How do I tell them?
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- For example
- All the wrong choices
- Example 1
- Example 2
- Example 3
Today I have something I need to say. It was brought up by yesterday’s report on the FX-Dreamlite. The Dreamlite is a fine precharged air rifle that has many good qualities, but there are some things buyers should know before they make the purchase. First, because it has a magazine that sticks up above the top of the receiver you’re going to have to use 2-piece scope mounts. A lot of shooters aren’t prepared to do that — or at least it doesn’t occur to them until it’s too late.
Two-piece scope mounts are my preferred type, but I’m definitely in the minority on that. If a rifle has severe barrel droop, like the Dreamlite I’m testing, then you also will need adjustable scope mounts, and not very many adjustable mounts come in 2 pieces.
Yesterday’s test started me thinking. The Dreamlite seemed so promising, and it delivered on all of the promises — but that turned out not to be the whole story. What do you say to a shooter who says he wants to get a certain airgun that you are sure he will not like? Trying to answer that question is what has motivated me to write about airguns for the past 25 years.
Case number one. A new airgunner tells me he has decided to buy a Diana 52 sidelever spring rifle because he knows that a rifle with a fixed barrel is more accurate than one whose barrel breaks to cock the gun. A statement like that tears at me in so many ways!
First of all, the Diana 52 is a marvelous air rifle. It’s powerful, accurate and well-made. But it is also heavy, twists to the right when it fires and has been known to break its mainspring early. If you know all that going in, buy the rifle. But, if you are basing your decision of the false assumption that a breakbarrel rifle isn’t as accurate as one with a fixed barrel, you are setting yourself up for a big disappointment. Don’t overlook the Sig ASP20.
When I hear statements like this, and I get them every week from people who don’t read this blog, I think of the hundreds of blog reports that address this issue in so much detail. But the guy doesn’t want to read; he wants to buy an airgun!
All the wrong choices
Then there is the guy who wants the mostest-powerfulest airgun he can buy! That’s mistake number one. He wants a spring rifle because he doesn’t want to be bothered with all the stuff you need for a PCP. Mistake two. And he wants to pay as little as possible for what he gets. Mistake three and the deal is doomed!
Power in a spring rifle normally means hard cocking and heavy vibration and recoil. Buy an ASP20 and the cocking gets lighter, the vibration goes away but the price goes up.
Here’s the deal — spring guns are normally best at power levels under 20 foot-pounds. Go over 30 and they are hard to cock and recoil heavily. Oh, if you have a time machine you could go back and buy a Whiscombe, but then you would have paid a lot and it’s also hard to cock. So, keep your spring guns in the power ballpark. If you want power, go PCP.
And a spring rifle at less than $150 better be used if you want it to be good. ‘Cause there ain’t no new ones at that price that are any good. Be prepared to spend more or to buy used.
“Yeah, ” they say, “but that’s not what I want!” So they start asking around until they find the right guy who knows how to say the right things that tickle their ears. Him they trust because he says things they want to hear. Usually I never hear from them or about them again. I think they get fed up with airguns and move on.
I could go on and on.
The guys who say they want the foot-powered hand pump. They will put it next to their stair-stepper that’s gathering dust in the corner.
Guys who say they want a scoped BB gun.
Guys who want guns to shoot solid “pellets” because they have a better ballistic coefficient.
Guys who say they will go precharged the minute air compressors drop below $500.
Whine, whine, whine. Oh, woe is me!
Okay, no more negative stuff. All positive from here on.
What these complaints tell me is that people aren’t getting the guns they want. Some of that can be chalked up to not being able to please everyone, but a lot of it is true. And, within the twisted thoughts of these customers are nuggets of value.
For example — can a spring rifle with good power also be easier to cock? Sig sort of proved it was possible with the ASP20, didn’t they? Can it be done even better?
Does a spring rifle HAVE to vibrate? Again, the ASP20 proves it doesn’t. But can a less expensive rifle that doesn’t vibrate be built? I not only think it is possible, I have ideas how to do it. Many shooters can’t spend $350 for an air rifle. Can we give them one that’s nearly as nice for less than $250? Not in a corporate setting, perhaps, but when Value Engineering is applied it could be possible. Value Whaaaat? they asked. Well, if you don’t know what it is, the chances are pretty strong you’ll never do it.
Can a precharged airgun be built with a built-in air pump for less than $500? Oh, wait — one already has! The Seneca Aspen.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. The point for shooters is to stop shopping for your expectations and use your common sense instead.
And for manufacturers it’s to stop building what the marketing department tells you they can sell. How many of them are airgunners? If the weekend comes and they reach for their golf bags, let them tell you how to make drivers and putters. And go elsewhere to learn what airgunners want.