Something else

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Always something else
  • Change it
  • Make ‘em pumpers
  • Farco air shotgun
  • A good rifle
  • The 1873 Springfield
  • A long shot
  • The point
  • Summary

Always something else

One thing has stood out about airgunners for me. No matter what you are talking about, they always seem to want something else — something different. I remember many years ago when powerful precharged guns didn’t exist, the Yewah 3B Dynamite multi pump from Korea was looked at as a big deal. It was powerful, large caliber (.25) and airgunners were in awe of it — mainly because few of them had ever seen one.

Change it

Then I read about a guy who had one and reported how very powerful it was, but, man, was it ever hard to pump! The 3B required 150 pump strokes to fill initially, and then you could top it off after every shot with another 20 pumps. This fellow liked the power but hated all the work. So he machined a fill coupling and turned his 3B into a precharged airgun! He said the gun became lighter when the pump mechanism was removed, and it was no longer a chore to fill.

Make ‘em pumpers

Several years later there was a huge cry to put a pump mechanism on a PCP. The proponents of that move said you would have all the accuracy of a precharged pneumatic, but no longer be tethered to a scuba tank. I was one of the ones who said that and was fortunate enough to purchase a used Daystate Sportsman Mark II, which was a modernized Titan multi pump. Five pump strokes took that .22 rifle up over 25 foot-pounds, and with as few as three pumps you still got over 15 foot-pounds.

That Sportsman was accurate, beautiful, had a great trigger and was all things people said they wanted, except for the pump mechanism. It was heavy, unbalanced the rifle to the right side and the final two pump strokes required 77 pounds of effort, each. That rifle was a scarce one because it cost about the same as a PCP. If there had been more of them I’m sure someone would have removed the pump mechanism and converted it to a PCP. He then would have touted all of the advantages such a conversion brought!

Today we have the FX Independence, which gives us the best of both worlds — precharged and multi-pump. It’s expensive, but it does exist.

Farco air shotgun

I remember the Farco air shotgun. It was .51 caliber, or 28 gauge. And it operated on CO2. Because it was made in the Philippines, the temperature/pressure fluctuation with CO2 was not considered a problem. But what did American airgunners want? They wanted to shoot a round ball from the gun, and Farco importer Davis Schwesinger, the owner of Air Rifle Specialists in New York, killed a wild pig in Florida with his Farco shooting such a ball.

Then I published the velocity of the ball from a Farco in The Airgun Letter. As I remember, it was around .45 caliber in a shotgun shot cup and exited the muzzle at around 500 f.p.s. Golly gee but that was too slow. So guys started converting their Farcos to operate on high-pressure air. As long as they didn’t fill to more than 1,200 psi, the CO2 valve could still deal with the pressure and the better flow of the thinner high pressure air did increase the velocity. But it wasn’t enough. Someone converted his Farco to run on air at 3,000 psi. That is dangerous, because the Farco is made of soldered brass. In essence that turns the shotgun into a large pipe bomb!

You know, the funny thing about fringe experiments like this is the guy doing them always says there is no problem. And there isn’t — until there is. There are a number of tragic You Tube videos with similar circumstances.

A good rifle

So, let’s say I report on a spring-piston air rifle that I find delightful to shoot. Let’s call it a Diana model 27. Many guys read my report and get stuck when I report the muzzle velocity of 475 f.p.s. That’s too slow! What can be done to increase that to 700 f.p.s.? Well, things can be done, but when you get there that rifle won’t be a Diana 27 any longer.

The 1873 Springfield

In 1870 the U.S. Army was in the middle of developing a new rifle for soldiers. After the Civil War the government had a million .58-caliber muskets they wanted to modernize, rather than scrap and start all over. So they started a program at the Springfield Arsenal to convert the 1863 musket into a breechloading rifle. They went through models 1865, 1866, 1868, 1869, 1870 and finally ended at model 1873. During this same development period the cartridges went from .58 caliber rimfire (closest to the original musket) .50 caliber rimfire, .50 caliber centerfire (the famed .50/70 cartridge) and finally ended at .45/70. By the time the development was finished, only a few common parts like the sling swivels could be reused.

Despite all the “wisdom” at the start of the project, the smaller caliber with a lighter bullet shot farther, dropped less and hit harder at distance.

A long shot

Let’s talk about distance for a moment. In June of 1874, at the Second Battle of Adobe Walls, buffalo hunter Billy Dixon shot and killed an Indian medicine man/chief at 1,538 yards. It took 11 shots for him to connect with his .50/90 Sharps, but the Indian, Esa-tai, sat still on his horse because he had told his men that they and their horses were painted with invisible paint. The white men couldn’t see them. He was in the unfortunate position of having to put his mouth where his money was!

In the early 1990s Army physicists said it was impossible for a blackpowder bullet that left the muzzle at 1,250 f.p.s. to carry that far, so they were challenged by a group of modern buffalo hunters to test it. With millimeter-wave radar they were able to track the trajectory of the bullets of a number of buffalo guns and determine that, not only was the Billy Dixon shot possible, it was well within the range of such a gun. Dixon’s rifle could shoot past 2,500 yards, and the venerable .45/70 bullet will pass 3,000!

The point

My point is this. When you shoot a pellet, you don’t need a flatter trajectory. You need more accuracy. Your 500 f.p.s. pellet rifle can easily hit targets at 100 yards and farther. The question is — can you?

Summary

It’s okay to want something different. That’s how progress happens. But when you do want such a thing, make sure you really want it and aren’t just kicking over rocks to see what’s underneath.

74 thoughts on “Something else

  1. BB,

    For some reason as I read this blog, I kept picturing a hamster running on a wheel. Round and round and going nowhere.

    I guess I don’t understand the need for speed and constant tinkering.

    Jim


    • Jim, do you mean to say that your perfect airgun has already been built, and you wouldn’t change a thing on it?

      Personally I like kaizen (continuous improvement). If I ever start a religion it will be my second commandment (after “Thou shalt not waste.”)

      Besides, it is funny when people “improve” things, and make them worse.


      • Sean,

        RidgeRunner, below, said it better than I did: “Most everyone would immediately want more power, magazine, target grade trigger, etc.”

        I constantly read about people saying that they received a new gun this morning and this evening its lying all over the workbench in pieces. I would just like to take a new gun out the box and just start shooting it without having to modify it into something completely different. I don’t mind cleaning the shipping gunk out of the barrel.

        As far as my perfect air rifle already being built. Yep, a Sheridan Blue (or Silver) Steak, Series C. I now own several. And the only modification to any of them has been to add a good scope mount (somewhat of a challenge on Streak) and a good scope when I could no longer see the rear sight.

        Jim


        • Jim
          I’m sure you knew it was comming.

          What kind of guns are you buying that need the shipping good no out of the barrel.

          I got a few ideas but will see what guns you are talking about.



          • GF1,

            I always run a clean patch through the barrel of any gun I get, new or used. If it comes out dirty dirty, I will clean (Ballistol soaked patches followed by dry patches). “Shipping gunk” is just my generic term that I guess goes back to powder burners and cosmoline.

            Jim


            • Jim
              Believe it or not there is only a few air guns I got that I cleaned the barrel. Mostly Chinese guns back when I tryed them before I really knew.

              My 3 springers I have right now has never seen a cleaning rod go down the barrel.




                • Jim
                  I got my own method of cleaning.

                  And that’s a few drops of silicone based oil directly in the barrel.

                  And yes only if accuracy starts going away. Might only need to do that every 4000 shots.

                  But nope. Never nothing pushed through the barrel.

                  And you know what I even did the silicone oil drops down the barrel of my Savage 93 .22 rimfire rifle over the weekend just to see. And yes it made it even group better. Until then I never tryed it on a powder burner.


                  • Do you happen to have a Savage 93 in 17 HMR, Gunfun1? I had to clean my new 93 after every few shots. Actually, I have a very long story about my 17 HMR 93 but I’ll just post the condensed version here. Even after the first two or three boxes of ammo, my 93 would not group past the first three shots or so and I grew tired of wasting ammo and cleaning the barrel. The bore would crud up and the POI would start to drop and deviate more and more with each shot. Even the JB’s and brush process could not fix it. I believe that barrels should not be hand lapped with a lead lap except before they are chambered and crowned so I devised a method to fire lap the 17 HMR using regular boxed rimfire ammo. It took all afternoon but the problem was solved in about 30 fire lapping rounds. I know B.B. likes to compare air rifle accuracy to the Ruger 10/22 (and I own a couple of them too), but the equally inexpensive Savage 93 in 17 HMR with the Accutrigger and bull barrel is the gun he should use for the comparison and challenge. I think it might just be the all time $200 rifle accuracy champion (though I’ll admit that the ammo costs considerably more than even premium pellets).


                    • Coduece
                      Yep I do. My brother is handling a coyote situation right now with it.

                      But the Hornady 20 grain varmint round is what I found to work the best.

                      Tryed several different brands and types of the 17 grain bullets and the heavier bullet seems to be better. The heavier bullets are a little slower velocity to which I think helps keep the barrel cleaner.

                      And I don’t know if I would try any lube in the barrel of the .17 hmr’s. Them rounds are shooting at 2500 fps. I don’t know if that would make something happen. Wouldn’t even try silicone oil. Still might cause a problem.

                      Wonder what would happen if a bit of natural bee’s wax smeared on the bullet itself would help. Maybe the wax would melt from the friction of the high velocity and powder burning. Maybe that would actually help clean the barrel.

                      Don’t know. Just thinking.



                  • I tested a dozen brands and types of 17 gr. and 20 gr. HMR ammo and found the Hornady 20 gr. to be the most accurate in my rifle too (but they were all very accurate). Allegedly all the different brands of 17 HMR ammo is made by CCI in Lewiston, ID, but there are differences in bullets and loadings and I think even different batch runs can make a difference too–just like pellets.


                    • Cal
                      I like the CCI.

                      Used them back when I was a kid in my Winchester 190.

                      Do you remember the CCI .22 long rifle stingers they made back then meaning in the mid 70’s I think it was. Maybe they still make them. If so they definitely performed.

                      They had a small steel star inserted in a hollow point. And I the they a bit higher velocity than a normal 1200 fps long rifle round. They definitely opened up into 5 sharp wedges after impact.

                      And of course you got to remember the CCI.22 long rifle bird shot. I do believe they still make those too. Couldn’t hit any thing more than 20 yards away. But they were fun to shoot the tomatoes we would pick that the bugs would get ahold of back on the farm.

                      But you CCI makes good stuff.



                    • Gunfun1, I’ve seen the CCI 22LR Stingers and shot rimfire cartridges for sale. I’m sure they still make the shot and I’ve used them. I’ve never tried the Stingers and maybe they don’t make them any longer, but I know I’ve seen a good supply of them at gun shows. I’ve never checked the price. I’ve seen Black Talon at gun shows too. I would never buy any of it at the asking prices, but for no particular reason, I don’t shoot the few boxes of 45 ACP and 44 Magnum Black Talon that I have either.)



  2. Humans are predators. It is hardwired in us to hunt and pursue animals, fruits, things, persons…..even ideas that fascinate us as objects of desire. And it gives us great pleasure to chase and harvest what we seek, be it a wooly mammoth or a super rare Whiscombe air rifle. The stimulus and gratfication cycle of the hunt is necessary for our survival and creativity, yet can make us obssessive-compulsive creatures like habtual gamblers or food addicts.

    And so we are driven to acquire….Like that .454 Casull Super Redhawk I sold a while back….It hurt to shoot that thing! After the first round you let off made you cry out “Momma!”, you question your sanity about firing the rest of the cylinder. And yet I inexplicably want one more such wheel gun…..Oh well, we all have our poisons,…our vices….You only live once



  3. It may be hard to believe but I do have quite a few air guns that I have not modified. Even some I have not taken apart. Guess I am a natural born tinkerer. I get as much enjoyment from working on air guns as shooting them, lucky to still be alive.

    Still waiting for the working stiffs multi-pump. I want it light, symetrical with the barrel foating above the pump tube and a scope rail. Eight pumps for 600 fps in .22 cal would do it. If based on an existing platform “Crosman” the aftermarket upgrades would take care of most other “something else”s.

    Don


    • Don,

      The Discovery/Maximus platform would be superb for what you want. There is only one problem. Most everyone would immediately want more power, magazine, target grade trigger, etc.



      • Decksniper,

        As close as I have go so far is my Crosman 1322 with the Maximus Barrel. I tried 6 different pellets in it today and may have found a better pellet then the JSP Match Jumbo in 15.89 grain I have been using.

        Today I shot five Crosman pellets from the cardboard box 14.3 grains (no longer available) into 0.16 inches at 25 yards. I know only five shots but it looks promising. I will need to check out some 10 shot groups with this pellet.

        One day I will add up how much I have in the gun, I think it is less than $150 but it may have added up to more than I think. I will try to figure it out. It does take 11 pumps for the 1322 to get the best so far out of the Maximus barrel.

        Below is the target trying 6 different pellets. If you click on the picture you can see it better.


        • Oh a few more things, With the Loooong Maximus barrel the gun is fairly quiet. And I spent a couple hours today building shims and adjusting the trigger spring. The trigger is much better now and does not have any side to side wiggle. Still a little creep but much better. I think the trigger will get better as it breaks in with more shooting.

          Don


          • Don
            You know what I did on a Discovery I had long ago a little after they first came out.

            I put a 1720T (true) 2 stage trigger grip assembly on it with a 1399 stock. Excellent gun after that.

            Even done it on a .25 gen1 Marauder I had. That was the gun Lloyd Sikes made me the first double resivoir for the Marauder rifle. Like his double resivoir Disco’s he was making. How about a modded 70 fpe double resivoir 25 shot per fill Marauder. That don’t sound like a high shot count? Try it on a regular Marauder tuned for 70 fpe. How about 11 shots per fill. See how much that extra resivoir helped.

            Man those were the good ole days. One of my buddies from my old job still has that gun. I need to get that gun back. For real.


        • Don
          I really want to get a Maximus barrel and try on my 1377.

          The .22 Maximus I had was extremely accurate. Bout the same as my extremely super accurate FWB 300 I have.

          Don’t know about the .177 Maximus barrel. Haven’t had one of them.

          Oh and my Maximus liked the JSB 15.89’s the best. Tryed Premieres and others. Even the JSB 18 grainers. JSB 15.89’s was it.


        • Benji-Don

          Impressive groups! The .22 Maximus barrel must be German or equally good. I have Crosman Custom 1300KT and 2400 KT in .177 both with 14.5″ Lothar Walther barrels. I have not tested them at 25 yards enough to know if they could compete. They may could and I may not.

          Decksniper


        • Benji-Don, Given only 5 shots, I’d say the Falcon dome looks just about as promising as the boxed Premieres. What is the ctc size of the Falcon group without its single flyer?


          • Calinb,

            The Falcon pellets do shoot very good, I need to order some more. That is not a single flyer. That is the first two pellets of that group. They made a single hole. Guess I was dissapointed the next three did not go in the same hole.

            I will shoot a ten shot group with the Falcons next round.

            My left arm is getting bigger than my right arm from all the pumping lol.

            Don


  4. Nice article and a good reminder. I will readily admit that I am one to want more and also like to improve things. I stick with what is in my comfort zone and usually copy stuff that has been out there awhile and already tried and proven. As for the new offerings out there?,… I am a bit more of the wait and see type. Some new ideas just do not pan out in the end, not to mention that the model can just up and disappear when sales are not up to snuff. I am a big fan of innovation though.

    Good Day to one and all,… Chris


    • Chris U,

      You have done a great job researching your purchases, you have a collection of classics and they all shoot well, some really well. You have also been able to filter through all the information very well to get what you want. I don’t know anyone who has progressed as quickly in so short a time.

      You did step to the wild side with a few things like your arrow/dart experiment. I enjoyed reading about it. Are you in your second childhood? HaHa.

      Don


      • Don,

        🙂 I did love the dart experiment. The arrow experiment too for that matter, and learned some new things related to archery/arrow building. I have often thought of getting a cheap break barrel just to resume playing. Nothing I have now is conducive, other than a muzzle load option.

        Thanks for the compliment. I do not like to waste money or regret a purchase in the near or far future. Been there, done that, in other things. Research does help,… a lot. Do not be in a hurry and ask lots of questions.

        Second childhood? Yea,.. I still have my moments of just “having to have” something. Research and waiting a bit helps to temper that down a bit though. Then,.. ask myself,.. “Do I really need it and would I use it? Being honest there will quell a lot unnecessary purchases.

        If someone is into collecting, then little or none of what I said applies. My current struggle is with Opinel knives, (thanks by the way B.B.!) 😉 ….. which I would proudly sit beside the other knives that I just “had to have” and never carry. I may still cave in on that one, but holding strong(ish) so far.


  5. B.B.,

    This report certainly captures the psychology of many of us. I am especially afflicted with it. Never satisfied, always looking for something better, always thinking about how to mod something to make it better, etc. It can lead to a person owning an awful lot of airguns. But I envy the guy who gets an airgun, likes it, and uses that one airgun for 40 years. That seems to me a person who is content and not restless. I think of the fellow who shot FT with a Sheridan Blue Streak.

    Two quotes: “I do not fear the man who knows 10,000 different kicks. I fear the man who knows only one kick but has practiced it 10,000 times.” The second is from you, Tom Gaylord (although you might have said it was an old saying and not by you — I don’t recall): “Beware the man who has only one gun. He probably knows how to use it.”

    Michael



  6. Believe it or not.

    I still haven’t touched a thing on my HW30s. I even left the front and rear sight on the gun when I mounted the scope.

    And the people that know me and how much I like to tinker that should say something about how nice the HW30s is right out of the box.

    I would like a little more power for when I shoot it out at 50 yards. But here’s a little secret. Maybe I really shouldn’t be shooting it out at 50 yards in reality anyway. 🙂



  7. Regarding wanting more, I didn’t WANT to deal with power curves anymore so had a gunsmith put a regulator in my pcp. And now I would not settle for less than regulation when it comes to pcps. And if it’s adjustable regulation, that’s even better. Being pampered doesn’t come cheap but my friend says “Don’t think of it as costly. Think of it merely as an expense.” Spare no expense on your hobby.


  8. Mr. Gaylord:
    Today’s blog reminds me sounds I hear an awful lot like “I can’t shoot this rife It’s no good. It’s not accurate” Or “I need different pellets”
    My response is usually something like “Take the rifle as a given. YOU just work on sight alignment sight picture! and trigger breath & wobble control until the rifle improves to your liking.” The score isn’t in the rifle. The score’s in the shooter whatever “a score” is for a given shooter

    As a level 1 (grass roots club level) coach, it seems to me that a continual quest for the Newest(?) Bigger(?) Better(?) Faster(?) rifle misplaces an proper emphasis on the fundamentals of marksmanship improvement.
    Respectfully submitted
    William Schooley
    Rifle & Pistol Coach
    Crew .357
    Chelsea, MI




      • Mildot52:
        Thank you for your response to my post. The unstated assumption I made was that a crew rifle would be properly maintained and that a junior would not be drawing crew equipment from the safe that “sprays pellets” when used. It’s clearly the responsibility of the crew adults and coaches to insure that a crew rifle is both safe to use and meets competition rules for equipment. Properly maintained crew equipment does not “spray pellets”.
        In over 10 years of coaching, in only one exception where the rear sight set screw came loose during a shoot did the pellet not impact the target or backstop. And Even in that case, where the point of impact was so far off, the junior shooter had a tight enough group to immediately alert the the RSO and coach that there was an equipment issue and not a shooter issue.
        Respectfully,
        William Schooley
        Rifle & Pistol Coach
        Crew .357
        Chelsea, MI


        • William, If I may address you in the familiar,

          You’re in a wonderful place. Passing along information and helping to teach and train new shooters is such a boon to those on the receiving end. What a kindness to give of one’s time to mentor young folks.

          I suspect that some (many?) of those posting are self-taught. In my case that involves picking a rifle that met my “sweet spot”, the intersection of budget, caliber and speed of the pellet. Turns out my choice may not have been the best. But I am learning. So far my mentors are on this blog. It’s not hands-on but I am making progress. BB has given most useful advice. Others encourage.

          In general, learning requires trial and error. Often more error than we’d like. If one is able to accept the frustrations that are part of the process, success can follow.

          My Father-in-Law used to say that,”A poor mechanic blames his tools.” Regarding airguns, I do believe that there are guns that are marginally accurate or even, accurate within a narrow set of conditions. In the world of trial and error, It may be reasonable to blame the gun at some point.

          I think that my gun probably shoots better than I do, so I’m still refining technique. Practice, practice practice… Next is to re-mount the scope and finally to test the gun’s preference for pellets.

          Regards, all
          Dan



  9. I was wondering why the Indians that Billy Dixon was shooting at waited around for him to hit his target. The invisible paint would explain some things, but you would think they would notice that the bullets were landing closer. Apparently, some of the Boxers in the Boxer rebellion had the same idea that they were invulnerable to firearms.

    I can say at least that I don’t have a longing for the new and unusual (except for maybe an HW30S), so you can imagine my consternation when my IZH 61 broke down the other day. A tiny rod and spring popped out of the cocking lever which will no longer close. Fortunately, Duskwight in Russia has given me directions on how to fix it, and blog reader, Derrick, is capable of carrying them out. Thank goodness for the blog. Duskwight says that the problem is a fairly common one with rifles that have had a lot of wear. I’m continuing to test the claim that spring rifles will last for centuries, and I’m looking forward to getting this one back in working condition.

    Matt61


  10. The remnants of Adobe Walls still stood when I grew up there. Several Boy Scout hikes, sneaking off to Dixon Creek with my Red Ryder, stories of Billy Dixon. Thanks for bringing those memories back.


  11. I’ve recently been to adobe walls. It’s a very lonely and not an inviting place. It is hard to find, in the panhandle ranchlands not on the way to anywhere un less you like back roads between Amarillo and Meade Ks.


  12. B.B.
    For the past couple of days the blog comments seem to be working well once again…at least for me. I am seeing the gravitars again also, though your picture is not on yours. I am just glad to have the comments RSS feed working like it used to again. I thought for a while that the issue was with my Firefox browser or add-ins and was going to have to live with the issue.



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