2015 Texas airgun show: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Setup
  • Big bore draws a crowd
  • The match
  • Texans galore!
  • What about the show?
  • Vortek and the Diana 34
  • More to come

Setup

The Texas airgun show is a one-day event. Everyone knows they have to get in quick, set up quick and get everything accomplished in one short day. The Parker County Sportsman Club that hosted the event provided dozens of volunteers to run the ranges, park cars, sell tickets, prepare and serve food and drinks, and generally help anyone who needed it. As a result, the event was set up and running smooth when the doors opened to the public at 9 am. But, unlike last year, there was no line at the door. The tickets were sold at a gate outside the compound because we had vendors in two different buildings this year. Even so I was surprised and a little disappointed when I didn’t see the immediate crush of people at 9.

Big bore draws a crowd

At 9:30 we had only about 100 people come into the main hall, so I stepped outside to see what was happening. And then I found the crowd! They were standing at the 250-yard range, watching the big bore shooters get their range and safety briefing.

2015 airgun show big bore crowd
A crowd watched the big bore shooters’ safety briefing.

2015 airgun show sight in
Shooters were allowed to check their zero at the 250 yard line before the match.

The second shooter in this picture — the man in the checked shirt — is American Airgunner host, Rossi Morreale, who is shooting an AirForce Texan that was assembled for him 10 minutes before this picture was taken. He was sighting-in at 250 yards with an air rifle had had never fired or even seen before this day.

The match

LASSO is a match that simulates hunting. So the rules are made to make things realistic. There are 2 classes — Big Game is for all guns .40 caliber and above and Varmint is for everything smaller — usually .257 to just under .40 cal.

The match was simple. There were only 4 targets. The first was shot offhand at around 30-40 yards at a 6-inch bullseye. If the first shot hit, maximum points were awarded and no second shot was taken. If they missed on shot one they shot again. If the target was hit on the second shot, a lesser number of points were awarded. Two shots were all they got, and each shooter had 30 seconds to take both shots. Out of 18 shooters, only 6 ever hit the paper target.

After all shooters had shot the paper target, they walked back to about 100 yards from the berm and shot at metal silhouettes. The Big Game class shot at a half-sized ram that had an 8-inch kill zone. If the kill zone was hit, a steel paddle behind it flapped back, showing the hit. Hitting the silhouette anywhere but on the paddle counted for nothing. Varmint class shooters shot at a full-sized coyote that had a 6-inch kill zone. Same rules and points applied.

The shooters had to start from a standing position with their breeches open and guns unloaded. When the command was given they had to move forward to a designated spot and start shooting. The time started when the command to start was given.

2015 airgun show start
The shooter has been given the command to start. He has to move to his spot, load the gun and do anything else before taking his shot. He gets 30 seconds to make up to 2 shots. If the first shot connects, he is done.

2015 airgun show shoot
This shooter is using a bipod that he had to extend and adjust while getting into position before he could shoot.

Out of 18 competitors (5 shooters competed in both classes) the close silhouette was hit 6 times. Five of those were on the first shot. Two and sometimes three spotters watched every shot through spotting scopes, so there was no doubt about the hits.

2015 airgun show spotter
Two and sometimes 3 spotters watched every shot to see if the paddles were hit.

After all had shot the near silhouette, they walked back to about 175 yards and shot at the same silhouettes again. Same rules applied. Only one shooter of 18 connected with the kill zone at this distance.

After all shooters were done, the line walked back to 250 yards and fired at the same silhouettes again. Same rules. Of 10 shooters, only one connected at this distance. Rossi Morreale did hit his target, but he was shooting in the Big Game class and hit the Varmint class silhouette, so no points were awarded.

When all was finished there was a shootoff at 250 yards between Rossi Morreale and Bennie Nelson for the grand prize. Rossi edged Bennie out on the second shot at 250 yards to win the grand prize.

I awarded Rossi with the Benjamin Bulldog that I tested for this blog and for a feature article in Shotgun News. The Crosman Corporation generously donated this rifle and the scope and mounts I used in the test. I also gave him a notarized certificate of authenticity for the rifle, the issue of Shotgun News that contained my article and two boxes of Nosler bullets for the rifle. Rossi had announced during the filming of the Round Table the evening before that he would be winning the grand prize, and I laughed at him on camera. Shut my mouth!

2015 airgun show grand prize
I awarded Rossi Morreale the grand prize of a Benjamin Bulldog, donated by Crosman. Please note he is also holding the first prize trophy for the Big Game class.

Texans galore!

I was shocked to see no fewer than 6 AirForce Texans in this match! There were 8 other makes (one was a Condor!) in the match but this year’s LASSO was clearly a sweep for the Texan. I don’t want to hear any excuses from the makers of other big bore airguns who did not compete in this match. One of them, who I will not embarrass by naming, was even displaying his big bore at a gun show in nearby Ft. Worth on the same day as this show matchΒ  was happening! If I were in the market for a big bore air rifle, I would look at the ones that actually perform, rather than the ones people write about but never compete in public.

2015 airgun show Texans
Nearly half the rifles used in the match were AirForce Texans!

The other big bores in the match were:

.25 caliber Condor
.35 Hatsan Carnivore
.357 Shin Sung Fire 201
.30 Mrodair
.257 and .401 Professional Big Bore Airgun
.257 and .45 Kam Custom

What about the show?

Inside the main hall 60 tables were loaded with airguns and accessories. The major dealers were:

Umarex USA
Hatsan USA
AirForce Airguns
Airgun Depot
Shoebox compressor
Sun Optics
MegaBoom targets systems
Rocket Shot target systems
R Arms Innovations
Mrodair
Flying Dragon airguns
Pelletgage and Speedy Pellet Inspector
Baker Airguns
Vortek
Dennis Quackenbush
Tin Starr bullets
Big Bore Airgun Ammo

 

2015 airgun show Edith
Edith was remembered at this show that she helped create.

Several dealers had pellets for sale this year, and I saw them being carried around by the “sausages” of 10 tins. This was a major improvement over last year’s show, where the only pellets seemed to be in collectible tins.

2015 airgun show Qwerty
Blog reader JimQwerety123 and Mrs. Qwerty enjoyed the show. That’s the Sheridan Silver Streak he scored!

Vortek and the Diana 34

Here is the exciting news I promised about the Diana 34. Tom Gore, who developed numerous gas spring piston units for spring-piston airguns announced a new unit for the Diana 34. It works with the T06 trigger and reduces vibration to nothing, according to him. It’s also easier to cock than most units of the same power.

I shot a prototype of this unit at the 2014 Pyramyd Air Cup, and was hitting 3-inch kill zones offhand at 55 yards with the rifle. Gore used my Diana 34 to demonstrate to the crowd how easy his new unit installed. And the owner can change the pressure inside the unit with his hand pump! He was interviewed for American Airgunner, so you should see the unit on television next year.

2015 airgun show Vertek
Tom Gore of Vortek shows his new center fire latch gas spring piston unit to an airgunner.

I didn’t get to shoot it at the show, but Gore promised to send me one to test. He has offered this unit to several companies but at this time he plans to sell it directly through Vortek.

There were plenty of private dealers offering the vintage and odd guns so many of us expect at airgun shows. There were regular airguns and then there were the real oddities. Like Ron Robinson showed me an LD shotgun made in the Philippines especially for airgun writer, Jess Galan, who was extremely prominent from the 1970s through the 1990s.

When have you ever seen a ping pong ball launcher at a gun show? Otho Henderson brought both of his and let some kids shoot at the Rocket Shot targets with them.

2015 airgun show ping pong
When was the last time you saw a ping pong ball launcher at a gun show?

At the end of the tables I was at there was a huge box of old airguns selling for one price. I’ve seen this at other shows, but this time I got a special insight into it that I’ll tell you about in a moment.

 

The show may have started slower than last year, but by 10:30 the halls were packed and you couldn’t hear yourself think!

Sometime late in the morning a man stopped in front of my table and I knew without asking that it was Reb. We talked for a bit, then I sent him out to shoot a Diana 25 on my table. He seemed reserved, as if overwhelmed by the show. Surely it couldn’t be this good — could it?

When he returned to the table, he wandered down to the big box of guns and started talking to the owner. The guy was just sitting there, waiting for the right person to come along. Reb was that person, because in a little while he came back to my table having bought the entire box of guns!

2015 airgun show Reb
Me on the right with reader Reb, at the end of the show.

More to come

There is so much more to say. Like the fabulous raffle prizes, the incredible door prize that whose story you won’t believe. And finally, who won the action pistol match sponsored by MegaBOOM targets and Unmarex USA.

71 thoughts on “2015 Texas airgun show: Part 1

  1. Tom,

    Great picture of Susan (Mrs Qwerty).

    The silver streak is a great shooter and Susan hasn’t used it on me yet.

    We had a great time at the show. All of the vendors were very friendly and helpful. It was great to try all of the various guns at the range. That Air Force Texan is really accurate. I would have been in real trouble if I had been in the market for a big bore. They had the Texan set up on Range A with a target distance of 65 yards and let everyone try it. My first shot took out the center of the bull. Second shot was touching the first and third shot was a 1/2 inch low.

    I also had a chance to try an Escape and a CondorSS, both were very accurate as well.

    I tried the Hatsan AT44 Tactical QE. That gun is extremely quite and was stacking pellets.

    I would have to say that my favorite part was watching the filming on The round table segment. I can’t believe that it was done in one long take!

    Hope to see you there next year,

    Jim and Susan



      • Reb:

        I also saw you a number of times but until I saw your picture with Tom, I did not realize who you were. LOUD and crowded was a good description. I have trouble hearing when there is a noisy background. I’m glad all the vendors were patient since I had to have them repeat so much.

        Maybe next year we can wear name tags with out blog names so that we can all recognize one another.

        I bet there were more blog readers there than we realized.

        BTW, I walked by that trashcan of airguns a number of times and never looked at it. Great score on your part.

        Jim

        Jim


        • The QB-88 sidelever with the raised cheekpiece is the one that caught my attention so I pulled it out to see what it was only to realize I had left my readers at home so I asked what it was but the vendor said he had no idea so I asked ” What’s the deal on the guns in the barrel? That’s when he said “Gimme $100 and I’ll take em to your car”
          Later I noticed him looking at something that was right across from him all day with a $75 price on it, that made me feel that my money went to a good place.



  2. Tom,

    If that was a slow start to the show, I would have hated to see a fast start. We walked in about 9:05 and it was so crowded that it hard to move. Of course, they were all crowded around your table. We went to the far side of the hall where it was less crowded. That was how I found the silver streak. I remembered your advise from an earlier column – if you see it and like it buy it right then because it will be gone later. I’m surprised I got the dealer to come down a few dollars considering how I was drooling over it.

    Jim


  3. B.b.

    I speculated that it had to do with a gas piston and the center latch of the t06.

    I remember people being upset about the ntec not having a real t06 trigger- and I thought “give them a break, that seems real hard to do.” But Mr. Gore figured it out. Good for him.


  4. It sounds like it was a great show. And thanks to Edith for creating it.

    And the more I read about the LASSO match the bigger the smile got on my face. I love that kind of shooting. Cool stuff.

    And Reb I know you been talk’n up a storm about the guns you got. It sounds like you walked into a good deal.

    Oh and cool picture with BB. You did get to autograph it for him didn’t you. πŸ˜‰


    • Oh and forgot I wanted to comment on the ping pong guns.

      I would like to know more about how they operate. And what year where they made in.

      Also how did they do shooting at the Rocket can launcher. Was the ping pong guns used at real close distances. Or did they hit good out farther. By out farther I mean like 15 yards or so.


      • GF1,

        Otho will have to tell you about the ping pong guns. He shot them with some kids. I wasn’t there.

        The ping pong guns were made in the 1950s. A sliding piston build air pressure behind the ball until it overcomes the resistance. Then the ball pops out like a champaign cork.

        B.B.


        • BB,

          please do trigger weight and velocity testing and tell us about the scope mounts.

          Which ping-pong balls are the most accurate at 50 yards?

          Sorry, couldn’t resist πŸ™‚

          Stephan


        • B.B.,

          I have a ping-pong ball pistol I got when I was a kid. It is the simplest airgun I’ve ever seen. It’s one hollow piece of flexible red rubber shaped like a handgun. Squeeze a ping-pong ball into the muzzle, aim, quickly squeeze the gun, and the ball flies out and travels a good 50 feet!

          Michael




            • B.B., Gunfun, and Doc,

              Yes, you are envisioning my toy exactly, although the “pop” sound with mine is not exactly thunderous, LOL. And Doc is right, the one “round” (actually literally round — B.B., is that the etymology of “round” as in projectile?) is a bright yellow ball. I have never actually checked to see if it precisely table-tennis caliber. It is possible that the hard plastic yellow ball is just slightly bigger, a la #BB lead shot versus steel BB gun shot.

              And the fifty feet is something you probably shouldn’t hold me to, but I’d be surprised if it weren’t in that neighborhood. Of course we’re talking about a trajectory the shape of the St. Louis Arch!

              Very often the best toys are the simplest toys, just like tools.

              Michael


            • My little sister got one of those to teethe on back in the mid-latest ’70’s and it was fun to play with in the house but would hit just about everything in the room before coming to rest.
              πŸ™‚


          • Michael, I had the gun also. The ping pong balls were yellow with mine. I loved that thing and shot it so many times. Made a loud “boom” when shot. Sort of like squeezing an empty Pringles can until the plastic lid pops off.


          • Michael,
            I had one similar. One of my many many toy guns as a kid. This one was a plastic replica of a 18th century cannon. The ping pong ball was propelled by slamming an accordion type pump at the top. The harder you hit it the further the shot went. My cat at the time was deathly scared of it! Was a blast to shoot.


        • BB
          Sounds like fun guns. That’s the main thing.

          Reminds me of when you wrote about the toll guns that shot the coins. I wonder if they would set the Rocket can launcher off.

          Aw heck what does it matter. The fun would be trying.


  5. Wow… that is interesting news about the Diana mod.

    It seems pretty strange that Diana doesn’t use the T06 in the nTec, given that they have spent a lot of money developing it. It seems Tom Gore beat them at their own game.

    It sounds expensive though, but we’ll see.

    BTW, I’ve watched a YouTube video explaining how to adjust the T06 and that was much more useful than the guide from Diana. The trigger is now *really* nice. I did not do the suggested bending of the metal tab the trigger blade rests on. I saw no need and it seems dangerous. I also did not modify the spring.
    You’ll find it if you look for it, I don’t want my posting to go to the spam folder πŸ™‚


  6. Great report and great photos, I look forwards to more reports.

    Reb, congratulations on making it to the show and your “big score”. Anxious to hear if there are any “gems” in the bunch. With your modding experience, I am sure you will get something working. Good picture of you and B.B. While not having been to one, I can imagine that it would be a bit overwhelming,…so much to do and see.


    • Yes,trying to get inside the door was a challenge and it was so packed that I did the same thing Jim and his wife Susan did and headed to the other side just for breathing room. In the days I dealt with large crowds I was separate from them until break time so I’ve handled crowds in the thousands but not at their level. Overwhelming is a good word for it!



  7. B.B.,

    Congratulations on another successful show. You are an excellent ambassador for airgunning.

    I am once again feeling totally left out by not being able to go to what was obviously a great time for all. I simply live in an area where there are no close-by shows, and my job is such that coincidentally the busiest times of the year (when I cannot take even one day off) are when all of the air gun shows are scheduled.

    A question. I’ve noticed in many air gun show photos that zip ties are placed on a lot of air guns to prevent them from being fired. Is this a show rule?

    Michael



      • B.B.,

        I could have gone to the Kalamazoo show this year if it had been just one weekend earlier. The Findlay, OH show would maybe be doable next year, but the Malvern show would require me to drive all Thursday night to get there.

        Are there really no shows in IL, WI, IN, IA, or MO? Somebody needs to round up the “invisible airgunners” in the country’s breadbasket. (And no, it couldn’t be me, I can’t even organize my pellet tins.)

        Somebody should have a huge 2 1/2 day show smack dab in the middle of the country, in St. Louis, Kansas City, Des Moines, or the Quad Cities in the middle of June.

        Michael




  8. There’s another rusty gem or two to work on that I have yet to mention, I don’t know exactly what it is because the barrel and breech are both missing but it’s a Crosman 120 or 140 I believe only the pumparm won’t open. It has a die-cast trigger guard. Kinda stumped on this one, where to start?
    The good thing is a fellow blog member that goes by Buldawg has already replaced these parts on one of his own.


  9. Great show Im sure most folks don’t realize the number of hours it takes to organize an event like the airgun show
    plus all the time you spend producing this great blog. You are truly amazing. I had a great time at the show and Im already looking forward to next years show


  10. I’m a little surprised that no Bulldogs were used in the big bore contest or were they not allowed as one of them was the prize? However, I do remember from B.B.’s accuracy test that the Bulldog was not terribly accurate. At least not with the ammo he used. So maybe that’s why none were used in the contest.

    Although the Texan is not particularly heavy (it’s too heavy for me with a scope for off-hand shooting) I can see having difficulty shooting it off-hand, especially at 48″ long. Congrats to Rossi Morreale for the win. It can be quite difficult shooting a rifle for the very first time.

    I want to shoot a big bore rifle in the worst way but I just don’t have anywhere to shoot one right now. I guess I would have to join one of the firearm ranges around here. I would love to be able to try a few of them out first but I just don’t see that happening. My reason for wanting one is that I really want to shoot LONG range.

    One of these days I am going to bite the bullet and go to the largest airgun show I can find. By large I mean having the greatest number of public and private vendors. Anyone know which show that is?

    G&G


  11. Just got one of these 766’s pumping air, it was full of BB’s and shot one out as well as a CPHP but loading these things is a pain and I think I got a pellet stuck in the BB port.


  12. B.B.
    One of the guns I ran across used to be chrome plated( now freckled with rust) but the thing that sets it apart is that it seems to be somewhere between the size of a modern Buck and a RedRyder. It also has the older round loading port just behind the front sight,
    Is this something special?
    I wouldn’t wanna wreck it by cleaning enough to read the stamping. It also has a weird plate on the shroud underneath that drew my attention.


    • Just looked again and the rear sight appears to be welded in front and back, the guts are missing but I got plenty of those, I just gotta make a Daisy tool.
      The last Buck I tore down was before I’d read about it and I drilled out the rivet and used a nut & bolt which works but on a chrome gun would stand out. I found the stamping behind the rear sight but can’t really read it well.
      I finally did find where it saysPlymouth Michigan.
      I doubt I’ll be fully restoring it but I’d like to get it shooting because it’s size is perfect!


  13. The 99 I got was missing the rear sight on first inspection but the front is also gone, it takes the newer guts which are also missing but could this be one of those instinct shooters?


  14. Just found a 102 with a trigger I couldn’t give to a kid, gotta be the sweetest BB gun trigger I’ve ever pulled! The blade is stamped steel and I don’t know if it’ll swap out with tis newer generation but I guess if I wanna I could build whatever I want, there seems to be no shortage of parts except the original good stuff.



  15. B.B. and Everyone,

    Because I just knew that all of you were wondering, I looked up ping pong ball mass and diameter. 2.7 grams and 40mm diameter. That makes a ping pong ball, except for its mass, what, 160 caliber or halfway between B 1/2 gauge and 1 gauge.

    Yes, at the moment I have far too much time on my hands.

    Michael



  16. BB,

    I didn’t make the show last year so this is from a first timers eyes but I enjoyed the show. David and I had a table and while we didn’t sell anything, I did buy a few things. Was fun visiting with a few guys that I see at the shows but with only one day of a show, made it hard to sit at the table and miss out on all the other stuff going on. I didn’t know that they were doing the Lasso but couldn’t have watched it and leave our table unattended. It would be neat to have time to see it and all the other stuff going on. Next year, hope to get set up earlier and have more time to look around and visit more.

    I found myself in kind of a daze, as you see so many cool things that it gets to be overload. I saw lot’s and lot’s of cool rare air guns and bargains galore. I read somebody’s post on a forum saying that they thought prices were a little high but I saw prices very good, actually lower than most things sell for on the classifieds so a smart shopper would have scored well.

    Was great to bring your R1 back to you and have it received so well. Looking forward to your report on that.

    Lot’s to see there and tell about from the show and enjoyed myself. Looking forward to an even larger show next year.

    Bryan Enoch


  17. Hi Reb,

    Sorry I didn’t find time to visit with you. I saw you around and you were sitting at the end of our tables when we started to pack up. I was so exhausted from over work and lacking sleep, tired and was just ready to get home and get some rest but now that I realize who you were…wished I had stopped to talk with you and visit a spell. My mistake and I appologize. Hope to see you next year and will take time to visit then.

    Take Care,



    • I caught up with Rossi to congratulate him on his win and I think he went into interview mode while I was also trying to catch B.B.-
      Just might a missed my 15 seconds. My apologies to Rossi and crew as well as you and David for encroaching on your’ table


  18. Hi Tom, thanks again to you and all who made it a great day.

    Do you have this info on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd place LASSO shooters?
    – Scope used
    – Bullet used
    – Did any guns exceed the weight limit?

    Tedd




    • Boomer,

      Welcome to the blog.

      Yes, Dennis did bring a couple rifles to sell and they went quick.

      Are you interested in s Long Action .458 by any chance?

      Please respond on the current blog page and not back here where nobody can see it.

      B.B.


  19. Yes I may be and possibly the .50-caliber Bandit. I’m new at this but I like what I read about Dennis, however, at my age 74 I might not be here by the time I get on his list. I’m looking for a Big Bore level shot at 50 to 100 yards, about 300 ft.lbs + shot barrel like Jim Chapman likes. Also, one of my son-in-laws and his 14 year old son are looking at Dennis ‘s guns also.



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