manufacturers: Part 2
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’m in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, today filming the 2014 episodes of American Airgunner. Because I am on the road, I’ll ask my veteran readers to help answer the questions we get from the new guys. After a day’s filming, I have to return to the hotel, answer my email then write the next day’s blog. The blogs are going to be pretty short this week because I was so busy last week that I didn’t have a lot of time to bank any of them.
Today’s report is about 2 rimfire rifles that were made by airgun manufacturers — Daisy and Falke. I introduced both rifles in Part 1 and gave you my opinions and observations about their quality. In today’s report, I’ll take these 2 rifles to the range and shoot some targets at 50 yards.
I also introduced a Crickett .22 rimfire in Part 1. That rifle was made by a firearms manufacturer and served as my control during this test.
There were a lot of comments on the first part of this report. A number of readers expressed interest in these small single-shot rifles, and more than a few people said this was the first time they had heard of one or all of them.
Daisy model 8
The first report was mostly descriptive. I talked about the relative quality, or the lack of quality, that I see in each of the subject rifles. I came down on the Daisy model 8 the hardest, and in retrospect, everything I said was deserved. The rifle is made on a zinc diecast receiver — the weakest possible type of construction. Yet, it does work.
What doesn’t work on the Daisy is its reliability. It fails to fire almost half the time. Either the mainspring is weak or the headspace is too great or the firing pin isn’t long enough — something is wrong. But in spite of that, the rifle shoots well.
I said in the first report that the Daisy was inaccurate, but in this test I discovered that it is plenty accurate. I shot it at 50 yards outdoors on a very cold and windy day, and the rifle grouped like a much more expensive firearm.
The day was cold and blustery, but the little Daisy model 8 shot very well.
When I went down to inspect the first target, I couldn’t believe what I saw. I recalled that the Daisy model 8 was inaccurate, but 7 shots in 2.045 inches in the black were proving me wrong. I know this isn’t the best group in the world. I’ve done much better at this distance, but I never thought the little Daisy could even keep all its shots on the paper at 50 yards.
This first 7-shot, 2.045-inch group showed me that the Daisy can shoot.
I put up another target and shot another 10 Aguila standard speed rounds at it. This time the spread between centers was 2.393 inches, which is larger — but not by much. And the shots are still nicely centered. Only one round missed the black bull.
The Daisy put 10 shots into 2.393 inches at 50 yards. While that’s not great, it’s better than I expected!
The Falke single-shot is the most deceptive of the 3 rifles being tested. Overall, it looks fine; and in a 21st century context, it even looks like a premium gun! But by understanding what was happening in Germany right after World War II, we can understand why that’s so. All hand work was cheap at that time because labor was plentiful and inexpensive. The hand-checkered pistol grip and the high polish on the metal parts are to be expected. But the design of the rifle is crude. That shows up best in the flat spring that powers both the sear and trigger.
The Falke trigger/sear spring looks like it was taken from a half-ton pickup truck!
This shot shows how Falke made the large flat spring work as both the sear spring and the trigger return spring. It saves money but isn’t very elegant.
That spring was making the Falke cock very hard because the sear didn’t want to get out of the way when the bolt was withdrawn. I lubricated it heavily with moly grease and reduced the effort by at least two-thirds. The trigger-pull also dropped from about 18 lbs. down to about 8 lbs.
Alas, all my work was for naught, for the Falke rifle was not the equal of the Daisy at 50 yards. Ten bullets went into 2.91 inches at 50 yards. Of course, I may not have used the best cartridge for the Falke, and it may have been the best one for the model 8 — but that’ll take a lot more testing to discover. The point is just this: A rifle that looks much better and is more expensive than the Daisy model 8 may not be any more accurate. That’s all I’m saying.
The Falke rifle grouped larger than the Daisy and also out of the bull. The sights need some adjustment. Ten shots in 2.91 inches between centers.
The Crickett rifle was supposed to be the control in this little comparison. While both the Daisy and Falke rifles were made by airgun manufacturers, Crickett makes only firearms. I already noted that the Crickett has a much better appearance and feel. Despite the cheap synthetic stock with its pink panels, a lot of real thought went into this rifle. It may be small, but it looks right.
But at 50 yards the Crickett put 10 rounds into 2.564 inches. They were at the top of the target paper and one was a quarter-inch off the paper, so there are just 9 holes visible. The rear peep sight has enough adjustment to get the shots back into the bull at this distance, but it will take a different cartridge to shoot better than the little Daisy.
The Crickett sights are way off! Ten shots went into 2.564 inches, but one of those shots landed a quarter-inch above the highest shot in this picture.
On the other hand, the Crickett is 100 percent reliable. And the trigger is light. Those things do live up to its gun-making heritage.
This test was interesting. On one hand, ugly (the Daisy model 8) triumphed over beauty (the Falke); and on the other, enthusiasm (Daisy, again) beat out experience (the Crickett). That’s not how I thought this would turn out! Given the circumstances and from what I saw, I thought it would have been the Falke first, followed closely by the Crickett, with the Daisy bringing up the rear…and very far behind the others.
The Daisy model 8 may be a cheaply made single shot rifle, but that doesn’t mean it can’t shoot. It still needs some work on the firing reliability, but I would say the accuracy is where it needs to be. We still have no idea about which rifle is most accurate. To learn that, a lot more shooting is required. I’m glad to do it, but I’m just saying that we don’t want to dismiss either of the other 2 rifles.
Is there a point to all of this? I think there is. That point would be that you don’t want to judge a gun (or anything) by appearances, alone. Furthermore, inexpensive materials and cheap construction don’t always mean something is no good. Only by testing can we determine if a gun is up to snuff.
One more thing. Some readers have noticed that I sometimes spend a lot of time on an airgun that has seemingly very little to recommend it — like the BSA Meteor. This Daisy might fall into that same category. If I can get it to shoot reliably, what a wonderful little rifle it will turn out to be!