Quality is not always straightforward

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Location, location, location!
  • Price point
  • Limited access to materials
  • Committee rule
  • Space is different — of course
  • Materials issues
  • Something different
  • Intermodal containers
  • Different perspective
  • The gamble
  • They approved the design
  • Real world
  • However…
  • Your comments
  • True story
  • Summary

The 5-part Air Venturi TR5 Multi-Shot Target Air Rifle series brought up a lively discussion of manufacturing quality. I have read the comments and feel compelled to mention a few things that no one has addressed yet.

I will be addressing some of the comments from readers in today’s report, but I am not doing it to argue with anyone. I just think we need to see all sides when we talk about this.

Location, location, location!

Does anyone not know that the TR5 is being made in China? It is. Many of you think the Chinese don’t care about quality and the last good thing they built was the Great Wall, but that’s incorrect. China makes most of the smartphones, computers, consumer electronics and optics that we have today. China also has a space program. They are only the third country to put humans into orbit (in their own space program) and they have plans for a Chinese space station next year. They even plan to walk on the moon!

China can make quality products. So, when something substandard gets out what is the problem? Let’s start with the things you know and go from there.

Price point

Like anyone, the Chinese manufacturers have to make money from the sales of their products. If a “bottom-line” buyer negotiates a deal with them, they have to protect themselves so of course they will seek the cheapest way to do things. That will surface as both marginal materials and a reduced number of steps in the manufacturing process. Labor costs drive prices — even in China.

That was an easy one. It’s a takeoff on, “You get what you pay for.” But there is more.

Limited access to materials

A closed society like China suffers from limited access to materials. Here in America with the internet and Ebay at our fingertips we wonder why anyone would manufacture something like the Artemis PP700S-A PCP pistol and then put o-rings in it that are not rated for the job. And they even know they have done it because they include additional seals plus the directions for installing them in the package that comes with the gun! Here’s why that happens.

Committee rule

A communist society is closed. It’s run by man-made rules rather than by physics and the marketplace. If an o-ring fits the application and it is also on the list of materials that can be obtained, it’s considered okay. Never mind that it won’t or can’t do some critical function that’s required by the end product. If it fits and is available, you can get it — and I am talking about the manufacturer now. That’s how you get a precharged pistol with o-rings that are the right size, but cannot take the pressures and fail too soon.

In a free marketplace the engineer recognizes this and includes the pressure tolerance within the purchase specification for the part. It is noted on the engineering drawing or on a specification sheet that’s attached to the drawing.

In a closed society the engineer scans the list of available o-rings that was put together by committee 17, who made up the list based on other criteria. That list is all he has access to.

Space is different — of course

China’s space program can get whatever they need because, let’s face it, in space it has to work. But a maker of toy airguns has no clout with committee 17. That is the dichotomy of a closed society that tries to manage everything centrally.

Materials issues

Several decades ago the U.S. bought scrap titanium from the former Soviet Union. Some of it came in the form of worn-out baby carriages! Only in a closed society would a manufacturer build a baby carriage out of a material as valuable as titanium! But, when People’s Factory Number 3 needed tubing of a certain size to meet their monthly production quota, committee 17 approved whatever tubing was available. Some of the Anics BB pistols had barrels made from tubing that was sourced from the Soviet space program and just happened to fit steel BBs! That’s committee 17 (centralized management) at work!

Something different

Now let’s look at something quite different. Let’s look at the dark side of business that never gets discussed anywhere.

Here is one you never hear about and it’s the one that prompted me to write today’s report. Let’s say you are buying products from China’s Industrial Factory Number 11. You currently buy five different products from them. Three of those products are among your best-selling items. Now, you have this new item to add to their list. It’s a youth pellet rifle and, after some very tough negotiations, you have left them with a very slim line of profit. But your American company is their good client, and you believe they want your business at almost any cost.

Intermodal containers

Your company receives a 40-foot intermodal container full of products from this manufacturer every 60 days. The new pellet rifle will now be among the packages inside.

intermodal container
Products are shipped around the world in intermodal containers that allow rapid progress through ports and shipping lanes.

It takes 45 days for the manufacturer to fill the container, get it to their country’s port, ship it to a west-coast port in the U.S., clear American customs, and be transported to its final destination in the U.S. By the time that container arrives they are already packing the next one. They are able to pack 500 of the new rifles in the container, along with all the other products you ordered.

Different perspective

Now, let’s look at this from the manufacturer’s perspective.

When the deal for this rifle was negotiated, the agreement was for a purchase of 500 rifles every 60 days, or approximately 3,000 rifles a year, with an option to double production on a 60-day notice. Your American client expects this rifle to be a very big seller. So you purchased tooling to make 3,000 rifles, because that was the cheapest way to go. Tooling for 10,000 rifles would have been 9 percent cheaper than the tooling you bought, but then you would have risked a wasted expense if your client stopped buying for any reason. The contract guarantees they must buy at least 3,000 rifles from you, but it doesn’t guarantee they won’t go out of business this year. Another American company did that two years ago and left you holding thousands of dollars of their products.

If your client doubles your output you will purchase the cheaper tooling the next time you buy tooling. The savings from that purchase will all be on your side because the purchase price will remain firm! That’s where your real profit will begin.

You made a lot of the production tooling in-house, and the rifling buttons were among the more expensive items you had to buy. They should be good for a large number of passes through barrels before they need sharpening, but with every sharpening they get a little smaller. So you ordered the maximum size button that is permitted, in the hopes of getting the greatest number of rifled barrels from them. The first few thousand barrels will be on the large side, but as the contract runs they will get progressively smaller. And let’s face it — these are inexpensive children’s pellet rifles. Who’s going to complain?

The gamble

Your plant manager knew the rifles were not that accurate because of the large rifling buttons, but he had an engineer test and select the three most accurate rifles from a startup production run of 50 rifles to send to the client as samples for approval. So, at least some of the rifles you produce should be that accurate!

Your client will thoroughly test the samples you send them and if they don’t like what they see, you’ll have to make changes. That has the potential of costing you real money, which could destroy all of the slim profit you were able to negotiate. But the samples you sent pleased them. Once the client approved the final design, the gun’s production began and the first container was loaded.

You may hear about the lack of accuracy from them after they receive the first shipment, but you’ll deal with that problem if and when it happens. Remember, at least some of the rifles will be as accurate as those first three samples you sent. By the time they notice anything, if they ever do, the second container will have been shipped and the production run for the third shipment will be complete. Your client is very pleased with the other products you sell them, so it’s unlikely they will want to do anything that you can’t live with. They can’t just walk away!

They approved the design

And here is your saving grace. Your client approved the samples already. The client is the one who said to proceed with production. If they want you to make any changes now it opens the entire contract to renegotiation and you can increase the price. You only need one additional U.S. dollar per rifle to turn this situation around to your favor. And, if they want you to modify rifles that have already been produced, that will cost them a lot more because of all the work that has to be done to the ones that have been assembled already.

Real world

This is the real world, gentlemen. It’s how a lot of business is conducted. Yes, there are companies that are entirely trustworthy and can be trusted far beyond the business deal. You will usually pay more to them for the same things, but this is my point — they aren’t the same things at all! Yes, they make airguns, but they won’t let one go out of their factory unless it is perfect, because their name is on it. You don’t have to worry about things like I have just explained because they will fix them before you ever see them. And, if something does go wrong, they will bend over backwards to rectify it.

Their airguns do cost more money. But in the long run they save money because they help you keep your established customers and even win new ones for you!

However…

Sounds good? Well, I have overlooked one important point. The bulk of your sales are not to airgunners. You make most of your sales to big box stores that order airguns from you by the pallet! They negotiate with you just as hard as you negotiated with the Chinese factory — or harder! Their business plan says they sell to people who only buy on the basis of price.

So, 20 percent of this new rifle’s sales will be to real airgunners and 80 percent will be to the big box stores. Quality doesn’t matter to a box store because they don’t get returns on every bad item they sell. Their customers are used to poor quality and don’t often bother going to the trouble of returning things they don’t like. And, when they do return them, the box store simply passes them right back to the supplier and deducts any expense for doing this from their outstanding invoices. Box stores are so powerful that they can tell their suppliers how much they owe, not the other way around. If a supplier doesn’t like that they can step aside — there are always more suppliers in the wings, waiting for their chance to sell to the box store!

Your comments

In light of all of this, let’s now examine what several of you said in response to the TR5 test. I will play the part of the devil’s advocate and answer you.

Hank said, “True, but I think there is a minimum acceptance threshold – if the produce is way sub-par then it ceases to be viable and low sales relative to tooling costs will result in a small profit margin.

In these days of internet, product reviews, and buyer comments, product performance (or the lack thereof) quickly comes to light. Sales will quickly diminish down to those people who didn’t do their homework and believe the flashy graphics on the box.

As you say: Burn me once. The manufactures that are going for a quick sale and maximum profit are shooting themselves in the foot (or possibly higher) as disappointed customers will be cautious or won’t be back at all. Guess the thing that bothers me most is that the people that were suckered into buying a poor product may leave the airgunning scene entirely and that affects us all.”

BB’s reply, “Hank, you’re right! When a product is substandard the sales do drop off to just those customers who don’t do any homework and do buy on the basis of attractive packaging! And, if I’m selling to a box store, that number of sales is so high that the loss of sales to the informed customer is almost negligible. On the other hand, if the price of my box-store product was 5 dollars higher my sales would drop by 70 percent, because my biggest competitor is selling a similar product for just one dollar more than mine sells for right now.”

Yogi’s comment, “All airgunners want the most accurate barrel possible! If airgun barrels were easy to switch Walther would make a ton more money! Why do you think FX and AirForce sell so many barrels?”

BB’s reply, “Not all airgunners feel this way. Most of the ones who comment on this blog do, but let’s face it, Yogi, we have about 200 people who comment, out of more than a quarter million that we know are reading this blog”.

FX sells guns by the hundreds. AirForce sells them by the thousands. The largest box store sells them by the tens of thousands. Who are you going to listen to?”

GunFun1 said, “I really hate when there’s not a explanation.

It’s there. But now probably to late to find out.

Straight up. No one’s going to chop one up nowdays to find out. They will probably be happy just to get one.

But darn somebody should of dug in back then. We would at least have more of a clue why now.
And I have to say is I hate when history goes wrong.”

BB’s reply, “That’s why I wrote today’s report. None of what I wrote is factual, but it is all based on truths I have been observing for several decades. I wrote it to give you some insight into why things are the way they are.

But I didn’t tell you about any specific airgun. Instead I told you how things work in the business world, and why quality sometimes (not always) gets sidetracked. You are focused on the technical problem and how it might be fixed. I understand that because that’s the way I think, too. But today I have ignored the technical side and looked at how substandard products might make it to market because of how the wholesale side works.”

Michael said, “I have yet to miss an aluminum or steel can in my backyard at 20 – 30 feet. :^) I have only plinked with it, which is what I bought it for. My guess is that I am getting about 2.5 – 3 inch groups at 10 meters, shooting it off-hand. That is pretty good for me, as I usually rest long guns on a bag, even for that short distance. But the TR5 is so light, I can shoot it off-hand with ease. That plus the effortless cocking make it an “easy shooter.”

BB’s reply, “You see? There are customers who like the product. Some of these customers are even experienced airgunners who read this blog. So it isn’t all or nothing. Each buyer has a particular reason for wanting the gun, and if it meets their needs, who can tell them it isn’t right?”

There were many other comments besides these, but these sum up the gist of what you readers are saying. I hope today’s report helps you see some of what lies behind the curtain of the development of a new airgun. Remember, I also documented the development of the Sig ASP20 breakbarrel rifle in great detail, so you got to see things a manufacturer can do when they want to control the product as far as possible. As we come to the end of today’s report, let’s look at another slightly different variation of the manufacturing process.

True story

Leapers has built a strong reputation for high-quality airgun and firearm optics at reasonable prices. Like 95+ percent of the rest of the world, their optics are made in the far east. But they finally reached a point where that wasn’t good enough. They were selling so many scopes that they had to change their manufacturing model. The reason why might surprise you.

Six years ago they set out to build an optics manufacturing capability here in the United States. Why? Because they were making so many improvements to their optics that the supply chain of intermodal containers from Asia finally got to them. They needed to control their own designs in a more effective way — even if it meant going against the established model and building an optical facility here in the U.S. That way when they make a change to a scope they don’t have three 40-foot intermodal containers full of product in the pipeline with the now-outdated design.

There wasn’t an issue of quality in this case. It was an issue of timely changes to design. It just took too long to do it by the established process of engineering it here and building it there. It’s actually a variation of the Japanese manufacturing process known as kaizen, or continuous improvement. Leapers continually works on their products to make them better, and no longer can afford the tremendous lag time that the current system requires. They had to take over manufacture themselves to avoid the waste this lag time inflicts.

Summary

I guess what I have tried to show you today is that there are numerous reasons for why things go the way they do in the world of manufacture. It isn’t always that people don’t care. It’s more often layers of reasons that each affect the outcome to some extent but none of them prevail over the other reasons.

That is the reason this blog exists. I try to test a product the way most buyers will use it, so you’ll know what to expect. Josh Unger and Val Gamerman told me in 2003 when I started writing articles for Pyramyd Air that I was to write for you buyers. When the blog began in 2005 I was told the same thing. Good or bad, I was always to tell you what happened when I tested something.

If I can influence the outcome of a test in a positive way that I feel most people will be able to do, I will do it, which is why I cleaned the TR5 barrel. If that had worked, my next job was to find the easiest way to clean the barrel.

I want you to be satisfied with the airgun or related product you get, and I also don’t want you to be surprised by something unexpected.

I hope today’s report has helped you in some way.

73 thoughts on “Quality is not always straightforward

  1. Air Venturi has been really solid as an importer. I have several products by them, and they have all been great. The TR5 is a bit of a dud, and that’s why it’s suprising. I guess you can’t win every time.



  2. B.B.,

    Those are the factors that I had a vague idea of as I decided on my airgun purchases. Some airguns I knew were going to take some tuning and tinkering. The challenge and tinkering is a hobby and was one of the reasons for many purchases.

    Recently I have bought two air rifles that I expected to be made so well that there would not be any need to work on them and I would probably make them worse if I did. So far both air guns have proven to be as excellent as I had expected.

    My first was a: https://www.pyramydair.com/s/m/Air_Arms_TX200_MkIII_Air_Rifle/174

    I have not been a Springer fan but wanted to try the best. It is a pleasure to shoot and is an excellent gun. I will not be touching this one. It is great right out of the box. No regrets. This is a company that goes for quality over quantity.

    My second was a: https://www.pyramydair.com/s/m/RAW_HM1000x_LRT_Air_Rifle_Camo_Laminate/4797

    My first day shooting out of the box it is shooting better than my Marauder after two years of tuning and installing a top of the line barrel.

    Both of these purchases were based on recomendations from folks that I respect their judgment. Both guns are on the opposite side of the spectrum from the TR5. At some point though I may buy a TR5 just to tinker with. I can see from a business point either end of the spectrum can work. Crosman has taken the hit a few times with quality control ie: the Marauder .22 caliber barrels and 2nd gen. is an example. It looks like they are listening and fixing the quality issues with the Fortitude. It will be telling to see what Air Venturi does with the TR5.

    One of the guns I shoot the most is a Red Ryder with no modifications. It meets my expectations. I guess that is a big part of the marketing. Putting target in the name of the TR5 appears to be a mistake.

    I think a company takes some risk anytime they bring out a new product. It is a balance like you said, of many variables. It is even more convoluted the more companies and countries involved.

    Don


  3. B.B.,

    Thank you for taking the time to explain things a bit more. Nice report. I think if anyone of us put ourselves in the manufacture’s shoes or the importer’s shoes,… from a business persons perspective,…. we could envision some of these scenarios. Most of us are not in that position, so we focus on what we know the best. And, we complain if something is not what we think it should be! 😉

    Even more reason to do one’s “homework”. I also think that waiting a bit to see how a new product performs, before buying,…. also bodes well in most instances.

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


  4. BB,

    Awesome report! When purchasing anything, these are some of the things to keep in mind.

    This is the very thing that happened with Webley and Hatsan. Webley negotiated away Hatsan’s profit margin on the Tomahawk and that is why I was able to get one with a Hawke scope for just a few dollars more than the price of the scope. If I had paid the retail price for what I received, I would have immediately sent it back. For what I paid for it, it is an awesome air rifle. It is my understanding that the Tempest is not what it used to be.


    • “It is my understanding that the Tempest is not what it used to be.”
      RidgeRunner, that is my understanding as well. As previously noted, my first quality air pistol was a Beeman Tempest made in the UK; although I “got stupid” and sold it (*gives self a Gibb’s slap*), thank God, I now have my Dad’s 1981 Beeman Tempest, which is just as nice and has even better accuracy (1.5″ at 15 yards with JSB RS 7.33 grain pellets…not match accuracy, but nice plinking accuracy). While it is not at the same level of build quality as the Webley Senior that B.B. reviewed (here: https://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2016/08/webley-senior-straight-grip-part-4/ ), it is pretty nice compared to a lot of the pistols being made today. Hence, I found it sad that the Brits had to outsource this quirky little air pistol that works best (in my opinion) as a firearms trainer and plinker. =>


  5. BB
    That comment I made was about the Izzy 60 and 61 when you gave a link to one of your reports from the past about the Izzy’s accuracy already had faded away.

    What I meant by my comment was that it would of been nice if someone figured out (what) made the accuracy go away back when that happened. Not (why) it happened.

    We have no control of why it happens as you explained today. But we do have control of how to see what changed on the gun.

    What bothers me is people seen the change. But it seems that there is no info of what caused the accuracy lose. That’s what I hate.

    And you totally explained why a company making a product gets screwed. It’s definitely thier own fault that they end up that way. More thought needed I would say. Maybe someone would be able to write a guideline by now of what to do or not do with a business and products. Or maybe you just did. Then the next step is get them to follow it.


  6. Very insightful. I have observed what has happened in China in one or two generations from the view of an electronics manufacturing manager/engineer. Totally amazing how much progress they have made, but they are still not a free market, and you described the strange effects of their controlled “capitalism”. They will build a factory to make radios, and they make the hell out of them, sometimes it works quite well, and sometimes there are laughable results, and it is almost always done in response to the US market they want to exploit. Generally, they have now reached production capability of world standard, but things like O rings may not be readily available. Key decisions are made by poorly informed committee, and it takes a long time to see the end result.


    • Jerry,

      Thanks for your observations. I had a phone call from my brother-in-law, Bob, asking me how much of this I knew from personal observation. The answer is I have never been to China, so none of it comes from first-hand observation. Having reports from those who have been there is very helpful.

      B.B.


  7. Excellent report B.B.!

    Being engineering oriented I really enjoyed reading about the “other” perspective.

    To me, a “good deal” is a deal that both parties are happy with. I can’t fault the manufacturer if they are backed into a corner by unreasonable negotiations – they have to put bread on the table to survive.

    KAIZEN – had to smile at that! I made a sign for my office that had the Japanese characters and the word “KAIZEN” under them. Visiting customers always asked what it meant. My boss (the owner) asked for the sign when I retired – it’s on his office wall now.

    People often confuse cost with quality. A quality product is one that EXACTLY does what the customer needs. The example I used for my students was that of a $3 hammer versus a $30 hammer. A $30 hammer is a quality product for the carpenter building a house where a $3 hammer is a quality product for a homeowner who only needs to hang a couple of pictures. Making solid gold hammer with a jeweled handle would be very expensive but it would not be a (functional) quality product – (if it hadn’t been stolen LOL!) it would be too soft to drive in a good sized nail.

    Like I said about the TR5 – it is a good rifle for someone who wants to plink within it’s effective range. Each to their own – my “favorite plinking” rifle costs 10x as much and “plinks” 1″ spinners at 10x the range… that is what I like to do. Still, I might get a TR5 because it does have some potential (adequate power) and some nice features – but I would put a good barrel on it. Maybe Air Venturi would consider marketing a “deluxe” version tuned for better accuracy (sorry for being an armchair engineer again).

    Cheers!
    Hank


    • “KAIZEN – had to smile at that! I made a sign for my office that had the Japanese characters and the word “KAIZEN” under them.”
      Hank, that’s awesome! A lot of companies (at which I have worked) “claim” to be on board with it…although the number of companies that actually are is somewhat less. =>


      • Dave,

        That sign followed me through several companies and a couple of decades. The problem I saw is that people thought it was an (good) idea… kaizen not an “idea”, it’s an attitude.

        I managed a design group at a couple of companies and my “attitude adjustment program” (LOL!) worked well – so well that it influenced the departments that provided me information and the departments/companies that used our data. Nobody used the expression “good enough” in my presence – either it met the requirements or you fixed it until it did. 🙂

        Hank


        • Hank,

          You are my kind of guy! Wish you had working at my company (PH). Someone must have had too much time on their hands because the company was always coming up some new hair brained idea that never worked. Team building classes, Kaizen, ISO, statistical process control, and other ideas that never worked, and they never supported. I don’t know what was being taught to the managers with MBA degrees because most of them couldn’t chew gum and walk at the same time…educated idiots.


    • Hank,

      Don’t do it! Your 101 is a much better plinker. Hunt around and find an antique. Not only do they shoot great, but they look pretty nice hanging on the wall.


  8. Nice and very accurate report BB. I come from an engineering background and I know the effort it takes to manufacture a quality product with consistency. A major difference, our customers were industrial and the dynamics are not the same. Sell them a bad product or service once, and you better fix it quick or you are history.

    Now from a personal standpoint, I can see the consumer product side too. I have bought good quality (and not inexpensive) airguns and never had a reason to feel bad about the purchase – they often delivered performance meeting and exceeding my expectations and capabilities. Conversely, I bough a couple of budget airguns from a box store and they didn’t disappoint either – they are terrible but I didn’t expect much and I like to tinker with them.

    For companies like Air Venturi it is a fine balance and a bit of a gamble – it sometimes works well and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s life. In my office I had framed the Einstein quote: “The only sure way to avoid making mistakes is to have no new ideas.”

    Henry



      • BB
        As you know and some others know I been in production machining 37 years almost (June of 1982) is when I started.

        I got plenty of engineering and management and production stories I can tell.

        There’s a bunch of things involved. But what it boils down to is how quick the company gets smart.

        And don’t get me started on the China thing. Yes they have gotten better I will say that. But it’s taken a long time. Maybe they finally figured out if they want work they better up their ball game.

        And again us as consumers are stuck with what we get. We can’t change the way the company’s do business. Some are smart. Some are not. You mess up once you might survive. You keep messing up your sure to be done.

        And I think you might be mis-understanding some comments that I and others have made about the TR5. I feel my comments and othets have supported the TR5 for what it is and even complimented it that it is a gun that can be upgraded if a person wants. And I as well as you have done nothing more than told the truth about the TR5. It is what it is. I wasn’t the one calling the shots when that gun was be produced. Was you? If not maybe Air Venturi maybe should of been doing some consulting before the TR5 went into production.

        And I only bring this up because you have. Maybe we’ll enough should be left alone. I know we can go deeper if we want on the subject of failing.


  9. Here’s a true big-box bullying story as told to me by one of my motorcycling buddies at beer o’clock (our drinking time). He’s an importer for English tea sets and also has specialty sets to commemorate special English occasions. The story he told is he was fulfilling an order for a big-box store and included several additional cups so he could clean out his inventory. No price increase, no additional cost to the store. The store inventoried the shipment and advised him it was wrong, there were too many products and deducted a percent of the overall cost from his invoice.

    A month later, the buyers for the store called in another order. He told them he had decided he would never do business with them again.


    • Fred
      And there you go. That’s how business is done.

      Reminds me of when I was buying and selling muscle cars. There was some people that was trying to make a buck. Of course. And they would take stuff off the cars and replace them with should I say less adequate parts and try to sell them for more even. Well word got around and nobody would sell or buy from him.

      All us other guys would throw in extra parts and even wheels and tires and such. At least we felt good about the deals we made.

      The consumers really do have the power. Our money is more valuable to us than the company’s money is to them it seems. From what I see they will make mistakes quicker than we will. To soon you grow old. To late you learn.


  10. B.B.,
    I found this report to be very interesting. I tend to look at things from the consumer side (“I bought this, but now I’m not happy with it; hence, I’m angry with you, the manufacturer.”) or the engineering side (“I’m an engineer, so I see the design flaw in your product, and I cannot figure out why you did not, and allowed it to go to market; hence, I am angry with you, the manufacturer.”). So it was nice to see you try to put us in the manufacturers’ shoes. I can see why a manufacturer like Crosman has to make their 1377 with the plastic parts it uses to keep costs down; they sell a gazillion to big box stores, so they need to worry about the price point; however, they wisely also have the steel breech and steel sights available from the niche sites like PyramydAir. My PA 1377 was OK when I got it; but I was much happier that I could get the steel parts as add ons (thanks, PA =>), and I like my upgraded gun much better. I also like manufacturers like Weihrauch; they have a reputation for quality, and it is well-deserved. Yes, their airguns cost more than other guns of comparable power, but they are worth it. I’ve owned 3 of their rifles so far: an R7 (Beeman version of an HW30) in .177 caliber, an HW97 in .177 caliber, and an HW30S in .22 caliber. In all cases, the rifles had the quality of a Swiss watch. And the older I get, the more I appreciate that level of quality, even though I understand that not all manufacturers can afford to replicate it.
    Thanks again for another thought-provoking report! =>
    Take care & God bless,
    dave


    • Dave
      But one day they will realize that they should of replicated the company making the quality products.

      When do you spend the time to make it right?

      Ahead of time or when it’s too late.


    • Dave,

      I’m with you – I appreciate a well made piece of equipment!

      Love my Weihrauchs – have a pair of HW100 rifles. The .177 is great for plinking and target while the .22 is deadly out way beyond the range that I would shoot at game.

      My Feinwerkbau guns are also special to me. Have two spring-powered and two SSP FWBs that are very pleasant to shoot.

      Hank


  11. B.B.,
    Thank You so much for today’s blog. It all makes much more sense now. Not picking on Umarex as I like a lot of their products, but the Fusion C02 rifle. I never understood why they used O rings that would swell and have the fiddly strange end cap. Everyone buying different O rings and you can buy a simpler better end cap for it. I always wonder why they did address that, and even make a 5 shot magazine for it like Daisy used to do for the single pump target rifles. Thanks again for the info.

    Doc


  12. Just a comment regarding Chinese quality. I retired in 2011 from a company that manufactured hydraulic pumps and motors. I worked in quality assurance for 43 years. We manufactured a part for our piston pumps called a swashplate. The dimensional tolerances and surface finish requirements were extremely close. We could not keep up with production needs and so outsourced some of the swashplates to a Chinese company. The first lots of parts received were dimensionally acceptable but the surface finish requirement (80% bearing ratio at 50 micro inch depth) did not meet spec. The next lot received was perfect, and every lot I inspected subsequently from that Chinese company met specifications. The parts coming from China were, in fact, of higher quality than those produced in our own facility. Now parts from Mexico, that’s another story. So, there are good and bad companies in China, just like here in the US.


    • Geo
      Remember I have mentioned in the past that machines we have (Hydromats) use John Henry Foster hydraulic power packs for the machines and use the variable displacement hydraulic pumps you use to make. They are controlled with (VFD’s) Variable Frequency Drives.

      The latest pumps we are getting are junk. The earlier pumps lasted for years. I have replaced more pumps in the last 3 years than I have in the last 37 years. So something happened.

      And another thing is all the pumps now days are (remove and replace). In the older days we got parts and rebuilt them. It’s just a different time and way nowdays is what I see.


      • GF1,

        Are those pumps from Parker Hannifin, Rexroth, or Vickers? When I left PH in 2011 their quality was out of control. At that time the company was more concerned with ROS, ROI, sales volumes and making stock holders happy. Our quality department was cut from 16 people down to 3 and one of those was a full time receiving inspector. Actually, inspector is a misnomer, more of a paper jockey. Made me sick the way things were trending and I had to get out there. They sure went downhill from when I started in 1967.

        Geo


  13. Based on Vanna’s enabling I decided to build some wood grips for my Benjamin 132 pistol. I should have used Walnut but I had some Oak laying around and had a senior moment and got mixed up. Anyway they were not too much work and I may make another set out of Walnut.

    I used a Dremel tool burr in my drill press to make the cutouts for the inset on the inside of the grips to fit the frame. That worked real well.

    Thanks Hank for the enabling. Next time I will spend more time getting the right piece of wood. I consider my first two wood projects practice. So far I like the harder Oak better than the softer Douglas Fir I used first. The Oak seemed easier to work, but that may be because the pieces were so small.

    Here is a picture.

    Don



      • Dave,

        I set up the grips for shooting and today was the first day. I did not try pumping and left the edges of the grip fairly sharp in areas that was not touched when sighting. My hand is not in the same position when pumping and is a bit uncomfortable. The Walnut grips may be coming up sooner than I expected. I can still round the Oak grips and refinish if I want.

        I had not shot the pistol before today. The trigger was horrible, long and creepy at about 10 pounds. After a very light polishing to remove some burrs on the sear and the hammer I also added a new light spring on the sear. The trigger is ok now, not great, but I think I am getting spoiled. I think the gun is accurate, the trigger is making it a bit stressful to shoot and my groups at 10 meters are around 3/4 inch. If I could hold it still I expect the gun to shoot around 3/8 inch 5 shot groups at 10 meters.

        Don



  14. I enjoy watching YouTube videos from a car mechanic from Houston by the name of Scotty Kilmer He is a real character and I’m impressed with his honesty and humorous comments. One episode was about the closing of a Chevrolet manufacturing facility in the US that was a big news item several weeks ago. The usual pundits remarked how the closing was due to Chevrolet building vehicles (sedans) that were not selling in today’s market as consumers wanted SUV’s or trucks. None of the pundits commented on the quality of GM’s vehicles, but Scotty did. His final comment was that GM will probably start building vehicles in China as it is their largest market. He also made the observation that while the US factories were older with a lot of human workers, the Chinese factories were mostly brand new with state-of-the-art robotic assembly lines. This will result in much better quality vehicles which may someday be imported into the USA. While the US (and Mexican) labor was manually building vehicles, the Chinese factory mostly employed engineers and technicians to service the robots.
    I found his views interesting, and they probably also apply to other manufactured goods such as airguns.




    • I know some people that work at GM and they told me that the Chinese were the biggest buyers of the Buick LeSabre. They said that the Chinese love those big cars. It’s too bad what has happened to our auto industry. We had a modern (built in 1963) Fisher Body plant in Kalamazoo, MI that employed 3500 people. GM had some disagreement with the township concerning taxes and GM shut that plant down. They moved the huge 200 ton presses by rail to an antiquated plant in Grand Rapids, MI, which was thirty miles north. That old plant was so small they had to stack materials vertically. GM spent tons of money making that move and now that plant is also shut down. Bad judgement and poor decision making by corporate resulted in plant shutdowns and massive layoffs of thousands of workers. I visited a GM Hydramatic transmission plant in Detroit. During WWII B-29s were built in that plant. It was so dark inside it looked like a dungeon. One of the workers told me that at one time there 11,000 employees working there and now (about 1995) they were down to 5,000. That building was so huge that I never saw more than 25 employees at one time. They used bicycles and golf carts to get around. I’m sure it has been shut down by this time too.


      • Geo791
        My family moved to Marion, IN in the mid-1950s when my Dad was able to get work at the Fisher Body plant. The population of Marion was approaching 40,000. Dad worked there until the (Baptist) church he built up from scratch was able to pay him a salary. Several years later after we had moved from Marion to Brownsburg so he could take over as pastor of the 1st Baptist Church there they closed down the Fisher Body planat in Marion. (Dad’s leaving had nothing to do with that.) Anyway, that loss was a big factor that led to Marion losing 25% of its population.
        Larry from Algona


  15. Mr. Gaylord:
    Today’s posting was very educational about how things get made and marketed in the real world and how quality control decisions come to be made.
    My take away from your article is a Chinese manufacture, an importer and a big box store will develop, import and market a product, like an air gun, as long as it’s “good enough” to make a profit and at the same tie meets the ultimate “use” criteria of the end consumer’s; at least some of time,
    Or to put it another way is the product’s quality within one standard deviation of specs, while still being profitable and within one standard deviation of what the end user intends to do with the product.
    If the end user has higher quality expectations, research and buy a different product or lower your expectations.
    As an instructor and shooting coach of juniors, today you’ve highlighted the difference between researching and buying 100 camp rifles, or 10 introductory target rifles or 1 quality competition rifle.
    I don’t expect juniors to win scholarships with camp rifles. That’s not the purpose of a camp rifle. The purpose is for juniors to learn, practice the fundamentals of safe rifle use, safe gun handling and develop marksmanship.
    From what I’ve read of your five part series on the Air Venturi TR5, it’s at best a camp rifle. And it’s “good enough” to do that job.
    Thank you for posting such an excellent educational blog today.
    Respectfully,
    William Schooley


  16. B.B.,

    Has Leapers transferred all of its manufacturing to the Continental US or is it only using the plant for development work, leaving the mature products to be still manufactured in China? I still see a lot of Leapers’ scopes marked as made in China over here.

    Siraniko


    • Siraniko,

      I have wondered the same. All my scopes have been UTG until the RW which is wearing an Athlon FFP (first focal plane).

      I wonder if they are working on a FFP? Maybe we are (over?) – due for a Leaper’s factory update?

      Chris



  17. If just half of the people just thinking about buying an air gun from “THE” big box store were to read this article “THE” store wouldn’t sell another air gun! I know you have the top 5 blogs for the month but this should make the top 5 for the year. Your most informative ever! Thank You for your insight Mr. Gaylord.


  18. B.B,

    Most of my adult experience was in the US Navy and involved flying as well as ‘Bicycle Shop’ Special Projects work on Quick Reaction Capability (QRC) Electronics. We had the really smart people, state of the art shop/bench equipment able to build almost anything imaginable; first build quality was unparalleled. Certainly not how any Commercial manufacturer does business; I found your Exposee today was very enjoyable to read.
    I guess my experience is why I’m not all that attracted to mst airguns made by companies that sell to Big Box Stores.

    Thank you!

    shootski


  19. BB,
    A company in Mexico built a state of the art facility to build a construction material we use. It was a beautiful factory and really amazing. It was spotless, and this huge factory was run by just a handful of people. But, the problem was the lack of quality control. They were so insistent on running the factory with just a minimum of people that they would not add a couple people to watch the final product and if necessary fix issues with the final product. It didn’t make sense to me because the labor was so cheap.

    Years later someone explained to me that in Mexico that with very little time served that employers become responsible for a pension for these employees. I have no way to verify if this is true but it brings up an interesting point. There are often laws and business practices in place in other companies that we do not understand. It is like having to buy products from an available list like you mentioned.

    Thanks for the story. It was very enlightening.

    David Enoch


  20. Mr. Gaylord:
    OSHA and EEOC, or as they’re also known, two lucrative chapters of the Lawyers Full Employment Act. 🙂 🙂
    In my other life
    Wm. Schooley, Esq
    Schooley Law PLLC
    Brighton, MI.


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