Keep it simple

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Impossible dream
  • B-I-L
  • Bottom line?
  • Keep it simple
  • My choices
  • The wrong question
  • Requirements pile on
  • Look for positive features
  • TX200 Mark III
  • What not to do
  • Did I succeed?

Today I have an early holiday gift for you. No, it’s not an airgun. This gift is much more valuable than just an airgun, and you can use it for the rest of your life. Today I am going to tell you how to decide on something and always be happy with your decision.

Impossible dream

I get emails from my own website, www.godfatherofairguns.com all the time asking questions that belong on this blog, but seldom ever make it here. I think the main reason they don’t is the person asking the question knows the answer and doesn’t want all of you telling him what he already knows. And this is one-hundred percent a guy thing. Women do ask me questions from time to time, but they always seem to accept the answer I give.

Here is an email message I received past week.

“Need a little expert, unbiased advice, if you would be so kind. I have a few airguns, but I’m thinking I need another. Looking for something to punch paper and probably hunt with, my criteria is as follows.. #1 accuracy #2 decent power #3 quiet as possible #4 something I won’t have to tune or mod. Prefer gas piston in either a break barrel or under lever, oh, did I mention I’d like all this in the $200.00 range? Too much stuff out there and reviews seem to be all over the place, any input from you would be greatly appreciated. Thank you sir.”

Here is my answer.

“You are asking for a 200 mph car that gets 60 mpg. Two hundred dollars restricts you to lower-powered guns and gas springs take away accuracy most of the time.”

I just tested the Umarex Synergis that has accuracy and price but not power. Check it out.”

The guy responded with thanks and told me that he had been considering a Synergis. See? I told you he knew the answer. He just wanted to see if there was something else that he hadn’t yet discovered.

B-I-L

My brother-in-law, Bob, had a very similar request at the start of this year and he also made his inquiry with me offline. Bob actually started talking to me back in February, believing the Synergis was the air rifle he wanted. But he wanted to see how it stood up in my tests before he bought one. I think that is very reasonable. If I wanted to buy something for myself and didn’t know anything about it I would do the same thing — look at one or more reviews and see whether the thing operated like I expected it to, and also did the tests cover the things I was interested in? Remember drones?

I won’t talk about drones today, other than to tell you I now own two of them. The first was a gift from Bob, and the second was the result of me doing exactly what I’m telling you to do in this report. And I discovered that there are things about drones that you just can’t comprehend until you are flying one. Back to Bob.

So Bob came to my house several weeks ago and we spent a pleasant hour in my back yard shooting the Synergis. I had told him I felt it was relatively easy to cock for a rifle with a gas spring, but that didn’t make it easy to cock. Under 20 pounds of effort is what I consider easy to cock. The Synergis requires 30 pounds of effort, and the cocking underlever has to come back far because the piston stroke is long. Bob knew all of that before he cocked the rifle for the first time because he had read my review. So, yes, he thought it was cocked heavy, and he also had no problem with that because he knew it going in.

Bottom line?

The bottom line is Bob now owns a Synergis and he shoots it a lot. He has discovered ways to make cocking it easier and his accuracy is getting very good. He is happy with his choice. Why? Because he kept it simple.

Keep it simple

The title of this report is also the point. If you will keep your needs simple you will be able to find things that satisfy them as closely as possible. Another way of saying this is — it’s better to have something that works as it should than to have something that makes you feel like you were cheated.

My choices

Over the years I have been testing airguns, several of them have stood out for good reasons. Take the FWB 124, for example. If a guy wants a good breakbarrel air rifle that cocks easily and is accurate, the FWB 124 is one I recommend. The problem is, they aren’t being made anymore, and many people know they are desirable, so the prices for good used examples are rising fast. That’s why I got so excited about the Sig ASP20 breakbarrel when I tested it. It’s a rifle you can buy right now for the money you WISH an FWB 124 sold for! It does cock a little harder than a 124, but it delivers way more power and the same accuracy and smoothness. And the trigger is better.

The wrong question

As soon as I recommend something like the ASP20, a question invariably arises. “BB, I know you like the Sig breakbarrel, but how would you compare it to the Zombie Killer X11 breakbarrel? That one gets 1400 f.p.s. and they are on sale right now at Buy The Box — my local discount store — for just $187.00 out the door.”

Tell you what. You start an airgun blog and test airguns and then YOU test the Zombie Killer X11 and tell people how good it is. I tested the ASP20 and told you what I thought. I never heard of the Zombie Killer X11.

Requirements pile on

One reason I don’t do complete You Tube reviews of airguns is they don’t let me show all the details. Put something in front of a camera and there are only two things you can do with it. Either show how it works or show it to sell. I like teaching and showing, but I hate sales pitches when they override common sense. Sure, I could add the heavy metal music and show perfectly cropped clips, all showing the one time out of five when the thing did what it’s supposed to, but I don’t work that way. You come to me and I will tell you how it was for me — I will not show it to you how you want it to be!

People watch those videos and see things they never knew about but now have to have. You want a smooth-shooting spring-piston rifle that’s accurate. Then you see someone touting a Diana 54 Air King and you see the sledge anti-recoil system and just gotta have it. I was trying to show you a nice Beeman R7, but it doesn’t have the sledge system, so it isn’t as cool. You want cool — until you learn the price.

The 6.1-pound R7 sells for $300. The 10-pound Diana 54 Air King sells for $580. The R7 is a backyard-friendly lightweight rifle that’s easy to cock and hit stuff with. The Diana 54 is a serious airgun that meets specific needs in a way no other spring rifle can.

You need that minivan for your growing family. Forget the Porsche until the kids have flown the nest and you have more folding money to call your own!

Look for positive features

I have a hierarchy of features and benefits I look for in products. For airguns there is a principal list.

• Accuracy
• Smoothness
• Trigger
• Overall ergonomics

And there is a secondary list.

• Price
• Noise
• Vibration
• Weight
• Cocking effort

When an airgun comes along that is accurate, smooth, has a wonderful adjustable trigger and fits me well, it goes on my “good” list. Let’s look at one example.

TX200 Mark III

The TX200 Mark III is a spring-piston air rifle I have recommended to hundreds of people over the years. Let’s look at how it passes through my lists.

First it’s hyper-accurate, so that’s a big plus. It’s smooth right out of the box — another plus. It’s very ergonomic, so plus number three and the adjustable trigger is superb! The TX200 Mark III has a lot going for it. However…

It’s also quite heavy, so buyers need to know that. The cocking effort is around 40 pounds which is heavy — something more for buyers to know. And at $600, it’s expensive. On the other hand it has almost no vibration, it’s extremely quiet and the finish and appearance (not on either list) are superb! My job is to make sure the buyer knows about the price, the weight and the cocking effort. Each of those can be a deal killer. But if there are no concerns, then the TX200 Mark II is what I will pick for you.

What not to do

Here is what I don’t do. I don’t look at how much money I have and then see what I can buy for that. Why? Because doing that limits my field of view too much. I miss stuff I wish I had known about. What you probably say is something like, “Oh, I wish I had known about that! I would have found the extra cash somehow!”

Okay, this is getting long. Time to wrap it up.

Did I succeed?

I promised in the beginning of today’s report to give you a way to always make up your mind so that you would be happy with your decisions. Did I succeed? For some of you I’m sure I did. But not for others.

If your world consists of 90 percent imagination and 10 percent reality, my solution won’t work. That’s because you don’t believe it, and if you don’t believe it you are never going to try it. And if you never try it, it can’t possibly work. The marketing departments of the world are working on new ways to tickle your fancy to entice you to try their products.

73 thoughts on “Keep it simple



      • RR,

        Know what you mean – a bump or a scratch added to those on a well used rifle is no big deal but the first blemish is always painful – especially on something as nice as a TX200.

        The TX200 that I got in trade for my AR20 had one small blemish – a fine scratch on the barrel and when I “noticed it” the guy immediately added a bunch of 12 fpe Vortex spring kits into the deal. Bonus on the kits and I didn’t have to worry about the “first scratch” LOL!

        Hank





            • B.B.

              Hear you about the FWB 300 – beautiful shooters!

              I lusted after one for decades, it’s my favorite springer and the rifle I am most likely to pick up for a quick shooting session. I know that if I miss it’s not the rifle’s fault (probably the pellet was bad – right???).

              Hank


          • RR,

            I’m funny about that – I have difficulty selling airguns; still have my original Slavia 618 from when I was a kid. Not so much with powder burners but specifically, airguns – don’t know why.

            Like I don’t understand how you would give up your 601. My 603 is an awesome piece of engineering and I grin like a fool every time I shoot it – couldn’t see parting from it for any reason.


            • Hank,

              Though it is extremely accurate at 10 meters, it is not so at 25 or 50 yards. It is also very heavy and difficult to mount a scope on though that can be done with a special mount.

              I intentionally limit the size of my airgun collection. I have room for one more, a .22 PCP. If I want something else I have to let something else go. Do I really want that something else?


              • RR,

                Agreed, the FWB 6XX rifles are extremely accurate at 10 meters but don’t have the lungs for longer ranges. The 300 does well out to 25 yards or so – think that the spring chamber has more volume to work with than the SSP.

                I will plink at longer ranges just because I enjoy shooting the rifle that much. The 603 sees 99% of its use during the winter where I can (just) manage an honest 10 meters.

                I looked at mounting a scope, gave up and since decided that a little red-dot might be fun – it fits nicely without any modifications and I am doing OK with it. Still might make a sport stock for the gun.

                Hank



    • Totally agree with your assessment, Bill. BB cut to the chase on how one reasonably makes appropriate decisions, if one will, about the purchase of an air arm. While many folks go to a place like “Wally*World” and buy a bunch of fps, a more discerning air arm purchaser has other things to consider.

      I recently purchased an RWS Diana 340L underlever in .177 with an Hawke 3×9 40AO scope. I did this to have a moderate power paper puncher in an underlever form (not having one of these). I have many other air arms, each purchased for various purposes: some for power for pest elimination, some for plinking and in different calibers – .177, .22, and .25.

      I use, fundamentally, the very same hierarchy as Mr. Gaylord does, but with the slight proviso that I care a lot less about the cocking effort than most. Being a springer kind of guy, cocking resistance is just something one deals with!

      My recent purchase of the 340L was, for example, to have a very accurate paper puncher in the basement range that doesn’t slap my cheek and rattle my denture plate! I’m willing to abide those shocks in the field or taking out garden pests, but not for the winter time target season. Knowing one’s purchase values, its hierarchy of values – and sticking to it – is what makes for a successful purchase and a happy consumer.

      Tom Gaylord’s counsel is well put and should be repeatedly considered! What do I want to do, how will I do it and am I willing to defer gratification (purchase) until those things come together? Heed those kinds of questions, and one will probably end up with what one wants.





      • BB
        Well I’m going to guess right now but I believe that tells me that it’s not as easy as it seems to be. But that’s like anything we do. The more we get involved the more we learn about something.

        And I suppose your flying it. Or did you program in the flight path? That is if your able to with the one you have. You know how we talk about shooting our air guns in the wind and what it does to the pellets flight. Try fling your drone in the wind with you controlling it. That’s when things get tricky.

        I do hope at some point in time that you do give us some updates on your progress with the drones. I’m sure there will be some interesting story’s along the way.



          • B.B.

            I like things that fly almost as much as I like things that shoot.

            Since your first comments about drones I have been researching them – thanks for that… I think. Might get one to play with in the spring.

            Hank


            • Hank,

              Two recommendations. For ease of setup and flying I recommend the Holy Stone HS700. It’s rugged and reliable beyond belief!

              For gorgeous videos and photos I recommend the DJI Mavic Mini. The software is lousy, but the drone is first-rate.

              B.B.


              • Thanks for the recommendations B.B.!

                From my limited research of drones I have come the conclusion that I will want two – a sporty one for zooming around obstacles and a stable one for videos and photos.

                I’m in the first stage of research where I am looking at the most expensive drones to determine what features are available and making up a list. Next is to sort through the list and figure out what I (think) I need – that will probably take till spring. 🙂

                Fun stuff!

                Hank


          • BB
            So yours won’t fly with the sticks on the transmitter?

            I see that you gave Hank the name of the two you have I suppose. I’ll have to search them and see if they operate the same as the ones I’m talking about.



              • BB
                Ok that’s what I’m familiar with.

                And you know, maybe these drones will evolve into the flying cars that was talked about in the past. Heck I know I seen things pop up on the internet about flying motorcycles I think they called them that are based on the quad copter design.

                Maybe the cars will happen soon. Or imagine a flying taxi. It lands in your driveway and nobody’s driving. You hop in and scan your credit card then you use the Bluetooth to link your phone to it’s navigation system and punch in your destination.

                Of course there is more to it than that. But I bet it will happen one day. Of course maybe not if other things happen through time and we end up riding horses and covered wagons again to get where we are going. Only God knows.




  1. I agree with everyone else! Another excellent article. How do you keep coming up with such timely topics ?…What shall I get myself for Christmas?!? BTW (If I’m using that right ) What are you getting yourself for Christmas? I’m getting a whole lotta ammo!


  2. ‘Mornin all.

    Like Rk, this article is very timely.. for the same reason. What oh what shall I treat myself to this Christmas?

    My gotchya is usually the post purchase “I like it, but..”, and there’s always a but. Every once in a while I’ve stumbled onto a gun that led to the thought “If I’d have found this gun first, I’d have a lot less guns in my collection”. But the truth is, at least for me, curiosity will always dangle another carrot. I’m eternally grateful that blogs like this, that help me thin the “want list” herd to something vaguely reasonable.


  3. BB ,

    Great article . K.I.S.S is best ! I tell people all the time to wait for awhile and go up the ladder to say a RWS34 or R9 Beeman when they are willing to spend $249.00 on lesser quality , I always push a 34 or R9 and I tell them “Buy once , cry once ” these are guns that can be repaired and will last a lifetime. The K.I.S.S principle is why I have a Talon SS !! I want to shoot my guns , not repair them !!


  4. BB ,

    I have to agree with You on the ASP20 . I believe You hit the nail on the head with it being the FWB124 of our day . BB , the FWB 124s are beautiful guns . I just rebuilt one yesterday , I bet in the last 10 years we have sold over 700 piston seals , we have probably used 500 plus to rebuild them in the shop . They are timeless and craftsmanship from a bygone era of hand fitting of oversized parts. I bet Ed is a proud Papa on the ASP20 .


  5. B.B.

    K.I.S.S. for sure!

    Seen too many time that people try to cram an impossible set of requirements into one purchase and end up with something that is totally compromised and doesn’t do anything well.

    I like your “hierarchy of features and benefits” list approach – I do this all the time for everything that I want to purchase (or design) – without a set of (realistic) requirements it is easy to get distracted from what you really need/want by all the marketing hype. It’s the “map” to where you want to go.

    I watch/read the reviews for what I am researching with a printed “requirements list” in hand so I can note the good, the bad and the things that I didn’t consider on paper. Makes it easier for me to remember the details after having watched a dozen similar reviews LOL!

    Great blog – thanks for posting!

    Hank


  6. B.B.,

    You mentioned it and others below your report mentioned it as well, but the conflict in the questioner’s requirements can be solved entirely by eliminating one criterion — his price range — which would allow him to have everything he wants for $350: the SIG Sauer ASP20 Gas-Piston in synthetic and .22 cal.

    If somebody wants an air rifle that meets all needs, it will not come cheap. On the other hand, it doesn’t have to be downright pricey, either.

    Michael


  7. B.B.,

    “Today I have an early holiday gift for you. No, it’s not an airgun. This gift is much more valuable than just an airgun, and you can use it for the rest of your life.”

    Thank you very much for the early Christmas present!
    The first Sunday in Advent is upon us so your timing is spot on perfect.

    K.I.S.S. has kept me alive more than a few times. So I will share a few others that have seen me through some tight spots in a blessed life well lived.

    The hurrierd I go the behinder I get! (from the wisdom of the Pennsylvania Dutch)
    Altitude beneath you, airspeed within limits, staying within the aircraft’s envelope, power in reserve, and fuel in the tanks all trump better flying skills.
    Any crash you can walk away from is a good one!

    I would make one change to your LIST:

    “And there is a secondary list.”

    I would change “price” to Total Cost of Ownership.

    May you have a wonderful Christmas Season and Guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr!

    shootski


  8. B.B.
    what % of imagination and reality do you recommend as best? The reason I ask is without imagination,
    would there even be reality? A P1, a R1, or an ASP20? Reality has a track record of saying” that’s not possible
    to do”, or “that’s not our buisiness model”, its never been done before, it’s not worth it, etc.What will the FWB124 of the future look like? While I agree imagination needs to learn to drive and get a license, once she does, she will know a great freedom, one that reality can never see. Part of being happy with our choices is accepting we made them, and that we learned from our own experience doing so and that decision may or may not have lived up to our expectations. Is an LGU as nice as a TX200? It’s ok, I know the answer, and xmas is approaching..
    Have fun with it,
    Rob


  9. B.B.,

    I intended to wait to chime in on why I believe the Crosman 760 Pumpmaster achieves greater fps with pellets than with the lighter bbs.
    My first thought is that the bbs don’t use the air burst as efficiently pellets because bbs are do not fill the barrel to the extent the pellets do (which is a good thing because the bbs are steel and not lead).

    Just my guess. I don’t doubt there are other reasons.

    ~ken


    • B.B.,

      I hate it when I re-read something I wrote and feel like my mind is slipping. A word missing here and there, and a word added for no apparent reason.
      Perhaps, I did communicate something. Shootski has kindly taught me a new word, obturation; I appreciate that.

      ~ken


  10. Mr. Gaylord:
    An excellent reflection today on the old adage “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” And if I had a penny for every time I’ve said or heard “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”, I’d have enough money to buy any air rifle on the market today.
    Bur why just focus on springers? Don’t the same KISS rules apply to PCP’s?
    And take care to avoid these Texas “Drone Eating Trees” 🙂 🙂
    Wm. Schooley


    • William,

      Sure, today applies to any powerplant. I picked spring-piston because it is the most common. More shooters can relate to it.

      The drone Bob gave me was stuck in a tree on a golf course for 3 months, then fell out and was run over by a large lawn mower. Bob replaced the broken parts, filled the cracks in the body with epoxy and I am flying it today. Two weeks ago the motors quit at 40 feet altitude (don’t ask) and the drone smacked into the ground. Four new rotors (about $4) and she is flying again! A tough old bird!

      B.B.


  11. Kenholmz,

    “Just my guess. I don’t doubt there are other reasons.” And a pretty good guess in my book Ken!

    The non KISS word is obturation.

    “In the field of firearms and airguns, obturation denotes necessary barrel blockage or fit by a deformed soft projectile. A bullet or pellet, made of soft material and often with a concave base, will flare under the heat and pressure of firing, filling the bore and engaging the barrel’s rifling.” Wikipedia

    shootski


    • Shootski,

      Obturation is now my word for today.

      The definition is actually pretty KISS; at least it make perfect sense to me. Now I can say the steel bbs fail to obterate the barrel and to create a seal sufficient to use all or most of the air burst (probably another word for that, too, but nothing come to mind immediately).

      Thanks,
      ~ken


  12. B.B.,
    I would say, “Yes, you have succeeded!” I would really like a TX200 III, but with the unplanned move to the new farm, I have run into many unexpected expenses (a 120-year-old farm house has a lot of charm…and also many issues that have been waiting to appear for the new buyer =>). But I have my B.B.- inspired HW30S .22, a modern version of your Diana 27, and I was thinking how nice if would be to try a Bug Buster scope on it. Sadly, the 6X fixed Bug Buster has been discontinued, and PA didn’t have any; but I found one at a military supply house. As you have said several times, a reasonably fast air rifle will shoot flat in the 20 to 30 yard range, which is highly useful. This little HW30 is not so fast; I’m getting 485 fps (7 fpe) with JSB RS 13.43 grain pellets. But it shoots flat from 10 to 20 yards (sighted in at 10, it’s a pinch high at 15 and back on at 20). It’s a bit low at 25 yds, and the group was bigger at 25 than 30; that’s likely because it’s freezing here; after the 25-yard target I went in to warm up before shooting the 30 yard and 39 yards targets (I didn’t have a 35-yard marker, but I knew the tree was 39 yards from my bench *shrugs*) Anyway, you steered me towards the HW30 (R7) and the Bug Buster scope and it’s a match made in heaven. The two guns in the pic are the most used ones on the farm at present; the lower rifle is a Marlin model 101 (marked Sears 43-101) single shot that uses the new CCI Quiet rounds; they are a 40-grain version of their CCI CB caps with the 29 grain bullet (velocity is supposed to be the same; I need to test that). However, the HW gets 10 times the use of the Marlin; I absolutely love this little air rifle! As you said yesterday in your blog about the Crosman 760, “You wanna shoot tin cans at 40 yards — get a Beeman R7 or at least get a Synergis.” Yes. Amen to that. I use the HW30 to shoot tin cans at 40 yards, but I have to use the 2nd mil dot to do it, and that’s fine. I thought about getting a .177 barrel for the gun, but I mostly just use it as a fun plinker, and I love how those bigger pellets send things flying. This gun is small, light, easy-to-cock, and accurate…my 5-shot 40-yard group was 1-1/8″…not up to B.B. standards, but pretty good for me. =>
    Thanks for another great report; I really enjoyed this one…much to ponder.
    Take care & God bless,
    dave
    P.S. As I’m sure you guessed, the plaque over the rifles is Jeremiah 29:11 (a gift from my wife to remind me that God’s got better plans for me than I have, hahaha!). To the left of the guns is a huge cross-stitch my wife made me of The Creation of Adam from the roof of the Sistine Chapel; and to the right of rifles is a birth of Jesus pic (also from my wife); so the guns are in good company…the wife of the pastor from whom we bought the house surely thought so (and the guns reminded her of her childhood, when she grew up shooting a .22 =>)


  13. B.B.,

    You mention marketing departments. I think of all the tv commercials with people going gaga over pickup trucks because they “look” so great.

    You also remind me of a book I have somewhere, titled “Have I got a deal for you”. Yes, it’s about automobiles. The main take away I got from this book is, “Don’t strive for the best price; strive for the best deal”. The best deal includes those things, “I wish I had known about”.

    I have read and watched a lot about the Marauder. I can’t decide on the .177 or the .25 so I have committed to both. I’ll tell you more when I get out of the hospital.

    ~ken


    • Ken,

      Prayers for a quick recovery. I have the M-rod in .25 and have absolutely “shredded” 15 oz. (steel) cans (multiple) times at (100 yards). In one side and out the other,… NO problem. And, that was not even a solid mount. It was with the top cut out and hung upside-down onto a random stick from the wood’s floor. JSB 25.39’s seemed to work the best. You won’t always hit,… but you will more often than not. The best target was 7 of 10 in 13/16″. Ain’t duplicated or bettered it since. 🙁

      Take care,……….. Chris



    • Ken,

      If it were not for the AirForce Texan I would have already gotten the Marauder in .25 caliber. My plan is to get B.B. to tell me if my plan for a Texan in all the common calibers from .177 and up to Big Bore is impossible! I want a total Texan System that takes simple and quick swap out sold as a package. Totally not K.I.S.S. in the common take on it by definition but actually in fact a Dark Siders evil KISS!

      Best wishes for a SPEEDY recovery! SPEEDY is your NEW and only word of the entire recovery period!

      May the Good Shepard take you in his arms and grant that SPEEDY and complete recovery; my prayer for you.

      shootski


      • shootski,

        As far as I know, no engineering has been done to make the Texan suitable for smallbore calibers. The frame isn’t right, the valve isn’t right — nothing is right. Could it be done? Probably with a lot of engineering. Will it ever be? Probably not.

        B.B.


  14. BB
    I take K.I.S.S. very seriously …. If you want it … Get it ! Categorize it for use later.
    Being single with a mortgage free life has some very attractive benefits.
    Speaking of which I received a Mauser K98 PCP the other day and my troubleshooting ability enabled me to keep it instead of returning it. Found two problems without ever firing it. Quality Control is slipping someplace during assembly or I got a Friday Airgun.
    Bob M.


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