by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • What do you want for Christmas?
  • What’s the point?
  • So — what do you want for Christmas?
  • You are the key
  • Speed sells
  • Accuracy
  • PCPs
  • Handguns
  • One last thing
  • Summary

Well it’s upon us, that time of year when everyone’s thoughts turn to… avarice! Last Friday was Black Friday — originally named for that shopping day when retailers count on their bottom lines turning from red to black for the year. In the beginning, it was whispered behind closed doors, to keep from informing the public of the delicate nature of business. Today it’s shouted through every advertising media channel for weeks before the day arrives — in the hopes of whipping up a buying frenzy. And it does. Some stores that are known for their deeply-discounted loss leaders have lines that form hours before the insanely early hour that their doors open.

Then there is “small business Saturday.” That’s the next day, when shoppers are encouraged to patronize the small businesses in their community. Small-business advocates like Yahoo and Facebook beat the drums to attract dollars to those businesses they steamroll the other 364 days each year.

The Monday after the weekend is Cyber Monday — the day when online retailers can expect to see an influx of traffic. And on and on…

In the 1947 hit Christmas movie, Miracle on 34th Street, Santa Claus taught us all to avoid all the commercialism and concentrate on the true meaning of Christmas — the fact that he really existed and lived in the imagination (a nation like any other, he told a young Natalie Wood). He was institutionalized for his claims until the New York court, with the support of the Treasury of the United States, rules that he is the one and only Santa.

What do you want for Christmas?

In this movie Santa rebels when he is told by Mr. Shellhammer, the Macey’s store manager, to push certain overstocked toys if a child is unsure of what to ask for. We see the same thing in A Christmas Story, when Santa suggests a football to young Ralphie Parker, who is sitting on his lap and momentarily draws a blank.

What’s the point?

Why the rant today? Because yesterday the message in my church was how to maintain our joy during this stressful season. What? Christmas stressful? Yes, it is.

Christmas used to be a holiday, didn’t it? Presents were exchanged, but they weren’t the point of the celebration. Today Christmas seems to mean the time to hunker down and prepare to erase hundreds of bogus emails that try to entice you to buy something from stores who bought your address somewhere and have no idea who you are.

So — what do you want for Christmas?

Instead of the 1,400 f.p.s. buzzy megamagnum breakbarrel that some corporate veep thinks you want, what do you really want this year? They will still sell a lot of those in the discount stores to customers who don’t know much about airguns and to people who have to buy presents for their favorite airgunners. But you’re not those people. You are reading this blog, which means you are informed and thoughtful about your hobby. So, what do you want?

You are the key

If the marketing department knew what their buyers wanted they could stock up on those items and exclude the other things that take up space and bring little return. That knowledge would be extremely valuable. It is at the heart of all the things marketing departments discuss.

Speed sells

I have been in meetings where marketeers insisted that an airgun shoot a minimum of 1,000 feet per second. Any less, they thought, was the kiss of death. Before you criticize them, look back on your entry into airgunning. You may find that you were one such customer. But now that we have gotten you spun up on what’s neat about airguns, here are a few basic things I think educated airgunner might want.

Accuracy

The newbies want velocity. Experienced airgunners want accuracy. They will also take velocity when they can get it, but only if it is accompanied by accuracy. That makes the TX200 Mark III the most desirable spring rifle around, and the Diana 34P a close runner-up.

Are there others? Sure, and I have recommended them in reports in the past. But these two are my top go-to recommendations, because in all the years I have been telling you about them (we are coming up on 13 years), and the hundreds of them that you purchased on my recommendation, I have had only one bad report about a TX200, and the one I got about the Diana 34P I tested for you earlier this year.

PCPs

What about precharged pneumatics (PCP)? Well, when we start looking at precharged guns the choice gets a lot more complex. Other considerations come into play; things like:

Repeater
Power
Trigger
Styling (bullpup or conventional)
Price
Sound suppression

I can recommend PCPs, but my recommendations are slanted by my tastes. If you don’t share my tastes you won’t like what I recommend. I will go out on a limb, though, and recommend two PCP air rifles.

If you want a PCP with a great trigger, good accuracy, and a repeating capability I recommend the Benjamin Marauder. This rifle has the features of PCPs costing twice as much and more, plus it has user adjustments that no other airgun has.

If you like single shot air rifles like me, I recommend the AirForce Talon SS. It was the first PCP to offer adjustable power and a shrouded barrel, and to date it is the only one that offers an easily changeable barrel in any of four calibers and three different lengths. Sure, if you get a barrel longer than 12 inches you’ll defeat the shroud, but there are aftermarket fixes for that. It’s Lothar Walther barrels will outshoot most PCPs or at least stay up with them. I run mine with a 24-inch .22 caliber barrel and an aftermarket bloop tube (shroud extension) that gives me quiet operation in the mid 40 foot-pound range and puts 10 shots into less than 3/4-inches at 50 yards. But that’s just me.

Handguns

Air pistols run the gambit from action pistol lookalikes, to serious hunting pistols. And my universal choices are the handgun versions of the PCP rifles I just recommended. Yes, I’m talking about the Marauder air pistol, although in this case I think you ought to look at the Woods Walker version of this airgun, as well. This pistol is a repeater that puts out 16 foot-pounds of energy with heavy .22 caliber pellets, so it’s great for even larger sized small game.

If you need even more power, though, I can recommend the TalonP from AirForce. In .25 caliber you’ll get close to 50 foot-pounds (I saw 57 in my test) from an air pistol, and that’s remarkable! This pistol will stack pellet on pellet at 40 yards, and AirForce makes a shoulder stock for it.

One last thing

There is one final thing I hope you are getting this year, if you don’t already have one — a chronograph. And I’m not recommending just any old chronograph. I am recommending you get a Shooting Chrony Alpha Master that has the remote control readout that separates you from the skyscreens by up to 15 feet. This is the one I use all the time and I have grown fond of it.

Summary

Well — there you have it! What began as a rant ended looking more like a Christmas Gift Guide, which I suppose was the intent all along!