2015 Malvern airgun show: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Layers of intrigue
  • Seth’s bullets
  • Rocket Shot
  • AirForce Airguns Texan big bore air rifle
  • Dennis Quackenbush
  • Mike Melick
  • Pellet Head Gauge
  • RAI
  • WOW!

Malvern is a show that has evolved over the years. Originally, it was the Little Rock, Arkansas, show and was held in Benton, Arkansas, inside an empty mall building for many years. Then, it moved a few miles to the west to the county fairgrounds for several more years before the promoter decided to give up the show.

Layers of intrigue

Seth Rowland, who makes bullets for big bore hunters, took over promoting the show and moved it to the old country fairgrounds in Malvern, Arkansas, about 20 miles further west on Interstate 30. Of all the airgun shows being held, Malvern is the smallest and the quietest, but it’s also one that has many surprises every year. This year, I’ll say that I saw layers of intrigue to the show. That’s what I’ll discuss today.

Seth’s bullets

Seth Rowland, the Malvern show promoter, makes big bore bullets. Below are 3 of his .458 bullets, which include a ballistic tip, a flat nose and a hollowpoint with a shallow cupped point. Seth and other hunters have taken many deer and bear with these bullets!

Seth bullets
Seth Rowland is well-known among big bore shooters for the hunting bullets he makes. Here are 3 of his .458s.

Having a big bore bullet maker at a show allows the public to talk about what they need for their rifles. As always, there were many interesting discussions about what works on game. There are many different big bores on the market today, which is why Seth makes so many different kinds of bullets.

Rocket Shot

In the corner of the show hall was a booth set up with a video of someone shooting action targets. It turned out to be videos of the Rocket Shot target, which you can watch on their website. You shoot the yellow paddle, which launches an empty aluminum soda can about 10 feet straight up. A good shot can hit the paddle and then the can while it’s in the air.

Watch the video and tell me what you think. Isn’t this the most ideal Cowboy Action target you’ve ever seen? It’s perfect for lower-powered BB and pellet guns, though you must remember to always wear eye protection when shooting it, because the paddle that triggers the shot is thick steel. According to the inventor, the paddle can take hits up to around 10-11 foot-pounds, so your 800 f.p.s. pellet rifles can be used. But, I think you’ll want to shoot it with something more exciting.

Rocket Shot target

The Rocket Shot action target made a big splash at Malvern.

This target was MADE for a gun like the Colt Single Action Army! Add the Walther Lever Action rifle to it, and the Rocket Shot target has given us 2 parts of a 3-part Cowboy Action contest! Of course, all your action pistols and long gun repeaters can also be used. Just remember to always wear eye protection!

I bought a target and plan to thoroughly test it for you. This is one of the best airgun inventions I’ve seen in the past decade! They’re going to sell thousands of these target at just $35 each.

AirForce Airguns Texan big bore air rifle

AirForce Airguns had a booth at this show. It was manned by Eric Henderson, the host of Adventures Afield, a YouTube television show about airgun hunting. AirForce owner John McCaslin was at the show all day Saturday. And, of course, the main attraction was the new Texan big bore rifle.

Texan
The AirForce Texan created quite a stir. People could actually see and touch it.

I watched the reaction from people as they cocked the big rifle. They were as stunned as I was when I tested it for you earlier this year. We couldn’t shoot big bores at this show; but if you come to our Texas Airgun Show on August 29, you’ll get a chance to see it being shot in a big bore contest we’re holding. Yes, the Long-range Airgun Silhouette Shooting Organization (LASSO) big bore contest will be held in Poolville on Saturday, August 29, during the show. And, if you come to the show, you’re invited to watch the filming of a roundtable segment for the American Airgunner TV show being filmed at a public reception the evening before! (More info to come.)

Dennis Quackenbush

Speaking of big bore airguns, Dennis Quackenbush was there with a couple non-standard guns (read that as guns that were not made for an order) on his table. I know his single .458 sold, and I think one or both the .308s went, as well. Malvern may be small, but the good stuff is always there! All 3 of these rifles had longer barrels for greater velocity. This time, I have no pictures because they went too fast!

He also had a couple big bore air pistols on his table. He told me his .50 caliber gets up to 100 foot-pounds! How’s that for an air pistol?

Dennis is always introducing me to people at these shows, but he’s the rock star. He makes air rifles! He always gets humble whenever I introduce him to someone, but there are darned few people who can do what he does. And no one has done as much of it as Dennis.

Mike Melick

Mike Melick is an airgun dealer in Iowa. He’s a competitor to Pyramyd Air, so I can’t give a link to his Flying Dragon website, but I want to talk about him in a different light.

Mike brings airguns to the shows that other dealers do not carry. Most are Chinese spring guns from Xisico; but at this show, he had a used B40 (copy of a TX200) in the rack. Cooler still, he had an Air Arms TX200 Hunter Carbine next to it! The B40 sold on the second day. If you know what a B40 is, you know why it sold so quickly.

B40
Mike Melick had a BAM B40 underlever in the rack (arrow). It sold. The Air Arms TX200 HC is on the left.

Mike also loaned me an XS-B25S that he told me he lightly tuned. He said he knew how much I like the Diana 34P, which I do, and he wanted me to see something that’s really close. He said I could play with it and test it if I liked. I won’t blog it here, but if the test goes well, I may write about it on my website. I have to say that I actually thought it was a 34P when he handed it to me!

Pellet Head Gauge

Another new product at Malvern was the Pellet Head Gauge. It’s a precision gauge used for sorting pellets by their head sizes. You think all precision pellets have the head size that’s marked on the tin? Well, a quick test with this gauge revealed a 0.04mm span of head sizes IN THE SAME TIN! So, that 4.53mm pellet you’re shooting may actually have a 4.49mm head.

Pellet Gauge
Jerry Cupples’ Pellet Head Gauge is a precision gauge that really works! I’ll test it for you.

This is far too important to overlook! If head sizes matter for accuracy, and we know without question that they do, then will sorting the pellets in a tin and discarding those of the wrong head size make a difference? That’s what we’re going to find out. It’s too simple to just think they will and not test for it. Early indications from testing by the maker of this gauge — Jerry Cupples — are that it makes a difference.

I intend to test it for you several ways. As soon as there’s contact information to purchase the gauge, I’ll provide it.

RAI

I’ve tested several R. Arms Innovations adapters for turning Crosman pistols into carbines. That was where I last saw this company, when they displayed at the 2014 Texas Airgun Show. Well, folks, they have many new airgun products of which I was unaware.

Dave Rensing, owner of RAI, told me his business is now booming all around the world. He’s selling his adapters overseas through small U.S. dealers who will export them, because he doesn’t want to get into that part of the business. Here in the U.S., the name RAI on a product means something, and that keeps him hopping.

RAI recently purchased the stockmaker TERYX and has a Gen 2 Benjamin Marauder tactical stock. It’s received rave reviews from airgun hunters already.

TERYX
RAI now offers this TERYX aluminum tactical stock for the Gen 2 Marauder.

Dave also showed me a neat butt adapter that allows the stock to fold sideways for transport. It’s on the TERYX stock shown above, but look at it when its collapsed to see how it works:

folding stock
The stock collapsed. This is a full-length Marauder!

They’ve also produced an advanced aluminum stock for the Gen 2 Marauder, and I plan to test it for you. You know how the Marauder wood stock is so fat that it turns away buyers? RAI has made it thin and tactical. They’ve also innovated it to accept ANY AR-15 pistol grip and standard triggerguard!

next gen stock
The next generation RAI modular stock for the Marauder is so revolutionary that I’ll test it thoroughly for you. This one changes things in the PCP world! The stock is so new that it hasn’t even been anodized or marked.

I was so impressed with the feel of the new stock that Edith and I will be buying a .25-caliber Gen 2 Marauder to adapt for you. In my opinion, this rifle will now be a world-beater, given that it already has a wonderfully tunable trigger, a super shroud and the only tunable valve on the market with all the possibilities (fill pressure AND velocity). All it needs is a deadly accurate barrel that Dave assures me is in the current .25-caliber factory Marauder and this slim, modular stock. Watch out, world!

WOW!

I thought I was tired when I returned home after the show. I’m more tired after writing this report, which is just a fraction of all that happened. I have so much more to share with you that there will be a second part this week.

60 thoughts on “2015 Malvern airgun show: Part 1

  1. Thanks for an excellent report on the show! Wish I could’ve been there too but I guess I’ll hold out for the Tx. Show this Fall. It’s a little rough learning how to make ends meet now that I’ve been warned not to go back to work.but I’ll start saving what I can.



  2. bb,
    Wondering if you could review a fwb 700 alu and a Walther LG400 Alutec Competition Air Rifle.I know they are to expensive to shoot but will atleast pass ase a family heirloom.






  3. Everyone,

    There is so much more to tell about the Malvern show! I can’t wait to tell you all about the rest of the show.

    And I now have my HW35 that I bought on Findlay. I got it from Dennis Quackenbush at Malvern. There is a huge surprise coming there, as well, but I’m backed up with tests to get to, so it won’t start this week.

    B.B.


  4. B.B.,

    Man! Size matters when it comes to pellet heads (Jerry Cupples’ Pellet Head Guage) and big bore air guns (Dennis Quackenbush), but size doesn’t seem to affect the Malvern show at all! That pellet gauge and the Rocket Shot targets are on my shopping list! It’s great to see small inventors / small manufacurers coming up with great stuff right here in the U.S.

    Michael


  5. BB,

    To me it’s a shame that the Chinese get a hold of a popular rifle and copy it and sell it as their own brand. I personally haven’t had good luck with Chinese products. I’m currently on my third RWS 300 scope which is made in China.

    I think it would be interesting to have a list of all of the Chinese made airguns along with a list of what airgun they copied.

    I personally will pay more money for a higher quality airgun such as a Diana, Air Arms, or Airforce that aren’t made in China. You’ve commented before that it would be easier to list airguns that aren’t made in China.

    I think it would interesting to see a review of one of the Chinese brand airguns. It should be a gun that’s not a copy of another brand.



      • BB

        Thanks for the reply. Not to dwell on this, but the Benjamin nitro piston is owned by Crosman if I’m correct which is an American owned company. Crosman or Benjamin sends the plans overseas to China and the rifle is made.

        My question is there a Chinese owned company that does all the R&D and puts out their own airgun and not a copy of a gun like the Diana 34P or other gun?

        Boeing and Airbus had the Chinese build their planes. The Chinese stole the plans and technology from Boeing and Airbus and quit buying Boeing planes and built their own Chinese copy. Is the same thing happening in the Airgun world? Maybe Edith can jump in and educate me.


        • Spidey,

          Mercurial. Dynamic. Shifting sands. These are the words that accurately describe airgun manufacturing. One day, something’s made in America, the next day it’s made in China, the day after that it’s assembled in America from mostly imported parts, and the day after that it’s assembled in America from some imported parts.

          Pyramyd Air gave up listing the country of origin for their products. Things changed so fast and so often that we could no longer guarantee much. For just a few brands, I’m able to state unequivocally that I know the origins. I state that in the descriptions.

          Edith


        • Spidey,

          There are some good Chinese airguns. The company, Xisico, makes some, but they are mostly copies iof existing models. But they put a lot of effort into making good airguns.

          Have the Chinese ever made good airguns on their own? Yes, I think so. Look at this report of the Fast Deer air rifle:

          /blog/2013/09/chinese-kl-3b-fast-deer-sidelever-part-5/

          While mine wasn’t that accurate, it was a unique design.

          But that isn’t common. Copying is far more common.

          B.B.


  6. Hi Tom,

    I know this is slightly off topic but I really wanted to get some expert input on this before I rush into things.

    I have an Umarex S&W 586 6 inch which has been tuned for power (gas flow improved, mechanism/indexing smoothed, hammer tension increased and the hammer itself bolted so it strikes harder) and also calibre converted (to .22). After considerable ballistic testing, I have found the optimum pellet for power to be the Bisley Magnum which comes in at 21.4 grain and gives a 5 shot string with an average of around 4.3 ft. lbs. (300 fps) at approx. 68 degrees. I am now looking to convert the pistol into a rifle by threading a crosman .22 barrel. However, my dilemma is that I don’t know what length to cut the barrel to in order to maximise power. Having read your posts on the matter I am lead to believe that somewhere in the region of 18 inches would be optimal but wondered what your thoughts were on this given this particular setup. Furthermore, I was wondering with the same pellets (assuming again, that they were optimal) what fps and corresponding ft. lbs. increase you would expect to see (moving from a stock 5.5 inch barrel).

    Regards,

    Oliver


    • Oliver,
      the nearest test I can recall would be the 2240 conversion .B. did about this time last year.
      I believe that was from a 7″ barrel to 14″ but to be honest everything else besides building it and testing it would just be speculation.
      good luck with the project and be sure to let us know the results.



      • Thanks very much for the response BB! I’ve now found a way of converting it to regged HPA and will try and fit the tank onto some kind of custom stock. Would I be right to assume that unlike co2 which sees diminishing returns after x (somewhere in the teens) inches of barrel length that the power of the gun via HPA would continue to increase well beyond that point the longer the barrel?


        • Olivert,

          Yes, air does push longer than CO2. But it still depends on the valve. If the volume of air is small, the max barrel length may be even shorter than for CO2.

          I just don’t know because I don’t know your valve.

          B.B.



      • Hi Michael,

        Would truly love to help you out especially as with Georgia temperatures I imagine it would be shooting considerably harder than the above stated power! However, I’m actually based just north of London in the UK so I don’t suppose it’d be worth your while!


  7. B.B., while at Umarex or at this gun show, have you laid eyes on a Walther Terrus Air Rifle yet? It looks real promising for an affordable, quality made in Germany air rifle. Just wonder what your first impressions were if you have seen it. And thank you for this report on the airgun show! Sounds like a blast. Can’t wait to see Pt. 2 on it! And for whatever is coming!
    Bradly



  8. An airgunner’s paradise. Thanks to Mike Melick for many tunes of my IZH 61 rifle although his business seems to be so successful that it has taken up all of his time. So why was the B40 sold so quickly when PA dropped that line a long time ago?

    That tactical stock on the Marauder is pretty cool and shows that the firearms world is colonizing us while we are colonizing them. But is there a reason for the folding stock other than looks? No one is going to clear a house with a Marauder.

    On the subject of ballistic coefficient, I will just point out that engineer Jane Hansen claimed that the tear-drop shape is most aerodynamically efficient. It makes sense that tears would adopt that shape for that reason. Also, the shape is suggestively similar to the head of Orcas who are occupying my interest at the moment. And now for something strange. Reportedly, the 6mm PPC is the most accurate cartridge by far. It was derived from the .220 Russian which in turn was based on the 7.62X39mm, which has been maligned for inaccuracy! How does that work?! The obvious solution: An AK chambered in 6mm PPC.

    Kevin, with respect to the Winchester 73, it would appear that the extra velocity gained from a long barrel is worth the hassle of carrying around a rifle in addition to a handgun chambered for the same round. I wouldn’t have expected that but obviously the cowboys knew what they were doing, and the same effect appears in the success of the M1 carbine.

    Matt61



    • I don’t think that an AK chambered for 6 mm PPC would be much more accurate. The “floating” parts of the AK work against accuracy. The 6 mm PPC is a benchrest round and probably not work very well in an AK since the round normally has very close tolerances for chamber fit to get the accuracy. If you set the round up to run in an auto, best accuracy would probably go south. But, the only way to tell for sure would be to try it. You would need a very high quality AK for it to have a chance

      Mike


  9. BB,

    I like the pellet guage a lot! I have the perfect test subject: crosman field pointed pellets. They shoot rather well considering the variety of sizes in a carton. It would be great to shoot random batch, then sorted groups at 25 and 50 yards. Given their BC based on trajectory and power retention down range, I always wondered why crosman doesn’t make an”premier” version?


  10. This was the first airgun show I got to go to, almost couldn’t find it with the cattle show going on and all lol. Where is the one in texas located? Maybe I could talk my wife into going to that one as well…



  11. B.B.,

    I was a bit surprised of your interest in the pellet sorter. That is after all what we pay for when buying top of the line pellets,…consistency.

    Digital calipers work just as well and are good for other things. And you do recommend larger pellet head sizes to increase performance from time to time.

    As you know, I have done some pretty extensive pellet head sorting and pellet weighing.

    Accuracy aside, chrony testing showed 0% improvement in FPS spread. In fact, on 3 types, spread increased 1.5, 2.0 and 11.0 FPS with pellets that were head sorted AND weighed.

    Past comments keep leading back to “finding the right pellet for your particular gun”.

    So, it will be very interesting to see your approach to the report on the pellet head sorter.

    Really, I am all for new products and new ideas. This is a good one. Just trying to align it with what I have read here.

    Chris

    P.S.,..Great report !, you are going to get me to one of these things yet !


    • Although I have seen the lady throw plates in the air with her foot, and catch them as she spins them on a stick while she rides her unicycle…I doubt calipers can reliably determine the diameter of a pellet at 10 micron (0.0004″) accuracy, Maybe. The gage has true 10 micron step diameters; 8 mil 304 steel cut with a diode pumped fiber optic laser and oxygen process gas – with 2 micron repeatability. Your calipers measure one span (hope it’s the right one) with perhaps +/- 0.0005 accuracy. The gage is much faster, too.


      • JerryC,

        THE JerryC ??? From your comment, I would say so. If so, first I would say congratulations on designing and bringing an idea to market. I wish you the very best with it and hope it’s a huge success.

        No doubt it would be faster. I was not aware of the micron accuracy of calipers. Your gauge is essentialy a (go/no go) which does eliminate electronic or mechanical error/repeatability. I am a firm believer in eliminating variables, thus trying the weighing and sorting that I have done. And as far as precision, you seem to have that in spades.

        Sorry to say, I am the biggest factor to accuracy (lack of),…much more so than a +/- .005 or .0005 pellet.

        Maybe a pellet sizer is in the works? After all, what’s one to do with all those oversized pellets?

        You have my interest peaked. I am just curious to see it “gel” into some measurable stats. Sounds like you may be the best one to do a “guest” report, as I am sure you got some R+D and stats. collected already. Just an idea.

        Again, congratulations and the very best of luck, Chris


        • Chris, thanks for your comments and good wishes. First reports from the few prototypes in use are good, the gage is accurate enough to sort by 0.01 mm (ten microns). It is easy to use.

          I’m busily getting a batch gages ready for immediate shipment, and setting up a website. Most of the parts are on hand. First group will be .177 only, but followed quickly by .22 (in metric steps of ten microns).

          Hope to have an announcement within a week. In respect of the Godfather, I will post details on this blog. 😉


          • Jerry,

            Maybe a pellet bin that sits under the gauge? Plastic w/lid. Sizes marked for each individual bin/size. Include a sheet of stickers for each bin/size that the buyer can apply themselves,…saving you work. Just an idea. If you size the gauge to the bin, buy the bins in bulk, print the stickers, and you got a (complete) package.

            Again, the best of luck. There are people who would swear by sized pellets.
            Unfortunately, I am not a good enough shot for the difference to show itself.

            Chris



  12. Hi Tom,

    This show was the smallest I had been to, but I came away finding myself having enjoyed it the most. I didn’t go there with a pocket full of money to spend, but did take a little bit so I found myself spending more time talking to people more. The guns will come and go but the friendships seem to fill me with more respect for the people in this sport. Having a lot of time to talk to you was one of the highlights. Every table offered neat items to look at and interesting people to talk to about where they were from and their area’s of interest in this sport. Some are targeted more on springers such as myself, and others, full pcp almost exclusively, yet others were vintage bb guns. Something different on every table with all different areas of expertise. I hope next year more come to visit the show. This has been one of the best shows to buy from year after year and well worth the trip for most people.

    Thank You for taking your time to come and particapate with this show and for your personal time talking to me and others as well.

    Take Care and

    Shoot Safe!!!

    Bryan



  13. Hi guys I got a question. Will a barrel of a Crosman 2260SE will fit a crosman 400.or perhaps you know someone who sells a 24″ .22.thank as always


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