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The world’s best airgun doesn’t exist…

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The start
  • The deal
  • The challenge
  • It is achievable
  • The Marauder
  • Good points
  • Bad points
  • Bronco
  • The world’s best air rifle
  • Synthetic stock
  • The deal
  • History?

…but it has in the past. Or parts of it have existed. They are very rare today, but at one time there were many airguns that were 80 percent of the way to being great.

The start

This report started this past Wednesday in an archery store. Next week I will mention why I was in the store, but here’s what happened. The older man behind the counter, after learning what I did for a living, asked me what would be a good airgun for him to get. I stood there like a deer in the headlights, running through a half-century of experience and trying to boil it down to one sentence, when he added, “…and be able to take out a squirrel once in awhile.”

I was dumbstruck. I get this question hundreds of times each year, though it’s not always worded the same. And the answer is — SUCH AN AIRGUN DOESN’ T EXIST!

You see, there is more to the question — things the person hasn’t yet stated. Things like:

Ease of use

… and others, like cost.

If I were to suggest a TX200 Mark III, which I think is the best spring-piston air rifle in the world, you all know what the guy would do when he heard the price. People who want to buy the very best are often living two to four decades in the past — when gas was under 50 cents a gallon and houses sold for $20,000. They don’t mind making $35 a hour themselves, but they are appalled to learn that wedding cinematographers (they were thinking photographers) and wedding cake bakers charge as much as they do. Why doesn’t the daughter just elope?

The deal

Here’s the deal. Even if you had an unlimited budget, there are no new airguns you can buy that are perfect for what you want. Let’s set cost aside for a moment.

What does a non-airgunner want in a first airgun?

They want perfection. They won’t come out and say it, but that’s what they want.

An air rifle needs to cock easily. It needs to be powerful enough to matter. It needs to be accurate — even if they are not. It needs to be light enough to carry. It needs to look good.

Nothing I have just said is quantifiable! What does “easily” mean when referring to cocking? How much does “light” weigh? How powerful is “powerful enough”?

“Oh,” they’ll tell you with a straight face, “I’m not sure, but I’ll know it when I see it.”

The challenge

The challenge in airgunning today is to build an airgun that many people will “know” is right when they see it for the first time.

Ain’t nothin’ new there! That’s another way of saying “Build a better mousetrap…”

It is achievable

At this point some will throw up their hands and say the task is impossible. But it’s not. Watch and learn.

The Marauder

The Benjamin Marauder came to market one year after Crosman launched the Benjamin Discovery. The Marauder was revolutionary. It sold for half what the European PCPs cost, yet had features some of them still don’t have today.

Good points

Great trigger
Accurate (This is conditional. There have been bad barrels)

Bad points

Fat Stock

So if you were the boss of Crosman, what would you do?

Lighten the rifle — They did
Slim down the stock — They did
Fix the barrel issue — Maybe they did, but bad barrels, like bad reputations, linger forever.

And keep making Marauders! Which they are doing. The Benjamin Marauder is the single most successful PCP that’s ever been made. The marketeers are trying to ride on the coattails of its success with “upscale” versions of the gun, but if airgunners don’t perceive them as real improvements, the Marauder will continue to set sales records and the straphangers will fade away.

So — B.B. — did you tell the man in the archery store to buy a Marauder?


Why not?

A Marauder takes an educated user — someone who is willing to learn and understand the technology. I would still be there explaining all he needed to know about fill devices, tuning the rifle, how to pick a great scope etc. And I haven’t even started on all the support equipment he would need to buy. This guy needs a breakbarrel spring piston air rifle.


That’s what the Air Venturi Bronco was all about. It was nearly everything on the list except for not being a repeater and its inability to kill squirrels. So here it comes — my gift to airgun manufacturers everywhere. The best airgun in the world.

The world’s best airgun

It is a breakbarrel springer that is:

Lightweight (less than 7 lbs, with 6.5 being about ideal)
Easy to cock (no more than 23 lbs., with 20 lbs. being better)
Accurate (able to group 10 premium pellets in 0.35-inches at 25 yards)
Has a great trigger (use the Bronco trigger as your standard)
Has a synthetic stock with a slim pistol grip and forearm
Shoots dead smooth
Will launch a Crosman Premier lite at 825-850 f.p.s.
Has adjustable open sights with no fiberoptics

This rifle should cost under $250 retail. Forget $150 — you have to make too many compromises to get the price that low.

If someone will please make this rifle I will become their cheerleader. Because this is what people who don’t know what they want — want.

Synthetic stock?

Wait just a minute, BB. A synthetic stock? I thought you had class until you said that!

The deal

In 2018 a hardwood stock is a bank-breaker. Wood is hard to come by and wood working is beset with problems. Too much cost goes down a rat hole when you opt for a wood stock. Sure, Air Arms does it very well, but they charge for it, too. My best airgun can’t afford wood.

But BB, Sam Smellum up in Oregon makes beautiful wood stocks out of Asian pallet wood that he reworks. His most expensive stock for the QB78 is only $75.

Okay, run $75 through a production model and it comes out $189 on the other side, after loading. But that’s not the biggest problem. In Sam’s entire life he has made a total of 143 wood stocks. A manufacturer will need 1,000 stocks every 90 days if the gun sells well — maybe more! Let Sam do what he does best and give me a synthetic stock whose tooling costs $40,000 and can turn out 120 stocks in an 8-hour shift.

Besides, the Asians are about to switch to plastic pallets that cost 4 times more than wood but last 50 times longer. Ain’t gonna be no more pallet wood after that!


BB — why did you put this report in the history section?

I did it because history is where today’s manufacturers will find all the things I’m talking about, except for the synthetic stocks. The parts of the world’s best airgun have already been made. They just exist on many different vintage airguns.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

161 thoughts on “The world’s best airgun doesn’t exist…”

  1. B.B.

    Fantastic tour deforce of what no manufacturer seems to get! Will they act

    Tom this a fulblown case of: Those of you who think you know everything are annoying to those of us who do!

    I give you a full bore BRAVO ZULU!


  2. I think combining accuracy/smoothness with squirrel killing power (are we talking 12 ft lb?) costs a lot more than $250.

    Why does a reduced power HW97 at well over $500 come to mind?

      • GF1,

        Since we are talking synthetic, I would add a more vertical pistol grip, like found on thumbhole stocks. Finger grooves and ambidextrous. Ambi!!!!

        A rare OT day, so,.. Good Day to you and to all,…. Chris

        • Chris,

          Per B.B.s blog, the design of the perfect rifle is defined by what you want to do with it. Sounds like you definition of “perfect” is a target rifle 🙂

          IMHO, vertical pistol grips are great on target rifles but not the best for general purpose shooting.

          The vertical grip forces the elbow down and close to the body which constrains movement.

          For general shooting I like a more angled grip which raises the elbow and allows more freedom. I find an angled grip to be much faster to point – take a look at shotgun stocks.

          Just rambling and throwing out a couple of thoughts.

          Good day eh!


          • Hank,

            Good points. I do not own any, but sure do like the M-rod in a RAI stock,… but,… it is too heavy to carry and shoulder much. I am no wimp,.. but it is more than I want to lug around. You may be right,.. I might get one and find it not suitable to shouldering while standing or standing/braced.

            Thanks for the input. I trust your opinion to be tried and true,… at least for you. 😉

            • Chris,

              You might want to visit a gun shop and try shouldering a couple of rifles and shotguns to see what feels good to you.

              Keep in mind that powder-burners can have a heavy recoil so a cuddled up and close stance that you might like for an airgun is not suitable for them and the stock design reflects that. Out of habit, I use the same stance for my airguns as I do for my 30-06.

              A hefty rifle is nice and stable on the target range or for short plinking sessions but can be a chore on a walk-about. That is why my FWB 124 and my Maximus are on the top of the list for roving shooting walks.

              …”I trust your opinion to be tried and true,… at least for you.” Yup, as an old-guy I have had lots of years to develop my preferences. What works for me may not for you. 🙂


            • Ton,

              Agree completely that “best” is always subjective and is dependent on the shooters size, style and preferences.

              I have a field-target and a sport stock for my TX200 and I swap them to suit my needs. The FWB 300 and FWB 603 target rifles have a vertical pistol grip that works very well for punching paper. I love plinking so I will be making “sport stocks” with a more angled grip for both of them just to have the option to swap stocks if I want to.

              The thumb-hole stock with a vertical grip on the FX is new to me. Its OK, the fit and balance are great but I consider it more as a sniper rifle than a “hunter” as it doesn’t point or swing as well as my HW100s do for me.

              Never had a chance to handle the Gamatic. It looks cool in a “gansta” sort of way (it needs a drum magazine in-front of the trigger 🙂 ). There are few gun shops within easy driving distance so I am limited as to what I can try out. I’m curious about the Gamatic and will check it out if I get a chance.


              • The auto loading mechanism is what gives most people problems. If you don’t slam close the tube magazine follower which would compress the pellets, you should not have misfires. My rifle likes RWS Hobies and Crosman Compitition wad cutters. Sadly Gamo no longer makes them. There was someone, I think it was on the AA Classifieds, trying to sell one for months. Not the magazine model though. Mine is the low powered model for the German market. An all day shooter. You can load it and shoot almost all month, almost lol.

      • B.B.,

        In Europe it sells for as little as 185 EUR, which is about 226 USD at the current exchange rate.

        Granted the power is little low for taking out the occasional squirrel, except with close range headshots, but it’s perfect for paper punching and plinking.

    • Bob, I concur with you.
      I love my peep-sighted HW30S in .22 caliber.
      But prior to that, I had one in .177 with a small scope.
      Until the day I got stupid and sold it (to get a more powerful gun), it was an awesome gun.
      And it took many squirrels.
      I think if you could get more newbies to actually try one, they’d find it suits most of what they want
      (i.e. it’ll suit their actual wants that they should want…if that makes any sense *lol*).
      take care,

  3. hw50s, the gun cost in Europe little over 210 euros and comes with wood stock but PA sells them for 370$
    Actually there are rifles that meet you criteria but they cost to much in the states . On the other hand there is the opposite situation, for examble in my country the marauder costs 850 euros only 50 less than a hw100 or a AA510, so is it still a good deal?
    In my opinion they do exist but only in the right market.

  4. BB,

    It is indeed hard to find all of those qualifications in one air rifle today, most especially when the marketeers, and even the customers, convince the bosses that this particular air rifle is not what we want. Once again, this is an air rifle that those who are educated about them would buy. The unwashed masses do not yet know this is what they really want.

    Yes, like I have in the past with the Diana 34, I would most certainly recommend this to a newbie. There is a more than good chance I could offer them the opportunity to shoot one as I would probably have one residing at RidgeRunner’s Home For Wayward Airguns.

    We can only hope that those who manufacture air rifles will read this article and decide to build it.

  5. I love my HW-30S, but sometimes it is easier to take a higher level item and bring it lower than the other way around. With that in mind, the Diana 34P is almost the right gun, but it needs to loose half a pound and drop some power, both of which can work in the same direction.

    It has been the gun that I have recommended to several people and they have always been happy with it.

    The funny thing is that if I had bought one as my first gun (instead of a cheap Chinese Crosman breakbarrel), it might have been my last gun too (since it would have done what I wanted). I probably would have been happy with it – and then not gone down the rabbit hole that turned me into the local knowledgeable airgunner that my friends can turn too on lots of airgun related questions! The industry has certainly made more money off me this way than if I had been satisfied right from the start.

    • Alan,

      I was that newbie that bought his first airgun which was a cheap Crosman Nitro Venom .22. After returning two of them for mechanical and finish defects, the third one appeared to be good. I shot a few tins of pellets through it and found it to be not as accurate as I needed. Okay, next I moved up the food chain to my next airgun. I did a lot of online research and chose a Diana RWS 34P .22 based on many good reviews and claims of 1/2″ accuracy at 25 yards. The Diana came with an excellent Hawke 3-9x50mm AO scope and now I had what I thought would be the perfect airgun for my needs.

      After shooting the Diana 34 for four years and a couple thousand pellets, I was not able to achieve those nice 1/2″ groups that the reviewers raved about. My groups were more the 1.5″ to 2″+ size, and not nearly good enough to dispatch sparrows from my bluebird nesting boxes at 25-30 yards. I gave the Diana 34 every opportunity to achieve consistently good groups. I tried all forms of the artillery hold and several different pellet brands and weights. I was just not able to reach my goal of 1″ groups at 25 yards. B.B. generously offered to test the Diana for me because he could not understand why my groups were so open. He found the main spring was broken and he installed a nice Vortek Kit in it. Bottom line, the rifle was very accurate for B.B. and he posted groups with RWS Superdomes of less than 1″ at 25 yards. So the rifle was proven to be accurate and he returned it to me.

      After receiving the rifle back, I again attempted to shoot it accurately using B.B.’s suggested hold and Superdome pellets. Nope, my groups were still 1.5″ to 2″ at 25 yards. I could never improve on the groups no matter what I tried. I finally gave up in the fall of 2017 and put the rifle away.

      Spring 2018, All my shooting problems are resolved when I purchased a Gamo Urban pcp. Now my goal is to shoot groups less than 1/2″ at 25 yards and less than 1″ at 50. Based on being able to shoot 1/4″ groups with the Urban at 17 yards in my basement, I believe this goal is achievable. Also, I am now able to defend the bluebirds from the harassing sparrows successfully. So in my case, the Diana 34 was not the answer, but the Urban pcp was 🙂 Apparently for some unknown reason, I am not able to shoot a breakbarrel springer.


      • Geo
        Your not alone on the springers. One of my buddies is a excellent shot with pcp’s, multi-pumps and Co2 guns. But he can not for the life of him shoot a springer. Me and another buddy of ours can pick the same springer up and shoot them no problem.

        At least you finally got something it seems your happy with.

        • GF1

          I know there are others who have had the same problem as I shooting a spring airgun. It’s a very peculiar problem, and one which I knew the answer to. It would seem that if two people held the springer with the exact hold (as much as possible), that both would get very similar results. I just don’t get it.

          Yes, so far I am very happy with the Urban. I like the thumb hole stock, the lighter weight, and the more compact length. Then the frosting on the cake…it’s super accurate too 🙂


      • Geo

        I am with you. I finally figured out how to get decent groups with a springer but anyone good at shooting one will do better with a PCP.

        The worlds best airgun is not a springer. It’s a PCP or perhaps a multi pump.

          • GF

            Surely the best airgun must be very interesting.
            Remember, only accurate guns are interesting. 🙂
            I may be wrong but I’m not aware of any springer that can match a decent PCP for accuracy.
            For certain a PCP is more accurate for 99% of shooters.

            • Idaho
              To say it simply. Yes there are springers that can match and even better some pcp accuracy.

              It again all depends on the distance and then I’ll throw in the person behind the trigger. Here’s one that most anyone can shoot.

              Here is a magnum springer that I have had in the 2 calibers it’s made in that can shoot with any pcp that I have had in the accuracy department. And I should say magnum springer again. The Diana 54 Air King. And don’t bring up price because that can go other ways if you dig deeper.

              And there are more. But I have to ask. Have you ever shot a HW30S or a HW50s or even a Tx 200 in either caliber or a 54 Air King and can’t forget the FWB 300? I have. They can shoot just as well as a pcp to a given distance.

              So saying that. Tell me what you think. And I figured this report BB did would go this way.

              • GF

                I have not shot any of those. And your experience is far beyond mine in every area of airgunning.

                Mine is not really an argument. For a rank amateur to argue against the godfather of airguns is just foolishness. He has his reasons.

                It just comes down to perspective and the interpretation of the word “best”. Even with the little I know and the little experience I have, I know that if a springer is produced meeting the specifications given, I will not see it as the best airgun.

                • Idaho
                  Who is arguing against BB?

                  And BB’s blog for the weekend is actually wide open.

                  He made some distinct features “he” would want from a gun. In his round about way of trying to come up with a gun for that man behind the counter that does bow and arrow.

                  How in the heck can you or BB or anyone else know what I want from a gun. Even if I don’t know about a specific type of gun.

                  Yes you can give some pointers. But you will never be able to say what “I” want.

                  And believe me I’m I’m not trying to pick on you. The point is we can only suggest. We can’t in any way say what is best.

  6. You don’t have to look far…..Benjamin 392. A real classic design that’s been around for more than half a century….. Talk about a good American product!!! Lightweight at 5.5 lbs. Durable and easily repairable. Corrosion proof brass construction. .22 cal. Can kill squirrels and similar sized critters. Variable power for versatility in use. Easy to use….kids have been shooting this type of airgun for decades. Very affordable.

    • Lioniii,
      I had one and loved it. Yes I let it get away in a trade deal. BUT, for the perfect gun, B.B., talked about cocking effort being in the 20 to 23# area. When I would pump my 392 past 5 pumps, it would get hard in a hurry. I did a lot of long distance plinking one day using 8 pumps for each shot. After several shots, my hand was hurting. So nice gun, but needs to be easier to pump for the “Perfect Gun”


      • Back around 1965, my 11 year old cousin would pump up his Benjamin up to 13 strokes. I remember the last four strokes would be quite stiff, but that skinny guy managed it, and the gun got really hot! The report was also very loud! He managed to exterminate all the sparrows in the neighborhood for those two years that the gun held up to that abuse. Eventually the lever links got really loose and the seals failed.

    • Coduece,

      You’ve hit the nail on the head!

      When it comes to springers it seems you can have two of the following: accuracy, power, light weight.

      The most accurate springers generally tend to have a power/weight ratio of not much more than 1 foot-pound per pound. For example, a HW30s weighs just over 6 pounds and puts out about 7 foot-pounds at the muzzle. A scoped-up HW97k, weighing about 10 pounds, is at it’s most accurate at a power level of about 10 or 11 foot-pounds.

      It is a rare springer indeed that can be accurate, powerful and light weight. The HW50s, HW95 / R9 and RWS Diana 34 are the only examples I can think of.

      • Bob
        Ok so is this could be a golden rule for springers? With 1 pound of weight for every pound of power. To me it totally makes sense, sure anything over twelve ftlb is gonna be a compromise but it’s very interesting and I’ve not seen it pointed out here as well you explained here.

  7. The Walther Terrus comes to mind. They are being sold for $149 at a certain Southwestern dealer. The Nova Vista Freedom for $379 for a PCP if it pans out in testing. No need for all the support equipment. The Seneca Dragonfly over the 392 because you can scope it more easily.

    • Brent,
      My understanding of American Tactical’s NOVA Freedom is that it is more of a multi-pump, multi-shot (repeater) than a PCP. I think that is the rifle you are referring to…. Although the stock is synthetic and looks good from the trigger (two stage) back; the forend with the pump handle looks thicker than the “slim” forend folks believe they need and want? The weight is also over B.B.’s 7lb ideal for a “mountain rifle” by 1lb! For what it does, if accurate & reliable, I’ll just go to the fitness center and add a few pounds to my weights so I can take the extra weight in my rifle scabbard.
      I do hope B.B. gets at least one of the rifles to test in one of the (.177/.22) calibers.
      Airgunners need to know from a reliable source if this new “multi-pump” is a potential go-to rifle.


        • Brent, I certainly agree on the FX INDEPENDECE or INDY if it didn’t $$$$ cost so much. Only time will tell if the NOVA Freedom is accurate, reliable, repairable and availability of replacement parts and consumables for the inevitable repairs.

          The starting purchase price point is certainly a good way to approach the purchase of the perfect airgun as B.B. has done but the Life Cycle (Cost of Ownership) cost is certainly another way to see the real cost/benefit of a particular airgun.


    • Brent,
      My understanding of American Tactical’s NOVA Freedom is that it is more of a multi-pump, multi-shot (repeater) than a PCP. I think that is the rifle you are referring to…. Although the stock is synthetic and looks good from the trigger (two stage) back; the forend with the pump handle looks thicker than the “slim” forend folks believe they need and want? The weight is also over B.B.’s 7lb ideal for a “mountain rifle” by 1lb! For what it does, if accurate & reliable, I’ll just go to the fitness center and add a few pounds to my weights so I can take the extra weight in my rifle scabbard.
      I do hope B.B. gets at least one of the rifles to test in one of the (.177/.22) calibers.
      Airgunners need to know from a reliable source if this new “multi-pump” is a potential go-to rifle.


  8. B.B.,

    An excellent, dare I say, “world’s best” airgun report.

    Best is, of course, indeed in the eye of the airgunner. And to many of us best depends on what we wish to do with it at the moment. There are times when a classic Diana Model 27 is best, or a Sheridan Blue Streak is best, or a TX200 is best, or a Dennis Quackenbush or a. . . well, you made the point quite effectively.


  9. BB ,

    I miss the Bronco also. It was a great rifle to start new airgunners on and they would take the plunge for $125.00 . BB , Your dream rifle sounds allot like a FWB124 !! That gun is possible , if the Marketing people keep their hands off of it . The beauty of a powerplant like that is longevity. Spring will last and it won’t cook any piston seals. Maybe Sig Sauer would go for the BB dream rifle ???

      • Ed Schultz,

        Please let B.B. have one of the first full production new springers. And ramp up production figures for the first year or two….


        There is a new Sterling springer or 2 coming soon. Hopefully, you will get a chance to review them too.


      • BB,
        That would be great if he could! I looked at that new Sig springer and my first lament was: “why can’t they make a smaller lighter less powerful version?”

  10. A 5 or 5 1/2 lb. Springer or gas ram at 12 FPE would be about perfect. With a 4×16 Scope, that would bring it up to about 7 1/2 or 8 pounds, which would be perfect. Not to forget, a light trigger. My R1 with the Leapers 6 by 24 scope is about 10 and 1/2 to 11 lb, which is great for a bipod for Hunter Field Target but not so great for forced position shots like off hand and kneeling.

  11. Mr. Gaylord:
    If the archery store man walks away from a TX200 when he hears the price, just think what he’ll do when his son John or daughter Joan comes and asks for a bright shiny new red Air Force Edge.
    Now that Edge, in my opinion, is almost THE prefect rifle, If you overlook the cost and taking the occasional squirrel parts of your specs. 🙂 🙂

    The Edge is infinitely adjustable. It’s accurate. It has no recoil. It’s 3P rules compliant, A shooter doesn’t have to come out of position to cock and reload. It’s quiet. A junior can shoot in a church basement range without disturbing the church choir ladies in the upstairs sanctuary
    And back in 2019-1010 it was the subject of a really really good detailed review. 🙂 🙂

    What’s not to like about the Edge? It’s almost perfect. Until John or Joan’s parent’s points out that a “real gun” like the 10/22 is only $200 at the WallBox store. And right out of the box it’s rules compliant for CMP sporter and NRA smallbore events .

    Oh yes can’t forget that with the Edge, the crew’s rifle coach still has to tell mom or dad there’s the addition cost of the rear sights and the shooting jacket and pants.

    Again with the price comparison:
    Air Arms TX200 MkIII Air Rifle $575.99
    Air Force Edge $529.95 front sight only
    AirForce Edge, Front & Rear Sights $659.95

    So, getting back on my old soap box again, when someone makes the perfect rifle that you become a cheerleader for, would you please also ask them to consider making a 3P rules compliant 10 meter rifle? Please! With a pellet on top? 🙂
    And as always, respectfully submitted,
    William Schooley
    Rifle Coach
    Crew .357
    Chelsea, MI

    • Wm.Schooley
      When you and BB talk about the man at the bow and arrow shop thinking a Tx 200 is expensive. My words to him would of been. Bet you would have no problem with spending the money on that $1500 crossbow over there.

      I still think that a little more money spent is better than trying something cheaper and find it’s not what you want. Then you buy something else that is better quality and it’s what you want. By then you spent more than you would of if you just went ahead in the first place and bought that better quality gun.

      But that gets tricky also getting that good quality gun. You still need to know some things about the type of gun your looking for. That’s the real question. How does a person that’s new to air gunning know if that gun someone recommends to them is truly what they say it is. And then as it goes a person might not be able to shoot that type of gun good. So then that person ends up in a bit of a situation.

      I still think that a lot of research is needed before one makes a decision on what they want. Or I should say what they think they want. The only way that truly works is you have to really exsperiance different guns to know. That’s why I ended up getting so many different guns. Some was not what I wanted. But I sure did learn what I do want.

      • Gunfun 1
        I partially agree. There’s, undoubtedly, a lot to be said for experience and having the financial resources to purchase lots of guns.
        One significant advantage have as a crew instructor and coach is that there are both other adult leaders and members of the American Legion Post (our charter partner) who not only have a wide collection of guns, but they’re willing to bring them out to let the juniors see and shoot them. None the less, the core question when it come to selection is “What do you want to do with it?” Until that question is answered, all guns of every type and variety are like Schrödinger’s cat. They’re all the world’s best until the box is opened.
        William Schooley

    • One thing not like is that apparently the Edge came off worse in head-to-head accuracy testing against the Crosman Challenger which is also cheaper. 🙂 You may also be interested to know that when B.B. was playing coy about revealing the Benjamin Discovery, I made a guess that his big revelation was the Air Force Edge. B.B. said that the Edge was an iguana in comparison to the Discovery which was Jurrasic Park. No comparison on the scale of lizardry and, presumably, perfection.


      • Matt61:
        The Crosman Challenger is definitely a superb rifle. The crew has two of them. It can use both hpa and CO2. We had Challengers before Edges in the crew safe.
        But the juniors like the Edge better, It’s “cooler looking”. It’s lighter by about a pound and it’s more easily adjusted to different sized juniors.
        William Schooley

        • William,

          I am of mixed opinions on this issue. Both rifles are equally accurate and have very nice triggers. The Edge is way more adjustable, to include weight and balance. The Challenger is more traditional-looking.

          I don’t own an Edge, but I do have a Challenger, so it has been a long time since I shot an Edge, but I understand they are continuing to improve the design.


          • Mr Gaylord:
            Traditional looking definitely has a lot going for itself. I learned that lesson the first time I brought out my MAR 177 upper on a rock island lower, The first (and only) time I uncased it a church basement range, you’d have thought I’d just pulled out a snake and asked the juniors to speak in tongues. Needless to say my MAR has never made a second appearance.
            The MAR 177 is a product I wish Crosman had kept in it;s product line up. It came standard with a 10-round rotary magazine, a choked free floating Lothar Walther barrel and an airstripper. It still is a fine air rifle in my collection. And even though it’s just an upper, it comes close to meeting your ”world’s best airgun” specs.
            William Schooley

  12. Way too much information is missing at this point, other than it needs enough zap to take out squirrels . Most airguns can do this under the right conditions .

    More specifics about intended use are required.


  13. Mr. Pellitier, my R10 has 60k rounds through it,and will have its third spring in it and a new cocking shoe too in the not too distant future. I paid $329. for it in 1988 from Atlanticguns in S.S., MD.. Its something like a Walther Terrus or an R9 today? Make my R10 today with 2 stage cocking please, a la P1. Yes, more verticle pistol grip. externally adjustable gas ram, like an Eliminator, or just a springs would be neat. I think Benjamin could do something like that.
    Yesterdays Vortek install was excellent to read, it made me go shoot my marauders, but it didnt happen. Bad oring on the .25, and my modded .22 pistol/carbine has a regulator issue. I think a decent, reliable, springer is a good place to get off the trolley;). Lightweight, strong, and cheap,pick any two! I would hear that in Criterium racing as well.I only made it to Cat2/3,before deciding to go to college, but If you cant get it done on mid level equipment, you cant get it done. leave the fancy stuff for the rich guys. The Theoben put my R10 in its place, but it was $1000, even in 87″.

  14. BB,

    It is a little on the heavy side and could be a little hard to cock, but this looks like Crosman is trying.


  15. B.B., I think you might have been too hard on yourself. The guy was asking for a good airgun capable of shooting the odd squirrel, not the best one. There are plenty to choose from.

    I also don’t see why perfect airguns were more common in the past than the present which is truly the golden age of airguns with more choices and better performance than ever. True, that there is no one airgun that will do everything, especially when some of these functions conflict with each other, like power and ease of cocking. But if one were to isolate the desires and design specs to ensure they made sense, it should be possible to come close with various models. For example, the AK is not the most accurate or ergonomic combat rifle, but relative to its original purpose of doing maximum damage at relatively short range, there is very little that surpasses it as far as I can see. Anyway, a good starter airgun is one common profile of desires. I’m sure there are others and there are not an infinite number of them.

    Glad to hear that the Marauder is still on top of the sporting pcp world. As ever, it’s amazing performance is counterbalanced by its high maintenance. That would disqualify it as my perfect gun. I even managed to jam up my Mauser 98K recently. My Romanian surplus ammo from the 70s seems to have gotten stuck on its clips. So while trying to force the rounds into the magazine, I somehow managed to get the clip off the guide rails and drove it deep into the gun where it was stuck good. It took some serious pulling with pliers to get it out.


    • Matt61
      What stands out to me is those gun’s that was made 40 and more years ago we’re fore runners for their time. They were the latest and greatest then.

      What seems to me is that we want advancement all the time. But if we look deep enough we can see that what we want has already been in some form.

      Maybe the world’s best air gun already existed and we just overlooked it wanting more.

      • I think you’re right about technological progress in general, but the case of airguns might be different. Much of the advances are due to improved manufacturing techniques. Is the term CNC machining? That’s why pcps are as accurate as they are. And I believe that Robert Beeman’s innovations with the R1 were due to the first applications of computer design. Something of the same is true with firearms so that, for example, semiauto rifles are now accurate enough to be used as sniper rifles which was not formerly the case. Now we have old ideas with improved manufacturing which is a hard combination to beat. If the past had ideas that we’re not using, there can’t be too many of them.


        • Matt61
          That’s pretty much where I was going with it. But.

          The designs already have been in place of a basic gun. But we get excited when we see a shroud put on a gun that never had one. Or a multi-shot magazine. Or the option to use different air resivoirs such as regulated or unregulated bottles or even switch to Co2.

          What I mean is a basic good old fashioned spring gun is a simple way to own a air gun. None of those extra add on or extra costs for air supply. And cheaper because it doesn’t have all those extra goodies. You just go and get it from the corner. Shoot it then set it back in the corner when your done. And of course something that don’t slap you in the face every shot and kill your arm by time your done shooting it. Oh and of course it needs to be accurate.

          Everytime I get through explaining that type of gun I keep seeing my HW30s.

          But that’s what I mean. The basic design has been there all the time.

  16. Doesn’t the RWS 34P meet all your wish-list specs for the perfect new-guy/do everything rifle ? Personally, I think swapping out the spring for a 12-12.5 fpe version would make it even better – but I like ease of shooting accurately over harder hitting 🙂

  17. I’m sure the perfect air gun is different for each person. Geo eluded to it in his post. What works for one person may not be right for someone else. I think that until you have put some pellets down range, a person cannot know what is going to work best for them. There is a learning curve in all new endeavors. BB showed this in his series about the straight razor. For me, when I have the best air gun, I will have spent much more than what it costs if I had picked that one first. But I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey to get there.

  18. B.B. and you pros out there:
    If you take away price, is there any other advantage of synthetic stocks vs wood stocks in a spring piston? I think the synthetic weighs a little less maybe? Also, does the synthetic absorb any more vibration, recoil or harshness than a wood stock?


  19. The synthetic stocks don’t scratch up as easily if it’s a hunting gun used in the woods. Also, theoretically, wood may expand or contract with the seasons and need re-zeroing. In practice, this doesn’t really make any difference – you have to re-zero a spring powered gun a little every season anyways because how temperature affects the lube. It only takes a few minutes and usually 1-2 clicks on the scope 🙂

    Also, theoretically, wood stocks can warp or crack. But if you seal the wood (including the part you see when you remove the action and barrel) then this never happens.

    Also, if you fall in the woods, and land on the wrist of a wood stock while butt and barrel are supported by the ground, but the middle is not – then you might crack a wood stock. But this is probably only a concern for the military. With either stock, you’ll likely bend the barrel a little.

    The “solid” synthetic stocks do absorb more vibration than wood stocks. The hollow ones absorb less. But you can usually take of the butt plate, and fill the cavity with a spray insulation to fix that.

  20. B.B.

    The Diana 280 looks good. Looks hard to get as ever. Although the 240 model seems to have turned in rather mediocre results, I would like to give the 280 a chance to be the 34’s little bro. I never did get a hold of one. I guess I always figured on detuning the R9/hw95 platform. That always ended up as way too much money though.

    Another candidate although slightly low on power would be the slavia 634 synthetic. The trigger, as I understand, is not the best. That always held me back. I do have a 631 (found a great deal) and the trigger is lubed well and useable. it’s long butter smooth drag on the sear becomes predictable quickly. As I understand the gun is the same with a few small changes, probably not the trigger.

    B.B. you speak truly of the perfect air gun! I’m still after the same one!

  21. I feel as though both Crossman and Umarex have come very close to this and are probably the best equipped for mass-producing this “unicorn”. One of the problems with budget rifles is they are bundled with disposable scopes. For $200 either the gun or the scope has to be virtually free- and therein lies a big marketing problem. No new airgunner standing in the aisles of Walmart is going to choose the unscoped option for the same price. Starting out as an airgunner, I bought multiple rifles that I would never know their level of accuracy until I had to replace a broken scope. The original NP Trail and the Umarex Octane are 2 rifles I own that come close.
    I challenge Crossman and Umarex to give us a CX200 and a UX200. I would buy them both.

  22. BB I am needing your sage like advice. I am planning a turkey hunt with my RWS 34 in .22 cal. I am seeking your recommendation on a lead-free pellet as I will be hunting in a lead-free zone. Your inout woud be very appreciated.

      • Thank you for replying? Is the 34 up to the task? I read your blog on the matter and you opined it was capable for small game and pest control Not sure what category turkey falls into exactly?

          • Mike
            I would say that chart is a bit bogus.

            Now I only looked at the turkey category. But it shows some of the nitro piston guns and others to be able to dispatch a turkey out at farther distances than a Discovery or Maximus and even a Marauder.

            I have owned several of the guns mentioned and I would put my money on the Discovery, Maximus or Marauder to be the most capable.

            And one more note for the sake of the turkey don’t use the Discovery, Maximus or Marauder. Why because if you use the other nitro piston guns or spring guns listed you will probably never hit the bird. Do I need to say accuracy.

            • Gunfun1,

              I was only looking at the muzzle energy and distance and it appears reasonable, notice that they were using some fairly light pellets.

              Also I think you meant to say “for the sake of the turkey use the Discovery, Maximus or Marauder” not “don’t use”.

              On the accuracy, yes that would be a problem.


              • Mike
                Actually I was leaning more towards the turkey would at least have chance to get away with the other guns mentioned.

                I would not use one from what I seen. And I can shoot even springers or nitro pistons good.

                They would NOT be my choice to take a turkey humanly.

              • And to save the time of another reply.

                Why because if I don’t hit accurately. Then it means nothing no matter what kind of energy the projectile is making.

          • KKoster,

            I am also from Northern California. We have plenty of turkeys, they have really multiplied in the last 20 years.

            I would try:



            These pellets are not too heavy but should do the trick with good shot placement. A head shot would be the best. The wings can be hard to penetrate but you should get good velocity from a RWS 34. You can probably get close enough for a good shot at 15 yards if you are in an urban area they are not skittish like the wild birds and have become pests in my area. We have up to 60 in our yard at times and they destroy the wife’s flowers with all the scratching. I have not taken one yet but if I did I would use a long pole with a hook on the end like we did when I was a kid. Just snag the legs and pull them in.


              • Kkoster
                Please don’t attempt to shoot a turkey anywhere but the head. You won’t get more than one shot and a body shot is NOT likely to penetrate thru the feathers into the cavity. You could seriously hurt the bird but it will still most likely escape.
                Even shotgun hunters aim for the head/neck instead of the body.
                Larry from Algona

              • Yes and no. If your a hunter yes. If your a property owner and not within city limits or in violation of city ordinances and can demonstrate they are causing damage in certain instances you can be issued a depredation permit by fish and wildlife.

                • Kkoster,

                  Do you plan to clean them and eat them? I have never had wild Turkey, but they are often hunted (in season) in Ohio with shot gun. I was not aware, but they fly up into trees at night to sleep. I have spoken to hunters that were surprised by a spooked Turkey flying down out of a tree that they had not seen. I have been surprised in the woods by some that were in thickets.

                  I have had 13 in my yard, but have seen 100+ at one time in a field on the way home from work one day. To the edge of that field is also a Bald Eagle nest way up in a tall tree. If they (the Turkeys) only knew.

                  • Chris U

                    I have tasted plenty of Wild Turkey and have found that it is best when only mixed with spit. Ice is a close second, if it’s really hot outside.

                    My brother took this photo from his back porch in Corydon, IN 2 years ago.

            • Half,

              No problem, and thanks for all your work on the Urban, that was no small undertaking and should help get those without a chronograph get in the ballpark.

              Also it may convince more air gunners that a chronograph while a bit of an expense is an important tool to drop into the toolbox, you need to know just what your air gun is doing.


        • Kkoster
          How good of shot are you? And what distance do you plan to be at when you shoot your turkey?

          And then the question is does your State or place you live at allow a air gun below .30 caliber to hunt turkey with?

          • I am a accurate shooter. California despite its many faults does allow the taking of turkey with an air rifle .177 cal and above. No more then 30 yards. I will be using an RWS in .22 cal. I have put plenty of lead thru it but not non-lead so was hoping to get some idea what others find successful.

    • GF1,

      Well I finally knuckled under on the WildFire. I have been filling it to 1500 psi for a couple of weeks and have not had any issues. Also have not added mounts to the dovetail yet. I probably jinxed myself by talking about it on the blog. Every time I think I have it an mention it the leaks start again. I have not done anything to it other than reduce the fill to 1500 psi. I get two cylinders of shots 24 with air to spare so I can live with that. I think the valve is wasting a lot of air on the first 12 shots from 1500 it goes to 1250 and then on the next 12 shots it only goes to 1100 psi.

      I will order some new valves when I put in my next order to Crosman and may go back into the gun. Right now I am fed up with it and will use it as is. If Crosman said to fill to 1500 psi from the start I probably would have been happy and may not have had any problems. Not sure though, I still think the transfer tube, valve and O-rings had some issues,


      • Benji-Don
        Yes 100% on filling to 1500 psi.

        If Crosman would of said that in the beginning another thing would of been accomplished. We would of been that much closer to that $100 pcp.

        By that I mean the gun would only need a 2 stage pump to get it to the 1500 psi fill pressure. It would be in some form a cheaper pump to manufacture. Then they could offer that pump with the gun. Maybe not at 100 bucks. But say $140. Still exspensive sitting on a Wally World shelf next to the air guns. But it would of been one step closer.

        I said it in the beginning they should of advertised it as a 1500 psi gun. And who cares that it wouldn’t get 60 shots that they advertised. Again that was lack of knowledge on Crosmans part. They shouldn’t of compared it to the Co2 powered 1077.

        • GF1,

          LOL I swear I posted the comment below without reading your comment first. I hadn’t got that far yet. Just sayin’ I see that it is pretty opposite of your opinion and I want you to know that I wasn’t just bein’ contrary with you. It is really my thoughts on the matter, OK 🙂


      • Benji-Don,

        I wish you were having better luck with that thing and you know I’ve been through it too. It’s good that you can be content with 24 shots, but I have to honestly say that if it had been marketed as a PCP repeater that got 24 shots from a fill of 1500 psi, it would have held no interest for me. I was drawn to it because it promised to be a winter-capable alternative to the 1077 and I wanted at least that level of performance.

        If you fill with a hand pump ( I can’t seem to keep straight on who has what among the regular comment posters here ) could you tell me how many pumps it takes for you to refill after those 24 shots.

        Thanks in advance, Half

        • Halfstep
          That’s pretty much why I got my WildFire too. I wanted a rapid fire gun that I could pull the trigger as fast I could and the velocity didn’t drop off.

          It was agood idea to make it a PCP. But Crosman needed to do a little more re- engineering before they released it.

  23. I decided to get out some of my air rifles that have been setting for a while to give them a workout today and ran into a problem. My wifes Crosman/Sheridan 2260 had not been shot in quite a few months and she is on a sewing retreat for a few days. I don’t think she will mind if I give it a little exorcize. I shot it one time and it was shooting soft almost out of CO2. When I went to take out the cartridge it would not come lose. I tried a strong magnet from my toolbox and no luck. After about an hour messing with the gun I came up with an Idea.

    I would shoot the CO2 cartridge out of the tube. I hooked up my air compressor to the end of the barrel and pressurized the barrel. The while keeping pressure on the barrel I cocked and shot the gun. On the second shot the CO2 cartridge popped right out of the tube. Not sure if I read this somewhere or not but it sure worked. Something to remember.

    And speaking of the 2260. What a pleasure to shoot. It has a light Hawk 3-7 scope that is clear as can be. It is very well balanced and easy to hold. I do not know why folks don’t do as many mods to this gun as the 2240, I guess it is the price. This gun with the steel breach is a great gun from the start and I believe many of the same parts from the 2240 will work.


    I like the 2240 power curve better with the short barrel but the valve runs low on volume with a long barrel so the velocity drops off a with less shots than the pistol. They both use the same valve.

    My wife wont let me mod Hers but I think I will order one for myself and see what it will do with the Maximux barrel and a two stage trigger. It will shoot quarter sized groups all day stock at 20 yards. I have a feeling with the Maximus barrel it will be a very accurate 30 yard gun on the first 30 shots of CO2. The two stage trigger will make it even more of a pleasure to shoot. The gun without the scope should be about $200 with the barrel and trigger mods. Hooked up to bulk it would be even better on power consistency but would loose its great looks and balance.

    So many guns so little time, still waiting on the Fortitude and the Dragonfly. I wonder if the Maximus barrel can be put on the Dragonfly easily?


    • Benji-Don
      Don’t know if you ever took the stock off of a 1077.

      The air tube that the Co2 cartridge goes in has a pretty big hole in it down by the valve to relieve any pressure that’s left in the Co2 cartridge.

      Haven’t owned a 2260 but I bet it’s the same cause it has the cartridge placed deeper down in the tube like the 1077. If you take the stock off you can use your finger or a small flat blade screwdriver to unseat the cartridge. It takes very minimal pressure of your finger or screwdriver to do like I suggested.

      And I do have to say that is a ok idea by blowing air down the barrel. Probably doesn’t hurt but that does put pressure on the bolt o-ring. And I bet this would of all been avoided if you didn’t store the gun with a Co2 cartridge. Am I right?

      • GF1,

        I always store the CO2 guns with the cartridge in. This is the first time I have had any trouble. The tube on the 2260 does not have a hole to the cartridge area. The cartridge would probably come right out after shooting.

        The pressure on the bolt O-ring is nothing at 100 psi compared to what is coming out when firing a pellet. I was going to test the velocity of a pellet with 100 psi compressed air the other day but was afraid of shooting my chrony. I was able to shoot through both sides of a stiff cardboard box though with a barrel hooked up to 100 psi.


        • Benji-Don
          How and the heck was you shooting the pellet out of the barrel with shop compressor air?

          And wonder why you had problems storing the cartridge in the gun this time?

          • GF1,

            I just hooked up a rifle barrel to an air nozzle with a hose and pushed the button. For close shooting indoors I bet it would be enough in a pellet gun; if the valve was designed for it and the barrel was long enough.

            If I get brave and take a chance on my chrony I will check out the velocity.

      • Oh forgot, my 1077 has worked flawlessly. I have never had it apart. The WildFire and the 1077 are fun to shoot but will never be worth putting much effort into from a Mods standpoint they just don’t have the accuracy.

          • Well I did replace the barrel in my WildFire with one from a 1077. I polished the crown and the lead on the 1077 barrel. It cut my group size to less than half what they were with the original barrel.

            If you wanted you could build some brass bushings and machine a Lothar Walther barrel to gain some accuracy but it still would not be that accuarate because of the way the action is connected to the barrel and the barrel housing/tube. Based on the design I think they are lucky to be as accurate as they are.

              • GF1,

                I think mine would be more like 2 inches at 25 yards. But that is much better than it was out of the box. My 1077 will do around 1.5 inches at 25 yards if I remember correctly.

                The WildFire is still holding air so tomorrow I will put a scope on it and see what happens. I will also check it out at 25 yards. I think 20 yards is as far as I have shot it at paper.

                • Benji-Don
                  And that’s with my Tasco red dot.

                  No scope.

                  I actually find myself shooting good with my red dot. Not only when I have it on the WildFire for this kind of shooting.

                  I had it on my Tx, Discovery’s, .22 rimfires and more.

                  We’re talking different types of guns here and good results.

                  I’m thinking it boils down to how good someone knows what that their shooting and how good they are.

                  • GF1,
                    I had a dot sight on the WildFire before. I will eventually put it back on. With a scope and a bench rest I can be sure its the gun and not me making the shot group.

                    I like the dot sight and also had good luck with it. With my astigmatism I see two dots, it is more pronounced with a red dot. The left dot is slightly brighter so I use that one.

                    • Benji-Don
                      I have astigmatism also. But for some reason it’s not bad anymore. I actually have apretty sharp dot now. And that’s with both eyes open.

                      I’m actually even having pretty good luck seeing with open sights now too.

                      They say the shape of the eye changes as you get older.

  24. BB, I have been a reader of your blog since 5 years ago. I consider myself fortunate, as it gives me the oportunity to interact with the world’s greatest expert in airguns. It’s a sincere statement. Today’s blog is enlightening. The concept of the best air gun has changed in my head as my age increases.

    But, I’d ask the archery shop guy for the best bow. He will be able to make the analogy.
    Bows, btw, are not cheap…

  25. You made me chuckle BB
    For me personally, a Crosman 22xx fits the bill. Notice I didn’t get too descriptive?
    I’ve a 2240 pistol thats great on co2
    I’ve a custom 3560 thats powerful on hpa.
    I’ve many other variations in between that fit many different uses.
    I agree asking the feller what the “best” bow would be for the same scenario. Ask him and report back?, If he can give a short enough answer
    Wish I could chew your ear next weekend in Findlay, you will be missed Sir. Take care.

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