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Education / Training How and why guns wear out: Part 2

How and why guns wear out: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

• Materials first
• Wood and steel
• Design
• Gas springs
• Double action revolvers
• So what?

Today, we’ll look at some airguns and discuss how and why they wear out. I had to do the firearms first in Part 1 to get the basics of metallurgy and design into the discussion. Today, when I talk about those same things from an airgun viewpoint, readers will understand that it isn’t just airguns made of the wrong materials with poor designs that make them subject to fail early. We now know this is a common problem.

Materials first
First, I want to talk about materials. Airguns can be made from cheaper materials than firearms because they don’t have to endure the same pressures and heat that firearms do. Even though they wore out too soon, those iron muzzleloading firearm rifles were still made of better stuff than most airguns.

Let’s dive straight to the bottom of the tank and look at a poster child for poor materials — the Shimel GP-22. It was a single-shot .22-caliber pellet pistol that looked something like a Luger and was made in 1950. It used CO2 as its power source. Those were the days before the 12-gram cartridges, so the Shimel used an 8-gram cartridge that was commonly used in soda bottles to make sparkling water for drinks.

The Shimel single-shot looked like a Luger,\ and was made from low-quality pot metal, plastic (grips) and seals. All the paint is off this one.

Talk about poor materials — the Shimel was the hat trick. The pot metal frame and parts were made from a weak alloy of metal that aged and became brittle over time. It had early plastic grip scales that shrunk with time and used o-rings made from material that absorbed carbon dioxide gas and swelled up during use — to the point that it was impossible to open after the gas was gone. You had to wait about a hour for the swelling to subside before installing another cartridge. If that wasn’t enough, it was painted with black paint that dried out and flaked off as the years passed.

But the Shimel’s faults ran even deeper than this. The gun was designed in such a way that two dissimilar metals were placed in contact with one another, setting up a flow of current that sometimes welded the parts together over time. Those guns can never be disassembled for repairs and are useless. You can see why I said the Shimel is the poster child for airguns made from poor materials! But it’s by no means unique.

The technology of casting pot metal parts was not as good in those early days as it is today. The Shimel is weak because a low-temperature alloy was used to promote more accurate casting. But as you’ve seen, that had a set of problems all its own.

Another problem of the early cast-metal guns was pinholes in the castings. For some reason, the Smith & Wesson pistols I showed you a couple days ago — the models 78G and 79G — had this problem more than many others. The CO2 chamber sometimes had a pinhole and would leak down over time, depending on how large the hole was. If the hole can be found, it can sometimes be plugged with epoxy; but because it’s a pinhole, it’s difficult to locate. So, some guns can never be sealed.

Today’s cast-metal airguns are made from alloys that are much stronger, plus they have steel reinforcements at critical wear points. This is why some Umarex lookalike pistols cost 2-3 times what a similar-looking pistol that’s not made as well costs. Also, Umarex puts real controls on their guns, while other brands have the controls features just cast into the body. People fail to appreciate the difference in cost between a fake control and one that works. They like the real controls but they like the prices of guns with the fake controls.

Of course, there are always exceptions. You only have to look at the vintage Webley line of spring-piston pistols to see airguns that are made almost exactly the same as firearms. They’re truly fine guns — worthy of collecting and of their owner’s pride. They last for decades (and longer) and are far under-stressed.

Webley Senior
Pre-war Webley Senior is made of steel — like a firearm. This is lasting quality.

Wood and steel
Before we leave the materials topic, I’ll say a word about wood and steel. The Chinese airgun makers made huge inroads into the U.S. market by selling airguns made of steel that were stocked in wood. Their guns were priced very low, and that made people buy them in the beginning. But as they got out into the U.S. airgun market and shooters experienced them, they learned that wood and steel do not make a good airgun by themselves. The right things have to be done with the steel and the wood to turn them into good airguns — it isn’t just the materials alone. But that often escapes newer shooters.

With experience comes knowledge; and as shooters experience the Chinese spring guns that are made for the lower price points, they realize the differences between them and the guns that come from Germany and England. As they gain experience with spring guns, the difference between moderately priced Chinese guns, Turkish guns and Spanish guns become more obvious. And in this price range, the materials are usually a lot better, though some companies are trying to use more synthetics in their guns than in the past.

But — and this is an important but — the difference between a synthetic such as Delrin, which is used in many of today’s airguns, and the cheap plastic that was used in the grip panels on the Shimel is as large as the difference between a TX200 Mark III and one of the $29 Chinese spring guns. And that’s the point of this section of my report. Materials have to be right for the job they’re asked to do, and they have to be used (designed into the gun) correctly. People talk about Glocks being “plastic guns”; but, in truth, they have tough steel reinforcements at all the wear points. If they didn’t, a Glock wouldn’t even be safe to use — to say nothing of lasting for tens of thousands of shots. But they’re designed correctly, the right materials are in the right places and they last for an incredibly long time.

Now, let’s look at how design enters into the equation. The first airgun I’ll review is the Crosman 160. It’s a CO2-powered, bolt-action single-shot that sometimes came with target sights. When it was new in the 1950s and ’60s, the 160 wasn’t very accurate; but when premium pellets were made in the 1990s, it turned out the 160 was accurate all along! So, the ammunition was the problem, not the airgun!

In the 1960s, CO2 guns had the reputation of leaking down over a period of several days. Shooters weren’t using Crosman Pellgunoil on each CO2 cartridge as we now know to do, and the CO2 cartridges were sealed with steel so-called “bottlecaps” that leaked. Crosman did this to avoid infringing on the patent for CO2 cartridges that were welded shut. When that patent expired, they started welding their cartridges shut, and the guns stopped leaking for the most part. Shooters still remembered the leakers, though, and CO2 guns suffered a bad rap for several decades.

The early type of Crosman CO2 cartridge was capped with a so-called bottlecap that didn’t seal very well. It gave CO2 guns the reputation of leaking.

Gas springs
When gas springs were first used in airguns, the makers didn’t know how to best use them and they were hard to cock. Many today are still hard to cock. But some companies — Crosman, for example — have learned that a longer piston stroke generates the power they want without the gas inside the unit being at such a high pressure. Gas springs are becoming easier and easier to cock as a result.

Double-action revolvers
Now, we come to the real crux of the question of why airguns wear out. Action pistols work in two different ways — either by single-action or double-action mode. If they’re single-action, the hammer must be cocked for every shot. A pistol that has blowback uses the slide coming back to cock the hammer. It tends not to wear the parts very much. A double-action pistol uses a mechanical lever called a hand to advance the cylinder to the next pellet. This is where the main wear comes in!

In firearm revolvers, those double-action guns with hands wear out faster than single-action revolvers — on average. The early Colt double-action revolvers are so notorious for wearing out at this spot that very few of them are found in operating condition today. I am referring to the Colt Thunderer and Lightning firearm models.

Now — if firearm double-action guns wear out, then double-action airguns wear out even faster! If you shoot them double-action, the hand and the gear against which it presses wears out faster than if you shoot it in the single-action mode.

So what?
What this means is that, yes, airguns do wear out. Some of them wear out faster because of the materials they’re made of. Some wear out faster because of how they’re designed. And many of them wear so slowly because the materials are so good and their design is so correct that they’ll last many lifetimes of normal use.

But — and this is a big but — if you shoot 400 shots every day, double-action, it’ll wear faster than the person who shoots only 100 shots every month. If it has problems with the materials, the design — or both, you’ll wear it out faster, no matter who shoots it. Well-made guns will last longer than poorly made guns, no matter who shoots them.

80 thoughts on “How and why guns wear out: Part 2”

  1. Good morning Tom!

    Had a frustrating Sunday, so I did what normal people do, installed a major upgrade to my computer’s operating system (Ubuntu 10.04 LTS to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS). After watching a spinning cursor for several hours, I finally had things working again. So what does a normal person do? Read the latest edition of the Air Gun Blog.

    Call me crazy?


    • I’ll take a gross stab at your unconstrained question (and start who knows what, I fear). I think the answer is the same today as when Mel Tappan wrote the book “Survival Guns” in the 70’s. As Tappan advised, a properly maintained and correctly-used springer contains the fewest critical-to-function parts that are subject to failure and wear (only three parts, in total). They are very simple parts too–the mainspring, piston seal, and breech o-ring seal. I actually think that Viton or perhaps mil-spec polyurethane o-rings might never wear out in a springer breech, unless abused. Similarly, the best o-rings might never wear out in a pumper too, but there are many more of them!

      My daughter has a Daisy Powerline 35 multi-pumper (which I’ve torn-down and ‘smithed) and I just “gave” myself a Benjamin 392 multi-pump rifle for Christmas. I’ve already taken the 392 completely apart and I’m planning my upgrades. Though MPPs are simple devices too, they still contain more critical parts that are prone to wear and failure than any of my three springers. PCPs are similar, complexity-wise, to pumpers, I think, and then you must also consider the parts and reliability of a PCP’s air source.

      On the plus side, the critical parts in the multi-pumpers I’ve torn-down are smaller and lighter than a springer mainspring, however, and the MPPs don’t ever require a mainspring compressor to complete a repair. However, I had no trouble disassembling my recent model Walther LGV without using a spring compressor too (which is very atypical feature of this springer). Your mileage may vary, if you attempt the same with an LGV, and you might “put somebody’s eye out!” I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on TV, but you’ve been forewarned, anyway. 😉


      • Cal
        I can’t even begin to think of all the stuff I done to the 1322, 1377, 2240 and 760’s. And they are closely related to a pcp gun with the exception the pcp doesn’t have to worry about the pump mechanism.

        Then talking springers there is a lot more moving going on inside a springer when it cycles compared to a pcp including the cocking mechanism of the springer there for more parts that could malfunction compared to a pcp.

        The pcp has the fill port the air valve and the spring and striker. And the pcp components aren’t stressed as much as a springer.

        And that’s another thing about a pcp. No spring compressor needed when you work on them.

        I don’t know but it sounds like there is less going on in a pcp than the other types of powerplants to me. 🙂

        • PCP’s may seem like the more simple mechanism but they require the tightest tolerances and are the least tolerant of dust and dirt, they also require a fill method that complicates them further. If you fill by bottle you are dependent on others to fill it and they must be re certified if you fill by pump dont count on decades of trouble free service. I have prewar spring guns still running on their original leather seals and springs.

          • Sam
            I would say a pump gun or a Co2 and even a spring gun can suffer from dirt and moisture.

            Operating system to operating system there is less stress and components of all the other systems when your talking pcp’s.

            Maintenance and care is another factor on most mechanical products.

            I have had to many air guns with different types of power plants. Parts in a pcp do not wear like other types of power plants.

        • ” with the exception the pcp doesn’t have to worry about the pump mechanism.”

          Gunfun1, I prefer to look at the gun as a system and, if it needs bottled air, the air supply is part of the system (tanks, compressors, etc.). Have you taken a look at an overhaul seal kit for a high pressure PCP hand pump? Yikes–they have far more o-rings and seals than the gun itself! If you use a SCUBA or other high pressure tank to store air produced by an even more complex compressor, you have regulators (more valving) that must be maintained and SCUBA and other high pressure tanks require periodic inspections to be safely filled too–at least last time I got my SCUBA tank or aviation O2 bottle filled, which was several years ago.

          But even without the air supply issue, the PCP has more o-rings and valves (at least two valves–a fill valve and a transfer valve, I think) to leak than a springer, which has no valves. Also, the question was about “wear possibilities” and, again, I believe there are only the three parts that typically exhibit wear or sometimes fail over even a human lifetime of use.

          I’m not saying that PCP guns are not fantastic and I have my eyes on a couple new PCPs myself. I just know it’s very likely that I posses the only spare parts I’ll ever need for my springers, which will last my lifetime and my daughter’s lifetime, and it’s not a very large or costly inventory either. In a pinch, springs and breech seals could even be shared to some degree between them, though not optimally, of course. Usable breech seals (o-rings) are available at any decent hardware store and geesh, you could probably insert a stack of automobile or tractor engine valve springs into a springer and get it to shoot somewhat effectively, if you had to!

          • Cal
            I see what you mean about a pcp as a system.

            I had to rebuild my Benjamin hand pump once. And that was my fault for over lubing it when I shouldn’t of lubed it all. And I also have a Hill hand pump that is now going on 5 years old with no problems. And if you never rebuilt a hand pump their actually pretty easy.

            And speaking of easy the reason I guess its easy for me I work in a machine shop for a little over 30 years and part of my job is maintenance when something fails. The other part of the time I’m a machinist and build stuff.

            But we have hydraulic and air systems that I work on and biuld all the time. And no for a fact that the systems last for a long,long time. We date and put our initials on whatever we do and there is stuff still operating that I done 20 years ago.

            So as a system goes I don’t think that should be called part of the pcp guns maintenance. The air source is what I’m referring to. I also have a Shoebox compressor and I have to maintain it.

            What would happen if I got rid of all my pcp guns and I now have been filling bottles for people. What if my Shoebox does mess up. I doesn’t matter to the guns anymore.

            And I think the way to look at this discussion at this time is its about why guns wear out. (Not) why support equipment wears out. Heck why don’t we through scopes into the mix. I’m pretty sure you will have to put a spring gun rated scope on your springer so it will survive. The scope can be a regular old scope on a pcp and probably last forever.

            And if you have never worked on a pcp you should give it a try. They are pretty simple. You can find the replacement o-rings almost anywhere. I guess the same as stacking you car springs your talking about. But wait not the same. I would be putting the correct parts back in. 😉

            • I just wanted to bring up thinking about the gun as a system and your addition of scopes to the discussion is most pertinent too! Although I just received one of Greg Lundy’s Ballistic Enterprises scope mounts for my new 392 (thanks for mentioning BE here, B.B.) and the 392 is not even a scope-punishing springer, I still plan to buy a Williams rear sight for it. I think a survival gun requires at least the ready availability or iron sights to be acceptably reliable and the Williams is the best rear sight for this job (though I find the simple stock 392 “leaf spring” sight to be perfectly acceptable and accurate too). When B.B. piqued my interest in the 392 as a good survival gun choice, the first thought in my head was that it’s a gun that produces its own air supply but also isn’t punishing to scopes, which reduces system reliability.

                • Cal
                  My only problem is I wish my eye sight could of been maintained and a bit more reliable.

                  I use to love to open sight shoot when I was younger but just got to live with my scopes.

                  Oh well at least I can still enjoy shooting. 🙂

                  • I hear ya’, Gunfun1 (even if I don’t see ya’ as clearly as I might have in my youth ;))! It’s one of the reasons that I’ve thought about making scopes as reliable as possible.

                    B.B. has talked about using the Eye Pal apertures, but I’ve been making my own “pals” for years. I cut a few strips of electrical tape and line them up on the edge of the bench. Then I use a small, round (conical shape, really) tip on my soldering pencil to melt perfectly round holes of different sizes into the strips. The farther I push the tip into the tape, the larger the aperture. If I steady my hand well, the “yield” is about 50% with nice round holes. (I discard the ones that aren’t nice and round). I stick the tape strips on my shooting glasses, as necessary. The dimmer the environment, the larger the aperture used. In good light, I can shoot irons as well as I ever have in my life with my makeshift pals having small apertures. In poor light (like say, when big game hunting in the productive early and late daylight hours), not so much. 🙁

                    • Cal
                      I have to ask this about the eye pals. Have you ever used them with open sights while shooting at pest like mice at 30 or 40 yards.

                      And I’m serious I always related they eye pals to a fixed target type shooting. I just now thought about using them in a pest situation.

                      That’s what I always liked about open sites was that I had a open field of view. You know for those running mice shots. 🙂

                  • I’ve never even bothered with the Eye Pals and I’ve never used my makeshift apertures for pests either, but I’ve hunted plenty of big game with them and open sights. It doesn’t really impact field of view as much as you might think. Until last year, my favorite muzzleloader white tail hunt didn’t even permit fiber optic sights and only old fashion irons could be used on the hunt. (Now the regs permit fiber optics, but I still use my tape apertures). I always shoot with both eye open and maybe that’s part of my success with the aperture tape. It’s amazing how the brain sorts it all out. The front sight appears to be perfectly sharp (obviously because of the aperture in front of my right/dominant eye) but I also perceive my field of view to be unrestricted. The black-out area that I use is typically no more than a 1×1 or 2×1 length of ordinary electrical tape, positioned more or less horizontally where I need it for whatever my cheek weld and line requires. I’m not sure, but it might occasionally reduce valuable field of view (FOV) a little, if not for my brain combining the sharp image of my right eye with the better FOV of my left eye. I don’t know. I’ll have to try viewing some targets at airgun pest ranges with both one and both eyes and see if it makes any difference. As I recall, some people have reported success using two different lenses in their eye glasses too–one lens for near and one lens for distant vision. They don’t need to open and close their eyes when going from near to far either. 😉

                    At least that’s how it works for me, and I’ve heard the same from most other users–though not universally so and your mileage may vary.

                    • Cal
                      Welcome to the club. I shoot with bot eyes open also. It seems to brighten up the target to me anyway. And I’m a low magnification shooter. 6 power work for me with both eyes open.

                      I think all that open sight shooting I did as a kid made the transition easy to shoot with both eyes open on a scope.

            • One more comment about o-rings. It’s rare that one finds the correct or perfect air gun o-ring locally, though it’s usually easy to find something that functions. For example, I’ve found that the optimum o-ring for springer breech seals is often a Viton Dura 75. Viton 75 features about the highest resistance to compression set of any o-ring material, which means smaller changes in muzzle droop over time and a consistent breech seal (consistent muzzle velocity). The best fit for many springers is a metric o-ring (also usually difficult to find locally). Shims or a couple of layers of RTV silicone can be used to adjust a hardware store o-ring fit. O-rings in other air gun applications require similar considerations, depending on their purpose.

              As a machinist, you (or even I) can make many parts, if a shop is available. Most people don’t have that option. I think I could even CAD-up and print an acceptable springer piston seal in nylon on my 3D printer, if I had to.

                • Edith, B.B., Thanks for your plan to visit our SHOT show booth. I know how hard it is to see everything and everybody of interest at the show and you probably will not have a lot of extra time to visit areas that are not central to your interests (we are in the Law Enforcement section, but very near the main entrance, at least). I will definitely find time to print a piston seal for B.B., as a keepsake and conversation piece, if nothing else, because it will be untested. If I happen to be away from the booth, my partner will have the seal and also my cell phone number there, because I’d very much enjoy meeting you both.

              • Cal
                I can’t tell you how many different size o-rings we have at work.

                They are sized by metric, letter sizes, number sizes and in thousandths of a inch. And its actually pretty easy to find the right ones now days with the help of the wonderful internet.

                And one thing that I will have to be serious about is please don’t mention RTV silicone and o-rings in the same sentence or shims under a o-ring.

                You sound like one of the guys that use to work at or shop with the silicone and shims. You don’t know how many rolled o-rings I have seen on moving pistons on hydraulic and air pistons from that guys ideas. They seriously wouldn’t make it through the night. And oh my gosh the silicone that made it through the system. All I can say is wrong, wrong, wrong. Sorry just talking from experiance.

                And on the thought of a seal being made on a 3D printer is interesting. If you do can you post some pictures of your cad drawing and some pictures of your 3D printer making the seal. That would be very cool to see. And yes I mess with cnc’s also. Can’t tell you how many programs I wrote. 😉

                • Well–plenty of o-rings where you work, Gunfun1…okay. And yes, anything can be purchased on the Web and shipped–at least in these privileged modern times ;). I’m not one who suffers from “normalcy bias,” however and I spend a bit of time thinking about what life without the Web would be like.

                  My Diana 34 shipped from the factory with a shim under its breech o-ring and the shim is listed in the RWS parts schematic. I’ve discovered noticeable effects in going from, say, 0.010″ proud to 0.015″ proud on the o-ring. 0.015 seems to be about the maximum that produces desirable results (maximum and consistent velocity).

                  I also have a Xisco .22 barrel that, just for kicks, I “shimmed-in” with plain ol’ black RTV, instead of stamping some shims out of brass stock like I usually do. It’s been running for about three years now and makes 770 fps with 14.3 grain Premier domes from my Diana 34. If it ever begins to fail, it will be a simple matter to scrape the RTV out of the o-ring groove!

                  I also used RTV on the thin 0.016″ 2024 Alclad of my homebuilt airplane. Builders have been applying it to the trailing edges of their internal elevator stiffeners for decades! It bonds the stiffeners to the skin and reduces vibration and the likelihood of fatigue cracks developing with age. Like anything, the appropriateness of using RTV depends on the application.

                  (Sorry–but at least some of this post is on-topic.)

                  • Cal
                    Ouch my ears are hurting right now. Shims under a o-ring in a spring gun ok. Try that in a pcp gun or in a hydraulic cylinder and see what happens. I know what happens, you tell me what you think. And do what you think is right and good luck.

                • I’ll try to make time to CAD-up and print a Diana 34 piston seal. I have to get ready for SHOT show over the next couple of weeks however.

                  I think it would fit all the Diana springers and they and their Chinese cousins are popular (might fit the cousins, I don’t know). I’ll post any photos here and I’d be happy to post the model on GrabCAD too. I think Taluman 618 nylon would be a good 3D printing filament to start with, because it is more flexible than most other nylons (and self-lubricating and chemical resistant, as is nylon in general). I’ve had good results on other projects using ordinary Oregon brand trimmer line too! (Mind the possibility of toxic fumes with non-3D printer nylon, however).

                  • With further consideration, while I will definitely not have time to test a Diana springer 3D-printed piston seal in the near future (actually for a few months, in reality), I would be willing to print some parts and give them to someone else to test at SHOT. (You or B.B. or???) It would be nice to be able to post something on GrabCAD that’s actually been tested!

                    If anyone here is a Yellow forum member, you can meet up with Jim and me, if Jim’s plan works out. (I’ve already “signed-up” with him.)

                    My company’s SHOT Show booth is 6010 too. Just ask for Cal.

                    • Cal
                      The more I hear about these 3D printers the more interesting they sound.

                      I totally like the idea that the firmness if I’m using the right term can be changed.

                      Hmm maybe that could be used in my tune idea I used on my TX instead of the derlin spacer I have the spring setting on especially if it has some give to it.

                      How fast can a 3D printer make a simple part like a seal?

                  • Cal
                    Tell me this is the nylon you make that seal out of hard or soft.

                    We make a lot of bushings at work out of nylon.

                    Do you think it will take to a break in period and set to the cylinder in a spring gun.

                    Nylon that we use at work will not take a fit to a cylinder unless we do like the ring on a FWB 300s piston. And I’m not talking the standard split ring. I’m talking about the zero gap tuner ring you can get for a 300 through FWB.

                    Maybe if the nylon seal was made in the form of the tuner 300 ring it could work. But nylon works best as a giude.

                    • Taulman 618 is usually pretty flexible and even a bit compressible (and I have about a ton of it on-hand :)). The reason I say “usually” is its properties vary somewhat with how much water is held by the filament before printing it. If I want it to have more “give,” in general, I can just humidify it a little. If I want it stiffer and less compressible, I can dry it. This also affects the printed material’s density so model tweaks are sometimes necessary to adjust dimensions. I don’t know how vulnerable it will be to taking a set but the material is worth testing, due to its self-lubricating nature and toughness.

                    • I’ll definitely take videos or photos of the printing process. I have an Ultimaker printer and I think it’s one of the few relatively reliable and effective printers in the hobby price range. Nevertheless, the sub-$3000 printers are all hobby projects and commitments. I often advise people that it took me longer to climb the 3D printer learning curve and become productive with it than it took me to learn how to run a lathe or mill! It ain’t like printing your family vacation photos on an inkjet (and it won’t be for some time, I predict)!

                      If you have some TX ideas that you can CAD-up, I could try to print it from an iges or step file, at a minimum. Nylon is slow to print, compared to ABS or PLA. Depending on a number of factors, a Diana 34 piston seal might take around an hour to print. However, multiple units can be printed on my 8-1/4″ x 8-1/4″printer bed during an unattended overnight or day-long printing session. It’s tough to do with nylon, but some production printers are actually programmed to print continuously by using the printer head to knock the completed part free from the bed and into a bin. Then it starts printing the next part. Regardless of a few possible production scenarios for 3D printers, 3D printers usually only pencil-out for one-offs (or “few-offs”) and prototyping work. I did CAD and print a nice set of nylon windshield wiper transmission bearing (ball and socket) ends with the Ultimaker, for example. Saved me the cost of ordering and buying the entire wiper transmission arm assemblies from Dodge! I’ve printed a few parts like this, but mostly I’ve printed prototype parts for my company.

                      Though it’s a bit off-topic in an airgun forum:

                      Starting from zero (no experience and no machine tools or 3D printer) I believe that it’s actually easier and no more expensive to mill the part from a 7075 raw forging (or even easier, an 80% “paperweight”). Also, this Beowulf lower receiver has metal screws in it, which makes for a stronger design than anything that is 100% hobby or even low-end commercial 3D-printed. A Beowulf AR kicks about like a 12 ga. shotgun. Nylon is even stronger yet, but takes over a day to print! It’s just an example of what’s possible, though controversial media “news” and buzz notwithstanding, not necessarily easy to do with a 3D printer.

  2. Good! ?morning?! everyone! Hope everyone got their fun in playing with their new toys, but its time to get back to work shooting airguns! (BB- 😉 ) I have a question for the folks down in Texas and nearby areas, I see a number of videos of guys getting little pigs with airguns, one was an obvious attention ploy for an airgun audience (evidenced by the gamo and pba pellets, bent barrel, and wounded animals edited to look like killshots) but wondered if there were a lot of people getting into bigger pigs/game with “smaller(22/25)” caliber airguns like the guy that did a great job working hard to get a monster tusker into 50 yds for him, knowing his “stuff”, if you know what I mean. He was shooting a 25 mrod. Got em right between the goggles at 60 yards. Anyone got a good big game airgun story?

    • RDNA
      I don’t know the size of the pigs they were hunting in Texas with 177 Gamos or even 22 or 25 caliber air guns for that matter.

      I can tell you that I highly doubt that any 177 is going to kill a pig of any decent size and even 22 or 25s would be marginal at best. I know from experience of hunting wild boars in the swamps of west Florida coast that you will only piss a boar off by shooting it with an air gun and they are one of the few animal that we hunt that will hunt you also if made mad by shooting with a gun that is not up to the job of killing them quickly and cleanly.

      The boar I am talking about do get as big as a cow and in the 6 to 800 pound range with some even in the 1000 pound ranges. I can tell you from first hand experience that a 30 30 is not enough to stop a 600 pound boar unless you can get a very well placed shot right behind the shoulder blade to hit the heart and lungs. Head shot are most definitely a no no as it only serves to piss the boar off and they then will charge you and with tusks of 4 to 10 inches long they will hurt you very easily. I shot a 600 plus pound boar in the head with my 44 magnum Ruger carbine only to have it bounce off his skull and then turn and proceed to chase me down, luckily we had pit bulls with us that immediately jumped on the boar and pulled it to the ground to allow for a kill shot behind the shoulder blade. My hunting buddy shot another big boar with a 30 30 four times hitting him in the middle of the body back to the hind quarters with all 4 shots and it just ran off into briars to thick to see through, but we found flesh and blood from where it was hit but never found the boar after several hours of searching.

      We came across and older man ( we were in are early 20s ) that lived there and hunted those boar for several years and finally came to the conclusion that he could kill the boars quicker and easier with a 10 inch bowie knife and 10 pit bulls and two air dales to track the boars and the pits would catch and hold the boar on the ground while the air dales would howl to give their location and when he got to the boar he would kneel across the boars head and shoulder and stick the knife in its throat and stir the pot with it and the boar would suffocate in its own blood in five minute. We questioned him as to why he carried no gun at all and he told us that he had been chased and treed over night by to many boars after he shot them only to find that he did not hit a vital organ and in turn pissed the boars off to the point that they would try to uproot the tree he was in for most of the night. He found it easier to catch and kill them with dogs and a knife.


        • Chris,USA
          The friend that I lived with when going to auto/diesel tech school in Tampa, Florida had a hog claim to 450 acres of land 1 hour north of Tampa off the west coast in what is known as the green swamp area of Florida near Cross city and Perry, Florida. A hog claim is a right to all hogs on a certain parcel of land that the timber companies would sell to individuals for 100 bucks a year and it gives them ownership of all hogs on that parcel of land. So we could go hunting for them any time we wanted as the legal hunting season did not apply on that land since he owned the hog claim and it also gave him the right to take a hog that you had caught on that land away from you if you did not also have a claim. The timber companies would sell claims to several people for the same parcel of land.

          We had a good time and learned a whole lot about hunting wild boars that were as big as bull cows and had tusk nearly as big as a bulls horns and they were razor sharp from the hogs rooting up trees and the ground to get the worms and grubs and such to eat. The old man that we met when we first started to go up hunting those hogs taught us a whole lot and we soon learned that our guns and one pit bull was not enough to safely hunt wild boar that big. We were very lucky that one day that we shot at that hog and my 44 mag ricocheted off its skull and then when he turned and charged my friends pit “Lucy” was able to get hold of the hog and get it off it feet to allow me and my friend shots off at its heart and lungs behind its shoulder blade because if she had not got it off its feet and it would have got to one of us we would most likely be dead.

          That’s when we learned that guns were not as effective on wild boar of that size as 10 to 12 pit bulls and a couple air dales and a BIG knife would work much better and was actually safer as the dogs would have the hog held on the ground while this old man would stick the knife in their throat. There were several time he told us that out of 10 or 12 pits there would be only two or three still alive by the time he could catch up to them and kill the hog as the hog had killed most of the dogs. He raised and bred his own dogs and said he had 30 to 40 at any given time to hunt with and they were trained to not let go of the hog once they got a good bite hold on them so to get the dogs off of the hog you cut off whatever they had hold of as that was their reward for catching and holding the hog till he got there to kill it.

          So if you plan to hunt wild boar, even the smaller ones in the 200 or under pound range do not try to do so with a small caliber air gun and I would even be hesitant to do so with a 50 caliber air gun.


          • Buldawg76
            Pretty gruesome to say the least. I hate to think of the poor dogs. Kind of like putting a soldier in a no win assault. I’m afraid if it was me, I would bring a big enough gun and let the dogs go for it AFTER I knew I had got a good shot on spot.

            But that’s just my opinion,…all kinds of things go on in this world, right or wrong.

            • Chris,USA
              You have to remember this was in the mid 70s like 75 and 76 and being as young as were we did not know about elephant guns or other big calibers rifles , actually back then a 44mag was the largest pistol round there was readily available and since I had a Ruger carbine that used that caliber it was my most powerful gun at the time.

              I agree with you about the dogs being warriors sent in to battle with no weapons but then you must also understand the breed. This was before the pits you see today and actually pit bull is a slang name given the Breed of the Staffordshire Bull terrier that was a dog in England back in the early 1800s and late 1700s and these dogs were used specifically for the old practice of bull baiting or bear baiting that went on in England by letting the dogs kill the bull or bears first before slaughter as it was thought to make the meat more tender.


              The dogs today are way different than the breed was in the 70s but it is bred into these dogs to be fearless and very effective killers if trained to do so by people that take advantage of their characteristics.

              This old man looed worse than his dog did and he probably did not have the money to buy a gun big enough to kill the hogs and therefore did what he had to do to survive as he lived in the swamp and the hogs and his dogs was how he survived.


                • Chris,USA
                  They most certainly have as most pit bulldogs today have been interbred with mastiffs and bull mastiffs to make the breed much larger than the true breed. It is hard to find any true Staffys anymore. My friend and me had purple ribbon UKC bred and pedigreed American Staffordshire Terriers which the females weighed around 40 to 45 pounds and the males were around 55 to 60 pounds.

                  So any pit that is much over 60 pounds has been bred with mastiffs or bull mastiffs to get a larger dog with the same quality of a true Staffy


        • Chrtis,USA
          Those were some good old days for sure when this country was in much better shape and I was young and full of adventure and living on the edge running thru my veins. I have always like the adrenalin rush when you do something that makes you really feel alive.

          That’s the way I have always lived like it was my last day on this earth because you never know when your number is up so live it like it is your last day every day and you will have no regrets.

          My health has caught up to me now and I still try to do and live the same way I just pay much more for it now than I did 2 years ago physically as my body has definitely seen better days.


    • LOL! GF1 is wrong. You did not stir the pot. You jumped into the middle of a big pile of dribble and splattered it everywhere.

      The sad part is there will be a bunch of newbies that believe that dribble, go to Wally World and buy the fastest shooting Wang Po Industries air rifle they have and go out and wound a bunch of animals until they figure out they were lied to and walk away from airguns with the attitude that they are useless, expensive toys.

    • RDNA,

      Those are totally inappropriate guns for large animals. Nobody talks of hunting them with a .22 CB cap, yet they try to hunt with something even less powerful.

      Sure, they can do the job if everything is perfect. W.D.M. Bell killed over one-thousand elephants with a 7mm Mauser. But that doesn’t make it right.

      Use the smallbore airguns for the squirrel through woodchuck-sized animals and leave the larger game to the bigger bores.

      We shouldn’t talk about using these smallbore guns on larger game because it encourages the new hunters to try it. They read this blog, buy a gas spring .22 and head out into the woods.I meet these fellows at some of the airgun shows and they try to tell me about their adventures. Those are stories I would rather not hear.


      • I agree the guy with the bigger pig got lucky, it was about 300 lbs he estimated, and the guy with the gamo was a 22 and the pigs were about the size of cats… small cats, lol. But those were exactly the responses I was looking for, really, the gamo guy eerked me to no end and I know the guy that took all the time and effort in the end still just got lucky, but I keep seeing guys on there going for it, coyote, bobcats, etc.. mostly with 25 mrods. The 303 wolverine might be the end of the line to start with smaller pigs, you think? There’s a lot of talk all the time of what’s not enough for deer, etc, and thought Tom, a guide to hunting what size game with what, would be a good blog, like the energy guide I think its crosman out together.

  3. Sooooooo . . I came home to find that my son had disassembled and cleaned my 1990 RWS Diana 34. His eyes, being a far sight better than mine ,detected a crack in the metal of the piston where the lever contacts the piston. Where would one order parts and seals? I was pretty impressed. For a 14 year old, he had everything laid out on a towel in the order of disassembly, and had take photos along the way. We reassembled the cleaned gun and trigger so as not to lose any bits. He was surprised at the complexity. Nice to see that some of the habits he has watched me use in my hangar when building the airplanes has transfered to the kid. Without those photos, I’d have a bag of parts instead of an airgun!

    • Zack,

      Welcome to the blog.

      Your 14-year-old son messaged me about this yesterday and I told him that piston needs to be replaced. You were lucky he found it. I also told him to inspect the end of the compression chamber for cracks, because it sounds like this rifle may have been dry-fired.


    • Zack,
      Wow,..very impressive and talented youngster you have there. Reminds me a bit of myself when I was that age. No cameras back then, but I did lay out all parts in order for what ever I was tearing apart at the time. Way to go!

  4. Good morning all,

    B.B.,…Great article as always. If I was to guess, the reason it took so long to write such a report was that it would be tricky to “say it all” without stepping on any particular mfgrs.”toes”,..so to speak. You have often mentioned your interactions with various makers. By the way, I usually shoot the 92FS in single and rarely in double. I think the 92 will be my first “operation”.

    Gunfun1,…Nice pictures of your “babies” on the previous blog. Beautiful! I shoot left and want .22, so that put me at the the top of the TX price range. I would have ordered the walnut anyway, which I read some where that it was lighter in weight than beech. As for gun wear,..that was a broad question. You think you know? Well, let us all in on that. I love pistols, but I think I will be very careful moving forward on future pistol purchases.

    RifledDNA,…There does not seem to be much of a air hunter audience here for whatever reason. Limited range being the most obvious. As for “tuskers in Texas”,….let me think,….here’s an idea,…figure out what them little piggies like to eat,….hide in a big pile of whatever that is with your weapon of choice,..and when he walks up to you and you two are eye to eye,…You can let him have it right between the “goggles”. It might work but I’m not sure I would try it myself.

    As for me, the TX and .22,….I live surrounded by woods. 10′ to the rear, 15′ feet to the left and 40′ to the front. I have ground hogs cross my rather small front yard all day long in the summer. I could pop out a top window 3′ from my laptop and get quite a few in pretty short order. That, and I just wanted a real beauty I could target practice with and learn about scopes.

    At any rate, back to work today for 3 and another 4 off. Very rare for me as I rarely take a vacation and work all the O.T. I can get. Maybe this year though I , I will try to get to a shot show and catch up to that “B.B.” guy and go TX to TX with him. I hear he’s getting on in years and probably can’t see all that well any ways so I figure I could take him. I mean with arthritis and all, he probably doesn’t shoot all that much anyways. 😉

      • B.B.,

        I thought I would at least get a “rise” out of you on that last paragraph. All in good fun of course. Truth be told, not even on your worst day and not even on my best day would that ever happen. But that little fantasy does give me something to “shoot and aim” for. 🙂

    • Chris
      I live in central Texas near Austin. My subdivision is part of what originally was a 5,000 acre working cattle ranch. It is made up of canyons and some flat areas. There are miles of dry creek beds running through out it. We have a real hog problem. They live in the dry creek beds and use them as highways at night. They will hit a well maintained yard and completely destroy it. It will look like someone used a garden tiller on their yard.

      We are in the city limits so no shooting allowed. Even if it were, it would be too dangerous because of the many homes in the area. I have thought of using an air gun and try to hunt one. That thought went away pretty quickly. They are out only at night and can be anywhere. There are a couple of companies that will set traps and remove them if caught. That is slow and will never bring the population of hogs down much. I don’t remember the statistics but they are very prolific baby producers. To date, the only solutions for some have been electrified fences around their yards. They work pretty well until the hogs panic and run through the fence, destroying it. It is an interesting dilemma.

      One last comment about feral hogs. I used to ride with an ex-border patrolman on one of the larger ranches in Texas when I was still an active wildlife photographer. He was the lone security guard on this huge ranch. We had just caught a poacher with a deer and I got to witness how you handle a situation where you are giving a guy a citation while he still has a loaded gun. I later asked the security guard if he was afraid of anything. His answer shocked me. “I am afraid of falling and being eaten by hogs.” He was not kidding when he said it.

      • Lol, I thought you were gonna say you used to ride the hogs, !!! I don’t think Id want to ride a bad hog, lay in a chow pile to shoot one, or give a guy a ticket when he’s loaded for deer and poaching, obviously not a fan of the rules. Everyones responses are premeditated to entice a blog outta BB, see above.

      • Jerry in Texas,

        Thanks for the reply. I was just joking of coarse with RifledDNA. Sounds like those pigs in Florida and Texas are nothing to mess with, AT ALL. Buldawg76’s story above would put the fear of God in me in a hurry! In Ohio, we have deer, coyote, coons and ground hogs as the major destructive pest. Squirrls too. Lots of stories about country folks having their small dogs and cats “dissappear”. Deer here are in the city as well. One ran in front of me awhile back passing a Burger King.

    • Chris, USA
      I’m going to give a few more hints about what gun I’m talking under BB’s response so look up there.

      And yes I use to hunt with firearms.

      And as far as airguns go I mostly use them for target practice and plinking. And I like to set up little field target courses in my back yard. But I will use the airguns for pest control. I have shot mice, starlings, squirrel with .177&.22 cal., and a few raccoon and ground hogs with my .25 cal.

      And thanks about my TX and LGU. Yep their my babies for sure. I wipe them down and polish them up before I put them away. I had to actually take a dry cloth and wipe them before I could take the picture’s because they were throwing off so much glare.

      And you know the weight of a gun has made me think a few different ways over time. I use to think light and easy to carry. But I found that it depends on the type of gun. And I’m talking rifles.

      I like a light Co2, pump or pcp rifle. But if it’s a springer or nitro piston rifle I like a heavier gun. It seems to help stabilize the bump they have when they shoot.

  5. @Zack:

    “… detected a crack in the metal of the piston where the lever contacts the piston.”

    You mean where the cocking lever contacts the piston? I suppose that might not be so bad since it would only affect the cocking process if anything. If you mean the part where the piston contacts the trigger, I suppose that *would* be quite dangerous…

    I was stupid enough to accidentally fire my 31 Panther while the barrel wasn’t completely shut and managed to trash the piston. It was bad enough to make it scrape against the compression chamber walls so I replaced it. I guess it was for the best since I was able to fix it by installing a new piston and it taught me to keep my hands off the trigger and safety as long as I am not on target 🙂

    I ordered the part from the local airgun dealer, but I could have gotten it directly from Diana. But I live in Germany. Where are you from? I suppose, in the USA, Umarex or Pyramyd would be happy to help you out.

  6. Hmm, that comment appeared pretty late. First I got the CAPTCHA wrong and then the system told me I had already posted the same thing… Didn’t expect it to show up hours later 🙂

    BTW, I’ve read some weird rumours that you should hurry if you want to get your Diana guns serviced by the factory. I wonder what that means (if anything at all). Are they planning to outsource their repair service?

    • Joe,

      There is no correct answer to your question. Some plastic is superior to some pot metal. It depends on the plastic and pot metal in question.

      Wood is generally not tougher than metal, but ironwood is tougher than some metals. To answer the question for certain you have to be specific about the type of plastic and the type of pot metal..

      Also, plastic and pot metal are seldom used by themselves in areas of wear. They are usually reinforced with steel inserts. That makes a huge difference in how long they last.


  7. Funny, this subject made me scratch my head a bit, looking at my collection and knowing what all my buddy’s own…..I was kinda….”but they don’t wear out” …. Most of us have guns from the 30’s to 50’s working as they always did, seals and springs replaced sure…but the basics unchanged bar a bit of patina
    Last time I went rabbiting I was carrying a late 70’s rifle….and was a bit avant garde 🙂
    But thinking on it, we never really had cheap BB or Co2 until the last decade in any meaningful way…you started shooting with a BSA Cadet or later a Meteor or Diana or even a Hungarian Relum…most of which I would hazard a guess are still capable of throwing a pellet even today…wherever they are.
    Chinese rifles have crept in this last few years, I have a Remington Express that shoots to the left with a scope because the barrel pivot pin has been drilled off centre…I suspect it will still be useless in 20 years though as it’s otherwise quite a nicely made item.

  8. Interesting blog, and interesting comments (pellet gun/hunting).
    I’ve commented before on the ‘potmetal’ issue. I have a bias against that term because, as you’ve mentioned B.B. there are different grades of Zamak (potmetals real name, and there are 5 different grades)….some really bad and some pretty darn good.
    As I mentioned previously my GSG 1911 .22LR has a Zamak slide (the frame and barrel are steel). I have many thousands of rounds through it, as do countless others (it is a very popular gun with great online reviews)…but you constantly find a few reviews, usually by people who have never owned one, that state that the ‘potmetal’ gun will blow up after a few rounds are put through it. Of course there are no verified cases of this happening.
    In the airgun world I think I have a good personal experience of how things have changed.
    My 1911 Umarex has many thousands of rounds through it and it performs as new.
    I remember back about 1970 or so…one of my Christmas presents was the then popular Crosman .357 Magnum .22 caliber CO2…made out of Zamak, Gotta admit it was not the best made gun I’ve owned. It was fairly realistic, but even with a full fresh cartridge you could follow the pellet visually to the target.
    What I also remember is the rough casting ridges and paint that soon started to flake off.
    I still have it…it’s got some cracks in the ‘potmetal’ (okay, this gun deserves the term 🙂 ), and when I compare its finish to the Umarex 1911…well, there just isn’t any comparison in my mind.

    As to the hunting…I think there are so many applications that suit air guns so well. Target shooting, plinking, small game and rodents with the proper shot placement and such…all make airgun shooting a viable alternative to firearms.
    But hunting anything larger than a rabbit with any of the .177 or .22 airguns in just wrong in my opinion. And even the big bores have their limitations. I know there are a couple of reports of people taking a bison with a big bore airgun and I feel it’s just to iffy a proposition and does nothing to convince the non shooters out there that we in any way have a sense of ethics.
    One of the reason I picked up my .22WMR a couple of years back was because of a coyote problem where I live and I was told my a number of knowledgeable people that the WMR was a viable caliber for this size animal. I’ve come to realize that this is so…if it is no more than 75 yards out and I can guarantee a head shot or a hit in the vitals. But at the range I’ve actually been presented with a coyote (usually the don’t come any closer than 150yds or so)…I would opt for a .223 or some such calibre.
    And the .22WMR is sure packing a lot more wallop than any of my airguns.

  9. My brother has coyotes that try to come up by the house and barn to get the chickens in the chicken coop.

    We used the .17 hmr on them out to about 50 yards. That is a hit little round and blows stuff up when it hits. It will shoot the little 23 grain bullet at 2500 fps. That’s like 319 fpe. And I would even be afraid to shoot a coyote out past 50 yards with it. And like Cowboystar Dad says most of the time they are out a hundred yards or so.

    And what did that round make. 319 fpe. My Marauder on a good day is making 62 fpe. I think to be safe I would have to go with the bigger caliber firearms if it was me. The .17 hmr is even marginal for a coyote.

    • Gunfun1,

      Good evening. I was talking to a firearm shooter at work today and he was talking about a round that blows up on impact. Did not know that. He and some others take ground hogs out to 300~350 yds. with something like a 7″ holdover. Don’t ask me specifics cause I do not know.

      I was however interested in your “hold under”. Seem like it would work both ways. Any benifit to either?

      • Chris, USA
        If you get a chance go to U tube and search some videos on the .17hmr and let me know what you think. I don’t know if you seen them but they have those little polymer tips. Cool little rounds.

        And as far as the way I sight I don’t know if one way is better than the other. First thing I will say is I shoot at a low power. Usually 6 magnification. The smaller magnification don’t show that you have to put as much hold over or under in your shot.

        I zero at 50 yards and as I move in closer I hold under. As I move out past 50 yards I start to have to put hold over into my shot. So when I look at my 1/2 mildot reticle in the scope I’m above the reticle and the muzzle of the gun is pointed down. At 50 yards the reticle is zero. As I go out past 50 yards the muzzle of the gun is pointed up and when looking through the scope my 1/2 mildot is below the reticle. When I shoot I always think about what the muzzle of the barrel is doing.

        And now think about this. When I shoot I’m always plus or minus a 1/2 to 1 mildot above or below the reticle.

        If I put the reticle cross hair on the chest let’s say of a starling standing on the ground I’m pretty well gaurenteed I will hit it either dead on or high in its neck or head or low possibly in its stomach. But u will make the kill.

        Now if I want to be precise at in close distances I set out targets at different distances like 15, 25, 35 and 50 yards. Then I verify my hold under at those distances and at 50 yards which is zero in the reticle.

        Its a lit simpler to me that way than having hold overs that get farther from the center of the line of sight with the scope. The way I’m talking about your are always closer to the center of your line of sight which I believe gives a more true shot.

        All I can say is it works for me. And I hope I explained it right.

  10. Evening all,

    Just tried to order the TX @ P.A. and was on “music” fo 10 minutes and then went to “leave a message”. Tried again and same. Waiting for a call back now. A quick scan of the above showed one other person having trouble with ordering on line, so they must be having “issues”. Bummed!

  11. Tried to call again and same.

    While I’m waiting, all you air .22 cal. shooters can weigh in…..

    Would you go with RWS domes 14.5 grain, 250ct., 9$…OR… Crosman premier domed, 14.3grain, 650 ct., 26$ ???

    Price aside, what do you think for accuracy?

    • Chris,

      If you’re thinking of trying those Crosman Premiers, I’d buy sooner rather than later. I’ve held off ordering a box due to cost and so many other pellets to test, but B.B. mentioned a while back that he thought they were being discontinued and I just noticed they’ve shown up in the Crosman outlet store. A box is enroute from PA as we speak.

      As to accuracy, the .22 Superdomes have performed very well for me but the .177 boxed Crosman Premiers I finally broke down and bought are the most accurate pellet I’ve tested so far–I have similar hopes for the Crosman .22s.

  12. Hi BB,Along these lines of wearing out and breaking,I have three areas of questions.I have had experiences of plastic items getting brittle with age and also in cold temperatures.Can we expect our Crosman and Gamo synthetic gun stocks to last well?

    My Evanix AR-6 Huntingmaster rifle currently has a one piece wood stock and I’m keeping my fingers crossed hoping it will stay that way.Will occasional applications of Ballistol secure longevity,or what can I do?

    I currently cycle all my PCP rifles from 3000 down to 2000p.s.i. Is there any info.on how many cycles we can expect before metal fatigue should be considered?Thank You BB. -Tin Can Man-

    • TCM,

      The plastic Gamo and others use in their stocks is very tough and should not break from age. Ballistol is great on wood. Keep doing it! No one knows how many cycles PCP guns will take, but there are some that are 400 years old and still holding together. Don’t worry about it.


  13. Thought I was ready to order my high dollar Air Rifle til I saw an old blog on U tube with BB Air Gunner round table Show! Thought I wanted to try a Gas Piston and invest heavy? Like Beeman R-2? Now I think that a spring-er might be the only way to go? This blog with all the input is keeping me from making a sound decision! Thank you all for the education! I’ve been out of Air Guns over 35 years! Trying to get back in and enjoy more than back yard targets! Have really unloaded quite a collection for world travel? World Travel? Got old quick and now back in the saddle with only a couple of Air Guns!

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