How airguns are made

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • The order-takers
  • Little Joe
  • Kartoffelwaffen
  • A gun of their own
  • Home grown
  • What about a great idea?
  • Huh?

Today I will address a question that has come up several times in recent times. How are airguns made? For a number of different reasons, I have been exposed to a lot of this over the past 25 years and today I would like to share it with you.

There are a number of different ways guns get made, so let’s give each of them a name to keep them separate. These are names I am dreaming up as I write. No one in the industry refers to them this way and most people don’t even think about it.

The order-takers

The order-takers approach other companies with catalogs of things they are able to make. Most of these things are already being made, but each year they will add a few new things to their catalog.

They visit all the trade shows like the SHOT Show, IWA and others (yes, there are other trade shows in this industry). These days the order-takers are mainly Chinese companies. Some that are smaller or less clued-in will try to sell via the internet, though direct emails. They don’t have the money to travel and they don’t understand the market, plus they usually haven’t done their due diligence to learn. Now, let’s look at the companies that buy their airguns this way.

Little Joe

Little Joe has a 10 foot by 10 foot booth at the SHOT Show. It cost him $4,500, when everything was said and done. He thought that was quite expensive, but the SHOT Show actually cut him a deal just to help him get started. Add money for travel, hotel and meals and Joe will spend another $1,500 per person in his booth. The wife and a buddy are his cheapest help, so that’s how Joe rolls.

Chinese Company number 16 approaches Joe at the show and asks if he would like to have airguns of his own to sell. He currently sells guns he buys from wholesale suppliers like Air Venturi, and he is fascinated by the thought of selling his own branded airgun.

He looks in their catalog and selects something that resembles a lot of other breakbarrel springers, but the salesman tells him the factory can give him a wide range of choices for finishes, stocks, barrel lengths and sights. They will laser Joe’s company artwork on the spring tube, along with whatever model name he choses. Joe paws through the options and puts together a gun he thinks will sell. They are almost done.

The rifle Joe wants to sell will cost him $119, delivered, if he agrees to buy 100 pieces. They will be shipped at two different times in the coming year, four months apart. Each shipment will require his wire transfer of money prior to the start of production.

Joe wants a better price, because he figures this gun should retail for $189. It just looks like that to him. He has studied the airgun market for the past several years and is fairly familiar with what things cost.

He knows he will be holding the guns until they sell, plus there are other costs involved — things like advertising and so on. He knows some things, but he is missing the big picture, because he isn’t going to make enough money to break even on this transaction., But this is his first time and he doesn’t know that yet. To sell for $189 Joe needs to get these rifles in his store for about $89, if he wants to make a profit. He is overlooking returns, the cost for spares and repairs, and, if the guns don’t sell (which they won’t, and I will explain why in a moment), he will have to discount them deeply.

The salesman tells him he can cut the delivered cost as low as $103 per rifle, if Joe agrees to buy 600 pieces in the coming year. That will require a credit check that Joe will have to supply before anything can happen.

This is a tough decision for Joe. He’s looking at a minimum expense of $11,900.00 that will be broken into two equal payments over the coming year — just to put his name on an airgun.

Let’s page forward and see what happens if he does decide to “produce” the airgun. The first 20 go out from his store pretty quickly and then someone gets on a chat form with something that looks like this: “I just received my Little Joe War Hammer today. It’s a .22 because that’s all they are selling at this time. It looks pretty nice but I can’t get over how much it resembles the Frauhoken 900 that Kartoffelwaffen sells for $30 less.”

In minutes there is a response. “Yeah, it’s a Frauhoken for sure! I saw a War Hammer at my gun dealer’s and I didn’t think it was finished as well as the Frauhoken. Besides — $30 can buy you a lot of pellets! Ha, ha!”

With that remark and several like it, Little Joe’s sales will dry up to a trickle, and he’s still looking at paying for shipment number two! That is a $12,000 life lesson in the School of Hard Knocks.

Kartoffelwaffen

The same salesman paid a visit to Kartoffelwaffen at the same show. Kartoffelwaffen has a 100 foot by 100 foot booth that cost the company $300,000. They also brought along 21 employees at a tremendous cost. But they have money to burn, because the FBI just signed a $45 million contract for their new 9mm StealthBlaster hideout pistol, plus they are still working on a 7-year Army support contract that pays them $150 million each year.

Kurt Koenig is their principal buyer. He was hired away from Thimble Archery last year, and he’s still learning the American gun trade, but he understands that in the U.S. airguns are only for kids, so what’s to know? He signed a deal with the salesman for 2,000 of the same air rifle that his advisory team decided should be called the Frauhoken 900. He was advised to get a high polish on the gun that cost $2 more per gun, because the Frauhoken name has a long history for quality arms. His delivered price is $87 per gun because of the quantity he purchased. He has the option of ordering more than 2,000 pieces and the price for those will drop to $81 — as low as it can go.

Kurt lives with his family in Virginia, but he is originally from Bermerhaven, Germany, and he loves to golf. He’s not a shooter, per se, but he did serve in the Bundeswehr, where he was exposed to firearms. I tell you that because:

He isn’t spending his own money.
He has a lot more money to spend.
Nothing bad will happen to him if this rifle fails to sell well.

A gun of their own

Westchester Firearms wants to go about it differently. They want an airgun of their own that will not resemble any other airgun. They approach a Turkish manufacturer that’s known for airguns and the two parties conduct several meetings over the course of two years. During these meetings, the design of a new airgun comes together.

The design is driven by several factors:

Westchester’s desires
The Turkish manufacturer’s capabilities
Market trends
Cost

Westchester wants a quality precharged rifle that will sell near the lower end of the market. When the project started in 2016, that was around $500, but the price point PCPs and economy PCPs have changed the market in 2018. Without changing a thing on their rifle they are now looking at selling a mid-priced rifle that’s positioned at the lower end of the midrange price scale.

The Turks can give them most of what they want because Westchester is willing to buy 3000 pieces a year for the next 4 years. Westchester wants to build an airgun group within their company, because they see the airgun market expanding in the coming years. So, they are committed to this project that will be the beginning of their airgun group.

The Turkish manufacturer they are dealing with is known for making accurate barrels, supplying attractive figured wood stocks and for finishing the metal very well.

The issues they are still discussing are the trigger, the power, the shot count and the price. The Turks want to use their own trigger that they make for all of their own branded airguns. It’s adjustable and they feel it does everything shooters want. Westchester disagrees and has asked for a trigger with a lot of features not found in the Turkish factory trigger. It would be a completely new trigger design that the Turks have told them will be as difficult to develop as the entire rest of the airgun.

Westchester wants a rifle that develops 18 foot-pounds in .177 and 26 foot-pounds in .22. If they go to .25 caliber the estimate is it will produce 33 foot-pounds. The Westchester team is led by a project manager who is a serious airgunner.

The Turks have a valve that produces 24 foot-pounds in .177, 33 foot-pounds in .22 and 45 foot-pounds in .25. They want to use this valve, though they agree that it can be changed relatively easily. But producing a new valve will mean they have to manage more parts in production plus implement more and different quality control measures — things they are trying to avoid.

The shot count will be tied to whatever power is selected, so it’s up in the air at present.

If Westchester makes a mistake on this rifle the company is in no danger, but the project manager will be terminated. This project is considered a high priority one by the company because they want to break into the airgun market.

Home grown

The final scenario we will examine is the one most people think is done by all companies — building it yourself. Windgate Industries has been making airguns for 50 years and they make them all in their plant. They do source some parts from outside the company, but only the ones they can’t make in-house.

Unlike all the previous scenarios, Windgate builds airguns according to a corporate model. That model is stated in their mission statement.

Affordable airguns combining an ideal blend of accuracy, power and style.

They define each term:

Affordable means priced within the current market range for guns with similar features and abilities.

Accuracy means the reliable ability to hit a likely airgun target.

Power means the airgun is able to perform like an airgun should without trying to be something it isn’t — i.e. a rimfire.

Style means adhering to a conservative traditional style without including faddish trends.

When Windgate decides to build a new airgun they have studied the market, as well as trends that seem to be developing. They seek a design that will appeal to 80 percent of the serious buyers, plus one that will also attract the new buyer who comes from a background in firearms.

A Windgate development can take from one to three years, with the average taking 21 months. They have a development model that looks like this:

1. Build something that meets the performance requirement. This is the clean sheet of paper.
2. Refine the design to make it easy to manufacture.
3. While doing number 2, try to use as many parts as can be used from designs already being produced. Don’t use a clean sheet of paper at this point unless you have to.
4. Build several prototypes for testing. Test for performance and for failure.
5. Enter production before locking down the final design. Allow a year of production during which the design is finalized. Allow for this flexibility in the manufacturing process — no steps that cannot be easily reversed or changed.

6. Key production rates to sales and forecasts. Invest in tooling for the expected run of the product.

Windgate invests a lot of time and money in every new product they design. They have limited amounts of each resource, so each new product development is viewed as a “bet the company” project.

What about a great idea?

Where do great ideas from outside the company come into play? What happens when a guy with a great idea approaches these companies?

Little Joe will do nothing. He hasn’t got the resources and he knows it.

Kartoffelwaffen won’t be interested. They make firearms — not airguns. Despite having their name on some airguns there is nobody in the company who knows airguns, plus they don’t manufacture them and aren’t interested in learning how.

Westchester will not be interested in a great new idea. They are several years behind the market and won’t be able to see the greatness in an idea that’s not mainstream yet.

Windgate could be interested, but before they will discuss it they will want to know the answers to all the same questions they ask themselves when starting new projects. It may be a great idea but if it doesn’t fit their culture, they won’t be interested.

Huh?

Where is the place where somebody says, “Let’s get the gang together and we’ll make some airguns.” Sorry to disappoint, but that place just doesn’t exist. I know a lot of folks believe that if they have a great idea, someone in the business who is able to implement it will be so glad to hear it. But they overlook two truths. The first truth is what you have just read in this report. This is how the industry works.

There are variations and permutations on everything. Sometimes there are personnel factors that are just as influential as anything. One company may have a rainmaker around whom their entire company revolves. Another company may have a poison pill in a position of influence who can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory every time.

The second truth is the people inside the companies also have brilliant ideas — just like yours. They may have already thought of the same thing you have, or something even better. They may be looking for ways to implement those ideas right now, or they may know why those ideas won’t work for their company.

The airgun business is not just about airguns. It’s also about business.

85 thoughts on “How airguns are made

  1. B.B.,

    I have always wanted to get into manufacturing after retiring. Today Kate said to me you love air guns why don’t you start making air guns. Your timing was perfect I was trying to explain some of what you explained so well. Now all I need to do is have her read this report.

    The only way for the small guy is mods and aftermarket parts. Or like Codeuce’s spinner targets. I hope he does well. He has a simple quality product that works.

    Don



      • RR,

        I do not have the skills of Dennis.

        My plan now is to build a computer model for multi pumps that let you pick bore, stroke, valve setup, and linkage, to give the fps vs number of pumps and pump force. It will be free. If any one wants to join in let me know.

        Don



          • Half,

            Thanks for the offer, Right now it is a jumble of spread sheets. I still need to set up the equations for the linkage that calculates the pump force to the force on the piston.

            I will also need some data to develop a relationship between the valve volume, pressure, and pellet velocity. I do not plan on developing a model for that part. It is very complicated.

            I am more interested in the relationship between the pump and the valve volume.

            Send me an email at don_kate at Comcast.net. replace the ( at ) with @.

            Don


    • Don,

      Being a designer by trade I can’t look at an item without thinking about ways to improve it. Now that I am retired, I am thinking about setting up a “cottage industry” for several items to sell on the local electronic bulletin boards. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to generate a bit of cash for extra things (like more rifles 🙂 ).

      I have a couple of airgun related projects that I have been thinking about. I bought the lathe/mill to see if I can turn my ideas into functional parts. If I do come up with a “better mouse trap” I may approach companies to see if they are interested but these projects are primarily to satisfy my own curiosity and keep me out of mischief.

      I would like to make myself a large caliber PCP rifle, already have a bunch of sketches of the components. Fun stuff!

      Have a great day!

      Hank




        • Gunfun,
          that is pretty cool. But I wonder, what is the speed of the hammer? Could we mod the valve to have a quicker kill? And oh, cold weather…hmm maybe convert to to HPA carts? 😉

          Doc


          • Doc
            I was thinking that it should have a two stage adjustable trigger. You know a nice one like the FWB 300 has.

            After all this isn’t no budget mouse trap. It’s more top of the line.

            What were they thinking anyway when they designed it. 😉



          • Halfstep
            You know I think that even though one of those price point pcp’s that have emerged that cost a little more would be a better mouse trap than the A24.

            Not only does a air gun eliminate pests but you can use it multiple ways like target shooting or plain ole plinkinking fun. Heck you can even do lawn work with a air gun eliminating dandelions. 😉

            Hmm so much for the A24 after someone reads this reply. And it might even had a chance. And we only thought it happens in the air gun world.


        • GF1,

          Darn, knew that I should have patented my traps 🙂

          The building for one of my summer jobs was in the middle of a bushy field and we had problems with mice rats and pigeons. The smart rats and pigeons learned quickly to stay out of pelletgun range so I made up a couple of traps.

          A Co2 BB pistol (with battery, light/photo-cell and solenoid) was mounted to the I-beam where the pigeons accessed the garage to greet them… the survivors found somewhere else to roust.

          A 3″ PVC tube lined with some 1/4″ hardware cloth was mounted to the wall at a steep angle, baited and hooked up to the 220V mains (self resetting fuse) was made for the rats. A pail was provided for the rats to fall into. Worked great until we ran out of rats – there was no sign of them anywhere after a couple of days of operation.

          A 5 gallon pail with a couple of inches of dishsoap/water, a ramp and a wire (a couple of inches down from the rim of the bucket) that supported a free-turning pop can smeared with peanut butter for a diving board worked well. The mouse-pail harvested the most vermin with 15-20 being a typical nights’ catch.

          The owner was so pleased with the results he gave me the money he would have paid to hire an exterminator and bought me a new BB pistol to replace the old one I had setup for the pigeons.

          Should have patented them – would be rich now LOL!

          Hank



          • Hank,

            I have used the 5 gallon bucket and peanut butter mouse trap for a couple of years in my garage. Best mouse trap I’ve ever used. The best thing is you know exactly where they end up. No poison and no mess. It never freezes in my garage but antifreeze can be used with the water if needed.

            In the summer I have to remove the water because my wife would not be happy if I got one of the chippies. I have caught a couple with water in the bucket, I just never told my wife about it. If there’s no water the chippies can jump out. They just eat all of the peanut butter though.




  2. BB
    I guess most readers here had some vague idea of what goes on with airgun companies but having it all spelled out like that is a real eye opener. I wonder just how much of a part airgun blogs play in decision making. They really seem to be paying attention.
    I wanted high powered (PCP) semi auto black rifles that resemble military arms like the Armada and we sure got a handful of them. Not to mention well made and reasonable powered replica handguns and rifles. But I think this rebranding is getting a little out of hand. I have been ‘tricked’ into getting the same pistol twice. Good side, parts availability and diversity.

    Looking forward to Airsoft conversions to traditional Airguns. Especially with custom built models like the 1911 ‘race guns’ I have. Just changing a few parts creates an entirely different looking gun.

    Just ordered a 22 American Tactical Nova Freedom PCP Rifle but can’t decide which category the company fits in?
    Bob M


    • Not sure, but I know they aren’t the last category 🙂
      That gun is one of those shopped around and whatever label you want can be stuck on it for the right price.
      Nothing wrong with that, happens in every industry.


      • Steven
        I hear that but it could also be “A gun of their own” At least for now, they claim to be the only one selling it.
        If I remember right this airgun has been a long time in development not to mention obscurity. Steven Archer has covered it well in Hard Air Mag and helped in my decision to buy along with curiosity.

        And yes they also offer a rebranded Valken Infiltrator springer the AT-97 Elite. It’s a heavy powerful, and some what chunky, springer that handles recoil very well. A real shop around item for sure.

        Bob M



      • Halfstep
        I seriously doubt I can add anything to the information Stephen Archer has already documented in his two articles on the Nova Freedom Multi Pump PCP in Hard Air Magazine. Nothing slipped by him at all.

        On April 11 he did a complete test / review of a .22 and on April 19 he totally covered power tuning it.
        On top of that there are a few U tube videos’ on the rifle.

        It’s due in next Wed and I’ll be glad to offer my impression of it and try to answer any questions I can. May have some comparisons to the FX Indy.
        Bob M


        • Bob M,

          I and, I think, most others here are always looking for confirmation from users of the guns that we read reviews about. Many perspectives are almost always better than a single one. I welcome your 2 cents if you’re willing to share it.

          Half


          • Half
            I understand. This Nova Freedom may really turn out to be an outstanding deal. I’ve seen more u tube videos and learned more. Nova Vista in China is a relatively new company, a few years old and hooked up with American Tactical in the US to distribute their flagship product. Kinda like FX with AofA. Remains to be seen if others get ahold of it.

            The person who designed and patented many parts of it was actually on hand to present it at a shot show last year. Looks like a serious airgun endeavor and the people at American Tactical seem delighted to enter the airgun market with them. Regular gun guys.

            They obviously had to compromise on it to keep the price down so low when compared to the FX Indy. One guy said the trigger may be better than the Marauder and dime size groups at 25 yards can be had. High power may need a lot of pumping for consistency but low to medium seems reasonable.
            A lot of people seem surprised that it even exists. I’ll be glad to share my casual observations and try to confirm what others have shown but I’m not much of a dedicated target shooter. Pest control, plinking, collecting and transforming keep me happy.
            Bob M


        • Bob M.,

          I too am interested in your review. I have read the HAM articles in the past and again just now. What is not to like? And you are right,.. their testing is quite extensive and well documented. Gold HAM award too.

          I can see the fps spread/curve between pumping’s is very nice. I thought that it was regulated, but I guess not. They obviously worked to get the valve right.

          If I did not already have what I have, this might be a good first choice. Hopefully they will offer parts in the U.S. and a service center in the U.S.. It appears that American Tactical is sitting in the cat bird seat at this point. I do not see anything wrong with them being the exclusive supplier, as long as they can meet demand via factory inventory.

          I hope that it is everything that you expect it to be and looking forwards to hearing more from you.

          Chris


          • Chris, Half
            Just watched some videos on u tube from a guy at Nebraska Airgun Co and more and the Nova Freedom is looking better and better. You can regulate this rifle by controlling the air pressure with the hand pump for total control each shot or continue a string within a pressure range.

            I e mailed American Tactical with concerns of product support and Murphy Whitehouse, Compliance Administrator, replied they had parts on hand from scavenged Nova’s’ for now but expect to carry more in the future. It has a 1yr full coverage warrantee and he assured me that they would do everything they could to resolve any problems I may encounter.


            • Bob M.,

              Excellent. Nothing like the inside scoop. I was impressed that HAM said that the manual was very clear. That is a good sign. There is lots of room for a Chinese maker to make mid/top end stuff at a good price point. Maybe this is it? From what I gather, they seem to take pride in what they are offering. Keep us posted.


      • Half
        Forgot to mention in my reply that there is a red highlighted link to an article on the prototype Nova shown at a 2017 gun show. It’s in his test review article in Hard Air.
        Bob M


  3. Hi BB – off topic again!
    Well, I set the Daisy Winchester M14 aside for a couple of days on the weekend and yesterday afternoon, 3 days later found that I had left it leaning on the wall where it got full sun for most of the afternoons. It was very hot to the touch when I checked it on Tuesday. I think the heat was a good thing as it does not creak and groan so much anymore. Must have allowed the plastic to revert to its original shape with the heat. It’s just amazing how the bipod stressed everything mounted on the fake gas tube that way.
    I let the gun to cool down for 24 hours and this evening started shooting it off sandbags. The POI had changed to about 3″ low ar 15 yards. After zeroing again I put 300 shots through the gun with the gun finally showing 1000psi on the tank gauge. It was still shooting strong and showed no sign of pressure drop. I doubt I would ever shoot the gun that many times in a session without refilling so I stopped. I decided to refill the tank and noticed a big discrepancy between the AV tank gauge and the Ninja bulk tank gauge which showed the pressure remaining was around 1600psi. I trust the Ninja tank gauge so it seems the AV gauge is off quite a bit on the low end. This would seem to indicate 400+ shots from one tank fill.
    Previously I had found the most accurate pellet to be the El Cheapo 8.0 grain Daisy wadcutters that come in the the plastic belt box. Theyr’e shooting a touch better now at about .720″ at 15 yards. The final 100 shots including fliers went into a group no bigger than about an inch which is still smaller than the groups from any of the other pellets I tested with this gun. I think this is not bad because after the 30th shot the ¾” bullseye had, well, just disappeared and what I was aiming at was only by guess or by golly!
    I chronied the 8.0gn Daisy wadcutters at an average of 503fps, 493fps low to 510fps high over 8 shots. These are a touch heavier mid range pellet. A light alloy pellet at 5 or so grains may go a lot faster but so far I haven’t found any lightweights with the accuracy of the Daisy.
    As I said before this gun will be a good plinker offhand with the ability to shoot half decent paper up close at 10 meters. (Extrapolate .720″@15yds = .528″@10m).
    At 500fps it just sips HPA. With it’s high shot count and lower MV the gun is very suitable for my indoor range.
    I had thought of removing the stock and mounting a sling swivel forward of the existing sling point but I’ve found that part of the stock twists easily with a firm grip so no bipod. Not a big deal as the only places I would use a bipod are on my shooting benches where sandbags are handy.
    I may have to make a set of shooting sticks for field work. They wouldn’t stress the gun in any way and can be customized for my use.
    I also have a sling on the gun. It’s one of those supposedly “quick adjustable shotgun slings” that never seem to work. It ended up on this gun, well, just because. Useing the military steady hold I could make the POI move back and forth about 1″ in windage just by stressing the sling. OK, I quess, for shooting in the wind but definately not normal. This gun is too lightly built for anything other than something resembling an artillary hold with a flat fore hand or resting on sandbags.
    Next will be longer ranges. Looking forward to shooting the gun on my 50 yard outdoor range.
    I’m pretty busy getting all the outdoor spring cleaning and equipment maintenance done so it may be a few days before I can get any real shooting in.
    Cheers
    Dave



      • Hi BB
        I have several airguns and firearms that are bipod mounted. I might have to devise a way to check for aiming errors when shooting off bipods.
        Thinking about it further I have found that if the shooting ground is not level we subconciously try to align the cross hairs level and plumb by rotating the stock in the appropriate direction to align with something in the sight picture. Whether or not that something is plumb or level doesn’t matter as long as we percieve it to be in our minds eye. Our minds eye would even override a scope or rail mounted bubble level given enough optical input. In doing so torque is applied to the gun, the stock and to the tripod and head. Cumulatively all this torque may be enough to change the relationship between the scope and the gun. If that torque amounted to ⅛” difference from the original POI at 10 meters that would be 1.136″@ 100 yards, almost a foot at 1000 yards and the military sniper shooting a mile out would have an error of exactly 20″ to contend with. Mathematically speaking!
        I didn’t measure how much the bipod threw off the POI on the Daisy M14 but I bet it was way more than ⅛”. I may have to retest some of the other pellets again.
        It’s an interesting subject
        Cheers
        Dave


        • Dave
          Thanks for bringing that up about how much your shot can be off by as distance increases. Repeatability for hold is something for sure that needs payed attention to especially when distance increases. And I agree what you said about in the eyes mind of naturally wanting to get the retical level.


  4. B.B.,

    The good news that I can see is that the Chinese are now under some pressure to raise their level of quality to keep their factories open due to competition from the Turkish and East European airgun makers. There are a lot more order taker’s coming out in the world that can manufacture whatever is desired for a price. I just wish these companies selling their rifles would truly listen to their customers, as you said before, “To sell John Brown what John Brown buys, you have to see the world through John Brown’s eyes.”

    Siraniko

    PS: Section Home grown, Last paragraph, Last sentence: They have limited amounts of each resource, so each new product development is viewed aa (as) a “bet the company” project.


  5. B.B.,

    Excellent article. Time is short, as usual in the AM,.. but I am thinking of a specialty maker? that has done well and was recently picked up by Air Force? and will be bringing the manufacturing in their own house to increase production efficiency. There is a case of a well developed product, where all the work was already done and proven.

    New products like the Dust Devil bb’s or a new target system. Products developed and picked up by a major company.

    Not the same, but that is what comes to mind. (Perhaps?) you have done an article already, but one that explains the in’s and out’s of that (small guy/idea/develop/market/sell off to a bigger maker) type thing? Your article explains how we are fed a product. How do we feed a product to the market?

    Thank you for another peek behind the curtain,… Chris


  6. BB,

    This harkens back to my conversation with John McCaslin at the Roanoke Airgun Show. My being in manufacturing helped for us to have a very interesting conversation concerning ideas to R&D to prototype to mass production of air rifles.


  7. B.B.,

    Kartoffelwaffen! I’m still chuckling! Laughter is a great way to start the day.

    My two cents is that the small guys like Little Joe and Home grown not only should know air guns and air gunners, they should also read a book and/or take a local community college class on small business development. Then they should write a business plan. Starting a business without even a simple business plan is just as reckless as starting a business in an area (such as air guns) you don’t really understand.

    Another problem is having a “get rich quick” mindset. One should have a “get rich slowly” philosophy.

    An excellent report,

    Michael


  8. B.B.

    What a great article. The names you picked are wonderful.
    Where does this leave people like, Dennis Quackenbush, Ben Taylor, or that Sterling fellow?

    -Yogi



    • Hey Bob,

      If you have ever tried a Kartoffelwaffen you will find them to be quite powerful. I can blast a spud about 100 yards out of mine 🙂

      Have my own secret fuel mixture and am making a jig to rifle the barrel to improve the accuracy – all kinds of entertainment out of a couple of ABS pipe fittings.

      You know the saying “growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional” … my wife says that I am in my second childhood – I disagree, still in my first and clinging to it desperately 🙂

      Cheers,

      Hank



    • Bob, forgive me if we have met (I get worse at remembering daily). Jerry Pennington is the senior pastor for Klein United Methodist Church located at 5920 Farm to Market 2920, Spring, TX 77388. Jerry is also an airgun fanatic/aficionado. Some time ago he sent out an invitation to join him the second Saturday of each month (barring official duties like weddings or funerals). This Saturday 5/10/18 we will meet at 07:30. Here is the text from the message he sent out today.

      This Saturday – the 12th, we will be gathering behind the church. Where we gather depends on weather. So, we will be either in the field (no threat of rain) or behind the church at the school entrance to the building (if there is threat of rain). We are always there if it is a Second Saturday, but some of you have not found us. We are there – one place or the other.
      Be sure to bring shooting sticks and something to sit on.

      ~ken


      • Ken;
        I do have one question: AM or PM? I ask because I am a morning person and get up at 4:30AM to go to work at the ripe old age of 74. While I sign off “Houston”, we actually live waaaaaaay south in Pearland. I do hope to join my BIL (brother-in-law) Tom for the airgun show in June. If my schedule permits, I would like to bring my Hakim to your airgun event one Saturday.

        Bob in Pearland


        • B-I-L,

          That is 7:30 AM. You are welcome to bring your Hakim. Most of the time this is a very casual get together. If Jerry wants to have a competition, it is usually hunter field target so only piston air rifles are allowed for that. Otherwise, the “competition” is casual.

          Ah, yes. The airgun show. That should be a great time for all.

          ~ken


  9. “The airgun business is not just about airguns. It’s also about business.”

    Well said, B.B.! You very succinctly covered a ton of ground here;
    I think this is one of the best things you’ve ever written!


  10. This is very fascinating stuff. Airgun business is in a growth spurt in the last 5 years. I wonder where the market will go (probably tactic, blackish things). My father didn’t even know about Turkish makers…
    Thank you for this report. The companies’s names are stunning 🙂

    Greetings from the land of tequila and wide eyed women



  11. BB,

    Thank you for the laughter this morning and a very informative post!

    Kartofflewaffen building the Frauhoken (sitting old krones?) 900 was almost too much. SIG came to my mind’s eye with some Swäbishe Tüftler bent over their benches helping Kurt (von Bremerhaven) with his Projekt.

    Although you claim Divine Inspiration BB, I think I can read some School of Hard Knocks lessons in a few of your Revelations about the airgun industry.

    Definitely an X ring blog today!

    shootski


  12. B.B.,
    Loved today’s blog. It’s an eye opener for me. Not only was it entertaining, but very informative too! After reading, it all made sense now.

    Thanks,
    Doc


  13. BB

    Great, great read today!

    While reading about Windgate Industries I couldn’t help thinking of Crosman, absent the betting the company on each new product part maybe. Would they be an example of the type?

    Half


  14. BB,

    Any chance that you would be willing to put a few real world names to each of the fictional ones or would it be risking alienation for you if one of them felt mischaractorized by you?

    Half


  15. Great article BB
    Now you know why I assemble custom airguns from parts made by those in the worldwide cottage industry of aftermarket bits.
    Manufactures need to look closer at what can make existing airguns better, the market for customizable airguns is HUGE. Crosman has a good thing going with their CustomShop, and I forsee it having even more “options” in the future, at least I hope so.


  16. B.B.,

    You explain the situation well. Great ideas are all about that 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, which includes all of the variables you mentioned and possibly more.

    While I’m here I will mention that I recently attended another men’s TOP SHOT gathering. There is only one segment I want to mention. Last year when I shot the AR-15 I could see nothing but shades of amber through the Sightmark Sure Shot reflex sight. I still don’t know why, perhaps the amber protective glasses I was wearing, but I don’t know. I determined that, if I had another opportunity, I would wear clear glasses and take my time to figure out what I was doing. Things worked out. There were two metal targets; one square and a small round one. The targets looked smaller through the sight than with the naked eye, but I was able to focus in on them. I lined the dot over the front sight. The fellow who owns the rifle said I was hitting in the same spot with each shot, based on the paint mark. I don’t know exactly where I was hitting, but I was grouping on the square target. The small circle was worth more points. I hit it with my one practice shot but wasted three shots pursuing the higher point count. Even so, I was elated this time around. This was with the same rifle and scope as last year. I had not shot any firearm in the mean time.

    Lastly, I have discovered that my .177 Crosman likes JSB Exact RS pellets. They are on the light side but who am I to complain?

    ~ken



      • B.B.,

        Back in the saddle. Although I haven’t had much to say, I have kept up with your blogs and your readers’ comments. You do have some of the best readers; intelligent, cogent comments and questions. I look elsewhere for the whine and cheese department (but not often).

        I exchanged stocks between my Titan GP and the F4. I wanted the grip and the added weight. I will be shooting from a rest or bipod so the weight shouldn’t be a problem (and may help).

        ~ken


    • ~ken,
      I may be reading your statement incorrectly:

      “…I lined the dot over the front sight.” Unless I’m missing something the retical dot or circle need not be aligned with the front sight. There are setups where the iron sights are co-witnessed with the optical but that is usually just to avoid the need to sight in again if the optical fails. But that isn’t required with a reflex sight.
      You may find your target results much improved if you just worry bout putting the dot on the target and ignoring the iron front sight.

      If I’m not understanding you, please forgive my intrusion, if what I have written makes sense to you then great!

      shootski


      • Shootski,

        You understood correctly. I do want to tell you of my thinking. The rifle is not mine and I have next to no experience with the dot sight. Therefore, I took a very basic approach, trying to just be consistent. I look forward to doing some experimentation with a dot sight, both reflex and holographic. I have a lot to learn.

        I do thank you for offering me some pointers. Does it make any difference if the rifle and sight were zeroed for a different person or does one size fit all.

        ~ken


        • ~Ken,
          Not with a reflex/red dot –USUALLY–, the eyebox is large enough that even with different eye dominance shooters the rifle will normally work for both shooters. Some claim that they are paralax free but nothing with lenses is ever truly free of paralax; we just can’t perceive it.

          shootski


          • Shootski,

            Thanks. The only way I will learn all of this is by doing. I do notice that the Sure Shot is considerably less expensive that some holographic sights on the market. As for parallax I have read some specs that say parallax free after 30 yards. Anyway, you have convinced me to look into getting more experience with them.

            ~ken


  17. Mr. Gaylord
    Very interesting report. But it seems to leave at least three open questions. In part 2, could you address these additional questions?

    First, what considerations do any of your companies give to what shooters want? For example, the design considerations focus almost exclusively on the rifle. Or to put it slightly differently, do the makers consider if the market shooter will be juniors shooting 3P at 10 meter, vs backyard plinkers vs field target shooters v silhouette shooters vs hunters.

    Second, how, if at all, and when does research and development on new or improved rifles play into the business plans of these manufactures?

    Third, how, if at all, does product liability factor into the business plans of these manufactures? Liability law is NOT my area of expertise but because airguns are not firearms, it seems to me that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) would not be a shield to any of these manufacturers. The PLCAA defines QUALIFIED PRODUCT.—The term ‘‘qualified product’’ means a firearm (as defined in subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 921(a)(3) of title 18, United States Code), including any antique firearm (as defined in section 921(a)(16) of such title), or ammunition (as defined in section 921(a)(17)(A) of
    such title), or a component part of a firearm or ammunition, that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.
    Moreover, under the PLCAA, both manufacturers and dealers can still be held liable for damages resulting from defective products and breach of contract.

    Respectfully submitted,
    William Schooley
    Rifle Coach
    Venture Crew 357
    Chelsea, MI


    • William,

      Wow. I will say this — you don’t ask simple questions.

      I’m not sure I know how to blend these questions into the next blog. They seem stand-alone questions. But I am going to give this some thought and maybe I will see a way.

      B.B.


  18. To leade with ever changing market trends, the product development cycle needs to be more like 6 months
    or less, even three.The buying public is moody, and trends vaporize. However, I think Crosmans custom shop gets the airgunner something affordable that appeals to that catagory of product as object of desire. Not the same thing as a Rolex, or a hand made set of Purdy doubles.Still, I made the Crosman carbine I wanted from parts sourced from the internet, and i had a learning curve, to put it nicely.That is a sale that Crosman only partially got! A well made airgun should last a lifetime or two, and doesnt have to cost dearly, but I agree with Mr. Schooley, the needs of the user are key to a sucessful product, liability concerns not with standing.
    I wish Dr. Demming could chime in! Very thoughtful article, sir. R


Leave a Reply