Crosman 105 “Bullseye” multi-pump pneumatic pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman 105
Crosman’s 105 is a .177 caliber multi-pump air pistol.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • History
  • Two variations
  • Description
  • Markings
  • Power level
  • Trigger and safety
  • Cost
  • Irony
  • Reviving the pistol
  • Summary

Today we start looking at an airgun I have owned for probably 10-15 years. I wrote about it 11 years ago, but that was just an overview. It has been laying around in my air pistol collection and I haven’t given it much consideration until recently. Once I started looking at it, though, things happened fast. That’s a story in itself.

History

The Crosman .177-caliber 105 and .22-caliber 106 “Bullseye” multi-pump air pistols were produced from 1948 until 1953. The “Bullseye” name was changed to “Target Pistol” about a year after introduction. The .177 caliber pistol came out first, followed by the .22 some time later. This was Crosman’s first foray into multi-pump air pistols. The pistols operate via an underlever pump that’s shaped like the finger lever on a lever-action rifle. In fact, some collectors have been fooled into thinking they are lever action spring-piston guns because of this.

Two variations

There are two variations of both pistols, identified by the lever. The earliest lever has two cutout holes, while the later one has just one cutout for the fingers. Another difference is the rear sight. The earlier guns have rear sight blades made from heavy non-ferrous metal that looks like brass or aluminum. Later rear sight blades are stamped from thin sheet steel, the same as found on all Crosman airguns of the period. My early pistol has the heavy brass blade and someone has bent it to the point that it is not useable. This might be due to a sighting problem, but I will have to wait for testing to identify it.

Crosman 105 rear sight
This first style rear sight blade has been bent back for some reason. When used now the adjustment screw fills the notch!

Crosman 105 lever open
The early version has two open holes in the lever. One was not needed (arrow) and was eliminated in later versions of both models.

Description

The pistol is all-metal with a pistol grip frame profile that Crosman still uses today. When you get it right there’s no need to change. The grips are Tenite, an early stable form of plastic. On later models Crosman sometimes offered one caliber with one color grip panels and the other with a different color. From what I have seen, these are all a reddish brown color with no such distinction.

Markings

Crosman markings are seen on the receivers of the two examples shown in the Blue Book of Airguns, but my pistol has no marks visible. This can mean a refinish has filled in the stampings, but my gun doesn’t seem to have ever had any marks. I see no evidence that they were removed, either. Early Crosman ads show photographs of this pistol without any markings on either side. Curious!

Crosman 105 receiver detail right
There is nothing written on the right side of the receiver.

Crosman 105 receiver detail left
… nor on the left side.

The brass barrel is 8-3/8-inches long on both models. Because it is brass, we know that Crosman rifled it. They had just started rifling their own barrels when these pistols came out and brass was the material of choice because of its ease of machining and lower wear on tooling.

Overall length of the pistol is just under 12 inches and it weighs 1 lb. 14 oz. You would think it would be muzzle-heavy, especially because of the lever, but it’s actually almost neutral. Stick a rod through the triggerguard and the pistol rotates backwards towards the grip. That grip does a lot for the ease of the hold.

The Blue Book says the gun is blued, but all the examples I have seen over the years have been painted black. It is impossible to blue the brass barrel, brass lever and the aluminum grip frame anyhow, and the steel tube is painted to match.

Although the gun might look strange and odd to you, these pistols are pretty common in the airgun world. I see plenty of them at airgun shows. They used to fetch from $50 for complete unworking examples to $150 for guns that are like new in the box. That has revised upward today, but the one shown in this report was offered at the 2018 Texas airgun show for $80 in complete but unworking condition and attracted no interest. That was what made me resolve to tell its story before it finally does leave the nest.

Power level

The power or velocity is where those newer to airguns have a problem. As large as this pistol is, people think it should be powerful. The CO2 versions that look similar (models 111, 112 115 and 116) are very powerful. But pneumatics are different than CO2 guns. First a pneumatic needs a long pump stroke to compress air to a high level. These guns don’t have that. The pump tube is small and the pump stroke is short. Both things conspire to keep the air pressure low. Pneumatics also need long barrels to give the air time to act on the pellet. While the 105’s barrel seems long for a pistol, it’s short for a pneumatic, and, when combined with the inefficient pump, it produces lower power. A CO2-powered .177-caliber model 111 will top 600 f.p.s. I will be surprised if this 105 breaks 450 f.p.s. We will find out together.

Crosman 105 and 116
The 105/106 pneumatics (top) look similar to the CO2-powered 111, 112, 115 and 116 (116 shown below). The gas pistols are more powerful than the pneumatics, plus these pneumatics never came with shorter barrels.

Trigger and safety

The trigger is a simple direct sear type. The blade is thin and pivots on a single pin. The safety is a bar that slides to the right to block the trigger and to the left to allow it to operate. All in all this pistol has a standard configuration that will seem familiar to those who know Crosman products of the same period

Cost

When new in 1948 the pistol retailed for $14.95, which was a heck of a lot of money. By 1952 the price had risen to $17.95, which was probably driven by inflation. For comparison, in 1948 Benjamin’s model 130 multi-pump BB pistol retailed for $13.50 and their rifled 132 (.22) and 137 (.177) were priced at $15. As you can see there was sharp competition between these two brands who ironically are both owned by Crosman today.

The model Crosman 130 multi-pump pneumatic pistol that followed the 105/106 in 1952 retailed for $9.95. That tells me the marketing team at Crosman was trying to generate more sales through a sharp pricing strategy. Benjamin never developed a competitive product.

Irony

As I researched this report I uncovered a Crosman “Dodo” steel action target that was available at the same time. It is similar to the chicken action target I showed you last month, when I wrote the report Action targets throughout history. I won this target off the Ebay auction and am now turning it into a decoration for my man cave, which is pretty much the whole house. The irony is I told you Dodo targets were quite old, and they are. But apparently Crosman found out about them and made one of their own. Wouldn’t that be a nice collectible?

Crosman Dodo target
An obscure reference in a 1948 Crosman catalog reveals that they made a Dodo action target at one time.

chicken target
My chicken target is a form of the Dodo action target.

Reviving the pistol

After the airgun show I decided it was time to do something about this pistol that had not worked since I acquired it. I had tried lubing it with Crosman Pellgunoil several times to no avail. But I wondered if ATF Sealant might do the trick, so I lubed the pump head and set the gun aside for several days. Then I started pumping and shooting, pumping and shooting. After 10 minutes of that the gun was holding some air, as long as I cocked it before pumping. Some guns require you to do that but the 105 isn’t one that does.

I worked and worked on the gun by pumping and shooting, and after several days I could get it to hold air for 8 hours, as long as I left it cocked. But the instant I lowered the striker down on the valve it started to leak. The leak was slow but constant. The air from 4 pumps would completely exhaust in 2 hours.

So I sent the gun to Rick Willnecker at Precision Pellet, who turned it around in record time. Now, it holds for days with the gun uncocked and it fills without cocking. Precision Pellet repairs many of the vintage airguns that manufacturers no longer support with parts. He has made the parts for many of those old guns, and repair centers and people around the world buy those parts from him. I have used him since I started writing about airguns in 1993, and I hope he will always be there for me.

At any rate, this particular 105 should now be back to where it was when new. I am looking forward to this test because this is an airgun I have never formally evaluated.

Summary

Today we have started to look at a multi-pump pistol from the dawn of the multi-pump age — at least as far as contemporary airguns are concerned. This may be something brand new for you. I hope that it is.

79 thoughts on “Crosman 105 “Bullseye” multi-pump pneumatic pistol: Part 1

  1. B.B.,

    The frame of all the Crosman pistols seems to be made from the same mold. They probably stuck to the mantra “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I’d bet even the current production 1377 (which is its modern day equivalent) uses that grip frame. Hoping to see accuracy in this old pistol. By the way what kind of sound does it make when you pump it?

    Siraniko

    PS: Section Markings Second paragraph, Third sentence: “The (They) had just started rifling their own barrels when these pistols came out and brass was the material of choice because of its ease of machining and lower wear on tooling.”


  2. I saw it at the show, it’s a neat gun, but it has never been on my radar.

    It will be interesting to see the accuracy section being one of the early ones.


  3. B.B.,

    An interesting old pistol. The lever is quite the curiosity.

    From the report, it sounds as if you left the sight blade bent? If so, why? It looks like it would have been quite easy to carefully straighten.

    Good Day to you and to all,…. Chris




      • BB
        I wondered that about the sight also.

        If it was bent downward on purpose. Which I’m thinking it was. That means the pistol was shooting high for them at the distance they was shooting at.

        And then again wonder what kind of pellet and what weight they was using.

        Oh and cool pistol. But sure am glad Crosman got away from the soldered barrels. Definitely like the 1322/77 barrel and breech design better.



          • BB
            Definitely wouldn’t take the chance if you didn’t know what kind of brass they used.

            Usually the harder brass is more exspensive. So I’m kind of thinking they may of used cheaper brass since it is a production gun.

            And for now why don’t you just take the screw completely out and shoot it that way and see what it does. Yes umight find that you will need to screw some up adjustment into the sight. That would put the screw down in farther and maybe get out of the way of the notch in the he sight.

            I’m still wondering if they messed with the sight because of the pellet they was shooting with and the distance. You might find it don’t need all that down adjustment after you shoot it.


      • B.B.,

        I’m wondering if you could find another shorter screw to use instead of the current elevation screw. My thinking is that the original owner found it shooting high which is why it was bent. Doubt if it got that way due to a fall. An alternative would be to carefully turn the screw to align with the notch. Could that work?

        Siraniko


  4. BB,

    Aaah pooky! Now you’ve gone and done it, You have peaked my curiosity about this pistol. If I do not watch it you will have me wanting to offer a room to one of these at RidgeRunner’s Home For Wayward Airguns. It I hard enough to not go scouring about for Jefferies and Webleys without adding Crosmans to the mix.

    By the way, the BSA, the FLZ and the Webley had a fun time yesterday fighting off a pack of feral soda cans.


  5. BB
    Seems like a lot of early airguns were utilitarian in design. I like the mechanical look. I wonder what led to the use of wood or plastic to cover up pump handles. To disguise it or improve the function . Probably both, especially with plastic becoming more popular.



  6. B.B.,

    I’m interested by the dodo target. First, the targets themselves look like woodchucks/ground hogs, not birds (although the Dodo was a strangely shaped bird). Second, I have long wondered how active the antique air gun target collecting world is.

    I agree with you regarding its name. Naming a resetting target after the most famously extinct animal in the world took either a lot of guts, a lot of twisted humor, or a lot of cluelessness. I was prompted to look up the Dodo and learned that it became extinct in the late 1600s, long before this target was marketed.

    The Dodo is iconic and has been elevated through usage to metaphorical status. Today saying something “is the Dodo bird of the _______ ” is like saying a Honus Wagner is the Holy Grail of the baseball collecting world, or the Air Arms TX200 is the Rolls Royce of air rifles.

    Michael



  7. A word regarding Rick Willnecker at Precision Pellet; the man is a true gentleman. Early on, when I was floundering about looking for information I called Rick. I’m sure that he’s busy all of the time, but he was gracious and patient, answering questions and giving advice though I was nothing more than a prospective customer. His demeanor was all kindness toward a newbie.

    The folks who read and post here are of the same caliber as Rick, good people. I suspect that they are Edith and Tom trained if they were not gracious.

    GrandPaDan


  8. B.B.,
    I bought one of these in a pawn shop in Florida about 15 years ago for $50. I may have over-paid at the time, but it was worth the money to me. Mine was the model 106 in .22 caliber, but it looks, externally, just like the one you have here; it was the older model with the two-hole pumping lever; and, as you noted, it was painted black. It appeared to be the factory finish, but well worn. The cool thing is, it worked! It must have been in someone’s attic for a while, yet someone had lubed and maintained it at some point, as it shot OK (the owner let me shoot it behind the shop before I bought it…ah, the good ol’ days!). It shot even better once I got it home and lubed it up with Crosman Pellgun Oil. I had no chronograph back then, but based on the velocities I’ve gotten with my Crosman 1322, 38T, and 130 and the relative “smackin’ power” of the pellets on steel targets, I will guesstimate that my 106 was doing around 350 fps (with 14.3 grain pellets) at full power, and down around 300 fps at the 6 or 7 pumps I used for plinking. I took this gun along in my boat when I was running the St. John’s River; it was great fun plinking at floating bits of wood and such at lunchtime (something I could not safely do with firearms). Once it was sighted in (it has a rear sight that is drift adjustable for windage in addition to the elevation screw) at 25 feet, I never did any formal accuracy testing; hence, it will be very interesting to see how well your gun does in the accuracy department. However, at 20 feet or so, I could usually clip a plant stalk in half. I loved this gun! While not a powerhouse, it was accurate, fun to shoot, and easy to maintain. When I got sent to Robins AFB 11 years ago, I gave the gun to my river-running partner, who loved shooting it as much as I did (note: a few years later I got an email that the gun was not holding air, so I told him to ship it off to Rick Willnecker at Precision Pellet, and it came back shooting fine). To me, guns like the Crosman 105 & 106 just exude cool…

    Darn it, B.B.! Now you’ve got me pining for my old 106, hahaha! Which is fine, of course; but I guess I’ll have to look for another, as my chances of talking my friend into giving, or even selling, my old one back to me are about slim to none *shrugs* …at least he’s enjoying it; these ol’ gals are just plain cool. =D

    take care, looking forward to the rest of this report,
    dave


  9. BB
    Off topic. But got thinking about your machinist buddy Otho after my post above about brass.

    Hope he’s been doing alright. Haven’t heard you say much about him lately. I know he helped you with projects throughout time.

    Just thought I would ask.


  10. Great blog B.B.!

    I was given a 130 and been thinking on repairing/rebuilding it as a soul-mate to my 101. Its in really rough shape but it looks like all the parts are in the bag. Might be a project for this winter.

    Hank



      • Thanks RR!

        Encouraging that parts are available – I’ll check it out!

        Rebuilding the 130 as a mate to the 101 would be reinforcing a precedent – have the FWB 100 to pair up with the FWB 603… would only be fair to get a FWB 65 to keep the FWB 300 company. Muliti-pumps; SSPs and Sproingers. Hmmm… might need to look at the PCP pistols as well – darn, this could become expensive!! 🙂

        Guess that would qualify me as a “collector” of some type. LOL!


    • Hank,
      They are great “fun guns.”
      I recently gave mine to my brother so he could shoot it with my nephew.
      They are enjoying it; plus it’s a good excuse to buy and restore another one. =>
      Please post a pic when it’s done,
      dave


  11. BB,

    It’ll be interesting to see how this 105 fares in the accuracy test.

    A few years back I helped an elderly acquaintance to source replacement seals for a Crosman 105 he had been bequeathed by a childhood friend. They used to shoot it together as youngsters in the late fifties/early sixties. He had fond memories of the pistol and wished to restore it to its former glory (it was leaking air).

    After putting new the seals in, he called me up one day and said he was disappointed with the accuracy. He only had one or two types of pellet on hand, so we arranged to meet at the indoor range and I took a big selection of pellets along. We shot 5 shot groups at 10m from a rest with at least a dozen different types of pellet. The groups sizes were all about 4 to 6 inches, which is very poor indeed.

    Any idea where the problem may lie? Could it be that the brass barrel, being softer than steel, is more prone to wear over time, perhaps especially if it has been cleaned aggressively?


  12. RidgeRunner
    Rude, Crude and Socially Unacceptable … When I hear those words from family and friends I simply tell them I spent too much time on my 9 foot long Harley, being single and hanging out in bars and garages.
    That’s why my home looks like one … then I warn them that I am no longer ‘House Broken’.

    BB
    If that rear sight is retained in a dovetail perhaps you can simply replace it with something that works better.


    • Bob,

      🙂 That would be interesting to see,… ( 9′ long Harley ). I had a 2000 Wide Glide for 5 years and enjoyed it a lot. Sold it for a good down on a 4 WD SUV when I moved to the country. 3″ extended forward controls,… long legged. No bar, no garage, no bike,… but the house for sure looks like a bachelor pad. More like an air gun lab. Still have the belt long pony tail though! 😉

      Chris


      • Chris
        It’s a ’71 Shovel I built (X Police Bike) with a 1″ rake and a 15″ over square tube AEE springer with a Smith Brother custom two part seat and chrome curved fender support and sissy bar package. I have a king sportster tank on it. Have it for 44 years now.

        Quite a bit off subject and I cant recall many pictures here that don’t deal with airguns at all so I’ll leave it at that.



  13. BB and others,

    I recently discovered that I have 25 pellets that I have not shot through my RWS model 52. Since it hasn’t proven to be very accurate for me and since many of those new pellets are the premium variety that the old Indians here have recommended I decided to do some testing with the new batch. After about 50 rounds my cocking lever broke. I’ll add some photos. the sliding chamber is currently resting on the second notch of the anti bear trap ratchet, so the gun is only partially cocked.

    I need some advice . Should I push down on the ratchet release and let the chamber slam forward from where it is or should I fashion a lever that will let me cock the gun completely, then fire it .( I think I can find the materials and have the skills to do that if I have to) Or should I just leave it where it is and not worry about the spring fatiguing while I pursue a repair?

    I welcome all suggestions. And thanks in advance.

    Half


    • Half,

      OUCH! 🙁 Either way, would unload the spring, but I would go for the finishing of cocking and fire myself. Load,… as I assume it is not loaded at this point. Good luck and keep us posted. Very interesting cocking mechanism. I have had 2 under levers, but never a side lever.

      Chris


    • Half,

      That is a dangerous situation. Put a block of wood in the breech before you do anything! That spring won’t fatigue. It will break. About an inch off bother ends. Plan to install a Vortek spring in it’s place.

      As for cocking, proceed carefully. It should be possible, but that spring has over 100 lbs. of force, so nothing hand held!

      B.B.


    • Half,

      As BB has suggested, you should somehow very carefully cock it and discharge it. Before attempting such do as he said and insert a block of wood in there.

      It is possible to ease the chamber forward VERY carefully, but unless you know what you are doing you could cause damage to the rifle and/or yourself. I do not recommend trying such.


      • RR,

        I made a cocking lever that let me finish the cocking stroke. Then I loaded and fired the pellet and the spring is back in its normal state for safe long term storage. Not having any luck finding a replacement part, though.

        Half


        • Half,

          I would contact PA or that other store in the SW USA. They are both dealers and repair facilities. If they do not have one, they will likely be able to get you one.


          • RR,

            They don’t stock them or have a price for them. PA did offer to set up an order for me, but said it could be weeks or months, they couldn’t predict, especially since Umarex told me that THEY couldn’t predict when they would have more imported.

            I ordered one from a store in Scotland. It has shipped and is in the Royal Mail, I think it’s called, on its way to being airmailed here.

            Thanks for your interest and help, Half


  14. Halfstep,

    I agree with Chris USA that you should complete the cocking cycle, load a pellet and discharge it in a safe direction. I’m worried about the cocking arm though. First time I’ve heard/seen of such a failure. Replacing the arm would be no problem. What would guarantee that the replacement won’t break in the same way though?

    Siraniko


    • Siraniko,

      The box tube/channel? is interesting. I would not have guessed that. I would be thinking bushings and pins in such an application. Or,… solid steel.

      Also, there is a fair bit of pressure on the bear trap mech.,… thus giving more reason to complete the cocking cycle. Fully cocked and released, the cocking mech. is not under any tension. This way,.. it is under a lot of tension.

      Another option (maybe) is to apply some pressure on the lever, release the beartrap, pull the trigger and slowly release the spring pressure. But,.. since the sear would probably not be engaged yet, pulling the trigger would probably not be needed at all. My 2 cents.

      Chris


      • Chris,

        With no connection to the link arm(which is what pulls the sliding chamber back) the remaining stub of the lever just flips back and forth unresisted. You are correct that if I did just relieve the pressure on the anti-beartrap ratchet I would have to ease the chamber forward slowly under spring tension. I would have to go back about double where I am now to engage the sear. I think leaving it under tension, even just half tension, would be a mistake.

        I bought this gun in 1987. Am I correct in understanding that Diana/RWS warrant their guns for life?

        Half

        PS. The JSB and H&N pellets that I have tried so far were showing great promise. Better than any of the RWS pellets that I tried in the past.


    • Siraniko,

      I can’t explain why it broke this time. It has had relatively little use (1500 rounds, perhaps) and is not hard to cock at all. I noticed on cocking the shot before this one that the channel shaped handle did not come to rest completely over the linkage rod as I remembered it doing. When I finished the string I was going to adjust the linkage as it acts as a turnbuckle, but the next cocking stroke was the last. I can only hope that a replacement will last. There is no binding, so it had to be a fracture in the stamping or a problem with the metallurgy of the cocking handle.

      Half


      • Halfstep
        I would probably fashion a handle like you said to get the gun uncocked.

        And I had some Diana’s but don’t recall what the warrenty is for them. If it’s lifetime that’s great. If so that makes want to get another 54 Air King. I definitely liked the ones I had.


        • GF1,

          I managed to fashion a cocking lever from some aluminum flat stock that I had here, so the gun has been cocked and fired and the spring is at rest with the normal tension on it.

          I called Umarex to see about getting a replacement under warranty, which IS lifetime, by the way, but they don’t warrant the cocking lever because it is frequently broken through abuse. That makes their warranty one more sheet of toilet paper I won’t have to buy this week as far as I’m concerned.

          I found my receipt and In September of 1987 I paid $190.00 for the gun and $3.77 for shipping and insurance. I remember that I sold a Colt Ace .22 cal 1911 for exactly that amount so I could buy the RWS 52. I think the ACE has gone up more in value.

          If you or anyone else can think of a part source I’d like to hear. I’ve tried AG Airguns and Airgunwerks and Pyramyd with no luck. Buying from Europe is going to be expensive so I would like to buy from here or Canada.



          • Halfstep
            Bummer about the cocking arm and the warrenty.

            And I don’t know of any other place to get the parts from other than Diana. And as you say. Probably expensive to get from over there.

            And so Umarex had the part but you didn’t want to buy it? Or they didn’t even have the part in stock?


            • GF1,

              They didn’t have the part and weren’t sure when they would get any in. They were on order but their shipments get hung up at customs for long periods of time sometimes. PA told the same story and speculated that since Umarex imports firearms, as well, their containers get close scrutiny.

              I wouldn’t buy from them anyway as long as some other source is available. I think the part should be covered by their “Lifetime” warranty. It apparently isn’t worth the paper it’s written on these days.

              I found a store is Scotland that ships here. With shipping and insurance the total is $70.00, if I calculated the exchange rate right. Kind of high, but it’s just a window prop if I don’t have any way to cock it.

              Half


              • Halfstep
                Yep if it is not stated that it’s not covered in the warranty then it should be covered. Not a very good warrenty is right.

                Well I hope you get a cocking arm for it.


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