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Education / Training Heilprin Columbian Model E BB gun: Part 2

Heilprin Columbian Model E BB gun: Part 2

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 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.


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.


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

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.

54 thoughts on “Heilprin Columbian Model E BB gun: Part 2”

  1. BB,

    I hope you can bring it back to life. It would be a shame to have an airgun that is only good for looking at. I am afraid I would have to see what is going on inside though. Either that or see if someone else wanted to adopt it, with a healthy adoption fee of course.

  2. B.B.,

    Well,…. what a bummer. You say “folded metal” and having worked with metal quite a bit, I think I can picture what you are saying. If in fact metal must be unfolded/bent, or tabs that were bent over at time of assembly,…. must now be unbent for the gun to come apart,… then I can see why you would never touch it.

    If on the other hand it is just stamped/formed metal and screws and bolts and nuts,…. then I would be more inclined.

    Either way,….. good luck. Unless something is broken inside,… maybe the repeated working of everything will get it going again.


    • Siraniko,

      That is actually quite a good idea. In the states, in the past, it was not uncommon for the family doctor to have an X-Ray machine in their office. Then, I am sure a family doctor might oblige the request. Now,…. they send you to bigger facilities such as a hospital to get X-rays. It would quite interesting to see how much detail could be seen. Perhaps B.B.’s local law enforcement officials can be of some assistance with something they have? That would probably be an air gun reporting first! 🙂

  3. B.B.,

    Interesting how much the Daisy 105, which is still in production, resembles this gun. While the Model E is indeed a relic, the basic form seems to have survived, and is what I most remember seeing as a kid. This is how I thought BB guns were supposed to look, more or less, until the introduction of the Powermaster 760. Knowing about the Model E won’t make me a better shot, but it does make me a better airgunner.



  4. Michael,

    To my surprise a 5×7 inch target can be seen easily with my current iron sights. The smallest my bespectacled eyes can appreciate though would probably be a 3×3 inch target, after that I don’t think I can find it with the front sight I am using. Maybe that is why the front sight is so thin in some rifles. Seeing it is one thing. Hitting it is going to be something else though. Unfortunately I have nowhere I can practice shooting that distance so I will have to settle to ever increasingly small targets to pursue in my limited range.


    • Siraniko,

      My eyes are pretty old, plus I have always had severe astigmatism and have been a voracious reader my whole life — reading damages visual acuity quite a bit over time. I can see the target well enough only from less than 15 meters. Just a small amount of magnification increases my ability to see a target very much. 3X allows me to see a tiny 10 meter Olympic target pretty clearly at 25 yards and clear enough to hit it most of the time at 30 yards with my Sheridan Blue Streak.


      • Michael,

        I didn’t know your eyesight was that bad. In my case it’s a case of myopia (nearsighted) that is reversing due to presbyopia (eyes growing old). Previously at -4.25 now I’m at -2.5. I too am a voracious reader. On a boring dare managed to read one volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica.


  5. I am going way off topic here, but have you guys seen the new UTG scope?


    If they bring this out in AO I just might have to pick one up.

    • RR,

      I am a bit surprised that P.A. would sell scopes that are for firearms when they are in the airgun business. Someone will buy that and try to shoot at 20 yards and find that 100 parallax setting is really going to bite.

      On the flip side of that, the cheap scope that came on the 880 pumper was set at something like 50 yards and was worthless indoors. That scope should never even be on a firearm as it was most likely a 10-15$ scope.

      I don’t know,…. it just seems like all of that is just setting a newbie up for a bad time.

      • Chris U
        I can still see fine in at 20 yards if I set my Hawke scope at 100 yards parallax. Even at 10 magnification. It would be the 10 yard shots that wouldn’t be sharp at 10 magnification.

        But see what happens when you turn the magnification down when set at 100 yards on the parallax. Then that 10 yard shot would be doable focus wise.

        What you’ll find if you try enough scopes is that some are sharper at a broader focus range and magnification than others. Don’t base it off of what you have seen now.

        • GF1,

          Ok. Thanks. The UTG’s seem to have a +/- 20 yard forgiveness, maybe more. Maybe the Hawke is better at that. I have not messed with that a whole lot but do remember you and I talking about it as you describe. I like the picture sharp. Real sharp. Spoiled I guess. I do believe the scope on the Maximus is not mag. adjustable but does have front AO, at least from the picture. Again,…. info. and pictures was sketchy at best. For the 20-40 I intend to use it at, I intend to set it and forget it.

          You know what I am saying though on the above. That 880 scope was worthless for what distance the 880 would typically be used at. With a fixed parallax,…. you are stuck on what it will give you. 100 yards fixed on an airgun ain’t it.

          • Chris U
            100 yards parallax will work in at closer distances.

            What matters is the quality of the scope and what magnification it is at. Lower magnification like say 4 magnification still gives a sharp picture at 20 yards no problem with a 100 yard parralax on a good scope.

            What do you see happening in at closer distances like 20 yards with a scope? And to tell you the truth I thought scopes came about so a object could be seen at longer distances.

            I admit I use my scope on my air gun in at 15 yards but not very often. Most of my shooting is at 25 yards and out. Maybe a scope really ain’t needed for a 880 at 20 yards or in. And I did have a 880 when I was a kid that I would of never thought about scoping back then. So maybe the addition of a cheap scope for that kind of gun ain’t a bad thing. And it seems to me that if it’s a low magnification scope it would be more forgiving at different distances if the parallax wasn’t exact.

            • GF1,

              I see what you are saying. The scope that RR linked above is fixed AO and fixed Mag.. I shoot 70 a lot with the M-rod. If I back off to 40 or 30,…. that AO is getting adjusted. BB said that AO is critical under 100 yards. I find that to be true. Most airguns are shot well under 100 yards.

              All I am saying,… and all I will say,…. is that (fixed) objective scopes do not seem to be the air gunners friend. Further out may be fine. For closer in, sight picture will suffer.

              • Chris U
                You shoot at higher magnification all the time. What I’m saying is if your turn magnification down then your parallax focus at different distances is not as critical as when higher magnification is used.

                If you find a magnification that works for you that is lower you will have a broader range of distance the scope will be focused at.

                • GF1,

                  You are right in that I shoot at higher mag. levels,… where as you stay a fixed 6. Typically I use 7 for 30-60, 9 for 70-80 and 10 for 90-100. Towards the end of summer,.. I was using 9 for 90-100. I feel that is what I need to see the target well.

                  I do see what you are saying though,… the lower the mag level (fixed or adjustable objective), the wider range of clear sight picture you will have at different yardages.

                  Thanks, Chris

                  • Chris,

                    The largest power scope I have is this.


                    I bought it for my HM1000X for long range shooting. Where I live, unless I go to a farm with large pastures, the countryside is heavily wooded. A one hundred yard shot can be very difficult to accomplish. My shooting range is a small clear path through the woods. I prefer lower power scopes because it is difficult to locate your intended “target” in a high power scope. Also, most of the time the range will be fifty yards or less. I have shot deer at less than ten yards. Typically I have taken small game at five to twenty-five yards. A large, powerful scope is more often a detriment.

                    Recently I purchased this scope when I bought my Hatsan/Webely Tomahawk, but for a whole lot less than this. 😉


                    I find this to be an excellent power scope for in the woods, however this particular scope is not recommended sproingers, most especially the uber magnum type.

                    At present I would say this Bug Buster is the best suited scope for my needs for sproingers.


                    It has an ideal power and parallax range, has an illuminated reticle when needed, is compact, light and very rugged. It is not as clear as the Hawke, has a short eye relief and the reticle is much thicker because it is not glass etched, but it is well suited for use in heavy woods.

                    A good quality, fixed four power scope with a thirty yard parallax setting would do nicely on an uber magnum sproinger, most especially since almost all of your shooting with it will be at less than fifty yards.

                    • RR,

                      Thanks for the info. I made notes of both scopes as that may be the next step if I do not care for the scope on the Maximus. If I do add something, I want 1″ and light weight and not too long. I have not looked too hard at fixed objective scopes or ever even tried any other than that cheapy that was on the 880. 30 yards fixed would seem ideal for air guns,…. but I am not sure how many actually do that.

                    • RR,

                      I just went through all of the (fixed mag.) and (fixed obj.) in 1″ tubes that P.A. offers.

                      Fixed parallax was stated as follows:
                      – 5 @ ?
                      – 2 @ 30
                      – 1 @ 35
                      – 1 @ 50
                      – 1 @ 100
                      So, some are offered with lower fixed obj. settings. I think I would be inclined to go for AO, fixed mag. just to be sure I could control that for a lower cost scope option.

                  • Chris U
                    I’m thinking you have a cheat sheet made out for each of your guns. Right?

                    To me that’s alot of turning the parralax and magnification for a shot at different distances. I like to be able to that shot immediately if I see a critter or pest. Or even if I’m just plinking at different distances. Right now with the Maximus and the Marauder I know two distances and the mildot hold I need for those two distances. One is 50 yards and one is a 100 yards. Knowing those I’m getting pretty good at estimating the mildot holds of other distances.

                    And here’s another thought. If you have a scope that changes mildot size and distance at different magnification. You better be pretty good at going back to the exact same spot on the magnification number on your scope. Like say just for instance. Take the number 6. Do you line the 6 up with the mark on the scope right in the middle of the 6 or to the front of it or to the back of it? That will slightly change your poi if you don’t adjust back to the exact same mark on your scope each time.

                    That’s why I would rather find a magnification that works with a parralax setting that allows for a wide range of distances and still focus good. I know that way I can repeat my hold every shot I take. That takes out the chance for me making a error in repeating my adjustment.

                    And remember when I gave you the link yesterday about mildots and moa. You remember reading the part what he did when he wanted to move his shot to the side on windage 18″ on like a 300 yard shot if I remember right. He counted clicks or you can figure how many mildots you need to use to make 18 inches.

                    I’m just saying the less I have to adjust my scope the better.

                  • Chris U
                    And I guess you didn’t look at all the discription of that link I gave for the scope I have on my TechForce 99. Here it is again. Look what magnification it is and what fixed parallax setting it is. I can see fine with it from 15 yards to out at the 475 yard mark I have. Of course a sqerrial looks small at that distance. But I can see it clearly and better than if I didn’t have a scope.

                    • GF1,

                      Yep,… I looked over everything you linked me. 35 yards set on yours. 15-475 is plenty impressive. I have spent the entire morning looking at low cost options so I am getting a good idea of what is out there.

                  • Chris,

                    I have no idea what scope is coming with your Maximus. I assume you are bundling it from PA or are you buying it direct from Crosman? Anyway, with a Maximus although you can shoot a pretty good ways with it, the true effective range is going to be about fifty yards. This means you do not really need a lot of power and it could very easily be a fixed power as most of the time you are not going to change it anyway. A four or six power would be fine.

                    As for parallax, if most of your shooting with it is going to be at fifty yards or less, setting your parallax to about thirty to thirty-five yards will allow you to use it quickly if need be and you can fine tune it if time allows, assuming you have AO.

                    As has been discussed here before, most scopes with fixed parallax are set at one hundred yards, most especially the cheap or packaged scopes. Some can be adjusted to a lower setting, but not easily and certainly not quickly. This is where you are seeing those with a thirty or thirty-five yard setting.

                    • RR,

                      Thanks for the added info. Like I said to GF1 above, I have spent the morning looking and getting educated what is out there on lower end scopes. As for the other,… direct, Hunter version, no open site, muzzle thread feature, scope included. We will see. Too cold to do much outsides anyways.

  6. Chris U
    The Hawke scope you got from me has a infinity setting on the side parralax adjusting knob. Not sure if your other scopes has the infinity setting. But anyway have you tryed that setting yet? Set your Hawke scope to infinity. Then look out to your yard at some different objects in close all the way to out at your farthest distance you can shoot and tell me what you see.

    Oh and a note on adjustable scopes. I look at them as kind of what I’m going to call tuner scopes. The reason I call them that is they give you the luxury of being able to fine tune the scope to your preference of use. In other words to me they are a fixed magnification and parralax scope. After I set the magnification and parralax to what I like.

    I know, I know a weird way to think about adjustable scopes. But that’s how I use them.

    • GF1,

      Yes, the option to customize is nice. I did the Hawke at 4 mag. and infinity and down to 25 yards was pretty good. I did it at 10 mag. and the 25 looked fuzzy, but 50 looked ok. So yes, what you said about keeping the mag. down does mean more range in clear sight. All my scopes have infinity. I thought that was standard thing.

  7. Good afternoon, I hope you don’t mind,I enjoyed the posts you guys were sharing and wanted to comment.A good scope I use on my springer that has held up well is my B.S.A. 2x7x32 mm,it also has a adj.objective lense.The gun is in.177cal w/pretty good recoil.I like it because I can get a very clear sight picture at 8-10 yrds. indoors and reset scope easally for longer range outside.I considder 50-60-yrds. long rande with this set up.

    • Toto,

      Thanks for the suggestion. It looks fine enough. I do like the mil-dot style for hold over though. Though for the 20-40 yards I intend to use the Maximus at,… a duplex reticle may be just fine. I would have to check it on Chairgun,.. or actual shooting,… but 20-40 yards ought to pretty well be in a 1″ kill zone. The UTG’s are nice if you have never tried one. Thanks again, Chris

    • Toto,

      I must also comment on your “don’t mind” (?),…… please, by all means comment. If you follow the blog much at all, you already know that it goes off topic frequently. I mean really, not everyone has the same interest and/or everyone has something unique to them that they have a question about or want to discuss. This blog would “blow up” if more people did that. 🙂 …… a good thing!

      And, yes,… that is just the type/price range of scope that I was researching. Thanks again. I wanted something cheap(ish) and “doable”. Nothing fancy,… just a “critter getter” at 20-40. Chris

  8. Chris USA I am more of a hunter than shooter,I prefer a duplex myself,but presently schooling myself as a pellet shooter,which requires a lot of time,that I have right now.I ,when I practice just shoot untill I loose focus,litterally,or tire.No sense wasting pellets.p.s.when I varmit hunt,17HMR,or centerfire I use a rangefinder.It’s all good.

  9. 4x power Bushnell(rangefinder) I was interested tho in a bugbuster to put on my new baby,Diana K98 .22cal but again the hunter prevailed,but,but the bugbuster would have worked equally as well,if you preferred.

    • Toto
      Ok was just wondering what magnification you use. I was using 6 magnification on my adjustable Hawke scopes but a little while back have went down to 4 magnification. I like it better than 6 magnification now. Have more feild of veiw now on 4 magnification. It works nice I think when I’m trying to locate the critter or pest in my scope. I like the 1/2 mildot scopes for more precise aim points for different distances. Heck I bisect the 1/2 mildots into 1/4’s and 1/8’s depending on how big my target is.

  10. Hey guys, tax season is almost upon us and I’m already looking for my next air rifle! My two picks are the weihrauch hw50s and the Diana model 34. What do you guys recommend?

  11. BB-thanks for the tip about oiling with Ballistol if your BB gun is low on velocity. I have a ’70s era Daisy Model 25 that I acquired at a gunshow several years ago that was shooting only in the low 300s. After a few shots of Ballistol after removing the shot tube, its now shooting around 358-360 fps, which is probably “new gun” velocity. for that variant Model 25. I even tried Ballistol on my son’s 7 year old Red Ryder that was sending BBs downrange at only 260-270 fps. Now its doing it at 280-290 fps. The 290 fps reading on my Chrony made me smile. I used to use 30 wt. oil for this purpose on the 25 and it helped, but only a little. Its too early to tell how often Ill have to treat the 25 with more Ballistol to keep the gun up to speed.

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