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Education / Training Sheridan Supergrade: 3

Sheridan Supergrade: 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sheridan Supergrade
Sheridan model A, also called the Supergrade.

Sheridan Supergrade: Part 1
Sheridan Supergrade: Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Crosman Premiers
  • Sheridan Cylindrical pellets
  • Now, for the interesting stuff!
  • Pelletgage
  • Too many variables!
  • Trigger
  • Results

I think today will open some eyes. I know it opened mine! Today is accuracy day with the Sheridan Supergrade I borrowed. I’ll get right into it, because the surprises came during the test.

Crosman Premiers

Though no longer made, Crosman Premiers in .20 caliber are some of the most accurate pellets I’ve ever used. I started with them. It’s 10 shots at 10 meters from a bag rest. I pumped the gun 5 times for each shot. The Supergrade has an adjustable rear peep sight that should be more precise than the open sights on my Sheridan Blue Streak.

Sheridan Supergrade rear sight
The Supergrade came standard with a rear peep sight. Note the long bolt handle that is found on the earlier Model As.

I used a 6 o’clock hold on a 10-meter pistol target. Ten Crosman Premier pellets went to exactly where I was aiming! Since this rifle is borrowed, I’m going to leave the sights where they are. Ten Premiers went into a group that measures 0.743-inches between centers. That’s not too shabby, but not as good as my Blue Streak that shot the same pellet into 0.322-inches.

Sheridan Supergrade Premier target
Ten Crosman Premier pellets went into 0.743-inches at 10 meters.

Hold your horses, though. There is something great coming!

Sheridan Cylindrical pellets

I tried the vintage Sheridan Cylindricals next. Ten of them went to almost the same place as the Premiers, but the group was larger. It measures 1.035-inches between centers and is vertical. Yes, I’m shooting with my bad right eye, but hold your judgement about that for now. My Blue Streak put 10 of these same pellets into a vertical group that measures 0.872-inches between centers.

Sheridan Supergrade Sheridan Cylindrical target
Ten vintage Sheridan Cylindrical pellets went into 1.035-inches at 10 meters.

Now, for the interesting stuff!

I noticed while shooting the first group that on one shot the very first pump stroke was hard — like the gun already had air inside. On the second group I checked for this and found that one time the gun was indeed holding air. It even popped once on its own! That lead me to plan my third target carefully.


I have a .20 caliber Pelletgage, courtesy of reader Jerry Cupples. With that device, I sorted ten Crosman Premiers for the third test. I discovered that Premiers are remarkably consistent. It only took sorting 13 pellets to come up with ten that had heads of the same size. And they were large. My gage has 10 holes running from 5.02mm to 5.11mm and the 10 pellets I selected were all 5.11mm. The other three were 5.10mm.

But that wasn’t all I planned to do. Since the gun was holding back some air from 5 pumps on some shots, I decided to shoot these pellets with 4 pumps instead. I further decided to cock and fire the rifle after every shot, just in case some air remained in the reservoir.

Too many variables!

You scientific types are going to lecture me because I introduced three variables into this final test. Well, here’s why. I don’t care whether it is the sorted pellets, the lower number of pumps or exhausting the air after every shot that works, because this isn’t my airgun. I’m looking for results — not test data. Maybe it was a combination of all three things, or it’s just as possible that only one of them mattered and the other two didn’t. Let’s now look at what this rifle did.

Ten Crosman Premiers went into a group that meassures 0.28-inches between centers! That is clearly the best group of either the Blue Streak or this Supergrade, and it tells me that the accuracy is there.

Sheridan Supergrade sorted Premiers target
Ten Crosman Premier pellets with sorted heads went into 0.28-inches at 10 meters.


A reader asked me whether the Supergrade trigger gets heavier with more pumps. It does not. It has am impact-type striker system that remains constant at all times. This two-stage trigger is not adjustable, and breaks at 2 lbs. 9 oz. The blade is wide, so the trigger finger has something solid to pull.


I think this test demonstrates that the Sheridan Supergrade is capable of fantastic accuracy when the right pellets are used and when the gun is shooting at its best. The test rifle has some valve issues that can be overcome by certain operational means that I have shown.

But a Sheridan Supergrade is not a day-in-day-out airgun. It’s a rifle to treasure and shoot occasionally. If you want a solid shooter, I recommend getting a Blue or Silver Streak with the rocker safety. That you can shoot to your heart’s content.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

42 thoughts on “Sheridan Supergrade: 3”

    • RR,

      Yes, I do agree that it needs some work. This design is not easy to work on, though, because the parts are unique and must be custom-made. But if they can be made correctly I should be possible to bring this old gal back to new.


  1. B.B.,

    Way to go on getting innovative with your testing! I guess that begs the question,….. Is it possible for (any) multi-pump to have air left over past a certain amount of pumps? For that matter, even a single stroke.

    It also begs the question,….. What allows/insures that (all) the air will be exhausted on 10 pumps (on something like a 880) vs just 5 pumps?


    • Chris,

      You have asked the most fundamental question. What determines whether there is air left in a gun? It’s a combination of the valve surfaces and angles and how they interface, the power of the return spring that closes the valve, and the size (volume) of the passage for air to leave the valve and gun.

      This old Supergrade no doubt has valve surfaces that have hardened and have perhaps become deformed over time and the return spring may be a little weak.


      • B.B.,

        Thank you. I went back and read several older articles and arrived at the same conclusion,…. design of the components. I guess it boils down to,…. if the gun working as it was designed to work when new, then all is fine.

        In my look back,…. I noted 2 multi-pump pneumatic listings in the “Categories” side bar. Why is that?


      • Tom,
        I’ve been working on this old girl to try and remedy the issues you found. After removing the valve, but not disassembling it, flushing it with alcohol, oiling and reinstalling the valve, cleaning and oiling the hammer, spring, and trigger sear, she now shoots and dumps all air every time from 3 to 7 pumps. On 8 pumps, the rifle doesn’t fire the first time, but cock it again and it will fire. Seems like the hammer spring doesn’t have enough force to open the exhaust valve at 8 pumps. Anyway, I will chrony it tomorrow to verify that what I am seeing and feeling results in consistent velocities.

        • Cloud 9,

          Welcome to the blog. Isn’t it nice to have a second set of baseline data to compare to?

          It seems your rifle suffers from just age and nothing more. I hope you can get her fully operational again, and thanks for letting all of us look at her.


  2. BB

    This gun seems to have lived up to all of your earlier fantastical expectations that you had when you were a younger man, except for its inability to penetrate into the cabin of a nazi tank. A couple questions…

    1. How does this example measure up to your memories of the one you owned?

    2. When in the heck are you going to republish your report on the Al Niebecker pump gun?! Inquiring minds want to know!

  3. OK, I just got my Beeman P17 (according to the gun marking) Model 2004 (according to the packaging) pistol from Pyramyd. Here’s my first review, WOW :):):):):)

    First, I have zero pistol shooting experience, though I did learn how to completely disassemble and reassemble a M1911 except for the barrel link and ejector during my 6 months as a unit armorer 😉 (I think that was probably unauthorized maintenance for a unit armorer)
    first, I was surprised by how large and heavy it is, I gues necessary to accommodate the large diameter piston and to give you a long enough lever for compressing the piston.
    2nd, opening the slide, you need to not only pull open the pseudo hammer but actually pull down and hold to open the pump lever. on closing the pump lever, I found out do not use the area between your thumb and finger 😉 the dove tail between the sights is extremely sharp and I cut 2 nice little slits in my hand. LOL, so use the heal of your hand next to your wrist to safely close the pump lever. It does take quite a bit a force, not for kids or weaklings, LOL And I can definitely see how loading for someone with large fingers could be difficult, too bad they didn’t design it with a higher pseudo hammer slot so one could use a loading pen.

    I decided to start at 8 feet, not knowing the gun/sights or my pistol ability. my first shoot landed less than 3/4 inch from the aim point. seemed louder than my daisy 853 rifle, probably due to the shorter barrel. after firing 3 shots I felt comfortable moving back to 15 feet, then 3 more shots and I moved back to 8 yards behind my rifle bench. First group size at 8 yards, with no pistol shooting experience 1 & 5/16 inches using $3/500 daisy flat head pellets, WOW 🙂 better than I expected.

    I am cross eye dominate and decided to just do what felt natural without thinking about it, , which was closing right eye, shooting single right handed from a left hand stance, LOL, probably looks hilarious but it worked. I’m sure I will experiment a lot, but that is what I naturally did without thinking about it. 😉

    And, as Michael said, that trigger is a revelation, I have never felt a trigger that nice 😉

    • I’ve probably shot about 200 pellets this weekend judging from the dwindling daisy pellet can 😉

      I was starting to get a sore heal of my hand from closing the action, discouraging me from continuing on. I needed a glove on my off hand but that would interfere with loading (and I’m operating the auto safety with my left hand immediately after load too).

      then I remembered, I have some padded fingerless weight lifting gloves 🙂 perfect, I can close the action comfortably and my fingers are free to take care of business 🙂

  4. 6.5

    First off I must ask you where your handle comes from.

    Secondly, regarding the Beeman P17 / Marksman 2004…

    You have purchased the best deal in airguns period. I hate to admit it, but it is even a better deal than the Crosman 1377 American Classic (the most expensive cheap airgun you will ever own).

    Given the quality and price of the P17 there really is no excuse not to own one. My best advice to owners of this gun is to lubricate the pump mechanism and shoot it often.

    I also own the Beeman P3, which is the kissing cousin, if not the identical twin to the P17. If you can believe it, $205 extra dollars buys you a slightly improved trigger! But that says a lot, since I own air rifles that cost several hundred dollars but don’t have a trigger nearly as nice as the P17 does.

    I love the P17. It deserves its own fanclub. Now someone needs to reproduce the Beeman P1 / HW45 for $35!!! I will wait in line for an hour to buy that one.

    • Well Slinging Lead,

      after the first couple tries of selecting a name, I decided to try something unlike what other names I had seen, A decimal number. LOL

      ATTI (according to the internet) over a hundred years of different cartridge examples, cartridges with a 6.5 mm bullet have proven to be most accurate. So I figure me, being who I am, If I were to get a firearm, (I have none presently) I would pick one with a 6.5 mm bullet 😉

      And the winner: I suspect I would choose the .25 WSSM (Winchester Super Short Magnum)

      If I had used 25WSSM people would have been assuming I actually owned one, LOL 😉 🙂 😉 🙂

      • I have a .257 Weatherby Magnum that is the most accurate rifle I own. It’s 400 fps faster than the Winchester Super Short Magum too, you might want to rethink your choice.

        • 🙂 sounds good.

          I don’t have anyplace to shoot, but if history is any guide I’d probably spend 6 months researching if I decided to by a firearm. 😉 Of course sometimes I’m a little impulsive, so who knows.

          Of course I get a couple hundred shots of pellets for the price of every magnum round. On the other hand, being ready for the Zombie hoards is important too. 😉 😉 😉

      • 6.5 translates into .264 cal, not .257….. i am a huge fan of the .264. i shoot a couple .264wm, a couple .260rem, and soon, a 26 nosler. they blow the .257 (6.35) out of the water

  5. B.B.,

    Is there a modern equivalent of the Sheridan Supergrade? I realize from reading the series that the cost of the rifle and relatively poor sales pushed management to discontinue production. What come closest to it that is available?

    Having to cock it before pumping is on the plus side for me as that would negate the problem with most pumpers having heavier triggers the more pumps you put in.


    • Siraniko,

      I fail to see the connection between more pumps making for a heavier trigger. On one hand… you have a valve, stored air pressure and a pump mechanism. On the other hand,… you have a cocking mechanism, a hammer to strike the valve and a trigger. Where is the (mechanical connection) that would add more pressure to the trigger? To me,…. the 2 systems are separate until the hammer strikes the valve.

      Feel free to correct me.


      • Chris USA,

        Most pump pneumatics get cocked while they are pumped. The more pumps you put in the greater the resistance for the sear to let go. If the cocking mechanism is separate the trigger will be the same no matter how many pumps you put in. Looks like I will be in the market for a Webley Rebel first then look for aftermarket parts in neighboring Indonesia where they are made, specifically to change the plastic receiver into one of aluminum alloy. Barrel upgrade to follow.


        • Siraniko,

          I assumed,.. maybe wrongly,…. that the bolt needed to be cocked because the striker/hammer was holding the valve open (after) the gun had been fired. The sear should be under no additional pressure as the (only) thing that is causing pressure on it is the hammer/striker spring,… separate of any amount of air. The bolt does that. But after the bolt has performed the function of cocking,…. the only other function of it is to push in the pellet and close the breech end of the barrel.

          Maybe I am still missing something? Can you site an article that showed where trigger pull effort and the # of pumps were tested?


          • Chris USA,

            B.B. remarked on that with the Webley Rebel he tested (which was cocked while you pumped):
            section on Pump Effort followed by Trigger Pull.

            That part is negated when the rifle has to be cocked before pumping.


          • Chris USA,

            From: /blog/2009/09/sharp-ace-the-sheridan-of-the-orient/

            The Sharp loses some ground in the trigger department. This is due to the designer’s choice of air valves. Where the Sheridan has a traditional knock-open or striker-type valve, in which a spring-loaded weight (called a hammer) forces the valve stem open, Sharp chose to go with a blow-off valve system. With this system, there’s no requirement to cock the rifle, because the act of pressurizing the reservoir is all that’s required. The trigger doesn’t release a spring-loaded weight–it frees the rifle’s valve to open violently and release all the pressurized air stored inside. Crosman used this type of trigger in their 140 and 1400 rifles. When they worked, they were adequate, although the trigger effort grows with each additional pump of air in the reservoir.


            • Siraniko,

              Thank you very much for that. I had never heard that discussed before, until recently. As good as any rifle of that type may be,… that would be a deal breaker for me.

              Thanks again, Chris

  6. Dear B.B.,

    I recently purchased a AirForce Micro-meter tank largely because of some of the excellent reports you wrote. My Talon fires way faster than I had expected based on the articles I found. I was firing 14.3 premiers at ~790 fps!

    I read into your reports and found the results confusing. In a couple of the articles, it would seem that the power wheel has a significant effect with the Micro-Meter tank whereas in other articles, it has no effect. In one of the articles, a Condor would fire 14.3 premiers in the 680 fps range. In another article, a Talon SS with a 24″ barrel could fire 14.3 premiers at just over 700 fps.

    I must be not taking some of the variables to account. Were there changes to the power plant and Micro-Meter tank valves between the time those articles were published? What am I missing?

    These are the articles I referenced:
    Get a new airgun from AirForce with just a tank change! (Air gun blog, 2006)
    The AirForce Condor – Part 4 Micro-Meter tank (Air gun blog, 2008)
    The Micro-Meter Tank from AirForce (AirForce website)
    My Condor is too powerful (AirForce website)
    AirForce Talon SS precharged pneumatic air rifle: Part 9 (Air gun blog, 2012)
    AirForce Talon SS precharged pneumatic air rifle: Part 8 (Air gun blog, 2012)

    Perhaps other readers with a Micro-Meter could chime in?

    Thank you,

    • Brandon,

      Welcome to the blog.

      Yes, the Micro-Meter valve has changed over time. Those tests were all correct at the time they were done.

      Can you get lower velocity with a Talon or a Talon SS and that tank? Certainly! Just fit an o-ring under the wide portion at the bottom of the top hat.That causes the valve to open less and stay open for less time. Your velocity will drop like a rock.

      Do it and get back to us. If you don’t like it you can always remove it and your gun will be the same as it was before.


  7. Impressive accuracy from a gun produced during the height of America’s manufacturing greatness. Notwithstanding CNC machinery and some other developments, the manufacturing prowess of an earlier time was very impressive. I was talking to a guy who had a Colt 1911 built in 1938 customized by a gunsmith named Chip McCormick. I asked if he had added a match barrel to go with the other upgrades and the guy said that according to Chip, there was no commercial barrel that equal the stock barrel of that gun. I also heard from Clint Fowler that the Krieger barrel company that makes match barrels uses machinery that was used to make the G.I. issue barrels from WWII.

    This individual with the rebuilt 1911 was quite a revelation. He has a whole gun safe full of guns which he has rebuilt from “demilled” guns. A certain amount of the reconstruction was done by examining old photos and using what he called “machinist logic.” One piece was a reconstructed M21 sniper rifle built out of a Springfield M1A loaded. But when I asked him how accurate these guns were, he didn’t have much to say. For the M21, he said that he put 4 rounds into a bullseye and when I pressed him further, he just said, “It’s very accurate.” The same for his other rifles. It seems that he has learned a great deal about the mechanism of the guns without knowing much about marksmanship. I guess people’s enthusiasm for shooting can run in all different directions.


  8. Matt 61— I collect (among many other things) antique and figure chess sets. I never play chess with them. I only play the game with Staunton pattern tournament sets. Many years ago, I visited a collector of cat figureines. She had almost 1,000 of them. Most were ceramic or glass. I said to her–” you seem to love cats. Do you have any pet cats? “She had a horrified look on her face, and said–” NO! Why would I want one of those horrible beasts? It might break my delicate, precious little kitties !” There are some very peculiar people who are collectors. —–Ed

  9. I was able to spend a little trigger time with my HM1000X today. Despite it being very breezy today I was able to shoot a five shot group at 50 yards that was about 3/4″ CTC. I also tried out a 105 grain flat point cast bullet and shot a group that was about 1 1/4″ at 50 yards. If it had been calm, they would have been a lot smaller.

    This is a VERY interesting air rifle. 🙂

  10. RR,

    You know, you probably have the modern equivalent of the Girandoni air rifle right there. I’m curious about how many shots you are getting per fill. Wonder if it would take 1500 strikes to pump that up 🙂 I sure I wouldn’t have wanted air gum duty on the Lewis and Clark expedition. They probably had to spell each other. I can just see the conversation going something like this. ” How many strokes did you do? WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T COUNT PAST 100?”

    • Brent,

      Sorry I did not respond earlier. Life has had me pretty busy the last couple of days.

      I am getting about 20-25 shots before it comes off of the regulator at the power level it is tuned to at the moment. I can safely assume three 7 shot magazines per fill. It is tuned from the factory for the 81 grain JSBs and it is deadly accurate with these. The first day I shot it I was shooting 7 shot groups at 50 yards that a quarter would completely cover.

      As far as hand pumping goes, I can’t count that high either. It takes a lot of pumping and I have to take breaks. But when you pull the trigger on this thing, it is all worth it. Hopefully I will have a compressor soon.

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