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.