The way of airguns
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- What makes an airgun good?
- A few good airguns — rifles
- Challenger and Edge
- A few good airguns — air pistols
- Beeman P17
I’m writing this on Christmas Day and don’t want to do another test today. I thought about airguns this morning and came up with some interesting thoughts.
What makes an airgun good?
I used to think accuracy was the only requirement for an airgun to be good but now I realize it’s so much more.
A few good airguns — rifles
Going back a couple years, I was able to purchase a Beeman R10/HW85 that Bryan Enoch had tuned. I had seen and shot that air rifle several years earlier, at the Arkansas airgun show in Malvern. After just a few shots I gave Bryan one of those, “If you ever want to sell this…” requests. To my surprise, this one paid off. I was able to buy it at the 2017 Texas Airgun Show.
I like this rifle not for how accurate it is but for the way it shoots. It’s a spring rifle that fires without vibration and only a small bit of recoil. I talked with the tuner extensively and learned all that he had done to make it what it is. I admire this rifle for what was done to it and for the way it has responded.
My Diana 27 is another one like that. My first 27 was a rusty old thing that I didn’t tune (didn’t know you could) and didn’t adjust the trigger (ditto). I liked it for its simplicity, alone. But my current 27 is one I have tuned to near perfection — trigger too! I like it so much that I can’t wait for reader Michael to experience the same things — light cocking, no vibration, great trigger and good accuracy.
My Beeman R1 was once great when I installed a Venom Mag 80 Laza kit I got from Ivan Hancock. It produced 23 foot-pounds and was dead calm, despite having a 50-pound cocking effort. Alas, I destroyed the mainspring of that one in my Mainspring Failure Test for my Airgun Letter and, ultimately, for my R1 book.
I suppose that is why I like the new Sig ASP20 so much. It has the same power as that R1, but cocks with just 33 pounds. It’s almost as smooth and has far greater accuracy.
Challenger and Edge
I also like the Crosman Challenger PCP. It’s a target rifle made for the NRA youth marksmanship program, but it’s so much more than just that. A decade ago it sold for right at $500 and was everything the airgunner needed in a personal indoor target rifle without spending $3,000. Twenty years ago I knew a man who did nothing but break florescent lightbulbs in his basement with one! I guess it’s obvious that he was a bachelor!
I have used mine in many pellet tests over the years. I think this rifle is a wonderful development and Crosman deserves a lot of credit for it!
The other 10-meter rifle I have long admired and secretly pined for is the AirForce Edge. I observed the development of this rifle and tested one for you back in 2009 and 2010. But after that I never laid hands on one again. I always wanted one of my own to shoot, but somehow it never worked out until reader RidgeRunner traded me his for my Webley Senior straight grip. Of course that pistol was also a favorite of mine, but for different reasons.
A few good airguns — air pistols
Let’s begin with that Webley pistol. I bought it around 40+ years ago at a gun show in Kentucky. It wasn’t/ isn’t all that accurate. Oh, it’s not bad, but you have to learn to contend with the recoil, which is pretty significant. So, what is there to like?
The trigger. That pistol has the smoothest single-stage trigger I have ever felt. The pull is very long but has absolutely no creep. Whenever I wanted to feel a good pistol trigger, that was the gun I reached for.
And then, the Chinese did something right! They copied a Weihrauch HW 40 that also became the Beeman P3, and they turned it into a $30 pellet pistol called the Beeman P17. It’s such an accurate air pistol that even the cheapest airgunner has to agree it’s a fantastic bargain. Even Hans Weihrauch, Jr., had to admit it was and is a fantastic air pistol when I spoke to him at IWA in 2006. His company, Weihrauch, repairs the Chinese copy because, to quote him, “People see the gun and they think we make it. We have to fix them, to maintain good public relations.”
I could go on but I won’t. The reason I am an airgunner is because I like to shoot. Decades ago that meant shooting firearms almost exclusively, but then I chanced to buy my first Diana model 10 in 1975 the race began. That was 43 years ago and I’m still going strong!