by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Refurbs, too
- Different standards
- What buyers notice
- The 4 Cs
- No flawless diamonds
- The average guy
- What does blemished mean?
- What if the blem was missed?
- What about bad parts?
- Refurbished airguns
- It’s gonna get scratched anyhow
- Why this blog today?
I’m writing this report in response to reader GunFun1 who asked about it after I made a comment a few days ago when I installed a blemished barrel in an airgun to save money. He wanted to know whether blemished guns are a good deal or not.
I’m also going to include refurbished guns in this report, because I think they fall into the same category. Many people look at them online and wonder whether the cost savings are worth it, or are they just buying trouble? I hope I can answer that question.
I have to begin the report with a qualifier. Every company has its own standards, I will try to address them in the report, but if you do business with a company whose standards are not what I am describing, your experience may be different. However, what I’m about to present is sort of an industry standard for blemished products.
What buyers notice
The retail industry is difficult because all buyers are not the same. Some are very particular about the cosmetic condition of the product they are buying. Others could care less about the cosmetic condition and are only interested in the performance. Still others shop for products in substandard cosmetic condition, for the cost savings. Retailers have to take this into account when they sell their products.
I was speaking to John McCaslin of AirForce Airguns the other day, and he commented that customer acceptance standards for the expensive RAW rifles is far more stringent than for his other products. It seemed to him that many buyers will go over their new rifles, looking for the smallest defects. Their claim is that if they are paying so much for a product, it should be perfect. Try as he might, McCaslin found out that it is impossible to make any single product perfect. There will always be an imperfection, if you look for it. That’s true of anything made by man.
The 4 Cs
We see this very clearly in the gemstone world. Let’s take a look at diamonds. When you buy a diamond, it is supposed to be priced according to its ranking with the four Cs. That would be color, cut, clarity and carats. Carats relate to the weight of the gem. Cut relates to the precision with which the gemstone is facetted. These two items are controlled by the diamond cutter. Color and clarity are controlled by nature. It is possible to color some gemstones artificially, but this isn’t done with diamonds. They are hand-selected for their color because they are so relatively common (there are so many of them to choose from).
Here is where it makes a difference. A one-carat diamond that is the highest color (clearest – D) and very slightly included (VS1 — has extremely small bits of other stuff inside the stones that must be magnified to see) costs just over $5,000. But the same one-carat diamond in the same D color that’s flawless and perfectly cut sells for around $16,000. That’s more than three times as much for a stone without inclusions (that can be seen with 10X magnification).
No flawless diamonds
No diamond is flawless, because an imperfection can always be found if you look hard enough. No gunstock is flawless, either. I’ve seen checkering flaws on Perrazi shotgun stocks on shotguns that sell for over $150,000. That said, some buyers will be hyper-critical to minor imperfections that they will search for with incredible diligence! It’s as if they are looking to see where they have been wronged, because they know they always will be. These customers are very hard to satisfy. Thankfully, they are also not encountered that frequently.
The average guy
Then, there is a range of customers that are “average,” though this range includes people who are both more and less critical. These are the shoppers most retail operations consider when it comes to blemishes. You never know who will walk through the door — Mary Sunshine or Cruella DeVille, so you look at the product like you would if you were buying it. Is it something you would find acceptable? If you pause for even a moment while making that judgement, you probably have a blemished item.
Why did I tell you all of this? Many of you don’t think that you need to care about the seller in a transaction. You are the buyer and you must be satisfied. And that is completely true. But the seller is also human and therefore is just as flawed as you or me. And, since no man-made product can ever be perfect, it really does matter. They are making a visceral decision. Some may fudge it on the low side and hope the returns won’t be that bad. Others don’t want to waste their time dealing with returns, and they hold to higher standards. If you still think it doesn’t matter, that you must be satisfied no matter what — then you may be that guy with the magnifying glass that retailers don’t like to see.
What does blemished mean?
Okay — what constitutes a blemished product? First, the blemish must be cosmetic and not affect the function of the item. If function is involved it’s no longer blemished, it becomes damaged goods — a handyman’s special.
When I mentioned the blemished barrel that I selected to put on Mac’s AirForce Talon, that barrel came from a pile of blemished barrels whose bluing was obviously not uniform. We had those from time to time and they might account for 1-5 percent of our barrel supply. If the number got any higher than 5 percent we spoke to the bluer who then had to rework those barrels. And if the problem persisted, we found a new bluer. We never intentionally passed along a blemished part on a gun to anyone without telling them, and, with an appropriate price reduction. Sounds simple and straightforward when I write about it, but when you go through 4,000-6,000 barrels each year, your blem pile starts to have some volume.
The solution is to separate all the blemished parts like barrels, frames (for imperfect anodizing) and other parts that are visible on the airgun, and at some point you build however many blemished guns you can from all those parts. If you run out of blemished barrels but still have a few blemished frames, you put perfect barrels in the blemished frames to build more blemished airguns. In other words, all the parts in the airgun don’t have to be blemished for the gun to be called a blem. BUT — and this is the big one — the item has to function perfectly. That is the industry standard for defining a blemished item.
What if the blem was missed?
Things do happen. I remember one time a customer returned a barrel because the bluing looked red in the sunlight. Well, guess what? B.B. is colorblind (dark black with a reddish tint and dark black look the same to me) and we didn’t have sunlight inside the plant where the rifles were assembled and boxed. We replaced that barrel and then took our other barrels out into the sun and found some more reddish ones. Had to speak to the bluer who then had to adjust something in his process (either the salts had to be changed more frequently or the bluing bath temperature had to be changed).
What about bad parts?
In the three years I worked at AirForce about 10 guns were returned because they weren’t accurate. I would take the rifle out into the shop where I had a 23-yard impromptu range set up and if I could put five pellets in a quarter-inch or less, center-to-center, it wasn’t the gun’s fault. I shot standing supported, which is harder to do well than shooting off a bench. I had to clean the barrels so frequently before testing that I just went ahead and cleaned every one before testing them. The biggest problem I saw was people who were shooting Crosman Premiers and not cleaning their barrels when they leaded up, which Premiers are prone to do when they are shot faster than 900 f.p.s. In the three years I worked at AirForce I found one Lothar Walther barrel that was really not accurate and that barrel never went anywhere, once it was identified. It’s probably still there, if they didn’t use it for some other purpose. Bad parts do not belong on a blemished gun, nor is it the industry standard to put them on one.
What about refurbs? Are they any good? Can you trust the dealer when buying one? Well, here is a little secret. A refurb airgun is better than the 10 for $10 test where someone puts ten shots through your gun before it is shipped. Why? Because this gun is a refurb it has to be looked at much closer than just shooting it. They have to make sure all the documentation is in the package, all accessories and spare parts are there, plus they need to ensure the gun works. It gets a real close inspection that a brand new airgun doesn’t get.
It’s gonna get scratched anyhow
I saved this comment for now, but you all know in your heart of hearts that your pristine new airgun is going to start picking up marks as soon as it’s out of the box. You may try your hardest to prevent it, but it’s going to happen. Not MIGHT happen — WILL happen. If you buy a blem or a refurb the marks are (sometimes) already there and you save a lot of money!
Are blems and refurbs a good deal? You bet they are — as long as their cosmetic condition at the start doesn’t eat at you.
Why this blog today?
I wrote this blog because reader GunFun1 asked for it, and a couple other readers said they would like to read it. But I wrote it TODAY because when I installed a CO2 cartridge in the M1 Carbine magazine for velocity testing this morning, it had a fast leak. I figured I would put some ATF Sealant in with the next cartridge, but then I couldn’t get the empty cartridge out of the mag. In the end I fixed everything and also got a great little set of tips for you guys that I will share when I cover the Carbine next week.
87 thoughts on “Blemished airguns — what’s the deal?”
I really galls me when people on the forums complain about a refurbished gun. They pay usually 1/2 of list and only bought it because it was such a deal, and then expect it to be perfect. As long as it is accurate…
What is the “expected markdown” of refurbished goods? PA seems to be 10-15%, Hatsan 30-40%.
I purposely didn’t address the markdown because there is so much variation. There are just too many reasons for the markdown for me to try to explain it.
I caught my Hatsan semi-auto Bullmaster for a real good deal from Hatsan a while back.
They had it listed with their refurbished guns plus had I think it was a additional 50% off the already marked down refurbished price.
They sell for in the $900 range new. I got mine for $350 and free shipping. There was no way I was passing up that deal.
I have bought many blemished parts over the years in building AR-15 based weapons. Only 1 was actually what i would call blemished, a lower receiver from Palmetto State Armory had a scratch inside the magazine well.
All the other parts were like you said, maybe a little uneven on the anodizing, or the bluing.
Refurbs? As they say in Wisconsin, “You Betcha”.
The gun has been gone over by someone who was looking for a problem, when the problem was found, it was corrected.
And you got a much better price.
Good to know info.. The price difference was never enough to get me to bite. I may have to look again, especially at re-furbs. I guess that my only question would be is,.. why they are not discounted more?
Good Day to you and to all,…….. Chris
Not sure if you caught my blog entry about the M1 Carbine mags. Crosman CO2 cartridges and perhaps others have necks that are too wide to easily fit into the seal retaining nut and thus puncture. I tried Swiss Arms cartridges and they worked just fine. The difference in the manufacturing process is very obvious.
Very interested to find out what you did about it. I suggested drilling out the retaining nut if you don’t want to switch cartridges. Full auto still working fine.
I got a “Refurbished ?” Colt SAA once without a warrantee and it had a crushed seal that looked like a small preformed rubber band. It obviously slipped out of its grove and could not have been tested. Don’t know who did it but the people at Umarex took care of me in a heart beat.
Also got a “Blemished ?” silver Barretta M92 pellet pistol, the costly one, and it looked like someone handled it with acid on his hands. Horrible looking, but I managed to clean most of it up. Neither was from P/A.
I did see that entry and others like it over the years. And there are differences. It has more to do with the daily adjustment of production machinery and the replacement of tooling for wear than it does with intentional differences. Things are simply moving within a specification.
“Things are simply moving within a specification.”
If that is an ORIGINAL statement Tom, you should have it carved in a stone tablet!
That is the biggest Bugaboo of the science of system/equipment interoperability.
The second is that Specifications of sub-asemblies/systems that are designed to play well together will always have areas of specification underlap (areas where they will never play well with each other.) resulting in Interoperability FAILURE.
MODERN manufacturing is lauded as being “better” than the hand fitting of Craftsmen and Artisan; an that almost never has issues with subsystem Interoperability.
It’s not as good or should I say as easy as you think even with modern machining technology.
I been in the machining biusness for 35 years and their are still issues that we have today that we had back when I started.
I think you misunderstood my key point; I believe I actually agree with you.
Without the hand fitting of the Craftsman that spec. underlap occurs in our Modern manufacturing. I was not talking about INTERCHANGEABILITY of parts which many believe is synonymous with Interoperability; which it isn’t. Sloppy (wide) specification is what makes most typical modern manufacturing work but it also creates the dreaded LEMON! Only if a manufacturer is willing to test each part/sub-asembly for proper tolerance to spec. and reject lots of parts will you even approach the level of fit created by a Craftsman. I grant you that in most cases the Craftsman fitted parts will not be INTERCHANGEABLE which is what has created this “wealth of things for the masses” that we live fairly well with.
What do you think?
Yes that’s what I’m talking about. We call it tolerance stacking. The more tolerance allowed on dimensions for certain products being made is what it’s all about.
And yes very true. If a number of parts are fitted precisely to work with each other, the parts very well might not interchange. Oh but even if they do still, don’t mean they will perform right.
You just can’t imagine the stories I could tell about machining and manufacturing. What it ends up boiling down to is same stuff, different day. It just seems that the problems back then are still the same today. In reality sometimes worse nowdays.
Ain’t it funny how time tends to repeat itself.
Electronics is something like that.
The sum of errors. As long as the end result is within specs, then it’s ok. But if the errors add up the wrong way, things are not so good.
You are correct in saying that sometimes the quality is worse today than years before. Today, it’s more about making money and satisfying stock holders then it is about producing quality products. I saw evidence of this very fact where I worked for many years. When the bean counters start running the business quality digresses.
Saddly that too.
I also worked in manufacturing, for 43 years. I started out as a certified machinist and later went into the quality assurance dept. As I am sure you are aware, there will always be variability in the process. Some parts are going to fall outside that bell curve of the high and low limits of tolerance. We manufactured hydraulic pumps, motors, and valves. Our standard acceptable quality level was 4%, which means there will be many parts out of spec. We tried to convince manufacturing that statistical process control would insure better product quality and save them money overall. Manufacturing thought that engineering made the tolerance specs too constricted so they would keep running the machines even though the parts exceeded the tolerance.
I have to say that the quality level of the parts we were making when I left was nowhere near as good as it was when I started working there. The quality department ended up being more window dressing than anything else. The machine shop didn’t change out the tools as often as they should have because they didn’t want to shut them down to do it. Consequently they often had to replace the tools because they could no longer be sharpened.
It was the Japanese that, with the help of Dr. Deming, found that if the parts in their automatic transmissions were held closer to nominal specs, they had better longevity. The Big Three were not interested in Dr. Deming’s theory, so he went to Japan to teach it. Then ironically it was the quality of the Japanese autos that drove the US manufactures to improve their quality. Toyota and Honda are still the gold standard and set the bar high for GM, Ford, and Chrysler.
I believe much of this quality theory is applicable to airguns as well.
The print is the Bible is the way I was taught. So when that print comes out. It better darn well be what they want produced.
That’s exactly why quality is not made. You just don’t know how many times I had to state my case over time. Got into some pretty good arguments. Never got fired though. As it goes what’s right is right.
That’s kind of what I meant when I made the statement here today. History repeats itself. I can still argue about the same situation I had 35 years ago when I started machining. As smart as people are it just kills me how they can’t learn and continue. It’s like they think it’s never been encountered before. Funny how soon enough they learn. We’ll hopefully anyway.
Did you work for Vickers, by any chance?
No, I worked for Parker Hannifin Corp in the hydraulic division. Vickers was a competitor.
As an Industrial Maintenance Man for over 40 years I have replaced many hundreds of Parker and Vicker components and must say that both companies get it right most of the time. As an end user I can’t complain. So, “Good Job!”
We use the Parker valves and they are pretty good. That’s usually the last thing we have to worry about when something fails on a machine.
I learned that from two sources. The first was Dennis Quackenbush, who simply explained it to me. Then the M1 Carbine manufacturing program caused Irwin Pederson to lose their contract due to specification drift. They way they made guns, each fixture had some tolerance and when they were finished no rifle was ever accepted by the government. The parts were within spec until the end, when they suddenly weren’t.
Now why doesn’t that surprise me!!!!
It is never-the-less a statement that all should burn into their minds and should also be Carved-in-Stone!
And that’s the bad side of a blemished part.
Those are the ones that get scraped and sent out to be melted to start a new life.
I bet people don’t realize how much scrap control is part of a the manufacturing process. Reducing scrap is big priority where I come from.
So many variables it’s unbelievable that a company can make any money. Then add in cost of machines and up keep and other things. Manufacturing is a hard world to live in and do it right.
This condition is known as “adverse tolerance stackup”. When parts are at extreme ends of the tolerance in opposing directions resulting in a non functional product.
Back in the old days we made and assembled some of our own products in house.
What was nice about that is we could change tolerances to help with assembly and function too. And yes there would be a revision on the print and it had to be a guaulity control print. It would go down to the controlled cutting tool prints and the machine set up prints which was controlled prints also. That is a big deal to make sure the prints were up to date and stamped controlled to the recent machine set up date. Or if changes were made throughout the process. Documentation is a big deal.
We made good products that worked. It was kind of like hand fitting but it was mass production.
Those days pretty much don’t exist anymore in a sense. But company’s that grow up with that background tend to be the ones that are still going now days.
They just got to play the ball game a little different now.
A few years back I bought a refurb scope from PA. The price was very reasonable and the scope AND packaging looked to be brand new. I would do it again without hesitation.
As far as blems go, sooner or later it is going to be in my hands.
Sometimes I look at the refurbished offerings listed and think this company has lots of problems with their Airguns.
Or … perhaps it is a method of letting excess stock go at a discounted price without looking like they are deliberately undercutting the competition. Slick move if it is. A lot of stuff looks absolutely new.
I forgot that point. If I see a bunch of one type or one brand up in the refurb sale, I figure that they must have gone back at least once,….. for something. Same goes for seeing a bunch of one gun up for sale on the aftermarket sites. Reasons vary for sale, but at least I would give it some thought. Also, seeing blow out sales that make you wonder if there was problems with the line or they just did not sell (maybe due to problems with line?)
One good thing, it is pretty easy to do searches and get a fairly good feel on something, rather quickly.
What comes to my mind is maybe those refurbs are first run guns. They get released and find they have problems. Like with seals or something and update them to what the future guns have.
Either way I believe those guns go out the door with probably more of a look over than the same production gun does.
Probably common sense is where it lies too. Sometimes you just got to put the peices of the puzzle together and that will give you more of a hint if you should get the refurb or blemished part or whatever.
But when the research and knowledge is done right there are some good deals to be had. Knowing the products and something about the manufacturer helps.
Having spent (many) years in retail I’ve learned a thing or two (or more) on dealing with difficult customers and/or otherwise incompetent purchasers
It’s too late tonight to write the treatise on the subject but B. B. is absolutely correct: Rolex, Rolls Royce, Leica…nothing ever comes “mint” even from the factory.
Nothing, not even the highest of the high-end items.
The there are two ways to deal with the guy who walks in and whips out his $3,95 magnifier and says, “Can I look at that Rolex/Leica/Colt Python, etc..” And just stands there more expectant than a Labrador just offered a cookie.
You can Just say “No…” because whatever happens, you’re not going to sell a Rolex or Leica or Colt Python to this guy today..,or ever.
Or my personal favorite response, “0h, you should go over to our home office who has a better one for less money and better condition.”
Try not to giggle.
The “Home Office” of course will actually be be your closest competitor but it always seems to fool the yokels.
Good report BB.
And yes definitely refurbs. I have gotten some real good deals over time. And they looked and functioned like they was brand new. You would of never knew it if you wasn’t told.
And same with blems. They functioned great but was just a cosmetic problem.
I for sure will still buy blems or refurbs. Matter of fact it’s kind of fun keeping my eyes open for these kind of deals.
I would sure like to pick up a blemished refurb FX Compact Dreamlite right now.
Of course you would. 😉
What about a blemed Daystate or Tx or even a RAW.
Maybe you won’t find one. You know what I mean. 🙂
Maybe they do like Gibson guitar used to do. Gibson guitars were originally made in Kalamazoo, MI, about twenty mile from where I live. Rem Wall, Rendal, and others worked in the Gibson plant. If a guitar was found with any blemishes on it, they sawed the neck off so it would not get out of the plant.
Rem Wall and “The Greenvalley Boys” aired on our local radio and TV stations for 44 years.
I met Jim Bradford, the fiddle player, one time when he visited one of my neighbors.
You got it dead on. That bad part should be made non-functional.
The right people working in a place. And a company that realizes that needs to happen to help ease making a good product go out the door.
Saddly that don’t happen enough.
I have seen refurb TX’s at PA, but you are not likely to see NIB blems from the top tier bunch.
Yep agree with you there
Excellent blog B.B.!
A regular kick in the perspective is always good to keep one reasonable LOL!
Good to keep in mind that the “quality” of a finished product is often dependent on things that can only be partially controlled… variables in the process or variables in the operators all factor in.
Some decades ago, an industry insider told me about how refurbs in the yard equipment business are usually better than new, and I’ve brought that intel with me when considering refurbed air rifles. That said, when considering a refurb rifle, I haven’t found the mark-down to be particularly attractive, so I usually purchase new.
But what Tom has written resonates with me. I’m just not one of those that expects all goods I buy to be picayunish perfect…as long as they work okay. I recently bought a refurbished HW97K in .22 from PA, and honestly, I really wanted a new one. I ordered one from a competitor initially because it was a little less expensive, and when the order got hung up…their web site showed the order was ‘complete’ but shipping was ‘pending’…I reached out and confirmed that in reality, that unit wasn’t in stock so I cancelled that order. The only one PA had was refurbed, so I bought it.
When it arrived, I opened up the box, looked new, cleaned it, shot new, very happy with my purchase! It arrived early, so I was happy with FedEx too! It looked to me like maybe it had been used in a trade show, and that squares with the info that PA puts out about refurbed units.
So, this is a pretty timely blog for me! I do appreciate your insider information, Tom, and it just reinforces what I’ve learned over the years…thanks!
I always been one of those who looks to save a lot of money by looking for an air gun that is cosmetically rough but in excellent functioning condition, including not strictly new products such as blems. More and more, however, I am rethinking that approach. I have made quite a few purchases of used and shop-worn air guns that have ended up being functionally poor as well, despite their being advertised otherwise.
“The Gaylord,” the Diana 27 / Winchester 427 you completely restored and tuned to perfection for me had been a total wreck inside, contrary to how its seller represented it. That story ended very happily, but only because you graciously volunteered to rehabilitate the air rifle for me and then did so painstakingly and expertly. Without your wonderful offer, it ultimately would have ended up in the corner of my basement I reserve for terrible air guns I will never touch again. That corner has a few dozen terrible air rifle purchases of mine, most all of them used or “blems” or “refurbs.” There are Crosmans, BSAs, Walthers, Umarexes, and other name brand air guns in that corner. No manufacturer completely avoids putting out a piece of junk, but I seem to be a magnet for the worst from each.
At the moment I have not purchased an airgun for the longest period of time in the past 14 years, mostly out of frustration at the problems I have encountered. I have been burned so many times I am now leaning towards buying only air guns that are brand new from licensed dealers of the brand. And these dealers must have excellent return policies, as I have learned the hard way that most manufacturers do not honor their warranties.
Because I have meekly accepted shoddy goods so often in the past and regretted doing so every time, I plan to become one of those folks who closely examines everything, but for functionality, not cosmetics. Then, for the most minor functional issue, back it goes, and again and again and again until either one that is totally right arrives or the dealer issues me a refund. Again, the cosmetics matter little to me, but anything that affects its operation must be flawless from now on.
Refurbs can be great!!!
I’m on very good terms with my local gun shop manager and he has confirmed what I suspected (this happens in my industry…photographic)
John/Jane doe come in and buys the camera they always wanted. The get it home and find out it’s not what they wanted or (more likely) their significant other asks what the heck they were thinking 😉
They are too embarrassed to tell the truth so they tell us it doesn’t work properly, usually followed with ‘I’m going to do a little more research so I’d rather have my money back than a replacement’
It goes back to the manufacturer to be checked (nothing wrong) and gets sold as a refurb with a huge discount.
Happens more often than you think.
Years ago, I had bought a refurbished Marauder .22 from another on-line retailer. No blemishes to be concerned with and it was accurate. Three weeks after putting it down, I picked it up and found the air had leaked out to where it had to be refilled. After happening several times, I used a drop of dish detergent mixed with a drop of water on the foster fitting interfaces and the pressure gauge. Thankfully, that was where the leaks were – plumbers’ tape to the rescue. The rifle now holds pressure for up to 6 months without any evident leakage. I’m glad the leak wasn’t at the pressure chamber/valve chamber interface or the valve chamber itself. I kind of expect a almost good job from any mechanic these days and accept that I might have to repair their repairs at times. Not always, thank goodness.
Fred formerly of the DPRoNJ now happily in GA (a “damn yankee” I am told)
Dad, in reading thru comments on forums and blogs, I’ve developed the opinion that many, many people will return something to a seller simply because they don’t like what they bought, or from buyer’s remorse. To me, that’s not a very good reason to return an item at all! That’s not the retailers problem, it’s the buyers problem, and they need to suck it up and deal with it because they perhaps made the wrong decision.
On the other hand, retailers have created and exacerbated that problem by being so willing to accept those returns. This affects all of us because that’s obviously computed in those retailers’ markups.
Totally agree with you Yarddog. In ‘the old days’ you decided you wanted something, did your due diligence and researched the product and bought the product. Now many people decide on a whim they want something and buy it with the attitude that if it doesn’t work the way they wish they’ll just return it.
It all started with the big box retailers who can afford to take the hit…they depend on volume and pay their minimally trained staff minimum wage.
As a small, essentially family run business this definitely hurts us, because we have to compete against the big box stores, plus we pay our knowledgeable staff better than they do.
So it’s one of those things that can benefit the consumer (I myself recently purchased a ‘refurb’ Dyson vacuum I wouldn’t have bought at retail)…the downside is eventually I fear that our only choices in this world will be Amazon and the Big Boxes retailers.
Hi BB, thanks for this blog. It confirms what I thought about refurbs that the manufacturer do ensure it’s really up to spec before sending it off as refurb….nice read. I do have a couple questions unrelated to the blog. You mentioned folks not cleaning their barrels when they leaded up. What is your recommendation on cleaning air rifle barrels? I’ve read, don’t remember where, that air rifles don’t need much cleaning unlike firearms that shoot gun powder.
Not B.B. but I have been shooting rimfire, centerfire, and Airguns for 65 years. The frequent cleaning of arms using gun powder is a hold over from the days of Black Powder and corrosive primers. There also is a bit of blame to be put on the military for the tradition of making work by cleaning firearms even though they haven’t even been fired or out in the elements or mud or sand! PROPER lubrication (NOT to include over lubrication M-16 family of weapons is an exception on the bolt! Keep that action leaking lube!) is actually far more important than “cleaning” off the lubrication.
Air guns are interesting in that we have multiple powerplants each needing different lubrication and cleaning routines. A new Airgun should have the barrel inspected. If it is clean just shoot it! If it is dirty CLEAN it carefully. Most airgunners barrels are made from much softer (better machining) steel or even Brass. On Olympic 10 meter gun barrels, most actually NEVER get cleaned, because they shoot with low muzzle velocity. With high velocity Airguns (say, over 850 FPS) inspect regularly for Leading and clean only if accuracy actually degrades and barrel inspection with a Borescope shows leading.
Let the debate begin! Lol.
No debate needed. Same here with air guns and firearms and rimfire. And I do have to state that I do really like to shoot rimfire alot. We’ll even shot guns.
But yep once you own something long enough you learn about it.
What did I just say. Once you own it. Is that where that phrase came from to own a situation. 😉
Hi Shootski, thanks very much for this info; especially about 10 meter competition barrels never needing to be cleaned because of the low velocity! That’s good to know. Btw, were did you get a borescope that will fit a 4.5mm barrel? Probably a specialty item? The scopes i see at Amazon, the cheap ones anyway, are all too big!
Even smaller (0.5 mm) are available to retail consumers!
This is one of many companies:
Of course quality comes at a cost! How much do you really need can be answered by only you.
Do you need to resolve barrel issues down to hundredths or thousandths?
Sometimes quality doesn’t have to come at cost.
Process change is one. Sometimes you can drill a hole and ream and chamfer. Or chamfer first then drill and ream. Changing the process like that in a machine is usually pretty easy. Just swap the same tools into a different machining station in the machine.
But yeah I know what you mean. It does cost some kind of way. Just sometimes the cost is more.
It does seem to with micro borescopes!
But I get what you mean. I was thinking about our (conversation?) writings and the idea that good design and great process engineering won’t with a bunch of experience by machinists is all you need to get a great product (make lots of profit) or provide a product at a reasonable cost.
Then I thought about Dennis Quackenbush and thought; there is the Exemplar! He does great design, has loads of Machinist experience, and is a Salt-of-the-Earth kind of guy. One who builds airguns that are fnctionally outstanding and sold at a honest price. He even sells, at a discount, Blems but calls them Stalker Grade. Of course his top grade, Superior grade airguns are polished and deep Blued to perfection with Walnut stocks that would cost you thousands all by themselves elsewhere. There are many airgunners among us that are fantastic people; we are lucky to be members of that Religion!
Probably alot of it has to do with getting the right person in the right place.
Sometimes the stars line up. Sometimes they don’t.
Hi Shootski, thanks for the link! WOW, nice equipment! Yes, quality is costly, but an eye opener to seen this sort of technology out there! Have a great weekend!
You are very welcome!
Just remember that if your going to dump a custom barrel you may as well know why. You might even see the problem and save an accurate barrel. If not then when the new barrel arrives you can inspect it for the quality rifling and bore lapping the barrel maker made you pay those $$$$ for!
I know I’m going to have a great weekend; the mountains behind the house got two or more feet of snow this week. The Spring powder is way deep in the snow bowls I’m sure!
I hope you have a great weekend also!
If the barrel is machined smooth then the gun can shoot a long time without being cleaned. If the metal is rough, it will lead faster.
If you shoot pellets that are hardened with antimony they will lead up faster than pure lead pellets, and the faster they go the faster they lead up.
When accuracy drops off the barrel needs to be cleaned.
Clean the barrel with a solid cleaning rod and a brass brush with JB Bore Paste on the brush. It takes about 20 trips each way down the bore to clean out the lead, then clean out the residue with clean patches.
Hi BB, thanks for this info. Wow, JB Bore, that sounds agrressive, but of course BB approved methods are always good! 🙂 btw, how many rounds (minimum) between cleanings if using high leading pellets?
Clean only when accuracy falls off.
JB Bore Paste is used by benchrest champions who spend thousands on their barrels. It doesn’t wear the barrel.
thanks very much BB!
I will agree with Peter in his comment of always concurring with B.B.’s “approved methods”.
On that, in a case of PCP’s with an under transfer port,… and,…. using JB Paste,… if it is (lightly) applied,…. is it ok? that a bit of paste may get caught in the port,.. and,… be fired out with the first post-clean shot?
A break barrel is one thing where a port is not involved,… a PCP where one is ,…is another matter.
If it is ok to use the paste, and not wear the barrel,… and if a bit is caught in the port is no issue,…. then that seems like a pretty good way to insure that the cleaning job gets done right. Thoughts?
JB Paste is so safe that bemnchres shooters coat their bullets with it and shoot them out of the gun! It’s called fire-lapping.
Might be good to explain which JB paste….
Bore cleaning paste or Bore Bright (polish).
JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound.
If you are really worried about getting paste or anything else temporarily stuck in a TP then a proper Diameter thin wall plastic/metal straw can be used to cover the TP part of bore; that part of the bore seldom gets lead buildup and really has virtually no effect on accuracy in any case.
Also, not all PCP have an in barrel TP and you can always shoot off a few blanks and blow that stuff right out :^)
Hopefully it will blow out.
Did I say it that way! Wait for it… ;^)
No need to wait.
You done showed it. 😉
Nice report today. This is all very good information. My first breakbarrel airgun was a Crosman Nitro Venom .22 cal. The first gun shot okay but had a small chip in the finish on the stock. I returned it in hopes that the next one would be good. The second one had an issue with a bent barrel and shot 6″ high at 10 yards. That one went back too, and I ordered a third one. The UPS guy whom was picking up and delivering asked me “what’s going on” after delivering the third gun. Well, the third Crosman shot okay and the finish was not blemished like the first one I had received, though the trigger was horrible. I fixed that issue with a Charliedatuna GRT-III trigger. Both my Diana RWS34P and my Gamo Urban arrived with no visible defects whatsoever.
Unfortunately some companies set higher standards than others. This is why I do not own one of the newer airguns from TCFKAC.
There you go again.
You know there is different manufacturing involved at Crosman.
They have their low end guns like you and Geo are talking about and they have their higher end guns too. I have had very good luck with their higher end stuff.
What ones have you had? And tell me how well they did after owning them for a while.
Gotcha again didn’t I. 😉
When I purchased the Crosman Nitro Venom .22, it was my first experience with a breakbarrel springer. I did a lot of research and read a lot of reviews before I made the purchase. At that time, I was totally ignorant of the idiosyncrasies of breakbarrel spring (or gas piston) airguns. Actually, the Nitro Venom is not a bad airgun for the money. I wasn’t expecting a super great finish on the stock which appears to be just a sprayed on thin finish. When I couldn’t shoot the 1″ groups at 25 yards that I needed, I thought it was the rifle and moved on. My next purchase was, again after due diligence and research, a Diana RWS 34P .22. I thought that this rifle would be more accurate and achieve the results I needed. But I discovered that I was not able to shoot any better groups with the Diana 34 than with the Crosman.
This resulted in my journey of learning here in the blog. I now know that the poor groups I shot with either of these rifles was not the fault of the rifles. It was totally on me being ignorant of the techniques required to shoot these types of airguns accurately. I have learned a great deal in these past five years here in the blog from B.B. and users like you and Chris. But even to this day, I am not able to shoot either of those spring guns accurately. There is nothing wrong with either of them though.
I learned here in the blog that a PCP was much easier to shoot and often times more accurate. So last spring I gave it try with the purchase of a Gamo Urban. That was the remedy for my inaccurate shooting and has done the job for me very well. I am thankful to this blog and the folks here who have helped me through this learning process. I read this blog and every comment daily. There is always more to learn. 😉
The first air gun I bought online was a Gamo Whisper. It was a very bad exsperiance.
It’s a shame to say. But it set my mind wrong with Gamo guns.
I wish I could say different but I think you know what I mean. Kind of like your Ford purchases.
Let that be learned. Right. Maybe the manufacturers are listening. And maybe a more open mind is needed on both parts One way or another.
Yeah, I have heard of some bad experiences with Gamo guns too. Fortunately my Urban is actually a rebranded BSA Buccaneer and is manufactured in Birmingham England in the BSA plant. Made in the U.K. is actually stamped on the receiver. It really is a nice PCP…and it’s very accurate. But I know exactly what you mean about having a bad experience. If I ever have to get parts or warranty work, I may have that bad experience too. Hope I don’t ever have to find out though.
I do not need to stick my hand in the fire to know that it is hot. I can also learn by listening to those I know and trust. I own only one Crosman, my 101. I have not finished the rebuild of it yet, but the quality is amazing. I have been fortunate to have friends who have let me play with their toys over the years. Right now I have Lloyd’s Benjamin Rogue upstairs waiting for some range time with my RAW.
Over the years I have watched TCFKAC ebb and flow as most companies do. They reached a pinnacle with the Marauder and tried to ride the crest a little further with the Rogue, but those who had taken them to the crest left and they focused on profit margins and relied on their past fame to carry them forward. A common practice with them now is to behave like the automotive industry and introduce several “new” airguns every year which are nothing more than the “old” airguns with new trim.
This worked for a time, but now they have very serious competition at all levels of the market share. If they want to ride that crest again they need to get some forward thinking people and give them some room to work.
By the way, at least one of the people who helped take TCFKAC to the crest now works at Sig Air.
Yep I have shot some (loaned) guns also over a fair period of time.
But just not the same as owning it.
It takes time. And a fairly good amount of time to really learn a gun for the most part.
The guns wear in and change as time goes. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes for the worse.
Beware the man who owns but one gun.
Yep the one gun man. I guess that leaves alot of us out in that regard. Don’t mean we can’t shoot though now does it. 😉
Do all I can. Shot some yesterday with my grandson. He was able to hit the 3/4″ spinner at 10 yards with open sights several times. I think he is starting to focus on shooting.
Good. Keep him at it.
If he keeps hanging around me we will not have any choice. 😉
And I know you’ll do your best to make that happen. 🙂
I hope things are good with you regarding your health. Awaiting the Friday blog. 🙂
Yes, but usually the blog is already loaded on the server and then is released at the proper time. Unfortunately, computers are built by man.
Great report, BB!
I am always amazed at the expectations of airgunners here and on the forums. They obviously don’t have any experience or insight into what is required to mass produce a tangible product (defined as something other than an idea or software) as complex as an air gun and do it as a business venture (defined as, make some money!). A business could not meet demand or make a profit doing things to the unrealistic standards that the unenlightened would set for them.
It’s always a disappointment to get a lemon, but that’s why reputable companies offer meaningful warranties. In the real world it’s all they can do.
I like buying the cheaper reworked “lemons” that were never lemons to start with, but were simply sold, the first time around, to the, eh, overly discriminating? I hope they keep it up! 😉
“I like buying the cheaper reworked “lemons” that were never lemons to start with, but were simply sold, the first time around, to the, eh, overly discriminating? I hope they keep it up!”
Yep it does seem to be that way for the most part doesn’t it.
Only if we really knew.
Hey B.B. I am working through some of your older blogs and really enjoying them. This one is interesting, I have always been a deal shopper and minor blemishes never bothered me if the savings was there. I have been a bit more cautious with refurbs in general, not specifically airguns, as I have not had very good luck with them especially with electronics. I bought my first refurb airgun from PA a few weeks ago. A Seneca Dragon Claw .50 cal 500cc dual tank. It came with no spare parts, no documentation or manual. Just the gun inside a used rifle soft case with my 10 for 10 report. The stock was damaged in shipping and the fill valve was faulty, it would dump the gun’s reservoir when bleeding the fill hose. I really think that fill valve problem should have been caught, not much they could have done about the shipping damage, that’s on FedEx.
Customer service was great and they took it back. They said they would send me a new one to make sure I got a good one. I thought that meant a ‘NEW’ one but apparently it didn’t mean BRAND NEW haha. It was another refurb, but that’s, that is what I paid for. Both guns were labeled SAMYANG on the fore end instead of Seneca. They refunded me my $10 bucks and did a free 10 for 10 on the replacement. The replacement is working fine so far. My only nitpick is that the stock and fore end are a fair bit off on the coloring but that’s ok, just a nitpick but enough that most would call it a blem. Again, however, it came with no parts or documentation besides my 10 for 10 report, and again in a used dirty soft rifle case. No manual or anything else for either one. Maybe that is no longer an industry standard? They did take care of me so I am not complaining, just interesting that my experience was so different than your article.