Benjamin 310 BB gun: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

Benjamin 310
A Benjamin 310 multi-pump BB gun from 1952.

This report covers:

  • Green box
  • The “hidden” find!
  • Back to the BB gun
  • Finish
  • Model 310
  • A sweetie
  • Take our time

Two months ago I attended a small local gun show where the joke is — if you are looking for Indian jewelry, coffee mugs and dream catchers, this is the gun show to attend! Guns? Not so much. But it’s local, so I went. I haven’t had much luck at this show — ever! But because it’s mentioned the intro to this report, you know this time will be different.

I was halfway through the show, looking carefully at everything on each table when my buddy Otho called to me. He was on point the next aisle over. Oh great, I thought. Another rusty Daisy Red Ryder from 1986! But I was wrong.

Green box

Otho was looking at a long green box with a Benjamin multi-pump inside. The box was/is in excellent condition, which is ultra-rare. They are usually beat up pretty bad. I’m going to tell you the entire story of this find, however at this point I will let you in on that other good internet buy I told you about last Monday. The one I said nobody could find.

The “hidden” find!

The listing was on Ebay and was hidden from view when I wrote about it. A search that had “antique Benjamin” in the title did not find it. Neither did a search for “Benjamin air pistol.” The seller must have changed something, because when I went back two days later to take the screen shot shown below, it now came up with the other Benjamin pistols. I figured that would poison the well.

Benjamin 310 listing
This is the listing I told you about. At this price this is a great buy! Unfortunately, this listing is now searchable.

Benjamin 310 normal listing
This is what a Benjamin pistol from this timeframe in a nice box usually lists for. They aren’t worth this much, but they are commonly listed for this much.

Benjamin 310 high listing
And this is the crazy price. This pistol is less desirable because it is later (box and finish), plus it has a painted finish rather than a plated finish.

Benjamin 310 Ebay listing updated
When the seller pulled the listing out of the trash by fixing the title, the pistol took off. At this price it’s still okay, but it’s no longer a bargain. This is what it sold for.

Once the listing was visible, people started bidding and the great find ended. This pistol might be worth as much as $175 because of the box and tin of pellets, plus the overall finish on the pistol, which is about 50 percent of the black nickel. But the way the bids have gone, most of the profit has evaporated.

Back to the BB gun

Okay, let’s get back to the gun show, with Otho still on point. The box he was looking at held the broken-down parts of a Benjamin multi-pump. The green box placed the gun in the later ’40s through the 1950s. The model 310 BB gun that was inside was produced from 1940 to 1969, with subtle changes along the way.

The box color puts the gun in the later 1940s though the 1950s. Earlier boxes were light brown. The price of $15.75 that is written on the outside of the box pins it down to 1950 and later. The one-piece bolt puts it no earlier than 1954.

I wasn’t that impressed until I saw the asking price. The seller wanted $200. Usually they want $350 to $600 for airguns like these. In fact, we are lucky the seller didn’t buff off all the black and silver nickel so he could show an all-brass Benjamin shined up like a new trumpet. In fact, that is what makes this once-common air rifle so rare — the condition of the original finish. Shined up you have a $90 airgun.

Finish

This Benjamin 310 has about 80 percent of the original black finish over the silver nickel over brass. The most wear is where the hand held the gun as it was pumped. And it is in an original green box that’s in fine condition. And there is a vintage tin of Benjamin steel air rifle shot that’s a third full! And the gun has been stored with a pump of air in the reservoir (the owner told me) and the pump head was lubricated, so it still works! In this condition we are talking $350, firm. This is a gun for an advanced collector.

I offered $175 cash and bought the air rifle. It was a no-brainer. The seller gave me a cardboard sleeve to protect the original box, which speaks volumes about how the gun has been cared-for.

Model 310

The model 310 is not the most desirable vintage Benjamin air rifle. It’s a single shot smoothbore meant for BBs and darts. It was always priced a few dollars under what the comparable .177 and .22 pellet rifles sold for. But we recently saw that even a smoothbore BB gun (the Benjamin 700) can be accurate at close range if the ammo is right. I bought this one because of the great condition, but I’m still going to give it the usual test.

Benjamin 310 bolt nose
In a Benjamin BB gun, the bolt tells a story. The hole in the side of the bolt nose (blue arrow) aligns with the air transfer port when the bolt is closed and the other hole up front (red? arrow) is where the air comes out. Load the BB into that front hole, per Benjamin instructions. Pellet rifle bolts have solid noses that are rounded to enter the rear of the pellet.

Benjamin 310 bolt
Sometime in the mid-1950s Benjamin did away with their two-piece bolt than had a separate bolt handle and produced a single-piece bolt that was bent at the rear like this.

The 310 was priced at $15 in 1952 and $18 in 1955. That’s as close as I can bracket it.

Benjamin 310 price
This price is marked on the outside of the box. The plus the one-piece bolt makes me think the gun must be from 1954 or ’55.

Benjamin 310 box
Wow! You don’t see them this nice and complete very often!

A sweetie

This Benjamin is a real sweetie. It’s a rare survivor that didn’t get used hard and hung up wet. The delicate black finish is still mostly intact. The fragile green box is excellent, even with the price marked on it.

Take our time

This airgun is special and I want to take my time reporting it. So part one is probably going to take at least two reports, if not more. I’m finished for today but I will be back on Monday. Stay tuned!

65 thoughts on “Benjamin 310 BB gun: Part 1

  1. B.B.,

    Congratulations. I had never heard of black nickel over silver nickel. I must admit, I would have been the one inclined to get the hypothetical one, all shined up like a trumpet. 🙁 Once again you have shown it pays to get out there (or on-line) and perhaps more importantly,…. know what you are looking at. Short of having the Blue Book and the sage advice from you and the folks here,… I think I would not do well. Like anything, it takes time to learn the ropes.

    Good Day to one and all,…. Chris


    • BB,

      Sweet! And a pretty decent price also. I myself would have no use for the box and would hate to mess up the finish anymore by handling it as much as I would. That is why I would have to pass on it after standing there and drooling for a bit and talking with the owner about it.

      This is the kind of bb gun many here would like to have. You want power? Pump it up!


    • Chris,

      Oops! My bad.

      What I meant to reply to you is that unfortunately the “trumpet” is all too common and the sellers expect a premium for their efforts of shining it up. Of course, no knowledgeable collector will pay such. I myself would not be repulsed by all the original finish being stripped away as long as the shooting condition was fine and the price was low, but most often that is not the case. I usually bite my tongue and walk on.



  2. BB,
    Sweet! And a pretty decent price also. I myself would have no use for the box and would hate to mess up the finish anymore by handling it as much as I would. That is why I would have to pass on it after standing there and drooling for a bit and talking with the owner about it.
    This is the kind of bb gun many here would like to have. You want power? Pump it up!



  3. G’morning!

    I was just admiring the stock on the 310 – its classic for those days, designed for iron sights with an angled grip for fast pointing. My Crosman 101 has the same style stock.

    Happy Friday all!
    Hank


  4. B.B.,

    When you said that the find was off the beaten track your really weren’t kidding. I thought of only parts and accessories when associated with eBay. Bargains can be really be had if you just know where to look. Glad to hear Otho is well enough to be up and about again. Last I heard was that he was feeling poorly at the Texas Air Gun Show.

    Siraniko


    • Siraniko,

      Otho never made it to the Texas airgun show. One of the main reasons I went to this show was because he told me he felt well enough to go and would I come?

      Yes, Ebay has discovered that selling airguns is not a crime — even in California. Their listings are good and many of the sellers are antique dealers with little knowledge about airguns. There are finds to be had. Including — RidgeRunner, are you listening — a Westley Richards Highest Possible pistol. It is not in wonderful cosmetic condition but this is the fist one I have seen for under a thousand dollars.

      B.B.


  5. B.B.,

    Very nice score! Granted, I haven’t been able to go to airgun shows, but of all the online photos I’ve ever seen, your Benji there probably has the most intact black nickel finish.

    Michael


  6. Congratulations on a good catch! It is amazing the good shape of the gun and, actually more intriguing to me, the box. The cardboard boxes of my guns usually become roach food in the attic until I throw them away. Like you said, they took good care of it.
    Personally, I admit that collecting per se is not my cup of tea, I’d rather pay less for a good shooter than more for a good original finish. So, where are the trumpets? 🙂
    Henry


  7. Great find BB. You just never know what will turn up at a small gun show. I attended one two weeks ago. It was small, about 20 tables. But most were local folks selling some items, not dealers. I bought a WWII (1943) Springfield M-1 Garand for $700. The muzzle and chamber were in great shape. The bore was near perfect. This rifle hasn’t been shot much. The barrel was marked as from 1943 so it is probably the original barrel. I haven’t seen one this good for less than $1000 in ten years. It was just too nice to pass up.

    Mike


  8. B.B.,
    What a beautiful gun; I can’t wait to see how she shoots.
    You mentioned darts; will you be testing it with darts as well as BBs?
    (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a gun tested with darts; if you did, I missed it)
    And even though it’s a smooth bore, I wonder how it would do with some nice tight-fitting pellets?
    I recall that .177 Diana 25 Smoothbore where you shot a 0.337″ group at 10 meters with JSB RS pellets.
    (for any that missed that, you can see it here:
    https://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2013/01/diana-25-smoothbore-pellet-gun-part-3/)
    It would be really cool if this little gun could do something like that.
    Looking forward to the rest of the test,
    dave


  9. B.B.,

    That is a beauty, a Benjamin 310 has not been on my radar, I have always went for the 312’s or 317’s. I will really enjoy this series. I am sure velocity will not be a problem unless it is too much. As long as the pump is not leaking it should be consistent on velocity. Accuracy will depend on the BBs, if the barrel is straight.

    My first gun was a Benjamin 312, so they have a place in my heart.

    Don


  10. My thought is who bought these guns when they was new on the shelf and how did they use them. Plinking or target shooting? Maybe pesting or training a younger shooter that was advancing from a Daisy bb gun?


    • Another thought is. Maybe people back then still had round ball firearms on their mind.

      Was these air guns a quieter easier way to shoot a gun back then? Were they more affordable than firearms of the time? Maybe even more accurate than a firearm someone could buy.

      I always think about what made people buy them back then. Maybe they did for similar reasons that we still do today. It was just a different time but still after the same things we want today. What’s that saying. Time repeats itself. Well something like that anyway.


  11. Hunting for obscure deals must take a different mentality. It’s like my brother was told when he was investigating jobs in solicitation. He was told that each door slammed in his face represented an opportunity for making a sale on the next one.

    On the subject of history, there is a way for you to match your skills with the now Senior Sergeant Pavlichenko. Your mission, if you decide to accept it, is as follows. Your are deployed in a hidden listening post forward of the defense lines of Sevastapol. This gives you defilade (side-view) of a Nazi armored car bearing down on your friends and plastering them with a fast-firing MG34 which will keep them from responding until they are overrun. The armored car is moving toward the lines at 25 km/h at a right angle to you and 200 meters away. Your actual target is a slit in the protective armor of the car that gives access to the gunners. Your rifle is resting on a small parapet of earth 19cm high and the target slit is 1.5 meters off the ground. You need to calculate the angle of your rifle to the ground and adjust the sights accordingly for elevation. Then, you need to calculate how fast your 7.62X54R bullet will travel to the target and figure out how far the target will go in that time. Then while tracking your rifle on the vehicle, you need to figure out the correct lead to make the shot. Your solutions have to be correct to the nearest milliradian. No guessing. You have one minute to complete these calculations and take the shot, otherwise your friends will be wiped out and probably you too. Good luck…

    Naturally, she pulls this off. But in response, the Germans have an interesting response. On the subject of asymmetric warfare, there are two logical possibilities. You can launch your own asymmetric warfare in retaliation, which was essentially the task of the Navy SEALs in Vietnam. Or you can go…”symmetric”? The Germans tend to do the second, saturating the sniper’s area with artillery fire. Pavlichenko rolled rapidly to her more reinforced position but didn’t quite make it. She survived but suffered another of her innumerable wounds.

    The news isn’t all good. While sitting on a log and reflectively smoking a pipe, Pavlichenko was discovered by the love of her life who turned out to be her company commander. While watching her with amorous eyes, what do you suppose he imagined was going through the mind of his princess? It turns out that she was thinking of how many people she had taken out and comparing it with the total of another woman soldier in her unit, Nina Onilova, who fired a Maxim machine. (This doesn’t seem like a fair comparison.) Anyway, these reflections were not done in a bloodthirsty way but more as a matter of professional craft. So, how did this particular guy breach the defenses of the sniper where so many had failed? She says that he was a very nice guy, but isn’t that always the story. I thought his remarks were pretty forward myself. The real reason seems to be that he was a big, blond, blue-eyed good-looking guy. Bah, these popular people are all the same.

    Matt61


  12. B.B.,

    Before it completely escapes my rememberer now you can take up Rich Shar’s offer for you to test the Hatsan QE Vortex .30 caliber breakbarrel he modified after your test of Hatsan’s .30 caliber 135 QE Vortex.

    Siraniko


  13. Bug-A-Salt,…

    Been looking at getting one,… or two. I see we have a 2.0 version and a “garden” model which purportedly? shoots a larger load of salt. More power?

    Someone last weekend mentioned to wait on a purchase as there is “something new” in the works about to come out. I, however, have found no such news. A link anyone? The add-on laser site seems to be the latest innovation/offering.

    Like any good “modder”,… I want to know what is (inside) and what can I do to “improve” it? 😉 There is a few videos out, mostly removing the safety which permits quick follow up shots (no need to flip the safety off each shot). Beyond that, I have not seen any other mods. (power, projectile options, trigger pull, lube upgrade, etc.). There is a few out that show adding laser sights and flashlights and even doing a custom paint job. Some crude, some not so bad. Even one that added a fold out stock and a P/W rail on top.

    Overall, from what videos I have seen, I was very impressed with the overall build quality. Even the internals looked substantial,…. but I have yet to see the power plant torn down. Plastic,… but still. Anyone?

    I see the price is around $45.00’ish. I had not priced them yet and was a bit surprised. To me,… $30.00 (max.) seems about right. However, the build seems substantial and it (does work) and does seem to be getting good reviews.

    At any rate,…. I thought that I would toss it out for discussion,…. since everyone must be napping from the 3 day rain soak that much of us are currently experiencing.

    Chris

    P.S.,… For those that are “keep it air guns” sensitive,…. this bug annihilator clearly falls into the (springer) air gun category,… I think. I would be very surprised to find it (pneumatic),…. another air category. 😉


    • Chris,

      I have one, with the laser. They can be quite fun. Get one. You’ll find it is a great sproinger to play with when you are stuck inside on a rainy day. That is if you do not mind a little salt everywhere. 😉


    • Chris USA,

      A limited number of the new models (Black Fly Edition 3.0) were made available to past customers at a 10% discount a little over a month ago for testing and evaluation. I did not get one. Some of these are currently for sale on ebay. Just be aware that there has been a problem with bootlegged copies of the Bug-a-salt in the past.

      Bugbuster




    • Michael,

      Fan of the levers myself. I did not realize they had a “brass” receiver version out. After a quick look, I still can’t find one. To me, the butt looks oversized not to mention that super thick butt pad. Other than that,… they nailed it pretty well. That other one that came out awhile back looked to be better balanced,… the one that ejected shells. Thanks for the post/link. Not a fan of the big loop, but the cocking moves were impressive.

      Chris


      • Chris,

        They had the Wells Fargo brass receiver model out from almost the beginning, but they sold poorly, and when Umarex went from the two-12 gram CO2 bulbs to the one 88 gram CO2 monster, they did five things: 1) pull the Wells Fargo model from U.S. distribution, 2) on the E.U. Wells Fargo models they stopped adding the train engine logo on the receiver, 3) add a stainless look model, 4) add a gigantic buttpad to conceal the new CO2 source, and 5) made the triggers creepy and a harder pull.

        The John Wayne model has never been for the U.S. market, and they perhaps no longer make the short carbine model, which was originally marketed and distributed by Crosman, before “Umarex” fully became an airgun “brand,” perhaps even before their C225.

        The U.S. market has also missed out on Gletcher’s blowback Makarov (much better than the Umarex), the short-barrel Webley Mk VI, and the short barrel Schofield,

        Michael






          • Michael,

            Well,… thank you that mini treatise on what we did (not) see, and why. You really keep up on that stuff!

            I suppose if there was something that I really wanted that was only sold across the pond,.. I would find a way to get it. And, if Umerex imports a certain item to say,… (only) the U.K.,… but since they also import to the U.S.,…. could they not do a one-of reversal on request? Probably not, but that would be a really big plus to offer that kind of service. Sure, you would be paying a premium of some sort, but if you want it,… you want it.

            Chris




  14. Going off subject again.

    Yesterday I pulled out my Izzy and gave a feral soda can at 25 yards a fit. This is the reason I have not invited a bunch of pistols to live at RidgeRunner’s Home For Wayward Airguns. Izzy shoots better than I can hope. I have had a Crosman 727 and a UK Webley Tempest live here for a bit, but they moved on after a bit. One day I hope to have a Westley Richards or a Lincoln Jeffries or even an old Webley move in, but until then my Izzy does just fine.

    This afternoon I was bluing a bunch of parts on my Crosman 101. I do hope to have it finished soon. I sure would like to have a pumper around here to help with these feral soda cans.


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