by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Wake management
  • Zombies and pink
  • The story of Kevin
  • Bronco
  • But it looks so cool!
  • The secret
  • Just ask Chris USA

Before I begin, here is an update on my eye. The doctor says the operation was a success. I can keep the eye and now I can hold my head upright. I still have a gas bubble in the eye causing distortion, but that should be gone in another week. Thanks for all your prayers and good wishes. Now, let’s get to today’s report.

I know what you want, even if you and the airgun manufacturers don’t. You look at specifications day after day, comparing one airgun to another, until the balance between the finalists rests on a razor-thin edge. You think this is getting you closer to what you want. Well, it isn’t. When I tell you what you want you will realize you have been looking for the wrong thing all along. You thought you wanted that supermodel, right up to the moment that you fell in love with the girl next door.

Wake management

In the boardrooms of airgun companies all around the world executives and managers meet to discuss what they think you want. They pore over spreadsheets of data that tell them what you have wanted in the past. They believe if they can accurately describe what you wanted in the past, they can give it to you in the future, in ways that will astound you. And frankly their line of reasoning astounds me!

They are like the captain of a mighty ship who stands on the stern of his vessel, gazing at the powerful wake left by the ship. They fully believe that by watching the wake and analyzing it carefully they can learn where the ship is heading. Let’s call that ship the Titanic! Someone needs to be in the wheelhouse, looking ahead!

Zombies and pink

Believe it or not, not everyone who works for an airgun manufacturer likes airguns. Not even the managers and executives! I know — that comes as a real shock — right? It’s like trying to imagine a senator who isn’t serving his state so much as he is serving himself.

But whether or not they like airguns, these people are supposed to be the best and the brightest the company has, so when the time comes for fresh ideas, they grasp for seemingly unrelated things. Zombies, for instance. Zombies are hot with the under-30 crowd right now, so why not mix them in with airguns? If you don’t know what you are doing, throw in a zombie. Nobody really knows much about them. It takes the heat off you, because there are no wrong answers when the topic isn’t real!

Same thing for the color pink. Lots of women love that color. So, if the walls are closing in on you to come up with a new idea, paint it pink! Of course there are practical limits. Pink sewer pipes are probably not on anyone’s shopping list, nor are they likely to create a buzz when they first appear on the market. Part of marketing is knowing who is buying your products and then figuring out what they want. However, it’s hard to know what someone wants when they don’t even know it themselves, and I started this piece by telling you that you don’t know what you want. But I do! If you’re over 28 and have real money in your pocket, it sure isn’t pink zombies!

The story of Kevin

Let me illustrate my point before I blurt it out. Kevin started reading this blog many years ago. Kevin likes nice guns. He hunted extensively and even guided hunts. During that time he valued fine rifles like Winchesters and Weatherbys. He knew when the chips were down a well-made rifle would deliver the goods, rather than making excuses. So, when he came into airguns, he looked for the best. When he found them and discovered how really great they are, Kevin turned inside-out and became a full-blown dedicated airgunner. He wanted to try everything — as long as there was a chance it was good. Along the way, he discovered a secret.

Good airguns don’t always cost a lot of money. I will expand on that. Good airguns don’t always look flashy. Sometimes a good airgun looks plain-Jane (no offense, Rocket Jane Hansen!), but feels fantastic when you hold it and shoot it. It’s that girl-next-door phenomenon. I have touted the Diana 27 for as long as this blog has been active and those who own them understand what I mean. So does Kevin.

Bronco

That’s why I worked with Pyramyd Air to bring you the Air Venturi Bronco. It was as close as I could get to the Diana 27 without spending a fortune in start-up cash. Well, the Bronco is now gone and there is a line of people crying about missing the boat. The Tech Force M8 has taken its place and, although the look and some of the features have changed, the performance is still there. And somewhere people are saying, “Thank goodness they got rid of those ugly blonde stocks with that horrible cowboy look!”

Right! And thank goodness the girl next door finally got tired of waiting for you and married that banker. At least now one of you can be happy.

But it looks so cool!

One more story before I tell you what you really want. I used to ride a 1948 Harley hardtail panhead motorcycle. I hung out at the home of the guy who built it. It was a bobber, though we didn’t have that term in the 1960s. Another guy who hung out with us had a nice Triumph Bonneville bobber/chopper, until he traded it and a boatload of cash for the most outlandish chopper you have ever seen. The springer front forks were kicked out so far that the springs didn’t cushion the ride — the up-and-down flexing of the fork legs did! The ape-hanger handlebars were so high that the guy needed help turning the bike around when it wasn’t under power. But it looked cool! At least that’s what he thought. And looking cool was what he was all about.

His bike didn’t run most of the time. When it did he drove it over to my friend’s house, because it would almost certainly need fixing very soon.

Friends — that motorcycle was the two-wheel equivalent of a Chinese mega-magnum breakbarrel that’s advertised to shoot at 1400 f.p.s. Who knows if it does; it’s too hard to cock and a real pain to shoot. But it’s cool to sit on the couch and just think about the power of that awesome air rifle.

Then your friend comes over with his HW 30S and the two of you go outside and shoot for awhile. You like shooting his rifle because it’s easy to cock, it’s accurate, the trigger is nice and the stock doesn’t smack you in the jaw every time it fires. Your friend saved up for a long time to get that rifle and he loves it. Of course it isn’t as cool as your rifle, which is currently standing in the corner.

The secret

The secret is — (drum roll) — there isn’t any secret. People, and that means all of you, want what works. They think they want what looks good, or what makes them look good for having it, but the truth is, they want what works. For an airgun that means the following:

Easy to cock
Accurate
Doesn’t hurt when you shoot it
The trigger is nice

Of course it is also nice if it’s attractive, but looks do not play into whether the gun is any good. They only enhance your pride of ownership when the other essential things are all there. And the essential things do not get better or worse as the cost rises or lowers. The cost simply determines when it will be possible for you to own one — not whether or not it is any good.

Just ask Chris USA

Reader Chris USA did something I rarely see. As a relatively new airgunner he took everyone’s advice and bought the best spring gun on the market — an Air Arms TX200 Mark III. And he loves it!

But Chris isn’t any happier than the guy who just could not find the cash for a TX and bought a Slavia 634 instead. Or a Beeman R7. Or a Beeman P17. These are the happy guys, because they have airguns they can shoot!

What you want is something that works.