by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • 10-meter airguns
  • Motivation
  • Sometimes things stick
  • Guns I’ve had my fill of
  • Guns I can live without
  • Airguns I have no desire to own
  • Do my tastes ever change?
  • I like funky!
  • Virtual collection

When I tell people what I do for a living they invariably say, “Oh, you collect airguns?”

I really don’t collect airguns in the traditional sense. A collector is someone who amasses a collection of some sort. It may be large or it may be quite small, but it has a definable theme that is foremost in the collector’s mind and heart. And the true collector never parts with a piece unless it gets replaced by a better one. I don’t do that. I own certain airguns for a while, then part with them to make room (in both the house and the budget) for others. Let me give you an example.

10-meter airguns

I have a friend who collects 10-meter air pistols. He is obsessed with owning one of each type of 10-meter air pistol that has ever been made — from the very first, which must be the Walther LP II to whatever is the most recent.

I am attracted to 10-meter air pistols, as well. I have owned 2 Walther LP IIIs and two FWB 65s. I have owned two Walther LP 53s that do not qualify as 10-meter target pistols, but are very close. I’ve owned a pair of Diana model 10s, a Daisy 777, and several others. I currently own an FWB Modell 2, a IZH 46 and an FWB P44. I didn’t own all these guns simultaneously, so in that sense they were not in a “collection.” I bought what I liked and sold it when my curiosity was satisfied. A true collector wouldn’t do that. They might sell something when a better one came along, as a means of upgrading their collection, but they would never get rid of a gun just because it didn’t fascinate them any longer. True collectors don’t lose their fascination.

Motivation

The true collector needs to “own,” to possess. The eclectic collector needs only to discover. Once satisfied, he can move on.

Sometimes things stick

Although I move through a number of different airguns, some of them do stick with me. I have owned more than 15 Hakim trainers and the one I now have I believe I will keep. Every time I get rid of my last Hakim I get a longing to own one again. I now know that I must own at least one, even if I don’t think about it most of the time.

I have owned 8 or more FWB 124s over the years. I hold this breakbarrel model in very high regard, although I do not own one at the present time. If one does happen to come along again I’ll probably keep it this time, because it seems the 124 is a gun I can’t do without.

I’ve had 2 FWB 300s and I still own one. This is another gun I do not want to do without. Even though I seldom shoot it, there’s something in it that I need.

I had an original Walther LGV (not the modern gun but the target rifle of the 1970s) that I resealed. I loved that rifle and when it went away, I missed it too much. So a few years ago I acquired another one that I will never sell. Again I don’t shoot it that often, but it’s there for when I want to.

In the 1970s I bought a rusty old Hy Score 807 (Diana 27) that was not much to look at, but a pleasure to shoot. It came out of a pawn shop in Radcliff, Kentucky, for $18 I gave it away in 1981 and it left such a hole in my heart that I paid $110 for the next one in 1993. I still own that rifle today and it will be the absolute last to go.

Guns I’ve had my fill of

I suppose my first real collection was a small number of Daisy Number 25 pump BB guns. It was one I lost as a kid and just had to replace. At one point I owned 8 prime examples, including a first year (1913) nickel-plated gun, a model 325 kit that came with a scope, a target backstop and a cork-firing shot tube and a 1986 Centennial Commemorative in the box with everything.

Then one day I awoke to discover my need for the 25 was now gone and I sold off most of the collection. I still have a couple of them, but the desire has been quenched.

Guns I can live without

On the other hand, there are airguns I learn I can live without. I learn that through owning them and shooting them awhile. The Diana 72 target rifle, for instance. I bought it, tested it and kept it for several years before decided it did nothing for me. So I found it a good home and let it go. I have no desire to own another.

I’ve owned a couple British air canes and they are another type of airgun I really don’t need. I learned as much as I could from them before sending them on, and now I can just enjoy the canes that other people own.

Airguns I have no desire to own

Some airguns leave me cold. I never want to own them. The Paul air shotgun is one example. I can appreciate it for what it is (a .410 shotgun that’s a multi-pump), but I have no desire to ever own one.

The Brown pneumatic pistol is another that doesn’t interest me. I have seen them like new in the box at airgun shows (for several thousand dollars) but nothing grabs me.

Do my tastes ever change?

Like many people, my tastes change over time. When they do, my “collection” changes with them. I might be on a Weihrauch kick for a while and acquire many of their models, then I get interested in CO2 action pistols and I sell some of the Weihrauchs to make room (and money) for some Crosman 600s. A true collector would never do that.

When I look at the models that never depart I see where my deep-seated interests really lie. I have a Crosman Mark I Target Pistol that I will never get rid of.For many years I thought it was superbly accurate, but I’ve since tested it against other guns like the Crosman 2240 and it’s been beaten several times. Still, I won’t get rid of it. The combination of a superior grip, a light, adjustable trigger, adjustable sights and perfect balance resonate deeply witht me. I also will not part with my 9mm German Luger for similar reasons.

I like funky!

One more thing about eclectic people — we tend to like things that are funky! When it comes to airguns here is a list of funky attributes that catch our attention:

Loading taps

Complex mechanical mechanisms (like the pellet feed on the new Gamo Swarm)

Peep sights

Odd cocking systems (think Webley Tempest)

High precision — this is why non target shooters buy 10-meter target guns

Systems guns — guns with interchangeable barrels, calibers, etc.

Virtual collections

So, an eclectic collector like me owns a large collection in the 4th dimension. If you consider all the airguns I have ever owned, I’ve had a huge collection. Time is the one thing that separates me from a more conventional collector, because all my guns have not been with me at the same time.

Think about how you buy (and sell) airguns. Are you an eclectic collector like me?