How to sharpen a straight razor: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Something new
  • What is “razor-sharp?”
  • Drugstore shave
  • How did “they” do it?
  • Eureka!
  • What stone for sharpening?
  • Honing stone lore
  • The strop
  • What “they” say
  • Upsales
  • The point

Note to readers: This report was written over time and I was learning as I went. Parts 1 through 3 were written before I had done enough research to know what is right and, more importantly, what isn’t. Read them for enjoyment, but begin with Part 4 for the serious information of sharpening straight razors.

Don’t be fooled by the title of this report. I will indeed show you how to sharpen a straight razor, but that’s not what the report series is about. It’s about me getting into something new and fascinating, like airguns, but something I know nothing about, and wondering what I don’t know. It’s about learning something new. It’s also about wondering what is true and what is either misleading or an outright lie, when you are unfamiliar with the subject.

I’m writing this series for all the newer airgunners, some of whom are also new to the shooting sports. There is so much to absorb and comprehend! Where do you start? Many of you started in the wrong place, as did I. You acquired an airgun and immediately began seeing that it didn’t live up to your expectations. It didn’t do the things other people said it should. Was it the gun, or was it you? Or, were you just being steered wrong by people who talk a lot, yet have very little to say?

Something new

Obviously I can’t pretend to be new at shooting. I’ve been doing it over 60 years and, if you count my time in the Army (as a tanker — where I shot a lot), more than 30 of those years were as a  professional. I’m very comfortable with the subject of shooting.

Sharpening a straight razor, though, is something I had never even considered before now. Could I learn how to do it to an acceptable standard? The standard, of course, is being able to shave successfully with the razor I sharpen. Along the way, I would be reminded of the sort of things a new guy doesn’t know. I would be in reader Geo791’s shoes. It was George who gave me this idea, because, in 20 years, he is the first person I have not been able to talk though shooting a spring-piston air rifle. Yet, he stuck with it! Plenty of people have tried and then fallen off the Earth, if you know what I mean. That’s why I tested and tuned George’s  rifle — because he didn’t give up.

I think this will be an excellent way for us to discuss how to learn about new things. Let’s go!

What is “razor-sharp?”

About a month ago I began to wonder what the term “razor-sharp” means. Like many of you I had always thought if a knife could shave the hair from the back of my arm, it was razor-sharp. I’ve been doing that for many years as a test after sharpening. Well, here comes the first truth. Shaving hair from your arm is not a true test of sharpness — any more than a 3-shot group is a measurement of accuracy. The truth is, very few knives in the world (one in 10 million?) can ever become razor-sharp. Just because a knife cuts a little hair doesn’t make it razor-sharp.

Razor-sharp refers to the sharpness of a razor, which is one to two orders of magnitude (10 to 100 times) sharper than any knife! This is where my learning began.

Drugstore shave

Cartridge and disposable razors that are popular today give what the serious shaving community refers to as a drugstore shave. Think of it as similar to the results you get from a Chinese breakbarrel bought for under $150 at a discount store — 5 shots in 2 inches at 25 yards. Well, at least the pellets are coming out of the barrel and hitting the target paper. But is it accurate? Absolutely not!

In sharp contrast, a shave with a properly sharpened straight razor used correctly is like shooting a 3/8-inch group of 10 shots at 25 yards with a TX200 Mark III. I know this about the razor because I have already done it. The straight razor shave done correctly is so close that you can only rival it by shaving against the grain of your whiskers with a cartridge razor — and maybe not even then.

How did “they” do it?

Thinking about sharpening straight razors led me to wonder how millions of men in the 19th century managed to do it. If getting a razor 10 times sharper than a sharp knife is difficult, how could millions of men all over the world learn to do it?

Well, for starters, beards were very popular back then! That’s funny, but it’s also true. A beard can be painlessly trimmed with scissors. A clean shave requires a commitment to doing many things right. Said in a different way, anyone can pull a trigger but it takes skill to do it the same way 10 times in a row.

Eureka!

As I studied straight razors I suddenly discovered the secret. The secret to sharpening anything is maintaining a consistent angle of the blade to the sharpening medium. Whether you sharpen with a stone, a belt sander or even if you use a sharpening steel, maintaining a consistent angle on the blade is where the payoff comes.

Straight razors are designed to maintain a failsafe consistent blade angle! Here’s how. The razor has a fat spine for its back and a hollow grind on both sides of the blade. The drawing below exaggerates these features for clarity. The razor is laid on the sharpening stone with the spine and edge both touching the stone. It is then pushed along the stone lengthways, in the direction of the edge. The spine holds the edge of the blade at a specific angle to the stone. If done right it is impossible to sharpen with anything except one correct angle.

Sharpen straight razor
This exaggerated graphic shows how the razor’s fat spine maintains the angle of the blade against the sharpening stone.

razor blade 1
Here you can see the hollow grind on one side of the blade, and also the flattening at the top, which is one side of the spine.

razor blade 2
This view of the end of the razor blade shows the hollow grind profile on both sides, with the spine at the bottom.

I discovered this truth by examining photos of antique straight razors on Ebay. All of the really well-used ones have a flat on both sides of the spine — worn there by contact with a sharpening stone. The rest I could guess until further research proved me right.

What stone for sharpening?

Men in the 19th century had to have a stone that was sufficient to sharpen their razor blades. A whetstone used to sharpen knives is useless for this. Whetstones and knife-sharpening stones are so coarse that to use one on a straight razor would be like trying to sand a fine piece of wood by rubbing it on a concrete road!

Honing stones were available for this specific purpose. They vary in size a little, but the majority of them are about 5 inches long, two inches wide and one-half inch thick. They seem to be made of some kind of hard stone material like carborundum (ruby and sapphire). It started as dust and was made into a thick slurry that was then poured or pressed into molds. Hones like this are still being made today, though they are not the favored stones used by serious straight-razor aficionados. As the picture shows, they are too narrow for the entire blade to rest on, so when they are used, the blade must be pushed across the stone in a diagonal direction as it advances forward.

razor hone
As you can see, this vintage razor honing stone is too narrow for the entire blade to contact at one time.

Honing stone lore

I learned that when using these stones, oil, water or shaving cream were all recommended to lubricate the stone when sharpening. I guess that is like someone recommending that you oil your synthetic piston seal. I’m on the sidelines, waving my hands and shouting, “No, no!”, but you read where Jimmy-John oiled his seal and got 1,300 f.p.s. — so you oil. Only, in the case of a razor, you lubricate your commercial oilstone with shaving cream because the guy on Ebay who sold it to you said to do it. That’s not right, but he doesn’t care.

The stones that really work well are large waterstones, and using them is an entire report that I will do. For now, however, let me tell you of my success with the razor hone shown above.

I used it on the razor that’s shown with it, using oil for the lubricant. Then I tried to shave with it. It was sharp enough to shave the hair off my arm, but on my face it just pulled the whiskers and hurt like the dickens! So it wasn’t razor-sharp. Not yet. There is one more thing to cover today.

The strop

Old guys like me remember their barber trimming the edges of our sideburns and necks with a straight razor. The barber had a strop, which is a wide leather strap, hanging on the side of the barber chair. Before he used the razor he would make a couple passes in both directions down that strop — wiping the razor blade against it. I never understood what that did until now. In researching this report I have discovered that the strop is more important for sharpening the razor than the hone, though both are needed at different times for different reasons.

You hone when the razor is completely dull, and in between honing you strop. You might hone once or twice a year, but strop after every 4-5 shaves — depending on your razor. There is much more to stropping than just the leather belt. I will cover stropping in a future installment.

What “they” say

Well, I have told you a few of the many things I’ve learned while researching this report. There is so much more to tell, and in the end you will be amazed how sharp a straight razor can become. But there is a lot more about this subject that parallels airgunning than just these technical details.

For one thing there are forums with the same kind of comments that we see in airgun forums — people who only like certain brands or models of razors and people who are new to the subject yet already have a lot of well-formed opinions.

For example, a vintage Dubl Duk Goldedge razor is viewed in the same light as an FWB 300. It can cost as much, too! But the Dubl Duk Wonderedge is the Whiscome of vintage straight razors. I found all sorts of discussions about the various technical differences between these two premium blades that come from the same factory. Then I found some remarks from the son of the owner of the company. He said both blades came from Solingen, Germany, and were identical in every way except for their names. Dubl Duk never produced anything. They contracted to have their razors made by third party vendors to their specifications, yet razor collectors will talk about them like they were a factory. Kinda reminds me of some of the discussions we have about an HW 30S from Weihrauch and a Beeman R7.

Upsales

Shaving retailers sell their products based on quality, and we know they can’t all be the best, yet the sales copy makes it sound like they are. You start out thinking you need just a few things — a razor, hone, strop and shaving cream, and before long you are looking at the differences between boar bristle shaving brushes and those made from badger hair! A $100 straight razor purchase can easily become a $350 spending spree (says the man who just did it).

The point

Is there a point to all of this, or am I just rambling? Yes, there most definitely is a point. The point is, when you enter a new hobby or interest area it’s easy to get overwhelmed by jargon, loose talk and stuff “everybody” knows, such as the “facts” that supersonic velocities ruin accuracy for pellet guns and breakbarrels are less accurate because their barrels move when they are cocked.

I am looking into an area that is brand new to me — sharpening (and using) straight razors — in an attempt to experience what some of you are going through in the world of airguns. Sure, I have an interest in straight razors, but I’m more interested in finding out what things look like to someone who is just getting started.

Unless you shout me down, I plan on going all the way with this, and showing you how to sharpen straight razors, as well as describing the experience of shaving with them.

160 thoughts on “How to sharpen a straight razor: Part 1

  1. Fellow Airgun Bloggers,

    Get into a deep comfortable seat because I have a lot of random thoughts on this subject.

    First, I hear Edie saying, “Fine topic but make it relevant to airguns”. Friend Tom did a great job of weaving this into airguns especially for new airgunners. You must immerse yourself into the idiocycronises of shooting then into the idiocycronisises of shooting airguns before becoming proficient. Great parallels here.

    Second, B.B.’s (friend Tom’s) blog years ago about the warthog sharpener saved me many hours sharpening many knives in my two homes that we use daily. Only during the winter months did I find time to use stones and in the meantime the warthog still serves its purpose for bringing an edge back.

    Third, years ago, on this blog, FrankB offered first hand insight into creating a razor edge on a cutting tool. His detailed comments sent me on a wonderful path to discovering how to really create a “razor edge”. My test is to let a hair fall onto the sharpened edge and if it is cleanly cut in half without hesitation it passes.

    I have acquired Japanese waterstones in multiple grits, have 5 stropping blocks with varying degrees of grit and even acquired a DMT Dia-Flat Lapping Plate (certified to 0.0005 flat) to keep my stones flat.

    B.B. is absolutely correct in saying angle is crucial.

    Know when to drag or push. Understand how important it is to roll an edge. Pressure is important so pay attention to whether you either want to create a saw type edge or a razor edge. Contrary to everything I was taught about sharpening a keen edge get rid of the oil since it hurts not helps. Here’s a good 101 tutorial:

    http://sharpeningmadeeasy.com/Juranitch1977Feb.htm


    • Kevin,

      Wow! A mini blog for the first comment. From what you said it’s obvious you have gone down a similar path on your own.

      You touched on several of the things I have planned to explore. And thanks for the comment about Edie. She does still influence my writing.

      I hope the new readers will accept this as well as you seem to.

      B.B.



    • That’s right. And B.B. also said that he has the secret to creating an edge that will split a frog’s whisker. I haven’t seen that yet, but I am watching. Newcomers, you should know that FrankB is the grandmaster of sharpening. He sent me a knife that is as sharp as anything I’ve seen from some very reputable companies.

      Regarding straight razors, they can be very sharp, but in some ways, they are easy to sharpen precisely because they are straight and, as B.B. mentions, are built to maintain a consistent angle. You almost have to work not to maintain an angle. Sharpening a curved edge like you find on a utility knife is much more difficult. I have heard it correlated that shaving your face is a lot harder than shaving your arm. So, shaving your face with a bowie knife is really tough. I saw a master sharpener do it, and he said it was a challenge.

      It maybe interesting to know that sharpeners have an elite professional society called something like the Master’s Knife Guild. Their qualifying test is like the American Ninja warrior contest for blades. You have to forge a blade from scratch and sharpen it. Then your blade has to cut through numbers of two by fours and still be able to shave hair.

      A more applicable test of sharpness is to hold a plastic rod (like a pen) at a 45 degree angle from horizontal and see if a knife rested it on it with the edge vertical will stick. If the knife is sufficiently sharp, its weight alone will cause the edge to sink in enough to stick. If not, it will slide. If your knife slides, it doesn’t even reach the starting line. But a knife that sticks may not shave hair off the arm. And a knife that shaves hair off the arm might not shave hair off your face.

      Unfortunately, I am currently at the bottom of this scale, and I can’t get my knives to shave hair off the arm no matter what I do. That’s amazing that straight razors can be sharpened with just a few passes of a strope. I hone my knives repeatedly and then I strop them with 60 strokes on two different kinds of leather under instructions from FrankB, and still my results are mediocre. I can’t understand it, especially since at one time, I could sharpen knives very easily. My techniques just stopped working all of a sudden. It’s not unlike my introduction to shooting many years ago where I shined initially and then completely collapsed, and it’s taken tens of thousands of shots over many years to bring me back. It’s very strange since I’m making steady progress in slinging stones and throwing knives, but the sharpening seems to be eluding me.

      On another note, I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss store razors. My brother bought me a razor called the Gillette Fusion Pro-glide which works wonders. The secret seems to be 5 blades in a row with a head that can pivot to the contours of the face. The blades don’t seem to get dull either which may be due to their metallurgy. I would match this razor against any beard although you would have to trim carefully from the edge.

      Matt61


      • Matt61
        I use the Gillette Fusion Proglide. It uses a AAA battery to vibrate the head. I’ve tried it with the razor vibrating and not vibrating. Vibrating seems to cause less drag. It does give a very close shave. I use Nineva shave gel and Nineva shave balm too. After applying the shave balm I take another once over with the razor on the chin and other areas going against the grain. This really get’s your face smooth. The wife doesn’t like those stubborn wiskers that are difficult to get at on the chin and under the lower lip. This last pass gets rid of those completely…at least for a while anyway 🙂


      • Matt,

        I was hoping that you would weigh in on the topic, as you have discussed your blade sharpening efforts in the recent past. Suffice it to say,.. if anyone had a clue on the subject, it would be you. Perhaps B.B.’s new journey on the subject shall reveal something new for you? Let’s hope so anyways.

        Chris


  2. Fascinating, Tom. I was going to skip this but wound up reading it to the end, Thanks.

    I’ve found the best way to learn a new discipline is to buy several magazines on the subject and read everything in them, including the ads. Nowadays of course I’d Google the subject as well.

    Regards.


  3. BB,

    This does indeed remind me of my exploration of airgunning. I quite literally spent years researching airguns before I purchased my first one, the Gamo CFX. I bought that particular air rifle because of your report and comments about it. I had learned during my researching that you were a reliable source of information.

    Now I am going to learn about straight razors.


  4. Very nice. No shout down here,… “Carry On! ” 😉 Steel types would be of interest. Many common knives tout stainless steel, but no mention of the (type) and usually are terrible to sharpen. Cheap obviously and a poor choice for a blade. I did in fact remove my belt and used it as a strop on my carry knife,.. a rather large Gerber folder. I drug it through the standard V carbide and the standard V ceramic and then the belt. It turned out better than ever.

    No doubt the experts shutter at such methods, but it worked,…(better than before, if nothing else). Nice correlation to air gunning. Very much looking forwards to more reports and learning something new.


    • Chris,

      Steel types is a possibility to include down the road. I have some information about that from knifemakers. For example, the V in your steel types mentioned is almost certainly vanadium 00 an alloy with certain properties that were discovered by Henry Ford while building the model T.

      And “surgical stainless steel” is another topic. There is no specification for it, but it does relate to certain alloys like 440A and 440C. D2 is a near-stainless (not quite enough chromium) that is one of the best knife steels, yet it makes blades so tough that they are very difficult to sharpen.

      B.B.


  5. Interesting. My two comments are that a new hobby always ends up costing more than you think it will, and that no matter what you’re interested in you’ll find others interested in the same thing online. I consider the internet to be the most significant innovation in my lifetime. It has greatly changed society and how it behaves, but also is an incredible source of information–and opinions.

    “Don’t believe everything you see on the internet!”
    — Abraham Lincoln


  6. I like sharp things… but they only let me use crayons 🙂

    I haven’t gone beyond edges for butchering and wood carving so I will be following this series closely. Your parallels between razors and airguns are great Tom! And I am up for any details on the metallurgy as well.

    A comment on delving into brand new fields. I taught Information Technology (computers and systems) at a college level for a number of years and was often faced with students that only had a minimum knowledge on the subject.

    Before starting at Chapter 1 in new textbook I would spend the first day (or more) reviewing the glossary of terms (the jargon) at the back of the book. I explained importance of this approach as “learning the blue words”. If you google a Wiki on any subject ( like this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straight_razor ) the text is sprinkled with blue words that are links to more detailed explanations of the terms. If you don’t understand all the terms you are not going to understand the explanation and don’t have a hope of remembering the acronyms that are invariable used in discussions by more experienced people. My daily 10-question quizzes for the class came directly from the glossary – the blue-words are important.

    $350 eh? Think I will stick to the electric razor 🙂

    Happy Friday all!!

    Hank


    • Hank,

      I never planned for most of this to happen. I was happily shaving with an electric razor until a few weeks ago. This straight razor thing has captivated my imagination, plus I found a fabulous resource called Shave Nation, with a guy who calls himself geofatboy. His You Tube videos are excellent. They have really helped me understand this subject and I hope will make me a better writer in time.

      And that Wiki article was great! Seldom do I see one that well written. Thanks,

      B.B.


      • BB
        Remember when electric shavers were the big thing onTV and then the triple rotary blade came out.
        Well, word was that your beard would ‘adjust’ to an electric razor by growing straight out resulting in a cleaner shave and when I started to grow a beard later it became clear it was true. My mustache looked kind of weird for a long time growing out that way but eventually it started growing down again.

        Perhaps this may be something to take into consideration when observing the shave results with a straight razor shortly after using an electric one. A follow up test may prove interesting especially if shaving against the beard becomes necessary to achieve the same results. Or are you already shaving that way with it?
        And don’t forget, the description ‘Safety Razor’ was used for a reason. My skin is getting a lot thinner these days, but then the term ‘Your never too old’ is always there. Good luck on your new endeavor.

        So will you be trying to cut through three lab rat cadavers, at the proper angle, in a single swipe to see if you have matched the Japanese sword masters ? 🙂


  7. Got my dad’s old sharpening stone. And yes I have used it many times over the years sharpening my fish filleting knife. You definitely want a sharp knife when you got 70 bluegill or crappie setting in front of you to fillet. The skin on the fish will dull a blade quick.

    And just a quick note. At work I’m constantly sharpening cutting tools and drills and chasers on the surface grinder. We have all types of different grit and type of wheels for it. Even diamond wheels that are used for sharpening carbide tooling.

    Think about that. Metal used to drill and cut metal. And sometimes as fast as 3 seconds with 2 inch diameter and sometimes bigger diameter drills. That cutting tool has to be sharpened right to do that. It would break or chip out in one cut if it wasn’t. And solid carbide drills that big are not cheap. And here is something to think about. If that drill is sharpened right it could last up to 3000 cuts. So very important to get the sharpening done right.

    All I can say is the angle of sharpening is very important on both aspects of knife or tool sharpening and of course other things that cut.

    Look at scissors. See what happens when you don’t get the two blades of a scissors meshing right. That’s why more expensive better quality scissors have a screw that holds the blade together so it can be adjusted to cut properly.

    Oh and yes I remember the straight razors at the barber shop when I was a kid.



      • BB
        Yep very expensive. Usually from $200 to $500. Some are multi step drills which means more than one diameter on the drill plus it will have the inside chamfer angle Eve made into the drill. So they can get complicated and expensive. Imagine 20 machines running up to 12 cutting tools in one machine. Think how exspensive that gets. And the machines run about 6000 parts in 8 hrs. and 3 shifts 6 days a week. And that’s if the tools don’t chip out sooner than their suppose too. That’s what those technachecks do that I’m installing. They monitor load or amperage draw on the tool as it’s cutting. We can pull up a screen on the machines computer screen and adjust the perimeters of the cut. So it will shut the machine down so it don’t break other tooling after that machining station. Plus can be set so if no load is detected can shut the machine down which would be like a missing or broken tool. And what’s cool is you can pull that tool up on the screen and it will give the real time cutting graph as the tools cutting. That’s how the perimeters are set.

        And I forgot to mention that the fillet knife sharpening my dad showed me how to do as a kid is with water. He would never allow me to put oil on it. Just say’n thats the way I was taught.

        And the tools I sharpen on the surface grinder at work is done dry. No water or oil lubes at all.


      • B BB
        And sorry for the multiple replys but things keep popping in my head that I forgot.

        Sharpening the tools at work involves technique too. Things like how hard you bring the grinding wheel down on the part for the amount of metal you want to take off. Which is usually done at about .003″ at a time. And then there is how fast you move the tool back and forth or side to side on the grinding table while moving in towards the sharpening wheel. You ever have anyone ask you if you can pat your head with one hand while rubbing your belly with the other. That’s what it’s like when your sharpening the tool. And you have to time your movements to each other while remaining smooth in motion over the tool your sharpening.

        Then there is the last and most important step. It’s called sparking out the tool. Basically you have sparks comming off the wheel and tool your sharpening. What you do is after you took the amount of wore out cutting edge off the tool your sharpening you then fine sharpen the tool using the same wheel. Same motions sharpening but no more down pressure on the grinding wheel. Then you just go over the tool till no more sparks are seen. And you can get a very nice mirror smooth finnish on the angle you just sharpened by sparking out the tool.

        And last thing I think. 🙂
        It’s very important that I dress out the grinding can wheel too. We have diamond tip wheel sharpeners that you set on the grinding table that you run back and forth across the wheel to keep the wheel true diameter wise and flat across. And depending how wore the tool is you might need to re-dress the wheel several times to sharpen that drill.

        See this is why I get in a uproar when I here about quality of products like our airguns. There is alot involved to truly make quality products that are the same as each other in performance.

        Ok I think I’m done. 🙂


        • GF1
          After graduating HS I started college at Western Michigan University. I only attended college for a couple of months and knew it wasn’t for me. Then I went to a vocational trade school in the machine technology curriculum. This was in 1965 and all the machines in the shop were WWII surplus. Every few years the instructor would assign everyone in the shop the job of cleaning and painting every machine. We had to grind the end of a file to a beveled edge and scrape every bit of paint off of the machines right down to bare metal. Then they were repainted. These machines were all in pretty good condition with the exception of a couple of the big lathes. We soon learned which lathes were best and used those if they were free. In this school we learned how to sharpen drills and cemented carbide tools by hand. This was before carbide inserts became common. I complete the 24 month course in 19 months and was recruited by a job shop even before I finished. I actually worked with deaf mutes for a few months helping them learn how to do things. I stayed longer than I needed just for that reason. My first job in the job shop was running a turret lathe machining air compressor cylinders. The tools were mostly cemented carbide and I had to take them out and sharpen them by hand on a pedestal grinder. I already knew the importance of not letting the tools get too dull. Some others in the shop had no clue and ran until the tools broke or the finishes degraded.

          I moved on to another company, Parker Hannifin Corp, closer to home and more potential for advancement. The very first job I was assigned was reaming some special parts that had been case hardened prematurely before the finish ream. These parts were rotors for a hydraulic pump. The rotor had 10 holes inside of 10 slots. The diameter was .1870. As I recall, the machine was pneumatic with two reamers mounted horizontally and opposed. The reamers were solid carbide but because of the case hardening the reamers would dull rapidly and fail to cut. I had to remove and hand sharpen the reamers several times on each part and finally completed the parts. No one else in that shop know how to hand sharpen a drill, never mind a reamer. Those were the good ol days.
          I was the first setup man to setup and run a cnc machining center in our shop.



          • Geo
            I first learned how to hand sharpen knee tools and drills before the surface grinder.

            You know your wrist movement has a natural arch radius to it. Perfect for putting back clearance on the drills cutting edge when hand sharpening. And I can still hand sharpen a drill that works as well as the grinder can. Well the single diameter drills. The step drills get a bit more complicated hand sharpening but I have done it before too.

            My dad was a farmer but also had a job as a machinist. Matter of fact we had a welder and two lathes and vertical mill. One band saw and few surface grinder and some belt sander in a pole barn on the farm as a kid.

            My dad didn’t buy any new repair parts if equipment broke. He would make it before he bought it new.

            And same would be for me with college. I did do 4 years of vocational machining classes in school. And several different classes throughout time that they sent me to for work over the years. But most was hands on at work or the farm. And same with me on the vertical cnc we had at work. Never did any horizontal cnc’s though. And have had my share of time on the Zeiss CMM’s at work.

            Put yep that’s another thing lost with new technology as it has evolved. The hands on techniques that are lost as the old timers are fading away. I talk to the new younger guys and show them stuff when they have time at work. Of course there’s only a few that are even interested in things. And on the other hand there is one and he is all over what I’m doing all the time and wanting to help and learn as much as he can. Not to many like that anymore.

            And I’m great full everyday that I had the people around me throughout time that was willing to teach me and take me under their wing so to speak.


            • GF1
              It sounds like we have had very similar experiences. Your dad was a farmer and a machinist. My dad was an auto mechanic and I worked in his shop starting when I was about 14 until I graduated and he sold the business. He had worked in paper mills when he was younger.

              And I know what you mean, we are quickly loosing the skilled trades. As the older guys retire their replacements are untrained and without much skill or know how. Tool and die makers are going the way of the blacksmith. I can stand and watch a blacksmith work for hours. And I love to see a pair of good work horses pull.

              I worked as a setup machinist for a few years after I got out of trade school. Then I bid into the quality department and achieved certifications as a mechanical inspector, a quality technician, and finally a quality engineer….just to prove to myself that I could pass the exam.

              I was the main programmer and operator on a MC850 Zeiss CMM for 25 years. I also wrote most of the 700+ programs for the Cordax CMM.

              I am retired now and I repair computers for friends and a few others. I do software diagnostics and virus / malware removal as well as hardware repair on both desktop and laptop computers. I don’t want to be too busy so I don’t advertise that I do this. I do enjoy it though.

              Now if I could only master this RWS 34P. This has now turned into a quest.
              Geo


              • Geo
                But the thing is now not many kids are into getting their hands dirty.

                Like you in a way again. I lived slept ate and drank muscle cars and drag racing growing up. But I don’t think the kids now have the drive to get into mechanical things like we did.

                Ask a kid to hand lap a valve now days and see what kind of face they give you. In my day you asked a kid that and they all had their own special technique they used. End result they achieved what they were after in their own way. And they was anxious to tell about how they did it. What’s the word I’m looking for? Oh yeah. Proud.


                • GF1
                  My dad passed away in 1980. I still have his tool box from a time when he still was a mechanic with his own repair shop. I have my own tools but once in a while there a tool in that old tool box that I need. Speaking of hand lapping valves, I have the hand lap with a crank that oscillates cw and ccw to seat the valves. I think it may be an antique tool now.


                  • Geo
                    I remember something like that and I’m sure it is a antique.

                    We use to put the valve in the head and place the palm of our hands on the valve stem like your praying. Then move our hands forward and back making the valve spin in both directions while applying up pressure.

                    And of course after applying some valve grinding paste on the valve seat.

                    And speaking of dads. I mentioned above about my dad would make a part to repair equipment when it broke rather than go buy it new. The was that’s back when things were made good and to last. But the part my dad made would never brake after he made it.

                    I think that’s one of them things again that has to do with being around something for a long time and knowing what works and what don’t.




      • Mildot
        Really. I live in Illinois. We have probably 6 or more big lakes that have over abundance of bluegill and crappie. Plus so many little farm ponds scattered here and there.

        And that’s the keepers. We put the females with eggs back in if we catch them. And someone back probably in the 70’s had a bright idea of putting snails in the lakes and ponds to help populate the lakes with the pan fish. Now the snails have overtook some of the old good fishing lakes.

        Remember me saying you don’t mess with nature. Very easy to upset the balance of nature with human input. Yes there are programs that work. But disaster is at hand if not done right.


      • Mildot
        Oh and that’s not a very good lake if 70 fish will wipe it out if their out of the system.

        How much do you think the bass and catfish along with ducks and turtles eat everyday.

        Bet you more than 70. Sounds like that may be the real problem where your at. There is a overabundance of something if one thing is lacking.


        • ok say in one month 300 guys take 70 each couple times a week. do you get the math? all the lakes around me have been raped. I go to private lakes and cant keep them off the hook and you have to release them


          • Mildot
            I don’t know how much you fish. And I was going to say something in my first reply but didn’t.

            We use to go to a few different lakes and fish. And we would do it for at least two weekends of a month. And yes there was other people fishing the lake besides us. And we would actually fish probably 8 months of the year. We never went home with under 70 fish each time. Sometimes as many as 150.

            It’s about the size of the lake and the Eco system.

            And like you say about private lakes you can’t keep them off the hook. That is a balanced or even over balanced lake. Most lakes like that have alot off smaller fish.

            All I can say is I know the lakes by where I live produce. And where are you at exactly?And what fish are you talking about that you catch mostly?


            • first you say I fish small lakes and you fish bigger ones so 10 fishermen a day on a big lake is nothing and there are way more then that a on a big lake. I catch walleyes muskies perch smallmouths never kept a fish. if you want to be flown into a lake in canada then you will see no others fishing…maybe. I would rather buy a steak then clean all those little fish with hardly any meat on them. what do you do with all the stinking waste left from that? bait bears lol shoot 20 a day hahahah


            • the reason there are so many fish in the private lakes I go to is because you have to throw them back there are houses on the lake if they see you keep fish you get thrown out cant go back


              • Mildot
                Sounds like a little different situation were your at compared to were I’m at.

                In Illinois there is no limit set by the state for bluegill, redear or crappie. But lakes can set limits.

                And actually you get two fillets from each pan fish. And pretty big peices. The fillet can be up to 5″ long and 4″ wide and bigger if you keep the bigger fish. And the fillets are around a 1/2″ to 1″ thick.

                So deep fried and battered 3 fish would be 6 peices of fish. That pretty well will fill a person up. What we do is fillet the fish and take 1 gallon zip lock bags and put some salt mixed in water in the bag. Then fill the bag up with fish and freeze them for a later date.

                And you asked about what we do with the remains after filleting. Basically your left with the head and bones and internals in side. Then the peice of skin from each side. As a kid on the farm my dad used the remains to fertilize the garden. Or farm was on one side of a well known Illinois lake. So always had fish in the freezer and fertilizer for the garden and the crops he grew. And same when I fished throughout time.

                Oh and if you have a good sharp filleting knife it is easy to fillet a fish in pretty much a minute. Then have a couple more buddy’s you fished with helping and your done in no time. And I should mention if you know what your doing with that sharp knife there will be no meat left on the bones.

                Guess I’m just use to doing it since I been doing it from when I was a kid. And yes it does take technique to fillet fish right. Magic word. (right)


              • Mildot,

                I grew up fishing a 1 acre farm pond. Every few years the bluegill would be small. It was tuff to catch a nice one. The problem was that they were over populated. The owner, the neighbor, would have us kids just toss them up on the bank. The next year, or soon after, you would get nice sized ones and some bigger than your hand and then some. The only real predators were large mouth bass, crappie and yellow and brown catfish. Throwing everything back can be a real mistake. I have filleted hundreds of fish as well.


                • Chris
                  You ever catch a bluegill, red ear or crappie on a fly rod.

                  I know you know this. But if you get one of them bigger 8″ or bigger ones you would swear you had a 10 pound bass on your line.

                  They are the fightingest fish for their size you will ever catch. They run from you sideways. There body is like a sail under the water. And they fight with all their might till you get them out of the water.

                  Absalutly fun fish to catch. And they taste good fryed up too. 🙂


                  • GF1,

                    Yup, they do fight hard and they do taste great. 8 to 9″, maybe 10″ was the biggest I ever caught. The type varied, as you could tell by the coloration. In fact bluegill (generic term) are some of the best tasting fish there is.

                    Foreign farmed fish is something to be aware of. Tilapia, which is a favorite among many, is put into the tanks that are too dirty for the other fish. The Tilapia will “clean” the water. YUCK! It just get’s worse from there. Pay the extra bucks and get the wild caught if you ever buy fish.


                    • Chris
                      The redear by us can get up to big crappie size. Some as big as 14 inches. And they are like 8 inches tall and up to 3 inches thick. You definitely know when you got one of them on the hook.

                      I caught a real big one years ago. Wasn’t a record but it was big. I did take a old fashioned paper photo of it with me holding it and a normal sized big bluegill next to it and I think a yard stick too.

                      It’s in a photo album I’m sure but don’t know where right now. If I find it I could take a picture of it meaning that picture. Then I could post it on the blog.

                      And sunfish is another type too. Although not as big as bluegill and definitely not as big as research or crappie. I have caught some that were as big as big bluegill.

                      And Tilapia. They are farm raised fish and tend to be bigger than bluegill but not as big as big redear. And by farm raised I don’t mean a farmers pond on his property. I mean their sole purpose is producing and raising fish for the market. I don’t like them. To me the meat has a sweet taste. I don’t like that.

                      I’ll take the good ole lake and pond fish any day over the hybred Tilapia they are selling now days.


          • Mildot
            And 300 people a month. That’s 75 people a week. That’s 10 people a day fishing.

            I seriously don’t recall that I see that many people fishing everyday.

            Again where do you live at and what fish do you catch?



  8. BB

    Let er rip, uh glide. I see this relating well to our hobby. Years ago when I had been reloading for only a short time I blew the top off a P38 pistol (aluminum version, not the proven steel earlier gun). I had carefully adhered to a respected reloading manual in working up the 9 mm Luger loads. This is what brought my attention to several other respected reloading manuals. They did not agree with each other about 9 mm parabellum loads. I vowed to myself I would never produce a load that failed to meet even one manual’s guidelines.

    Hope this resonates with new readers. There is so much information about airguns out there. Some of it just isn’t true. Looking forward to this series.

    Decksniper


    • Decksniper,

      Did you keep that gun? A picture of a blowup like that is very helpful. I blew up my Nelson Lewis combination gun, which I reported in this blog. Blew the nipple out of the barrel. I also blew up a Colt SAA barrel when I was rapid-fiting (fanning) and had a squib).

      B.B.


      • BB

        I did not keep the gun or take pictures. It was many years ago. The import dealer repaired the gun and believed something was wrong with the reload. Shortly after at a gun show I traded it for a Marlin 336 lever 30-30. I told the dealer what had happened with the P38 before the trade.

        Decksniper


    • Yes, if there is any hesitation about something by anyone it is good to avoid it. Putting silicone chamber oil in the transfer port of an air gun is one of those things. A gun company even manufactures it and tells you to put a drop or two in the chamber every 1000 shots, but putting it in even once can ruin a gun, or at least the spring and seals. I put it in my Walther LGU and it detonated and after that the velocity dropped by a whole foot pound and now it buzzes like crazy.



      • Rambler
        Silicone oil or Pell gun oil?

        There is a difference.

        I would never put Pell gun oil in a springer. It’s petroleum based. It will detonate.

        Silicone oil shouldn’t.


        • It was RWS Silicone Chamber Oil. I put two drops into my Terrus and it detonated but without any apparent damage and the piston seemed smoother. So I put it in the LGU and now it’s basically unshootable.

          BB, do you know if Umarex would sell me another spring or should I call Vortek?


          • Rambler
            Wow. Never had that happen with RWS silicone oil. That’s what I use even in the pcp’s I had.

            Matter of fact Chris U has my old Walther LGU in.22 caliber and I used it in it with no problem. Still had factory components in it when he got it from me. As far as I know he is still shooting it with the factory spring and seals.

            Sounds like something else happened to me and it was coincidence that it happened when you used the silicone oil.



          • Rambler,

            Per GF1’s comment, yup still got it and still stock. I do not recall I ever used RWS oil in it, but apparently GF has. It out shoots the TX 200,…. both in .22.


            • Chris
              That makes me think of something. And this is not to put you on the spot.

              But you have not put any chamber lube down the transfer port hole on your springers since you got them? If not maybe their dry. Maybe accuracy would increase from a more consistent velocity spread. And I wonder if velocity would increase for a bit or slow down for a bit.

              I know you got a chrony. I don’t know if you still have any chrony readings from when you got the springers still.

              That could be a very good reader’s blog if you still have the old data. Then the now data before lubing and the now data after lubing.

              I’m talking transfer port hole lubing. Not barrel lubing. I already know a couple drops in the barrel ever 3000 shots or so helps accuracy. Well from what I seen in my various air guns.


              • GF1,

                Don’t know. It might. It makes sense that it would smooth things out. Really, I am not much worried about it. Both shoot well. I have not shot much lately due to weather, heat and humidity and misc. other things. Looking forwards to Fall. Of course I have all data,.. from all air guns,.. from day one. Even targets. My main interest is PCP’s. Even at that, I may sell the springers and get into collecting straight razors,.. or Opinel’s. 😉 Then again,.. just stay as is. ?


                • Chris
                  Wasn’t thinking about in a way that you were worried about.

                  Was thinking about it in a way that it’s hands on info from a trusted reader that could be useful to new air gunners.

                  You see what I mean. Kind of like BB’s straight razor blog being something new to learn.


                  • GF1,

                    As best I can recall,… I have done RWS silicone oil in the .25 M-rod (fill port and transfer port area) and the TX (in the compression cylinder) with no ill results. I have done silicone oil in the barrel several times on all of the air guns. If doing tuning on piston seal areas, it is always pure silicone oil. Like you, I do not see why the RWS oil would have detonated.



      • Rambler,

        I have waited awhile to respond because I was not sure what to say,…. and am still not. Something did happen for sure. I put a Vortek kit in the TX200 and used RWS silicone oil on the seal and compression chamber with no detonation. Keep us posted if you figure anything out. Nice data chart(s) by the way.


  9. What can I say..though I don’t post as often as I used to, this blog is usually the first thing I check on the ‘net when I get to work.
    Between B.B. and the posters here, it is as much about life as it is about airguns.
    After using cartridge razors for years (haven’t used an electric since high school)…I had a friend two years ago tell me that he gets a far closer shave with less cuts and nicks (if you’re careful) so I put in the effort to learn how to use a straight razor. Lots of experience sharping knives and axes, so that didn’t take much learning.
    But it is something I’ve really come to like in the morning when getting ready for the day.
    Giving the razor a few swipes on the strop, getting the lather ready (again…’old’ fashioned cake, no canned lather) and taking the time to give myself a good shave just seems to calm me down and get me in the mood to start the day.


    • CSD,

      Yes, yes, and yes! I look forward to my morning shave, too! It probably takes three times as long, now that I do everything, but the save is so superior that I will never go back. And the straight razor beats the cartridge razor hands-down. The only thing the cartridge razor does better is keep from hurting you, but that is a matter of getting the angle of the blade to your skin correct. And that takes practice, I’ll imagine. But when the cartridge razor can no longer find whiskers to cut, the straight razor is just getting started. This is like going from a Chinese breakbarrel to a TX200!

      And the pre-shave and post-shave creams are so important, too! My face feels like a million bucks right now.

      B.B.


  10. B.B.,

    As a newer and less mechanically inclined reader, I can state that this is indeed an interesting topic. Almost anything about the basic nature of tools and the properties of different alloys is going to be a help in understanding air guns. My dad taught me some of this, as he grew up in a frontier area and had to know how to do more for himself than we do now. He had a personal kit, including strop.

    Hang in there!

    Walt



    • BB, I would be absolutely THRILLED to send you a “specially sharpened” knife……It will be a steak knife,from a set of 6 I bought for 10$ at the flea mkt.Once you have it and are looking at it,remind yourself it was a serrated steak knife!
      I have also invented something cool that pertains to razor honing (secret right now) I will share some with you.
      I never knew Kevin got this far into it.He is a treasured friend.It sounds like his stones are nicer too!:)


  11. B.B.
    Yes, I can see the parallels to airgunning, or any new hobby, so I say, “press on!”
    Also, I just gave 20 knives to my nephew (some are antiques and their stories were included), so now I am down to ‘only’ about 50 knives; I swap out my daily carry knives often, and I spend A LOT of time sharpening them (and an equal amount sharpening my friends’ knives); hence, I am interested to see where you go with this, both as it relates to airguns and blades. I hope to learn something new. Thank you.
    take care & God bless,
    dave


  12. Mr. Gaylord:
    What a great and gentle reality check piece for an old grizzled rifle coach trying to see shooting sports through the eyes of a brand new novice shooter.
    Thanks. And be careful with that razor or you could poke your eye out 🙂 🙂
    Wm. Schooley
    Rifle Coach
    Crew ,357
    Chelsea, MI


  13. This will be a very interesting topic. I assume that a blog has already been done regarding the sharpening of knives? That may have happened before I began reading this blog several years ago. I would find that blog interesting also if there any links to it.

    I have never been able to use an electric razor. My dad mostly used an electric razor and occasionally would use a safety razor with a blade on each side. When I was younger my beard didn’t grow that fast and wasn’t heavy like it is now. I have used Gillette razors like the Trac II in the beginning. Now I use the Gillette Proglide with the ball and Nivea shave gel. The razor is the one with a battery and the blades vibrate. This combination gives me a close smooth shave everyday. I finish with Nivea shave balm. The blades are quite expensive but I lengthen the life by using a tip I got from Clark Howard. After I rinse the razor I use a blow dryer to completely dry the blades. This prevents the blades from rusting. I can get two months on a blade while shaving everyday.

    B.B. btw, the comments RSS are now working correctly once again…I had a lot of catching up to do today.

    Geo


  14. Mr. Pelletier,
    What is, of your experience, the heaviest .177 pellet you’ve seen that hasn’t been a complete mess?

    Thinking about building a mold, wondering how far i can take it. Some of the 177 super mags and of course PCP might put our great energy and accuracy with the right bullet/pellet.

    Thanks as always,
    W


    • Winter
      But remember something about the heavy pellets and power. There is more of a arched trajectory if power is lower or weight is heavier.

      If your shooting at one paticular distance all the time then no problem. Zero the gun and shoot.

      But if your shooting at different distances you will need more hold over or under when you aim the gun.

      I’m a fan of heavier pellets in my air guns. But there has to be a balance of power for weight to get a flatter arch trajectory.

      So more energy at the target is good. But if you don’t have the right balance of power or weight it does make it a bit more work to learn that guns aim points for different distances.


    • Winterz,

      The 10.6-grain Baracuda.

      But I have never seen a pellet mold that worked. A mold is about an order of magnitude sloppier than a swage die, which is how pellets are made. Also, I am an experienced bullet caster and I can’t keep a .22 mold hot enough to cast right. So, good luck with .177!

      B.B.


      • The 16gr JSB Monster is very accurate in my Condor. I know it’s just a three shot group but this group was at 47 yards. (I didn’t have much time to shoot and I hated to spoil it! )

        I just barely put the 177 barrel on it, but all the 5 and 10 shot grupos were under 3/4″ long as I kept the velocity above 830fps.




            • Rambler
              I had a old non spin lock Talon SS and a newer spin lock Talon SS.

              I shot the old Talon SS with JSB 10.34’s with the 12″ barrel. Didn’t try anything heavier. And I did put a 12″ .25 caliber barrel in it and was shooting 31 grain Barracudas out of it with good results too.

              The newer spin Lock Talon SS was a .22 caliber 12″ barrel. I shot JSB 15.89 and 18.1’s in it. Both with good results. And remember the Talon SS don’t make as much power as a Condor. If I remember right the Condor has a valve that flows more air than a Talon SS.

              I think that straight line valve flow to the barrel is what allows the Air Force guns to be more efficient with air than other pcp’s that have the valve and transfer port hole under the barrel. Basically the air has to do a 90° bend to get to the pellet in the barrel. For sure not a efficient way to flow air.


        • Rambler
          Oh and you should of layed your pellet down on its side in the picture. That way we could see how long it is compared to a normal legnth less weight pellet. Even a a less weight pellet along side that one would be nice.

          Really I’m thinking it’s got to be alot longer than normal.


  15. B.B., I too planned on skipping this non air gun report. But I started reading and couldn’t stop. Nicely done. Now for a few questions. I use electric foil razor 90% of the time. The other times I use a “disposable” razor or a razor with a “disposable” cartage. Those give me a very close shave when compared to the electric razor. BUT, I can’t use them daily due to tearing up my face and maybe ingrown hairs due to it. My question is, does a straight razor due that to (if you use correctly)? Next, I haven’t considered a straight razor due to lack of trust of my unsteady hands, but I have considered a metal safely razor with the replaceable blades as the next step. Do those give a better shave than the disposable razors? Just wondering.
    Doc


    • Doc,

      Today was the very first day I shaved my entire face with a straight razor. I have been working up to it. As I understand it, a straight razor used correctly damages your skin less than any other razor — except perhaps your foil razor. I have been using a Braun foil razor for a couple years and, while it is the best foil razor on the market (so they say) it doesn’t come close to a disposable razor shave. But a straight razor shave leaves me as smooth 12 hours later as the disposable razor right after shaving.

      Ten minutes after my shave my skin feels as smooth as a baby’s bottom. It’s like I backshaved against the grain with a disposable razor!

      Listen, don’t take my word for it. Watch this video:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDR_1hg-xNs

      This is the guy I have learned the most from. You will also want to watch his prep video, because that will improve your cartridge razor shave by a lot!

      B.B.


      • B.B.
        My foil razor is also a Braun. I’ve had Remington and Norelco foil razors too, but so far my Braun has been best overall. And I’ve tried many rotary razors, for me, they don’t do a good job. When I use disposable razors, I always back shave as that is the only way I get the “smooth” touch. If I don’t, it’s only smooth in one direction. That also is what tears me up though…ugh. Double edged razor…um sword I guess.

        Doc


  16. B.B.

    I think finding a shaving cream that works was harder than finding a decent blade when I was into wet shaving with double edged razors. Neutrogena Men skin clearing shave cream was the only thing that worked for me. All the shave soaps in the world just left my face raw. Then again, I shave against the grain which is a huge no no.



    • Paperweight,
      I too have searched for the perfect cream. I’ve used about all the name brand creams, lotions and gels. I’ve never tired it, but I hear shave butter is great. Could just be marketing though.

      Doc.


    • I would agree. When Gillette stopped making the Trac II shave cream I had to find another that I liked. I tried several different shaving gels and creams. I have finally settled on Nineva gel. I shave everyday and seldom have any irritation or cuts. I also use the Nineva save balm after shaving. Then I finish up with the razor before the balm has dried and go against the grain to get those stubborn areas. I use a hairdryer on my razor after rinsing and that keeps the blades from rusting, which they will do very rapidly if not dried. I can get two months shaving everyday out of one blade. I use a Gillette Proglide with batteries.



  17. Though way off of B.B.’s topic today, I feel compelled to update everyone on what I’ve learned about my AirForce TalonP barrel choke dimensions. Thanks to Google, I found this German L-W page, which I’ve never seen before.

    http://www.lothar-walther.com/163.php

    From the webpage:

    “For the highest accuracy possible, the barrel blanks come with choke, that means a narrowing of the land-groove-diameter up to 0,05 mm at the muzzle.”

    So my .002″ choke is probably intentional and to spec (0.05mm). The German website published land and groove dimensions that match what I measured too (within my precision in measuring a slug of soft lead). By the way, I also measured the twist at 1:17.2.

    I don’t think it’s possible to optimally size a bullet to fit rifling that varies this much. Believe me, I’ve tried! I have all the NOE sizing bushings from .252 to .258 and I even used the bushings to size the nose separately from the driving band too. Driving bands of .254 or .255 and nose sizes of .252 or .253 seemed to be the best, but it doesn’t make a huge difference in accuracy, which I take as evidence that no sizing combination works super well with the very aggressive .002″ choke. BTW, the slugs drop at .2565 driving band and .2550 nose. Most people shooting this slug very accurately in non-choked barrels report sizing to be very important to accuracy.


  18. BB—No one has mentioned using saliva to lubricate their stones. When I started hunting, ( 1956 ), a few of the older hunters used it. So did a lot of natives, and my guide in Zimbabwae. I tried it a few times, and it worked. I never tried to find out if it was better than oil, water or a dry stone. ——Ed


  19. Just “checking in…” Busy time just now so very little little “me” time to attend to shooting. It seems to me that there comes a point when one wonders whether he owns things or do the things own him. Still “lurking” and reading, just not much to report.

    I’m still working with the Gamo Hunter, open sights, wide rear notch, with some success getting chipmunks. Some kills were not as clean as I would prefer, so next task is to mount the scope. My old eyes are the next impediment to overcome. I now know that the rifle is capable of acceptable accuracy and the scope is a Leapers UTG. If there are problems at that point, they lie with me, not the equipment.

    The Maximus and hand pump are on the back burner for the nonce. I’m considering driving out to Pyramyd HQ to finally get some PCP “lessons.”.

    This topic is so very much “on the money” regarding getting started in any endeavor that requires skill. There is always technology to learn. My Grandfather was a carpenter and he taught me that there are things to learn even about something as seemingly simple as a hammer.

    I think that I’m about at the $650 – 700 mark in airgun purchases. Had I realized the complexity of achieving accuracy with an airgun, I probably would have taken a different approach and started with PCP for about the same money. Oh well, Learning as I go.

    GrandpaDan


    • GrandpaDan
      I am right there with you. My first purchase was a Crosman Nitro Venom in .22 caliber. This one has a gas piston but the same issues as a springer. I had to invest in a GRT III trigger mod ($35) for the Crosman because the stock trigger was horrible. I didn’t think it was accurate enough so my next purchase was a higher dollar item, the Diana RWS 34P. So now I have about $500 invested in airguns and I too after realizing the complexity of achieving accuracy with a springer would have taken a different approach and started with an entry level PCP with a handpump.


      • Geo
        I wish you and grandpa Dan would hurry up and get you a PCP so we can truly see if it’s the guns or the shooters.

        Seems like that’s the only way we will know for sure now.


      • Geo have you tried pinching the trigger between your thumb and fore finger using either the back of the trigger guard, or if a thumb hole stock the back of the pistol grip as a rest for your thumb? I’ve had good results using this method with my Titan GP, it seems to help with torquing when squeezing the trigger. Good luck with your shooting, I’ve had my share of frustration with springers and it is still frustrating at times. But I believe the challenge is where the fun is, I mean my m- rod is boringly accurate, I’m shooting my break barrel way more often.


      • Geo
        Ok I just thought of something. This straight razor blog of BB’s got me thinking. Back to the beginning so to speak

        I don’t think you ever mentioned how your shooting session goes when the gun hits the bag. And for now that’s how your trying to shoot to get the best group from your gun.

        Give a out line of things your aware of when the gun hits the bag after you load it. A step by step routine you follow before you take each shot.

        I’ll wait for your outline before I say how it goes for me bench resting.

        And again. Pay attention to what you do each time. Even if you don’t have a routine.


        • GF1
          Okay, you asked for it, so here is my process.

          1. I take my off hand and slide it up the forearm until I can feel the narrowing of the cocking slot with
          my index finger. Then I rest the forearm on my open palm, not on the shooting bag.

          2. I grasp the pistol grip lightly with my trigger hand and rest the soft part of my index finger on the
          trigger and my thumb resting on the stock just behind the safety. Have tried also with the thumb
          resting on the outside of the stock with no pressure on the rifle.

          3. I rest my off hand on my Caldwell shooting bag and lightly press the stock into my shoulder.

          4. I then weld my cheek lightly against the comb of the stock and align the crosshairs on the target.

          5. I take two or three deep breaths, then exhale slowly while squeezing the trigger.

          6. When the rifle fires, I try to keep my eyes on the target and follow through…a little difficult.

          Well, that’s all I can think of as far as my shooting cycle.

          This afternoon I went out to my range and shot about (7) 10-shot groups with the same results as usual. My groups were 1.5″ to 2″ at 25 yards. Here is a picture of my last session today…1.8″ group. The dot is 1/2″ and the grids are 1/2″. This pretty much represents what the other groups looked like.


          • Geo
            Ok here how it goes for me.

            1) load the gun and set the gun directly on the bag.

            2) then balance the gun on the bag so it naturally points at the target.

            3) take my off hand and place it on the bag like I show in the video with the Tx.
            https://youtu.be/ak-5E2phnCw

            4) take my trigger hand and place like in this video with the Tx.
            https://youtu.be/Z7BCE1339fg

            5) get my sight picture correct with eye placement distance to scope while resting my cheek on the comb of the stock.

            6) apply some pressure to the butt of the gun to my shoulder.

            7) level the scope reticle and then tighten the grip on the gun.

            8) place the tip of my trigger finger on the trigger. But not wrapped around the trigger.

            9) pull the trigger slowly till you feel it stop at stage 2.

            10) get on target as and as steady as possible to stay aligned. Then slowly pull the trigger till the shot goes off.

            11) keep pulling till the trigger stops moving and check to see if your still on target.

            And for me for some reason I don’t worry about the breathing. It never had affected my shots. And it Sunday like alot I do. But from the time the gun hits the bag to when the shot goes off is always under 10 seconds for me. If I can’t keep steady in that time frame I abort the shot. And the longer I take to make the shot the more likely I am to be off aim point when the shot goes off.


            • GF1
              I cannot place the rifle directly on the bag because it changes to POI too much. When I am pesting I don’t have the luxury of resting on a bag. I have to use a hold when shooting from my bench that I can duplicate when not shooting from the bench.

              The Diana 34 has a lot of recoil and the rifle moves so much I can’t even see the paper following the shot. I would guess that my cycle time is probably 5 seconds or less. I think I am holding the trigger hand the same as you and use the same part of my finger on the trigger also.

              Something I’m doing is really blowing my groups out though and I’ll be darned if I can figure what that something is. Today I was very conscience of my hold and doing it exactly the same for each shot. I have shot nearly a tin of pellets while practicing this hold and variations of it and my groups have not improved one iota.


              • Geo
                Remember right now I said we are talking bench resting from a bag. Not pesting without a rest. That brings a whole different problem into situation. Just wait. You will see what I mean.

                And what do you mean it changes your poi to much if you rest the gun directly on the bag.

                You mean it changes impact location to the bullseye or you group gets really scattered.

                And really. The guns shot cycle is that bad? If so I know I will never own one. And I’m very serious. That’s bad. Maybe you really do need to get the gun on the bag and hold it tighter than you have been. Aperintly the artillery hold don’t seem to be working for you.


                • GF1
                  If I zero the scope while resting the rifle directly on the bag, and then shoot with the rifle resting on my hand instead of the bag, the POI will change by a couple of inches.
                  The rifle is very smooth cocking and smooth shooting. It just has a lot of recoil and if I use the light grip to allow the rifle to move, it definitely does move a lot.

                  I have tried holding the rifle more tightly but then it throws the pellets even more scattered. As you can see from the picture of my last group, if I were shooting at a sparrow I would have missed 8 out of 10 times, or, just brushed some feathers off.


                  • Geo
                    Ok understand what you said now but one thing. You said the gun cocks smooth and shoots smooth. Then you say it has alot of recoil. If so that’s not smooth shooting to me.

                    My HW30s has just a slight bump when it fires. And I mean slight. The FWB 300 I feel nothing when I shoot it. The Tx 200 I do feel a bump that’s a little harder than the HW30s. But not much.

                    I’m beginning to think the gun recoils more than I like. Matter of fact I have got rid of several springers because I didn’t like their shot cycle. Mainly being nitro piston guns. But some where springers. Some of the springers I tuned but they where .25 caliber. They did shoot smooth and grouped much better after the tune. But then also the power was reduced. So that means I had to take my shots in at closer distances to have enough power to dispatch the pest. Which defeated the purpose of the gun.

                    Sounds to me like you really need a PCP or a multi-pump gun.


                    • GF1
                      When I say smooth I mean there is no buzzy spring feeling. But the RWS 34P makes 16 ft lbs of energy and if I hold it lightly, it will move quite a bit. It could be due to being a .22 caliber and shooting a heavier 14.5 gr pellet, maybe?

                      I keep thinking about that PCP option every time I go out to my range with the RWS and get those unacceptably poor groups.

                      I am seeing more interesting entry level PCPs like the Diana Stormrider and the Umarex Gauntlet. I read and watched the reviews and Tyler Patner and Rick Eusler loved them. Tom was very impressed with the Gauntlet when he and others were shooting it on a range too. So far those are not available for sale.


                  • Geo
                    Had a busy day today didn’t get a chance to reply.

                    Why don’t you consider a multi-pump gun. The Crosman custom shop added the the 1322 and 1377 to the line up a little while back. You get a steel breech so a scope can be added. You can pick different legnth barrels. I suggest the longest barrel they offer in whatever caliber you like. You can get different trigger blades too along with different muzzle brake for the barrel. Then you can get different color 1399 stock with a matching pump handle. Even camafloge choices. And what’s cool is you can get a custom laser engraving on the gun of whatever you like it to say.

                    And what’s nice is they start out around $140 if I remember right. And they are very accurate guns plus light weight.

                    That’s what I pest small birds with along with my 760 at 30 yards and in.

                    Go on Crosmans website and click on custom gun shop and see what they have. If you do I would like to know what you think.



          • Geo791,

            George, fully exhale and hold your breath before starting to squeeze the trigger, if you wait too long, abort the shot and start over.

            Also, what medium are you using in your “sandbags”? If it is indeed sand or cat litter, try a lighter, less dense medium such as that used for polishing cartridge cases, ground walnut hulls or corncob. They have more give to them than the former and are also much lighter in weight. Do not totally fill the bags, leave some extra space in them.

            I have shot some pretty good groups with my RWS 48 .177 directly resting the forearm on the front bag and simply adjusting the POA by squeezing the front bag with my offhand to align the crosshairs on target. This will not work well if the bag is filled with sand, it is too rigid for a powerful springers firing cycle and it will not shoot a tight group.

            I would have posted a photo of a 25 yard, 10 shot group I fired about ten months ago but I am severely computer challenged and have not figured out how to do that yet! Can anyone write the instructions out in crayon for me?

            Bugbuster


            • Bugbuster
              My shooting bags are Caldwell bags. The Bags are pre-filled with ground corn cob granules.
              I do not rest the rifle directly on the bag. I rest the rifle on my off hand with an open palm and then rest my hand on the bag. Resting the rifle directly on the bag changes the POI drastically.

              I am a computer tech and I would be happy to help you post a picture. The trick is to resize the picture like you would if you were going to attach it to an email. I use my email program to resize the picture and email it to myself. Then I can save it in the new smaller size for emailing and posting. A typical picture will be a large file size, I.E. over 1 mb. They need to be made smaller (not the picture, but the file size) to send in an email. The picture’s file size after resizing will be 50k to maybe 200k. If you locate the picture in your Windows explorer and right click on it, a menu will drop down. On that menu you should see “Send to” and then to the right another menu drops down. Choose “Mail recipient” and then the email program will pop up and offer to resize the picture before attaching. I allow the resize and send the picture to my email address. Then I open my email and right click on the attached picture and save it to my download folder. This will be the resized picture which you can use when posting. It sounds more complicated than it really is. If you have camera software on your computer that also can be used to resize a picture for emailing and posting. Hope this helps you.
              Geo



                • Geo791,

                  Nice looking bags.

                  Have you been able to get any good groups with your rifle regardless of the POI since it was returned to you?

                  I scanned the target I refered to this morning into my computer using my HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 and Picasa3, however the file is too large at 598KB. I do not have the time to mess with it anymore today due some pressing issues which I have to address.

                  By the way, the group I mentioned was fired directly off of refilled bags (from lead shot about 2/3 to 3/4 full) while standing at the 25 yard outdoor pistol range at the local sportsman’s club. It was a 10 shot group which measured approximately 11/16 CTC using cheap Winchester 10 grain round nose pellets.

                  Until you get your hold refined to an acceptable level,why not just bait the pest species on the ground under the feeders/birdhouses and shoot them from your bench, would that be possible? That way, any errant shots will not damage anything. Sparrows and starlings are easily attracted to stale bread and many other kinds of food, just leave it in large pieces so they cannot grab it and quickly fly off. Just a thought, in some cases, the end justifies the means does it not?

                  Bugbuster


                  • Bugbuster
                    Your file size of of 598k would probably be fine for posting. Your Picasa3 software would be capable of resizing the file, but I’m not familiar with that software.

                    No, I have not been able to shoot a 10-shot group under an inch since the rifle was returned. At least now we know it is not the rifle and not the pellet so that only leaves a couple of variables left…my scope and ME. I pretty certain the scope is not the cause of my poor groups…so that leaves the cause as me.

                    I haven’t seen many sparrows or starlings at the feeders lately and nesting season has passed so the pests are not a problem right now. I have been throwing some old bagels under the feeders but the birds aren’t too enthused with them. I think the coons come at night and eat them, or maybe the skunk my grand daughter sees when she leaves early for work. Thank you for your comments.
                    Geo


                    • Geo,

                      No, 598K is not small enough. It will fill up our server’s memory! Size the photo for the internet and it will shrink under 50K. That’s 72 dpi, not 96 like some software sizes them.

                      B.B.


                    • Thank you B.B. I did not know what the parameters were but I always try to make my picture files sizes as small as possible for emailing or posting.
                      Geo



                    • Geo
                      And I need to rephrase that.

                      The FWB 300 does not move a bit. I mentioned that before. But t sounded like it does bump the way I worded it.

                      Just wanted to clarify.


                    • Geo791,

                      Well, according to B.B., I am back to square one. Possibly, I could get one of my computer savvy friends to program a shortcut on my desktop to resize the images to 50K or less.

                      You cannot rule out anything, you may have a bad scope. I have three Hawke scopes myself, all with one inch tubes which Hawke no longer recommends for use on powerful springers, there must have been problems with them. They now only recommend 30 mm tubes for them, maybe just for the additional adjustment or maybe not. Just for S&G, try GF1’s idea of wrapping the junction of the ocular lens adjustment with electrical tape once it is properly focused.

                      Bagels huh, I believe that they are more into junk food. Observe the activity around the dumpsters and parking areas at any fast food joint, they are usually alive with European starlings, English sparrows and even seagulls on occassion, and I live well inland from the coast.

                      The raccoons can become a real problem once they find a free lunch, you cannot get rid of them short of live trapping/relocation or killing them. The skunks, I really like because they will dig out and totally destroy yellow jacket nests below ground. The (yellow jackets), I really hate, always in your face and you cannot leave an open soda or beer can unattended or they will crawl inside, not good getting a live one in your mouth.

                      Once again, Good Luck with your 34!

                      Bugbuster


                • Geo
                  Here is my bag. See how it’s shaped. That’s from resting the gun with out fluffing the bag back out.

                  I leave that shape there. All 3 of my spring guns fit it tight. Plus it is very hard in the dip at the bottom and about 3/4 of the way each side. And you see how the leather or whatever material has a shine to it in the picture. The grain is actually flat and mashed together. Almost smooth actually. But grabs the gun.

                  If I fluff the bag and set the gun on the bag it doesn’t secure the gun as well. Maybe that’s some of your bench resting trouble.

                  My guns don’t move other than a slight forward bump.


                  • GF1
                    Nice shooting bag. The difference between how you are shooting and how I am shooting is that you are trying to shoot with your rifle bench rested and I am not bench resting my rifle. B.B. advised me not to allow the Diana 34 to rest on a bag. I tied it just to see how much difference it would actually make and was surprised to see the POI change a bunch. The groups were actually about the same though. You apparently are not using the artillery hold as I am trying to do. From what I have read some springers can be shot by resting the rifle on the bag and some others cannot. Appreciate your comments in any case.


                    • Geo
                      Yep directly on the bag. And yep I have shot other springers resting on the bag with good results. And on the other hand I have shot springers on the bag with and without the artillery hold with no luck. Some guns are just harder to shoot that. Others I guess is what it is.

                      Did you look into the Crosman custom shop guns?


    • Grandpa Dan,

      Good to hear from you. I have been wondering how you have been getting along. I take it the hand pump is still down? That is sad, if it is. You would have been all set to go if you got the Maximus charged up.

      I can relate to your reflections. I too went the springer route first. No real regrets with what I have, but I sure do love the PCP’s. Toss in an auto pump and tank and the cost goes way up. The convenience and ease is well worth it though,.. in my opinion.

      As for a visit to P.A., from my understanding, they do have a brick and mortar location, just not a walk in store front. I do recall someone saying that they welcome visitors, but to give them a call first. I would love it if they had a walk in store front. One of each model, to pick up and actually hold and feel. Mention that you know this “B.B. guy”,.. and you might just get the “Grand Tour”. 😉

      Best of wishes on your continued quest and please keep us posted. Chris


  20. I’m embarrassed to even think of how much time I spend sharpening and studying on the topic .I just find this nearly lost art fascinating.Think how positively crucial the man made sharpened edge has been throughout written history!
    The fact that my beard produces stubble to test shave twice a day is a happy coincidence.I look foreward to this series B.B.I never stop learning,and I have marveled for a decade over your ability to mentor,and above all your tireless patience!!! (“I have this bb gun made by Ben Franklin……….) LOL


  21. gunfun1—–Saliva does indeed contain salt. Depending on what a person ate ( or chewed ) , and when, saliva can contain a plethora of unusual and exotic substances. That is why I washed the blade clean after sharpening it with saliva for a lubricant. —-Ed


  22. Being folic’ly challenged I really don’t have a dog in this fight, I can’t even grow a decent mustache, however I am always striving to improve my sharpening skill and knowledge, so this is a great topic for me I have already learned several things. My daily carry is an Opinel carbon steel as I prefer it over stainless. My collection includes Case, Coldsteel, Hen and Rooster, Bear among others. I have forged one knife out of a coil spring and reground several from carbon steel butcher knives. Also one of my all time favorite corporate slogans is Wade in and Butcher out, those English and their wacky humor. So let’s get on with developing a wire edge and the perfect shave thanks B.B.


    • Coduece,

      I have a small collection of Opinel knives — maybe 20-25? My favorite is one with a stainless blade! It holds its edge as well as carbon steel and sharpens just as sharp. And it doesn’t stain. I use this knife to cut open tough cardboard boxes, because it can do it a long time before needing to be sharpened.

      I may stick it into the article series and see whether I can get it razor sharp. It already shaves hair, but you know what I mean.

      B.B.


      • B.B.,

        20-25,…. small? 🙂 I gave them a (good) look over today. I may get one yet. I have admired them for years if for nothing else than their simplicity and function,… and apparent quality. Apparently, the length of card board that can be cut before a knife dulls is a measure of quality. I think that Opinel’s ranked up to 80 ft.,… above many other brands. Damascus blades would be of interest as well in your reports. Not sure if straight razors were ever made with that method of steel/forge,… but you do have to admit that they are one of a kind and very beautiful.

        Chris


  23. Yes I always recommend Opinel knives to people who want to learn knife sharpening, they are by far the easiest knives to get hair popping sharp. As for stainless I like the Patinated look Carbon steel develops over time, I even have rubbed green walnut hulls onto new knives just to speed up the process.


    • Opinel are just about the only knives you’ll ever need, most of the other stuff is just bs, they may not be pretty but heck, they are simple, functional, very sharp and they float.


      • Dom I wasn’t aware that Opinel knives float, just another reason to love them. Hey I’m curious about webley pellets I haven’t seen any stateside,do you ever shoot them, more specifically the mosquito pellet.


        • I picked up half a dozen Opinels when I by chance came across the factory last time I was in France,
          Webley stopped making pellets about 12 years ago, all the Webley branded ones are Crosman now



            • It doesn’t seem to be a major interest over there, odd given the hotbed of firearms design that it was during the period that most of airgunnings designs were laid out and that it’s flanked by the UK Germany and Spain.
              I remember the Manu-Arm range of pistols and the odd little Diana or BSA copy turns up at auctions, but little elsd


  24. B.B.

    Wonderful report! You really put things in perspective. I think the most important thing is to know what you don’t know! I wish our President did the same!
    Maybe he should read your blog…

    -Y


  25. This article and a couple of the statements within have sparked a few trains of loosely related thoughts about enthusiasm versus pragmatism.
    A break barrel air rifle is less accurate than a fixed barrel, actually no, it is potentially less accurate, but the Walther LGV is no less accurate than an LGU, Weihrauch use the HW95 based HW98 for their factory FT team, rather than any underlever derivative, maybe they missed the memo?.
    And what is accuracy?, outside of target disciplines?, my HW77 groups 20% better with JSB exact at 40m, but I use H&N FTT when hunting, surely I’m mad or vaguely unethical?, but it’s actually quite the opposite, all of my hunting is done at less than 30m, the difference in accuracy is around 10% at that range, and, critically, the group sizes of the FTT are a tiny bit over half an inch, which is what I require for my hunting purposes.
    But then, why not use the JSB’s?, well , simply because the H&N pellet is holding 20% more energy at 30m than the JSB at that range (I have the broken Chrono to prove this),
    Pragmatism, over getting anally tied up over group sizes.
    Once you have worked out the accuracy you need, you can be freed to look at other features, if your only shooting will be in your 30ft yard you don’t need to import an SFS tuned HW97 or buy an AA TX200, hit your pragmatism button.
    I use the disposable razor heads from Walmart (called Asda here in the UK, did you know that?) that fit my Gillette handle. This combination shaves my face smooth to the touch for 24 hours, and costs about half a dollar a week.
    If you need more than this (I assume there must be more than this?) then there are, perhaps closer shaves (see above)


    • Dom
      Speaking of breakbarrels and fixed barrel underlever guns.

      My little .177 HW30s is holding it’s own against the .22 Tx 200 and modded FWB 300 I have.

      And I use heavier pellets in them too. The .177 guns either the JSB 10.34 or Air Arms 10.34 pellets. And the JSB 15.89 pellets for the Tx.

      Matter of fact got some sparrows yesterday with the HW30s yesterday morning. Most shots was around 20 yards but a few was at 30 yards.

      You got any pictures of groups with your gun at the distance you mentioned and the pellets also. Just curious how your gun does group. I got some 10 shot group’s side by side of the guns I just said I have on the same target paper. And got a target of me taking 1 shot at 9 different targets on the same paper with each gun to show how the guns shoot poa (point of aim) to poi (point of impact). I posted them a couple days or so ago. Could post them again.

      But would like to see your groups.


      • I haven’t shot for paper groups for years tbh, though I’ve got a few odd ball guns now I could do with testing, could be fun
        I’ve had my HW77 with Nikko 6x42ao setup for about a decade, and haven’t really fiddled about too much
        But I’ll post you a picture of my latest oddball see if you can guess what’s going on



    • Dom
      The only guess I’m going to take is it looks like it is possibly a Weirauch by the trigger. That’s as far as I’m going to go. But very nice looking gun. 🙂

      And yes I would love to see some group’s. I actually haven’t shot group’s for a long time up till the other day when I shoot the group’s I mentioned above.

      I usually do when I open a new tin of pellets just to verify how that tin is shooting. Haven’t even been doing that for a while. I just shot at my spinners and feild target sqerrials. If I was hitting consistent as normal I wasn’t worried about checking the tin for group’s.

      And again I like the looks of your gun.


      • I’ll leave that guess in the air, the trigger blade is homemade 🙂
        No, I go up the club periodically and provided I’m spinning the spinners at 20 to 50 metres and knocking over the FT targets I don’t tend to bother too much, everything I’ve got is overdue a good zero check though


        • Dom
          Pretty much the same here anymore on paper targets. And I got my spinners and such set out at 15-50 yards. So if I’m hitting them I’m happy.

          I had my .22 Savage 93 out yesterday. Haven’t shot it at paper in a while. Got a green laser on it too. Made sure it was zeroed still. I got it zeroed at 50 yards laser and Hawke scope. Here’s a picture of it.

          Oh and what scope is that on your gun. And I was going off the trigger adjusting screw that made me think Weirauch. The blade did throw me off.


  26. It is a Weihrauch HW35 fitted into a Hatsan AT44 stock (a very straightforward swap amazingly)
    The trigger is ultra light running from 3 lb at its heaviest down to mere ounces, though I’ve given the stock some good stout bangs in doesn’t release
    The barrel is shortened and has an aluminium barrel weight, it shoots 10fpe.
    The scope is a dreadful old Bushnell I had knocking around


    • Dom
      Thought it was Weirauch. The trigger adjusting screw is what kept me thinking that.

      And I thought the stock looked familiar. Isn’t the AT44 a PCP? I had a AT44-10QE.

      I imagine you had to notch out the stock for the cocking arm and drill the front stock mount screw holes.

      But definitely a nice match for the gun. Plus you have the adjustable comb and butt plate. Nice thinking. 🙂


      • It seems a couple of very minor cuts were done up the front, one hole drilled for the front trigger guard (main) mounting screw and a small fillet set in at the rear of the receiver, not my work I’m afraid, I bought it for £50 ($70) out of curiosity
        I would never have imagined they would make a happy pairing



          • Barrels a hacksaw job, so some groups required, certainly there’s no crown, and every single Weihrauch barrel I’ve come across is choked too (front sight or not) despite popular opinion.
            It’ll be interesting to see how it groups, knocks over matchboxes at 20 metres or so


            • Dom
              Depending on how big your matchbox is it sounds like it could be pretty accurate.

              And to do that with a barrel that is not cut straight or crowned is kind of interesting. Makes me wonder how much the gun would improve or if it would improve with the barrel done right. To me it would have to get better.


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