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Ammo 2017 SHOT Show: Part 3

2017 SHOT Show: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

  • Air Venturi
  • Lil Duke
  • New Air Bolts
  • Hatsan
  • Semiautomatics
  • Big Bore Carnivore
  • Sun Optics compressor
  • The year of the airgun

Air Venturi

This was the first actual day of the SHOT Show, and the crowd was excited! I stopped at the Air Venturi booth first, so let’s see what’s there.

Lil Duke

First up was the Lil’ Duke BB gun. As you can see, it’s styled after the model 92 Winchester John Wayne carried in a number of his most famous movies, including True Grit. This is the one he fills his hand with.

Lil' Duke
The Lil Duke is bound to become a favorite.

The John Wayne airguns have been quite successful for Air Venturi. They had a second booth upstairs this year where they showed a number of their other John Wayne handguns, including a 1911 that Wayne probably carried in the Sands of Iwo Jima!

John Wayne 1911
John Wayne 1911 looks liken he just took it out of its holster.

New Air Bolts

Air Venturi is launching their successful Air Bolts in .25 and .357 calibers. Tyler Patner told me he shot three .357 Air Bolts into about an inch at 30 yards from a Benjamin Bulldog. And they develop almost 200 foot-pounds, which is more than the bullets develop!

Paul Milkovich at Air Venturi was proud to show me their new line of Kral PCPs. While the Kral springers aren’t much to talk about, the new pneumatics are apparently quite the bargain. Paul told me Tyler has spent considerable time testing them and for the price he is very impressed. At the $500 and slightly higher range, I know they will give the Russian bullpups that cost double a run for the money! I hope to test one for you soon.

Kral bullpups
Kral bullpups come in synthetic and wood.

Kral rifle
Paul Milkovich holds the new Kral PCP rifle. It looks like an expensive European rifle, but sells for half or less.


Next, I trundled over to the Hatsan USA booth and Daniel Settle talked me through their new products. The first news is they are now shipping the .45 caliber Hercules PCPs I showed you last year. And, there is an exciting new .45-caliber bullet (they call it a pellet) soon to come out for it. It’s what is known to Cowboy Action Shooters as a collar button style, and they are finalizing the details on it now.

Hatsan 45 bullet
Hatsan’s new .45 caliber bullet for the Hercules should be available soon.


The big news at Hatsan is the new semiautomatic rifles they are bringing out this year. The Barrage is the rifle length and the Bullmaster is the bullpup. Both come in .177 and .22 calibers and both have the same barrels lengths, so expect the same power, which in .22 runs around 30 foot-pounds at the muzzle. They hold 14 shots in .177 and 12 in .22 and the mag is spring-loaded to jump to the next pellet. They come with 3 magazines, two of which are carried in the stock. They aren’t regulated, but do get 50-60 shots per charge, which on a semiautomatic will mean you need lots of pellets.

Hatsan Barrage Bullmaster
Hatsan Barrage (top) and Bullmaster are semiautomatics! They are 100 percent mechanical, so no worries about batteries and motors.

Big Bore Carnivore

Hatsan is still the only maker of big bore spring piston airguns in the world, and this year they added a model 130 with synthetic stock and lighter weight to compliment their 135 that came out in 2016. I still have not tested any .30 caliber breakbarrel, but it’s on my to-do list!

Big Bore Carnivores
Hatsan Big Bore Carnivore 135 (top) is joined this year by the lighter model 130.

I went to more places than I’m going to show you today, but don’t fret. There are still several more reports to come. Right now I want to show you one of the most innovative things I saw at this show, and it isn’t an airgun.

I told you in the beginning of this series of reports that 2017 is a big year for PCPs. If I didn’t tell you I meant to The reason for that is twofold — the new guns and the new compressors. We’ve seen many of the new guns that will influence the market like the gauntlet and the Wildfire, but so far we have only seen one of the new compressors — the one Air Venturi is bringing out. And by the way, the retail number on that one is $1299.

Now let’s look at a second compressor. This one is being sold by Sun Optics, but they tell me they haven’t decided whether they will sell it direct or not. I suppose that depends on whether or not they book a lot of customers who want to sell lots of them under their house name. Don’t fret, you will be able to buy this one soon.

Sun Optics compressor

This compressor runs on both 12 volt DC (auto) and 110 volt AC electricity. It has a 24-volt DC motor and two power converters to handle the incoming current. It’s about the size of a box of shoes, but longer, as you will see. And it has user-settable power shutoff for zero to (they say) 4.500 psi. Extensive testing to 3,600 psi has already been done.

Sun Optics compressor
Sun Optics compressor is small and runs on both household current and a car battery.

I told Sun Optics owner, Duane Sorenson, I wanted to hear it run, and a minute later he said to me, “See how quiet it is?” I was astounded, because I didn’t think it was running! Yes, the SHOT Show is a loud trade show, but we were having a conversation in normal speaking voices. I had to lay my hand on the box to feel the slight vibration as it did its job.

I then asked if it dried the air and Sorenson removed the huge canister of desiccant. He told me that in the five years he has been developing this compressor he’s learned that moisture is the number one enemy of long life, with heat buildup being a close second. So I laid my hand on the outside of the motor and it was room temperature. Sorenson says it never heats beyond that.

Sun Optic compressor filter
The water filter cartridge is the size of a can of soda. The compressor is running when this shot was taken.

I plan to test one of these compressors for you. I want to know how good they are myself. Sorenson has tested his mule for hundreds of hours and it appears to be very robust. This is the sort of thing that can make the pneumatic airgun take center stage.

The year of the airgun

I have seen a lot more than you are reading about today, but that’s for another report. Suffice to say, 2017 is the year of the airgun!

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.

39 thoughts on “2017 SHOT Show: Part 3”

  1. SunOptics continues to have innovative airgun ideas and ability to get them into production. I see a compressor in my future! Even with the big compressors used for industrial air, you must have aftercoolers or refrigerant systems in place, or the air lines will soon have condensate, and then corrosion, etc. Seems to me that even a large cartridge of desiccant will need to be replaced or regenerated regularly. In my career we used “dry boxes” or cabinets. These were intended to hold work in dry condition. They had “wheels” circulating air in two desiccant paths – one in use to dry, and the other regenerating. The desiccant material was a mineral called zeolite. See http://www.allergyclean.com/the-truth-about-zeolites-used-as-desiccants/

  2. B.B.,

    The loop on the Lil Duke looks disproportional, even for a loop style. At any rate, interesting. I am assuming this is a youth size rifle, similar to a Red Ryder or a 499?

    Nice to see new compressors with reasonable prices. Desiccant is nice. The AC/DC version was quite the surprise. I wonder what the advantage is,…. heat, torque, speed? Charging from a car in the field would be one I guess.

    Are they self contained or do they also need a compressor to feed them low pressure air?

    Another fine report,… thanks. Chris

    • The Lil Duke is adveretised as having an “up to” muzzle velocity of 350 fps like so many other BB guns such as the Red Ryder, Model 25 Daisy, etc. What is the “actual” MV? I dont see how there can be an “up to” spec. when the weight of virtually all steel BBs used in such guns is 5.2 grains. So if its not 350 fps then its probably a number much lower. I know the target customers for this BB gun are little little kids who dont give a hoot about muzzle velocity. Back in my day the velocity of a “legitimate” BB gun could shoot a min. of 300 fps. Nobody had chronos back then but it seems to me that BB guns back then shot alot harder and straighter than they do today. My sons’ 7 year old Red Ryder never shot more than 280 fps-even when new. Id like to see a return to those days when they made real BB guns.

      • reallead,

        Welcome to the blog.

        The “up to” velocity is for legal purposes. If they were taken to court, their literature must specify the highest velocity the gun is capable of. With BBs guns, it’s usually their actually velocity, too.


      • Reallead,

        What got me was Lil Duke referencing John Wayne and the over sized cocking lever. Both I think would be lost on any young person today. Clearly they are aiming this at Dads and Grandpas getting this for their kids and Grandkids. I do have a 50th. Red Ryder just because. A 499 too. Beyond that though, that is it on lever guns. I do not care for the Walther. The butt looks very disproportional to me.

        As B.B. said,……. welcome.

  3. Every year we see more and more in the world of airgunning. It is slowly catching on with the masses. They are also bringing out more innovative products.

    New compressors everywhere! I know of four new compressors this year.

    True semi PCPs! I have a feeling the Barrage and Bullmaster are going to be hot items this year. FX will finally have some serious competition with these.

    New, low to mid priced PCPs coming out all over the place! If Kral has improved their quality over the years, we will have another serious contender for the Marauder.

    New big bores everywhere! These are starting to really catch on with the airgun world.

    New ammo! All kinds of new pellets, bullets and bolts.

    New optics! Centerpoint seems to be really trying to be a quality optics company. They are even coming out with a first focal plane scope line. Who da thunk it.

    New stuff everywhere! I am looking forward to all of this!

  4. RR,

    I am excited too. I fear though that my buying days are nearing an end unless I sell the TX,LGU and M-rod w/RAI stock,….. and get something high end like you and Vana2 just got. After all,…. how many air guns does one really need? Each to their own on that topic I suppose.

    You know, one thing that is blatantly missing and has been for a couple of years?,…….. Something sleek, slim, sexy and lightweight like the Maximus. M-rod type mag. and cheek riser could be added and not mess with the fine lines and weight. Reg. too. Instead we are seeing bulky wood and synthetic models with no doubt some good heft.

    Don’t get me wrong,… I like to see it all and am thrilled, but things are looking rather bulky. The Maximus gets a 10 outa 10 in the looks and feel dept. in my book. Just my opinion.

    • Hey Chris,

      In response to your comment “how many air guns does one really need”. I have lucked into a couple of really good deals and have been thinning the herd and liquidating assets as I go to support my airgun habit/addiction 🙂 My thinking is that I need a good rifle/pistol for each discipline that I follow and the performance needs of that discipline. Pretty vague answer eh? LOL!

      Fortunately, many rifles will cover multiple bases – like my FWB300 – a target rifle that is fantastic for light pesting.

      So my answer is what do you want to do and buy/upgrade to the level to where you can be.

      Glad that you are liking your Maximus – nice shooter eh?


      • Hank,

        No real desires at this point. I am pretty happy with what I currently have. My main point, which maybe I did not state to well,…. was where is the light weight, sleek styled guns? I am speaking PCP’s. I was using the Maximus just as an example. Add a magazine, a regulator and a cheek riser. Very little weight would be added. Better trigger, sure. Yes, the price would go up. The point was just to put quality features in a light weight and sleek package. That is what I was saying that I am not seeing.

        Yes,…. liking the Maximus very much on multiple fronts.

        • Chris,

          You are talking about a Daystate Huntsman Regal XL or the Brocock Compatto. There are other real nice quality air rifles out there just now coming out. You are not hearing much here about them because PA does not carry them. Check around and you will find them.

  5. B.B. & Rocketsci, yesterday Rocket posed the question about the Gauntlet being ran (filled) on 2000 psi instead of 3000 psi (if one was filling with a hand pump). I’ve been told by JB ( Umarex USA Marketing Director) that yes it can be ran on 2000 psi! That is great news, at least for me. He said it’s reg. to 1,110 psi. When it gets down to that, gauge will start reading in the red. Time to top off. I don’t know how many shots she would produce on 2000 psi fill, but exciting just the same. I’m sure B.B. will tell us when the time comes!

  6. B.B.

    WOW, things really are changing. Sounds like you will have a very busy 2017.
    Those compressors sound very interesting, Maybe I should go into the scuba tank filling business.


  7. If someone comes out with a light weight affordable hand pump that would be the bone that pushes me over to PCP for sure, as it is the Benjamin Wildfire has my attention, though I am not going to carry around the heavy current low cost hand pumps, nor will I carry around a car battery and charging system for it.

    I know it is possible to make a low cost pump, as someone demonstrated one a few years back using a leaver similar to what multi pumps use. If memory serves the one demonstrated was based on the leaver, piston, tube, and check seal from one of the older Crosman multi pumps.

    So who is coming out with a low cost light weight hand pump this year?

    • David C,

      I do not have a hand pump, but did a quick look at what P.A. offers. 4. 3600, 3600, 4000 and 4500 psi. None list the weight. One list the length(s) at 24″ to 43″. Prices range from 180 to 290 for the Hill.

      At what point will weight and cost give itself over to poor quality and poor durability? For what they do, the price does not seem to be too bad. From what I have heard, the Hill is the most desired for its durability.

      • Unfortunately they all have a bit to much weight, and the lightest of them have trouble with seals.

        I believe it is possible to make a good hand pump that will last, have good durability, and have a sub $150 retail price.

          • I see nothing that is against physics. How do you figure that physics is against the idea of a high pressure air pump that is relatively light weight (under 4 pounds), and inexpensive. I do not know what you are attempting to refer.

          • The way to achieve a low cost, light weight pump would be to go single stage.

            The biggest issue therein would be head space, though as long as the head space in the pump tube is not greater than 1/256th of the total compressible volume pressures of up to approximately 4000PSI are possible.

            The next issue would be the force needed to push the piston, this can be solved in the same way that Crosman solved the same problem on multi pump air rifles back in the 1920’s, and now everyone copies for multi pump air rifles. That solution is of course adding leverage by way of a very simple double fulcrum leaver system.

  8. With regards to Hatsan’s Barrage and Bullmaster, this is the first time I can recall where I would really prefer the bullpup version. The rifle version just looks ungainly. The Bullmaster at first looked as odd as other bullpups before it but given the rifle version that is the one I would prefer to carry around.


  9. Was True Grit set as late as 1892 or was the rifle an anachronism? Perhaps it is supposed to be ambiguous. I was watching an old black and white cowboy movie that had to do with a young renegade matching himself against three gunfighters who called themselves the Three Musketeers. They were shooting it up like something out of the Old West. Then, the young cowboy, climbed into an automobile, propped his rifle against the seat and drove off down a highway.

    I’ve had some second thoughts about the Gamo breakbarrel repeater from yesterday. It’s good as far as it goes. But a repeater lends itself to speed, and the breakbarrel is just not optimized for that. Gamo and other companies should think of a sidelever repeater like the IZH 61.

    Here is another reloading question. The literature says that crimping bullets maintains a more consistent starting pressure fo the discharge which will produce better accuracy. Is there anything to this? Or this another baseless theory?


  10. I still have a soft spot in my heart for a springer big bore air gun that works out to at least 50 yards. Minute of golf ball accuracy at 50 yards would make me happy.

    I really wish someone on the blog and BB would get one so I could hear first hand what results they get. You know the Hatsan 130 and 135. And I really want to get one. But I just keep holding back from getting certain types of guns anymore.

    I’m still fascinated about a big diameter projectile flying around 600 fps or slower. Would love to see what kind of damage would be put on a soda can at 50 yards with a 400 fps .50 caliber chunk of lead.

    I keep remembering as a kid shooting marbles from my Wrist Rocket sling shot at cans. Sure puts a wollup on them.

    And I know all about all those characteristics a big bore springer has. Surprised that someone like Diana with the 54 air king anti recoil slide system hasn’t came up with a .35 caliber or bigger spring gun. I think that would probably be the big bore springer I would get.

    Well maybe one of the manufacturers will read this and come up with something before next year’s shot show. You know I’m ready now. They don’t have to wait all the way till next year.

  11. My two main comments are that I’m surprised (and a bit relieved) that nothing I saw knocked the Armada off the top of my wish list, and I was surprised that the new gun I want most is the Wildfire–it just looks like too much fun! Let me be the first to nickname it the “Mini Me”rauder! Still, didn’t see all of Crosman’s licensed products and I remain curious. But wow, an incredible slew of new products. Golden Age of Airgunning, I’m tellin’ ya!

  12. Chris,
    Thanks for your comment. My observances on this is for years I havent seen kids or their parents/grandparents lining up to buy BB guns (no matter what features they have or what they look like) like they did 40 years ago. Back then Daisy (and other makers) had a plethora of choices for people to make when selecting a BB gun. Now Daisy has three (3) that Im aware of: the Model 10 BB Carbine, the Red Ryder, and the Model 25-all made in (expletive) China. Plus a single stroke pneumatic and a CO2 repeater. I guess its a sign of the times when the only thing that raises kids’ interests these days is electronics/airgun-video games/mobile devises/computers. The airgun aisle in most sporting goods stores is as empty as the sock aisle. Today it seems BB guns have morphed more and more into adult-intended pellet guns.


    • Reallead,

      Well, if the kids are not asking for them, then the parents or Grandparents are not going to be buying them. And really,… how do they market to the youth? It is not like we have cowboy movies any more. Guns in general are taboo subjects at all levels of youth and schools. Kids get suspended for even holding their hand in the shape of a pistol. Yes, there are some exceptions.

      I am afraid that it is up to us gun (whatever type) loving adults to carry it forward.

  13. Chris,
    Yeah you’re right. The one thing that sparked my interest in BB guns (lit the fuse, sort of speak) was a Daisy ad in the back of a Sad Sack comic book. I also saw some BB gun ads in Boys Life magazine in the boy scouts. Those ads are gone with the cowboy shows. But kids today have the internet and they can find info about any airgun maker, dealer, distributor, etc. So maybe they’re more informed and interested than it seems……

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