Crosman 150: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman 150

Crosman’s 150 looks plain and simple, but was a pivotal airgun.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Crosman 150
  • CO2
  • Benjamin 250
  • The birth of the 12-gram CO2 cartridge
  • Description
  • CO2 Powerlets leaked
  • More on the pistol
  • Test gun

Crosman 150

Today we begin looking at one of the most important air pistols ever invented — the Crosman 150. It was introduced in 1954 and had a 13-year run to 1967. The 150 is a .22 caliber single shot air pistol that has the same look and feel of Crosman’s earlier CO2 and pneumatic pistols dating back to the late 1940s. There was also a model 157, which was the same gun in .177 caliber. That caliber wasn’t as popular as .22 when the 150 was selling, so there are fewer of them around today. But that gun is identical in all ways to the 150, other than the color of the grip panels. When new the 150 was usually offered with dark brown panels and 157s were a mottled white. Over the years swaps have been made until today it is impossible to say whether the grips on a particular gun are original or not. The 150’s pistol grip is especially of interest as it has endured until today, in an unbroken line of more than 60 years! They got the grip angle right from the start and were wise to never change it. In fact, it is that grip that our guest blogger, Jack Cooper, keyed on when he selected the Crosman 2240 pistol for his pupil, Jill, to train with.

CO2

The 150 is powered by CO2, which was not new when the pistol came out. Crosman had been making CO2 guns since the early 1930s, along with the Benjamin Air Rifle Company that was a separate entity in those days. But CO2 as an airgun power source was already more than a half-century old when these two first started using it. Giffard first offered CO2 pistols and rifles way back in the 1870s. Giffard guns used bulk gas that was filled into rechargable tanks that then charged the guns when they were attached. It was Benjamin who first used separate CO2 “Sparklets” in their guns. Sparklets were a brand of CO2 cartridge that were popular in seltzer bottles that were quite popular from the late 1920s through the 1950s. They were a one-time use item, and when their 8 grams of liquid carbon dioxide was exhausted, the metal cartridges were thrown away.

Benjamin 250

Yes, I said Benjamin! Please keep the model numbers and company names straight as you follow this story. The Benjamin 250 was a smoothbore (BBs, pellets and darts) air pistol that used an 8-gram CO2 cartridge for power. It came to market in 1952 and was followed a year later by the rifled .177 caliber 257 and the .22 caliber 252. This may not have been the first use of a CO2 cartridge in an airgun, though. The Schimel AP-22 single shot pistol that looks like a Luger may have proceeded it by almost a full year. And other companies were bringing out different airguns that used the 8-gram cartridges at the same time as Benjamin. A lot more research needs to be done to sort out who was actually first in this arena. Benjamin had better distribution than any of the others, however, and they prevailed. So, for about 2 years, the 8-gram CO2 cartridge was the only game in town. Then came the Crosman 150.

The birth of the 12-gram CO2 cartridge

Crosman had the idea of using 12-gram CO2 cartridges — giving their guns 50 percent more gas each time they were installed. They didn’t invent this size. Twelve gram cartridges were simply one of many different smaller sizes of disposable cartridges on the market at this time (1954). Their existing CO2 pistols were the models 115 (.177 caliber) and 116 (.22 caliber) that were bulk-filled with gas from a separate gas cylinder. The model 150 (now we are talking about the Crosman 150 — a different gun than the Benjamin 250) was the first airgun offered by the company that used CO2 cartridges of any kind. And the 12-gram cartridges they used had 50 percent more gas per cartridge, meaning more shots or greater power or both. Now let’s take a look at the gun.

Description

The 150 is a medium-sized air pistol. The one I am testing measures about 9.5 inches overall, with a 6-inch rifled .22 caliber barrel. There are 3 main variations, with the first two having their barrels separate from the breech or action (where the bolt is housed). The first type has adjustable power (two power settings) that’s controlled when the gun is cocked. The second version of this type is similar to the first (separate receiver/breech and barrel) but does not have two power settings. These two types of the gun are not common, having only been produced in the first two years of the run. The one-piece barrel and breech that I am testing for you is far more common. It was made from 1956 through the end of the run in 1967. The gun uses a single 12-gram CO2 cartridge that’s inserted into the muzzle end of the gas tank (beneath the barrel). And let me clarify something now. Crosman referred to the cartridge as a Powerlet for a great many years, and they said it contained 12.5 grams of liquid, which it probably did back in the day. Today 12 grams is all you encounter. So 12-gram and 12.5-gram — same, same.

Crosman 150 first CO2 box

Here is the thousand-word picture. This box was made for sale in the 1970s. Notice the cartridge inside still has the crimped bottlecap closure that leaked so bad. Also note the writing on the box says this cartridge holds 12 grams of CO2.

Crosman 150 second CO2 box T

his box of Powerlets from the 1960s says the cartridges hold 12.5 grams of CO2. These are sealed with bottlecaps, also.

CO2 Powerlets leaked

The early CO2 Powerlets made by Crosman were sealed with a “bottlecap” seal that allowed a large amount of leakage. They were so nortorious they gave the whole CO2 gun market a black eye for many decades. Once they abandoned the bottlecap design for a welded tip, CO2 leaks were greatly reduced.

More on the pistol

The pistol is made of blued steel with a black painted aluminum grip frame and two-piece plastic wraparound grip panels. It weighs 1 lb. 13 oz and sports crisp adjustable sights. Over the years the sights changed from metal to plastic, but the front sight was always a wide rectangular post and the rear notch adjusted horizontally by sliding the unit side to side. Some rear sights have vertical adjustment, but most do not, including the one on the test gun. The trigger is simple like all Crosman pistol triggers of the era. But aftermarket tuners have found ways to tighten the movement of the sear and get crisper results than were put in at the factory.

Power and accuracy

The 150 is known to be a pretty powerful air pistol. Naturally I will chronograph it for you in both power modes — low and high. This is also an accurate airgun, though the accuracy will vary depending on the barrel. Some guns will be very accurate and others only modestly so.

Test gun

The gun I’m testing is one I bought many years ago at an airgun show. It was a leaker that I bought to perhaps show how to reseal the mechanism. But several years ago I used Automatic Transmission Sealant on a CO2 cartridge before piercing, and the pistol has been holding ever since. It even held for over one year between the time I installed the last cartridge and the beginning of this test!

Crosman 150 test gun

The test gun is not pretty. You need a tetanus shot just to look at it.

This will be the gun upon which I base the test. The barrel looks to be rifled well, so don’t let the poor looks fool you. This is probably still a fine air pistol.

42 thoughts on “Crosman 150: Part 1


    • Hi all.

      Just discovered this thread after taking my dad’s 150 out to the desert for some shooting and encountering a disintegrating O-ring in the cap of the gas compartment. There went the CO2!

      So I found a replacement set of seals online, and also decided to look for a replacement rear sight. A minor impact a few years ago broke the top off of it, which appears to be a very common occurrence. It seems to be crappy pot metal. Is there some other rear sight that will fit the 150?

      Also, I’ve noticed that the gun appears to be manufactured defectively: The barrel is askew on top of the CO2-cartridge compartment. Looking at the gun from the back, the barrel is clearly not directly above the handle; it’s off to the right. Anyone else see something like this?

      Gavin



  1. Okay? I tryed to log in on my lap top? No go! So I’m back on my old worn out computer! I don’t know about the Benjamin 150 or the Benjamin 250? But! I do know that my Crosman 157 is a 2 power and looks like yours except I have metal sights front and back! Same grips! And it is very accurate with a lot of power! I have got as many as 81 shots 12 gram CO2 that went thru the paper! Shot 82 bounced off the paper and then was gone! Empty! Yes it feels great! I think there were two modes 150’s and two models of 157! I think the sights were the only difference? At least that is what I have read! Dennis Baker has both on his website for sale. Around $200.00 bucks? For what it maybe worth? Semper fi!


  2. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I think the test pistol looks great and at first glance at the top photo without reading any text I thought, great, another test of a old Webley. If I sawed about 2 ” off the barrel of my 2240 and then compared it to my Webley Tempest, the 2 pistols would look very similar. To the naked eye the grip angle on the two pistols looks identical. I need a new breech seal for my Tempest. Anyone have any ideas where to get one that will fit. Thanks BB for the interesting presentation of the old Crosman.


    • K7uqshooter,
      Pyramydair sells breech seals for your Webley Tempest. Look for
      Air Venturi Breech Seal, Fits Beeman-Webley Hurricane & Tempest Air Pistols
      $6.95!

      Best Wishes,
      Flintrocker


      • Hi Flintrocker
        Thank you for your reply. I tried one of the seals you mentioned. The outer diameter was too large to fit in the Tempest. I tried trimming it down and ruined it. Recently I ordered one from a gun store in Scotland. Wish me luck “grin”
        Harvey


        • Hi K7uqshooter,

          Ah, I have one of the seals, but I haven’t tried to fit it yet, I just bought it as an “in case” spare. I have one of the newer Turkish-manufactured Tempests, kicking myself that I ever sold my old English-made one. Based on your experience, I’m guessing the Air Venturi seals fit one or the other version. Do you have an English-mad one?

          I will be in Edinburgh in June, but only for one day. Probably not long enough to look up an airgun dealer, or else I would offer to import a seal for you. Good luck with your Scottish order, seems crazy to send a little bit of rubber halfway around the world, but we’ll do anything for our airguns!
          Mike


          • Hello again Mike,
            My Tempest is .22 caliber made in Turkey also. I did a online search for Webley Tempest breeth seals and found one at Chanmbers Gunmakers. It will be sent to me air mail so should get it soon. They had 2 different types listed so I ordered the one for modern Tempests. Best wishes
            Harvey




  3. B.B.

    What a walk down memory lane, those darn leaky CO2 cartridges! Never really have considered CO2 a good power source since….
    What makes the grip angle so good, or more importantly, why doesn’t everyone copy it!

    Thanks,
    -Y




    • Erockrocket,

      The 150 was never sold in the UK, because CO2 guns were considered firearms during its day. But I imagine they did travel a bit.

      After the UK relaxed the CO2 ban, thousands of American guns went that way.

      B.B.


  4. The Crosman 150 would be one of my favorite pistols if it wasn’t so loud. I have owned both the 150 and 157. The most accurate one I ever had was an old beat-up Ted Williams model with a broken grip that I bought from a pawn shop. From what I know now, I should have kept that one. (Don’t sell exceptionally accurate airguns). I have read that the Ted Williams model had a better barrels and I have read that the Ted Williams models had the same barrel as the standard model.

    If I ever own a 150 again I will probably look for an old gun with a removable barrel and try to install a little longer barrel so that I can install a muzzle brake on it.

    One last comment, I like the guns with two power levels I have a Crosman 180 and Crosman Mk2. I usually shoot both of those on low power. I get more shots and the gun is quieter on low power. It doesn’t seem to make a difference in power.

    David Enoch


  5. B.B.,

    I would be very reluctant ever to part with my Crosman 157 (no doubt with 150 grips put on them — they’re black).

    It is one of those pistols that feels just perfect in the hand in every respect. The contours of the grip — and I’m a lefty — the perfect balance, everything is just so . . . right. And man does its heft convey a sense of confidence. It is SOLID.

    I bought mine online very cheaply because it was a “quick leaker” that “needed new seals.” But thanks to your advice, I simply drowned the seal and valve in Pellgunoil before I installed a CO2 cartridge. Pfffffft. Then I did it again, blasting even more pellgunoil into the works. This time, no Pffft. Last I checked it still holds CO2 indefinitely.

    It is a pleasure to shoot, but I find that like you with your Webley, often it is enough to simply take it out and handle it for a few minutes to appreciate its rugged build and simple design.

    Michael


  6. For anyone interested,

    I just recently got into tin can plinking this year. Having the TX and LGU, both in .22, I set out painted cans at various distances, the furthest being 70 yards. At 70 yds, there is a small 6 oz. can and a 15 oz. std. veggie can. Hitting the cans more often than not…, and punching both sides with 15.89 JSB’s,… I decided to see what kind of grouping I was getting with both rifles.

    3″ bulls, 15.89 JSB’s, the TX did 10/10 at 2 1/8″ and 8/10 at 1 3/4″. The LGU did 8/10 at 2 3/8″. My steady today was far from my best and I am sure others could do better. Still, it was nice to confirm why I was getting a 80-90% hit rate and nice to see what the rifles would do at 70 yds.,.. something that they are not really meant to do.

    Hold over was 2 mil-dot on the TX and 4 mil-dot on the LGU, both set at 7 magnification.


  7. BB–Now that spring is here, I will have guests and family shooting my pellet rifles and pistols at my outdoor 10M range. When they leave, I will have 4 or more rifles and revolvers still containing co2. Besides shooting them until empty, what is the fastest (and safest for the guns) way to dump the remaining co2? I do not like to store my guns loaded. Ed


    • Ed,

      I have been pondering your dilemma for some time,.. and have come up with 2 “alternative” solutions.

      1) Invite more people over. Being a shooter is a prerequisite to getting on the “extended” invite list.

      2) Throw some fine meat on the grill and tell everyone that there will be no eating until the CO2 is exhausted.

      Your meat,… and lead bill may go up,… but problem solved! Hey,…I did not say it was perfect,… but it is plan! 😉

      Chris


  8. Zimbabweed,

    The quickest way to dump the remaining CO2 is to loosen the cartridge like you are changing it. There will be a “whoosh” (very cold, keep your fingers out of the way).

    I often store CO2 guns with a fresh cartridge in them, but the cartridge not pierced.

    Les



  9. BB, maybe that’s a common saying somewhere that I just haven’t run into, but “you need a tetanus shot just to look at it” is an unfamiliar phrase to me-and totally cracked me up. I mean, those are words with impact. Just thought I’d let you know.
    Rob


  10. Kevin, I gave a twenty dollar bill for my Crosman Model 157! I spent a little elbow time with some “super quick clean guns” cleaner? And I wouldn’t take anything for it! NOW? Remember B.B. talking about gun shows and Airgun shows? Well? Don’t second guess any show? You may find something you don’t expect! My Crosman 157 was listed as a BB gun that did not work! Yeah! Semper fi!


  11. Hello, All
    This might be interesting to some….but I’d actually like to know who can service an older 150.

    I have an air pistol-delivered medication Crosman 150.

    AKA: Tranquilizer pistol

    Here is a link to imagur for the pictures of it: https://imgur.com/a/Zyp2H

    Best, Fat Head Carl


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