Smell the roses!

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Price-Point PCP
  • Silencers
  • Lookalikes
  • More lookalikes
  • $100 PCP
  • More than just guns
  • Hand pumps
  • Compressors
  • Airgun technology
  • Big bores
  • There’s more

Today’s report came to me as I was planning to test the accuracy of the Umarex Legends Ace in the Hole revolver. I have so many tests waiting for my time, but today’s report had to come first.

Gentlemen — we are living in airgunning’s Golden Age. I know I have written that many times, but today I would like to reflect on all the good things that are happening in our world. Let me start with the Price-Point PCP.

Price-Point PCP

When I got into precharged pneumatics in 1995, I was dragged into it kicking and screaming. No PCP rifle cost less than $600 in that day (think $900 today) and the high-pressure hand pump had just been invented. I had to use a 3000 psi aluminum scuba tank that cost an additional $120 and I had to beg the local dive shop to fill it for me. I actually created a release form that I signed and left on file with them to absolve them from all risk of selling air to a non dive-certificated person! That might sound extreme in 2018, but in 1995 that was the way it was done, and plenty of dive shops refused to sell us air.

Today companies are tripping over one another to give you rifles with features we only dreamed about in 1995. The regulator that comes free in a Gauntlet cost me an additional $120 to have installed in my $600 Daystate Huntsman.

Silencers

You can forget silencers! We didn’t have them. My Career 707 was just as loud as a .22 rimfire, so shooting it indoors was impossible. Beside there were only 3 power levels — “powerful”, “more powerfuller” and “stand back”! I paid many hundreds of dollars to have 17 power levels put into the gun, the trigger taken from 9 pounds down to under 2 pounds and a Korick regulator installed. You get more in a Benjamin Marauder today than was available at any price in 1999.

Today it’s difficult to find a PCP that isn’t silenced in some way. You can thank AirForce Airguns founder John McCaslin for that, because he was the first to recognize a PCP could be designed from the ground up to be quiet and still remain within the law.

Lookalikes

We whine about the good old days when Crosman made the M1 Carbine and the Marks I and II pistols. Yes, but where in 1965 could you get a fully automatic BB submachine gun like the MP-40? We cry because we can’t find a VZ35 repeater, but where in the world could we ever buy a K98 Mauser?

MP-40
Umarex MP-40 is as real as it gets.
VZ35
The VZ35 was realistic for it’s day, which was before WW II.
K98 Mauser
Diana’s K98 Mauser is not only a realistic looking copy — it’s also a powerful and accurate .22 caliber air rifle!

More lookalikes

I haven’t even scratched the surface of the lookalikes! I bought an actual 9mm German Luger firearm to compliment the Legends P08 blowback pistol I have!

Legends P08 pistol
My Legends P08 pistol (bottom) is so realistic it prompted me to buy a 1914 Erfurt Luger to go with it!

I could go on and on in this category. Guns like the Colt Single Action Army, the Winchester 1894 lever action rifle and all the semiautomatic pistols that have come to market in the past decade are more realistic than we ever saw years ago. Even double action revolvers like the Dan Wesson and S&W 586 are astounding to an airgunner who grew up thinking the Crosman 38T was a big deal!

38T
In 1965 the 38T was a big deal. The pellets were loaded skirt-first from the front of the cylinder.

$100 PCP

Remember back in 2014 when I did a 6-part series on the hundred-dollar PCP? Most people were amused, but Crosman did something about it. They did because they remembered ten years earlier when I brought them the idea that became the Benjamin Discovery. That worked out fairly well, so they thought they would give this a try and the Benjamin Maximus resulted. Then they developed the Benjamin Wildfire on their own. Now, here is the interesting thing. The single-shot Maximus costs $100 more than the 12-shot Wildfire. So the $100 PCP is possible, but it isn’t a scaled down gun. It has to be scaled up.

If Crosman would just do a top-down Demming program they could own the airgun world! Even with something as simple as the Army’s Value Engineering could work wonders for them. Only the systems engineers will know what that means, but I know some of you readers will get it.

More than just guns

The airguns we have today are truly amazing, but there is so much more. We have pellets today that can outshoot target rimfire ammunition. Sure 500 of them are costly but have you ever paid $200 for 500 .22 long rifle target cartridges?

Not all the great pellets are that expensive, either. Some are very affordable if you will shop wisely. Get rid of those fishing sinker larvae you call pellets and step into the world of real performance!

Hand pumps

I remember 1995 when the Axxor hand pump first hit the market. I predicted it would open the world of PCP airguns. It’s didn’t, but that’s another story. Today we have many hand pumps to choose from and things like reliability and the ability for the owner to make repairs are becoming the big deals.

Compressors

When I was a kid back in 2000 (relatively speaking), wealthy airgunners were using military air compressors that were converted to our use. They were heavy, noisy and expensive. People were so pleased when a good high pressure compressor became available at only $3000. Today we shudder at that, but that’s the way things went until very recently. Now companies are fighting for their share of the under-$1000 sector for high pressure air compressors.

Airgun technology

Let’s talk about accuracy. Back in 1990 the sport of field target was just starting to heat up and accuracy was beginning to become an issue. Even today there are readers who still talk about hitting soup cans, when we know accurate airguns can put 5 shots under one inch — not at 50 yards but at 100!

The pellets are better. The barrels are better. Even the breech locking systems are better. This year both Crosman and Sig will bring to market breakbarrels that have positive breech centering and locking systems. As recently as three years ago were were discussing how a breakbarrel can wobble between the forks of the spring tube if it doesn’t have a bolt to tighten it. Well, not for long, I think!

Just yesterday I did the third report on a gas spring system (Vortek calls it the center latching air piston) that allows the user to tune his rifle from DC to daylight (a telecommunications term meaning a wide spectrum) himself! Folks, when I was a boy the Theoben Eliminator allowed some tuning of the gas spring within a narrow band, but that was it.

Big bores

I still remember attending the second Winston-Salem airgun show in 1993 (that became the Roanoke show that became the Moose Lodge show, and finally died) and seeing Dennis Quackenbush selling kits to make up .410-gauge Paul air shotguns. Not complete guns — kits! Two year later Dennis started selling the .375-caliber Brigand and the race was on. Today I can shoot five shots from a .45 caliber big bore into 1.5-inches at 100 yards — each shot powerful enough to drop a whitetail deer.

There’s more

Back in the olden days if you wanted to shoot arrows out of an airgun you had to pay $1,700 and put up with a 25-lb. pneumatic trigger that HAD to be jerked or it wouldn’t work! And we thought that was so special!

Today you buy a Seneca Wing Shot II and you get an air shotgun that really works, an arrow launcher and a big bore ball-shooter for a triple threat. That wasn’t available in the old days, but to buy all the capabilities took three separate airguns and enough money to buy a good used car. And none of it worked very well. Today it works fine.

And, it’s just going to get better…

71 thoughts on “Smell the roses!

  1. Demming — you are really stretching the grey matter of this non systems engineer Australian. Eventually I recalled he was the American that the Japanese idolized (not the one that unnecessarily expended lives, including Australians, reconquering the South West Pacific Area, the other one.)

    I can make obscure references too 😉


  2. B.B.

    Perhaps when you get the time you could do a blog on the work that Ben Taylor and the other fellow did on the development of the modern PCP? Is this the golden age of springers too? Maybe if the new Sig lives up to expectations…

    -Y


  3. Now if only someone could make a modern day Crosman 600 that was both relatively affordable and both powerful and accurate!

    That would be quite the accomplishment!



      • OK – I will pick powerful and accurate!

        A NightStalker in pistol form would still suffer from the hard to use trigger as it would have to rotate the pellet clip as it fired – nit the true auto blow-back of a 600….;-(

        Here is mine with a 12 inch barrel…;-(


        • Wllm995,

          Crosman purposely left out the piece that advances the cylinder when the gun fires. It could easily be put back in the design. Their lawyer was afraid to make the gun too easy to shoot! That’s not my guess, either. Ed Schultz, the head Crosman engineer at the time, told me that when the NightStalker was new.

          B.B.


          • B.B. – OK time to give us what we already have in the vintage 600 in a new NightStalker pistol!

            We seem to have survived the 600 just fine – time for the new one…;-)



  4. It is a great to be in air gunning. Having only just got back into it myself around 4 years ago, I am amazed at the developments in just that short time,…. let alone someone being into air guns for many years.

    I believe that is more important than ever to be educated on air guns as there is so much from which to choose today. To me, it breaks down into several categories:

    – New releases just for the sake of releasing something new. Many times, more junk on top of junk.
    – New releases that are improved on from prior designs, but maybe not with a cost reduction.
    – Products that are somewhat new/improved and do have a cost reduction.
    – Totally new ideas and innovations, whatever the cost.

    Like anything, if something is new,… will it last? If something is improved,.. is it for real? If something drops in price,… what was given up,.. if anything? Etc., etc..

    More and new choices are good. Very good. It also means the potential for more pit falls. Do some homework. This is a very good place to start!

    Good Day to one and all,….. Chris


    • Chris
      Getting back into air gunning? What was you air gunning before these last 4 years?

      Just got to ask. I don’t recall you mentioning that before. What air guns?




          • GF1,

            The main thing is to say that I am a more of a wait and see type person. If I can, wait a few months or a year and see how it holds up based on users and industry reviews. I detest wasting money.

            I have said it before, but I think that if a company had a really good product, the best way to launch it would be to advertise extreme testing results that were done (prior).

            In so many cases, it seems that we are the testers and if its a flop, then we are the ones left holding the bag.

            I also see some comment on new Diana products with comments also indicating that they might be re-branded China stuff. I had thought that the Stormrider might have prompted them to reconsider their approach, but I guess not. Time will tell.


  5. BB
    Yep definitely smelling the roses. And I believe there is more roses to come. This is just the beginning of the bouquet.

    It seems to me that the engines are just starting to get revved up.

    I think we are in for a exciting ride in the air gun world for some time to come.


  6. BB,

    I too have seen drastic changes in the airgun world. I can remember dreaming about owning a BSA Super 10. Now I am overwhelmed with my choices of affordable, quality airguns. Once I dreamed of a quality hand pump so I could get into PCPs. Now I have that and a carbon fiber tank and a compressor, not to mention a couple of nice PCPs.

    Not so long ago if you wanted an affordable sproinger, you were looking at something like the B3. Nowadays there are piles of sproingers that are much better and if you want to open that wallet up just a little bit more, there are now sproingers that are challenging the PCPs in range, power and accuracy.

    And it is getting better every day.



  7. This is indeed the golden age of airgunning. It’s great to see how much the field has advanced, especially in the USA where less than a generation ago nearly all airguns were considered little more than kids’ toys.

    I recall Guns & Ammo magazine did an article sometime back in the late 80s or early 90s called “Adult Airguns” (I found the title funny as in Ireland you had to be at least 18 years old and hold a firearms licence to own even a BB gun).

    The article featured the RWS Diana 48/52 and how it could launch a pellet at 1100 fps and pierce a three quarter inch pine board. That was considered the bee’s knees at the time. How far things have moved on since then!


  8. Wow…Demming and his TQM. There’s one I thought was ok to forget about! You always keep us on our collective toes, lol.
    Please add my name to the list of people who would like to learn more about those great pellets to which you made reference. Yet another blog topic? Now that I know I only have “fishing sinker larvae” sitting in the closet I’m really bummed! Classic, B.B.


  9. BB,

    I have been trying real hard not to adopt a Diana K98 Mauser. I even know which scope I would have to put on top of it if I did. If Vortek develops a gas spring for it, I will not be able to help myself.


  10. What about the the ability that we have today to share knowledge and information. I know from personal experience that without this blog and the friends I have made, that I would still be frustrated with innumerable issues that plague new airgun shooters.
    Carl


    • Coduece,

      Very true, and I would be in that same boat with you. Without this blog and all the helpful folks, I would still be paddling around in circles. I would probably eventually jumped out of the boat and swam to shore. 🙂
      Great big THANK YOU to B.B. and everyone who have been so helpful.

      Geo




      • Half
        How’s your knife project going? You motivated me to get out my Ontario kitchen knife regrind with coco bolo handles out to finish. So many projects so little time!
        Carl


        • Coduece,

          I think it’s goin’ pretty good for my first try. I have to do some finish sanding on the handle and then sharpen it. Right now I have too steep of an angle. It won’t carve a feather stick very well. Knives aren’t really my thing but I ran across some videos on re-profiling these knives and was intrigued by the forced patina methods that were being used. Just thought I’d try it once and see how it went.


          • Half
            Just saw the pic that looks great! What ever patination process you used works! I give you an A+ it looks like a relic from the past. I’m sure a grandson of yours is gonna be very proud to inherit this hopefully a long time in the future.
            Carl


            • Coduece,

              Thanks! I put it in boiled vinegar for a couple hours then overnight with split mandarin orange sections laid with juicy-side against the blade.

              Half




  11. B.B.,

    Off-topic, but I have to say that even with the bolt on the wrong side, that new Diana Chaser is the most attractive Diana since Emma Peel!

    Now if it can shoot as well as Ms. Peel . . .

    Michael




      • RR,

        By the looks of it, this gun seems to have the pedigree of a stormrider. The receiver looks like a left handed version of the stormrider’s, including the shot tray. The rear sight and barrel band is the same, by all appearances. The “silencer” looks the same, as well. On the stormrider it doesn’t silence. It doesn’t even have baffles or any hollow spaces in it. It’s more of a muzzle break made from a solid bar of aluminum. The three screw attachment system for the barrel and the arrangement of the orings and transfer port on the turned down portion of the barrel look the same as my .22 stormrider barrel. This could be more of a rebranded Snow Peak product than a true Diana.

        Half


    • Michael and RidgeRunner
      I was going to post the link to it too. But what does it remind you of.

      How about a 2240 with a 1399 stock a long barrel and a TKO muzzle brake. But one added feature the available magazine or single shot tray.

      If it’s accurate for the price they have it listed for it should be a nice gun. But what other guns from Diana will interchange parts with it like the Crosman/Benjamin guns will do. Just bring that point up because that is one reason the 2240’s and such are so popular.



        • Halfstep
          So does that mean the breech block has the same bolt pattern and also will barrels slip in and out. Then that makes me wonder if the trigger assemblies willinterchange as well back and forth to the stormrider.

          In otherwards put the pistol grip assembly and butt stock on a stormrider. Or even the stock and trigger assembly to the Chaser. Well of course you would have to modify the stock length if you put the stormrider stock on the Chaser.

          Then the next question is will Diana support selling individual parts like Crosman does. That makes a difference to to people that like to mod by interchanging parts as well as repairing if needed. And there probably won’t be the barrel choices for the stormrider or Chaser like Crosman has available.

          All in all still interesting that they coppied the 2240. But I guess why wouldn’t they with how successful the 2240 platform is.



            • Halfstep
              Sounds like no smelly roses for you and Diana.

              And I would still get a 2240 and mod it how I want over the Chaser just because I know how Crosman is.

              But the Chaser still might be the ticket for someone wanting a gun already done up with those type of features. Will just have to see how the Chaser does.




  12. One of the first, if not the first company in America to use Demming’s methodology for manufacturing was Harley Davidson. When Vaughn Beals organized the employee buyout of HD from AMF, it was producing motorcycles that were so bad, one out of two coming off the assembly line wouldn’t run! It was left to the HD dealers to get them running. Beals and his group changed that and made a Harley relatively reliable again. There is a great book out about this called “Well Made in America” – the story of the HD takeover and their adoption of statistical operator control. Ah, well. Off topic as usual.

    On topic, I’m holding out for the Sig “sproinger” (to steal RidgeRunner’s terminology) to hit the market. Come on, Schultz! Will be my next purchase. Don’t tell the wifey!

    Fred formerly from the DPRoNJ now in GA


  13. I remember how sweet it was to get my MONTHLY air gun fix when the Airgun Newsletter finally came!! OMG, the family knew better than to mess with Dad after dinner that night!!

    Motorman
    St. Louis, MO



  14. B.B.,

    Shooting at soup cans, hey I resemble that. I can still have a good time shooting at soup cans. Sometimes the pellet just goes through those new aluminum can and the can don’t even jump, or did i miss?

    Kate has joined you in enabling my pellet gun purchaces. When she saw me looking at the Dragonfly. She said go for it, you dont have that many years left. I guess she ment well? It should be here on friday.

    Just got back from fishing will be having bass for dinner tomorow.

    Don


  15. Great article BB, you’ve been there, done that, I appreciate you writing about it.
    Speaking of pcp, I recently picked up a Quackenbush XL .22. Its setup for co2 carts, but from what little I’ve read, its also pre charge capable? Can you steer me towards any of your articles on the XL rifles? Does this predate most pcp’s? It is #23, I just had to have it, I really appreciate Mr. Quackenbushs attention to detail, this XL is a sweet rifle.
    The Findlay airgun show was great this year, but not the same without the “Godfather” there to converse with, hope to see you sometime soon Sir.
    Thanks, Eric J


    • Erockrocket
      I like it. What velocity does it shoot at? How many shots per cartridge? How’s the trigger?

      And most important. How accurate and with what pellet?

      Did I mention I like it. 🙂


      • About 665 fps using JSB RS 13.43gr
        Maybe 15 shots per cart.
        It is a .625″ o.d. LW heavy barrel, prepped by Mr. Q, it is VERY accurate.
        The trigger appears to be a Crosman unit from a springer? I should call Mr. Quackenbush, will do so after my vacation next week.
        It is my 4th DAQ airgun, I own a 2540, a .308 I bought from BB last year, and a .58 pistol I converted to a carbine.
        In my eyes, a DAQ is the best that money can buy. I hope to collect more in the future.


    • Eric,

      Any CO2 gun made as well as a Quackenbush is PCP capable. You just have to keep the fill pressure low so the valve swill operate. I tested a CO2 Brigand on air and got about 200 f.p.s. more velocity. But only 6 shots on 1250 psi air instead of 24-30 on CO2.

      B.B.


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