Crosman 102 multi-pump pneumatic repeater: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman 102
Crosman’s 102 is a .22 caliber multi-pump repeater.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • History
  • Why?
  • The rifle
  • How smooth?
  • Sights
  • Cocking

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Here’s a special Christmas present for several readers — the start of my report on Crosman’s 102 multi-pump repeater.

History

The .22 caliber 102 repeater is derived from the 101, which was originally just called the Crosman Pneumatic. The numbers came much later. The 102 was made from 1929 to 1950, at which time all model 100 variants were terminated.

Crosman 102 receiver detail
The receiver doesn’t give the model number.

The gun I’m testing for you is the one I bought at the Texas airgun show, but received earlier this month. This one has the hard-rubber “clickless” forearm that was only available on this model in 1938 and 1939, according to the Blue Book of Airguns. The rubber has hardened and cracked with age and any benefit from the softer compound was lost decades ago.

Crosman 102 Forearm detail
The old hard rubber “clickless” forearm has dried out and this one was repaired at some time in the past.

Why?

So, does the 102 get more than one shot per fill? No, it doesn’t. Then what is the advantage of the repeating mechanism? No advantage, really. In fact, there is a disadvantage, because you have to shoot only those pellets that fit through the tubular magazine — there is no easy way to load a single pellet into the 102 breech. And, take a look at the loading “port” that tells you what kind of pellets you were expected to use.

Crosman 102 mag port closed
The magazine is the silver tube on top. Where do you load it?

Crosman 102 mag port open
There it is! Slide the sheetmetal cover back to expose the loading port. It looks a lot like a wadcutter pellet.

The magazine tube holds 20 pellets, according to Crosman literature of the period, but the length of the pellet has something to do with that number. I’m sure that if the pellets are short, more than 20 will fit.

So why did Crosman offer a repeater? The short answer is marketing. They had already offered a repeating CO2 rifle called the model 118 that was a conversion of a gallery gun — model 117. Some buyers liked the bolt action repeating function, though after they realized the rifle has to be pumped manually for each shot many of them may have changed their minds. The 118 was a bulk-fill CO2 rifle that could shoot many magazines of pellets before needing to be filled, so it was different.

That said, the 102 carried a premium price of $15 when it came out in 1929, compared to $10 for the single shot 101. That was a lot of money for a pellet rifle, and I’m sure the Great Depression that started with the stock market crash in October of that year didn’t help sales any. You may think that because pellets are cheaper than .22 rimfire rounds people turned to airguns en masse, but they first had to raise the capital to buy the gun, and money wasn’t that plentiful during the 1930s.

Incidentally, 1,000 .22 caliber pellets cost $2.25 at the time. Don’t you wish…?

The rifle

The rifle is all wood and metal. It has a bronze barrel that’s painted black. The buttstock is walnut, which is correct for this model that Crosman considered to be premium, and the forearm is hard red rubber.

Most of the metal parts on the exterior are painted black, and don’t appear to have ever been refinished. A few, like the mag tube and the bolt, may have been blued at one time, but most of that finish has been rubbed off over time. The receiver cover and rear sight leaf appear to be color case-hardened.

The rifle is 35-1/8-inches overall with a 20-inch barrel. The pull is 13-5/8-inches. The rifle weighs 5 lbs. 1 oz.

How smooth?

You might look at that loading port and wonder how picky the 102 is about the pellets it accepts. Well, know this — the “magazine” is just a gravity-feed tube, so the muzzle has to be elevated every time the bolt is worked. A sliding brass shuttle moves to the left to align with the rear of the magazine tube, and if there is enough of a push from gravity and if the skirt of the pellet is small enough, it will fall into the shuttle. The length of the pellet determines how much it fills the hole in the shuttle. Gimmicks like pointed pellets are probably not going to work in the 102 because the points may get stuck in the skirts of the pellet in front of them and they will lock the brass shuttle in place.

Crosman 102 brass shuttle
Open the bolt all the way and the brass shuttle lines up with the magazine.

The size of the loading port also prevents you from trying to load pellets that clearly will not fit in the shuttle. So it’s there to keep you on track, as well.

That being said, I had to try it. First I loaded a single pellet, so things wouldn’t get too far out of control. Both RWS Meisterkugeln pellets and Eley Wasp pellets worked well in single shot.

Then I loaded 5 of each pellet — testing just one type of pellet at a time. The Meisters fed flawlessly. The Wasps fed through the shuttle well, but I felt some resistance when the bolt tried to push the fat 5.6mm pellets into the breech. It wasn’t hard — just a feeling that was noticeable, where the Meisters fed without a bump.

I stopped here, because Part 1 is not the place to begin testing the gun. But the 102 operates so differently that I had to at least try it. And, I learned two things. First, the repeating mechanism is more than just a gimmick like I said in the beginning of this report. It really does speed up the loading process because your fingers don’t have to fit into a tight receiver slot. Second, the “clickless” forearm no longer is. I knew that just from feeling it, but now I have heard it click against the pump tube many times.

Sights

The 100-series multi pumps all come with peep sights, and the September 1929 launch advertisement says the 102’s sights are improved. Of course it does! That’s marketing. But are they? I’m going to say a resounding, “No!” to this one. The rear sight elevated a little by a screw in the leaf, but windage is realized by just shoving the sight from side to side. There is no lockdown, so the sight can be moved while handling, which is not true of the 101 rear sight.

Crosman 102 rear sight
The screw controls elevation. Windage is by shoving the sight left and right.

Cocking

I mention cocking today because this rifle cocks easier than the model 100 I complained about. The cocking knob is knurled with what the Blue Book identifies as the long knurled knob. It’s a great place to grasp, and, though the striker spiring feels just as stout as the 100, this rifle is easier to cock.

And that is as far as I’m going today. I can’t wait to see how fast this one shoots!

74 thoughts on “Crosman 102 multi-pump pneumatic repeater: Part 1

  1. BB
    Reminds me of the tube magazine on my Winchester 190.

    It has the shape of a .22 cartridge. I guess I’m saying that right. Basically a bullet with the brass. And it is sized exact for .22 long rifle cartridges. But it is spring fed.

    Interesting on the gravity feed of the 102. Makes me wonder how reliable it feeds.

    And Merry Christmas all.


  2. B.B. and All,

    Fascinating how marketing keeps coming up with ways to entice a new shooter and the engineers are tasked to make it work. Would a strip of foam help in silencing the front handle from clacking when pumped?

    Maligayang Pasko! Merry Christmas!

    Siraniko


    • Siraniko
      Back when I was a kid we put rubber in the handle to keep the pumping quiet.

      Definitely a noise we didn’t want to make when we was pesting.

      But once you have a pump gun long enough. You learn a technique to pump the gun quietly when needed.



  3. Hi BB & all
    Wish you all a Merry Christmas! BB I read every single post & it’s like morning tea for me now, though I don’t comment much. Thanks for the great work and I often marvel at your commitment and hard work you put in, just so we can just sit back & enjoy it. God bless you and give you excellent health always.
    Errol


  4. Merry Christmas All !!!!

    I like the “gadgetry” of this one. I like onboard magazines or ammo storage. Saves the handling and loading.The pull and weight surprised me,.. I figured much lower on both.

    $2.25 for 1000 .22 pellets seems high for the time. I wonder what that would be adjusted for inflation and if today’s pellets are more economical. I would hate to even think about what the quality level of the pellets might have been back in 1930.


    • Chris,

      I too thought that $2.25 seemed high for ~1930, so I put it into an online CPI calculator – and the adjusted price works out to $32.46!

      I’d say we have two ways of looking at it: a) given that those were the best pellets of the day, the cost of the best pellets has not changed all that much, but the quality has risen dramatically, or b) if we compare them to the cheapest basic Crosman pellets, they cost less than half that today, so productivity gains are paying off for us consumers.

      Either way is good by me! Merry Christmas all!



      • That was $2.25 for 1000 pellets. Not 500.

        Did you figure it for 500 maybe instead of 1000.

        But thanks for figuring out the math. My brain is on vacation for the Christmas holiday. 🙂


        • I was thinking in terms an equivalent amount . . . .

          PA lists a tin of 500 .22 cal JSB 18.1 or 15.9 grain pellets at $17, so $34 per thousand, and most of us always get at least 10% off and that puts it very close to the price. Of course there is more discount available by purchasing 4 tins, but then shipping gets added most of the time (unless buying over $150 worth and all that). In the end it is tough to compare directly as we shop so much differently than back then . . .

          Sorry if this is too much thinking for Christmas!! Enjoy the day!


  5. Merry Christmas!

    The magazine reminds me of the Girardoni air rifles. You don’t mention such, but like the Girardoni the loading shuttle must be spring loaded. On the assumption that the 102 bolt has a long probe as the previous models do, I think care should probably be taken to prevent bending or damaging it.

    I can see clearly that the shape of this cocking knob would be so much easier to grasp than the ones on your 100 and my 101. I wonder if it would fit directly on your 100?



    • Yogi,

      Yesterday we got our first white Christmas snow in probably six or seven years. We always have one or two snowstorms in January, even now, but when I was a kid, most Christmases here were quite snowy. I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed them. I’s nice to look out and see that white blanket.

      Michael



  6. B.B.,

    The photo you took of the loading port made me smile. Not only is it for a wadcutter, it is in the specific profile of a Crosman “Trash Can”!

    As I’ve been looking a lot at 101s lately, I’ve noticed there are many different loading bolt knobs shapes — short knurled ones, long knurled ones, long grooved ones, short dresser-drawer pull shaped ones. To your knowledge, is one more coveted than the others?

    Also, I wonder how many clickless rubber levers were eventually replaced with wood as they became brittle.

    Merry Christmas,

    Michael




  7. Michael—That is also true of the famous Buffington sight as found on the trapdoor Springfield, 1898 Krag and 1903 Springfield rifles. Also the original Winchester sight used on early model 52 target rifles ( 1919–1931 @). —-Ed




  8. Hey Everybody, I have an off-topic issue I hope one or more of you can help me out with.

    What is the absolutely smallest diameter .177 pellet you know of?

    I recently got a beat-up, older, very low-powered Chinese pellet (not BB, it’s rifled and a bigger bore than that) breakbarrel in .177 that is really probably .176 or perhaps .1765. EVERYTHING I’ve tried, about a dozen different pellets, is either a very tight squeeze requiring a pellet pen and some effort to seat it, or tight enough that I don’t want to try. I did shoot Smart Shot through it, as well as the lead round balls John Groenwald sells for the Haenel bolt action smooth bores, but both seem too small and spray a bit. I don’t want even to try Avanti Precision Ground Shot because I don’t want to damage the rifling.

    Any suggestions?

    Michael


    • Michael,

      The container of Crosman trashcans that I have are about half .175″. That won’t help much, since you can’t buy them anymore.

      One thing you might try is to produce a custom resizing die. A number 17 twist drill is .173″ and will probably end up drilling oversized unless it is very sharp and is held in a more rigid setup than most of us have in our home shops. Drilling in different materials will probably yield different sized holes as well. A small strip of emery cloth tacked to a smaller drill with a dot of super glue will let you gradually enlarge the hole or polish it smoother. Use thick enough material so that as the pellet is pushed through it will at some point have its skirt and head both in the die at the same time. I think that will help keep the head and skirt concentric.

      That’s all I got.


      • Halfstep,

        I looked up commercially available re-sizers, but they stop at 4.48, and I think that’s just slightly too big.

        I’ll give your method a try. As long as the pellets are soft lead, like Hobbys, any number of materials could make them “yield.” I’m thinking tile samples or even rock maple. Is aluminum harder than lead, even if it has as much antimony as Crosman Premier Lights?

        Michael


      • Halfstep, I have an old index that belonged to my great uncle. It has a bit in it labeled .171. I tried it on the first scrap I found that was the perfect size to work with — particle board! I wiggled the bit just ever so slightly and rode it up and down a couple times.

        A pellet (RWS Basic) dropped and stopped halfway through the 5/8 inch long hole. I used a skinny Allen key to push it through, and darned if it didn’t fit the bore perfectly! Now, I figure particle board will be fine for three or four pellets, but the experiment worked! I’ll get a hard maple scrap, probably birdseye, from my brother-in-law. He’s a master cabinet maker, so I can have him drill a number of different diameter holes in it. He might even have access to drill bits graduated in .171, .172, .173, .174, .175, .176, and so on.

        Michael





          • Gunfun1, Halfstep says they’re bigger than most BBs, and the lightweight will be a plus as this is a low powered rifle. I learned that by how easy it was to de-cock. I cocked it (probably 9 pounds of effort), found I couldn’t fit a pellet in it, so I did the old hold the grip tightly, hold the muzzle end tightly with the other hand, and slowly let it close after I pull the trigger.

            I’d never try it with a magnum, but I’ve done it with my HW30s with no problem. It makes me feel like Charles Atlas.

            But I do really want to try lead pellets to see how accurate it is (or not).

            Michael


            • Michael,

              To just try it you can resize a few pellets by rolling them on a hard surface, like a glass tabletop, while pressing down with another flat hard surface like a book. There won’t be any presicion at first, but if you do it long enough you will develop a feel for how to do it.

              B.,B.





                  • GF1,

                    I have a .22 Pelletgage and have pushed pellets through to shave the parting line flashing off of pellets, but I believe that trying to shave around the whole head of a pellet by forcing it would ruin that hole in the gauge. It’s very thin steel and would probably curl out the backside and make the hole permanently bigger. My daughter bought me a .177 one for Xmas but I haven’t put it together yet. It might hold its shape better because the hole is smaller but I, personally, wouldn’t risk it.


                    • Halfstep
                      Hmm thin steel??

                      I thought the first ones were made from thick plexiglass.

                      Maybe I’m wrong. But yep if thin metal that could possibly ruin the gauge.



                    • Halfstep,

                      The plexi glass is on top of the plate. It acts as bit of a guide. I have one in .25. The steel is about .054″ without taking it apart. There is plexi “frames” top and bottom, but do nothing other than maybe add a bit of rigidity.


  9. BB
    Thanks to your efforts here, I have been stopping by several gun shops in the area recently and planting seeds to get notified if they come across any airguns. i was never really interested in airguns till 3 yrs ago when it became just too much to shoot powder burners anymore. Now, I find myself so far behind many of you in knowledge and experience and it’s like going to school again! BB, thanks for all you do for us, and thanks to all the folks that take part in this blog.
    Merry Christmas to all!
    Bruce


  10. BB et al,

    Merry Christmas, Everyone. I concur with The Kid above. BB, your blog is a real gift to us and it keeps on giving, since we get to discover it anew every weekday. I freely admit that I do sometimes re-gift it but I figure you wouldn’t disapprove.

    As for pellet costs in the ’30s, I can add that three examples of pricing in the very early ’80s, based on some tins that I have that still bear price tags, are $1.29 for 250 .177 Crosman Super Pell trashcans from Woolworths, and $2.55 for 500 .177 RWS Hobby. I don’t know where the Hobby came from. ( if anyone knows when they were sold in the orange plastic box, let me know ) And since we are talking about .22 pellets here, 175 Crosman Super Pell trashcans in that caliber, from a local sporting goods chain that folded in the mid ’80s, set me back $1.97.


  11. Merry Christmas everyone.

    BB,

    I’m confused by your timeframe references. You said this click less 102 came out in 1938/1939. The Crosman bulk fill CO2 rifles came out much later than the first pump guns. You make mention of the 118 already being on the market, but I don’t think it was available until about 1952.


    • Derricj,

      Merry Christmas.

      The bulk fill guns with the separate tanks, (the CG guns) are from the 1940s — soon after WWII. The 118 did sell from 1952 to 1954, but the 117 that it’s based on started selling in 1947. It had no tank and was tethered to a large CO2 tank under the shooting gallery table. And actually, the design does date back to the late 1930s, but Crosman didn’t put it into production at that time.

      So the design of the 118 (the repeater design) is from the 1930s.

      B.B.



  12. Merry Christmas Everyone,

    Thanks again B.B. for all your work and your teaching and entertaining us.

    My oldest pellets are Crosman Supper Pells at $0.99 per 250 .22 cal. Not sure of the year?

    A 1971 Herter’s catalog shows 500 Herter’s (Benjamin) pellets for $.89 in .177 cal and $1.39 in .22 cal.

    Don



  13. I just wanted everyone to know that because of BB and my loving wife, a certain Webley air rifle now resides at RidgeRunner’s Home For Wayward Airguns.

    /blog/2016/08/webley-mark-ii-service-part-4-2/

    Tom, I cannot begin to thank you for all that you have done to make this happen. I am indebted to you.




        • RR,

          A quick re-read of Part 1 had me drooling right out the gate. The stock is gorgeous and the overall proportions are just my cup of tea. I do like well balanced looks,.. and quality. Very nice!


        • RR,

          A most serious question. Awhile back you posted a nice pic of a? hanging over a beautiful fire place in a log home. With your recent additions, and maybe other’s in the future,.. I am most curious as to how you intend to display them? I would envy the same dilemma,… but since you are now posed with it,.. I was just wondering.



    • RR,

      Wow, that is a wonderful Christmas present. Good luck in finding the other barrels. I will keep an eye out. Sorry I watched Christmas story last night.

      B.B. pointed me in the direction of the Walther breakbarrel target rifle with double set triggers. I will be looking for one of those. Frank B had one. That is the only one I have heard about.

      Don


      • Don,

        I will likely have to peruse the UK sights to see what can be found. Also, I recall BB mentioning to me there is a company in the UK that will build new barrels for these. I may have to resort to them. I would really like to have a .177 barrel for this old gal.



          • Don,

            Thanks for the site. I am well familiar with them because of my 1906 BSA.

            There is also a pretty nice auction site I have seen from time to time. I usually stumble across it when I am searching for a Lincoln Jeffries air pistol. Now that would be THE find.


  14. B.B.,

    That gold sticker on the forearm is really noticeable. It looks to have held up quite well over time. I think that would be an interesting pic in the next blog. While still there, and in good condition,… I am sure that it has a bit of interesting “character”. What does it say? “You will shoot your eye out kid!”? Just an idea. 😉

    Sorry,.. too many repeats of “A Christmas Story” today,…. it never gets old! 🙂

    Chris


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