by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Columbian Model E
The Heilprin Columbian Model E BB gun is one few people have seen.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Instant gratification
  • Magazine doesn’t work
  • It shot!
  • Nothing happened
  • Oil it
  • Today
  • Success is short-lived
  • Next?
  • Rationale

It took me a long time to get back to this report. I bet some of you are wondering what happened.

Instant gratification

I know what it’s like to have a comfortable place to come to, like this blog. That is always on my mind when I write. And often I can give you successful results that you can discuss and enjoy. But sometimes things don’t work out as I hoped, and today is one such time.

I had hoped to report on the performance of the Heilprin BB gun in the next installment, but that’s not going to happen. The gun isn’t working yet. Instead, let me tell you what I have done so far and where I think I need to go.

Magazine doesn’t work

Since last time I have tried to load the gun through the magazine without success. There was a lot of dust and dirt inside the magazine when I got the gun and I think there is still lots of it in places I can’t see or reach. I can drop BBs into the mag and hear them roll around inside the gun, but they don’t load into the breech.

But I had an idea. What if I dropped a BB down the muzzle of the gun? Would that work? We know that the Daisy 499 is loaded through the muzzle, so perhaps I can do that with this gun.

It shot!

After loading a BB I cocked the gun and fired. The BB came out and hit the cardboard I keep on my quiet pellet trap to stop pellets and BB from rebounding when they hit others that are already in the trap. The BB left a shallow dent in the cardboard that tells me the impact velocity was 50 f.p.s. or so. I thought I was onto something so I loaded a second BB and shot again.

Nothing happened

This time the BB didn’t come out of the gun, so I used a cleaning rod to see if it was stuck in the bore. It was — about 4 inches down from the muzzle. I set the gun aside and pondered what to do next.

A day later I used the cleaning rod to ram the BB back down to the breech. This was all I could think of to do. And I shot the gun again but nothing came out. The cleaning rod told me the BB was stuck in the bore again, but this time it was just two inches from the muzzle. That was a positive result.

Oil it

I poured several drops of household oil down the muzzle and stood the gun on its butt for a few days. Then I shot it several times without a result.

Today

Today as I’m writing about this I am playing with the gun at the same time. So I shoved the stuck BB back down to the breech and put in more oil. Only this time I used an oil that could make a difference. I used Ballistol.

After shoving the BB down to the breech, I inserted a .177 brass brush on the end of the cleaning rod and started cleaning the bore. Of course it couldn’t go all the way through, so I had to saw back and forth in the amount of barrel I could access. The Ballistol was in there heavy and started coming out the receiver the way oil in an over-oiled BB gun will. I wanted that because it told me the leather plunger was getting soaked.

There was one place about 2-4 inches from the muzzle where I could feel a constriction. I worked on that place with the wire brush harder than the rest of the barrel. Before long it felt slick and I dropped another BB down the bore. It caught at the same place in the barrel (the place I just cleaned) but I shoved it down to the breech and shot the gun. This BB went through the cardboard on my pellet trap! I estimate that shot at nearly 200 f.p.s.

Success is short-lived

After shooting 2-3 BBs with force, the gun stopped shooting again. I exercised it some more and it did shoot, but weakly. It may never come all the way back, but I will keep after it.

Next?

My plan is to continue to work on the gun with the same methods I have just described. I don’t want to take it apart, or to try to take it apart and wind up with a basket case. I would rather have the gun mounted on the wall than working, if damage is the risk.

Rationale

This BB gun is worth money whether or not it’s working, but of course if it’s working it’s worth more.