by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Luck?
  • The name means everything!
  • They rushed!
  • You want it bad?
  • No time to do everything
  • Sig ASP20
  • Launch of the Benjamin Discovery
  • Let’s keep the name and change the product!
  • Let’s keep the product and change the name!/li>
  • The lesson?

I apologize to reader RidgeRunner. I had planned to start the test of the replacement Benjamin Fortitude rifle today and I told him so yesterday. But a comment from reader Geo791 changed my mind and got me thinking about today’s report. Here is what he said.

“B.B.
Wow! You are certainly unlucky at getting good PPP airguns to review. The Urban had accuracy issues due to flashing on the baffles in the moderator. The Gauntlet has poor accuracy for some unknown reason. The Fortitude leaked air and had to be sent back. Don’t remember now what the issues were with the Stormrider but as I recall it had problems too. It’s not looking good for these price point PCPs, and the chances of getting a good one don’t appear too good either. Well, as they say, it is what it is. Too bad the Gauntlet you received was not good. Based on your findings, I would not take a chance on one. I would add that my Urban has been excellent so far.
Geo”

Luck?

You said it, George. I have certainly been unlucky. Or, have I? What are the odds that four air rifles — the Urban, Gauntlet, Fortitude and Stormrider — would ALL have problems?

I will answer that question. The odds they would all have problems are extremely small.

UNLESS!

It is the “unless” that I will discuss today.

The name means everything!

You may recall that I told you a horror story about bad steaks at Gordon Ramsey’s Steakhouse in Las Vegas this year. If not, read this report. Scroll down to the Las Vegas section.

Some people think they don’t understand what I’m saying about the importance of a name but they haven’t thought it through. To a coffee drinker the name Starbucks means a lot. Good or bad, it carries a lot of weight. When you get a cola soda in the U.S., it’s either Coke or Pepsi. You may accept either one but many people have a preference. Your computer is probably either a Windows or a Mac. And, if asked to change to the other platform, you would probably have some issues. So, don’t tell me that names aren’t important. You may have dulled your senses to reality, but names mean a lot to all of us.

They rushed!

And here is what is behind all the problems we are seeing with the price point PCPs. Each company has rushed their gun to market. They moved too fast and left some issues unaddressed. I won’t name names because in this case, all of them have done it. Either they wanted to be first or they wanted to get out before the other guy(s) captured too much of the market.

There are several offshore airgun companies right now trying to knock off AirForce Airguns smallbore and big bore rifles. Why? Because people are buying them. If you can’t beat them, copy them.

Remember Bizarro Superman? He looks something like Superman, but he’s bad. Whenever you see a knockoff of a famous airgun, think of Bizarro Superman, because the chances are the copiers got it wrong in many ways.

You want it bad?

I used to work in the telecommunications world where unique systems were designed and built. These unique systems might have several million lines of code (software computer instructions) that had to interface with software in other systems the designers might not even know about. Whenever the bosses would try to rush the design process, wise software engineers would say to them, “You want it real bad? Because it’s bad right now!”

No time to do everything

The Columbia space shuttle blew up on reentry because NASA did not make time for the astronauts to space walk to examine the left wing that had been impacted by a large piece of foam on launch. They had video of the impact as the shuttle was ascending, but no way of knowing the extent of damage without a spacewalk. And they just didn’t have the time, because the schedule was too tight. There was too much science to do — things they needed back on earth for analysis. They didn’t even bother telling the crew who had no way of knowing that anything had happened.

After the explosion over Dallas, NASA had all the time in the world. And they needed it because the pieces of the shuttle were scattered over a wide section of east Texas.

Sig ASP20

We also have a splendid example of the opposite thing. Sig Sauer has invented a very remarkable breakbarrel air rifle they call the ASP20. You read about it in my reports about My day at Sig Sauer. They have taken their time to get this rifle right before bringing it out. You have been reading about it since the SHOT Show this past January and here were are 10 months later and it’s still not out. That’s because Sig Air is doing everything to make sure that it’s right. Because this is the first air rifle they have designed and built in-house. It’s not something they buy from a Chinese manufacturer and put their name on. If it’s right, they get a million dollars worth of goodwill from the airgun marketplace (people like you). If it’s not right they get the instant reputation of a company that can’t do things right, and the chat forums will beat their drums day and night to tell everyone. The folks at Sig know that and are paying attention to the details.

Launch of the Benjamin Discovery

Back when Crosman brought out the Benjamin Discovery, I saw the same thing. Ed Schultz, who was their lead engineer back then, showed me their production line where they filled each and every rifle with air, watching for leaks over a 24-hour period. Once they knew they could do it right they no longer had to do that, and they couldn’t afford to because it ate up all their profit, but Ed told me they were very concerned that the launch went right. They knew they were under a spotlight.

Today nobody give a second thought to buying a PCP from Crosman, because they have proven they can build them.

We did the same thing at AirForce when the Condor came out in 2004. We tested each one of the first 100 rifles by serial number and recorded its velocity with a .22 caliber Crosman Premier pellet. The pellet had to leave the gun at 1,200 f.p.s. or more. We didn’t want someone getting on a chat forum telling the world how their gun was wrong.

HOWEVER

The Fortitude, Gauntlet, Urban tests I have conducted have given buyers doubts about all price point PCPs (PPP). Are they really such a gamble? Well, three out of the three that I got to test have fallen short in some way.

I intentionally left the Stormrider off that list because the one I tested was not a PPP. But the new one is. And it comes to market under the shadow of the first one that in my tests was okay but not astounding. Accuracy was okay. The trigger was okay, and the magazine was stiff. It was not a failure, but it also wasn’t a PPP. The Gen II Stormrider has to live in the shadow of this first gun. What I’m saying is it might have been worthwhile to wait until all the features that are now available were there.

Let’s keep the name and change the product!

Some companies realize their name has a powerful influence on the buying patterns of the public. The greatest brand/product failure of all time was when, on April 23, 1985, Coke decided to come out with a changed formula they proudly called New Coke. The product was a disaster that ultimately cost Coke the lead in the cola wars. Time magazine called it “the Edsel of the ’80s”. It lasted three months and changed the future of the company forever.

When a company has a name that has become so well-recognized as Coke, they need to protect it at all costs. The New Coke disaster tells us that. Of course no airgun company has, or could have, a name as big as Coke. But within the airgun community, names like Weihrauch, Webley and Crosman are equally significant. They are names you don’t want to mess with.

Don’t allow a new product to sully an established name.

Let’s keep the product and change the name!

Want to see the reverse? Which of you works on a Next computer? Never head of it? That’s odd, because Steve Jobs said you would never forget the name. I sure haven’t.

Yes, Steve Jobs, the founder and builder of the greatest computer company the world has ever known, — Apple — once thought the company Next was going to be the greatest. He launched it in 1985. You don’t know it today because it failed to take hold. Despite all the good things that were willed for Next by its creators, the world simply didn’t need it.

So, new name not so good when it applies to a product that’s established.

The lesson?

What’s in a name?

Everything!