by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
The Crosman Town and Country I tested was a model 108 in .22 caliber.
This report covers:
- Town and Country
- Was the Supergrade the influence?
- Front sight was a marvel!
- Short pump lever
When I was in the hospital for three months in 2010, my wife Edith kept this blog alive by publishing reprints of articles I had written for Airgun Revue magazine. One of those articles was the one I’m publishing today, with the difference being I am here now to edit my remarks and to lighten the black and white pictures.
Town and Country
A glance in the Blue Book of Airguns reveals that the Crosman Town and Country multi pump air rifle was made in 1949. That’s correct — ONE YEAR! Collectors debate whether it was also produced for a while in 1950, but the point is — this is one scarce airgun. And, look at that date again. What else was happening in the world of airguns, here in the U.S., in the late 1940s? Sheridan was making their model A, Supergrade!
Was the Supergrade the influence?
Many collectors have speculated that Crosman was challenging the Sheridan models A and B with their models 107 and 108 Town and Country pneumatics. Or at least they were trying to carve out their place in the upscale airgun market. I agree with them. These multi-pumps were quite different than the models 100, 101, 102 and 104 multi-pumps that Crosman had successfully been making and selling since 1924. For starters, they had full stocks instead of the exposed receivers with separate butt and forearm of the earlier rifles that must have appeared archaic in the years following WW II. The Supergrade showed the world what airgunners wanted, and Crosman was quick to adapt. However, they probably learned just as quickly that, while airgunners may have wanted nicer airguns, they were unwilling to pay for them. The model B Sheridan, priced at $35, compared to the Supergrade’s $56.50, was an acknowledgement of that.
The Town and Country was priced at $24.95 — a full ten dollars less than Sheridan’s model B and $31.55 less than the model A. While that sounds cheap to our inflation-deadened ears, consider that the still-impressive, if somewhat dated, model 101 was selling for $19.80 at the same time. And when Crosman brought out the Town and Country, they also brought out the models 109 and 110 (.177 and .22) Town and Country Junior — a rifle with a similar appearance that was priced at just $14.95. Now you tell me — which will you buy —a new eco-friendly all-electric Tesla for $69,000, or that gasser econobox Fiat 500 for $12,000? If you are a celebrity you’ll get the Tesla to be seen in and you’ll keep a Roller as your go-to vehicle. But a working stiff has to make do with just one reliable car.
People do make decisions based on cost. Marketing can offset some objections, but the bottom line is often just that.
The Town and Country came in two calibers — the rare 107 is the .177 and the somewhat more common 108 is the .22. Except for the calibers, both rifles are identical. Then there was the T&C Junior — also in both calibers. I never owned a T&C Junior, but I did have a model 120 that was that rifle’s next generation. It was much shorter, slimmer and lighter than the T&C, yet it produced about the same power. Now, put that into the lineup, and then try to sell the more expensive gun. I remember years ago when the Chinese company BAM made the B40 — a copy of the TX200 that was extremely realistic, well-made and priced at less than half!
The T&C was somewhat larger than other Crosman pneumatics. It had a separate receiver, where the T&C Junior and model 120 had vestigial receivers like the current Benjamin 392. It featured a peep sight at the rear, although that was nothing new. Crosman had been using peeps on their 100-series rifles from the beginning.
Not only is the rear sight an adjustable peep, there is an open notch above it. This is the kind of innovation that sells airguns!
As you can see in the image, the peep sight adjustment was somewhat crude. But it worked. Besides that rear peep, Crosman put an open notch above it that adjusted with the peep. That gave owners a choice, and choices help sell airguns.
Front sight was a marvel!
If the rear sight is worth consideration, the front sight will take your breath away. It is the feature that makes this model a Town and Country. There are two different front sight posts — one tall for shooting close (Town) and one low for shooting far (Country). As you know, the strike of the round moves in the opposite direction that the front sight moves.
The tall “Town” front sight is up. It is what you see when you sight the rifle.
The collar in front of the front sight assembly is unscrewed, freeing the tall front sight to rotate out of the way.
The tall sight is rotated to the right, down and out of the way of the shorter front sight that is now seen when the rifle is aimed.
Short pump lever
As robust as the stock appears, the pump lever is surprisingly short. It reminds me more of the little model 760 that came a decade later, rather than the pump lever on a 100-series pneumatic that was its immediate predecessor. The short throw of the lever makes for easy pump strokes, so you can quickly build up to the recommended 8-10 pump maximum. When you do, though, the rifle doesn’t have the same power as other Crosman pneumatics — at least the one I tested didn’t. In a moment, I’ll tell you why I believe that is; but for now, let’s look at the performance:
.22-caliber Crosman Town and Country
66 degrees F, muzzle 12 inches from start screen
Crosman Premier 5 pumps
Average velocity 453 f.p.s.
High 461 f.p.s.
Low 445 f.p.s.
Spread 16 f.p.s.
Muzzle energy 6.52 ft. lbs.
Crosman Premier 8 pumps
Average velocity 519 f.p.s.
High 531 f.p.s.
Low 509 f.p.s.
Spread 22 f.p.s.
Muzzle energy 8.56 ft. lbs.
RWS Superpoint 5 pumps
Average velocity 433 f.p.s.
High 438 f.p.s.
Low 429 f.p.s.
Spread 9 f.p.s.
Muzzle energy 6.04 ft. lbs.
RWS Superpoint 8 pumps
Average velocity 502 f.p.s.
High 507 f.p.s.
Low 495 f.p.s.
Spread 12 f.p.s.
Muzzle energy 8.12 ft. lbs.
These velocity figures seem low, when other Crosman pneumatics deliver 12 foot-pounds and often more. I believe the reason for this is the method of breech sealing employed by the T&C. On the rear of the bolt, a protruding pin slips into a cam slot in the receiver when the bolt is rotated closed. As this pin engages the cam, it forces the ground bolt face forward into a mating section of the breech. In other words, the T&C bolt seals the breech with a metal-to-metal contact at the bolt/barrel interface. Now, that fact, by itself, is nothing new to airgunning. The 101 does thew same thing. Airgun makers have been using that design for some time. But to effect a good seal this way, both pieces of metal must be ground to fit, and the cam must be a positive one; it has to hold the bolt in place. On the rifle I tested, the cam angle was so steep that the bolt could not help but rotate open slightly under the force of the air blast. In short, it wouldn’t stay closed.
I noticed a puff of air around my right hand every time the rifle fired, which I initially blamed on the recent resealing job my test rifle had gotten before the test. Then, I examined the bolt lockup more closely and discovered that the real problem was a loose bolt seal. No matter how hard I closed the bolt, that steep cam slot invited it to spring back just enough to exhaust some air. The problem was solved by manually holding the bolt closed with the thumb of my shooting hand as I pulled the trigger. There was still a small puff of air, but it was greatly diminished from what it had been. A real fanatic might have used some automotive valve-grinding compound to hand-lap the front of the bolt into the rear of the barrel; but this wasn’t my rifle, so I left it at that.
Accuracy wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t that great when compared to what other vintage Crosman rifles can do. RWS Hobbys were the best, shooting a dime-sized group of five off a rest at 10 meters. Five Premiers went into a slightly larger hole, but both pellets shot groups with a tight cluster of four plus one flyer. Surprisingly, the best accuracy with both pellets was at a full eight pumps. Usually, I’ve found that pneumatics prefer the middle of their power range. Perhaps, the T&C that I tested, being so tame, is better able to handle pellets at its top power.
Five RWS Hobbys went into a very tight group. A dime will cover all shots.
So, if you’re thinking about adding a T&C to your airgun collection, do it for the nostalgia rather than the power potential.
If this really was a challenge of the Sheridan models A and B, how did Crosman do? They did well, in my opinion. But it just wasn’t enough. It wasn’t low power that killed the Town and Country, because private individuals didn’t own chronographs in 1949. It had to have been the price. The market just wasn’t ready to spend $25 for an air rifle. And, after examining the advertising of the period, Crosman marketing didn’t give them a good enough reason to do so — any more than Sheridan did for their Supergrade. The thing we need to consider is, if the T&C were to come to market today, would buyers be willing to pony up $350-400 for one? It’s easy to say they would, but when a company like Crosman decides to sell a product they need sales in the thousands to justify the costs needed to bring it to market.