What good is the Blue Book?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Blue Book
The Blue Book of Airguns is a valuable reference for all airgunners

This report covers:

  • Hot news
  • What good is it?
  • Airgun shows
  • How much is a Benyamin worth?
  • The deal
  • No free pass
  • Cha-ching!
  • What it doesn’t have
  • Use common sense
  • No sales job
  • Summary

Hot news

Pyramyd Air is now offering Life Extended carbon fiber air tanks at far below the normal commercial rate for a new CF. tank. If you are already in precharged airguns, this might be of great interest. Now, let’s talk about today’s topic.

What good is it?

For some people the Blue Book of Airguns is of no use, whatsoever. These are people who don’t have books in their lives. If they own a book it’s being used as a doorstop or to level a piece of machinery in the garage. I’m not making fun of them. They simply do not have books in their lives, and nothing is going to change that.

Airgun shows

On the other hand, how many times have I been at an airgun show and somebody asks me if I have a Blue Book they can look at? It’s in the hundreds for sure, because it happens several times at every show. That’s why I always have a copy of the book at my table. Wouldn’t want to be at an airgun show without one. If someone is not asking me for the book, I’m the one who needs it.

How much is a Benyamin worth?

So, a guy walks up to me at the Roanoke Airgun Expo with a Benyamin pump gun he wants to show me. Not a Benjamin — a Benyamin! It certainly looked different than any Benjamin I had ever seen. I think you can agree with that,

Benyamin
Benyamin multi-pump was probably made in Southeast Asia.

Benyamin pad
Note the spelling of the name. The pad is held to the stock with nails!

Benyamin writing
The writing on the breech spelled Benjamin correctly.

I ended up buying the gun from him and then of course I wrote a report about it. My wife, Edith, researched the name and discovered that it might have been a poor French-to-English translation. A couple people thought it was made in Southeast Asia (read the whole report I linked to), where French was officially spoken until 1954, and of course it carried on for decades afterward. And I found it listed in the Blue Book.

Benyamin listing
As you can see, this Benyamin looks nothing like mine. They probably came home with soldiers returning from Viet Nam, or they were imported on a low level.

The deal

I bought the Benyamin, but I didn’t pay a lot for it. It wasn’t working when I bought it and I never got it repaired. A Southeast Asian airgun this crude is probably a writeoff anyway. It probably didn’t work that well when it was new. The Blue Book says it’s too rare to value. I take exception to that. It’s too unknown in this country to value, but one look at the quality of the build tells you it isn’t a valuable airguns and never will be. That’s the deal when using the Blue Book. It doesn’t release you from exercising common sense.

I held onto to the rifle, wrote about it and then sold it at another airgun show for about what I had in it. That’s what I do with most of the airguns that pass through my hands. I am interested in their story, but not always in them.

No free pass

Everybody wants something different. If you are looking for the one book that tells you everything about airguns, stop right now. That book doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist for Winchester rifles, Mopar cars or anything else, either.

The Blue Book has a lot of useful information, but I can think of a solid dozen airguns you can’t find in it. The book was started with the Beeman collection and has grown into a large format 840-page lexicon by the addition of guns that were discovered and added over the years. As I said in my comment to one reader last week, the late Dr. Ingvar Alm added a lot of detail about various airguns — mainly from his native Sweden. I tried to add the six (there are at least 6) Wamo cap-firing guns that launched BBs and .12 caliber shot, but the publisher decided if they included them they would also have to include the three .22 rimfires that Wamo made and sold. Since rimfires are firearms and cap-firing guns that launch projectiles are as well, they decided against including the brand.

Cha-ching!

One day about 12 years ago I was browsing in a local pawn shop to see what diamonds they might have. But this is a strange pawn shop. They cherry-pick their inventory and keep the really good stuff. That ticks me off, because they have a dividing line on the wall, and everything above the line is not for sale. Not only do they cherry-pick their stuff, they then put it on display to poke a finger in your eye every time you come in! That’s bad ju-ju!

But I go there because, who knows — one day they will trip up and I want to be there when it happens. In fact I want to be the one to make it happen. So, on this particular day I spot an airgun they have priced reasonably. It’s a Benjamin 347 and they have $85 on it. The walnut stock looks pretty good and I could tell it held air for at least a few seconds. I know it will sell for $75 at a show that’s coming up in a month, so I am going to buy it for that, price it at $90 and let $75 be my bottom line. Why? You think I’m not making any money if I sell it for the low price? Well, here’s the deal. I get to write about it while I own it and I don’t lose money. In my world, that’s called making a profit.

But then I spot a dusty taped-up box in the corner and I can see that it’s a Daisy 1894 BB gun. The box says this is a Texas Rangers commemorative and this one appears to be uncocked. The box is bad but the gun and the papers inside look brand new. They have it priced at $100.

I know that most 1894 Daisys are worth something, and a couple are worth quite a lot. I excuse myself from the store and drive home to consult the Blue Book. Turned out the Texas Rangers Daisy is the all-time Holy Grail of 1894s. It topped out at $550 new in the box. So I went back and bought it for $85, and the 747 for $75. At that next show I sold the Daisy for $500 cash and tried to laugh all the way home, but since where I was in Maryland is 17 hours from Texas, I had to stop from time to time.

Daisy Texas Ranger listing
The Texas Ranger has risen in value since I sold mine.

What it doesn’t have

While the Blue Book is great, there are things it doesn’t have. For many of them you need to search online. For example if you are trying to discover which model vintage BSA Meteor you have, the Blue Book stops short. It does tell you there are Marks 1 through 7, and it gives a few visual clues about the differences, but for positive ID you need to research the serial numbers. Online is the only place I know to do that.

Use common sense

Also, the prices in the Blue Book reflect the opinion (s) of one man or a couple of men. They aren’t based on recent sales, because, let’s face it, that kind of data is not kept. If anyone tried to keep it you would all start howling about communists in the bushes!

No sales job

I’m not trying to convince you to buy a Blue Book. You will or you won’t, and that’s your decision. I think a lot of you look at the price of the book and think how many pellets it would buy. I get that. I used to think that way, too. Then I started writing for a living and I found that owning a lot of good books made me look a lot smarter.

Summary

That’s it for this one. If there is more that you wanted you will have to tell me.

75 thoughts on “What good is the Blue Book?

  1. BB,

    I have a Blue Book that is several years old now. How often do you recommend replacing the Blue Book?

    I know with my foreign coin books I upgrade my paper books every four or five years. And I really prefer to have PDF manuals. I have the online subscriptions but I’ve been at shows with no cell reception and I can load the PDFs to my iPad or phone.

    Jim


  2. BB
    Noticed that the 1894 Texas Ranger is listed as Model 5694 ? What’s up there, is it the manufacturers model number? It’s obviously not the rifles model number. That could be very confusing.

    Any suggestions on the best place to list / sell one only using the PO. A gun show where I live would be a $50. event considering gas, parking, entry, and table fee. Perhaps a swap meet?



      • Bob,

        Revisions come at random times. As a contributor I never know until a few months beforehand that one is coming. We are overdue for another one. There is nothing between issues.

        Blue Book Publications publishes many books on cars, guitars, firearms and other things. They do a lot with a very small staff.

        B.B.


    • Bob,

      There are quite a few really good airgun forums online that have classified sections. Gun Broker has a section for airguns.

      An airgun show is an event to attend. Unless you are in the business of buying, selling and trading airguns it can be quite difficult to make a profit at an airgun show. As BB can testify, many of the dealers actually do most of their business before the doors open to the public. As an example, at the last Roanoke Airgun Show Dennis Quackenbush showed up with two rifles for sale. They both sold within fifteen minutes of his walking in the back door. The show did not open to the public for another hour.

      For the public an airgun show is more like a traveling museum where you can purchase the items on display. Most of them really do not know what they are looking at. Others, such as myself try not to drool all over the merchandise.


    • Bob,

      Yes, that is the manufacturer’s number.

      When you have one gun to sell it’s a networking thing. The better connected you are, the better your chances of selling it – assuming it is desirable. A used Benjamin 392 is so common that there really is no good way to do it.

      B.B.


  3. B.B.,

    Well, that is fine start. I was surprised that it was not titled Part 1.

    Other gun Blue Books are more common and if anyone has seen one of those, (assuming they similar), then they already have a good idea of what is inside/format.

    Like I said the other day,.. it will give you a (much) deeper appreciation of the hobby.

    I forget who it was now (my sincere apologies) that said they would put together a guest blog on the Blue Book. Looking forwards to that. There is so much more to be told. (My AM time is very short, otherwise I would look it up from the weekend article)

    P.S.,….. (I was going to make a note of the future guest author’s name,.. but could not find my paper and pen at the time. I then tried to find my reminder post-it as to where I keep them and could not find that either. I would make a note now, but can not remember where I keep my post-it’s,… or pen.) 😉

    Good Day to you and to all,….. Chris


    • Chris
      I believe that was Michael. But it was a different subject. And I don’t remember what it was either right now. Maybe I’m wrong. I do remember him saying he couldn’t start it yet because of doctor appointments and such. I think he said he would start it a week later.


      • GF1,

        It was Michael and yes it was about doing a Blue Book guest blog and yes he is tied up for a couple of weeks. Plus, he had another topic in the works too.


  4. B.B.

    Correction on the second toast paragraph. ” I found that owning a lot of good books made me look a lot smarter.”

    Should be, “I found that owning a lot of good books made me a lot smarter”. Looks have nothing to do with it!

    -Y



  5. The Blue Book of Airguns is a must for anyone who is serious about airguns. It is filled with facts about air rifles and air pistols that many of us will only dream about seeing. No, it is not the end all but it is a very good start for your library. I have the Eleventh Edition and am very seriously considering the Twelfth.


  6. Ok here’s my thing on the blue book of air guns.

    First off I do like the idea behind the book. And even at one time had I think it was called the Bible of guns. I think Midway sponsored it or something like that. It’s been a long while since I had that and have no idea if I still have it.

    But I always got car magazines about hot rodding and read every page top to bottom. But the only time I ever bought a book was if I got a different muscle car. Then I would find magazines and whatever I could on that particular muscle car I had at the time and have for the next owner. That is if they wanted them.

    I think right now the reason the blue book of airguns doesn’t interest me is I don’t necessarily go out looking for old guns. Most every air gun I get is new or newer.

    So I think what I’m trying to say is if I had the book it would probably be used to find out some things if a person is talking about a particular gun.

    For me I guess it would be one of those books that would be nice to have around. But would not be used often. In my case if there was books that covered taking apart or modding different guns that went into great detail with how to and parts. That’s the book that would have pages ready to fall out and grease smudges on the pages and the cover and back about wore off from getting it in and out all the time to reference something.

    So that is some things about me with books. And now on another part. Nowdays I find that if I search deep enough on my phone or computer I can find the info I’m looking for. And like the blue book. Some info on the internet has all about a subject. And somethings you dig for and come up with very little info.

    So I guess after saying all that. It’s probably a case of I don’t know that I need the blue book of airguns. Not the case that I don’t want it or think it’s not good info.

    I will say it would be good to have to look through it and see what kind of airguns have came about.


  7. Ok with the much appreciated advice from commentor Two Talon we figured out the problem with my em-ge krone rifle. TT suggested the problem with my guns barrel lockup revolves around the spring loaded detent. Actually it was the “fixed” wedge that was the problem. After looking closely at the detents I noticed that they weren’t symmetrical but that one side of each wedge is a sharper angle and the other side more gradual, and that my fixed wedge was oriented upside down and not matching the spring loaded wedge creating a loose lock up. After spinning the fixed wedge so it mated properly with the spring loaded wedge the gun is shooting much better,while not as tight as my HW50 barrel lockup is greatly improved. Thank you Two Talon for your help!!
    Carl


  8. While it’s no tack driver this is the best group I’ve ever gotten from this gun. The one shot that’s higher had a louder report followed by a heavy odor of burnt oil.
    Carl


    • Coduece
      It looks like you got a wider horizontal spread than vertical right now.

      So your lock up is impoved like you saying I believe. But now the question is is the breech block loose when it’s cocked and open. Will the barrel stay in a certain place that you position it after you cock it. Or does it move freely? Looks to me like the side screws need tightened. That’s usually a big part of why a break barrel also gets wide groups.


  9. And I just got to say.

    I’m sitting down looking at the local Rural King ad. And what’s on the front page but the Bug-A-Salt 2.0.

    Just called my wife and told here to pick one up on the way home from work today. And yes she knows what it is. She wants to try it. She knows I use my 1377 but doesn’t like the loading and pumping. She’s all for the Bug-A-Salt.



      • BB
        I can’t wait to try it! As usual I love when I get a new gun to try. 🙂

        But yep the bugs have been invading the breezeway now that it’s warmer out. And then they get inside the house from the breezeway when everybody is running in and out. And then I get in trouble from my wife for letting that happen. So yes another gun my wife is ok with getting. 🙂


        • Well my wife stopped to get the Bug-A-Salt. No luck. She couldn’t find it and even asked several different workers in different departments.

          Guess I’ll have to swing by there on the way home from work in the morning and see what there talking about. We’ll see.


  10. Gf1
    My barrel pivot screw is pretty buggered up along with most of the other screws making it hard to tighten properly. Until I got the vertical stringing figured out I didn’t want to invest time in fixing the screw heads. Now that it’s showing improvement I can move on to fixing those screws. Died colfield wrote a great article on screw restoration I’m gonna use his tips and techniques to get these straightened out.
    And now I feel good about ordering some 4.52 pellets to try.
    Carl



  11. I consider the real problem with Blue Book to be the author’s insistence upon inaccuracy. For example, the Mahely R 01 is shown to be a single shot break barrel available only in .177 caliber. I own an R 01 in .22 caliber. It is a side lever cocking, round ball, repeater, as were all the other R 01s I inspected while buying my gun in Argentina.

    Twice, I sent correspondence to the editors explaining their error and attached a copy of the company’s catalog sheet showing the gun with clear description in Spanish and English. No change in the Blue Book.

    Thanks Tom, for explaining that the seemingly authoritative pricing estimates are just a guess.


    • Drago,

      Welcome to the blog.

      And thank you for your comment. I. too, have submitted changes that haven’t made it in. I think the problem is no one person has ownership of the book because everyone is doing so many things.

      B.B.


  12. B.B.,

    You beat me to it!

    Well, that’s O.K. I had only spent a little time so far, most of it going through the book (a LOT of fun anyway) and taking a handful of notes.

    Michael


  13. Thanks, B.B.!
    Your sections on “What is doesn’t have” and “Use common sense” also apply to the Blue Book of Firearms I bought…and pretty much every other Blue Book on…anything. Thanks again!


  14. Decksniper
    We was talking about my (OK) pointing finger and thumb hold with my off hand.

    Well here is some pictures with me holding my Maximus. And remember I have a pistol grip with the 1399 stock on it. Here it is. This is my revised hold.
    Then I’ll show some pictures of each hand with the holds of each. Then finally a short video of both hands on the gun. And yes it will work for a pistol. If you look at the pictures and video you would think it’s a pistol I’m resting on the bag if you didn’t see this video.


  15. I laughed out loud at this line: “At that next show I sold the Daisy for $500 cash and tried to laugh all the way home, but since where I was in Maryland is 17 hours from Texas, I had to stop from time to time.”

    I finally realized who BB reminds me of. Archie Goodwin from the Nero Wolfe novels.



    • Carl,

      Wow!,… super nice! Without looking,…. (which I no longer can),…. I do not think that I ever did one that good. What did it end up at? I could not make out the marks on the rule. Nice stickers by the way. Where ever did you get them?,….. 😉 Tip:,… color the yellow ones black with a marker. Don’t ask,… I just know! 😉


      • Chris
        It’s about 1.040 outside so .820 ctc, after I posted that I felt it wasn’t worthy of such an audacious comment. I mean field target guys have to do better than that right, which makes them seem like they have super human powers to me.
        Carl


        • Carl,

          Well,… whenever you find the time,… give the targets a look over. I think you my have bested me. If so,… hat’s off to you. On the “pro’s”,.. I think most are PCP’s.,… but I am sure there is springers too. However you want to call it or say it,…. I am sayin’,… very, very nice job. Just think,… you ain’t even good with it YET! 🙂 x10





  16. Chris
    The equipment gets all the credit. I highly recommend the bubble level scope, now I want to scope all my guns with it. The level really help with getting a consistent hold imho.
    Carl


    • Carl,

      As I am in the market for one, I will consider UTG bubble level scope. I know they sell them as add on’s, but I have never tried one inside (or) outside/on the scope. I am playing with high mag. as an option so as to do 100 with some clarity. So,… clarity at higher mags. is what I am after at the moment. I would like to try 20-30x, but my current limit is 16. Same as yours, minus the bubble.


      • Chris
        You know you can buy bubble levels that attach to the scope tube. I had one on the 30 mm tube Hawke sidewinder scope I had on the FX Monsoons I had. They work fine.


  17. BB,

    Since the Daisy 1894 was one of your “hits” in buying and selling airguns. How about a blog on some of your memorable or notable hits and misses? Maybe including why they were so. Asking this realizing that buying one just to research and blog it is a hit. But, also from a financial.
    Had a friend of mine that had an “item” that one of those books told him was worth $2500. Nobody ever offered him more than half of that. He would not sell it for less than that book said it was worth. It stayed with him until he passed. I could not afford it even at the estate price they put it up at.
    Have seen a few do pretty good on buying and selling items. Seems that the internet has made it so that nearly everyone knows what something is worth and wants to get that much for it.

    Silver Eagle


    • Solver Eagle,

      I am pretty sure that there are “plants” in the bidders. In person or on line. I am sorry,…. but if there is ((NO ONE)) in the bidders interested in a mega snow blower,… but yet,… it “magically” climbs to $300,… I am sorry,… I get a bit suspicious. What happened to the $50 no reserve starting bid? Maybe an article on that?



  18. Chris
    Just to let you know I tried the barracudas today the 5.53 and 5.52 head sizes were to big didn’t even load them the 5.51 were even a little tight and just seem to heavy they didn’t do well at all. Those JSB 18.3 are definitely the pellet of choice.
    Carl


    • Carl,

      The HN’s all fit tight, no matter what type I tried. You should have some pellet testing targets,… and after what I consider fairy extensive testing,.. 25/30?,…the 18.13 JSB’s did best. That tight fit on the HN’s across the board always put me off on them. As we know too,… what is (on) the can is not always what is (in) the can.


  19. There is a very well written and illustrated article in the latest Firearms News by the one and only Tom Gaylord intitled “The Airforce Story A tale of American Entrepreneurial Success”. Enjoy

    Mr B.



  20. Siraniko
    Yes I’m gonna try something different tomorrow. I’m trying to decide what to do here, leave it alone or recrown. I thought I would get some opinions. First I’m going to get some different pellets. I have a lot of .22 but not much in the way of .177. I wish I could get a picture of the rifling to see what people think, I can see the rifling but I don’t know worn/ shallow rifling by looking at it. Thanks for replying where are you located?
    Carl


    • Coduece,

      I’m located in the Philippines that’s why I’m still awake. Nearly lunchtime in my timezone. If you’re not satisfied with your accuracy and you are planning on recrowning the barrel you have to determine if you are going to do it yourself either the redneck way with a power drill or the proper way with a lathe or have it done by somebody else. Have you tried either pushing a pellet down the bore or recovered a pellet fired into a pail of water? That can tell you the condition of the bore. You might also try cleaning the bore using bore paste and a properly fitting brush.

      Siraniko


      • Siraniko
        Pellet recovery good idea! I didn’t use bore paste but the bore is very shiny. I have access to a lathe but I prefer keeping the appearance original ie patinated.
        Carl


  21. B.B.,

    I waited all day to see if anyone would respond to you about he HOT NEWS!
    That I stupendous news since it means my CF cylinders just ropedin cost by half!
    I all means those folks that bought old cylinders with only a year or the can perhaps get as much as 15 years added on. I’ll bet there aren’t a lot of those on ebay anymore.

    The Blue book he always been on my must have list for both air and powder…great rteup!

    I just can’t get over no comments on CFFC Lie Extension! SMH!

    shootski



  22. Just received my 12 ed copy of BBoAG yesterday. I have a small AG collection, although some of them are “classics”, so having the book is probably worthwhile, I do think of buying/trading from time to time. My regular mode of valuation is asking my knowledgable friends. Recently, a family friend was given a nice airgun – a 1980 model Sheridan CB9 Blue Streak. Common gun, even this vintage. But this one was NIB, and had never been shot, with the original box and instructions. My friend wanted to know what I thought, and I asked four guys I’m lucky enough to know… (all well known airgun enthusiasts who actively trade). Described and sent photos. All agree, this is as pristine as you could ask for. Not a mark on it, even the box looks fresh. This model sold new for $189 in 2013, probably less than half that in 1980. So we have a common, highly traded model, in an absolute condition with no worry about grading.

    I figure even the NIB condition isn’t totally unheard of for this gun, so when I looked it up on the Blue Book, I went back to compare what my friends said early this year:

    300-400
    200-225
    350
    250-300

    Taking the midpoints, that would average to just under $300. Blue Book, 12th ed (2016) p. 691 shows this model in 100% condition at $185, with 20% adder for original box and instructions, or $222.

    Posting just for the sake of curiosity. But if anyone has one like this to sell, I’m a buyer that price!


  23. Here is something that I wonder.

    There are guns that probably go for more than what the blue book says.

    The reason being is some guns are known for defects. And I’m betting the blue book don’t take in account for that.

    A example is the FWB 300’s tend to crack or break the stock at the pistol grip area. So if you do have a FWB 300 with a stock that is not cracked or broken or repaired you just might have a gun that’s worth more than what the blue book says.

    I’m thinking that’s one of those things that you learn from research. And on another note. Does the blue book go that deep. That’s definitely something that is learned with time.

    And I’m sure there are other reasons that a gun could go for more or less than the blue book lists. Saying that the blue book is worthwhile. But also there is always more research that needs done on a subject. Once you do both aspects is when you will use the tools available more effectively.


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