The Crosman 180: Part 1
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
My .22 caliber Crosman 180 is the second variation.
This report covers:
- The acquisition
- Quick fix
- 180 variants
- The 180 valve
- Adjustable power
When my wife Edith and I lived in Maryland (1982-2003) we often attended the Columbia Flea Market. Once each month they held a Super Sunday when the market would expand by 500 percent. That was the day all the occasional dealers would attend, and bring the stuff nobody had ever seen. I found some tremendous air gun bargains there! Maybe I will write a report on just that — the deals I found and the deals I passed up. Today, however, I am starting a look at a Crosman 180 that came from that market.
We had been attending for more than a year and I believe I had started writing The Airgun Letter, or was about to. Because I was used to seeing vintage airguns at this market I carried several CO2 cartridges in my pocket, just in case. On this day one stall had this Crosman 180 and a .177-caliber 187 for sale. As I recall they wanted $40 apiece. I asked if they held CO2 and of course the dealer didn’t know. Then I asked if I could try my cartridges and she said yes.
Both guns leaked, which I told her would cost me $30 each to reseal. I was able to negotiate both guns for $40. The 187 was beautiful and the 180 was both tired-looking and missing some non-critical parts. When I got home I tried several drops of Crosman Pellgunoil in the tubes before I pierced the next CO2 cartridges and both guns stopped leaking.
I sold the 187, which is the scarcer model, for $100 at the Baldwinsville airgun show, and kept the 180. A 187 was more desirable in those days than they are today, because the Blue Book of Airguns had not started publishing yet and there wasn’t much information. You can still get a nice 187 for about the same price today.
This 180 was a beater, so I refinished the stock (sandpaper, followed by many coats of Tru Oil) and the metal (cold blue). The gun was light (4 lbs.), reasonably accurate with open sights, and used just one CO2 cartridge, where the Crosman 160 uses two. At this point I should mention that Sears sold a Crosman 180 that was made especially for them. It also used one cartridge, but the gas tube was long enough to hold two. If you swapped the CO2 cap that had a long rod to hold the cartridge against the piercing pin with a 160 end cap that had a piercing pin, that special 180 will accept two CO2 cartridges. You don’t get more power, just more shots.
The 180 exists in two variations. The first one was made from 1956 to 1959, and had a simple direct sear trigger and a crossbolt safety that extends through both sides of the stock.
My gun is the second variation. The second variation has the much more refined “crossbow” adjustable trigger I have written about. These were made from 1962 to 1966 and exist in greater numbers than the first variation, but that adjustable trigger makes them more desirable and therefore slightly more expensive.
The ribbed lever on the right is the safety lever. Rotate it down and back to make the gun safe. This one is plastic, a replacement for the metal one that was missing.
The sideplate has been removed to expose the trigger parts. Trigger pull weight, sear engagement and overtravel are adjustable.
The 180 valve
The valve in the 180/187 is very similar to the valve found in the 150/157 pistol. It doesn’t pierce the cartridge when the end cap is screwed tight. The gun has to be cocked and fired one time to pierce the cartridge. This is a more positive way of piercing, but it can also fake out someone who has never encountered it before.
The rifle is cocked by pulling back the cocking knob at the back of the receiver tube. The bolt is simply for loading the pellet and sealing the breech. The cocking knob has three clicks as it is pulled back. The first just sets the trigger and nothing else. The second engages the striker for a low power shot to save gas and the third click is warp drive, which in a 180 is more of a model T running wide open.
The power of both high and low power settings is adjustable within limits. There is a hole in the cocking knob. Align it with an Allen screw inside the striker system and you can adjust the spring tension. I will talk more about that in Part 2.
Align the hole in the cocking knob with the Allen screw inside and you can adjust both power levels within reason.
The 180 was intended for young shooters, but it is sized to be equally suited for adults. Overall length is 34-inches. Length of pull is 13-1/2- to 13-3/4-inches, depending on where you measure the butt. It weighs a nominal 4 lbs. The barrel is about 18 inches long. Those small dimensions come together in a rifle that’s light and easy to carry and shoot. It’s .22 caliber, although I must say in this rifle, .177 caliber seems more appropriate. A lot of 180s were converted by swapping barrels in the days when those parts were available. But conversions also went the other way, so it probably balances out.
The stock is wood that is a dense plywood. It can have a beautiful grain if it’s cut the right way. Mine is more plain than others I’ve seen.
The front sight is a plain square post. Mine is plastic because there was none on the gun when I got it. Back in the 1990s when I bought it Crosman still supplied parts for all their old airguns.
The rear sight is adjustable in both directions, but the adjustments are crude. A stepped elevator handles elevation and an oval slot and screw allows the sight to be slid in either direction for windage.
The 180 rear sight is adjustable but crude. Elevation is via a stepped ramp asnd windage is a screw through an oval hole.
The 180 is a smaller, simpler and lighter rifle than the 160 that everyone knows about. It’s very handy. Edith, liked ours almost as much as the Sheridan Blue Streak. She made me promise to keep it, and so I have.