by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

  • Wait
  • Old airguns
  • Pistols?
  • Broomhandle Mauser M712
  • Lookalikes
  • Get it?
  • The moral

Are old airguns better than new ones? “Yes!” says the guy who likes them for their wood and steel. He doesn’t want any plastic on his guns. It bothers him that the firearm handguns of today are made from as much plastic as steel.


Hold on, brother! That plastic Glock that offends you so much has been test-fired 30,000 shots without a major failure. The 1911 you love so dearly was praised in 1910 for shooting 6,000 shots  with the same results. The Glock endured 5 times the punishment as your venerable Browning design.

The Glock is also built for ease of manufacture. It’s so simple that a guy can build one in his workshop, starting with a plastic frame that’s 80 percent finished. All it takes is a file, a drill and some time. Oh, and a lot of money! When it’s finished he will have about as much tied up as if he had bought the gun over the counter. But it is possible.

To do the same thing with the 1911 is also possible, but it takes a lot more skill and knowledge of machining. And there are some machining operations that can’t be done with files (by most people — there are exceptions).

Old airguns

Enough with the firearms, BB. We want to talk about airguns!

So let’s talk about my favorite — the Diana 27. It’s made of wood and steel and it has a wonderful trigger. It’s not powerful, but out to 20 yards it’s a goodie.

Diana 27
The Diana 27 is an all-time favorite of mine.

But, have you forgotten about the Walther LGV Challenger I wrote about 5 years ago? It had a very nice trigger and was easy to cock — if not in the Diana 27 category. Yes, the stock is plastic but this is a rifle that put 10 under an inch at 50 yards — something the 27 can’t do.

Walther LGV Challenger
Walther’s LGV Challenger turned out to be a modern favorite.

Ironically, the Walther LGV line no longer seems to be available. If that’s true, they have shifted into the modern classic category.


“Okay,” you respond, “What about air pistols? The Webley Senior is al all-time classic. What is there today to compare with it?”

Webley Senior straight grip
Webley’s Senior straight grip pistol from before WW II is a real classic.

Webley Senior slant grip
The Webley Senior slant grip was made both before and after WW II.

“Got anything new like that?”

Broomhandle Mauser M712

What about the Umarex Broomhandle Mauser M712? What air pistol from the past offered real full auto?

Umarex Mauser M712
The Mauser M712 full-auto air pistol has no challenger from history.


“Okay, I get your point. But if you want to talk about lookalikes, what about the Crosman M1 Carbine? Everybody still raves about it.”

M1 Carbine
Crosman’s M1 Carbine BB gun is a top-flight lookalike airgun.

The Crosman M1 is a classic, no doubt. It looks very realistic next to the Diana Mauser 98K that you can buy today.

Mauser 98K
The Diana Mauser K98 air rifle is a lookalike that’s an instant classic!

The Mauser K98 is a modern replica airgun that’s made of real wood and steel. Lest we forget, this is still possible if it’s properly planned and executed. And, don’t forget the M1944 Mosin Nagant BB gun that sold until recently!

Mosin Nagant M1944
Though no longer available, the recent M1944 Mosin Nagant BB gun was one of the most realistic airguns ever made.

Get it?

My point is obvious, and I’m bludgeoning you with it. The “good old days” are not over. Yes, I miss the Diana model 50, but the TX200 Mark III is more than a replacement. Lament the passing of the Daystate Sportsman Mark II (because very few ever sold!) but bask in the glory of your Benjamin Marauder repeater that costs less in 2018 than the single shot Daystate cost 20 years earlier.

Not all of what’s available today is a classic, but that was true in 1953, too. You might miss the Sheridan Supergrade, but the Schimel was nothing to write home about. That’s the way it’s always been and probably always will be.

The Schimel AP22 was an early excursion into CO2 pistols. It had serious fabrication shortcomings.

The moral

Look around! Don’t write off everything just because it’s new and not older than you. I like old stuff just like the rest of you. Nothing prettier than a 1957 Chevy tudor, in my opinion. However, I stopped changing the oil in my cars every 2000 miles and getting a tuneup every 10,000 miles years ago. I just drive my car and hope I remember to change the oil once a year. The car will tell me the rest!