by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman 600
Crosman 600 CO2 pellet pistol.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Update on the Brice scope mount base for the Daisy Red Ryder
  • A true semiautomatic
  • .22 caliber
  • Power and gas use
  • Ultimate ergonomics
  • Gas caps
  • Sights
  • Safety
  • Modification
  • This pistol
  • Could Crosman do it today?

Update on the Brice scope mount base for the Daisy Red Ryder

I was going to mount an optical sight on my Red Ryder and test it for today’s report. Unfortunately I discovered that the base does not work on my old model 111-40 Red Ryder.

The problem is the rear sight. The mount requires the rear sight elevator to be removed to fit the base, but a 11-40 rear sight doesn’t have an elevator. The sight is tack-welded to the gun and doesn’t come off.

Red Ryder Rear sight
The rear sight on my vintage 111-40 Red Ryder is tack-welded in place. The Brice mount will not fit over it. The raised portion to the right of the sight is the mainspring anchor.

Red Ryder Brice scope mount base
The Brice scope mount base has a notch for the rear sight with the elevator removed, but it’s for the modern version of the gun.

I’m getting a new model Red Ryder from Bill Brice to test the mount base for you, so this report will be written. It will just take a little longer.

Today I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity to start the report on the Crosman 600 pellet pistol I got at last week’s Texas Airgun Show. Let’s get to it.

Crosman 600 pistols were made from 1960 to 1970. I mentioned that this 600 came in a rocket box. Let’s take a look at that first.

Crosman 600 rocket box lid
That tiny rocket on the box lid is what makes this a rocket box 600. It is one of the final versions of the gun.

A true semiautomatic

The Crosman 600 CO2 pistol is a true 10-shot semiautomatic. I say true because it actually operates semiautomatically, using the CO2 gas to power the action. A lot of air pistols today say they are semiautomatics when in fact they are just double action revolvers in disguise. That shows up in their long heavy trigger pulls. The Crosman 600 trigger pull is long, but it’s also very light. When you feel it for the first time you fall in love with the gun.

Instead of a blowback slide cocking a hammer, the 600 employs an odd cammed feed arm that swings to the left to align with a 10-shot inline magazine. A pellet is pushed by spring pressure into the chamber on the end of the feed arm, and it sits there until the trigger is pulled. When the gun fires the arm swings to the right to line up with the breech and the gas blows the pellet into the barrel and out of the gun. This all happens in the blink of an eye and is hard to detect.

Crosman 600 feed arm
Here the pellet feed arm (arrow) is swung to the left side, to align with the inline magazine. A pellet is pushed into the feed arm chamber and waits for the shot. When the gun fires, the arm swings to the right, aligning with the barrel and the pellet gets blown forward by the gas.

There is no simulated recoil. A 600 is a very smooth-shooting air pistol.

.22 caliber

A 600s are .22 caliber. There is a model 677 Plink-O-Matic pistol that shoots BBs, but it never sold well and is very scarce today. It absolutely cannot be converted to shoot pellets because of how the inline magazine operates. This pistol has a magazine and not a clip, and it is so integral to the frame that it offers no easy path for modification.

Because of how the mechanism works, the 600 is sensitive to the length of pellets it uses. I have found RWS Hobby pellets work well on many guns, as do RWS Meisterkugeln pellets. The old vintage Eley Wasps also fed in all of the 600s I have owned. And Crosman Premiers work well, too. But pointed pellets probably won’t work as well because the nose of one pellet can get caught in the tail of the pellet in front of it in that inline magazine, and when the swinging feed arm tries to move to the barrel it can jam.

Crosman 600 magazine
The empty inline magazine is seen at the top, with the follower all the way forward. At the bottom of the action is the cocking slide.

Power and gas use

A 600 is not a high-velocity air pistol. Expect velocities in the high 300s and low 400s for a stock pistol. I have owned a couple what were souped up to the low 500s, but that did involve a longer barrel than the 5-inch one that comes stock with the pistol.

The 600 is a notorious gas hog. I hope to get 25 good shots from a 12-gram CO2 cylinder. A tuned gun can stretch that higher, but many tuned guns also have small bulk tanks attached, so its a moot point.

Ultimate ergonomics

The Crosman 600 is the airgun equivalent of the Luger firearm — utterly ergonomic. The poster-child of how a pistol should look and feel. Pointing a 600 is like pointing your finger. And many 600s had the barrels to back it up!
Like most airgun makers Crosman rifles barrels by pulling a button through seamless tubing. In high-volume guns like the 600 there is no time to ream the bore first, but the rifling button irons in a certain amount of uniformity.

Most of the time this works well and you get surprising accuracy from a budget airgun. But if there are hard patches or voids in the tubing, the barrel can come out bad. So it’s always a crap-shoot, whether a certain 600 will be accurate. I would call accurate the ability to put 10 pellets into one-inch at 10 meters.

Gas caps

There are three different types of Crosman 600 gas caps. The oldest one is a button-piercing cap. You install the cartridge, then press in on the rounded button to pierce the cartridge. The second type is a lever cap. It works like the button type, only a lever makes piercing easier. The third type is the last type Crosman used. The cap itself contains the piercing pin and pierces when the cap is screwed down. On some guns you must tart to unscrew this cap to let the CO2 gas begin flowing.Once it does, the o-ring locks the cap tightly in place.

Crosman 600 end cap
This end cap screws on to pierce the CO2 cartridge.

Crosman 600 lever cap
This lever cap is on a Mark I pistol, but it looks the same on a 600. The lever forces the cartridge into the piercing pin.

Sights

The front sight is a square post that is perfect for shooting both targets and for plinking. The rear sight has a square notch that adjusts in both directions. You can’rt ask for a better set of sport pistol sights than you get with the 600.

Safety

The safety is a simple trigger-block type located at the front of the left grip panel. It slides up to set and down to fire. It is very important to bear in mind that the 600 is always cocked and ready to fire when there is a CO2 cartridge installed. So this safety is important!

Crosman 600 safety
The safety is difficult to see, but it’s at the point of the arrow. Slide it up to block the trigger.

Modification

You can always install an aftermarket barrel in the 600, and people are doing that. It is popular to install a 7-inch Lothar Walther barrel in the gun and boost the accuracy to a surprising level. You also boost the velocity, just by giving the gas a longer time to push on the pellet.

 

This pistol

The pistol wasn’t charged when I got it, and with a 600 that can cause problems. I never leave mine empty. The seals need to be under pressure to keep the airborne dirt out and the gun should be dry-fired from time-to-time to keep the mechanism working. But I knew all of this, and the seller, who is reader Jonah, told me he had shot it as recently as a couple months ago. So I figured it would work.

I installed the first CO2 cartridge after dropping 10 drops of Cropsman Pellgunoil into the gun before inserting the cartridge. The seals were most likely dry (they were) and needed to be oiled to work. I also put a drop of Pellgunoil on the tip of the cartridge before installing it. Then I cocked the pistol and fired. Nothing. I expected that. I cocked and fired the gun about 25 times with no response, then I tried to unscrew the cap where the CO2 cartridge goes. If the gas it inside the cap should be on tight, but it wasn’t. As it unscrewed, gas started hissing and I tightened the cap once more.

Now the gun fired, but weakly. It didn’t cock the mechanism for a second shot, so I cocked and fired manually for about 20 shots. Gradually the shots became more powerful, but after each there was gas leaking out of the barrel. The gun still was not cocking with each shot. By that time the first CO2 cartridge was empty, so I removed it and went to Plan B. Plan B is to pour transmission stop leak into the gun before piercing the next cartridge. I didn’t count the number of drops but ket’s call it 50 to be safe. You cannot over-oil these guns as the excess is blown out the barrel on every shot.

This time the gun fired and cocked again. So I shot it several times, then set it aside for several minutes before firing again. I wanted those seals to be under pressure to seat properly, now that they were oiled again. I shot that gu over the course of the nesxt 8 hours and it functioned perfectly. When the gas ran out I installed a third cartridge — this one oiled with a drop of Pellgunoil on the tip in the conventional way. The gun was shot several times that day and again this morning, as I am writing this report.

The pistol now sounds like it’s back to factory spec. We will see when I do the velocity test in Part 2. The point of me telling you all of this is the Crosman 600 is touchy about how it wants to be treated. It is a fine air pistol that is rugged and reliable as long as you keep it charged all the time and oiled with Pellgunoil on each new cartridge. It puts me in mind of a Harley KR flathead racing motorcycle that takes a special procedure to break in after a rebuild, but is dead reliable, if you just run the poo out of it once it is broken in. In other words, this pistol is finicky because it needs to be shot a lot!

Could Crosman do it today?

People who shoot the 600 wonder why Crosman isn’t making this pistol today. The complex mechanism is one reason, though CNC machinery makes complex manufacture so much easier. But a simpler action would probably be needed. And Crosman made it in their Nightstalker carbine. I talked to Crosman engineer Ed Schultz about this for several years before he left the company. He agreed it would be a good seller, even with the harder trigger pull (required by their lawyer). But as far as I know, nothing has happened yet.

Crosman Nightstalker
The Crosman Nightstalker carbine, now out of production, would make a good candidate for a modern 600 pistol.