Home โ€บ Blog โ€บ 
Competition โ€บ The Gallagher steam trebouchet

The Gallagher steam trebouchet

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • An airgun from the American Civil War
  • Modernizing the trebouchet
  • Using horsepower for weight
  • Lighter, faster and more powerful
  • President Lincoln
  • Success in the field
  • Steam trebouchet lives on
  • Steam, not air
  • Final thought

An airgun from the American Civil War

Today we will learn about an airgun that no longer exists, yet was, for a brief moment in history, considered to be an ultra modern and deadly weapon of war. During the American Civil War both sides pressed for the latest technology, in the hopes of overcoming their enemy and bringing a swift end to the war. The South sought ways to make large quantities of arms cheaper yet just as good as those made by Colt and the Springfield Armory, while the North looked for technology to overcome their early shortfall in trained foot soldiers who could shoot. Both sides were keen to try anything new if they thought it stood a chance of succeeding.

Into this environment in the year 1862 came Obadiah Gallagher. Gallagher owned and operated a lumber mill in New Hampshire, but was a mechanic and inventor at heart. His mill operation included a steam engine that was one of the most modern on the entire eastern seaboard. He used it to power the mill equipment, most specifically a large rip saw, several smaller saws and several conveyers. That engine was his pride and joy, and, when the war started, he wondered how he could use it to help the North.

Modernizing the trebouchet

Long a student of history, Gallagher had what was considered at the time to be an extensive library on the art of war. His books included detailed drawings of the engines of war — most importantly the large siege engines of the middle ages. The germ of an idea formed in his mind that if a field army could use machine power to replace the heavy weights used in the siege engines, a highly portable weapon of great power and range could be constructed.

His reasoning went like this. A trebouchet uses a heavy weight (often several tons) and a long lever to sling a heavy projectile over a long distance. The projectiles are typically around 500 pounds and can be rocks, dead animal carcasses and even incendiary devices.

Using horsepower for weight

The heavy weight powers the long lever by gravity, so the heavier it is the more powerful the trebouchet will be. What if, instead of the heavy weight, a powerful pulling force were substituted? The force applied to the lever would be the same as a very heavy weight, so the results would also be the same, yet the heavy weight would not be necessary so the device could be made much smaller and lighter. Instead of taking days to erect the siege engine on site, a steam-powered trebouchet could go up in hours! It would also be easier to reposition between shots.

Once the medieval trebouchet was operational, each subsequent shot took a long time to set up because everything was done by either human or animal power. It took several minutes to cock and load for a single shot.

Lighter, faster and more powerful

The steam powered trebouchet changed all of that. Even though it was both larger and far stronger, it was a third of the weight of the conventional device. It also had twice the power and could fire shots as fast as one per minute. With twice the power at their fingertips, commanders in the field could choose to launch a standard 500-lb. projectile much farther (up to one mile, it was claimed) or launch much heavier projectiles to the standard trebouchet distance of 200-400 yards. Accuracy was not great, but a 500 lb. explosive shell has a large burst radius.

President Lincoln

Gallagher convinced some men in his community to invest in the development of his war machine that took surprisingly few months to complete. By August of 1862 he was ready for a field demonstration. That was held in Washington, and President Lincoln was one of the famous witnesses. Gallagher and his crew of 7 men launched 12 projectiles weighing 500 lbs. each at a stationary target shed 700 yards distant in 15 minutes. Three of the projectiles hit the target directly and 6 more hit it after striking the earth and rolling. The last projectile was stuffed with blasting powder and a timed fuse that caused major impact damage and set fire to the target structure — destroying it completely.

After witnessing the capability of Galligher’s steam-powered trebouchet, the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, authorized a field test of the device and provided a colonelcy for Gallagher in the Union Army. He was in command of the only trebouchet battery ever assigned to the United States Army.

Success in the field

The trebouchet was used in several smaller battles during the war. Field commanders reported it gave them additional range with major destructive power. Their conventional artillery pieces could not duplicate the effects of the far heavier and often explosive trebouchet projectiles. In fact the device was such a threat that the South tried three different times to destroy it. They were successful in their final attempt and the Gallagher steam trebouchet was never rebuilt. Col. Gallagher was injured in the attack and lost his left leg below the knee to a field surgeon. After a lengthy recovery he returned to his lumber mill, where he continued working until the day he died, January 19th, 1896. For his contribution to the war and for his service, Col. Gallagher was awarded the Purple Heart and a Presidential Commendation, signed by Abraham Lincoln.

Steam trebouchet lives on

As an aside, the upright iron stanchions of the Gallagher steam trebouchet were not severely damaged in the attack, and Gallagher had them shipped back home at his own expense. He kept them in his lumber yard for several decades before selling them to George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., who used them to construct the world’s first Ferris wheel for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Ferris wheel
First Ferris wheel, Chicago Columbian Exposition. Photo taken by the Waterman Co., Chicago, IL, 1893.

Steam, not air

Of course a steam engine is not run on air power. It is a form of engine that operates on external combustion. But live steam and compressed air are closely associated, which is why I selected it for this report.

Final thought

As a parting thought for this piece of airgun history, happy April first!

104 thoughts on “The Gallagher steam trebouchet”

  1. BB,

    Great yarn! I have been looking forward to this year’s All Fool’s Day blog for days now. It is nice to not take the world so seriously now and then.

  2. When I saw the title my first thought was Tom is on some good pain meds for the kidney stones, and skipped spell check.

    Then when I got into the story I got to thinking I haven’t heard of this, then remembered its April 1st.

    Yes it’s a good one.
    Have a great weekend.

  3. B.B.
    You got me, as well as others! Well done…..

    Civil War was a test bed of “new military” thinking. The German’s sent observers so they could see how to do it better.

    Happy April Fools and glad that you must be feeling better.


  4. Tom, you completely got me, I even popped out to goggle the darn thing before finishing the story and was surprised when the first two results were from the blog…sheesh!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Kevin in CT

  5. B.B.
    Got me again. Right to the very end I was trying to figure out the mechanics of it using steam.
    Serves me right. I was the one to tell you to kick back, relax and dream. And you sure dreamed up a good one.
    Great writing.


  6. B.B.

    So you can still shovel it ?

    You could have pulled a fast one if you had posted a legitimate blog today . Those of us expecting the usual april 1 blog would have been baffled .


  7. Good one, B.B.!

    I have a lot of books on the weapons used in that war, so I was like, “How did I not know about this?”

    The jokes on me *lol* But it made my day; keep up the good work!

    take care & God bless,

  8. What about the edible pellets. What ever happened to them? I guess to many people ate them up before they had a chance to shoot them and review them. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I was trying to search them on the PA site but couldn’t find them. But did run across these. Maybe people shooting the Gamo whamo blaster pellets would love this stuff. Who knows maybe it would help those people that are always looking for another 50 fps out of their guns too. ๐Ÿ˜‰


    • Here we go. Found them.


      And this was a good one.

        • BB
          There was a April fools blog done about them if I remember right but can’t find it for some reason. And I believe we talked about Edith having something to do with it. And something about shooting glasses one time if I remember too that was related to April fools.

      • GF1,

        Mmmmm,…… did we (all) just not talk about this? Cute, yes,…… but 5 of 6 of those pics. would get that guy with some REAL guns “pointing” at him in no short order, and possibly worse!

        I am sorry,…. real people with pellet/airsoft/bb guns have been shot dead because a Police officer could not tell the difference. Did they drop it,…. no. Were they stupid,….. yes.

        Come on P.A.,……. I can take joke as good as anyone, but really? I had thought that a little more serious was the “take away” from the recent discussion(s).

        • P.A.,

          As for suggestions,…… a Daisy 880 sighted in at 100 yds. that will get .250″ groups. Polished triggers that break at 1#. Tuned valve to boost the FPS another 300 fps., etc., etc., etc.,……. Scoped, lasered and dot sighted,….all in one,….. aka,……”Tri-Mounted” sighting system,…………

      • GF1,

        Sorry on the “rant”. It was (not) aimed at you. After the recent “survey”, comments and ensuing thoughts,…. I guess the “Joke” just hit me wrong. I know where you stand on all things air guns and firearms.

        • Chris USA
          You do know my thoughts by now on gun handling I would think.

          But not sure what your talking about or ranting about.

          The 50 for 50 joke? Those pictures?

          • GF1,

            Yup those,… VERY small kids in a room with an air gun,…Pellet gun at the D.M.V,….. Pellet gun at a hospital,……… Pellet gun at a marathon,……. Pellet gun in a court room,……. yea,….. “those” pics.

            And yes,….. I do know and respect your thoughts on gun handling of all types.

            • Chris USA
              Yep pictures are out of place aren’t they.

              And I did leave my comment pretty open to Jim didn’t I about “Just checked it out.”

              Now your going to make me start being more specific. And I really hate being specific. Being specific makes you think.

              But really and I’m being specific. It did make me laugh. Ok more specific. The words they wrote. And more specific. The lawyer disclaimer. The pictures ok more specific. A little off the wall.

              And April 1st only comes once a year. To be specific. Maybe that’s a good thing.

              You tired of me being specific yet? :0

              • GF1,

                Yup,… the words and the disclaimer,…..all good,……. BUT,…… I will side with Vana2 and say that I am trying to spread the word on airguns and am usually met with laughs and sneers, with few exceptions.

                Most of all, “Val’s” recent step in for B.B.,……which I really appreciated,… and subsequent survey,…..and comments,….which was good,….. I had hoped would have yielded a different approach.

                Yes, a joke is a joke,….. no problem. For those in the know, that is what it is,…… for those that are not,….well?

                Hard week and busy tomorrow,….. outa’ here,….. later,….. Chris

                • Chris USA
                  Yep done my fair share of spreading the air gun word for sure.

                  But here is something to think about. If you took each one of those pictures and step back in time. Like backk in the wild wild west days. I bet every one of those pictures people would be carry some type of firearm.

                  And here’s the thinking part. What does that tell you about how society veiws thoughts about guns now days. Basically it’s a slow brainwash process that media has placed for veiw at appropriate times. And you know there’s more to it than what I’m saying.

                  And you know what happens everytime it involves politics. Thoughts are brought up and anything said means nothing to the topic at hand or what can be done or what will or could happen.

                  All I know it ain’t the same as it use to be. And this coming from times remembered as a kid. 10 years old and walking down the side of the street with a .22 rimfire rifle or a shot gun and waving at the local police officer as they drove by. Or walking down railroad tracks with a shot gun hunting as cars went by and the people you new would wave to you. Even the people you didn’t know. Then as we got older we always had our guns in the back window hanging on the gun racks in our trucks.

                  Yep a different thought process now days for sure. All I know is I was a very lucky person to grow up in the place and time that I did. There is no way that would fly now days.

                  • GF1,

                    (Yes) on all the above. I grew up rural my whole life (and still am) and remember what you are talking about. Matter of fact, I can not remember the last time that I have seen a shotgun in a truck back window with the exception of Deer season. The best that we can do is to continue to promote safe and responsible gun handling and the fun aspect and try to reverse some those pre/misconceptions.

                    No, times are not the same. Promotion and advertising has a finer and finer line to walk now. More now than ever before. Like I said earlier, I thought that more serious, more responsible,….followed by fun,… was the “take away”. Either way, we know the difference.

                    (On the topic of fun),….crappy weather and a busy weekend has forced air gunning indoors this weekend. More dart testing is planned, drilling out some HN 18.0 Snipers to produce a deep cavity and see what happens. The Snipers have a rather “frilly” skirt. How does that act with rifling? Do the frills bend over creating stabilizing fins? I will find out by shooting some into duct seal, recover them and find out. Oh yea, the 760 bb hop up testing. Then the further research on PCP accessories. Those 18.0 HN’s were the ones that punched both sides of a steel can at 70 yds. from a springer. Still amazed. I did not think that would happen at that yardage. And, that was fun too, going out further than I have before and seeing what would happen and how well I could do.

                    Remember back when I was shooting 41′ and the thought of doing 25 yds. was a daunting thought? I even grin when I think about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

                    Good day all, back later, Chris

                    • Chris USA
                      Yep it will be interesting to see what happens as time keeps passing on with guns. And any type of guns I might add.

                      And yep remember I kept saying get out to 50 yards and shoot. Now your doing 70 yards. So now what’s it like to shoot at 25 yards?

                      And yep those 18 grain pellets should be having good energy still out at 70 yards. And I’m interested to see if hollowing out the 18 grn pellets helps out performance. And if you do that. Weigh them before and after to see how much difference it makes after you take some material out. And the fins on the skirt from rifling. Don’t see why that’s not possible.

                      And I do want to try the 760 hop up myself on one of my smooth bore 760’s. Just ain’t got much spare time right now.

                      And still haven’t made a order with PA yet. So the Sig alloy pellets are on the list to get. I do plan on trying them in that multi-pump 1377 that is basically a Discovery now that you pump. I think they will work good in that gun. Also the multi-pump alows me to see if different velocity’s work better or worse for the pellet in that gun.

                      So a few things I want to try too. We’ll see how it all goes.

                      Just remember shoot safe. And no funny gun pictures with people ok. You never know what somebody may think this day and age. :l

  9. B.B.,

    You got me too! Knowing a bit about mechanics, I had my doubts, but you had the ol’ rusty wheels a turning.

    I thought you might have used my suggestion as to why GF1 can get better groups in the rain. I believe that one had a steam theory in it. You caught me though! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    By the way, on that,….. I just read an article,…… worse groups in rain were due to the end 6″ or so of the muzzle being wet. It was pretty good testing. Dipped the muzzle in a bucket of water to simulate water entering into the last bit of the muzzle. That was on firearm rifles.

    • Rob
      But don’t forget the flavored cooking oil to lube the pellets. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Hey wait a minute. Maybe that’s a experiment to try. Some cooking oil to lube the pellets. One bottle would sure go along way if it works.

      • GF1,

        Well, tried to drill the 18.0 Snipers. I did it but could not keep center. There is no definite inner point to get started,…. did about 6. The waist is 3/16″ so I decided to go 1/16″ and calculated that .243″ from skirt would get about 1/2 way through the head. That resulted in a 1.3 grain drop in weight from 18.0. I got some other ideas, so maybe something will work. Transfer punches may be the answer.

        BIG NEWS! Ok,….maybe that is a wee bit hyped,…but,……I got the 10$ Daisy scope sighted in at 24′!!!! I started with 4 turns in. No good. I ended up with 2 1/2 turns (out) from stock. Perfect and clear! I did a piece of notebook paper with a 1″ cross hair, #’s 1~6 that progressed from 3/8″ to 1/16″ and closely placed dots. All were clear. Before,…. all were a blur with no definition.

        The snap ring pliers would not grip into the objective lens slots. A ice pick, nut pick or awl will work. It was tight, but did move and will not move in the future. Bottom line, it worked! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Disclaimer,…… this was a bottom line scope with NO nitrogen on it. Got one?,…. try it. If you got a “better” one with nitrogen, leave it alone.

      • GF1,

        Well,… just tried the 18.0 Snipers into duct seal at 41′,……. was there “magically produced stabilizing fins” produced by the rifling??? NO. What did happen? Well,…. the “frilly” skirt was simply more compressed.

        How much?,….. the stock skirt was .229″ and the compressed skirt was .212″. So,…the it begs the question of why does the HN Sniper’s,…. in 14.0 and 18.0 have the “frilly” skirts?

        Good question. Me thinks that it is “something different”. Good for sales. With limited testing,…I will say that they do not shoot half bad though.

        • Chris USA
          I bet the skirts changed shape when they hit th duct seal tape.

          I don’t know what a good way to actually tell what the skirt looks like after the pellet hits something. It has to be something soft and at a longer distance when the energy of the pellet is lost.

          The sudden stop could cause the lead to deform when it keeps pushing forward to. The mushroom wfedct would transfer through the whole pellwt pellet.

          That would be a trick to get the velocity slowed down enough when it hits to not change the pellets shape. Especially if the skirt is thin.

          To me the main function of the skirt is to seal the air behind the pellet. The head of the pellet engages the rifling. And the waist is what stabilizes the pellet with induced drag.

          • GF1,

            I gave some more thought to your comment. I measured the (head) and (skirt) on an un-shot pellet. It was .219″ and .229″. The shot pellet measured .235″ and .214″. So while the head expanded, the skirt in fact reduced in O.D.. Assuming the skirt expanded to .219 upon firing, it did lose .005″ upon impact into the duct seal. Other than the OD reduction, the skirt showed no deformation. Still concentric with evidence of the rifling impressions.

            Reading your comment again, I see that you said duct seal (tape?). This is a putty like substance found in the electrical isle sold in 1# blocks. Good for testing situations and stopping pellets. The .22 pellet at 41′ only penetrated 1″.

            • Chris USA
              I think that as the pellet hits the duct seal. And got it this time. Not (duct tape). When the skirt finally makes it in the duct seal that it trys to collapse behind the pellet. That’s what I think is causing the smaller skirt.

              I have shot different pellets into sand and recovered them. Just talking about skirts right now. But some pellets the skirt will be slightly rolled in. Some expanded out. I even had some pellets where the skirt was smashed flat. Kind of looked like the shape of a tail on a fish. And then talking the head of the pellet. I seen the nose flatten out and the head exspand. And some the head diameter got smaller and pushed back. Almost like the nose was trying to turn into a point. And some not even change shape.

              Of course if velocity and distance was changed the shape of the pellet would change. Even shooting in sand.

                • TT
                  I think Chris tryed that and that is what part of my pellet stop/target holder has.

                  But he’s wanting to see what the pellet shape looks like as it left the barrel. He’s trying to eliminate what happens to the shape of the pellet when it hits the trap. That’s why he went with duct seal which is a putty and not duct tape.

                  But I think the putty still changes the shape of the pellet. That’s why I suggested sand as a stop. Just as a a way to maybe reduce the shape from changing.

                  Oh and the combination of the things I use in my duct tape stop/target holder will stop a regular velocity .22 long rifle bullet at 50 yards over and over.

                  But forget about the shape of it staying looking like how it came out of the barrel. Matter of fact pellets don’t look the same anymore either.

  10. GF1,

    Good points. I can say that the test was quite effective.I have shot enough into duct seal enough to know that that what you dig out is a pretty good representation of what is going on. The test was about the skirt and I can say that the skirt was like any other,….. more compressed. Cool though,….. I like duct seal test. Actual compression was very minimal. 286″ VS .268″.

  11. Gunfun1 and all
    Thanks for all your help. The foam pipe insulation works fine on the skeleton stock and the JSB Exact Heavy 10.34 grain have given me the tightest 5 shot groups at .437 (average of 6 consecutive) at 10 m from the 2400kt.
    A question: in Hiveseeker’s excellent guest blog he got a .254 group from Falcons and .302 from Premier Lights at 10 yds. I can consistently shoot under a half-inch with a variety of pellets but can’t come close to his shooting. Are his numbers exceptionally good or are they typical of what lots of good shooters can do? I’m working on my technique but i want to set a realistic goal. Thanks for any advice!

    • Hello Fido3030,
      Thanks for the compliment on the 2400KT blog! The gun had the Lothar Walther match barrel, so my first question would be does yours have the same? I also had the carbine stock and shot from a bench rest which both added to shooting stability. Also check those Premier Lights for skirt damage–a lot of mine were deformed as a result of the bulk boxing. Finally, do you have a decent adjustable objective scope on the gun? That makes a difference, though not as much as I thought it would (see the scope swap mentioned in the blog). Otherwise, everything I’ve read claims these guns to be very accurate except for some older 14″ barrels which apparently had issues.

      • HiveSeeker
        Thanks for the reply! Mine has the LW barrel, shoulder stock, Leepers AO scope and I shoot from a rest. Must be the nut holding the stock that ‘s my problem!
        I did get a pellet stuck in the barrel as CO2 ran out. I reluctantly freed it with a cleaning rod down the muzzle and could have hurt the rifling or crown. I bought a replacement barrel from Crosman but can’t figure out how to switch them since there are differences between the 2400kt and 2240s that I’ve modded. I’ve ordered another 2400kt so we’ll see. Thanks again! Fido3030

    • Fido3030
      Glad the pipe insulation worked for you.

      And I’m not going to say what kind of groups I get at 10m. I don’t shoot in that close that much. Put I will say this. That my groups at 10m are way better than my groups at 25 yards.

      And just a thought. Do you notice if the gun wants to move when you pull the trigger? The stock trigger pull on the 2240, 1322/77’s is terrible to me. I always take the grips off and lube the trigger components. Then I lessen up the spring tension also by cutting a coil or so off. The trigger will feel like it’s got some free play before you come to a stop. Then it’s just a slight pull and the shot goes off. Kind of makes it feel like it’s a two stage trigger but it’s not.

      That has helped me getter better groups out of those types of guns.

      • Gunfun1
        Thanks again! The 2400kt has an adjustable pull I’ve set for minimum. Ihaven’t lubed it so I’ll try that. Just shot 3 three shot groups with a 2240 and a red dot and no stock under 3/8 inch. Go figure. I think I’ll take a break and shoot something else for a while….clear my head a little.
        Thanks again. Fido 3030

          • Yeah, I’ve had it on the 2400kt with about same results as the scope. I’m beginning to really wonder if i messed up the crown on the 2400 when i used a rod to free a stuck pellet though i can’t see anything. All sights: scope, red dot, laser shoot about a half inch or just under with some pellets. I’ve ordered another from the Custom so we’ll see. Of course it could be my 73 year old baby blue eyes. Fido 3030

            • Fido3030
              I read where you said that about maybe messing up the rifling or the crown with the cleaning rod.

              Don’t know a good answer to that question. I know a cleaning rod is meant to clean out a barrel. But don’t know what could happen when your trying to get a pellet unstuck.

              Me I won’t even clean my air gun barrels. Just a few drops of silicone oil down the breech end of the barrel where the pellets loaded. If I get a stuck pellet.(which I have before) I try to use a wooden dowel rod. They usually have different sizes at hobby shops if you ever try to find one for your barrel.

              But just hard to say if something happened to your barrel. Maybe push a pellet through your barrel when you get the wooden dowel rod. Then look and see if the pellet has some unusual Knicks on the outside diameter of the pellets head or skirt. That’s about the best I can think of for now to try.

                  • Gunfun1
                    I hadn’t been zeroing the pount of aim to the point of impact. I didn’t care as long as i was on the paper since i was shooting for group. The poi was several inches off. I put them closer together and the groups shrank to .354 inches (average 6 consecutive 5 shot groups) with the 2400kt. (parallax problem?) Not great but I think I’m over the hump. Now it’s more refining technique and practice. Thanks! Couldn’t have made progress without this Blog

  12. Hi BB and any Condor SS expert out there,

    I have a new .22 Airforce Condor ss

    I’m a little puzzled…as I shoot the gun, and as the pressure goes down, the pellet velocity goes up, the power/energy goes up and the loudness goes up. It’s the same for all power wheel settings…as pressure goes down, the velocity and loudness go up. The gun gets very loud when the psi goes down to 2400psi and lower. Here are some recorded numbers.

    pw (power wheel) = 3,
    jsb 18.13gr
    2850psi (condor ss gauge) = 3000psi (hill pump)
    (psi listed below are read from the condor ss pressure gauge.)

    1st 10 shots, ave vel = 851, psi…2850 down to 2775
    2nd 10 shots, ave vel = 909, psi…2775 down to 2650
    3rd 10 shots, ave vel = 998, psi…2650 down to 2510
    4th 10 shots, ave vel = 1053, psi…2510 down to 2210

    The last 5 shots of fourth shot string (starting at around 2400psi down to 2210psi) were the most powerful and the loudest of the 40 total shots taken.

    The results are the opposite of what I expected. I expected the velocity and sound level to decrease as the pressure went down from 3000psi to 2000psi.

    Are these results normal? Shouldn’t the velocity go down as the pressure goes down from 3000psi to 2000psi?

    Thank you,

    • Between the two gauges the one with a bigger dial is closer to the true air pressure. Not all PCPs are built the same, even if the serial numbers were consecutive. Now you can see why a chronograph is important with a PCP. Your AF Condor SS at your current setting is giving the highest velocity at 2600-2210 psi range. At pressures higher than 2600 psi you are experiencing partial valve lock. The hammer is not hitting the valve with sufficient force. Do you need to increase the force of the hammer? Some do but it is more important to check at what velocity you are getting the most accuracy and adjust towards that. Someone on the blog frequently says. “What use is 500 FPE if I can’t hit the target?”

    • Doug,

      Your results are perfectly normal! I spent hours on the phone when I worked at AirForce trying to explain such things to new Condor owners. They would insist that since 3000 psi was the maximum fill level in their manual, they had to fill to that pressure, and their guns were malfunctioning somehow if they didn’t perform best at that pressure.

      FORGET THE PRESSURE! What Siraniko has told you is entirely correct.

      What you need to do is experiment with your rifle to discover what pressure it will accept and give good performance from the first shot. It does sound like 2600 psi is where to begin.

      Expect to get around 20 shots at the optimum pressure (whatever it turns out to be). Those shots should all be within 30 f.p.s. of each other, or so. Better yet, forget the velocity and just shoot groups at 50 yards. That will tell you how many shots you can count on to go to the same place.

      I know this sounds wrong, but trust me, it isn’t. This is the way valves work. And every PCP is different in this respect, too At AirForce we used to vary the valve return spring tension to get a different power curve, but we found that a spring rate of a certain amount gave us the greatest number of shots on a fill. I’m not going to write what that tension is because if I do then many Condor owners will swear by it and get upset when their own rifles don’t perform exactly like I say they should.

      Look at it this way — you are going to get a lot more full fills on your tank because of the lower operating pressure.


      • Hi BB,
        I do prefer pumping up my condor ss to 2600psi vs 3000psi, but what I’m not thrilled about is how loud it gets at those lower pressures. Is this to be expected, that when you’re at the optimal pressure, let’s say 2600psi to 2200psi, the hammer is going to be hitting it’s hardest and be at its loudest?

            • GF1,

              That?,… coming from a tuner? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Of course you were talking a stock rifle.

              Been looking at LP compressors. Lot’s to choose from. It seems that 500 hrs. is the average pump life on an oil less,…and they get noisier as time goes on. California Air Tools brand has some real nice ones but they look real new to the market. 2 pistons and 3000 hr. pump life. Watched a u-tube of one, very quiet. 60 DBA. Noise is not always given when looking at specs. I will be running it indoors.

              And,…. before you ask,…… soon. ๐Ÿ™‚ I do my homework and try to spend wisely.

              • Chris USA
                I mean even with a gun that’s been modded and tuned.

                You still have to find the correct fill pressure and ending pressure that the gun shoots it’s best at.

                And 500 hrs is a long time. If I was still filling a buddy bottle once on Saturday and once on Sunday at let’s keep it simple 1 hr each day. And let’s say the compressor only runs twice per buddy bottle fill. And it only runs for maybey 3 minutes. So that’s 6 minutes each day.

                6ร—52=312 minutes a year a year. So 312รท60 minutes in a hr.=5.2 hrs a year.

                So 500รท5.2=96 years. And then if I fill straight to the gun instead of the buddy bottle the shop compressor still runs twice per day. Once for each gun I fill which is the Talon SS and the .25 Mrod. Of course the more guns the more I would need to use it. But when I shoot I have a spring gun and a multi-pump in the mix. So that why I don’t need to fill the pcp guns often.

                So I think that shop compressor is going to out last me and you.

                And they say the small oil less compressor that I have is medium loud. I know it’s half as loud as my big shop compressor. And it’s just a bit louder than the shoe box running. So there is some noise from the Shoebox. But they do say it’s apartment friendly.

                I will say this. That when the Shoebox is running I can here my stero still when I’m in the breezway. When the compressor runs then it’s a little harder to hear the stereo. And I don’t have the stereo playing loud.

                But if there’s a good song on I’ll either wait to fill the gun up or I’ll turn the radio up.. ๐Ÿ™‚

                • GF1,

                  ๐Ÿ™‚ , Thanks for putting all that into “perspective”! I read a lot of specs. today and reviews and that is the first one that rated LP air compressor noise in direct relation to Led Zepplin, AC/DC and Gun’s and Roses! ๐Ÿ˜‰

                  Thanks, Chris

                  P.S.,…..Did ya’ see I got that cheap scope dialed into working at 24′? Clear as a bell. Well,…. at least as clear as a 10$ bell! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Very, very workable. I just wish all the Billions of them out there could/would do the same.

                    • GF1,

                      Well, the 880 was never bought with pellet and bb groups in mind. (arrow and dart).

                      But, I did do a nice 10 shot 1 hole group at 24′ with pellets. Before “adjustment”,….it was like,.. a guess,.. at a blur,.. of a bulls eye.

                      Thanks for the advice on doing it.

                  • Chris USA
                    Did I suggest adjusting the parallax? Thought that was Buldawg and someone else.

                    I just mentioned that I thought the parallax was off for the distance you were shooting at and the magnification you was using.

                    • GF1,

                      10$ scope. No parallax adj.. You did help out though. I turned the front lens as you suggested. No mag. either. 4×15 fixed.

                  • Chris USA
                    Figured I would mention this.

                    Just filled the Talon and Mrod.

                    The shop compressor only ran for 1-1/2 minutes on each gun.

                    So that means that the compressor life would double of what I said compared to filling the buddy bottle.

                    Hope the Husky people ain’t reading the blog today. They might try to figure out how to make them cheaper and not last as long.

                    I shouldn’t say that though. I’m betting Husky takes pride in the equipment they manufacture. So good for them if the compressor’s will last that long.

                    But remember. Anything can break at any time you know.


                    • GF1,

                      One other thing,….. as we all know,…. things that are the exact same, get re-branded and painted a different color and sold as something different. Yet another thing to consider or take into account. A lot of what is out there in LP compressors looks awfully close to being the same thing.

                  • Chris USA
                    Yep and the rebranding happens on more things than you think.

                    I think I found 5 different brand red dot sights that look identical and have the same features as the Tasco I have.

                    And I don’t think that’s a bad thing in the case of the red dot or the compressors.

                    It’s the China brand copies is where problems start showing up. Sorry but I know some people like that kind of stuff. But I seen problems there. And I just sent by like when they contract work out to them and take away work from here. Bad biusness in my book.

                    • GF1,

                      Yup,…. I agree. But out of all the comp. that I looked at,….. I can not recall that I saw 1 that stated where it was made. I will look closer.

                • Well I should of said the compressor only runs for about 1-1/2 minutes each time instead of 3 minutes.

                  So my math is right. Because I forgot to add in the second day of the weekend.

                  And ok. The oil less shop compressor will last for a long long time.

          • Hi BB,
            Just out of curiosity, can adjustments be made so that there isn’t partial valve lock above 2600psi and maybe change the optimal pressure to 2900psi? Is that when people start playing with the top hat and the hammer/striker weight, etc? I’m just interested in learning the in’s and out’s of this great airgun.

            • Doug,

              Yes, there is mods. that can be done,…. but the same thing still applies. I am just getting into PCP’s,… so I am not the one to ask. You did the right thing by doing the extensive chrony testing. You had the answer’s right in your hand. You just did not know the how’s and why’s yet.

              Way to go, and congratulations on your new gun!


            • Doug,

              Yes, the fil pressure can be set higher. You will lose some shots and the velocity might be lower, but it can be done.

              The Top hat on the Condor should be left alone. It was the old Gunpower Stealth that we did that to. Once the adjustable striker came out, that went away.

              The valve return spring has to be re-tensioned, and there is an electronic strain gauge fixture we had to do that. Couple hundred dollars to make a jog should fix you right up.


            • Doug
              I tryed different weight strikers in the first .177 caliber Talon SS I had before the spin lock tanks. And even tryed it with a 12″ .25 caliber barrel.

              All it did was make the shot cycle harder. In other words. It might of picked up the velocity some. And I even put the o-ring behind the top hat to reduce valve bounce to try to keep the shot count up.

              What came about was I did get a little more powerful gun with around the same shot count. And I did get a less accurate gun. And I do know one of the reasons was because of the more abrupt shot cycle and vibration from the hit. And heck I might of even been pushing the pellet to fast. Seems to me that most air guns like around 950 fps or lower for the available barrels.

              So there is really more that meets the eye when you start messing with a gun. It’s always a balance to come up with the best performance.

              How do you do that. Shoot the gun and write down info. Make a change and see what happens. And even goes beyond the gun. Start getting some time on a gun with a scope and see what happens.

              And I should say that I now have a Talon SS with a spin lock tank and it was a .177 caliber gun. Now it’s got a .22 caliber 12″ barrel in it. And nothing else done to it. It likes around 2700 psi down to around 2200 fps with the current outside temperature of 70 degrees. Oh yes and that’s another thing. Outside weather conditions. See what difference that makes as you shoot.

              So as I said. More than meets the eye. Shoot tor gun and see what it likes. And I have said this before. Listen to your gun. It will tell you things.

      • Hi BB,
        I’m very happy with the energy/power my .22 Condor SS has from 2600psi down to 2100psi. It’s the noise that I’m concerned with. I read that the loud noise might mean the gun is wasting air or using too much air. Is there anything I can do to reduce the noise, reduce the amount of air being used at the lower pressures, and keep the great power I have at these lower pressures.
        Thank you,

        • Doug,

          That noise comes with the Condor’s power. It can be reduced by a frame extension that acts as a silencer. I paid $175 for mine from Airhog. They aren’t offering them now, but if you look around you should be able to find one.

          Goes on the front of the gun in place of the muzzle cap and extends the length of the gun 6 inches.


          • Thank you so much for your knowledge and patience, BB. I’m sure you’ve answered these same questions over and over through the years.
            Here’s another…What will putting an o-ring behind the top hat do for the condor? Also, what size o-ring is typically used?

            • Doug,

              An o-ring under the top hat will slow the gun down drastically. 1000 f.p.s. might become 650 f.p.s. with the same pellet. We did that back when there was no power adjuster on the guns. You will also get more shots because you aren’t using as much air.

              I don’t know the size. It just needs to be smaller on the ID than the outside of the top hat so it doesn’t slip off.


  13. I just realized something. I read the link I posted above about the spy gun. And in the comments there was talk about a April fools blog BB did about a big bore break barrel.

    And now it’s no joke. We got one. The Hatsan .30 caliber big bore break barrel.

    And who says time doesn’t change things.

    Time Will Tell. As I say.

  14. I seem to be a sucker for these April Fool’s stories. There was a cover story in the April issue of Sports Illustrated 1985 about a pitcher with a very weird style hitting bottles from an incredible distance that I fell for. And now this. But I seem to remember some kind of ship-mounted air cannons in the Civil War. Was there such a thing?

    I am convalescing from foot surgery last Wednesday, and I am pleased to report no pain. The only downside is that they took away my Ironman boot to allow swelling which makes things much more inconvenient. Using the crutches without the boot for support is like being in a 24 hour gymnasium, and I am sorely anticipating the return of the boot in another week. Still, I have had the opportunity to notice how nice people are and how helpful. This contradicts a gritty Bruce Willis movie where he is a hired gun in some down and out Western town filled with criminals. Before the final shootout, he receives unexpected help and says, “One time in a hundred, people will surprise you.” The proportion is much higher than that for a man in a cast. Actually, I feel connected to the Neanderthals who, despite their fearsome appearance, were capable of great tenderness in healing each other from frequent broken bones.

    Gunfun1, the verdict is in on the different kinds of sighting systems. FBI firearms instructor Robert Taub says that he conducted an exhaustive comparison between iron sights and reflex sights on pistols. Below 15 yards the two were roughly comparable for speed, but the reflex sights were more accurate. Beyond 15 yards, the reflex sights were far superior for both accuracy and speed. Granted that was for pistols, but no reason for the results to be different with rifles.


    • Matt61
      I was just about ready to post this comment to Chris USA. Then I read what you wrote about reflex sights. And this relates more to eye relief. Which is what I was going to tell Chris.

      But I just tryed something. Got thinking about eye relief with scopes and reflex sights. The dot sight I can see the dot even if I don’t have my eye relief right like what’s needed with a scope to get your sight picture locked in on a scope.

      I just rested my gun on my bench rest with a scope. I held my head at the back of the stock at the butt pad. But I did not touch the butt of the gun. I could only see a very small hole in the middle of the scope that showed the retical and my veiw of the target.

      Here’s what’s interesting. I placed that round circle of vision I will call it on one of my steel spinner paddles out at 25 yards. I proceeded with lining up the reticle in that little hole of vision in that black scope area and keeping the reticle on the paddle. In other words keeping the reticle centered and on target.

      I did 8 shots and hit that paddle every shot. Now I’m really trying to understand why cheek weld and eye relief makes any kind of difference.

      I think it’s more like keeping everything aligned the best you can and placed on the target.

      But what makes it easier is when you do have the cheek weld of the stock to make yourself repeat the line of sight and eye relief.

      So maybe that’s why reflex sights work well. It takes out the variables of what the eye and brain perceives.

      Did that make any sense?

    • Matt61,

      So you are saying to replace scopes with reflex sights? I am always open to anything new, with skepticism.

      While I am no where near your level in expertise and knowledge, I would think that might be true for larger targets,…say man sized.

      For extreme long range or precise target shooting, I do not see how a good quality scope could be beat.

      • Matt61’s FBI Instructor demonstrated the benefit of using a reflex sight over open sights in pistols not in rifles. For extreme long range shooting a scope is definitely needed. Peep or Diopter sights can be also be used but some precision is lost especially if the target is very small that a proper sight picture cannot be achieved.

        • Siraniko
          But as you say. In extreme long range shooting.

          Most airguns won’t perform the same at those extreme distances.

          See what happens with a reflex sight at air gun distances. Have you tryed and tell what you found to happen please.

          Alot of people are surprised when they finally do.

          • Gunfun1

            With easier proper sight alignment from the reflex sight and better concentration on the sight picture I think the performance will be equal to using a set of Diopter sights which I have used up to 50 meters to hit a 3″x 2″ ram in MS before.

            Don’t have a reflex sight to confirm this though.

              • Gunfun1

                For air gun distances a reflex sight should enable you to hit most targets. But I don’t believe you can use a reflex sight in precision shooting like Benchrest 25 and further. You could hit the target but you might not hit the particular target you need to hit. The X being .25 in diameter and the targets are spaced about two inches apart.

                • Siraniko
                  And what you said is exactly what I’m talking about.

                  A reflex sight will hit in a given kill zone just like a scope.

                  But with a dot sight you just place the dot and shoot. Your previous sight in work will show when you shoot at the target and how well you hit.

                  A scope allows you to magnify what you look at. And then allows you to see where you hit the target.

                  What happens if you take away the last part of what happens with a scope?

                  You will only know what you aim at. You will not know where you hit.

                  That’s the only thing a scope does. It shows you where you hit in relation to where to aim. That’s why you feel more comfortable with a scope.

Leave a Comment

Buy With Confidence

  • Free Shipping

    Get FREE shipping on qualifying orders! Any order $150+ with a shipping address in the contiguous US will receive the option for free ground shipping on items sold & shipped by Pyramyd AIR during checkout. Certain restrictions apply.

    Free shipping may not be combined with a coupon unless stated otherwise.

    View Shipping Info

  • Shipping Time Frame

    We work hard to get all orders placed by 12 pm EST out the door within 24 hours on weekdays because we know how excited you are to receive your order. Weekends and holiday shipping times will vary.

    During busy holidays, we step our efforts to ship all orders as fast as possible, but you may experience an additional 1-2 day delay before your order ships. This may also happen if you change your order during processing.

    View Shipping Times

  • Shipping Restrictions

    It's important to know that due to state and local laws, there are certain restrictions for various products. It's up to you to research and comply with the laws in your state, county, and city. If you live in a state or city where air guns are treated as firearms you may be able to take advantage of our FFL special program.

    U.S. federal law requires that all airsoft guns are sold with a 1/4-inch blaze orange muzzle or an orange flash hider to avoid the guns being mistaken for firearms.

    View Shipping Restrictions

  • Expert Service and Repair

    We have a team of expert technicians and a complete repair shop that are able to service a large variety of brands/models of airguns. Additionally, we are a factory-authorized repair/warranty station for popular brands such as Air Arms, Air Venturi, Crosman, Diana, Seneca, and Weihrauch airguns.

    Our experts also offer exclusive 10-for-$10 Test and 20-for-$20 Service, which evaluates your air gun prior to leaving our warehouse. You'll be able to add these services as you place your order.

    View Service Info

  • Warranty Info

    Shop and purchase with confidence knowing that all of our air guns (except airsoft) are protected by a minimum 1-year manufacturer's warranty from the date of purchase unless otherwise noted on the product page.

    A warranty is provided by each manufacturer to ensure that your product is free of defect in both materials and workmanship.

    View Warranty Details

  • Exchanges / Refunds

    Didn't get what you wanted or have a problem? We understand that sometimes things aren't right and our team is serious about resolving these issues quickly. We can often help you fix small to medium issues over the phone or email.

    If you need to return an item please read our return policy.

    Learn About Returns

Get FREE shipping on qualifying orders! Any order $150+ with a shipping address in the contiguous US will receive the option for free ground shipping on items sold & shipped by Pyramyd AIR during checkout. Certain restrictions apply.

Free shipping may not be combined with a coupon unless stated otherwise.

View Shipping Info

Text JOIN to 91256 and get $10 OFF Your Next $50+ Order!

* By providing your number above, you agree to receive recurring autodialed marketing text msgs (e.g. cart reminders) to the mobile number used at opt-in from Pyramyd AIR on 91256. Reply with birthday MM/DD/YYYY to verify legal age of 18+ in order to receive texts. Consent is not a condition of purchase. Msg frequency may vary. Msg & data rates may apply. Reply HELP for help and STOP to cancel. See Terms and Conditions & Privacy Policy.