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Man-powered Weapons and Ammunition: A review

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

book cover
This is the softcover version of the book.

This report covers:

• When is 12 foot-pounds more than 12 foot-pounds?
• How long is long enough?
• Ka-boom!
• Hodges catapult gun
• Why do airguns lose so much power?
• What kind of power can I expect?

This is a brief book review of The Practical Guide to Man-powered Weapons and Ammunition by Richard Middleton, copyright ©2005, published by Skyhorse Publishing, New York. Dennis Quackenbush sent this book to me just because he thought I needed to read it. Well, I’ve read it and now I’m recommending it to all of you.

The subtitle is Experiments with Catapults, Musketballs, Stonebows, Blowpipes, Big Airguns, and Bullet Bows. That should give you an idea of what’s included. Mr. Middleton explains dozens of different experiments in which he advances his understanding of pneumatic and spring-operated projectile launchers. He calls them weapons, as is the custom in the UK and also Australia, where he’s from. Here in the U.S., we define weapons as things meant to injure or kill; and, while most of what is in his book will do exactly that, our American culture sets the word weapon apart as a term charged with emotion. Most of us don’t consider airguns to be weapons.

That aside, this is one of the most interesting nonfiction books I’ve read in years, and it may be the very best one on the subject of pneumatic guns. The author addresses several scientific subjects without referring to formulas and equations, and the way he backs into each new subject makes you think he is a normal guy — just like the rest of us. But it’s obvious that he’s spent a lot of time and devoted much thought to making these complex subjects seem simple.

When is 12 foot-pounds more than 12 foot-pounds?
I don’t know about you, but I rarely read an introduction to anything. But in this book, I found the first profound concept on page viii — you know, one of those odd-numbered pages you flip past when turning to the real book? The author tells us he is puzzled by something he’s seen. He has a ballistic pendulum hanging from the ceiling of his garage. The bob weighs 12 lbs. When he shoots the bob with a .22-caliber airgun pellet going 620 f.p.s., it swings one-half inch from the impact. When he shoots it with a .451-caliber lead ball launched from a slingshot at 196 f.p.s., the bob swings an inch and a half — three times as far! The interesting thing is that both projectiles develop an identical 12 foot-pounds! Does that make you stop and think?

How long is long enough?
This topic comes up all the time. We “know” that a longer barrel allows an airgun projectile to go faster when fired from a pneumatic gun, but where does it end? How long is long enough? I see endless discussions on this blog between two or more readers wondering what the optimum barrel length might be for a certain airgun, yet nobody seems to know how to figure it out. Well, Mr. Middleton knows, and he conducted several experiments to demonstrate it to the reader.

We recently introduced the Air Burst MegaBoom Supersonic Target System here at Pyramyd AIR and several of you were enchanted by it. Mr. Middleton made one a decade ago and describes how it worked. He took his experiments to places the MegaBoom folks don’t want you going, and he tells you what happened. You really should read this.

Hodges catapult gun
You veteran readers may remember that I reported on the Hodges catapult gun a couple years ago. This book not only talks about Hodges guns, it gives ballistics for several of them and tells you what to expect if the ammo is changed. This is stuff you cannot find anywhere.

Why do airguns lose so much power?
Our blog readers ask these intriguing questions all the time, and this book has the answers. Why does the mainspring in a breakbarrel rifle that’s rated at 150 lbs. of energy only put 21 foot-pounds out the muzzle? What happens between the spring and pellet that wastes most of that energy? And why is a .22-caliber gun always more powerful than the same gun in .177? This book explores these themes and explains them through the results of several experiments.

What kind of power can I expect?
“If my rifle develops 20 foot-pounds in a .22, what sort of power can I expect from the same gun in a .177?” I get that question a lot. This book answers it and tells you how to figure it out for yourself.

I could go on, but I’m going to stop here. I see questions every day about airgun fundamentals from many blog readers. Here’s a book that answers a lot of them and suggests how you might answer others on your own. The writing is easy to follow and almost conversational — like this blog!

I have an extensive library about the shooting sports and those books have helped me write this daily blog for you. Questions we ask today were also asked 150 years ago and have often been answered more than once by some very creative people. You can now add Richard Middleton to that list.

Pyramyd AIR doesn’t sell this book, but you can certainly find it on Amazon. It’s not expensive, but it’s worth many times the $12 price. If you really want to know more about airguns, this is a place to start looking and learning.

97 thoughts on “Man-powered Weapons and Ammunition: A review”

  1. Very interesting! I occasionally deviate from the blog to check some of this type stuff out The Slingshot channel often has much more than slingshots.I’m considering building a speargun myself. One of the cool things about elastic bands is their ability to store tremendous amounts of energy, and then you get to stack ’em! You do have to keep a close eye on all parts involved for signs of wear or unserviceability, not much chance of getting out of the way of flying parts when you’re holding them.
    I’ll be looking this stuff up tomorrow,been a long day.

    • That’s the truth for sure. The only way I can explain this, other than B.B. having a very fertile mind, is that shooting like the martial arts is such a profound activity when done right that it engages the whole person beyond just the activity of shooting.


  2. Looks like a really interesting book. Reminds me alot of my various childhood experimentation with archery and slingshots and whatever else I could whip up with the junk I would always manage to drag home. Thats also when I started to get a better grasp of the kinetic energy involved in launching projectiles, and theres nothing better than practical testing. The ballistic pendulum arrangement though you mentioned still seems counter-intuitive to me, but thats obviously how the physical forces involved work in the real world.

    • Affirmative on that, some of the stuff we came up with just because we had the imagination to come up with it, tools to work with( wish I had my Dad’s workshop!) and Glorious Junk!

  3. Concerning the pendulum swing with different projectiles… a lot of energy is absorbed by the pellet as it is deformed by the impact with the pendulum. The lead ball is more efficient at transferring its energy as it doesn’t deform because of its stronger structure and slower velocity. Just like a car designed to protect its passengers, the high speed pellet crumples to absorb the impact energy.

    • I’ve read something about this. I thought that it was very interesting how pendulum designers have tried to reduce this inefficiency in measuring the smaller bores/softer rounds. After all, their goal was to measure power accurately, and they knew…physics are physics. Anyway, a large part of the problem that they found was in pendulum design–a hard metal blade captures less energy than a softer pocket, for example. A relatively efficient capture of energy is flesh. A .177 will tear it up differently, but almost as effectively as a .22. So, people reading this shouldn’t imagine that the power of a .177 is actually less than a .22., just different in how it imparts it’s energy.

      • Rob
        That’s right a .177 cal. pellet will pierce the flesh like a sudden stab of a ice pick. While a .22 will hit and start to bounce off the harder objects inside of the animal. A .25 cal will do a little of both. It will pierce then slow up and bounce off of hard objects in the animal.

        That’s why its good to know what your gun and projectile will do to the object you are shooting at.

      • You are both very kind, thank you. I had a lot of fun writing it. Though what Tom doesn’t disclose about the Airburst Megaboom is that my version came about quite by accident, and as it went on to explode just as I was trying to disconnect the pump, it turned out to be considerably more exciting than I’d imagined. I remember leaping several feet into the air, as if I was in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. There are few things I can say with total authority, but one of them is this: if you pump a two-litre plastic fizzy drinks bottle to 130 psi, make sure your friend is holding it and not you. When it goes bang it really does feel like someone has whacked your hand, very hard, with a baseball bat. (After that you start having a good deal of wary respect for compressed air.)


        • Richard,
          I haven’t yet read your book, but I can tell you I have wondered hard at some of the issues BB has brought out. I have researched some of the questions already (the ballistics pendulum conundrum), but it will be great to have so much more in one authoritative tome. I also like that you do not limit the book to airguns. While that is my strongest interest, that might be different if I had as good a resource as PA/BB for the other ‘primitive’ weapons. For example, I have a nice blowgun. It is unexpectedly accurate and powerful, but there is no industry urging me to take it to the next level (if there is one). And I’ve always had a fantasy about having several acres and the time to tinker with catapults…you get my point.

          Anyway, I am looking forward to the read. I think you have a winning subject with this group of air gunners.

        • Richard,

          this looks like an excellent book to read and have in my library. A quick question – are you in the States and do you sell this book privately? I ask as I’d rather buy direct from the author (so you realize a bit more from the sale) and I’d love to get an autographed copy. You can answer off-line if you prefer at cyclealleyriders@gmail.com.

          Fred DPRoNJ

    • Richard,

      Welcome to the blog. I was hoping you were a reader!

      I have to tell you that your book is so inspirational I can’t put it down. It’s sitting on my desk right now. Dennis Quackenbush is also similarly impressed.

      Well done!


      • I can’t remember when I first bumped into your writings, Tom, but it was a long time ago, and my airgun friends regard this blog as one of the most authoritative sources of information on the Web. There is now such a huge amount going on in airgun development that I can’t keep up: I marvel at how brilliantly you do so here.

        Fred, I’m in New Zealand, not the US.

        Just by way of background explanation, my family moved to the UK when I was a very small boy and I grew up there. England is a small and crowded country and our shooting was restricted for understandable safety reasons. Hence my interest in obscure things like bullet-shooting crossbows. In England slingshots are called catapults and because nobody had then taken them seriously enough to publish any studies, I had to do my own. In the course of time I discovered that a good many Englishmen were well aware of their advantages, but were keeping – ahem – very quiet… In New Zealand we have lots of steep and empty countryside; firearms are regarded as sensible everyday farming tools and New Zealanders have immeasurable experience in their use. The laws on airguns are more relaxed than in the United Kingdom, so experiments can be done here which would have landed me in an English jail. (Likewise rifle sound moderators which are permitted and even encouraged here, but would get anyone in America into very hot water. But that is a separate subject.)

        Matt, the first paragraph of your long post is exactly right about the important difference between energy and momentum.


        • Richard,

          I apologize for saying you lived in Australia. I got that off the back cover of the book. Dennis Quackenbush told me you lived in New Zealand, but after I read the book cover I went with that. I am aware they are two different nations.

          Speaking of those steep mountains, did you guys ever get those orcs cleared out? I hear they were a real problem in the past.


          • No need to apologise, Tom – as you say, the confusion is caused by contradictory statements in the book.

            I like the orcs – ! – but I daren’t comment. – We bought our house from a very keen rifleman who told the story of how he stalked the chamois head that he was kind enough to leave hanging on the wall for us. When we took the trophy off the wall to redecorate, we found from a note written on the back of the shield that he’d bought it in a second-hand shop…


            • Richard,

              He DID indeed stalk the chamois head. He had to go through six different shops before he found it!

              I have just ordered your book and very much look forward to reading it.

              I have wondered about ballistic pendulums every now and then. It just seems to me that the force required to move the bob must vary along a continuum. It cannot possibly be constant, can it? A bob that weighs two pounds, oh heck, you’re not from the U.S. Permit me to be polite and welcoming. Let’s say a bob weighs a kilogram. Hanging freely it must take far less than a kilo of force to move it a short, relatively horizontal difference, even without inertia. Would it not take a kilogram of force to move the bob at the point that the tether is parallel to the ceiling? At that point in the arc the force is essentially LIFTING the bob. But of course there is centrifugal effect on the movement, as well. Hmmm.

              Do you get Mythbusters on NZ television? They did an episode where they attempted to prove or disprove the idea that a swing (as in a child’s park swing) can, with enough force, complete a 360 degree course of travel.


              • Without going into the mathematics, a ballistic pendulum measures how high the bob swings. The distance it swings back is only useful in order to find out how much it has been raised. If you know how high the bob goes and how much it weighs, you can calculate how much energy it gained, and from that work out how fast the bullet-and-bob together were going.

                To get the maths right you have to make sure the bullet embeds itself into the pendulum bob. Airguns are quite good at this but slingshot balls much prefer to bounce back, so it becomes rather an exciting sport. You win if you can coax a figure out of your pendulum; the pendulum wins if a bullet knocks one of your teeth out. (Eye protection is mandatory.) In the course of all my testing I managed to shoot half-inch dents into the inside of the garage door, the neighbour’s car, an antique chair once sat on by the captor of Himmler, and a cousin’s swimming costume hanging on the line. – This last didn’t create a dent – the slingshot ball went straight through. She was MAD. I pointed out to her that at least she hadn’t been inside the costume at the time, but she was still MAD.

                http://amrita.vlab.co.in/?sub=1&brch=74&sim=202&cnt=1 is a neater explanation than the Wikipedia article.


  4. I love this stuff. And I will have to read the book.

    I guess the first thing is the pendulum and both of the 12 fpe projectiles. Its all about mass. How much area that projectile covers when it hits its object.

    That was why I always liked the .45’s. They were if I remember right in the 750 fps. range. Then take the smaller diameter 9mm that shoots faster. The more contact area at that exact time when the projectile hits will make the object it hits react more the opposite way. And Its been a while so I don’t remember exactly what the .45’s shoot or the 9mm’s. But you know what I mean.

    So maybe a bigger caliber air gun that will provide enough accuracy in a given distance that is move slower is better. You will definitely have more of a advantage hitting your target whatever that may be with a larger diameter projectile that’s for sure.
    And I guess that’s why field target shooters prefer the.177 cal. diameter. Its easier to get that pellet through the kill zone hole with the smaller diameter pellet.

    And all us kids growing up had sling shots. We could hit rabbits and squirrels with them. And hit them so hard at 25 yards with a marble that they would flip end over end when they got hit.

    But one of the things that my dad showed me how to make was real cool. We would take the pouch like what is on a sling shot and tie a string to both sides of the pouch that was about hip length long when the pouch was on the ground. You would make a slip knot on one string like a yo-yo and put that on your pointing finger. Then put a rock or marble or something similar in the pouch. Then hold the other part of the string with your pointing finger and thumb. then start twirling it in a underhand motion. The you would point and let go off the string and it would send that rock or whatever flying. It was very easy to send a rock flying the length of a foot ball field or more. And after you would use it day after day you could get pretty darned good at it. And we learned real quick what different size and weight rocks would do when you launched them.

    And I think that’s why I like air guns so much is the way different pellets fly. And what you can do with the pellets and a airgun after you learn how multiple characteristics combined will change the way your air gun shoots. When you get the combination right its amazing what a air gun will do.

    • Gunfun1,When I was a boy I’d make those slings out of inter tube rubber and as you said about from your waist to the ground.And when ya would start the spin it would make this cool roaring sound plus stretch out some and when ya let it go you could throw a rock out of sight! We had a outhouse as a boy here in the country and when we had a family reunion I would wait for one of my aunts to make a outhouse run and I’d be hid behind it about 60 feet and I’d let um have it with that sling while they were taking care of business.They holler “Stevie!’ I know its you! must have sounded like a shotgun inside that old outhouse.

      • Ha ha. My uncle had a out house on his farm when were kids that they still used back then.

        But I don’t think I ever done anything like you described before when I was a kid. 😉

    • Howdy Gun1, yup, those are a relatively new invention. Read a story in a pretty good book, ’bout a guy named Dave who took out a gangbanger named Goliath. Shoot/ride safe.

  5. Great review and very interesting subject. I will buy the book.

    Different subject question. I am trying to somewhat duplicate the tests B.B. did with his .177 Marauder.
    I am looking for maximum accuracy at around 950 fps.

    My first test was with a 3000 psi starting fill.
    first 10 shot string averaged 949 fps with a spread of 13 fps
    2nd 10 shot string averaged 951 fps with a spread of 9 fps
    3rd 10 shot string averaged 948 fps with a spread of 7 fps

    I tried it again starting with 2800 psi starting fill thinking that I should get a tighter spread
    first 10 shot string averaged 958 fps with a spread of 7 fps
    2nd 10 shot string averaged 955 fps with a spread of 9 fps
    3rd 10 shot string would have averaged 946 with a spread of 7 fps but there was one shot that was
    712 fps. It is the 2nd time the Marauder was shooting very tight strings and then dropped one in
    into the 700″s.

    My question. Should I be satisfied with these numbers and should I be worried about the occasional shots in the 700 fps range? Do you have any idea of what might be causing them?

    • Jerry in Texas,My Mrod is the 22 cal.If your looking for the best performance try 2500 psi.down to 2000 psi.Mine will ”only” shot those hole in holes at this fill pressure.Anything over 2500 psi it starts to throw flyer’s.Have you try ed JSBs? this is what it loves in most Mrods. I don’t know anything about the 177 but that does sound a little slow to me also,let someone else answer that for you.

      • Steve,
        Thanks for responding. I am using Crosman Premier Lights (7.9 gr.). I have only had an opportunity to shoot one test at 25 yards and it put 4 in the same hole and the 5th. about 3/16th away from the others.
        I could have certainly been the cause of the 5th. shot to not be on top of the other shots.

    • Jerry,

      After the subject of today’s blog I don’t suppose “stuff happens” is an acceptable answer? 😉

      I believe that in certain pressure ranges, the valves in certain precharged airguns perform erratically. I will describe a similar incident with a Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE in tomorrow’s blog.

      The easiest solution is to stay out of that pressure range. It reduces the useful shot count, but makes all the shots more stable.

      The other possibility is a problem with the chronograph — not with its accuracy, but with it sometimes being fooled. Holding the muzzle too close to the start screen can do that. When I wrote the Beeman R1 book, I tricked a chrono into recording velocities 150 f.op.s. faster than they really were.


      • Thanks for help with the Marauder numbers.

        I just ordered 2 books, one for my grandson and one for me. Can’t wait to get them and start reading and my 9 year old grandson is thrilled to be getting his and will probably read it in a couple of sittings. He loves to read so much that his parents have to do a bed check to make sure he goes to sleep at night. I have found him many times, under the sheets with a flashlight, reading a book. This is the grandson that chose the P17 over the Umarex Fusion and has learned to cock and load it without much difficulty.

        We just picked him up (he lives in Matagorda (south of Galveston), for a 10 day stay. He is attending Lego camp for his 3rd year. Yep, he was 7 the first year he attended. We had to “fudge” about his age to get him accepted. I plan to introduce him to the Marauder and teach him what I have learned about using the chronograph. I think he will “eat it up”.

        Thanks for everything you do for us.


        • Jerry,

          There is one more possibility. What are the chances that a different pellet somehow got into the tin you were using? That happens to me sometime. A Baracuda, for instance, instead of a Premier. That could explain a large velocity drop.


    • Jerry
      I have two .177 cal. Marauders a generation 1 wood stock and a generation 2 synthetic stock.

      The gen. 1 was hot rodded up with modifications and it shoots the JSB 10 .34 grn. pellet out of the many pellets I tryed. It liked to be filled to 3000psi and shoot down to 2200 psi.

      On the synthetic stock gen. 2 Marauder in .177 cal. that I now own is completely factory original. Have not adjusted it or did anything to it in anyway. Same thing with pellets tryed many and the JSB 10.34 are by far the best. And I still fill the gun to 3000 psi. by the gage on my fill device. The guns gage actually shows over 3000psi. So that’s something to keep in mind when you fill your Marauder. But this gun will keep a consistent shot string down to 1900 psi. again when I check the remaining pressure in the rifle from my fill device.

      And then something else to keep in mind if you are shooting outside and you have warm direct sun light and then shade that will affect the pressure in the rifles reservoir.

      And was that pellet that was in the 700 fps. velocity towards the end of the shot string? Either way where ever it happened at I believe it was from a pellet that didn’t fit the barrel the same. That 700 fps. pellet would definitely show up as a flyer if you were shooting at paper. Anyway that’s my thoughts. Hope maybe that helps.

      • Gunfun1,
        Thanks for your comments and experiences. I just checked my printer tapes and both “700’s” were in the last string of a series of three 10 shot strings. one was the first shot of the third 10 shot string and the other was the 8th shot of the third 10 shot string. Don’t know if that means anything or not.

        I don’t think there is any chance that a stray pellet got in the tin of Crosman Premier Lights, at least while I have had control of it. I have decided to stick with these pellets until I find a reason not to and I don’t work with more than one pellet at a time.

        Thanks for both of your comments.

        • Jerry
          Why I was wondering where it happened at is I have seen on pcp guns when they get down to the lower psi in the guns resivoir the valve must knock open diferently. Pretty much the low fps shot has happened then..
          I can hear the gun when it fires sound different then the other shots. If that happens to me I try to write down on paper what my gage on the gun says and see if it happens in that area of psi in the gun again.

          I think its related to something that happens to the bolt on a air gun when it reaches a certian psi thats left in a gun. Tbolt will try to flip up and open. Thats what I think anyway.

          • My 9 year old grandson is visiting and I had planned to introduce him to the Chrony this trip. I will run some more strings starting at 3000 psi and see if I get that same low shot FPS number. That would indeed be telling if it repeats itself. At this point, I am not yet shooting in FT matches, but I am trying to set my rifle up so that I can if I decide to.

            Thank you so much for pitching in and offering your experience and advice. I am 71, retired and have shot firearms pretty much all of my life. I started taking air guns seriously when firearm ammo started getting so expensive. Now, I am considering selling or trading some of my firearms for one or two of the nicer PCP air rifles such as those made by Air Arms and maybe Air Force. I really have enjoyed owning and experimenting with my .177 synthetic stock Marauder. It has a UTG Accushot SWAT 4-16X56 scope on it and looks the part of a sniper rifle.

            I have two eye diseases, Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration. My right (shooting eye) has the most damage. But, with the 30mm body and 56mm field of view, I can see the center of the reticle and can therefore still aim and shoot. Less field of view, and I just can’t see enough to be useful. So, I feel lucky to still be able to remain active as a shooter. I can still shoot pistols with no problem. I can use either eye to aim.

            I see your posts often and would enjoy corresponding with you about air guns. My e-mail address is
            fasride@gmail.com. If you want to send me yours, I will keep your identity private and just enjoy chatting now and then.


            • Jerry
              First thing I think you have a wonderful set up for field target right now with your .177 Marauder and scope choice. I don’t competition shoot but I like everything about field target.

              And I had a corn stalk leaf cut my eye when I was a teenager. I shoot right hand and my right eye is the one that got cut. I now see a vertical line that kind of angles a bit from straight up and down. And its not quite in the center of my vision. And I also see it when I read.

              But when I shoot I will alternate between having both eyes open or one closed when making a shot. I will always use a lower power like around 4 to 8 power depending on the scope I’m using. It gives me a wider field of view that way and I match the lower power of the scope to my eyes. And it helps eliminate that line from the corn stalk cut. I guess its just me and what I learned I had to do from back then when I was a teenager when that happened. And I found it easier to keep the point of impact (poi) closer to the center of the reticle that way on the lower power. I don’t know how optics work or if it is just a illusion to me. But I sure do seem to be able to shoot with less hold over or under and the scope will stay focused sharper at closer distances at the lower powers.

              And about the email thing. I usually just don’t do that. And don’t get offended please. The way I look at it is I will say the same thing here as I would if we are talking in private. So if you ever want to ask me something or tell me you disagree with me I will not take offense to it. That’s just part of understanding something from a different perspective and it usually means that it is something new learned. So say what you need to say. I bet we will have some good conversations. 🙂

              • Gunfun1
                Thank you for the response. No offense taken. I learn from B.B. and all of the contributors to the blog.
                When I see someone who also has a Marauder, my instinct is to start asking questions. I have been around firearms since early childhood, but airguns have only been a big part of my life for the last couple of years. I am like a teenager just starting to experience dating for the first time.

                My short list of “bucket list” air guns is
                Benjamin Marauder pistol
                Air Force Talon SS in .177 plus a 24″ .22 barrel
                Air Arms S510

                My air guns have to be quiet because I shoot them mostly inside in my air gun range. The 24″ .22 barrel for the Talon would be for shooting at the local firearm range.

                I would be interested to know what kind of mods you have done to your “original” Marauder.


                • Jerry
                  I like your bucket list of guns. Matter of fact I had a Marauder pistol and a Talon SS in .177 cal.

                  What I had done to the wood stock 1st gen. Marauder.
                  10# striker spring, Cut the barrel a couple inches shorter and recrowned it and put more baffles in. Did the anti bounce striker mod with the o-rings in front of the striker. But a 1/8” thick by 1” wide piece of rubber inside the air reservoir for the anti ping mod. Took the stock off and put a pistol grip assembly on the gun from a Crosman 1377 pistol. Had the RAI stock adapter that allows you to put a AR butt stock on the gun. And the big one that I can finally say something about because I see they are released for production now that I have had for a long time. One of Lloyd’s Marauder double air tube conversions. And yep my .177 Marauder looks like one of those scary black assault rifles.

                  Oh and I had a .25 cal Marauder with the same mods done to it minus cutting the barrel and adding baffles. The .25 was making some serious power. It was turned up to get right at 80 fpe of energy with 31 grn. Barracudas. And was getting 20 usable shots with all the air it used because of the double air tube. Before I put the tube on I was lucky to get 10 shots with the .25 cal modded gun and turned all the way up. And that’s that.

    • Hi, Jerry. I was just chronographing the new Marauder Pistol that I recently got from PA. This p-rod also wears the RAI adapter with UTG AR stock, plus the MM shroud extension. I’ve been having some trouble with shroud clipping with the add-on moderator.

      The 56-shot string I shot over the chronograph looked as expected, but with 10 shots dropping dramatically below the curve, hundreds of ft/s slower than expected.

      The slow outliers were the shots that clipped the shroud. Any chance that your m-rod is occasionally clipping the end-cap or a baffle?


      • Jan
        I have heard of that more than once on the Prods. The on I had did it. I found that if I rotated the shroud looser or tighter to have the shroud line up different with the barrel you could make the clipping stop.

        And I have owned 5 different Mrods in different calibers and didn’t have the clipping problem. Not to say that it couldn’t happen with them also.

        But here is the thing with a pellet clipping the baffles in the shroud or the end cap. It happens pretty much every shot. Not at a certain distinct time and then fine the rest of the other shots.

        I think Jerry’s problem with the slower flying pellet is air related.

      • Jan,
        I don’t see any evidence of this happening in my rifle. I will keep a watch to see if it ever does start to occur. How does the shroud extension work and where do you find them?

        I have a Benjamin Marauder Pistol on my bucket list and hope to have one before too long. I am interested in your experiences with it and what mods you find worthwhile.


  6. One of my favorite things about this blog is that every morning when I open it up, I have no clue what I’m about to get. Thanks for keeping it fresh, BB!
    …Now I need to go track down that book.

  7. Thanks for covering, BB. I have a small collection of books on unconventional weapons (blowgun, slingshot, etc.) and this one has been on my list–just got bumped to the top of my wish list.

  8. Thank you Tom for bringing the book to my attention and to Richard for writing it. Wish I had the gift for writing…well anothe volume to add to the library..20,000 and counting…

    • I hope they do,but in this day and age in a liberal state like MI
      I would be greatly surprised if those Fakirs ever did.When I read that
      whatever gun you buy whether it’s an air gun over .22 or a fire arm,You
      must first bring it to the police to do a safety test before you can take it home.
      This is almost like the UK with it’s harsh laws.I can’t help saying it” But
      The Peoples Non Republic of New Jersey laws are worse” I know I happened to
      once live in that antigun hell hole, Where you need a pistol permit for any
      caliber handgun from a Marksman Air pistol or a 500 S&W they are all considered
      firearms.I wish them a lot of luck.

      • You should of seen how they worded the rules for Illinois. Its a little better now but can be determined multiple ways if you read over it a few times.

        The way it was worded at one time made you think that a air gun over .18 cal. would be considered a firearm. And then one of the rule changes stated that air soft guns are no longer considered a firearm.

        Wow is all I got to say.

        • I am an IL airgunner, and the law has always been pretty clear but changed about 18 months ago.

          Paintball, Airsoft, toy (Nerf, etc.), and catapult weapons are not and have not been considered firearms and are unregulated. Airguns that fired metal projectiles above .18 caliber were considered firearms, as were airguns that shot metal projectiles under .18 caliber but over 700 feet per second.

          Since January of 2013 Illinois law changed so that airguns of less than .18 caliber are no longer considered firearms, regardless of the speed at which they fire metal projectiles. So, an AirForce Condor in .177 is unregulated in Illinois as of January 2013.

          I believe a powder-burner of any sort, even a tiny pin-fire pistol, is regulated in Illinois as a firearm.


          • Micheal
            Before that change in 2013 it did say that airsoft guns were now not cosidered firearms.I didnt see anything about the nerf stuff. And I dont know when or how long that was in effect.

            But now that wording about airsoft guns has been dropped. And now it also says that all air guns are not considered firearms. I guess Im interpeting. Oh well life goes on.

            And what area of IL. do you live in? North, South, East or West. Im close to St.Louis.

            • And that makes me think this.

              Now if all air guns are not considered firearms but if they are over .18 cal. they are suppose to be under 700 fps. that now should allow us to be able to order .20, .22 and .25 cal. air guns if its under 700 fps. from PA. Right?

              • Gunfun1,

                No. I can see I was not very clear in my post.

                First, any kind of “gun” that does not shoot metal (rubber suction cup dart pistols, water guns, Nerf guns, airsoft guns, rubberband guns, etc.) has never, ever, been considered a firearm in IL. They have always been completely legal for anyone.

                Second, any gun that shoots metal objects and uses black powder or gunpowder has always been a firearm in IL and still is. To own one you would need to have a FOID.

                Now, on to air guns and IL.

                Any AIR gun that is larger in caliber than .18 and shoots metal objects has long been and still is considered a firearm in IL and requires a FOID card.

                Before January 2013 IL considered air guns that were under .18 caliber and under 700 feet per second to be non-firearms and completely legal for anyone, BUT .18 caliber and under air guns that shot at greater than 700 feet per second velocities were considered fireams.

                After January 2013 IL dropped the whole 700 feet per second thing. So for the past 18 or so months any airgun that is .18 caliber or less is not considered a firearm in IL, no matter how fast it shoots.

                If you have a FOID in IL, well, then none of this matters. If not, then you need to keep your air guns .177 caliber.


                • I am so glad that I live in an area where I can walk into a store with enough money and walk out with any black powder or airgun(and probably as many as I could carry,Haven’t tried that one yet) simply by showing I.D. and handing over the appropriate amount.
                  I would also encourage anyone who lives in an area that is more restrictive than is tolerable,to state your case to your local representatives and when it’s time to make the decision Please participate so that your voices are heard.
                  Congratulations to the state of Michigan for taking this opportunity to win back their rights!(Come on New Jersey!)


                • Yep have my foid card for more years than I would like to say.

                  I was just hoping that I could now order a .20 and up caliber air gun through PA as ong as it was under 700 fps. and not have to worry if they will ship it or not.The last time I checked with somebody there they wouldnt ship to IL.

                  • Gunfun and Reb
                    I second Rebs comments about contacting your state reps about air gun regs. I am like Reb in that I live in a state with no regulations on air guns and very few on real firearms also and have held a CCP for 20 years. I also have managed to avoid any of my guns from getting up and loading themselves and committing a crime so I believe I have raised and educated them well.


                  • Gunfun
                    I replied here because there was no reply at the bottom of your last post.
                    yea so much for being united huh. I think because the feds don’t consider air guns to be in the same classification as firearms that a state should not be able to change or override that law, but we know they all do so all we can do is contact or state reps to get the laws changed. I am glad to see some states coming around to the current times,


  9. I think today’s blog was very interesting because it relates to
    todays modern air guns..I also was wondering,What is the best distance
    to use a chrony?

    • NNJMike,

      Because their discharge is so mild, I like to put the muzzles of airguns at 6 inches to 12 inches from the start screen of the chronograph. I don’t do that with big bores, though. Those I place 5 feet away. With firearms I usually put the start screen about 10 feet from the muzzle and it depends on the caliber I’m testing.


  10. Hi BB,

    I’ve got a question which might make for a good blog some day when you are short of material (I know that day will never come, but you might want a slight diversion).

    Since beginning airgunning, I’ve followed your lead in never assuming any one pellet is best for all pellet guns. As a result I have a collection of a couple of dozen variations. I experiment with my guns and each pellet. That’s part of the fun! On the other hand, there is a cost in money and time.

    I know that you have favorite pellets, and that ‘Crosman tends to make for Crosman’, but there must be a better way to choose pellets. Recently, you divulged that for logical reasons you prefer a thin-skirted pellet for a low powered gun (if I remember that correctly). And you have given other hints to your choices. Would you mind elaborating on those? For example, I got stuck recently trying to figure out how pellet diameter figures into power or precision in a particular gun–and how to determine what diameter pellet my rifle prefers (based on imprecise bore measurements). And what about those coated pellets? How does that effect twist and trajectory? I don’t know.

    It would be a helpful blog to elaborate on how to choose pellets. There might be not much more known than certain brands are more reliable–and that certain shapes are good for their jobs, but if there is…I’d like to read about it if you want to write about it.

    • Rob,

      A lot of what I do is based on past experiences with certain pellets. I am sometimes surprised by pellets I would never consider for any airgun, but with which a reader has had wonderful luck.

      However, that being said, there are some basics in my choices. I may do a blog like that, if I can think of enough to say. I have written it down in my book.


  11. Good blog..may i suggest a couple .the raraity of certain air guns exanple.Theoben Dual Magmun.Beman R1Lazertune.Wischombe’s. Or the genius of Dr.R .Beman how he convinced many top airgun makers to put his logo on the guns for his enterprize. Many readers never heard about these subjects and the veterans always appreciate a good read.

  12. I went to the Baldwinsville show and held the elusive Theoben Dual Magnum ($2500) and was superized that it was a pop up brass tap loader all that power 30+fpe….I did buy a Diana36 /HW80 with R1stock/older HW35 no safty put it in 1950 era. All in good shoter condition. But i would rather have gotton one gun in collectors condition..you know that means cherry picked from new with nice grain on furniture (select grade).

  13. I can see how this book could be a life-changing one for certain personalities who would go wild in their backyard or garage. To prove my fascination with the book, I will essay answers to some of the questions. I’m used to being wrong and have very thick skin. 🙂 Why does a heavier bullet at a lower velocity move a mass more than a smaller bullet at a higher velocity? This is the difference between kinetic energy, E = (1/2)mv^2, and momentum, P = mv, where m is mass of the moving object and v is velocity. Notice that kinetic energy has a much heavier dependence on velocity which is squared compared to momentum. While we measure the “power” of guns with kinetic energy, the collision example is more accurately described by momentum. So mass plays a larger role and you can see the implications for a heavier bullet. I think the distinction is especially important and confused when applied to the impact of projectiles. The kinetic energy, which is generally used, measures the power to destroy but this can take different forms including the internal damage to the target. Knock down power is a subclass of damage that is better described by a collision model. The basic understanding that heavier bullets like the .45 ACP supply more knock-down power shows an intuitive grasp of the role of momentum. Incidentally, I used to avoid reading introductions to books, but now it is the first thing I read and sometimes the only part. It generally gives you the fastest coverage, but maybe this reflects the kind of books that I am reading. 🙁

    Why do airgun pellets slow so fast? I would say because of the diablo pellet design but that would seem to apply only after they have exited the muzzle. I’m jiggered as to why they slow down inside of the barrel. Why are .22 caliber guns always more powerful than .177 in the same model? This question seems to assume that the propulsive power for each type is the same in which case that would be puzzling. But aren’t .22 caliber guns always designed to have more power?

    As a final note on the book, does it have a section on people who catapult themselves as the payload? I read about a guy whose hobby was catapulting pianos and other large objects. Then he got the idea of catapulting himself. They used to do that in the middle ages, but the people did not survive. The guy took his ideas to a physicist who calculated that the forces would rip him apart. He found another physicist! Ultimately, he succeeded in catapulting himself into a river in front of a small audience.

    I forgot to mention in my M4 review that I was very pleasantly surprised by the trigger. I’ve heard lots of complaints about the AR trigger, but this one, while single stage was clean and predictable and at least equal to my WWII rifles.

    Speaking of assault style weapons, a matter of great concern has popped up. The new sanctions against Russia include bans on the Saiga rifle. I have already let that go and am greatly enamored of the Romanian M10. However, the bans on the Saiga are not really about the firearm itself. They are economic and meant to target the Russian arms industry headed by the famous Izmash factory. So what’s to prevent the ban from extending to my favorite airgun of all, the IZH 61??!!!! I’ve heard that airguns are not subject to firearms laws, but Edith’s comment makes me think that the distinction is not universal and besides the sanctions are not really firearms regulations but more economic in nature. Does PA have any concerns about selling IZH products? Anything else to say about this issue?

    Yes, the ant movie was called Them! That’s exactly right. 103David, thanks for the details about the tiger story. Tigers are one of my favorite animals by virtue of their amazing power. In a YouTube, I saw one tiger in a Chinese zoo jump almost entirely over a small tree in pursuit of a chicken. Truly William Blake was right in his famous poem where he writes,

    Tiger, tiger burning bright
    In the forests of the night
    What immortal hand or eye
    Dare frame thy fearful symmetry

    For another take on animal interactions, have a look at the rhino, another favorite animal, in its way even more powerful than a tiger.


    The two jokers who make this video try to get the attention, but the real star for me is the rhino. His efforts to figure out what’s going on with his ears turning back and forth are too funny.

    Gunfun1, I see the jiu-jitsu simplicity at the bottom of your plan, but it is kind of intricate in execution. There is no creature that could outleap a helicopter, but this one only lurks in underground caverns where the helicopter couldn’t operate. Timing the distraction and the noose would require great coordination and the creature could probably figure it out with its human intelligence. But I can see the potential of this idea from old Wild West movies. To create the spectacular horse falls that often accompanied shootouts, the producers would attach wires to the horse’s forelegs. Then they would spur the horse to a full gallop until the wires went taut causing the horse to go head over heels. The stuntman was expected to take care of himself. Thankfully, this practice is now forbidden by animal cruelty laws. Anyway, the helicopter plan isn’t directly applicable, but the jiu-jitsu principle is.

    Now to the answer, but first we can observe the results of SWAT team that was sent in after the creature. Ultimately three SWAT officers, armed with full-auto M16s and flashlights confronted the creature in a large dark room. There was confused shouting on the tactical radios, bursts of gunfire, and then silence. I always had my doubts about the stopping power of 5.56. Now for the final showdown. The plan goes back to PeteZ’s idea of baiting the creature onto a ground of your choosing. But this time, the hero and his female assistants are the bait and not some helpless goat. Nothing like putting yourself on the line with your ideas. The intention is to place themselves at the end of the longest corridor they can find and then shoot the creature with a Colt .45 Anaconda as it runs the length of the corridor after them. This means they have no place to go if they miss.

    They also have a special shooting strategy. Having bounced a few .45s off the creature’s thick skull, they decide instead to break him down. I had always understood this in the context of hunting to mean shooting center of mass, exchanging the immediacy of a head shot for a bigger target and a more certain if slower death. But in the book, they plan to shoot for the limb joints of the animal. This would be crippling but even more difficult than the head shot. Moreover, with the corridor they choose, they calculate they will have two seconds with the creature moving at greyhound speed.

    When the creature arrives, they can see its unholy red eyes flickering as it pokes its head around the corner and decides what to do. Finally, it commits and starts loping down the corridor. The first shot takes it in the haunch which causes it to stop and consider, putting time back on the clock. The next shot hits the foreleg spinning it around and enraging it into a final charge. The next shot misses, and the creature accelerates to full speed. The female assistant can read an expression of diabolical triumph as it closes with the saliva flying. She staggers back in terror causing the lamp from her miner’s helmet to jump around. But then she has an insight. From her biology education, she realizes that the red eyes are set forward for binocular vision as part of the creature’s human heritage. This allows a breach into the impossibly thick skull. The creature is still charging. The woman communicates her findings to the FBI agent. The creature continues to charge. The FBI agent comprehends and snaps off a final shot. With the creature only millimeters away, the bullet penetrates and unable to exit the skull it bounces around inside until the creature is dead. I believe there is a principle of anti-tank warfare similar to this of using the tank’s armor against itself. So the jiu-jitsu principle is borne out.

    RifledDNA, alas, this book is already written. It is called Relic and written by the co-author team of Preston and Child, and it starts a series that is very entertaining. Yes, with the flood of writing of out there, you would think that it wouldn’t be hard to participate and skim off a bit of revenue with a formula novel. I considered romance novels. But while the writing is simple, they seem to require a grasp of the female mind which I have found inscrutable.


    • Matt61,

      Yes, your comment got caught by the spam filter. It has nothing to do with the length of the comment. The two additional comments you posted were removed by me. When something’s caught by the spam filter, I can understand the frustration you feel. However, it doesn’t help if you write additional comments that will eventually be deleted (test comments or comments that your other comment didn’t show up). That just increases the workload, and I can get grouchy when someone gives me needless extra work 🙂 🙂

      Thanks for understanding!


      • Hi Edith. Thanks for taking care of this. Certainly don’t mean to increase your workload, but I was trying to figure out what was causing the problem. I sent the test comments from the same machine at the same time, so if the spam filter is not working based on length, do you know why it would catch some comments and not others? Is it a completely random process or is there something I can do to prevent this? And when this does happen, is there some unobtrusive way to ask you to look in the spam filters or do you look there routinely? I’m all about trying to decrease workload for everyone and avoid this problem. Thanks for your help.


        • Matt61,

          Email me: edith@pyramydair.com

          Both Tom and & I spend all day looking for spams. I keep a special comment admin window open all day and look for comments every few minutes. Tom does the same thing. It’s time-consuming.

          I don’t know what happened recently, but we’re now being hit with 50-80 spams overnight and about that many during daytime hours. Before Pyramyd AIR updated the WordPress software, we were getting a small handful of spams every 24 hours. Somehow, spammers are finding us. The good news is that 99% of all spams are being caught by the spam filter and don’t see the light of day.


    • Matt
      I was going to say something about shooting the beast in the knee caps. Definatly a fast way to disable something. And I forgot about it living under ground. But it sounds like it was a interesting book to read.

    • Here’s a little addendum to the Tiger story. As a “not really employed by us” Department Head of this…interestingly…organized corporation, I repeatedly found myself assuming…unusual…job responsibilities. This ranged from occasionally announcing show presentations, to ” not walking your dog through the crowd” exhibitions.
      “Not walking your dog” meant whatever on the end of the leash was, it was DECIDEDLY NOT your sweet, at home fluffy.
      In my case, that meant a pretty mellow Cheetah, numerous other tooth,clawed and hoofed individuals, and a Tiger cub…the assignment being to acclimate this 35 pound-or-so kitten to walking on a leash through a crowd of humans.
      Bear in mind two things. This was many years ago in a pre-litigious era when the corporate lawyers actually thought this was safe and sane thing to do.
      Hard to believe, but this at the time, was known as “Affection Training.”
      And you know what? It actually did work.
      I have scars on still functioning appendages to prove it.
      For the slow in appreciating this comment, “Still Functioning” from a Tiger means, “i was just playing!”

  14. This blog reminds me of a old karate moive .where the kun fu master tell his student “I taught you everything you know. Now its time I teach you everything I know.”

    • I guess there are different versions of this. I studied a system where the techniques were extensively numbered, and the grandmaster said, “You only know the technique, not the number.” Discouraging to hear with 3,625 techniques on the syllabus. But then there is the story of the old Chinese master on his deathbed, lamenting all the stuff he had kept secret from his student that would now die with him.

      Incidentally, among all the big events that have happened recently, could it be that all of us have silently gone the way of John Henry and the English longbow archers? An online story briefly reported that the U.S. military has successfully tested its first smart bullet. It sounds like cruise missile technology where a built in chip reads a laser painting and manipulates fins to guide the bullet onto the target. No more trigger and breath control, natural body position or sight picture. Expense will keep this away from common consumption for awhile, but perhaps the writing is on the wall…


      • Matt
        that similar to what I heard. But in this case was that they were going to put chips in bullets and guns to only shoot from that one gun . Picture this some GM cars have chips in keys were if you loose your key than you need to get the new key programed to the ignition by way of ohms resistance. Same thing with all guns need a small chip in handle to match the chip in bullet casing to set off primer all in effert to keek ammo out of unregisterd guns which can be traced back to owner simply by scaning a type bar code in spent casing or slug But that will ad exta cost .

  15. BB, excellent choice for a something different blog and even though I haven’t picked up a book in forever this one sounds very interesting and informative. I have always been very interested in ballistics and mass/velocity. Good example I took a problem squirrel two weeks ago with my “elastic band gun” using a round ball bearing about 3/8ths size or a little bigger. It was a shot to the side of the face from 30 yards out and it stood him up and dropped him off the fallen tree very quick like. The other day I took another with my gas ram .22 rifle and a 18 grain crow mag and even though it also was a head shot he stood up scratching at his head then went over off the fallen tree. That .22 pellet was probably moving at what high 6’s probably low 7’s and took longer to kill then a round ball moving slow enough for me to see. Kinetic energy wins every time no matter what speed…

  16. Excellent blog for the weekend, BB! This book is going on my wish list right at the top. As I recently told someone I met, “I like to shoot! Anything with a trajectory is interesting!”


    • SLALi,

      Welcome to the blog.

      I wish you had photographed the entire airgun instead of just the numbers. I can’t tell anything from them. But the portion of the rear sight that I can see in one photo tells me your gun may be old.

      Next time you photograph, use a tripod, back up to the correct focus distance and use light from the side to enhance the details. Also, stop using a white background, because it makes your subject too dark. Use a darker background and the image will be brighter.

      Please read this report:



      • Thanks for the welcome but I am here from last many years – just reading but never commenting – may be a question or one in a while

        Actually this gun was in closet for many years and I dont know when it was purchased – it was used by grandfathers and uncles many years before . This is in dismantled state now with a cousin brother of mine who is good part time gunsmith – as per him Its definitely a 4-5 decades old Diana Mod 35 – with the lady logo but the name Diana is not there – instead Geco name is below this logo.
        But maybe its an early production as the no. stamped is 011. Does this serial no.strike anything with you ?
        I will get pictures as per your instructions (actually i have read those when you posted them but didnt had access to tripod )


        • SIALi,


          Geco and Gecado (fame firm) are exporters, based in Erlangen, Germany. They make nothing, but put their name on things made by others. Since Diana is so close to them and they are well-known as a Diana exporter, your gun is most likely a Diana.

          If you don’t have a tripod, turn a chair around backwards and rest the camera on top of the chair’s back.

          According to The Blue Book of Airguns, Diana 35s were made from 1953 to 1987, with a major model change in the 1960s.


  17. In the early days of IPSC power factor was checked with a power pendulum. The problem is the difference between momentum (mass x velocity) and energy (mass x velocity squared). Recoil, and knocking down plates is a function of momentum. I once had a set of falling plates that a neighbor shot at with a .223 rifle (without my knowledge). The plates didn’t even fall as the rounds went through them.

  18. The Practical Guide to Man-powered Weapons and Ammunition” by Richard Middleton. It’s fascinating how the author explains complex scientific concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. Although the term “weapon” carries different cultural meanings, this book is an excellent resource for those interested in pneumatic guns and projectile launchers. Thanks for the recommendation!

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