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A peek over BB’s shoulder

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

  • Labor Day
  • What to do?
  • Oddball listing was hidden!
  • Lesson from the old guy
  • Fresh from a score and ready for more
  • The deal
  • You can play, too
  • The catch

Labor Day

Happy Labor Day! It’s a holiday for you American working stiffs; another day at the office for me.

Labor Day started in New York in 1882, as an unofficial march to protest long hours and low pay, plus a protest on using convict labor to do jobs free men could do. The marchers were in danger of loosing their jobs for skipping work, but the American Labor Movement was in full swing at the time. It is said the bars were all filled on that day, so bartenders apparently didn’t get the day off.

The goal was to get a 40-hour workweek and a day off each week. Yes, many people worked 7 days a week in the early 1800s. That’s too much for anybody.

Their plan worked for some, but not for others. Restaurants, amusement parks, bands and most entertainers work harder on Labor Day than on others. There is no religious, family or even national reason for the holiday. It exists because the labor movement pushed for it and, after getting everything they requested, they were unwilling to give the day back.

Ironically, with cell phones and tablets, many people now work a lot more than the ideal 40 hours each week. But it’s a day off for many, and who is going to complain about that?

What to do?

I was wondering what to write about today. I have plenty of vintage airguns to show — that’s not the problem. I even have some things to show you that are quite unique. But for some reason, I didn’t want to do that today. So I went on the internet and looked for some inspiration — and I found it in spades!

First I went to Ebay. A search on “antique BB guns” brought up several oldies and some not-so-old. Apparently, when you were born in 1990, anything from 1970 is an antique! But there were several legitimate 100+ year-old airguns, and among them was a Heilprin Columbian model 1906. Those are the cuties that have cast iron receivers with fancy raised “engravings” and figural patterns. This one was listed as a “Buy it Now” offering for $900. Like that will ever happen! The gun doesn’t even work! I can get the same gun in shooting condition with more nickel for $650 at any good eastern (east of the Mississippi) airgun show.

Oddball listing was hidden!

Then, for no reason I can remember, I entered the search term “Heilprin” and got a different page of listings. Many were books written by authors named Heilprin, but there was a second BB gun listed — also for Buy it Now, but this time at just $300 for a working BB gun! That’s a steal, folks! And, I stole it! I can pocket $150 or more if I sell it, plus I get a blog series. In fact, today is the first installment.

Lesson from the old guy

Okay, look over my shoulder. First, this rifle WAS NOT listed as an “antique BB gun.” That mistake cost the seller a significant percentage of viewers. How did he list it? As a “Heilprin/Columbia Model 1900 Air Gun.” That’s pretty specific. Unless someone typed in a subset of those exact words as a search, they would never see it. When airgun maker Gary Barnes was learning his way around the internet, my wife told him he had to spell words correctly or he would never be able to find what he was looking for. He responded, “I find it hard to believe that just one extra letter in a word could do that.” Well, experience made a believer of him. How about you? And, there is more.

Look at the picture he published with the listing.

Heilprin original
I can just hear what the seller was saying when he posted this, “This is as good as I can do. Someone will appreciate it!”

And look at how clear it could have been after a minute’s work in Photoshop.

Heilprin enhanced
All I did was enhance the image that was posted. If this was my listing I would have taken a sharper image to begin with. You don’t need an expensive camera. Just steady whatever camera you have on the back of a chair and use some light!

Unless the seller lied in his listing about the gun working, I am getting a great BB gun for a song. If he did lie — well that’s the chance you take to play the game.

I’ve told you guys in the past about these hidden listings that are not clearly titled. Like when someone misspells Daisy as Daisey, or spells Crosman with two “Ss”. Just because the sellers can’t spell doesn’t mean they don’t have worthwhile things. But today’s search was even more subtle — a complete miss on the title. No “BB gun” in the title for an antique BB gun. You gotta try other search options to find this stuff when it’s hidden in the weeds. And, on Ebay there are a LOT of weeds!

Fresh from a score and ready for more

Well, I hadn’t envisioned THAT happening when I woke up. I had watched that other Heilprin for several weeks — way back when they had it listed at $1,000. I had no clue this one was even available. So I was on the high that comes after making a great score.

I decided to try the Gun Broker auction site, just for continuity for this report. A search on Heilprin yielded nothing, but when I entered Hy Score — BINGO! Another potential find!

A seller had listed a Hy Score model 816 pistol for $119.99. Now, if you have listened to reader ChrisUSA, you have purchased your Blue Book of Airguns that has a manufacturer cross-reference table in the back. Hy Score was based in Brooklyn and did manufacture some airguns in the 1940s through the ’60s. They also bought airguns made by other companies that were marked with their name — not unlike business is done today. One company they bought from was Diana. I search Hy Score listings frequently, hoping to stumble across a model 807 rifle which is really — quick, someone tell me! That’s right, it’s a Diana model 27.

Well, there wasn’t one of those, but this model 816 translated to a Diana model 6. That’s the recoilless version of their target pistol. Only the Diana model 10 target pistol is worth more. Here is a $350 target air pistol (Blue Book says $325, but experience at airgun shows says different) potentially selling for $120 plus $29 shipping. The seals are probably shot but do you know who replaces them with lifetime seals? Right again — Pyramyd Air! For about $225 I get yet another blog-worthy air pistol that can then be sold for $300 and I’m a good guy for selling it so cheap — after a fresh re-seal!

Hy-Score 816
Saw this on Gun Broker. The round knob below the rear sight and above the grip is the anchor for the Giss anti-recoil mechanism. This is a valuable airgun.

The deal

This one is an auction, not a Buy it Now item. If I bid the minimum I run the risk of waking someone up who will bid against me. Sometimes they research the listing and realize what it is, but there are also plain old mean people out there who will just run up any bid, to keep you from getting a deal. So, I have to wait until the auction is almost over before submitting my bid. It ends on Sunday (that was yesterday) so by the time this report is published I will know the outcome. See how cagey I am?

I tell you, guys, sometimes I feel like Meadowlark Lemon, and they are playing the “Sweet Georgia Brown” theme! Talk about being blessed! I’m glad my sox aren’t on right now, because they would certainly come right off, with this deal.

You can play, too

Okay, enough about me and my luck. This game is for everyone. Maybe readers living in countries that are not open to airguns don’t have it as good as we do, but here in the U.S. — at least in the free parts of the U.S. that remain — we can play. I tell you that because there is another very good deal online that I haven’t moved on yet. That’s all I’m going to say about it until the proper time comes. Maybe this one isn’t quite as good as the two I just described, but it’s good nevertheless. I’m tracking it and will bid if it remains a good buy. Or you can swoop in and get it! I was cagey with the Diana 6, but I’m leaving this out for everyone to find. With one catch.

The catch

This one doesn’t come up in a search for others like it — even if you knew what it is, which you don’t, and on what website it’s located, which you also don’t and I’m not about to tell you — you couldn’t find it. If you want a chance at this one you have to get your cyber hands dirty!

This is like playing Escape Room online!

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

49 thoughts on “A peek over BB’s shoulder”

  1. B.B.,

    Your last report on your Heilprin: /blog/2017/01/heilprin-columbian-model-e-bb-gun-part-2/ indicated that it had stopped working. Hopefully this newly purchased older version will work better. Talk about a cagey clue to hint of an airgun that is not even on the normal lists. Since I’m not in a country that is allowed to play all I can do is watch as the mystery unfolds in a few weeks (I hope).


  2. BB
    Too many subjects in one blog today. Trying to figure out what I should reply too.

    Anyway. Most are glad for the day off I’m guessing. I am.

    And yes people that work on holidays and such are special jobs I’ll call it. Or people that will be there. Even if some don’t.

    But also something to remember. When people do their job it probably makes someone happy. Jobs are important. In more ways than one. When that person is not there. Thats when you miss what they do.

    What I see is people do appreciate the jobs people do.

    And company’s should be happy for the work their employe’s do. If they ain’t there then what does the company have.

  3. B.B.,

    Well, I can’t know if I found the hidden deal you are teasing us about, but i did find one by looking for it! Yes, it helps to have a copy of the Blue Book of Airguns.

    I think I’ll pass on it, as it is a good deal, but as you wrote, not quite as good a deal as the two scores you made.



  4. I myself have scored some pretty good deals on antiques right here. I just wait impatiently for BB to finish his report and have him send it on to me, or in the case of the Webley my loving wife.

    In my searches I too have come across nice airguns at outrageous prices. I have also come across some great deals on some by using the odd descriptive. It also helps to know what is a good deal or even more importantly, what is a good deal to you. I have seen it time and time again someone getting sucked into a bidding war.

  5. Happy Labor Day, All!

    I missed the boat last week on the Diana Chaser and wanted to drop some thoughts in here . . .

    Clearly a shot across Crosman’s bow. From my familiarity with the Crosman 22XX guns, I think the biggest attraction with the Chaser will be the metal breech at the 2240 price point. Being magazine-ready is also an extremely nice feature and the one that piqued my interest the most. Modders will be jumping on this one pretty quickly, though a lot of the Chaser’s success in the modding arena will depend on how quickly modded valves or other parts become available. Crosman parts are widely available so this will be a challenge for the Chaser.

    Gunfun1 is right in that the hole in the main tube (the CO2 cartridge “viewport”) renders untethered conversion to HPA difficult or impossible, and is one of the biggest downsides to this new gun for modders that I see coming out of the starting gate.

    To answer a question from the blog, yes the Crosman CO2 guns use only one barrel screw, but it’s not a set screw: It threads into the barrel, and you must disassemble the breech from the main tube in order to perform a barrel swap. Barrel changes look easier on the Chaser.

    I’m extremely curious to see where the Chaser pistol and rifle/pistol go from here. Particularly if Diana had the forethought to spec this gun to take standalone or modified Crosman valves or other parts (though barrels look to be “out”) then there’s a new contender here–though it definitely has its work cut out to become established. We shall see.

    • Sorry–on the Crosman barrel, the single screw threads into the main tube (through the steel breech). The transfer port secures the barrel to the receiver. There is also a set screw for the barrel at the barrel band but it’s not used for securing the barrel to the receiver per se.

      • And again–yes, there is a set screw in the Crosman steel breech that secures the barrel, but disassembly from the main tube is still required. Looks like barrel swaps on the chaser will be easier.

  6. B.B.,

    Congratulations on your new acquisitions! Always nice to get a deal and feel like you beat the system.

    Everyone have a happy and fun Labor Day,…. Chris

    (4 BIG turkeys doing a leisurely walk through my front yard right now. I have seen up to 13 a couple of times) 🙂

  7. Mr. Gaylord:
    Happy labor day. Here’s my open request to you and all the other faithful readers of your blog who are into antique air guns.

    When it comes to both antique airguns and firearms, I find it very interesting that there are so many really knowledgeable and skilled collectors and dealers. I can understand owning a historical important piece. I can understand if collecting/dealing when it has a profit motivation or it’s to make a financial investment in a hard asset. And I can understand the comradery of an collecting community. But what I don’t really understand is the fascination of owning, collecting and trading antique arms for it’s own sake.
    For me, rifles are tools. They’re used to engage the enthusiasm of junior shooters. They’re tools for teaching juniors safe gun handling and use. They’re tools to to enable junior shooters to qualify for college scholarships. But that’s just me and my instructor and coach biases talking.

    With so many scams, fakes, frauds and rip-offs out there, I’d really like to hear about the “why of antique collecting” and the “how of antique collecting” is done without getting taken advantage of.

    Thanks in advance for sharing your collective wisdom and passion for collecting antique arms

    William Schooley
    Rifle Coach
    Crew 357
    Chelsea, MI

    • William,

      Wow! I will have to give that some real thought! It will be trying to break something that’s subjective down into something more objective. It may be possible, but I need to give it a lot of thought.

      My gosh, my brain is already churning on it!


      • Mr. Gaylord:
        Please don’t “belabor” over it to much today.
        After all labor day is a holiday. A day of rest from labor.
        Kind of like a mid week sabbath. 🙂 🙂

    • William,

      Let me give you a short answer of why I like to collect these antique air rifles and pistols. No one makes anything that shoots as well as these with the quality they are made of.

      • Mr. RidgeRunner:
        Thank you for the response.
        Does product improvement over time factor into you’re collecting philosophy or standards for antique air rifles and pistols? Or should a collector start out with a collecting philosophy or standard? I guess what I’m really asking is what differentiates a collection of antique air rifles and pistols from a mere accumulation of antique air rifles and pistols taking up space in a gun safe?

        • William,

          First thing, RR will do just fine.

          As for your questions, I can only speak for myself, not others. My collection is very meager. Most of my antiques are hanging in the great room, one of them over the mantle of my fireplace. I live in a log house and they fit the décor quite well. Hanging with each one is a Wilkins Pellet Pouch with the particular pellet that one prefers. It is not unusual for me to shoot one or more of them as I relax with my wife on the back porch on a pleasant evening.

          I do not collect dust collectors. If I buy an air rifle or pistol that does not shoot, it will. Many of the ones I have were meant for competition. They shoot very well. Most are of finely crafted machine steel and walnut. With proper care they will be shooting another century from now.

          I do have modern airguns. More often than not they are the ones taking up space in the safe.

        • William,

          BB would describe me as an eclectic collector. I collect for no other purpose but my own pleasure. It is true that some of them have a fair monetary value, but that only matters to me when I have to spend my money on them. Most I have paid a very fair price for and could likely sell them for more than I have invested, but would rather have my grandson pass them down to his grandson and have all along the way enjoy shooting them.

    • Labor Day thoughts on air gun collecting when courts are closed and I’ve got too much time on my hands before the afternoon barbecue starts.

      Why do people do people invest time, money, and energy in acquiring and maintaining air gun collections? My incomplete thoughts on the subject of collecting, in no particular order:
      Collections can help a person’s sense of ownership and control.
      Collections can be for monetary and emotional reasons.
      Collections can allow a person to relive their childhood,
      Collections can connect a person to a period or to a time they’re interested in.
      Collections can help a person ease insecurity and anxiety.
      Collections can be for the thrill of the hunt.
      Collections can be for educational ie arranging, organizing, and presenting exemplar objects
      Collections can be an unemotional commercially motivated buy sell trade activity

      I suspect that that there is an underlying “happiness factor” to air gun and firearms collecting.

      I ask myself, Why am I a rifle instructor? Why am I a rifle coach?
      Because I like the happy sound of a young junior yelling out “I HIT IT” the first time his bb hits a tin pie plate at 5 meters. I like to see juniors improve their rifle skills and marksmanship. I like the comradery of competitions. I like sharing the joy of a college bound junior who gets a shooting scholarship

      I suspect that with true collectors there’s also a “happiness factor”. Happiness from adding a new find to the collection to I can sell this for twice what I paid for it.
      From BB’s comments today and those of others, there’s definitely an excitement of the hunt aspect. And from today’s blog and comments there’s undoubtedly a social camaraderie about sharing collections and insights with other collectors.
      William Schooley

      • Mr. Schooley,

        Collecting of most anything up until the Labor Day movement was likely restricted to the very wealthy; other than perhaps craft items and very inexpensive items. Even those inexpensive collections would have taken time most workers didn’t have prior to Labor reforms. The Advent of leisure time and for some disposable income is the watershed point for collecting of antiques and/or other collectables.
        My personal position is obtaining shooting arms that I enjoy now that may one day be enjoyed by my progeny. Perhaps if I prove wise in my choices some of them will prove to be collectable heirlooms.

        Happy Labor Day!


  8. BB,
    Happy to see that you got a deal on a recoilless air gun. I recently got a deal on a recoilful air gun. I found Supermax 1000 air rifle in a pawn shop, which is a copy of the Diana 52 .177. It lets you know that it’s there every time you pull the trigger. Of course, I’m probably just becoming a wimp not having shot any centerfire rifles in a long time. Every once in awhile, I’ll surprise myself by putting three shots close together, but I usually pull the next few shots, anticipating that slap in the cheek. I can definitely see why they made the Diana 54.


  9. BB,

    I almost bought that very sane Hy Score, but I already have a Diana 6M (the version with the shrouded barrel) in pieces, so the 816 would have been a little redundant.

    My recent, lucky score is a Haenel 26 pistol that was listed as a “vintage german air pistol”. The laquer finish looks awful, but they all do if they have not been refinished. On the plus side, the pistol is complete and the grips are in decentshape. Got it for under $100.

    Enjoy the holiday!

    Paul in Liberty County

  10. I have had good and bad luck on Ebay. The last time I got really angry was bidding on something and putting in a max price for it for the automatic bidding algorithm. Turns out “someone” else started bidding me higher but when they exceeded my maximum bid, they cancelled their bid and I won the auction at my max price rather than at my starting price. The other bidder was the only one bidding against me. Sound suspicious? I complained to Ebay but got no satisfaction so to everyone who uses Ebay, beware of unscrupulous “someones” who take advantage to act as shills and mark up your bid via the auto bidding function.

    Fred formerly of the DPRoNJ now in GA

  11. Wm.schoolley
    Why do people collect?
    I would say most collectors don’t or can’t intellectualize their passion in a way that translates readily to speech or writing.
    It would be simple enough to say it’s just a hobby. It’s the pleasure of having or finding that motivates collectors.

    It’s normal to enjoy buying and owning things and owning one of everything is obviously totally satisfying.
    In most cases owning one of everything is impossible so why strive? It’s the futility of achieving completion that facilitates the enjoyment of the hobby and insures its continuation.

    The degree to which someone becomes involved in their “Hobby” surely depends on their limitations or lack there of and I’m sure most collectors are passionate people.

    I have read that people who collect have had some sort of traumatic experience in their life that involved the loss of a loved one and that purchasing and receiving something they love temporally fills the void in their life until it fades and they must repeat the event over and over. I believe that is a mental condition that happens to coincide with the behavior of collecting but ends there. Being passionate about your collection separates the two and someone with that mental condition would hardly limit their purchasing to very specific items. The term hording comes to mind there.
    Now why are people passionate about things ? Way beyond my ability to explain.
    Bob M

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