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Education / Training BB’s Christmas gift: Part 2

BB’s Christmas gift: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sheridan Supergrade right
Like all Supergrades, my new rifle is graceful and attractive.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Pump head may need adjustment
  • Compare to the other Supergrade
  • The other Supergrade
  • Test 2 — stability
  • Four pumps
  • Sick old girl!
  • Test is suspended

Today we look at the power of my new Sheridan Model A, also known as the Supergrade. My low-serial-number rifle was probably made in the 1940s. The wood has certainly been refinished. The rifle seems to function fine, though today will be the very first time I have tested it over a chronograph.

I had pumped the rifle twice when I put it away, and it had held the air when I started this test. That’s a good sign.

The test

I decided to perform my standard test on the rifle, starting with an assessment of the velocity/power at each pump stroke, from 3 to 8. For this test I used .20 caliber Crosman Premiers that are no longer available. It was very revealing.

Pump…….Velocity (f.p.s)

The first shot on 5 pumps was recorded at 383 f.p.s., so I decided to shoot a second time. When that one registered 353 f.p.s., I knew the first shot was recorded correctly. What’s going on?

Pump head may need adjustment

One clue is the pump arm. After 4 pumps (pumps 5 to 8) the pump arm springs up when I open it to pump. That’s a sight of some compressed air remaining in front of the pump piston head because it’s not entering the reservoir. It means the space between the end of the pump piston head and the air reservoir inlet valve is too large when the pump handle is closed.

These older multi-pumps were made with threaded pump rods, so this space can be adjusted as close as possible. Part of any tuneup is to adjust this distance to as close as you can without the head touching the inlet valve.

Too close and the pump head gets damaged, which can be another reason why this happened. If the pump head is adjusted too close to the inlet valve, it may have been pressing against the valve and the pump head may now have a crater in its end. The only way to fix that is to either get a new head or to fill the crater and adjust the head so it doesn’t crash against the inlet valve.

I don’t know what the problem is at this point, but this test shows there definitely is a problem. I want you veteran multi-pump owners to know that at 5 pump strokes and above I cocked the rifle and fired it a second time to hear whether any air remained after the shot. None did, though 8 pumps.

Compare to the other Supergrade

If this was our first excurion into Supergrades we might wonder where this rifle was, but fortunately I tested another Supergrade last October. That rifle also had some valve problems, but look at the results it gave for the same test.

The other Supergrade

Pump…….Velocity (f.p.s)

This other rifle was not without its faults, but the power it developed was significantly greater on each pump stroke. This is a classic example of why a chronograph is such an important tool for the airgunner.

Test 2 — stability

Looking at the first test, I decided to test the rifle for 5 shots with Premiers on 4 pumps next. That seems to be the best spot for the rifle at this time. This test was an eye-opener!

Four pumps

Shot……Velocity (f.p.s.)

What a test this was! The low velocity on the first shot told me that more is wrong with my rifle than just the pump rod out of adjustment. But that was just where it started.

On the second shot, the rifle failed to fire! I recocked it and shot again and once more, nothing. So I cocked it again (you have to cock a Supergrade before you pump it or the valve won’t hold air) and then pumped it 4 more times. That gave me 401 f.p.s. After the shot I cocked it again and fired. There was no air left in the reservoir.

The same thing happened on each successive shot. The first time, nothing. Then pump it again and fire and it worked. This is similar to what the other Supergrade did, but not quite the same.

After shot 4 I cocked the gun and fired it and there was air remaining in the reservoir. This was the only time that happened.

Sick old girl!

I think this test reveals that my new Supergrade is a sick old girl. I have seen similar problems with every Supergrade I have shot, and I think it comes down to the valve design. The Supergrade valve is a ball, rather than a tapered plug. I think it works fine when new, but over time the valve seat wears and hardens to the point that things like this start happening.

Supergrade valve
The Supergrade valve is a ball, rather than a tapered plug. It works well when new, but when it gets old there can be problems. I think it’s due to the valve seats hardening with age.

Valve seats in all pneumatic guns harden with age. but when they are replacxed the guns work like new again. The problem is, new Sheridan valve seats are not available. Even if you were to find a supply of new-old-stock Sheridan Model A valve seats somewhere, they would have hardened with age just sitting on the shelf and would not be any better than the seats in your gun.

Other airguns have similar problems. Diana recoilless airguns, FWB 124s, Hakims and Walther LGVs all had piston seals that went bad with time. I showed that you you dramatically when we looked at the
time-capsule FWB 124 I once owned.. Click on that link and scroll down the page to see what I mean.

Test is suspended

This is as far as I will go today. The rifle isn’t performing well and I need to do something to improve it, if I can. When I do I will bring it back and continue the report for you.

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

76 thoughts on “BB’s Christmas gift: Part 2”

  1. B.B.,

    Sorry to hear that it is not functioning at 100%. Then again considering its age that would be too much to hope for. Hopefully it will come back from whoever you send it to for repair better than new.

    Off topic do you have any news on the Benjamin Wildfire? It looks like Crosman took your $100 PCP and grafted it onto the 1077 platform. It is being sold at $140 a unit!

    Thanks for all the information you have passed on to us by your blog and comments through the years.


      • B.B.,

        Still, that is very exciting! A true semi-auto to boot! Not being familiar with the 1077, it looks like the perfect platform for a conversion to PCP. Way to go Crosman. Just ordering the Maximus, I would have been ticked if it had come out in a .22 as I would have liked a repeater,… let alone a semi-auto. I’ll bet that you had a hard time keeping that under your hat? 😉 It is truly a ground breaker. Looking forward to your testing on that one.

        ( You other guys,…. thanks for the heads up on new products. I do not hit other sites often, though I have many saved. This is sure to create quite the “buzz” among the .177 PCP shooters )


          • B.B.,

            I stand corrected,.. again. Same as the 92FS. In my simplistic thinking, I was referring to the fact that you could just pull the trigger, shot after shot, without operating a bolt or lever or reloading. Not only did they bring the price down on an entry level PCP, but the also combined it with repeater. Yes, it would appear that it operates the same as the Co2 1077. I did look at the 1077 P.A. video/review and noted that the trigger came in at about 8 1/2#,… so that may be drawback. Still,…. I got to give it up to Crosman for making it happen.


        • Siraniko,
          Darn, now you have me day dreaming. That is one promising sweet little rifle. I can only hope it “pans” out. Looks like it shoots about 100? fps more than a C02 version? So will it be worth it? Time will tell I guess. That is, if they bring it out. I’m with Criss with the .22 cal too, but to keep the price low, I’ll bet it will be .177 only. 60 shots per fill would be five magazines (12 round “clips”)

          • Doc,

            That is maybe 800 max with alloy pellets. The receiver is plastic. This is just a feral soda can plinker. Likely it would not hold up to much abuse. It looks like Crosman is chasing after the 10/22 crowd to me. “Hey guys! .22 ammo has gotten too expensive for you to blow off a couple hundred rounds every weekend! Here is the air rifle for you!”

            • RR
              The 1077 is 625 fps with lead pellets on Co2. My 1077 to HPA conversion from 1200 psi down to 900 psi got 700 fps with 10.34 grn JSB pellets.

              I’m willing to say the Wildfire has a different valve or spring in it to work with the 2000 psi fill pressure it uses. They might of uped the striker spring also.

              HPA usually gives a higher fps then Co2. I can see the Wildfire getting 800 fps in .177 caliber with 8 gen lead pellets. Heck the Discovery is getting 900 fps in .177.

            • Ridge, I figured it would be more like 650-700 range. That said, it will work on mice and starlings? Maybe some other “Pest” birds or other pests/bugs.
              Thanks, Doc

        • Siraniko,

          Thanks for the pointer. I myself would not be interested in it as it would not be something that would hold up to what I would put it through. Also, it is pretty low powered. If I was to want to go with a semi, I would look at one of the FX air rifles. I saw one of them this past spring at the GTA Fun Shoot. They are very high quality and function quite nicely with far more power than this Crosman can hope to produce. Yes, there is a vast difference in the price, but which one do you think will still be shooting twenty years from now?

            • Gunfun1,

              That is the big question. From what I can see an FX would cost roughly 10 times the cost of the purported Wildfire. Obviously, if this thing ever gets made it will be for very fun plinking, not hunting.

              If someone wanted the benefits of 2000 psi, a low price, and to be able to hunt rats, squirrels, and rabbits (at close distances), get a .22 Maximus. Single-shot, but that’s the difference between a really fun toy and a slightly less fun tool for slightly more money.


              • Michael
                That’s exactly the point I was trying to make about the two high price Monsoon’s I had. One was great the other a pain in the butt. It went back for repair like 3 times. For me that’s absalutly rediculous for the price I paid for them.

                I had more reliable fun with my cheap 1077’s and Daisy 74’s. And never took one apart to fix a leaking seal or replace something that broke. Even if I did I would be way ahead money wise with the FX guns.

                • Gunfun1,

                  I agree completely. Despite my trigger complaints, I love shooting my 1077s, and they are pretty quiet, lightweight, and they are incredibly accurate.

                  And as you point out, they are very inexpensive. So if one dies after five or six thousand shots, it owes the owner nothing. It provided a lot of fun for very little cash.


                  • Michael
                    And you bring up some important points.

                    Accurate, quiet and I’ll stress. Very lightweight.

                    I already got my email alert for when Pyramyd AIR gets the Wildfire in stock. I can’t wait to get one.

                    And I’ll step it up a notch. I hope they offer it in a wood stock version too like they did the 1077’s. I’ll but that one too. Exciting stuff to me anyway.

          • RidgeRunner,

            The way I see it is that it is a way to whet one’s appetite. This is a transition from CO2 to PCPs. To a person who shoots a 1077 the attraction to let it rip without needing a warm up period in between shots would be the bee’s knees. From there hopefully, they will graduate to other PCPs that give greater accuracy instead of firepower. I wonder who in Marketing thought up the name? I can just imagine somebody firing wildly at feral soda cans tumbling down a hill.


  2. B.B.,

    Ouch. I hope the issue can be fixed. Are replacement valve seats something that might be replicated by a skilled craftsman?

    And I, too,, am curious about the Benjamin WildFire, but I wish that something has been done make the trigger less rough.


    • Michael
      Less rough than a 1077 trigger I guess you mean. I have had a couple 1077’s throughout time. The triggers on the 1077 get better with time.

      They are not a match trigger. But on the other hand it seems to me that most repeater or semi-auto triggers tend to not be like a match triggers.

      • Gunfun1,

        Rather than write my opinion of the 1077 trigger over again, I thought I’d provide the one I wrote in a comment in B.B.’s report of 6/23/2015:

        “[B.B.,] You must have the best “triggered” 1077 ever, and I must have the worst. Actually the worst 3, as they are all the same. My guess is that my 1077s’ each have trigger pulls in the neighborhood of 15 pounds. Each has a few hundred rounds through it, but no breaking in seems to have begun as of yet. Accurate, very, but a heck of a finger workout!

        My solution has worked however! Crosman has two slots on the trigger guard to give the owner a head start in sawing the guard off. After getting rid of the trigger guard, I installed a double finger trigger shoe for paintball guns! That effectively cuts the trigger pull by 50 percent. With a trigger pull that heavy plus a safety to apply when one sets it down, it is a rifle that does not need a trigger guard.”

        So, if I get a Wildfire, I’ll look for another two-finger paintball gun trigger shoe, and saw off the trigger guard. (The 1077 is hard enough to fire intentionally, much less accidentally.) It is a weird trigger, but I finally did get the hang of it. First of all, forget 2 stages, which is what I prefer by far. Second, forget about squeezing off the trigger. In my experience the 1077 requires a decisive, quick, hard jerk of the trigger while preventing the rest of the air rifle from moving too much by employing an anti-artillery hold death grip on the pistol grip and forearm. Using two fingers to jerk the trigger forcefully makes the process a LOT easier than using just one finger. Right now I’m thinking back to when I was four years old using two fingers on the trigger of my steel Daisy water pistol. :^)


        • Michael
          Well that’s a shame. And I can’t say that I got one with that bad of a trigger.

          Matter of fact I actually had three 1077’s throughout time. I forget. When my two daughters where 8 and 11 I had one. That’s what we use to take to my brother’s farm so my daughter’s and his two daughters of the same age shot. They had no problem shooting it.

          Just say’n. Really have not had one with a hard trigger.

    • Yogi,

      They are “less fussy” it that do not require special holds or rest. Just a nice gentle push back. Much easier to shoot well. Pneumatics can have more parts and the smaller parts in the valve. So from that standpoint, I suppose there is more that could go wrong. Dirt/dust/moisture,… or lack there of,.. would be the key there.

  3. B.B.,

    Is Monday 2 for 1 day? Since Mondays and Fridays are history days, I figure this is the right one. 😉

    Too bad the ‘Ol girl is in the infirmary. Hopefully you can find the resources to get her going again. It does make me a bit cautious on ever buying something vintage on-line. My first thought is to ask for a “10 for $10”,….. but I know it does not work that way.

    On this Benjamin Wildfire that is being mentioned,…. I was going to post a link but not sure that is allowed as it linked over to a competitor site. (Midway) It had all of the info. with good pics. Wow.


  4. If you are going to do a rebuild why not try some tranny medic to see if the seals will soften …seems to have worked for you on the co2 guns…might give a temporary fix anyway…just an idea…adjust pump also…who knows might get it going

  5. Everyone,

    I mistakenly published a second report this morning. I worked late on Saturday, trying to get ahead for the SHOT Show which is next week, and that report was for Tuesday. So I trashed it this morning and will publish it tomorrow morning.

    A couple of you commented on that report and I will, try to restore your comments, but if I can’t — sorry.


  6. Suppose to be a feild target version of the Marauder that is suppose to be released. Suppose to have a externally adjustable regulator. That’s sounds like a interesting gun to me.

    And I’m excited about the Crosman Wildfire too. I will get one for sure when it becomes available.

    • GF1,

      Is the regulator the only change that you are aware of? Also, would a (externally) adjusted regulator be the first that you have heard of? (not just a port screw restrictor)

      • Chris U
        Don’t know. No picture and not much info about the regulated Marauder. And I may be wrong but don’t recall any externally adjusted regulators on pcp guns.

        If it’s easily adjusted on the outside of the Marauder that opens up some nice possibilities for tethering. I was thinking about tethering my .25 Marauder to a 4500 psi Benjamin buddy bottle. Kind of like your Guppy. What was holding me back is I want a bottle that is regulated at 3500 psi that my gun likes. So if the new adjustable regulated Marauder happens and has a broad range of regulated adjustment I’ll be looking at something like that for a long range bench rest set up for mine. That way I can use that 4500 psi unregulated bottle.

          • TT
            Your right. The bottle needs regulated down to feed the gun.

            So that shoots that idea down the drain. Guess I’ll have to find a 4500 bottle regulated down to the 3500 psi. Actually 3500 down to 3000 psi range would do me good. That’s what I need to find is a bottle that has a regulator that is easily adjustable.

            • GF1,

              Did a quick search. Video of a P-rod cylinder going to 10,000 with no issues. Not that I would recommend that. I typed in,… Marauder Air Tube Bust. There has to be a good amount of safety factor built in,….. “idiot proofed” if you will. With pumps and tanks going to 4,500,…. I think that the tubes would be designed with the chance that someone will (NOT BE PAYING ATTENTION) and let their 4,500 tank fill the gun to 4,500 by accident.

              • Chris U
                You know what. Now that you mention this. Lloyd did some tests on air tubes and had no problems to the tested 6000 psi fill.

                But on the other hand I bet if that foster fill fitting let go abruptly at 4500 psi and hit a person 10 yards away it wouldn’t be a pretty picture.

                  • Chris U
                    I talked to him a little while back.

                    What I’m running into is there are regulated bottles. But they fall in a plus/minus 10% set range roughly. In other words a 4500 psi bottle regulated to 3000 psi could have a plus or minus 300 psi regulated output. So that would be 2700-3300 psi range the regulated bottle would put out. I could live with 3300 psi for my gun but not 2700 psi.

                    Yes the regulator can be taken apart and shimmed and put back together. Right now that’s more of a hassle than I want to go through. I’m spoiled. I want easy. That’s why I would love to get a 4500 bottle that’s got a regulator on it that I could adjust out put by a turn of a screw and lock nut. That’s what I want.

                • I’m aware of the regulations for a pressure vessel and it has to stand up to four times its working pressure. The resivior would handle the pressure but the fittings attached to it may fail.

                    • The threads are covered as part of the vessel. The regulation says, best I can recall, the vessel and any fitting that is attached direckly to it must be certified. An inspector from the state certifies the facilities equipment where I work once a year.

                  • Gopher
                    So 4500 psi could be possibly doable.

                    I always have been one for pushing things to the extreme at times. But just don’t think I would chance it.

                    You know the two or three screws that hold the valve in the tube could be the weak link too.

                    • Gunfun1,

                      You mentioned a regulated field target Marauder is supposed to be released. With anything Crosman, that “supposed to be released” phrase is key.


                    • GF1,

                      You bring up a good point on the valve screws. Someone linked a video, which I watched. Then the next video was a fellow doing some testing and had a 3/4″ HPA gun valve go through the front of his upper leg and nearly out the back. The screws failed. Yes, he had it partially torn down and the tube was still filled. BIG hole!

                      I have done the same on the M-rod. Maybe something to ponder? Over at GTA I see guys upping the screw size on the valve. I think that may be why, but never heard it stated.

    • GF1,

      You are excited about the Wildfire?

      I am hoping that one day Crosman will build something I want to own. They have come close with the Marauder and they may have actually done such with the Maximus. Hopefully I will have a chance to play with one a bit and find out.

        • GF1,

          Sorry for missing so many of your queries. I have not had time to go back much lately.

          I keep hoping that one day Crosman will come out with a version of the Marauder with a LW barrel, picatinny rail and a nice walnut stock similar to a Minelli. A premium grade where they pull out all the stops to finish and tune it to be a direct competitor with the likes of Daystate, etc.

          Yes, I can take a Marauder and turn it into such, but by the time I have done that I have spent as much or more than if I had just bought the Daystate and it did not take weeks or months to accomplish it.

          • RR
            Supposedly the next Marauders coming from Crosman will be made with the new barrel technology that was used on the Maximus barrel.

            Maybe that will happen when they release that new feild target version with the adjustable regulator.

            We shall see I suppose.

              • RR
                If you did that walnut stock it would put the Marauder up at close to the $1000 mark.

                Maybe Crosman will hear and make a walnut stock option on the feild target model. Hopefully they could get a good contract with a stock maker and get the walnut stocks for $250 if they purchase a big quantity.

                Then maybe we could have a regulated walnut stock good barreled Marauder. That does sound like the gun you been talking about doesn’t it.

                  • RR
                    But then again if we did get a all dressed up stock. Then you have to watch every move you make with it if you take it out in the woods.

                    But it would at least make it nice to look at till that first Nick got in it.

                    • GF1,

                      This it true, but I have seen some that have spent many a day in the woods and still look nice. If it is ugly to begin with, banging it around is not going to make it look better. Besides, they could have a synthetic stock that looks nice also.

                  • RR
                    Oh your talking more the design of the stock rather than the type of wood.

                    And the design as in the way the Marauder stock looks is kind of uneasy on the eyes. But it works. The nice wide flat bottom of the stock works nice on a bag. Plus the adjustable comb works like it should also. And then trigger and hand placement is good on the gen2 Marauders.

                    So not to great looking of a stock but it does work when it comes to shooting.

                    • GF1,

                      I am referring to both the wood and the shape. The present stock is superb for bench rest shooting, but it is butt ugly. It could stand to be more appealing to the eye and lighter. A nicely designed sporter stock will come to the shoulder smoothly and assist the body in quickly lining up the shot.

  7. B.B,
    As a last resort you might want to rebuild the valve seat using 100% RTV. silicone. It remains tough but flexible when dry. I have been using Premier brand made in the USA for a number of years for projects around the house with good results. It boasts a 50 year Guarantee.
    I have successfully used RTV silicone Gasket Maker to bed my TF 87 but would not recommend this type for the valve seat as it gets hard as it ages.

  8. A belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. It looks like B.B. got what he wanted for Christmas. Amidst tightening gun restrictions and some circumstances, I have found a new shooting outlet! The indoor range I go to on vacation is my opportunity to practice rapid fire with firearms which is not allowed at my regular place.

    As usual, the foundation has been laid by airguns. Action shooting with my Walther Nighthawk and Crosman 1077 is on the margins of what I do, but I’ve been practicing for awhile. For my session, I went through 50 rounds each of .45 ACP and 5.56 for a 1911 and an M4 rifles in about 15 minutes. Ye shall know your airgunner by his disregard of ammunition. It was my own little New Year’s celebration. Among other experiments, I tried shooting one-handed with the 1911 for the first time. I tried head shots at a silhouette target at about 20 yards. One shot landed on the right ear and the other was centered. Watch out Lt. Col. Bonsall. He he. I went with my usual airgun stance without the special cantilevered mechanics which will come later.

    Otherwise, my training has been restricted by my five yard range. My practice consists of shooting strings in various patterns, vertically, horizontally and diagonally. I tried this on the silhouette tacking back and forth across it, and the skills translated fairly well. But there was one exception. The recoil of the firearms threw off the sights and made it slower to acquire the next shot. This was my first experience with the Para-Ordnance 1911, and I was not overly impressed. The muzzle jumped not only up but sideways compared to other models I used, although it was still usable.

    So, the question is how do you work with the recoil of firearms to maintain speed in rapid fire. Pulling together a number of sources, I’m going with the advice of speed shooter Max Michel whose signature gun was recently featured on the blog. He said that you don’t change the shot mechanics; you try to reduce the time of transition every way you can. How to do that is the question. My impulse to jerk the muzzle back on target cannot be right. I’m going with the saying that “smooth is fast” which has guided my airgun training. On the other hand, Delta Force veteran, Kyle Lamb says that the unmentioned qualifier to this statement is that “slow is just fricking slow.” Finally, I’m going with a compelling image from the Bob Lee Swagger novels by Stephen Hunter. When Swagger is ambushed by mercenaries, he pulls out a Colt commander with Pachmayer grips and mows them down with the gun “jumping from sight picture to sight picture.” That seems to embrace both speed and precision. And I interpret that to mean something like surfing the recoil and guiding the sights to the next shot without forcing anything. That and nibbling away at the transition time bit by bit seems to be the way to go.

    Incidentally, my M4 was the Smith and Wesson MP Sport, one of my fantasy guns, and I will say that it was a ton of fun to shoot with no malfunctions of any kind.


    • Matt61,

      Glad you are back. I was worried. Your afternoon comments were always something to look forwards to. I am glad you had fun on your vacation. That is what they are supposed to be about after all. Sorry, can’t help you with your firearm technique’s,… but glad you are back. Oh,… I ordered the .22 Maximus as a late Christmas present to myself. I tried to resist,.. but as Edith always said,…. “Resistance is futile”! 🙂


    • Matt61
      BB did this blog while you were gone. I was hopping you had some ideas about loading the pellet in the cartridge and possibly sizing the cartridge to allow the pellet to fit the barrel better when the gun fires.

      Here’s the link.

      • Well there goes my phone again. Since it updated the other day now it doesn’t want to copy and paste right. Going to try again.


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