Pause to reflect

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Blue Book coming
  • Overwhelmed
  • Price-point PCP
  • Compressors
  • The value compressor
  • Set-and-forget
  • Gun compressors
  • Repeating spring guns
  • Lookalikes
  • Big Bores
  • Special things
  • Over to you

Blue Book coming

I have been writing my next Blue Book of Airguns report. My section is called Gaylord Reports, and I try to summarize all that has happened since the last Blue Book was published. The new book should be released in May or early June.

The last Blue Book was published in 2016. While that sounds like just three years ago, since the book was actually written the year before, it’s a full 3-plus years and going on four. More has happened in this time than at anytime in the history of airguns!

Overwhelmed

There is so much information that I cannot get it into one report. I’m having to consolidate all of the exciting things into categories. And doing that has caused me to pause for reflection. There is more going on with airguns today than I have ever seen. I would like to share my view with you right now, and then give you the opportunity to comment.

Price-point PCP

Several of the categories of things that have happened since the last Blue Book deal with the subject of pre-charged pneumatics (PCP). Let’s begin there. The price-point PCP, or as I like to call it the PPP has been the number one-game changer in this time frame. These are air rifles that are pre-charged pneumatics with a lot of desirable features, yet they sell for under $300. Until I wrote the section for the Blue Book, I did not fully appreciate their impact. You see, not only are there PPP guns, there are also guns that sell for even less money that I’m now calling sub-PPP guns. The Beeman QB Chief is a perfect example of one.

Compressors

The PPP guns do not stand alone. They have spawned an interest in the field of pre-charged pneumatics that is driving other areas. A rising tide lifts all boats. Perhaps the most important area is that of the compressor. In 2016 there were a few compressors that would fill large carbon-fiber tanks to 4500 psi. Today there are many that will do it! And some of them cost about half as much as they did several years ago.

The value compressor

The era of the giant $3000 air compressor is coming to a close — at least for individual shooters. They will continue to exist because there are many other needs for them, but individual airgunners can do the same things more conveniently with compressors costing less than half as much. The Air Venturi Compressor is a perfect example of this.

And compressors, like pneumatic guns, are also starting to coagulate into groups. Below what I am now calling the value compressors ($1,000 to $1,600) are a group of smaller machines that can do nearly as much — they just take longer.

Set-and-forget

One unique feature most of the new compressors have is they can stand alone — not needing to be attended. The $3000 compressors require an operator at their side while they are running. But the compressors that cost $1,000 to $1,600 have set-and-forget features. They shut off when the set pressure is reached and several of them self-bleed during operation. You still have to be aware of them, but you don’t have to stand over them. You can be in another room and just listen for them to stop.

This set-and-forget feature has migrated down to the lower-priced units, as well. The Air Force E-pump is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. That compressor can also fill a large carbon-fiber tank — it just takes longer than a larger compressor.

Gun compressors

If you want to save even more money there are now compressors that are not made to fill tanks but individual guns. They have most of the same features of the higher-cost units, but they are less money. The Air Venturi Nomad II is one of these and not only does it have a set-and-forget feature, it also runs on both house current and a car battery.

Repeating spring guns

Another new category is the repeating springer. We had them back when I was a kid 60 years ago, but they didn’t work very well. They had problems feeding the pellets through their complex mechanisms. Today they use rotary magazines, and the feeding problem has been solved!

When they first started coming to the market several years ago, I thought they were just gimmicks. But more and more companies are bringing them out, and they’re being received well by the air gun community.

I’m currently testing both the Hatsan Proxima and the Hatsan SpeedFire rifles. In fact, I have the SpeedFire back from Hatsan and will be testing it tomorrow.

Look around and you’ll see that this field is blossoming rapidly. I guess its time has come.

Lookalikes

The look-alike airgun is also not a new idea. We had them prior to World War II. The Haenel model 28 that looks like a German Luger is a perfect example from the 1930s.

When I was a kid in the 1960s, Crosman’s 38 C and 38T were considered brilliant, and everybody knows how successful their M1 Carbine BB gun was. Today these guns all look like museum artifacts, which I sadly guess they are, since they are a half-century old. They were great for their time but we are now living in the age of the lookalike. Yesterday’s report on the new Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle should be proof of that!

We have guns like the new Sig M17 P320 pellet pistol and any number of 1911s from a variety of companies. And, perhaps the best replica of all is the Umarex MP40 Submachine Gun. It is so realistic!
And don’t forget the K98 Mauser from Diana. Not only is it a great look-alike airgun, it’s also wonderful shooter!

Big bores

Another category that is booming is the big bore airgun — pardon the pun. These were already hot in 2016, but the increase since then has overwhelmed me. The big bore is probably where our pneumatic technology will be affected the most. Some companies who thought they could develop big bores and get in on the action suddenly realized the physics of pneumatics for the first time. There are things that cannot be overlooked. A longer barrel means higher velocity — period! High pressure does not guarantee great power. An airgun’s valve has to be designed to be efficient with air and to take the probable projectiles into account. You don’t notice this in a 177 pneumatic as much as you do in a 45. The big bore really pushes your nose into the science!

And, let’s not forget arrow launchers. They are a little older than 2016, but since that time some remarkable things have happened. Air Venturi, for example, did away with the special airgun and made their Air Bolts launchable from any appropriate barrel. Pretty nice when $100 will save you $1,000!

Special things

Since 2016 there have also been a few special things happen. They are so outstanding that they need to be addressed individually. Perhaps the most significant of these is the new Sig ASP20 breakbarrel rifle. Sig has reduced the cocking effort of a powerful gas spring by 30 percent, eliminated vibration, lowered the muzzle blast, gotten accuracy that has never been seen in a gas spring gun before and coupled all that with a dedicated optic that was designed expressly for the rifle. What Sig has done is take the careful work of a serious field target shooter and render it down into a package that can be bought over the counter.

Another significant change during this period has been the acquisition of RAW by AirForce airguns. RAW rifles are at the pinnacle of pneumatic superiority. They may have a few equals, but none are better. However, until recently they have been made in small batches, with many operations being done by hand. AirForce has turned that wonderful design into something producible at a reasonable rate. They won’t make thousands of them because there isn’t a demand for that many airguns at that price. But, by making hundreds at a time, they can significantly decrease the time it takes to get one. And, they are looking at other things that will improve this even more, like building several of the most popular models to have in stock.

Over to you

That is what I have been thinking about for the past month. As I put my chapter together for the Blue Book I was overwhelmed by how far we have come in such a short time. A couple readers have asked where does it all end? If we’re lucky, I don’t think it does. What do you think?

52 thoughts on “Pause to reflect

  1. Another section in the lineup could be projectiles,
    we finally have a lead free alterative, the Sig ballistic pellets.

    They are accurate and work well in many different guns.

    The recent advances in air guns have driven makers to move to bullet/slug designs to give better performance with the more powerful air guns.

    Which has improved down range performance for both hunting and target shooting.

    Ian.



    • Ian,

      Bravo 45Bravo! There have been incredible advances in projectiles over a very short period of time. Much R&D is being performed as more of us demand accuracy with the higher velocities being produced by modern airguns.

      Also, many of today’s newer members are hunters. Not only do they demand accuracy, but require more terminal energy transfer to their quarry. We are finally seeing the fruition of such requirements.

      As for lead free projectiles, they have indeed come a long way in a very short time. My earlier visitations to this had been quite a disappointment, but with the newer products such as GTO I feel compelled to revisit this product.

      We still must be vigilant of the “fishing lures”, but the experienced soon toss them to the wayside.

      Done babbling now. Your turn.


  2. I just spent an hour on one of my best rants on multi-pumps and it went out the window just as I hit the post button. I should have learned by now to save to note pad or? And paste.

    It all started from my appointment tomorrow to get new hearing aids. Each one will cover the cost of a RAW rifle. Where are my priorities? I have to take Kate so the hearing aids can be set so I can hear what she is telling me. After all these years I know what she is saying. What will be my excuse now?

    I started out saying I am planning on getting a RAW gun, but was waiting for B.B.’s review. I also plan on a couple of SIG ASP 20’s for my sons.

    Also my local pellet gun store may close and I will need a compressor.

    It will be hard to recreate my multi-pump rant as I was on a roll. Someone ask for a guest blog on my 13XX multi-pump rifle so maybe I can come up with a blog that covers both the Crosman 13XX rifle and my work on multi-pump mechanics including my optimum multi-pump design features laid out.

    Don


    • Benji-Don,

      Ok I’ll bite. What have you been doing to the 13xx platform? How does yours perform? What modifications other than the stock have you done? What have you discovered regarding the efficiencies of the various pump linkages you have measured?

      Siraniko


      • Siraniko,

        I guess it is easier to list what I have not messed with which would be the main tube, pump lever and link. As of now the power performance is better than I expected. The accuracy is good but I am looking for great. I may be trying another barrel on it.

        I am putting together a description of my mods and tuning work. I will share it as soon as I get it finished.

        Don


    • Don,

      Perhaps Geo can shed some light on the “hit post and post vaporizes” phenomena? It just did it to me, but the post still made it. The second I hit post, the connectivity dropped out, paused, then came back and the post posted. It does not always happen, but more than enough to not have a good explanation. Long post, like yours that you lost, seem to be especially prone.

      The connectivity does drop out for a few seconds sometimes when just doing normal surfing too.

      Good Day,…. Chris



        • That’s a bummer, loosing your post after spending so much time creating it 🙁 That has happened to me before when I first began posting, but haven’t had a issue with it for sometime now. One thing you can do to save yourself from loosing a post is to highlight the whole comment before you click the post button, then right click and select “copy”. This copies the selected text to the Windows clip board which is temporary storage. Then click the post button and if your comment doesn’t post correctly, or is lost somehow, you can open a new “reply” and then right click and “paste” the highlighted comment into a new reply. Just something to think about.



    • Don,

      I have had posts disappear as well – now I ALWAYS copy the text into the computer’s paste buffer (select all the text and ). If the post is lost I usually have to re-login and then paste the contents of the paste buffer ( ) into a new reply or comment.

      Yes, please do a guest blog on your multi-pump work!

      Hank


    • Don,

      LOL! I am glad I bought my HM1000X before I bought my hearing aids! Kate will appreciate those more though, I am afraid. Is Kate short for Katherine? Mine is Kathy.

      As far as waiting on a RAW, no need to fear. If you miss with one of them, it is you. They are truly top shelf. If your wallet can stand it, they are worth it.


      • RR,

        It is Kathleen, I started calling her Kate when we were playing softball. It was easier to yell Kate than Kathy. To most folks she is still Kathy. They let me play softball because they wanted her on the team.


        • Benji-Don,

          Here’s a tip regarding hearing aids. Before you make the final decision to purchase, check out Costco’s hearing center. My wife bought hearing aids about a year ago at Costco. We had heard horror stories about the cost exceeding $8000 for good quality aids. Costco has several brands to choose from which are the same as the brands sold through other specialty hearing centers. They are much cheaper at Costco. They let my wife walk around the store with their best hearing aids, which cost $2700 for the pair! Then she tried some of the Kirkland (Costco’s brand), which are made by one of the name brand companies. After wearing those in the store for 30 minutes, she said she liked the Kirkland hearing aids better. The price was $1700. Costco has licensed audiologists on site and they give you an extensive hearing exam (free) before they recommend any hearing aids. You might just save enough to buy a couple RAW airguns.



          • Geo,

            I have checked out the Costco hearing aids, they may be the ones I go with. I really like the place I am going to today so I will see. If they are too much above the Costco ones I will go back there. From what I have read almost all the hearing aids in the world are made by just a few companies. Apparently Siemens a German company makes most of them. The one I have been using, I should have got two but wanted to test drive one before the big purchase was $60 on Amazon lol. It had a short that I think I fixed but the patient died from the surgery. So time for an upgrade. I believe there are some $600 a pair hearing aids online that are just as good as the highest price ones. The whole problem is figuring out which one it is. I have seen some that seem to be the same as the ones at Costco for less than half as much. Anyway I will let you know.

            I think the hearing aids are just like airguns the cheap ones with all the features lack quality control so they are a gamble.

            Don



    • Here’s a tip regarding hearing aids. Before you make the final decision to purchase, check out Costco’s hearing center. My wife bought hearing aids about a year ago at Costco. We had heard horror stories about the cost exceeding $8000 for good quality aids. Costco has several brands to choose from which are the same as the brands sold through other specialty hearing centers. They are much cheaper at Costco. They let my wife walk around the store with their best hearing aids, which cost $2700 for the pair! Then she tried some of the Kirkland (Costco’s brand), which are made by one of the name brand companies. After wearing those in the store for 30 minutes, she said she liked the Kirkland hearing aids better. The price was $1700. Costco has licensed audiologists on site and they give you an extensive hearing exam (free) before they recommend any hearing aids. You might just save enough to buy a couple RAW airguns. 🙂


    • “I can come up with a blog that covers both the Crosman 13XX rifle and my work on multi-pump mechanics including my optimum multi-pump design features laid out.”

      Don, I’d like to see that; thank you. =>


  3. B.B.,

    Since I came aboard in late ’14, the lower cost of PCP’s and choice stands out. Compressors too, as my Shoebox was about the only choice for the hobbyist at the time. Bigger bores, companies experimenting with twist and rifling and the list just keeps going.

    All I can say is that I am glad that I bought the ticket and I am still on the ride! 🙂

    Good Day to you and to all,………. Chris


  4. BB,

    Another area which is changing fast is the relation to firearms in general. Before airguns were seen as children’s toys and now the are serious contenders in the field when hunting and on the fire range when people are learning to shoot.

    Therefore the replica’s are not only interesting in themselves, but a close replica is a better training weapon than a optical only replica.

    Also on my field (collecting older airguns) there is a spillover from firearms collectors. They are slowly getting interested in antiquated airguns and prices are slowly mounting. It also means that there are more collectibles going to the market. Although the internet has changes the buying and selling of collectibles even more.

    The internet itself has naturally changed the field of airguns even more, but I assume that that fall outside the scope of your paper.

    Regards,

    August


  5. BB,

    Since I discovered the world of airguns I have seen quite a transformation. It was still an almost hidden world, but thanks to such people as Fred Liady, John McCaslin, yourself and others it was starting to come into the light. With the advent of the personal computer and the internet, the world was able to participate more readily in this hidden world. Once that started happening, a new market was opened and this hidden world was now brought to the forefront.

    Is there more coming? Indeed! There is still room for improvement.


  6. BB
    Lets not forget the select fire full-auto option that has come along with military replicas.
    The Airsoft to Airgun conversion / transition going on.
    Then you have limited edition engraving available too.
    Might mention the self contained Seneca Aspen and Freedom Multi-Pump PCP. Not sure how long ago the Indy came out.


    • Bob,

      I think the FX Independence is older, but the Seneca gives that same capability to many more shooters, so yes, that’s one for sure.

      And the Springfield Armory M1 BB carbine that I am about to start blogging soon is another one.

      B.B.



    • Wimpanzee,

      There is proof that I don’t know everything. I have never head of this company or the gun, but I will look into it.

      However, if they weren’t represented at SHOT I sort of view them with some doubt. I see startup companies come and go and, with a few exceptions like Dennis Quackenbush, most are here today and gone tomorrow. I try not to mention companies like that because by the time the book gets into print they may be on their way out.

      I could give many examples of this, but what’s the point? They are no longer around and nobody cares.

      B.B.


      • Oh wow! May I have introduced something new for you! I’ll count that as a win for today.

        AAA has been around since 2014, and produces some of the highest quality and performance guns I have ever heard of or seen. Right up there with RAW.

        https://americanairarms.com/

        Please check them out when you have some time.



        • Wimpanzee,

          I remember when all they had was the .357 Slayer. Lloyd and I talked to Tom at the GTA Fun Shoot. He had one of the very first ones with him. I am glad to see he is finally bringing out the carbines. I personally have never cared for the first generation style bullpups.


  7. BB,
    To get more of the energy made out of the muzzle some makers are working with polygonal rifling. FX being the most prominent company doing it. Different twist rates seem to be needed for the slugs to work well.
    Looking to the future with an example, I have a hand held air compressor that uses the same battery as my cordless drill, it is great for topping off a low tire. I think there will be a similar compressor to top off a PCP in the near future.
    Gerald


  8. B.B.,

    I recall a few years ago many of us were commenting how we were in the Golden Age of air guns. Thing is, today things are even more exciting. It is indeed a good time to be an airgunner.

    Michael


  9. Speaking of look-alike, replica airguns, I’m eager to read your review of the new Diana Mauser K98 PCP. Do you have an approximate date when you will report on it?


  10. WHAT HAS CHANGED IN THE WORLD OF AIRGUNS IN THE LAST 4 YEARS is a HUGE subject. Don’t think I’ve ever witnessed so many innovations and advances in such a short period of time.

    One category that is being revolutionized is large caliber airguns, i.e., .25 cal, 30 cal, etc. These mid bore guns have emerged from the shadows thanks to affordable compressors, larger selection of ammo, factory installed regulators to increase shot count, great barrels, terrific triggers, and so on. The results are a variety of manufacturers that are filling this void with numerous offerings. What was once a novelty is now becoming a legitimate option for serious airgunners. The .25 caliber has been winning Extreme Benchrest Airgun Competitions regularly.


    • Kevin
      You mention the regulated guns. The Gauntlet, Fortitude and Marauder come to mind.

      And I should mention bottled guns that are regulated. The Air Venturi HPA 3000 psi regulated down to 1200 psi 13 cubic inch bottle was a game changer. Now we can shoot a bunch of different Co2 guns if the right adapters are used for HPA. And that’s even another thing. The different Co2 to HPA adapters that have derived from the Air Venturi regulated bottle.

      Definitely a good time to be a air gunner.


  11. B.B., one of the significant changes has been airgunner’s ability to sort pellets by weight AND size (pellet gauge) to help understand what works and what doesn’t. 20 years ago we just knew what worked and what didn’t from trial and error. Now, we’re starting to understand more about why! Pellets are generally better now because pellet manufacturers are being held to account by consumers that can check the consistency of advertised sizes and weights. Better pellets is a big deal!

    Motorman
    St.Louis, MO


    • Motorman,

      I agree. Grain scales and digital calipers have been around awhile. The Pelletgage helps, but is still a bit open to interpretation, just like caliper use is.

      Automated weight sorting seems like a no brainer. Automated head size might be a bit tougher, but,……. auto die sizing would seem to be solution to that. Since skirts are less of an issue,… something that sizes just the head and not the skirt,… would seem to fit.

      As an owner of two .25’s, (( I would like to see more .25 selection offered )). I think that .177 and .22 pellets have gone “off the rails” to some degree. More/different,.. is not always better. The JSB’s (.22 and .25) have always won out in all of my airguns. So that begs the question,… is there something better that works like the JSB’s,….. but is different? How far do we go from the basics?

      Only a guess, but maybe a combo of pellet weight/twist rate/fps will be the winning combo (with) the basic Diabolo domed design? I do believe FX is working on something just like that with their line up.

      Bullet shaped pellets are very interesting and looking forwards to seeing more development on that front.

      Just some thoughts,…… Chris


    • Motorman,

      Maybe the solution is for a pellet maker to offer the same pellet design (domed) in 1.0 grain increments? Tightly controlled of course! That would be a start. Maybe it is just that simple,… to adjust the grain weight, 1.0 grain at a time to find the ultimate pellet?

      Yes, better pellets is a BIG deal. Automate the head and weight sorting. Done. That would be a BIG deal.

      Chris


  12. In line with what Motorman said above about the pellet gauge and sorting pellets, didn’t you also review a BB sizing gauge that was similar to the pellet gauge?

    If there isn’t a BB sizing gauge, there should be one. I used to shoot a lot of Marksman steel BBs until a recently purchase lot of Marksman began jamming in my gun.


  13. B.B.,

    I think the biggest change is that the Secret Handshake Airgunners Society is going to go the way of the Dodo!
    You have a small sentence that should be in all caps, underlined, and bolded:

    ” What Sig has done is take the careful work of a serious field target shooter and render it down into a package that can be bought over the counter.”

    Not because it is SIG Air but that a manufacturer has done what typically took a new airgunner months, if not years, of nosing around the arcane world of airguns, modifications, components and overwhelming (for many) choices to be made before stepping to the line at “FUN” FT competitions. I believe the numbers of airgunners at Shoots are going to overwhelm the various clubs and competitions in the very near future.
    The ball seems to be rolling fast to those of us that have been around for a bit…

    but, Boy Howdy! We ain’t seen nothing yet!

    The Outlook in my 8 Ball is CLEAR!

    shootski


  14. When discussing the new compressors you absolutely must mention the wave of cheap Yong Heng and derived models (like Vevor, etc). I got one for $192 and while the prices are rising, these are absolutely the cheapest possible (for now) compressors that are capable of filling a tank. I’ve filled 6.8L, a scuba tank and 0.5L bottles many times over. They have their problems, and some designs just can’t last without constant seal replacements (Vevor), but they opened up the cheap compressor market just like the PPPs did the PCP market.


  15. It seems that 4 years ago the Edgun was about the only Bull Pup out there. They are now mainstream and offered by almost all of the top airgun manufacturers such as Air Arms, Weihrauch, Daystate, FX, as well as many eastern block manufacturers.
    David Enoch



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