Odds and ends

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Blue Book of Airguns
  • Some recent acquisitions
  • Findlay airgun show
  • Texas airgun show
  • Pyramyd Air Cup
  • Student Air Rifle (SAR) program

Today I thought I would clean up some things and tell you about some exciting things that have been happening.

Blue Book of Airguns

First I’ll tell you about the new Blue Book of Airguns. It’s the 12th edition and contains 736 pages. No, it doesn’t have all the airguns in the world, and it never will. No publication will ever be able to do that. But this is the most comprehensive book about airguns that exists, and if you want to play in the airgun world, you really need one.

Many of you ask me how I know so much about airguns. The Blue Book is one of the reasons. Without it I would not be the Godfather of Airguns. Perhaps the favorite cousin, but definitely not the Godfather.

Some recent acquisitions

I have some standing searches on the Gun Broker auction website, and a couple weeks ago they came in big! Someone had bought a large airgun collection that included some Air Arms spring rifles (from before the TX 200), an FWB 124, a BSF S70 and several other classics. Most of these were still in the box and the auction listings claimed they were unfired. Since they were airguns I have no idea how anyone could prove such a claim, but they looked like new.

Well, as airguns do on Gun Broker, people were bidding ridiculously low prices for each of them, so I put as much as I was willing to spend on each one and was in line to purchase 6 new/old airguns!

But I was outbid on every one of them. And, when I saw the final prices, I’m glad, because I would never have paid so much for any of them. The FWB 124 went for close to $600, as I recall. Well, I had a bid on a BSF S70 that was “unfired in the box,” and I was also outbid on that one. That one bothered me, because I have wanted to test an S70 that was as close to factory condition as possible. I did write a 3-part report on the BSF S70, way back in 2011. But that rifle was a special one that I felt someone had fired with the barrel open, because the barrel was bent upward so much that I could not get it to hit the aim point at 10 meters. So I used that same rifle in a second 5-part report on Bending airgun barrels, in 2012.

Now that rifle is a fine one, but it shoots a little too fast — .177 Hobbys averaging 866 f.p.s., which is right on the edge of credibility for a 1970s spring rifle. According to Robert Law in his Air Rifle Headquarters catalog, so S70s did shoot that fast, but it has been my experience never to have seen one before this one. Was this one ever tuned? I don’t know, so I wanted to try another one that was like new to compare. But like I said, that first one on Gun Broker got away from me.

But, in a stroke of good fortune, another BSF S70 in excellent condition came up for sale just days after I lost the first one. That one I won, for less than I was willing to pay for the first one! Now, I do have a second rifle to test. And this one has the original rear sight, instead of the peep sight that’s on my other rifle. The point is — there are still good airguns out there, if you will just look for them.

I’m writing this report on Friday of last week. I tell you that because there is a second airgun I hope to snag on Saturday. It’s a Webley Premier. Not the Premier Mark II model that has the cast aluminum frame we also see in the current Tempest pistol. This Premier is the last of the all-steel Webley pistols. Think of it as a very recent Webley Senior. If you don’t know the difference, look it up in your Blue Book.

As I write this, I am watching the website. No one has bid on the pistol yet, because the starting bid is $250, plus $20 shipping. Even though this pistol is like new in the box, that’s all the money it’s worth. However, if I bid too soon some other guy who is casually watching it will get his hackles up and outbid me. You know how that goes? But if I wait until just before the end of the auction to bid, he will either miss my bid or he will be thrown into a fog of indecision long enough for me to win the airgun. Either way, I will have another tale to tell you in a future report.

My point is — there are still good deals to be found in airguns. And, yes, I know that $270 is too much for many of you to spend. But I spent just $75 on the .22 caliber El Gamo 68-XP breakbarrel I’m now reporting on. And the El Gamo 300 that I reported several years ago was only $100. I turned down a Sheridan Silver Streak for $65 a month ago, because the guy also wanted to sell me a box of old cheap Daisys. He wanted to get rid of them all at the same time, but when I told him I couldn’t get even $5 for most of his old Daisys (they were plastic-stocked guns from the 1980s) at an airgun show, he was flabbergasted. He thought each one would be worth $20 or so. I have stood behind the table at dozens of airgun shows and watched people pass on airguns at prices many people think are ridiculously low. I know what sells and what doesn’t

Findlay airgun show

That leads me into my next topic — the 2017 Flag City Toys That Shoot airgun show in Findlay, Ohio. I will have tables there on Saturday, April 8, and I’m planning on bringing many of the nice vintage airguns you have read about in recent times. They will be for sale, and I will use the money to buy more vintage airguns to write about. I usually don’t have super-nice vintage airguns to sell, but this time I do. So, if you are looking for something upscale, please come to the show. Actually, I believe there will be other dealers there who would probably say the same things about themselves, if they could. (insert smiling emoji here for those who don’t get the dry humor)

Texas airgun show

Can’t make Findlay this year? Then perhaps the 2017 Texas airgun show on Saturday, August 26, is more convenient. I’ll have a couple tables there, too. The guns that don’t sell at Findlay will be available there.

Pyramyd Air Cup

Let us not forget the 2017 Pyramyd Air Cup. It’s August 25-27 this year and it will be bigger and better than ever. Ask anyone who has attended and they’ll tell you this is a shooting show that’s not to be missed.

Student Air Rifle (SAR) program

Umarex USA is making the Embark rifle for the Student Air Rifle (SAR) program.The program is designed to facilitate an introduction to the lifetime pursuit of target shooting to school-aged youth in grades 4 through 12. The purpose is to grow the shooting sports in the most important segment — young people. The goal is to have this program as part of a regular school curriculum. And, why not? They currently have gym and computer science, neither of which is a scholastic subject. I will have more to tell you about this program in a complete blog.

The rifle used in SAR is the Umarex Embark. It’s a breakbarrel rifle with a stock that’s ergonomically shaped for offhand shooting, because SAR is 100 percent standing! It’s a youth-sized air rifle that I wish was available from Pyramyd Air, and maybe it will be. I plan to test the Embark thoroughly for you.

Interested? You should be! This is a fresh new marksmanship program that I hope to see grow in the coming years.

44 thoughts on “Odds and ends


  1. B.B.,

    The Umarex Embark looks like a good starter rifle. It may be even a better starter rifle than the Diana 240 for those on a budget. Not as an heirloom but as a first rifle. Although I do wish that Umarex would produce a budget set of diopter sights for it.

    Siraniko



      • B.B.
        When you do review it and discuss SAR, I would be interested in hearing about any resources available to us to aid in navigating the bureaucracy of the educational system and getting the program started in our neighborhood schools.



        • Belgrath04:
          One thing the STUDENT AIR RIFLE PROGRAM (SAR) program may have to overcome is the popular idea that schools are gun free zones. I’m involved with the Boy Scouts of America shooting sports program and Venture Crew 357 and not directly with the SAR program. Our Crews charter partner is the American Legion. I’ve been told that Chelsea schools used to have an active junior’s rifle shooting program. But this was disbanded due in part to the fact under prior Michigan law airguns where classed as firearms.

          This has now changed with the 2015 passage of the Airgun Reorganization Act. The act changed the definition of firearm and added a new classification of pneumatic gun. The gun frre zone act excludes pistols, defined as a firearm, but does not exclude pneumatic guns.

          I suspect, however, that generally school administrators will need to be gently educated on the differences between 10 meter air rifles and “guns”. I also suspect that getting any type of “gun” program back into schools will encounter a stiff anti-gun culture. This will undoubtedly need to be addressed before SAR is widely accepted into schools.

          For those trying to get the SAR into your local schools, supportive talking points for the program might include:
          the program is limited to very low power rifles
          the program uses standardized air rifles that are safe and simple
          all shooting is done under direct supervision of qualified adults or coaches
          SAR is directly based on the National Archery in the Schools Program which has been widely accepted in schools
          SAR was developed and field tested by the Missouri Youth Sport Shooting Alliance (MYSS)
          SAR is backed and supported financially reputable private corporations like Umarex usa and the Cabela’s Outdoor Fund.

          SAR has promotional fliers that are online at
          http://www.studentairrifleprogram.org/Media/Default/pdf/Shoot%20for%20Success_SAR%20Promo%202016.pdf
          http://www.studentairrifleprogram.org/Media/Default/pdf/Start%20SAR%20in%20your%20State_SAR%20Promo%202016.pdf
          http://www.studentairrifleprogram.org/Media/Default/pdf/Start%20SAR%20in%20your%20State_SAR%20Promo%202016.pdf

          Respectfully,
          William Schooley
          Rifle & Pistol Coach
          Ventrue Crew .357
          Chelsea, MI


  2. YES! on the Blue Book of Airguns. Simply the best $35.00 you will ever spend. Full 8 1/2″ by 11″ and 1 1/2″ thick. The 11th I have is 736 pages as well. Loads of pictures, detailed text, company histories and so, so much more.

    You will never regret it.

    Good Day all,…. Chris


    • BB;
      You just explained why you most likely lost out on the bidding for the vintage airguns. By encouraging readers to purchase the Blue Book of Airguns, you “educated” them on the true value of the items up for bid in the auction. No more “stealing” an item as the other bidders are now more aware of the true value of these auction lots. I also believe from my experience on eBay that there is special “sniping software” that lets you put in your bid at the last possible second, thus avoiding counter bids from others interested in acquiring the airgun.


      • Bob,

        I also lost the BSF S70 I mentioned. Somebody bought it now for $335, plus shipping. That’s way more than it’s worth to me.

        However, I did buy a Diana model 5 pistol that’s just been resealed for $95. It’s a Winchester model 353, so I made out on that one. I paid the Buy it Now price of $75, instead of just bidding $50 and waiting to be sniped again.

        B.B.



  3. 5th Annual North Carolina Airgun Show – October 20th-21st – Newton, North Carolina

    http://s3.amazonaws.com/cdn.instabuildsites.com/uploads/files/628ac11ee3d379ee1f2e2dceaa621b7b.pdf

    I have been for the last two years. This is a huge venue with what appears to be about a hundred tables. There is a food vendor with real North Carolina style BBQ. There is also an outdoor shooting range where you can bring your own air rifles and pistols to shoot and many of the vendors will let you try it before you buy it. I bought my RAW HM1000X there from Joe Brancato of AirTanksForSale. Lexington Air Guns usually has a huge setup also. Well worth the road trip if you are on the Right Coast.



  4. I’m glad to hear Umarex is taking an active interest in youth shooting programs. What is troublesome to me at the moment is the seeming lack of the same interest being shown by Gamo/Daisy. Everyone knows how involved Daisy has been in the past regarding youth shooting programs. But recently Gamo has stopped production of several Avanti target air rifle models, and there are currently no Avanti target air pistols shown on the Daisy site. Now, maybe the Daisy models being dropped will be replaced by Gamo models but that remains to be seen.

    Even more troubling to me as a modifier and repairer of various Daisy models is the possibility that Daisy’s airgun parts program- which has been great in the past- might not continue like it is now. By looking at Gamo’s website it’s not hard to see their interest in supplying parts for the airguns they sell is almost nil. A thread discussing this is http://www.gatewaytoairguns.org/GTA/index.php?topic=122499.0.

    I hope my concerns are unfounded. I really do.


    • Thanks for the thread. I got a 747 and a 753s it would seem while this was in transition. The ads I purchased from said Avanti but the guns don’t. Some of the documents that came with the pistol said Avanti Triumph 747. I am not identifying the supplier because I could have returned either or both had I chosen to with no hassle. The accuracy of both met my expectations and I am happy I own them. The 753s was advertised as having a truly adjustable trigger but it does not. I decided the trigger was to my likng as is so I will keep this accurate rifle. My opinion is it is as accurate or nearly as accurate as my Weihrauch HW30S at 10 meters (better than 1/8 inch 10 shot groups from a rest).

      Decksniper


  5. Went to a gun show this past weekend. I stumbled upon a vendor selling a Webley Patriot for $250! I didn’t pick it up to look at it because the box it rested on was brand new. Now a new English made Patriot lists for $600 in my Blue Book but a Hatsun made one goes for $300 and the price drops rapidly as condition fades. This was a recent manufacture. My Blue Book showed that Webley went bankrupt in 2005 and was purchased by Airgunsport, an importer and supplier of airguns to the UK. This blog provided the rest of the information as well as one or two airgun forums that Hatsun was building these and it just didn’t measure up to an English made rifle. Thank you, Bluebook. Actually, the price the vendor was asking for this rifle, NIB, was very fair but I don’t like to buy middle of the road airguns. I did pick up a NIB CV 452 for rimfire Benchrest competition. Now for a scope…

    Fred



    • Riki,

      First read this.

      /blog/2011/09/the-importance-of-the-crown/

      A good crown does not increase accuracy as much as a poor crown decreases it. Choking has a positive effect on accuracy. The only way a crown can go is toward the bad. But, if your crown is already bad and you fix it, the gun will seem to become more accurate.

      B.B.


  6. I am looking at a Sheridan Silver Streak for sale with the rocker safety. Pictures show the rifle to be in great shape. At least on the outside. I have no idea what to offer or what is “too much”. Wish I had that blue book about now. Any ideas?

    Ken



  7. B. B.,

    Thanks for providing info on Gunbroker listings. I enjoy looking at the site, but don’t bid because I don’t know enough. Guess I better get the Blue Book. You already convinced me to get a chronograph. All in….

    Thanks, again,

    Walt


  8. The thrill of getting a good deal on an airgun must be akin to a successful safari. Gunfun1, in response to your comment, I have nothing against quality wood and steel in a multi-pump. The Benjamin 371 series remains a possibility for that reason. What I don’t like is the slippery feel of pumping air and the repetition of the multi-pumps.

    I had an interesting range session last week where I decided to revisit old times by shooting 90 shots with my IZH 61 instead of the 60 that I have reduced to. The first 60 were mediocre, but then things really tightened up for the remaining 30 which is what I remember from before. It reminds of a saying from a Tai Chi master that you don’t improve until you have repeated the form six times. That might explain my slow progress there, but it could apply to shooting as well. With my circus of activities, I have reduced my time on each one to a bare minimum in hopes that the regular repetition will add up. But there may be a threshold below which you don’t access the mind and body deeply enough and don’t improve.

    Also, I think I’ve discovered the problem with my eyes. I’ve taken to shooting larger and more clearly defined targets. Not only is my shooting better, but my vision feels like it is sharpening. Perhaps “aim small miss small” refers only to the size of the aimpoint but not to a lack of clarity. Shooting at tiny dots at the outer limit of resolution may have some advantages like simulating low visibility conditions, but over time it can lead to eye strain.

    Matt61


  9. I was making my infrequent rounds of local pawnshops after work and found a Beeman P17 for $27.50 out the door.
    The gal that waited on me wasn’t too happy because I pumped it and shot it a couple of times but I sure was happy finding it 🙂 What an AMAZING pistol! I always thought that they would be kind of flimsy but was amazed at how solid the construction was. The only problem that I have is trying to load the pellets. I’ve read that you can do a .22 conversion fairly easy and I might do that after shooting it in .177 for a while just for the ease of loading. Someone needs to tell whoever made this that they need to make a SSP rifle along the same lines. They would sell like hotcakes. How about it, mikeiniowa, do you know who makes this pistol?


    • Brent,

      The P17 is indeed a difficult gun to load. I usually shoot wadcutter pellets in pistols, but for the P17 I use pointed pellets because they are so much easier to load.

      If you have a beer belly, beware when closing the pistol!

      Les


  10. B.B.,
    You forgot to mention the nice 8 page article that you wrote in the new edition of the Blue Book of Airguns. That’s worth the price of the book alone, don’t you think? Seriously, nice read. I got my copy as an early Christmas present right after it came out and it has been used enough to have paid for itself many times over. Regards, Jim.



  11. It’ll be great to see what you bring to the Findlay show. This will mark my 3rd year attending? I’ve even got my own table this year, having trouble deciding what to let go.
    Have you heard of the airgun show in Columbus, Ohio on June 3rd?



  12. I just got one of the .223 to .22pellet adapters. I tried it and found it is quieter than most airguns I own. In fact when I lit off a shot through my AR15 my night working neighbor upstairs had no clue what I did. Takes what is normally a very loud gun and makes it quiet enough to fire indoors without destroying your ears and causing a neighborhood panic. I can’t say about accuracy but I did hit my cast iron target a few times. Shouldn’t have an issue dropping a squirrel. But don’t expect semi-auto with these things, or ability to bump fire a ton of them in a second.


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