by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The history of airguns

This report covers:

    • Airgun shows
    • Lesson 1. Attend airgun shows
    • Lesson 2. Get a Blue Book
    • Lesson 3. Read this blog — and use it!
    • Lesson 4. Recognize when opportunity knocks
    • That’s how it’s done

A tip of the hat to the Joker, who asked today’s title question about Batman. Reader Kevin Wilmeth asked this last week, “Incidentally, I’d love to see an article some day on exactly how you do get access to the guns you do. Somehow I think I’d find that illuminating.”

Kevin — today is the day! I hope you find my report as interesting as you thought it would be.

Airgun shows

When I started out writing about airguns in 1993 — the year before we launched The Airgun Letter — I attended the second airgun show held at Winston Salem, North Carolina. I was an unknown who was trying to promote a newsletter about airguns. The big questions were — who is Tom Gaylord and what does he know about airguns? But that’s for another report. Today we are discussing where I get my airguns.

The show opened my eyes in a major way. I saw airguns I never heard of before, plus those guns I saw in articles but had never seen in person. In that respect, I was a newbie. But they held an auction at the end of the show and people were bidding on guns that had been put up by various dealers. They couldn’t sell these guns and so used the auction as a means of moving them.

One gun that came up was a Hakim trainer. That was an airgun I knew a lot about. I owned 5 of them at the time and had fixed them all, so I knew there wasn’t much about a Hakim that I couldn’t fix. Even if it was missing key parts, I figured my $75 winning bid got me more than I paid for.

Lesson 1. Attend airgun shows

You may know very little about airguns, but you will almost certainly see something at every show that will interest you. Just ask our reader Reb, who has been giving us a running dialog of the guns that came from his huge box purchase at the 2015 Texas airgun show.

I drove about 375 miles to get to Winston Salem and I spent two nights in a motel once I got there. Sure that was an expense, but I needed to promote my newsletter. What I didn’t realize at the time was I was making important contacts and learning about airguns at the same time. I bought my Hy Score 807 (Diana 27) at that show and have written about that gun dozens of times over the past 22 years. That first show really launched me in the airgun world, and I know the same will hold true for you.

Lesson 2. Get a Blue Book

I understand when someone finds an old pellet gun in their grandfather’s closet they don’t necessarily want to become an airgun collector. They just want to know what they have and usually how much it’s worth and where to sell it. But when a person claims to be intersted in airguns and won’t spend the money for a Blue Book of Airguns — that’s false economy!

I hear all kinds of complaints that some of the information in the Blue Book is incorrect and that the prices are either inflated or undervalued. The latter always depends on whether the complainer owns the particular airgun. But none of that matters!

I find professional football boring — to the nth degree. And I played footbal in high school for a short time! But I do watch the Superbowl. I watch it for the commercials like the majority of viewers, but I will admit that the game is also quite interesting. The Blue Book of Airguns is the Superbowl for airgunners. If you can’t get to an airgun show, it’s the next best thing.

Because of the Blue Book I knew about the Benyamin multi-pump gun. So, when one appeared at an airgun show I bought it. I showed it to you in this blog. I also sold that rifle after I was finished looking at it, and the Blue Book helped me there, too.

Lesson 3. Read this blog — and use it!

A lot of people read this blog — way more than comment on it. We have over 27,000 valid readers and that number is growing all the time. Let me tell you how this blog can help you with airguns. There is a search box at the right of the page near the top. If you enter things you are looking for in that box and hit the Go button beneath it, you can search almost 2,800 blogs I have written since 2005.

But if you don’t find it that way, enter your question into the address bar of your favorite search engine and hit enter. Most of my reports at located at the top or very near the top of the airgun subjects. For example, let’s enter Haenel BB gun into a Firefox address bar and see what we get.

When the results come up there are 633,000 results and my report is the 8th one down from the top. Some of those at the very top have paid to be there and can’t be displaced. This will happen for the majority of airgun topics you research.

But today’s report is not about doing research on the internet. It’s about where I get my airguns. A little over a month ago I was asked a question by a blog reader about where to buy a good used 10-meter air pistol. I looked at the Yellow Forum Classified Ads and found nothing, but on the American Airgun Classified Ads I found a nice FWB Modell 2 for sale. I gave the link to the reader who asked for it and got the usual, “Thanks, but I want to look around a while longer.” That really means the person isn’t interested in that gun. But I was. The price was very good, so I made a deal with the owner, Carel, in the Netherlands, and today the gun is in my office.

To do this transaction I had to do three things:

1. Search the internet.
2. Contact the seller and close the deal, and
3. Learn how to send money to the Netherlands.

Oh, yes, there is a number 4, as well. I had to trust the other person, whom I did not know. I’m not telling any of you do do this, but Kevin asked me how I get the guns I test, and this is part of the answer.

Have I ever been fooled by a person when dealing this way? Certainly I have. It goes with the territory. Don’t send your rent money for a deal that’s too good to pass up. But don’t hide under a rock, either. I know some people even have a problem dealing with online stores like Pyramyd Air, to say nothing of trusting private parties. I can’t change that — nor do I want to. I’m just telling you how I do it.

Are you going to see that FWB target pistol in the future? You can bet on it!

Lesson 4. Recognize when opportunity knocks

When I started out nobody knew who I was and I had to muck around, looking for airgun deals like everyone else. In fact, I still do. But because of what I do, people come to me from time to time. A couple weeks ago a guy I know emailed me about a Haenel model 100 BB pistol. He makes knives and someone was offering the pistol as partial payment for a knife. So he asked me the price.

I used the Blue Book (where have I heard that, before?) to determine a range of prices and then I told him the pistol would be very difficult to sell because most people would not know what it was. But I wanted it for several reasons. It was a gun I could write about several ways in several different publications. And when I was done with it, I could sell it and get my money back.

That’s how it’s done

That, Kevin, is another way I get the guns I write about. I recognize when opportunity is knocking, and I answer the door.

I could go on with more stories, but if you are reader you have already heard most of them.

The Falke 90 — airgun show

The straight grip Webley Senior — gun show

An FWB 124 — pawn shop and pawn shop (yes, there were 2) and an airgun repair shop (he fixed Crosmans and didn’t want springers)

A Gamo XP-68 — an airgun show and another at a pawn shop

In short, I have found numerous ways of finding and getting vintage airguns. I’m always on the watch, and it pays off!