The dawn of CO2 guns

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Invention
  • Marketing failure
  • Crosman Corporation
  • Shooting galleries
  • Post-war
  • The Crosman CG
  • Marketing misstep
  • From separate tanks to reservoirs
  • The dawn of the CO2 cartridge
  • The 12-gram Powerlet
  • Summary

Invention

The first successful CO2 gun was invented and produced by Paul Giffard in the early 1870s. He adapted the pneumatic guns he was already building to use this new gas and the guns he produced were operationally successful. But he failed to market the gun properly.

Marketing failure

Giffard made gun owners return the gas tanks of their guns to a central point where the tanks were refilled. And the customers stayed away in droves! Nobody wants to buy something expensive, only to be held hostage by the lack of a critical item, i.e. gas for the gun. In short, he failed because he didn’t provide the proper support for the gun.

Oddly enough, the Giffard lesson was not learned by everybody. In about 1948 the Winsel company
sold their “Jet-Powered” pistol with two removable CO2 tanks and a heavy cardboard tube for mailing one of them back for a refill. Very few guns were sold (50?) and the company went out of business with many tanks not returned to customers. The tanks the company held were ultimately destroyed.

Giffard pistol
This Giffard CO2 pistol is loaded via a rotating tap. The quality is first-rate. This wasn’t a cheap gun.

Winsel pistol
Those not familiar with history are doomed to repeat it. In 1948, Winsel made the same mistake as Giffard and quickly failed.

Crosman Corporation

Because of Giffard’s failure, I will jump forward from the 1870s to the early 1930s, when the Crosman Corporation first started playing with the gas. Their engineers knew that CO2 was a good propellant for pellets. The relatively lightweight .22 caliber diabolo pellets flew much faster and farther than Giffard’s 6mm (.243 caliber) and 8mm (.32 caliber) lead balls. But even Crosman didn’t figure everything out on their first try.

Shooting galleries

Their initial thinking was that CO2 guns might replace rimfires in public shooting galleries. The operational cost for the galleries would drop because lead pellets and the gas to propel them cost much less than even the lowly .22 short cartridge that was in use at the time. Before WW II shooting galleries were popular around the nation. At the turn of the 20th century almost every town had at least one. New York City had many, and indoor shooting was very popular.

Crosman did plan to make and sell entire galleries that included one model of repeating CO2 rifle that is practically unknown today. The Crosman model 102 Camp Perry “hose gun” was a .22 caliber repeating bolt action CO2 rifle that was based on the model 102 bolt action pneumatic repeater. It made no sense as a pneumatic, though, because even though working the bolt loaded a round ball into the breech in the blink of an eye, the shooter still had to pump the gun for every shot. With CO2, of course, the shooting was continuous. It was called a “hose gun” because it was tethered by a hose to a large gas tank (for shooting gallery use) located under the gallery counter.

I have seen Crosman literature for shooting galleries from as early as 1932, but they didn’t seem to catch on. Perhaps that was because the .22 rimfires were firmly entrenched in the galleries.

Post-war

After WW II, though, the returning soldiers had enough of shooting for the rest of their lives. They wanted to get back to civilian life, start families and enjoy the good life they had been promised. Shooting galleries were falling out of favor everywhere — not rapidly at first, but the trend was in motion.

The Crosman CG

Crosman scrambled to convert from the production of wartime materiel to making airguns again, and someone in the company discovered several thousand 4-oz. CO2 tanks that had been used to rapidly inflate large ocean-going life rafts. They bought these surplus tanks and converted their model 101 single shot pneumatic rifle to use CO2. This new gun became the famous Crosman CG (for compressed gas) CO2 rifle with the slant and straight tank.

Crosman CG rifle
The straight tank model CG rifle is a later variation that began with the slant tank. All of this was to use the 4-oz. CO2 tanks that were surplus left over from the war.

Crosman was still thinking shooting galleries when they brought out the CG rifle, but not public shooting galleries. They were thinking of league shooting run by workplaces. That was in line with what was happening at the time, because bowling leagues were popular in the 1950s. These leagues were as much for socialization of the employees as for sport and recreation, and companies embraced them as an early form of team-building.

Crosman gallery
This Crosman shooting gallery was for league shooting. This employer installed one for their employees. A straight-tank CG is clearly seen in the hands of the woman second from the left.

Marketing misstep

But there were some missteps here, as well. Crosman must have thought that if they made the caliber proprietary they would corner the market on ammo sales, so many of the CG gallery guns were made in a .21 caliber that is not available on the market — then or now. Those guns were sold with complete gallery kits intended for league use.

They also made some CG rifles for direct sales, but these were made in the far more common .22 caliber that met with public acceptance. There were already pellets available everywhere in this caliber. Filling the CO2 tanks was still a problem, but Crosman’s engineers solved it with adapters that league gallery teams and presumably private individuals could purchase to fill their tanks from common fire extinguishers.

From separate tanks to reservoirs

The supply of surplus tanks finally ran out, so the company had to do something different. They provided a tubular gas reservoir that ran parallel underneath the barrel of each gun. Thus was born in 1950 the model 114 in .22 caliber and the model 113 in .177. I covered the 114 in a three-part report. A separate fill tank was needed to fill these guns, so Crosman provided the model 110 10-oz. CO2 tank that came packaged with each gun.

They were still on the shooting galley kick, though, and one version of the rifle was a repeater with a hose permanently attached. Collectors speculated for decades whether this was a real airgun or not, but paper evidence found about 10 years ago proves that it was at least prototyped. The model 117 was never sold to the public, but in 1952, Crosman added an onboard tubular reservoir to the gun and renamed it the model 118.

The dawn of the CO2 cartridge

The Benjamin Air Rifle Company was one of many companies (Americal Luger, Carbo Jet, Schimel, Challenger Arms, etc.) who seized on the possibility of powering an airgun by a CO2 cartridge in 1952. All of them used the 8-gram cartridges that were also used in seltzer bottles. At the time, seltzer bottles were very popular for making mixed drinks, and the cartridges were plentiful. Benjamin was the only company with airgun experience and distribution channels though, and within a few years in the mid-1950s all their competition went away.

In 1954 the Crosman Corporation brought out the first iteration of their iconic model 150 air pistol. This single shot .22 pistol replaced the Models 111, 112, 115, and 116 pistols that were all bulk fill. The 150 (.22 caliber) was soon joined by the 157 (.177) and quickly became a mainstay of the Crosman lineup. We can still see remnants of it today — 60 years later — in the model 2240 pistol and associated airguns.

Crosman 150
My old Crosman 150 has seen better days. I bought it as a project gun and fixed it with Pellgnoil.

The 12-gram Powerlet

What was most important about the 150 was the 12-gram CO2 cartridge it used. It was the first airgun to use that size. There is 50 percent most gas in that larger cartridge, which means guns that use it can be more powerful or get more shots. That cartridge became the world standard and for 20 years I referred to it in my writing as a Powerlet, because Crosman trademarked that name for it. They didn’t invent the cartridge, they simply capitalized on it with great success.

Benjamin continued to sell their CO2 guns, but they lost a lot of customers when Crosman’s 12-gram Powerlet came along. Other companies like Heathways Plainsman, who made a BB repeater that featured 3 power settings, started with 8-gram cartridges, but developed an adapter for their gun that allowed the use of the more popular 12-gram size. I wrote a 4-part report on this gun back in 2009/10.

About 5 years ago I noticed Crosman no longer pushes the use of the name Powerlet. It’s still found on their packaging, but not in their advertising. So I decided to stop calling the 12-gram CO2 cartridges Powerlets and reverted to the generic term cartridge.

Summary

There you have the dawn of the  CO2 powerplant. We looked at its invention in the 1870s all the way to the development of the 12-gram Powerlet. I could have gone on and mentioned the use of the larger 88-90 gram cartridges, but that push has already started showing signs of fragmentation. There is industry disagreement on the size of the cartridges (they should all be identical because their specification is controlled by someone outside the airgun industry).

The 12-gram cartridge shows no signs of letting up, though. Even Umarex decided to redesign the grip of their Single Action Army BB revolver, rather than to revert to the smaller 8-gram cartridge that would have fit inside the standard grip.

Bulk-fill guns are still with us, though they are far in the background. They have the advantages of allowing the gas to conform to oddly shaped reservoirs, plus they cost about a tenth as much to operate as cartridge guns, once the shooter has invested in the equipment to fill his own bulk tanks.

I think CO2 will continue to be popular, but I doubt we will see much that is new coming from this propellant. Its uses are now well-known and will continue to be used in the best ways to power pellet and BB guns.

41 thoughts on “The dawn of CO2 guns

  1. Great history lesson BB . C02 is a bit frustrating for me. When I try to shoot my C02 pistols for accuracy, the time I should wait between shots sometimes in maddening. The blowback pistols of course are the worse, using more gas per shot, longer time for the stuff to stabilize. Regardless for plinking fun the cartridges are fine. Thanks for blog.
    Harvey


  2. Great article. The C02 works great for repeating pistols like my 92FS. (Which is down at the moment due to trigger/advancing issues.) Winter project. I did get 3000 shots from it though. Contacted Umerex and they speculated the issue and said the could fix it for around 75$. Not sure I will add 75 to and already 250 air pistol plus shipping.

    In my opinion, they should sell parts direct as Crosman does. That issue is a turn off to me. AS for the 88/90G. cartridges,…that’s a bit of a turn off as well. Although, I did see them at the local Wally’s for around 12$ if remember correct. Besides paint ball, I believe that the Walther Lever Action is the only air rifle that uses the 88/90G. While paintball was all the rage 10 years ago, how much longer will the 88/90 be commonly available?

    On the Walther, I think they should go PCP if a springer/underlever can not be designed. That would count me out as well as I have not gone the PCP route. Just my thoughts/opinion.

    Chris



      • The Beretta CX4 Storm, the new SIG Sauer MCX, and SIG Sauer MPX CO2 rifles also use the 88 g CO2 cartridge. Like Chris, I was concerned about the continued availability of the 88 g CO2 when you said “that push has already started showing signs of fragmentation”. When I bought my Hammerli 850 and Walther Lever Action rifles, I also bought the 12 g CO2 cartridge accessories in the event the 88 g CO2 is not available.

        So what do you see as the industry trend regarding the 88 g CO2? Are airgun manufacturers and CO2 cartridge manufacturers going to keep making them? The upcoming release of the new SIG Sauer rifles seem to suggest that there is still a market for the 88 g CO2.

        I may have asked you this question once before in the last three years, but today’s blog is probably a good place to ask it again. Do unused, pressurized 12 g and 88 g CO2 cartridges have a shelf life? Are the cartridges sealed well enough to not leak over say several years storage, or will they leak and depressurize over 1 year, 2 years, or longer? I don’t use the 88 g CO2 cartridges very often. I’ve maybe 5 of them stored in an ammo box that I bought about 2 years ago. Could a day come that I install one of them in my Hammerli or Walther rifle and discover the cartridge is completely empty?


        • Cstoehr,

          Let me restate that. I think the 88-gram CO2 cartridge is going to be around for a long, long time. I think the airguns that use it may dry up over time. But the cartridges will still be available They are used for many other things besides airgun.

          B.B.


        • Most Co2 guns have a shelf life because they are so poorly made. There isn’t a single one that is worth buying.

          The new Sig Sauer MCX is pathetic. It can’t even put out 3 foot pounds of energy. It’s a girls toy that weighs as much a most 50ft lb rifles. 480fps with 5.3g pellets is 2.7ft lb…

          Stop wasting money on this junk and buy a PCP gun already. I laugh when I hear people talk about accuracy and Co2 guns in the same sentence. Dream on


          • Zebra,
            That’s a broad statement.
            Too broad in fact.
            I have bought two Co2 guns in the recent past.
            One has already been converted to HPA and the other will soon follow.
            But until then I’ll be using Co2 and deal with the temperature sensitivity issue.
            The first one was a Crosman 2400kt from their custom shop and the second is the lowly 2240 I purchased from Pyramyd Air.
            My point is that both guns started life as a lowly and fairly inexpensive Co2 gun and surely would have been fine in original configuration only I decided it was worth the effort and expense to convert them.
            Apparently Sig Sauer has realized this capability and is prepared to share the technology with the general public but like my 2240 it will take some time.
            I know what you’re talking about but the way you said it has little value. If you’re upset about a bad experience please learn from the mistake and have the patience to do enough research before your next purchase because a blanket statement such as the one I’m responding to just sounds like an irate customer and offers little educational value.
            I applaud Crosman and Sig Sauer for offering what they have in our time of need for new inexpensive technology and am aware of many others only a few short steps behind.
            If you stick around and learn more it will require an open mind and patience.
            I believe you may be the one most in need of your own advice.
            Hope to see you around but let’s offer constructive criticism to HELP steer the manufacturers in the proper direction instead of trying to discourage their attempts.
            Good Luck

            Reb



    • Chris
      Umarex does sell parts just like crosman as I have bought parts for a RWS 54 and the Hatsan 200s that shares the same trigger/safety parts as the Walther Talon / falcon as Hatsan would not sell me the safety parts citing it being a liability issue yet Umarex did not hesitate to sell me the parts I needed to repair the Hatsan and they were told it was for a Hatsan as well and the sales lady actually went out to the techs to find out if the talon used the 27mm piston seal that the Hatsan used so I could be sure it would fit before buying. They are actually better than crosman in that they will look up the part numbers you need for you over the phone whereas crosman will not look up part numbers so if you don’t have the numbers they will not help you.

      I agree as I would not send the gun back to them for repair but I would buy the parts you need to repair it yourself from them and if you need a schematic to determine the part numbers or what is broke you can find most all ait gun schematics here as you may already have this link but I will post again for those who do not just make sure you click in the translator box so it shows them in English or the language you prefer.

      http://airenlaces.blogspot.com/p/enlaces-paginas-de-armas-de-aire.html

      BD


      • Buldawg76,

        Thanks for that link,…that is one I do not have. From visiting the Umerex site, I got the impression that they did not sell parts. I may have to call and check into that further. If so, that may work out better instead of coming up with some “home brewed” remedies. They did mention some parts and did send a schematic. 2 versions. Apparently there is a newer and older version of the 92FS.

        Thanks again,…..I do miss shooting it. Chris ( The schematics are unbelievably complicated,…so many parts,…the TX is a walk in the park in comparison. But trust me,…(I) will tear into it!!!! )


        • Chris
          I have used that link more times than I can count to help in diagnosis and repair of air guns I work on and is how I knew that the Umarex talon/falcon used the same trigger/safety parts as the Hatsan since it is a Hatsan 125 that is rebranded with the Umarex name.

          I know they will happily sell you any and all parts you need for your 92FS and will also help you determine which version it is if you cannot not do so with the schematics link I sent you because I could net tell from the schematic of the Umarex talon if it used the same 27mm piston seal as the Hatsan did so the sales lady went and asked a tech if the seal was 27mm or 28mm for me so I was sure when I bought it that it would work. Crosman will not and does not do that at all so if you call them without part numbers you are SOL.

          BD


    • Chris within the last year I have gone through 3 Umarex Legends P08 blowbacks. First one failed within 2 weeks and Pyramid Air replaced it. The second one took longer as I was very careful with it but it also failed, breaking a trigger latch mechanism. It was out of warranty, so I bought another one locally. After 2 weeks it failed. I returned it to the store and got the Umarex Smith and Wesson 327 Trr8 revolver . This pistol seems to be built well. My observation is that these pot metal pistols with heavy blowback will eventually destroy themselves .The lack of parts support from Umarex is a bummer .


      • K7,

        See Buldwag76’s post with link above and second post. Sounds good and saved it. The Beretta 92FS does not have blowback and it was double action 99% of those 3000+ shots, so the trigger/latching should not have been as stressed a pulling straight through, (single). Yea, I suppose they have their limits. Maybe they figure that people will not shoot them that much.

        Like anything, there are THE parts that matter. Those parts need to be made better and not wear as quickly. Good luck with yours. Chris


  3. Excellent history lesson. Here in the Philippines we have not progressed beyond bulk fill of CO2. It is still very popular and very widely used. Spring pistons are not very popular here as that they are more expensive due to importation taxes imposed. There are no locally manufactured spring piston airguns, there was a previous attempt by Armscor in the late 90’s but the sales did not warrant their continuing the manufacture. Local makers have recently taken to experimenting with PCPs initially producing from CO2 airguns similar to the QB79 HPA conversions to models patterned after the Cricket.

    P.S. First sentence of the last paragraph there are two wills, “I think CO2 will continue to be popular, but I doubt will will see much that is new coming from this propellant.” I believe the first will was meant to be a “we”.


  4. B.B.,

    Paul Giffard’s approach to have customers ship the tank back for a refill and then wait to get it shipped back might have been a borrowed business practice from earlier product sellers. I believe I read somewhere that Kodak required the owners of the very first model of the Brownie to send the camera in to have the film inside processed. After a couple weeks, the customer would receive the camera from Kodak with fresh unexposed film inside and prints of their pictures. Kodak did not do this for long, as I recall reading, as they switched to local photographers doing the same with the cameras — eliminating the shipping process, and then to customers buying and installing their own film which they would themselves remove from the camera after taking the shots and sending just the film to Kodak. This ended up being not too different from taking the exposed film to a drugstore and then waiting five days for a local photo lab to process the photos.

    Michael


  5. Very interesting post. I love knowing more about the history of air guns and that’s why I have been following and reading your blog for the last couple of years.

    Thanks, B.B.!


  6. I’ve considered co2 for field target because of the easy availability of fills. Mike Melick told me that he can modify the XS60C (Umarex Fusion) to get about 7250-800 fps in .177. Most of our field target matches start about 9 and end at noon so with a possible 15 to 20 degree temperature change so I’m wondering if there would be changes in the point of aim. Would like to hear other people’s thoughts or experiences with this.


    • Brent,

      A 15-20 degree F temperature change shouldn’t affect the POI much. But I have been at matches whee the swing was more like 50 degrees F. Then you have a problem.

      But what the heck — try it and see how it goes. After a couple matches, YOU will be the expert on using CO2 fort field target.

      B.B.


      • B.B.

        Didn’t your report on the 2014 Pyramyd Air Cup include something about a competitor using a CO2 powered rifle? If so, what results did that competitor get? My impression has been that CO2 powered rifles might work OK for short field target ranges but not for the longest range.


      • That’s a project for next year. Right now, I’m working on multi pumps. I have some hope for a M4 177 with JSB 7.3 grains. I recently found a US made Powermaster 66 with the zinc receiver and gold trigger for 20 bucks in a pawn shop. A little rejuvenating with Pell-gun oil and we’ll see how she shoots. Multi pumps were the magnum airguns when I was a kid. Now if I could just find one with a really good trigger. The 66’s isn’t too bad, just a lot of first stage travel.


    • Brent, I think that you would be much better off with a Benjamin Discovery using high pressure air. There is always air available at the events or people who would let you fill on their tanks. At home, the Discovery is much easier to pump with a hand pump since it only fills to 2000 psi. Of course, the Discovery can also be run on C02. In hot weather CO2t might work OK, but I would stick with high pressure air.

      David Enoch



    • I kinda started one at the shop when I took my 618 in for a strip down an d relube, within a couple days I was going head to head with a Berman Marksman and a 880s which were both more accurate past 20yds.


  7. Aftermarket parts and support are claimed as assets for particular gun designs such as the AR rifle and Ruger 10/22, so that would explain the initial failure with CO2. What an interesting picture of a shooting event with only women! Maybe we’re not so far ahead in attempting to attract women shooters with pink guns. I’m reminded of my grandmother who participated in a bowling league. Perhaps they also had leagues for shooting galleries. There’s a story that the young John C. Garand was such an expert shot that he gathered a crowd at some fair where he hit targets without fail for hours, so there must have been quite a shooting culture. Who’s the employer mentioned in the caption of the photo? Crosman or somebody else? For an employer to install a shooting entertainment center for employees would rival even Google’s support system.

    And on the subject of CO2, I recently pulled out my Crosman 1077 which I have not used in years and fired off a couple of CO2 cartridges for a total of 120 shots (at 5 yards), and I had as much fun as with any of my other guns. Never underestimate your low-budget rifles. The only technical question I have about the powerplant is whether the large 88 gram cartridges are still popular. They offered a lot of potential when they came out, but Mike Melick told me that they tended to leak.

    Thanks for all the support and interest for my epic weekend of testing. I didn’t respond sooner because I spent an unprecedented two weekend days of furious testing. The short answer is that the M1 and a variety of other things were fabulously successful, but I didn’t get away without the usual drama.

    As a preamble, my new M1 gunsmith proves to be a most unusual person. As I might have reported, his diagnosis is that my jamming problems had nothing to do with any of my custom modifications but with an op rod spring that was installed backwards. This, he said, caused the spring to interfere with the follower and disturb the timing of the action. What was unusual about him is that he got into the business to provide better service than gunsmiths he had used to include a faster turnaround time. His promise was three weeks from receiving the job. It turns out that he was so eager to return my gun that he sent it back without even waiting for me to send the balance of payment. This is an airgunsmith level of generosity! The gun arrived last Thursday, so I got to work loading up ammo to test.

    As another indication of the glory awaiting me, I discovered, while reloading, a way to produce perfect ammunition! By using a spoon to add individual particles, I was able to get the right powder charge to 1/10 of a grain. But I was always distressed by the variation in my cartridge overall length. This was due to the flex in my reloading stand, and I figured that there was no solution. But, then I realized that by backing off the fine adjustment of the bullet seating die and making several passes with the most minute adjustments, I could get within 1/1000 inch. This had been mentioned to me by a blog reader long ago which I had never acted on. So, yes, Jan, one does ignore the blog wisdom at peril. For testing, I used 20 rounds of Greek surplus and 40 rounds consisting of two lots of different handloads. Jan, it seemed to me that surplus ammunition, of which I have a big supply, was at least as good as factory ammo since the M1 was designed for surplus. At the last minute Douglas MacArthur ordered the M1 to be chambered for 30-06 because of literally billions of rounds in that caliber in stock. So that seemed to be the best reference point, provided it was in good shape which it is. My handloads were with IMR 4064 mostly because I have a supply which needs to be used up. I also kept these loads as close as possible to the standard service load, and anyway, since I had the surplus as a reference, I would be able to tell how the ammunition affected the rifle.

    The rifle fired my ammo without difficulty. But just as I was dreaming ahead of adjustments to the gas system and different reloads, I jammed on round 57 of 60. Seeing the rear of that case sticking out of the action affected me like one of those horror movies where someone receives a phone call from a psychotic killer who has been missing and presumed dead. And it was a catastrophic jam. The round was partly in the chamber, so I had real difficulty pulling it out. And when it did, the case came loose, dumping the whole powder load into my action so that the bolt crunched as I worked it back and forth. The bullet was also lodged in the barrel, so I had to poke it out with a cleaning rod and then fish it out from the action. The remaining three rounds worked perfectly, but where did that leave me? Sending it back to the gunsmith was another significant expense. It made sense to test it further, but I wasn’t going to wait weeks for that. So, the only thing to do was to go out the next day.

    I was reminded of a novel where a villain is being hunted by a rival, and he finally charges into a final confrontation thinking that he had to resolve the issue or go mad. Back home, I loaded another 40 perfect rounds far into the night for a total of 57 works of cartridge art over the weekend. That was more exhausting than the shooting. The next day was anticlimactic. Not only did everything function perfectly, but the handloads were extremely accurate at 2 MOA.

    So, what to make of all this given the controversy of the gunsmiths? I think it’s like a scene in the movie Fiddler on the Roof which goes like this.

    Villager A: B is wrong.
    Villager B: A is wrong.
    Ref Tevyev: You’re both right.
    Villager C: Tevyev, they disagree with each other. They can’t both be right.
    Tevyev: You’re right too.

    Everyone is right. Clearly the op rod spring was the problem. Whether it was because it was installed backwards or not, I’m not in a position to say never having seen the inside of an M1, but it doesn’t really matter. I know where I’m sending this gun if I have future problems. On the other hand, I don’t believe this gunsmith entirely appreciated Clint’s adjustable gas system for which he had a number of objections. The gun is very accurate even without tuning to a specified load. I suspect that the principle behind the gas system design can be understood through airguns. There was a discussion awhile ago about the difference between the power system on the Air Force guns and the S410 series, which have an adjustment wheel, and the Marauder system which requires some disassembly. The Marauder system was criticized for inconvenience, but it serves a different purpose which is to fine tune a load rather than cause gross differences in pressure. Similarly, the common M1 gas systems seem designed to shoot hot commercial ammo or to save wear on the action by making large adjustments. But Clint’s system is more for refinement. And since I plan to use very specific loads for target practice, his system works for me.

    There are other insights about the M1 design generally. The disagreement among gunsmiths reminds me of the origins of the rifle when industry experts didn’t believe the M1 would work at all and then that it could not be mass-produced. And yet it was successful on both counts. Perhaps the genius of this design is such that even today experts don’t fully understand it. It’s like the scene from the Ironman movie.

    Villain: Why haven’t you recreated Stark’s arc reactor yet?
    Engineer: Well, actually it’s impossible.
    Villain: What do you mean impossible! Tony Stark built it in three days in a junkyard!!!
    Engineer: I’m not Tony Stark.

    On the other hand, one thing Garand did not do was make the rifle versatile for different ammunition loads. There was really no need with the billions of surplus rounds. But it is probably one of the great accomplishments of the AK system that it essentially does what the M1 does for any kind of ammunition and with the simplest of manufacturing techniques.

    Mike, I’m a great admirer of your Garand that never jams and shoots close to 1 MOA, but I bet I know the reason. Clint says on his website that in modifying his M1s, he made a conscious decision to tighten up the parts because his intended market of target shooters was not going to take the gun into combat. Right as far as I was concerned. So, I think I gave up a little reliability to have tight fitting parts. It’s not unlike the modern 1911s which are not quite as reliable as the loose-fitting G.I. versions with the army ammo. I suspect that my single jam was due to this similar to the way my S&W 1911 will jam very occasionally. And since this is not a frequent and systematic problem, I believe I can live with it. There is plenty of joy in that rifle otherwise. With the new op rod spring, there was an extra snap and efficiency in the rifle, and I could appreciate again the genius that oozes from every part of it. Folks, you all need to experience the M1 Garand!

    I also shot the Saiga again. I must admit when it came down to it, with all the other things going on, I didn’t have the heart to test out the 100 yard zeros. My previous 100 yard zero was 2 inches low at 25 yards, although again three shots went into one hole that was .3 CTC. I easily outshot the AR next to me run by a guy who didn’t look experienced as well as the Ruger Mini-30 by the guy who did. At 50 yards, I went up a few clicks to zero. No such thing as a fair fight. At 100 yards, I just needed a couple more clicks. There were plenty of 3 shot strings inside of an inch, so by the standards of some gun magazines, this would be a 1 MOA rifle. With 5 shots, it was a little hard to tell with my shot pattern, but I am confident that this gun is inside of 2 MOA with the Hornady SST ammo. So, how does this compare to the Larry Vickers standard that 10 shots inside of 2.5 inches at 100 yards is the highest level of combat accuracy? I didn’t test directly but with our extrapolations of 3 and 5 shot groups to 10 shots, I believe this gun qualifies!

    And I believe it can do better. The Saiga reminded of nothing so much as the IZH 61; no surprise since they were made in the same place. Jerry Miculek talks about the violence of the AK action which I could see. This is a distraction, but it is a lot like a spring gun and can be overcome with the same follow-through techniques. Since most shooters are not airgunners, I could see how they would be put off by the AK recoil. But I think with the right technique, the gun could surprise you. It won’t keep up with first-rate tuned ARs but it will be indistinguishable from any other AR.

    Jan as for Chairgun, I don’t disagree that it works. I used a number of ballistic charts to zero my AK, and I have no doubt that the people behind Chairgun can do the math way better than I can by hand. My questions were more about the application. I wondered whether it was possible to gather data on all the variables to make Chairgun more accurate than rough estimation. Apparently you can with technology that I was not aware of. And I wondered at the value of it at my shooting range which is almost a laboratory with a maximum 100 yard range screened by trees. If one were hunting or shooting in more varied terrain, I would say that Chairgun is indispensable, and Buldawg has already shown that it really does work. But I also am interested in the principle as a goal of the shooting experience rather than any particular result. Regarding the role of scope height over bore, I am convinced that this does play a factor in establishing zero and also in adjusting between distances. How much is not that important for me now. Having established my zero for the AK, I will damned sure keep it set, and my focus now is on my shooting technique.

    Speaking of which, I finally zeroed all my pistols at 25 yards. Once I did, I found out that my groups were larger than I thought, but at least they are on paper. I also put in time with my bows and arrows. My recreation of the English longbow technique is coming along. By pausing at the full draw instead of a continuous motion, I am now on target at 20 yards. While archery is much less accurate than guns, the reliance of the the traditional bows on the subconscious actually seems to evoke more of the Jaws of the Subconscious which is one of my major satisfactions in shooting. Equipment is less of a concern when I reach this state where just for a split second, I know that I must be on a level with a world champion. Chomp. And when I wasn’t shooting arrows, I was firing stones from my David and Goliath sling. I kind of went nuts over the weekend. There are too many ways to have fun. It’s just a question of what to choose.

    Regarding the maneuverable muscle cars, Buldawg, you obviously don’t risk your life only with motorcycles. Driving almost 100 mph along a twisting riverbank at night!? Stephen Hunter writes about a guy doing something like that and makes him sound like he is on the verge of death. The question for me is what kind of engineering does it take to allow a muscle car to turn like a rear sports car. Changes to the chassis and suspension sound like factory level modifications that either can’t be done or convert the car into something completely different. On the other hand, the new Mustang GT350R which attracted my attention apparently makes use of a “track package” so perhaps smaller tweaking is enough.

    Matt61



    • Matt61
      My life’s philosophy is that we only have one life to live and I believe that the Lord has our day on this earth preordained in that when it is our time he will come for us and nothing we do until that day will change that so I have always lived life to the fullest and as some would believe risking it most everyday in my younger years and I will not deny that as I have never been one to deny I am a little crazy or not playing with a full deck so to speak.

      I would rather die doing what I love than to sit back and die in regret because I did not do something I wanted to do just because it may kill me as I have had many incidents on bikes and in cars that I should not have survived but yet I am still here. Whether that is because of my experience or skill in what I have done or the fact that the Lord is not ready for me or my day has yet to come I will not know until I meet him on that day. But life is very short so live everyday like its your last as you never know when it will be.

      There is no greater high in this world than the rush of adrenalin you get when you push the limits past the edge of what is thought to be possible and live to do it again. I am older now in that I still want to do those risky things for the adrenalin high you get but my mind and body just do not agree and therefore limit what I can do or if I do it anyway I pay the price of days in pain and agony but still for that fleeting moments there is no pain but only that rush you get from pushing the limit past the edge of sanity.

      It is not that difficult to tune factory suspension on an old muscle car to perform at the true sports car levels for a reasonable amount of money as all the money in the world does not a driver make so while a 1.000.000 dollar car will indeed be easier to go fast in, it does not guarantee you can beat a 50,000 dollar car if you are not a competent driver. The 71 dodge challenger that we raced on the river road was bone stock from the factory with no modification to anything on the car.

      Besides Max Buchowski and his Old Yeller junkyard built car Carroll Shelby did the same thing in 64 to 67 with his AC cobras which were a British A.C.E. sports car chassis much like an MG or Triumph that he partnered with Ford to put their 289 V8 in to replace the cars 4 cylinder engine to go race in the 24 hours of Lemans against the high end European and Italian cars. he finished quite well in his first year in 64 as he was still sorting out the cars handling and tuning and in 66 and 67 when he replaced the 289 with Fords famous 427 side oiler he won the 24 hours of lemans against the high end cars. When Ford asked him to help them develop the Shelby Mustangs he told them he wanted nothing to do with the program as he was only interested in racing his AC cobras so they forced him into helping them by threating to withhold supplying him with anymore engines for his race cars. If he was not so dedicated to his racing the Shelby Mustangs would not have come to fruition so once again good old fashioned American muscle cars did and still do perform as well if not better than the high end sports cars and corvette is another prime example as they repeatedly beat Porsche, Ferrari and several other cars in the now TUDOR Sports car challenge that races here in the states with the 24 hours of Daytona and the 12 hours of Sebring which has been being raced since 1952 on an old WWII fighter plane base in Sebring, Florida as well as the 24 hours of Lemans.

      BD


  8. BB,
    I wish you could do a full blog on the Giffard rifles and pistols. A Giffard rifle is on my wish list. The ones I have seen have been beautifully engraved and knurled and nickled. There was a post on the Yellow a couple of years ago where a guy built a regulated high pressure air cylinder for his Giffard. His rifle was extremely accurate.

    David Enoch


  9. BB and all,

    Is it still possible to get a bad 12g cartridge?

    On Sunday, the first cartridge in my 2400 shot all over the place and did not last very long (about 20 shots). I could not hear a leak and the gun didn’t get cold so I don’t believe I had a slow leak. The next several cartridges seemed to work fine (I got my usual shot count of 50 or so.) and was accurate.

    Jim



  10. BB- Jim—I have weighed a few co2 cartridges before and after using them . I found that the amount of co2 varies, some had 13 grams and a few had 10-11 grams. I reported my results about a year ago. BB, Re your use of co2 cartridges, you seem to have a habit of discarding them before the co2 is exhausted, to avoid getting a pellet stuck in the barrel . So you would not encounter this problem Some of our fellow bloggers are determined to get every last possible shot before discarding the cylinder. This is called the Jack Benny syndrome. We are the ones who find that an occasional cartridge gives us fewer shots. I buy most of my co2 cartridges at gun shows. When I first encountered this problem, I wondered if the dealer was selling factory seconds. I bought new co2 cylinders from several stores, and found the same problem . I also remember that you were getting reject cartridges from Crosman, and that you used them in some of your tests. So my answer to Jim is yes, you can get a cartridge with less than 12 grams of co2 ( and fewer shots) . Ed


  11. You forgot to mention the 1953 Hahn 45 CO2 B.B. gun.

    I’ve got one of these and will post a picture of it sometime if there’s a place here on the site to do that.

    Personally, I love my Hahn 45! 🙂


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