Airgunner Christmas gifts for 2014: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Happy Thanksgiving

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

• Larger gifts
• Smaller gifts

This will be my last gift guide for the 2014 Christmas season. Today, I’ll look at all those things that aren’t airguns but still make wonderful gifts for airgunners.

Before I start, here’s how I put the guide together. I recommend gifts that I believe most shooters will enjoy. If it isn’t something I would like, it doesn’t make my guide. The way I look at it, we have a number of readers who are just getting started in airguning. I want their experiences to be good ones. So, if I think something is not for everyone, it doesn’t make the cut. That way anyone can use my list and buy for any shooter.

Larger gifts
If your airgunner has been REALLY good this year, I bet he could use an 88 cubic-foot carbon fiber tank. Most of us who shoot precharged pneumatic guns can use one. In fact, I could always use a second one. They’re definitely not cheap, but they are the ultimate way of carrying compressed air.

88 cubic foot carbon fiber tank

88 cubic-foot carbon fiber tank.

Everyone needs a gun case, and this year I received the best one I’ve ever seen. I already own a Starlight case that can survive being run over by a 13-ton armored personnel carrier, and I’m rating this case as even better. Not stronger — but more practical. It’s the Plano Pro Max double scoped rifle case. Some owners have said the latches fall off, and they do, but they can be put back on in an instant. When I have an expensive rifle or two to transport, this is the case I use.

Plano Pro Max case

 

Plano Pro Max double scoped rifle case

I hesitate to recommend scopes because they require fitting to each airgun; but, assuming you can trick your airgunner into doing that, my first recommendation is the AirForce Airguns 4-16X50 scope. For air rifles that can handle a large scope, this one is a real deal! It’s clear, sharp and well-made. It’s one of the scopes I reach for when testing a new gun.

AirForce 4-16X50 scope
AirForce Airguns 4-16X50 scope

 

If you want to save some money, the UTG 4-16X40 scope is a very nice scope for even less money. While not as bright as the AirForce scope, it is still a very good buy.

Another good scope is the UTG 4-16X44 SWAT scope. This one has a 30mm tube, but it comes with rings, so mounting shouldn’t be a problem. Unless your airgun has 11mm rails. Then you need to get a UTG Weaver -to-11mm or 3/8″ adapter. These things are phenomenal. I never have enough of them, because these days everybody has a different idea of what a scope mount should be. These little things solve that in a flash, by giving you both worlds — Weaver and 11mm — in one scope ring!

And if you want my absolute best-est scope Pyramyd Air carries at any price it would have to be the Hawke 4.5-14X42 Sidewinder. This is the scope I always choose when I want to best scope for a test. I have been “evaluating” this scope for so long that I suppose I will have to break down and buy it someday soon (hint, hint).

Okay, now I want to recommend products I’ve never evaluated. I love my Dillon electronic earmuffs that I bought at an NRA Annual Meetings back in the 1990s. Not only do they protect my hearing — they also serve as ad-hoc hearing aids! When I turn them on at the range, I can suddenly hear sounds I thought were gone from the world — birds chirping and leaves rustling. But Pyramyd Air doesn’t sell the Dillon brand, and, truth be told, Dillon has nothing whatsoever to do with the making of their earmuffs.

Like all things electronic, earmuffs are made in Asia and simply carry the name of the company. So, I’m now recommending a product that I’ve never tested. I’m saying that your shooter will appreciate a set of electronic earmuffs — not for his pellet guns, but for those times when he shoots firearms and perhaps even big bore airguns. I’m going to link to the Radians Maximus 29, only because it’s the most expensive set. They retail for $100, and I paid $130 for my Dillon muffs about 16 years ago. I recommend the priciest pair because I have also owned two Caldwell electronic muffs that were both budget items. Neither pair worked that well. But the Dillons have served me well for a long time. Thankfully, Pyramyd Air has a great return policy if you have a problem.

Radian Maximus 29
Radian Maximus 29 earmuffs

For the record, there are two Radians electronic earmuffs that cost less. The Pro-Amp lists for $65, and the 430 EHP is a bargain $26. In my experience, though, bargain electronics don’t always save you money. But electronic earmuffs make a wonderful gift for any airgunner.

I got an MTM Case-Gard Predator shooting table several years ago, and I still use it many times each month. The thing is so darned handy! It knocks down to a flat slab for transport and sets up to become a great shooting bench. I sometimes take mine to the rifle range, where I fit in between the concrete benches on the line. But I mostly use it in the house, where I can set up a 25-yard indoor range in about 10 minutes.

MTM Predator shooting table
MTM Predator shooting table

And your shooter needs a shooting rest. I own a $120 Caldwell Lead Sled that I use a lot, but I have to tell you there are things that my $44 MTM Predator rifle rest can do that my Caldwell can’t. Holding an AR-15 is one of them. That pistol grip gets in the way of the bottom of most rests, as do the longer magazines. But the MTM rest has plenty of room for both. The MTM comes apart to make a nice pistol rest, too. The other rests don’t do that. Yes it is plastic, but it’s still very solid. The one thing it doesn’t do is absorb recoil. But for all other purposes, this is a good, adjustable rifle rest.

MTM Predator rifle rest
MTM Predator rifle rest

Smaller gifts
I never have enough gun cases! And the ones I run out of first are the ones that hold longer guns. So although I haven’t owned this exact model, I’m recommending the Plano 400 Gun Guard soft case. It will accept a 48-inch rifle; and if there’s one truth in this world, it’s that many air rifles are longer and heavier than firearms. And I’ve owned enough Plano cases to know that what they make is generally excellent.

Plano 400 soft case
Plano 400 Gun Guard soft rifle case

Your shooter is going to need pistol cases, too, and I like the MTM Case Guard pistol case. I’ve used many MTM products and have found they last and stand up to a lot of abuse. This case will hold one larger scoped pistol or several smaller ones.

MTM pistol case

 

MTM pistol case

Every airgunner needs a copy of the Blue Book of Airguns. In its 11th edition, this book has grown from a small format booklet with 160 pages to a large format monster with 736 pages. And the beauty is that they still don’t have everything in the book! That’s good because it means the subject we’re interested in is much larger than even this encyclopedic reference can contain. But nothing on the market does a better job. So, for hours of fascinating reading and answers to those burning questions that always pop up, this book is a winner.

Another item I use all the time is my UTG BB and pellet trap. It’s not that exciting until you need it, and then it’s invaluable! Not only does this trap stop lower-velocity pellets (under 600 f.p.s.), it also stops BBs and prevents them from bouncing back onto the floor. The description says it’s good for pellets up to 1,200 f.p.s., but that will wear the trap out very soon. Stick to the lower velocities and continue to use it for years.

UTG BB trap
UTG BB and pellet trap

That is my list for 2014. Remember that your airgunner can always use pellets and BBs, too, but there are too many variables for me to make a list. So, you need to employ some clever questioning techniques to find out. Isn’t that what makes the Christmas season so much fun?

38 thoughts on “Airgunner Christmas gifts for 2014: Part 3

  1. Tom,

    Interesting. I didn’t see any knives mentioned this year. Out of curiosity, was that an oversight, something that resulted from space limitations, or a conscious decision to narrow the list down a bit this year?

    J.



    • Not to hijack the thread but did you see that there is a push building momentum to have bb and pellet guns have large florescent panels installed rather then the orange cap at the barrel which is easy to remove due to the shooting death of a 12 year old brandishing a airsoft semi-automatic pistol with the orange cap removed?


      • Are you saying in addition to the California Bill that was cut back? Its a shame they don’t look at adolescent psychology instead of demonizing the guns. Guns built and protect the country, as with most, but they don’t mind those ones. I could carve a gun out of wood and paint it black (which kids used to do by the way, and not get shot). Its the anti gun nuts that are getting kids hurt.



  2. All my friends and relatives know I’m sooo into air rifles, but don’t want to get me the more obvious air rifle present for Xmas. The best attempt at this was a pair of binoculars from my father in law a few years back, still use them to this day with great satisfaction. And some boil in the bag hand warmers of the sister in law which she thought would be great for when I’m busking in the winter months, but are super for those colder hunting days when I’m waiting for those pesky pigeons to notice the decoys. So this looks like the list i can suggest to these people for my Xmas wishes (if only they thought i was worth having that much spent on me LOL). I must admit i do like that Predator shooting table, looks like something i can carry with me down the woods to my permission when I’m testing any of my mods on my rifles.

    The gun cases look good as well but the wife wouldn’t like the space they take up if i had one for every rifle i owned, i don’t want to push it as she supports my hobby really well as it is. Good list BB


    • Sir Nigel,

      If Pyramyd Air had a good set of binos I could recommend, they would have been on this list, as well. I almost listed the Bushnell 8X21 pair, because you can’t have too many of them. I must have 6 pair, scattered around in convenient places. But a high quality binocular is a thing of beauty and joy. I use 7X40 East German NVA border guard binos whose price has tripled on the used market over the past 10 years.

      Same goes for a tactical flashlight, or even a bright penlight, like Pelican’s 1920 that uses conventional batteries. I cannot wear one out!

      Stay warm!

      B.B.


      • I’m partial to Bushnell and Bausch & Lomb for binoculars.

        B.B., sounds like you prefer the Air Force over the UTG in a full size scope in the $150 price range, is that right? I’ll be looking for a 50mm soon and there are some UTGs approaching the same price.


  3. BB,

    All three parts made a superb Christmas gift guide! I even put several of the suggestions in my Wish List. I seriously doubt a fat man in a red suit is going to bring any of them to me though, unless I decide I look good in red.


  4. May all of us on this day remember that we should give thanks to our Lord each and every day for all of the blessings he bestows upon us.

    I also thank each and every one of you for allowing me to share the experience of this forum with you.

    Thank you Tom and Edith for all your efforts to enrich the world of airgunning and also for being so tolerant of me.

    HAVE A BLESSED THANKSGIVING!


  5. Happy Thanksgiving to all readers! I like your list BB, especially the scuba tank. As I go deeper into PCPs, this is an investment I see in my near future. To get one for Chirtmas would be a wonderful thing (maybe Samantha will read this in time).


  6. Well…today I’m grateful to be living in a country where I can waste time reading about airgun scopes and gun cases instead of worrying about where the next meal is coming from, if I’ll still have a roof over my head next week, and if all family members will make it home safely at the end of the day.

    Happy Thanksgiving–we all have so much to appreciate on this day.



  7. I’d like to have a 4500psi tank. Maybe next year.

    I don’t mind using a hand pump. I just bought a Hill pump, and it seems as high quality as it’s reputation.

    Best wishes and Happy Thanksgiving to all.

    RB



      • Santa dilivered a Hills hand pump a fews years back, awesome bit of kit if i may say. Nearly as good as the Air Arms Shamal in 177 he also managed to drag down the chimney with him, knowing what i was getting i left out a glass of Naddurra whiskey instead of the useual glass of sherry. What gets me is i know that air rifles will fit down the chimney, but how does he get them past the bend in the grate and the back boiler around the fireplace itself ( i can see how Daisey Red Ryders were designed to get over this problem and have been delivered by Santa for decades now).

        ATB

        Sir Nigel.


  8. Very nice list for the informed air gunner. Informed. But for my gift list, i think I would love a nice Pyramyd Air Gift Card ! Lordy, lordy, to have someone pick out an item for me in this air gunning world would be a huge error if I did not pick it out for them..so where is the surprise..? Besides, by the time they gave it to me, I may want something else. Oh, a TX200 would always be welcome….that would be a very special surprise, indeed !
    Happy Thanskgiving to all.
    Pete
    “Old Town” Orcutt, California





  9. B.B.,

    You’ve got me confused about the new product (gun?) yesterday when you told me I should go ahead and buy a springer if I am in the market for a new one. I’m confused because I simply can’t imagine there is a new PCP coming out that will blow the doors off my TM1000, Airwolf or S400 MPR FT. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. By the way, I see that Air Arms has a new PCP out now, the HFT 500. Happy Thanksgiving.

    G&G


  10. “But I mostly use it in the house, where I can set up a 25-yard indoor range in about 10 minutes.”

    B.B. How do you do that…shoot through an open window?

    Just curious.



  11. I was going to reccomend a Nikko Sterling 6x40AO Mil-Dot Mountmaster scope, a sharper budget optic I’m yet to see, but oddly the brand doesn’t seem to have made it Stateside (UTG isn’t over here in tbe UK though)


  12. I see a lot of love for the Marauder and Discovery being posted in these Gift lists, but I didn’t see anything for the Crosman Challenger. Is it just more expensive because of that Lothar Walther Barrel? Is it just overshadowed by the Mrod and Disco? I’m just curious why it seems to have dropped off the map.

    I hope everyone is having a wonderful Turkey Day!


  13. Unfortunately, I have just found myself “freshly unemployed”, so my plans–not just for myself, but for shamelessly hooking others with the airgunnery bug as well–are on a bit of an aggravating hiatus. (Such is life.) I can certainly say that a PA gift cert is at the top of my own list, but I’d not soon turn down one of the high-pressure PCP tanks, either. (Fortunately, the new Hill pump seems to be working famously. 🙂

    I thought I’d mention here, too, for anyone who is interested in the “scout scope” concept, that I have been thoroughly enjoying the Leapers 2-7x scout scope that I first heard about from B.B.’s SHOT report. For $180, and stipulating its two limitations, that would seem to be a smokin’ deal either to try the concept, or to dedicate it to a carefully chosen gun. ($180 seems to be just about half the cost of the de facto scout scope standard, the Leupold M8 2.5x compact fixed glass.)

    It will still be a while before I feel comfortable reporting in real detail, but there are some initial observations that seem pretty clear already, and worth mentioning for anyone who is wondering:

    – The Leapers glass is three times the weight of the Leupold, and significantly larger. This wasn’t a surprise; I could see the dimensions on ordering, but in the hands it really does feel huge. Given that compact size and light weight are somewhat central to Jeff Cooper’s original concept, this means that the Leapers glass really isn’t a fungible replacement for the Leupold. Despite that, however, I find myself liking the glass, and it may turn out to be something quite worthwhile in itself.

    – Optical quality seems very nice to me, especially given the price. Light gathering, with a 44mm objective and 30mm tube, are outstanding, and along with the illuminated reticle option, should make a great combination for hunting in the darker months here.

    – I’m excited to learn what I may from the features I am not yet accustomed to: the mil-dot system, the illuminated reticle, and especially the adjustable focus. (Even if I don’t wind up thinking of this as a true “Jeff Cooper scout scope” in the end, it may wind up to be an excellent slow-fire glass for some key disciplines like airgunnery, small-game hunting, and varminting.)

    – It is indeed quick to acquire on mounting, and seems to work well all along its magnification range. I have not, thus far, noticed any functional advantage to the wider field of view (even down at 2x where it’s wide), but I should really reserve judgment on that until I’ve used it in the field a few times. (To really wring out its performance as a snapshot glass, my intention is to do a side-by-side comparison with the Leupold using the same gun, where any differences in mounting can be minimized.)

    All in all, if you have the right gun to fit it, this seems to be an excellent glass. I’m really grateful that B.B. brought it to my attention, and PA decided to carry it!


    • Kevin,

      Ouch! Sorry to hear of the change in your situation.

      I’m glad you like your Leapers Scout scope. I know Tom was one of the early cheerleaders for it, and it’s always nice to hear others see the same value in an item he recommended.

      When I link up suggested scopes for guns on Pyramyd Air’s site, I always marvel at the prices of Leapers scopes. I think some people look at the price of Leapers scopes and see that they’re somewhat modest compared to many other brands. Shooters who judge a scope strictly by its price are apt to miss out on some very nice scopes. The customer comments about Leapers scopes are proof that you can get more than you pay for.

      Edith


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