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.