The Beeman C1 – Part 1 The rifle that created the artillery hold!

by B.B. Pelletier

This is an oldie from 2009 that I’m recycling because I’m still out of town with my family emergency. As you will soon learn, the Beeman C1 is the rifle that gave me the idea for the artillery hold.

 

A history of airguns

Despite the size of this photo, the C1 is a small rifle. The western look was unique in its day. The scope is a 2-7×32 BSA.
I have places in my heart reserved for certain air rifles. The FWB 124 has a spot, as does the Beeman R1. And there’s another place that’s reserved for the Beeman C1. It’s no longer made. In fact, the company that once made it–Webley–has also disappeared from the world stage. But the C1s that are in the world are wonderful air rifles that deserve a look from us.

My first C1 was a compromise gun–something I know many of you readers can relate to. I really wanted an R1, but at the time we didn’t have the money to stretch that far, so I bought the C1 as the best compromise. The difference was $189 and $249, as close as I can recall. That little bit made the decision for me.

At least this was a Beeman rifle, even if it wasn’t one made by Weihrauch. Little did I know then how much that C1 carbine was going to influence my future as an airgun writer.

The rifle is a tad over 38 inches long, and the barrel accounts for 14 inches of that. The rifle weighs 6.3 lbs.

My C1 was a .177, while the one I’m reviewing for you now is a .22. I can remember being very impressed when I saw the gun for the first time. Beeman really knew how to present an air rifle in their reinforced cardboard boxes. The rated velocity was 830 f.p.s. for a broken-in gun in .177. Beeman also listed a .22 caliber version, but I never heard much about it back when it was still being made, so this test will be very revealing.

My C1 had a manual safety on the right side of the rifle, located at the rear of the spring tube. The .22 rifle I’m testing for you has no safety, so it has to be an earlier rifle. The rifle was made from 1981 to 1996 according to the Blue Book of Airguns. And here’s a curious note–although the Blue Book says importation began after serial number 800,000, the serial number on my rifle is 771,894. And my new rifle is clearly marked with Beeman’s San Rafael address.

When it was new, my first C1 was quite stiff and hard to cock. The trigger was also very stiff. To say I was disappointed by the shooting performance was an understatement! After hearing all the good things about precision adult air rifles and having already owned an FWB 124, this C1 was a boat anchor in comparison. But it was all I had, so I stuck with it.

After about 2,000 rounds had passed through the rifle, I began noticing that the cocking had smoothed out. At first I thought it was my imagination, but then I started noticing that the firing behavior was smoother, as well. After 3,000 rounds the trigger started getting very light and, if not exactly crisp, at least predictable.

About that time I disassembled the rifle to see what I could do to improve it. What I was thinking, I’ll never know, because I hadn’t a clue how to tune a spring gun. The Beeman R1 book was still five years in the future. Black tar hadn’t been discovered by airgunners yet. It existed, but it was not known to the airgun community, so we used Beeman’s Mainspring Dampening Compound instead. It did pretty much the same thing, though it wasn’t as viscous, and you had to use a lot more of it.

Fortunately, I also didn’t own a chronograph yet, either, so I had no idea how fast my rifle was shooting. I trusted the Beeman catalog implicitly.

Use a mainspring compressor!
While either disassembling or assembling my C1 a curious thing happened and I got the first photo to go into the R1 book. The heavy solid steel end cap got away from me, sailed across the room and broke a desk drawer divider in two! Had my arm been there instead, I’m thinking it might have been broken–bruised for certain. I instantly understood the need for a mainspring compressor!


The C1 end cap hit this desk divider to the right of the crack (see the dent in the wood) and busted it in two.
The other curious thing about my C1 was that it taught me how to shoot a spring-piston air rifle. The wisdom of that day said to hold a spring rifle firmly. I was doing that and those beautiful groups my rifle was supposed to be capable of were eluding me. On my 10-meter basement range I could group five good pellets into about one-third inch when everything went well.

The birth of the artillery hold
One day, I decided to see just how inaccurate the rifle would be if I didn’t restrain it at all. So, I laid the forearm across my open palm and caressed the wrist only enough to pull the trigger. The butt simply touched my shoulder without bearing on it. And the next group I shot measured 0.13″! That day was the birth of the artillery hold, though it wasn’t until The Airgun Letter that I gave it a name, because I wanted to be able to discuss it in my articles without having to describe the procedure every time. People had been holding firearms that way for decades, but this was a change for airgunners.

I was so shocked by this revelation that I wrote my first airgun article about this phenomenon and sent it to Robert Beeman to put in his next catalog. When I didn’t hear back from him I was disappointed, but I kept on refining that hold, because my rifle shot so well.

 

The rear sight on this new C1 is a Williams adjustable. It’s not original to the rifle but is an upgrade.
My C1 is sold
Several years later, Edith and I were doing much better and she gave me not one but two air rifles for Christmas–a new R1 and a used HW 77 carbine. Those rifles took over my attention and within a few more years the C1 was gone. At the time I said things like, “Who needs three perfect airguns?” and “I can always buy another one if I really want it.”

The C1 slipped quietly out of production soon after Robert Beeman sold the company in 1994 and was replaced for a short time by the Beeman Bearcub–the last model to carry any genes from the gun that had been the C1. The western stock went away as well, and the Bearcub was 100 f.p.s. faster than the C1 had been.

Why I missed the C1
For several years after selling the C1, I was fine, but then I started missing it. I missed the ease of use and the compact size, but most of all I missed the splendid accuracy that issued forth from that little breakbarrel. I also missed being able to hold it up to show people what a nice airgun was supposed to look like.

And a strange thing happened. As much as I had told myself I could always buy another one, they weren’t showing up at the airgun shows. I see about as many C1s for sale as I see Sheridan Supergrades, and that’s not many. So, when I saw the current one on Dave Franz’s table at Little Rock this year, I was excited. It took a big trade to bring the rifle into my gun room, but it was worth it. Now I have a vintage airgun to test that I have absolutely no experience with–a .22 caliber C1. I’m sure we’ll all have a fine time learning about this one.

39 thoughts on “The Beeman C1 – Part 1 The rifle that created the artillery hold!

  1. BB—I have a C1. I used to think that it was hard to cock, and seldom used it. Now I also have a Diana Mauser 98K. After shooting it for the last 2 months, I returned to the C1. The C1 is now much easier to cock ! Like yours, it is very accurate when fired from a rest. However, the heavy trigger pull makes it difficult to get good groups when firing it from the off hand, kneeling and sitting positions. I will keep shooting it in the hope that the trigger will get lighter with use. The original owner(s) did not keep the bedding screws tight. As a result, the action moved back and forth in the stock. I epoxy bedded the action at the breech and the 22 forward screws. The Rear bedding screw is slightly bent from the abuse that this rifle had been subjected to. Where can I get a replacement ? ———ED


    • Ed,

      Since you own one of these, perhaps you can answer my questions I posted below.

      “Something I note behind the rear sight. Is that the transfer port protruding from the compression chamber or is the barrel breech protruding from the barrel block? If it should be the transfer port, could it be possible to change transfer ports?”


    • Ed,

      I’m not sure, but try Pyramyd Air first. They handle all the high-end Beeman rifles. They probably won’t have it cataloged, but they may have the screw in their parts.

      If no luck there, go online and connect to T R Robbin England. He stocks all kinds of parts for vintage airguns. We won’t know the rifle as the Beeman C1. To him it is a Webley Vulcan or Vulcan II.

      B.B.

      B.B.


    • Ed,

      a third source to try is John Knipps in the UK. His website is airgun spares if PA doesn’t have what you’re looking for. It’s where I got the barrel pivot screw for the Webley slant handle pistol I fell onto a year or so ago.

      Fred NIG (Now in Georgia – and loving it).




  2. Something I note behind the rear sight. Is that the transfer port protruding from the compression chamber or is the barrel breech protruding from the barrel block? If it should be the transfer port, could it be possible to change transfer ports?


  3. I like the western stock look. Be interesting to learn about the evolution of gun stocks and the reasons they exist as they do today.
    And speaking of stocks I just picked up an Airsoft ‘Revolver’ Carbine. Runs along the lines of a Morph, a revolver with a slide on forearm, screw on barrel extension and a thumbhole stock.
    It’s called a ‘Herd Wolf Model 711’ . It’s sold as an Airsoft ‘rifle’ but there’s a .177 BB conversion kit as well as an Airsoft pistol retro fit kit available. Has a 16 in. barrel tube.
    A light weight black rifle with a railed forearm and a very obnoxious orange flash hider I immediately cut off with a tubing cutter. (Keeping it a BB gun).
    Now the pistol is from Win Gun and is the exact same thing as a Dan Wesson, Crosman SR357, Gamo PR 776, S&W 327, Black Ops Exterminator, and Game Face 327 so the rifle stock is a perfect fit on all of them.

    Any revolver with the three position sliding selector behind the cylinder will accept it. Just slide off the entire pistol grip, remove two short frame screws and replace them with two longer ones that hold the stock on, simple. The barrels and rails are different on each but that’s it, same gun !

    Really looks good on my 8″ Dan Wesson. They really need to put these Stocks out on the market.
    Send you some pics BB.





      • BB.

        No doubt about that, especially the synthetic stock version, didn’t know that Taurus existed.

        May be an old idea when it comes to firearms but I can’t recall any other revolver conversion airguns, but that’s nothing new for me now !

        Right up my alley as a collector.

        Thinking about rifle stocks, I positioned my arms as if I was holding a rifle and it looks like my right hand sort of naturally falls into a western straight stock grip position. I’m sure it had something to do with the design, not to mention using the cocking lever under the grip and ease of shouldering the rifle.
        Not only that, I believe there is less felt recoil in your arm with this stock. If you ever fired a shotgun that only had a pistol grip and no stock you know what I mean.

        Todays AR style grips obviously help with rapid fire rifle control and countering rifle twist.
        Somewhere in between probably helps with good trigger control.

        Once again it may just come down to what use the rifle was designed for.

        Bob M


  4. B.B.,

    Your report on the C1 reminds me of how great western style stocks look. It also reminds me of the Bronco. That western stock, plus the blond wood, really made the Bronco visually stand out from the crowd, and I am sure that is why I bought one. (And I am very glad I did, of course.)

    Michael



  5. If this article is from 2009, I hope you still have the rifle and haven’t let it go a second time. I remember the story about the mainspring that almost broke your arm, not a fond memory to have of a rifle.

    ChrisUSA, if I knew why the M1 was jamming, I would be so happy. I did manage to adjust the gas system last night which only deepened the mystery. You asked why my group was stringing horizontally. My gunsmith says that this indicates that the gun is getting too much gas and that the volume in the gas tube must be reduced. I can see now that the mechanism is fairly simple. A set screw has been installed that goes forward and backwards in the gas tube. Thanks to Derrick for directing me to the right size Allen wrench! Turning this screw changes the volume of the tube. If there is too much gas, I need to screw inward with a clockwise motion as I face the muzzle. Now the mystery thickens as if that were possible!? I’m already at the end of the adjustment to reduce volume. So, apparently, the lowest pressure load that I can make with a 150 gr. bullet is generating too much gas at the smallest volume??

    As it turns out, the screw only moves about .270 inches which is not much at all. My current gunsmith doesn’t believe it does anything. Having followed the story longer, I don’t quite agree, but I do think that it is for very fine tuning, not unlike the Marauder adjustment as opposed to the pcps whose power can be adjusted with the flick of the wheel. The inventor’s theory was that by expanding the volume of the gas tube, you could delay the movement of the piston by the merest fraction so that it would not begin before the bullet left the barrel. This would eliminate potential interference with the shot. That makes sense to me, and I have copies of the tests where he did the initial adjustment.

    I’m going to give the rifle one more test after adjusting the gas system to see if I’ve missed something, but it looks increasingly likely that it is not the culprit. But what the problem could be, I have no idea.

    Matt61


    • Matt61
      That was me that yesterday. Here check it out.
      “Gunfun1
      May 7, 2017 at 7:52 pm
      Matt61
      Why did it jam again???

      And why horizontal groups?

      Why not vertical?

      And been meaning to ask. You didn’t send your 1077 out on it’s last trip did you? You still got it?”

      And I still wonder why the gas adjustment would affect groups horizontally. Not vertically?


      • Whoops, sorry about the mix-up. The gas adjustment does affect groups vertically. Vertical stringing means too little gas and horizontal stringing means too much gas. As to why that should be, I don’t know. All I’ve got are a set of targets of 5 shot groups with the corresponding adjustments to the gas system.

        Incidentally, my new plan for the gas system is adopted from B.B.’s discovery of the artillery hold. When what made sense (tight hold) didn’t work, he tried what made no sense (loose hold) and it did work. That’s all I can do now. Since there seems to be too much gas with the minimum volume, I will increase volume to the midway point and see what happens. Since the discovery of an artillery hold is very uncommon, I’ll likely be sending the gun in for servicing. But what the problem could be defies imagination. The gunsmith replaced the bad op rod spring with a new one from Wolf. If it’s not at the level of a Macchari spring, it is supposed to be good. It is inconceivable that the spring could have broken after a few shots. But if it’s not that, what could be affecting the timing of the bolt?

        I never did get around to disposing of my 1077 and now that is the least of my priorities.

        Matt61


        • Matt61
          When you adjust the gas adjustment. Does that by chance change the velocity of the bullet any amount?

          Vertical group change I understand. Horizontal group change makes me wonder if velocity changes and the rifling might change how much the bullet impacts side to side. Or does it affect the shot cycle? Interesting though.

          And I think I remember you said something about a wrong spring in it or maybe it was something your old gunsmith did.

          And your 1077 has kind of come to mind when I took my Wildfire apart trying to soften up the trigger pull. Seen some interesting things about how the trigger and striker work after I started messing with the trigger return spring. I’m thinking it would probably be a pretty cheap fix to get yours shooting again. If you decide to to get into let me know. I hate when guns are sick. I think it wouldn’t take much to get it back in shape again.


          • I doubt that the gas adjustment would change the bullet velocity in a significant way. The purpose was to delay the piston for the time it takes the bullet to exit the barrel which is not much time at all. I really don’t know why the amount of gas would lead to horizontal and vertical stringing. I have noticed that cases for my handloads were ejecting forward and even slightly left of the barrel which is not normal, but I don’t know what that means. Whatever else I can say about this, I’m not bored.

            Matt61



      • I wondered about that, but I have no idea how to check. Installation shouldn’t be a problem since the gunsmith said that he had installed the correctly, and I sure haven’t touched it since. Could it have broken so soon? All I can say is that I have had an epic run of bad luck. Here I pick one of the most reliable rifles in history. I find the best gunsmiths. But I still can’t get it to function properly after years.

        Matt61


        • If it keeps acting up, I would get it back to the gunsmith. An M-1, even a match rifle, should just run and run. Something is just not right with it.

          Mike


    • Matt61,

      All I can say is good luck buddy. You are without doubt well researched on the topic. Give it a go and test it at the range and see what you can come up with. The whole vertical/horizontal,… high/low pressure thing is quite perplexing. I can not even imagine the theory behind that. Airguns can be bad enough, let alone having firearm issues. Good luck.

      Chris




  6. BB—Thanks for the info re a replacement screw for my C1.————-Gunfun1–Your question came up in the 1930,s when the M1 was being tested. The velocity of the M1 and the 1903 Springfield were compared to see if there was a difference. Taking off some of the gas to operate the M1 had no effect on the velocity of the bullet. Get a copy of Hatchers “The Book Of The Garand” and read about all of the tests that were performed on the prototype M1,s. —–Matt61-, you should read this book, as well.——Ed


    • Ed
      Thanks. I was thinking it probably didn’t. But then on the other hand I thought maybe the case ejection timing could of changed it possibly.

      So then does the shot cycle change when the gas is adjusted? Is that why it changes the guns grouping from horizontal to vertical?


  7. B. B.
    The depredations inflicted on your desk reminded me of a similar happening not too terribly long ago, but illustrate the the concept of “what we do today may have unintended consequences (sometimes far) in the future.”
    I’ve a long term policy around the Holiday season which, simply stated, amounts to, “By Christmas 2019 I’ll have all the colors of the LL Bean chamois shirts, but still no scope for my AA Arms S 510. (Not so a bad way for things to work out, mind you.)
    Maybe I can hire the lightbulb-over-the-head-hint-fairy to nudge things in Louise’s direction. Or even be practical AND smart and just buy a non-budgeted item that I merely “want” not necessarily “need.”
    She who must be catered to and obeyed need not necessarily be appraised of this policy.
    (This policy has been in effect for decades and worked well, but how this came to be is very much a story in itself.)
    So one year it was a rather expensive articulated office chair, the next year a big, heavy, even more expensive stereo system with more functional acronyms than I ever learned, and finally a really, really expensive digital television. Whew.
    But It’s less painful if you stretch it out over several years.
    So, the scene is, me, in the home office, sitting in my luxurious office chair, gently listening to something gentle and lilting, like “The Rocky Horror”‘, perhaps even reviewing this fine film on the digital TV.
    The Lead Terrier (AKA “Chief of Staff”) is in attendance at my feet…
    I gently lean back…the balancing spring abruptly shears its retaining bolt, fires the nut at a significant fraction of light speed…barely grazes the Chief of Staff’s nose, (fortunately causing no perceptible damage)…totals the digital display on the big, heavy stereo system… and ( you can see this coming, can’t you?) ricochets to center-punches a perfect .50 caliber hole in the “really, really expensive digital television screen.
    And you talk of “springer power” Haw!
    Anyway, there’s a long silence while I sit back on my now, permanently reclined chair, and review the damage. The terrier does the same and then our eyes lock.
    It’s funny, but with more than decade long relationship with our canine/feline companions there exists a quite palpable and literal near-audible connection there.
    Fred looks me in the eye, looks back at the TV, wiggles his nose to check for damage and says, “What the hell did you do that for?”
    And now you know why your dog thinks you’re an idiot.
    At least in my case, the dog is right.
    So now the product recommendation.
    The aforemenioned stuff all originated from Costco. I brought it all back, not to, yell or make a scene, Because of course it wasn’t their fault, but rather to inform/show them there was a product safety issue.
    No problem, no issue, no hassle, took it all back, on the spot, full credit, even though some of the items were years old.
    And that’s how a business acquires a lifetime customer.


    • 103David,

      Now that is a funny and well told story. One would have to ponder if they are meant to have nice things after that event.

      I had a similar chair event, minus the stereo and TV. Flat on my back, head against the wall (no damage) and feet pinned under the table. It took a minute or two to squirm myself out of that one.

      Way to go on Costco. I have never had any dealings with them, but that story is quite impressive.


  8. Gunfun1—-The M1 Garand has a variety of complex vibrations, when fired. The receiver vibrates like a tuning fork. The operating rod has its own set of vibrations. the operating rod spring vibrates like the spring in an untuned , Chinese air rifle. The follower and the cartridges ( if any )in the magazine bounce around. The barrel vibrates like a snake.Change any one of these vibrations, and you can get a different poi. But by the time that the case is ejected, the bullet is long gone. I think that you would enjoy reading Hatchers book, ” the book of the Garand”. If we lived near each other, I would loan you my copy.——Ed


    • Ed
      Yep figured that about the bullet. Don’t they go somewhere around 3200 fps.

      And yes I bet I would like that book. Funny thing is. I use to read as much dirt bike and hot rod type magazines as I could get my hands on before I was even a teenager. Then I came to the point I was actually racing motocross and then messing with the cars after I got my driver’s license. I kind of lost the reading for a long time. Then I did get back into reading here and there. But now I’m starting to get interested in reading about firearms and fast gun shooting. More like I guess it’s called trick type shooting. Like throwing up things and shooting in the air and such which I intend to apply to air gun shooting. So yes I will add this book to my list of reads that I want to do. Problem is I got to find some time to sit down and do it.


      • GF1,

        A 150-grain Garand bullet leaves the muzzle at over 2,700 f.p.s. The “books” say it is 2,800 f.p.s., and on certain days at certain temperatures and elevations it can go that fast, but day-in and day-out it is a little less.

        B.B.

        B.B.


        • BB
          With that much velocity happening you would think all kind of bad vibrations and harmonics and all that kind of stuff would knock the gun all over the place.

          But it seems that the guns do their normal shot cycle time after time. Of course until one of many things that could be changed does change.

          In otherwards like we do with air guns. Find what works and stay with it.


  9. 103David— I had a similar experience (like Chris ) ,only I ruptured a few caplillaries in my retina. It healed in a short time, but I had floaters in my eye for months. H.Rider Haggard fans ( he wrote the novel SHE ) like me appreciate your version of –SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED. —–Ed


  10. Zim and Chris,
    Thanks for the kind words. Got to do something to keep that journalism degree polished.
    And Fred, the Lead Terrier, comments, “it’s all true! I was there! No fake news here!”


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