by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Is it worth the effort?
  • Ray Apelles
  • Sucked in
  • What was done
  • The point
  • Wasting time with the best of them
  • Time isn’t for sale
  • Get real
  • Treasure hunting

…to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse?

Is it worth the effort?

Yesterday’s report inspired this one. In testing the BSA Meteor Mark I, I discovered more about myself than I did about the airgun. When that happens I pay attention, because you can never know too much about yourself.

I discovered that when all is said and done, I don’t like investing time and effort in something that was dredged up from the muck, just to prove a point. Because, what am I proving? That spending a lot of time and money can make any airgun a good one? Or, am I just proving that I am an eccentric?

This isn’t something I have known all along. I spent many years doing stupid things — chasing rainbows and unicorns. I guess we all have to do that to learn what matters in life.

Ray Apelles

I remember my introduction to Ray and Hans Apelles — the son/father team of field target champions. When I first met them they were taking cheap Chinese spring guns apart to see how they worked and what might be done to improve them. I was writing “The Airgun Letter” and remember that I disliked those cheap spring guns quite a lot. Of course Ray hit me with the old saw, “But they are real wood and metal, and look how cheap they are!” As if cheap was a quality to admire.

Sucked in

Still, I allowed myself to get sucked in and we developed a custom Chinese spring gun together. Taking a TS 45 sidelever that cost me $20-30, we transformed it into an adequate shooter that probably only cost 3-4 times what the equivalent gun sold for new. Read those two previous reports to see what I’m talking about., And, by the way, that was back when I wasn’t telling people who I really was, so the world thought B.B. Pelletier and Tom Gaylord were two different people.

What was done

To summarize, we reduced the transfer port diameter, tuned and deburred the action, lubed the trigger (even X-rayed the gun to see how it operated!) and installed a Lothar Walther barrel to turn a cheap Chinese air rifle into something rivaling a CZ 630. Dennis Quackenbush got involved at the point the barrel needed changing, and he even buffed and re-blued the rifle for me. So there was maybe $500 invested (when all the the time is taken into account) to build an $80-100 air rifle.

The point

My point is, lots of things may be possible but many of them aren’t worth the effort. Sailors get bored on long voyages and one common thing they do to pass the time is file monel nuts (nickel alloy nuts used in saltwater applications) into rings. One sailor decided he was going to be different, so he bought a cheap ring and filed it into a monel nut! That’s the kind of thinking that spends a man-month of time to upgrade a poor design.

Wasting time with the best of them

When I was in ROTC in college I once spent about 5 hours in the cadet lounge spit-shining a pair of new combat boots without using any polish — just saliva and a lot of rubbing with an old teeshirt! I was also cutting several classes I hated, so the time was well-spent, but still!

Time isn’t for sale

Time is the one thing money can’t buy. We each get a fixed amount of it to do whatever we will, and then time is up. When there are air rifles in the world like the Diana 27, the Beeman R8 (old-style HW 50S), the HW 30S the CZ 634 and the TX200 Mark III, why would anyone waste time with an airgun that doesn’t deliver?

Get real

Okay, I know everybody can’t find a Diana 27 or an R8. That’s why I get so excited when I find a rifle like the Umarex Embark . It’s accurate, easy to shoot and affordable. That’s what I always wanted the Air Venturi Bronco to be — an affordable accurate air rifle. And it was for as long as it was in production. I’m always on the lookout for others that meet these specifications — easy to shoot, accurate and affordable.

I would put the Tech Force M8 in that group, except it doesn’t have open sights. I like to have open sights on the more affordable rifles because often their buyers don’t have the extra money for a scope.

Treasure hunting

So, instead of spending my time trying to buff up dirt clods, I spend it turning over rocks to see what’s underneath. As an example, that Lov 21 pistol. If it turns out to be a winner, there are still a lot of unsold new-old-stock guns in the system all over the world. The time spent finding one is multiplied when I find a winner we didn’t know about. That’s better than filing monel nuts, one at a time.