by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Missed it
  • Been there, done that — got the tee shirt, wore it out
  • Joltin’ Joe
  • The savings?
  • Buy what you need
  • The point
  • My situation
  • Bottom line

Missed it

There was a man who served in the American Army, and from the beginning of 1974 until almost 1978 he was stationed in Germany. Toward the end of his time there, let’s call it sometime in the last year, he had the opportunity to purchase a new Mercedes Benz 300D sedan for $10,300. He had the money to finance the purchase, but at the last moment he thought to himself, what am I doing? I’m about to pay ten thousand dollars for a car! When I left San Jose, California three years ago, I could have bought any number of nice condominiums for $14,000, and in El Paso, Texas, where I last served, I could have bought a three-bedroom house for $12,000. What am I doing, paying this much for a car?

When he returned home from Germany in December of 1977, he had to buy a car, because he had been driving a used car in Germany that he couldn’t bring back. The same Mercedes Benz 300D that he passed on in Germany was then selling for $21,000 in San Jose! There weren’t any used ones to compare to because the model had just started importing into the States the year before.

Been there, done that — got the tee shirt, wore it out

You gentlemen of maturity (I won’t call you old, but you know who you are) have lived through this so many times in your lives that you are aware of how it works. Let’s transition over to airguns. Say you are interested in a PCP. You want to come over to the dark side, but you know there is more to it than just the gun. There’s also a scope and mounts, plus a way to get air into the gun.

Joltin’ Joe

Let’s look at another guy. We’ll call him Joe. Joe always shops for things based on price. He just heard about airguns and wanted to get into big bores, so he bought a used Benjamin Bulldog for $350. A nice used scope and rings cost him another $40. And he bought a Chinese hand pump off Ebay because it sold for less than $100 After a week of online research he had discovered that the hand pump was the cheapest way to fill his airgun. He laughed when told his friends that he would get his exercise at the range, filling that gun.

Well, Joe goes to the range and starts shooting his new toy. To his surprise, it runs out of air on shot number ten — in the middle of the second magazine, so he has to fill it again. He starts pumping. Fifteen minutes later his heart is pounding and he is out of breath, but the gun is ready to go for 10 more shots. Then it needs air — again! He goes through the pumping drill once more and decides to call it a day. That is the last time Joe ever takes that air rifle out. Joe is done with big bore airguns. In fact, Joe is done with airguns altogether.

The savings?

So Joe saved, let’s see — he paid $350 for the used Bulldog and $98 plus $15 shipping for the pump. And $40 for the scope and rings. There’s probably another $25 in bullets he hasn’t shot yet. That comes to — wait a minute — he’s no longer an airgunner, so he didn’t save anything! He wasted $528 that he now has to try to recoup by selling it to the next guy who’s trying to save money.

Here is the deal. Joe’s Bulldog still works. His no-name pump still works, too. However — I can’t think of a worse way to fill a big bore airgun than with a hand pump! Joe told his friends that if the balloon ever went up and he had to survive, that rifle and pump are all he needs, besides bullets. And, he is right! The thing is — and this is a major point — if the balloon never does go up, Joe’s setup is very poor for a guy who just wants to shoot, which is the reason he bought the gun to begin with. If you are getting into big bore airguns, buy some kind of air tank and carry it with the rifle to the range. Instead of 20 shots, you can shoot 100, and you might just have some fun!

Buy what you want and need

I remember the day Edith and I decided that an 88 cubic foot carbon fiber air tank was the way I should go. It cost over $500 back then. That was serious money for us. The same tank will cost over $700 new today — still very serious, in my world.

Here is the difference between Joe and me. Joe didn’t know what he didn’t know. He thought what he was doing was getting his feet wet in airgunning, but in reality he took a bath!

On the other hand, I was testing dozens of PCP airguns and was always running to the dive shop to get my 3,000 psi aluminum scuba tank refilled. I needed that carbon fiber tank, and indeed, I own two of them today. When I grab one to fill a gun I don’t think about what they cost anymore. I am just glad to own such a wonderful piece of equipment that allows me to do my job so efficiently.

I was in the NECO booth (ballistics software for cartridge reloaders) at the SHOT Show and one of our readers said to me, “When I get what I want I don’t think about the money anymore.” That floored me. Here I was at the SHOT Show, surrounded by expensive firearms, airguns and other accessories, and everything cost money. The most I saw was in the Perazzi booth.

Here are 4 matched Perazzi double-barelled shotguns for sale at one price.

Perazzi cost
Here is the price.

Don’t try to defend or refute the price of the shotguns. That isn’t the point of today’s report. The point is what I am about to get to.

The point

For the man who wants to experience precharged airguns for the first time, a big bore isn’t the best place to begin — any more than a Ferrari 812 Superfast is the right car for a teenager who has just gotten his license.

What the new driver needs is something reliable, safe and very easy to control, because he still has a whole lotta learnin’ ahead of him. The new airgunner needs pretty much the same thing. That’s why I always look for the best, cheapest and most reliable airguns as starter guns to recommend to new shooters. A guy can have 50 years in firearms and still be a newbie to airguns.

My situation

I want to drill out the pin in the Diana 27 piston that came out of Michael’s rifle. To do it right I need to both hold the piston steady and in the right alignment with the spindle/quill on the drill press. I could hold the piston with clamps attached to the drill press bed. I could even do it with wet rawhide wrapped around the piston and bed and allowed to dry. But little problems like this keep coming up every couple of months for me — some bothersome task that can be done right with the right tools or horribly messed up with the wrong ones.

I went to Ebay and looked at drill press vices. They range from simple used vises that are no more than large clamps, to new vises that move in both axes with some precision. A new Chinese-made vise with a 5-inch jaw costs $60 shipped. A Wilton vise with a 4-inch jaw cost $140 shipped. If I was a machinist I would never consider the Chinese vise, because I know instinctively that it has some play. It has to at that price. Heck — the Wilton may even have a little play. If I want a real machinist’s drill press vise I better find a good used one for a deal or be prepared to spend a lot more money.

But old BB Pelletier don’t need no machinist’s vise, ‘cause old BB ain’t no machinist! What BB needs is something to occasionally hold something tight on his drill press table so he doesn’t screw it up.

Bottom line

In my world there are spring guns, CO2 guns and pneumatics. In the world of spring guns the quality ranges from something that barely operates all the way up to a Whiscombe. I own a Whiscombe. It is my finest spring rifle. But it’s not my best spring rifle. My best spring rifle is a TX200 Mark III from Air Arms. It’s my best because it’s always ready to go and I know what it can do. My Whiscombe has 4 different caliber barrels with a harmonic tuning weight on each barrel that is optimized to one specific pellet traveling at a specific velocity that I control with the interchangeable air transfer ports.

My TX is always ready to go — one caliber, always sighted in for only one specific pellet. My Whiscombe is a testbed. It can be almost whatever I want it to be — providing I spend the time setting it up that way.

And then there’s my Diana 27. It is also a specific caliber and it has many more limitations than the TX, to say nothing of the Whiscombe. But for fun, it is quick and easy and as forgiving as an anvil!

My goal is to obtain things that work the way I want them to, and then use them that way. If I succeed in getting what I want, I don’t think about the money anymore.