What makes an airgun “good”?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Soapbox!
  • Marauder
  • What makes an airgun good?
  • My list
  • Accuracy
  • A good trigger
  • Ease of cocking
  • Innovation
  • What doesn’t sell?
  • Price-point sales
  • Summary

Soapbox!

I’m on my soapbox today and I am preaching to the airgun industry, but probably also to some of you readers. I typed “what makes an airgun good?” into Google and came up with a list of retailers who all have lists of the “best” airguns of 2020. There were also some magazine articles with similar lists. I looked at all their lists. They had one thing in common. They were all bought and paid for! Every airgun on those lists was one that was either manufactured or at least sold under the name of a couple well-known manufacturers. Oh, they all had different-sounding product titles, but each of them was a subsidiary of a well-known airgun maker.

A couple of them were indeed airguns that have a long-standing basis of customer support, like the Daisy 880 and the Benjamin 392. The 392 is no longer produced, but it has been replaced by the 392S, which is a multi-pump in a synthetic stock. How similar it is to the now-discontinued 392 I will try to discover when I test it.

Marauder

The Benjamin Marauder made several lists, and it deserves to! This is a precharged pneumatic (PCP) that once lead the market and still offers features customers desire. A Marauder has a great trigger, quiet operation, good accuracy, a fine adjustable trigger, and the ability for the owner to fine-tune it to suit their preferences. 

The Marauder has also come out as a semiautomatic this year, but it’s not out yet and the jury is still out. I know the trigger is not as crisp as the one on the bolt-action Marauder, but whether that poses a problem remains to be seen. Accuracy and the other aspects of operation will have to be tested.

What makes an airgun good?

Marketing departments are confronted with putting a happy face on whatever products their company has to sell. Sales departments are tasked with closing the deals. And purchasing departments must buy products that can be sold. Who in the company is charged with knowing what makes an airgun good? Nobody, it seems.

Apparently knowing what make an airgun good is my job. Or, if not, I’m going to do it anyway, since nobody else seems to want to do it.

My list

The following are things I have observed that the market seems to appreciate and desire. If an airgun has them and if it truly delivers them the way the customer expects, the product has a good chance of doing well. That’s not as guarantee, just a good chance.  As I write about them I will tell you what works and what doesn’t.

At the end I will address price-point sales, but they should be kept separate from regular sales on the open market.

Accuracy

Real accuracy is very desirable. But what does it mean to be accurate? What it means is being able to put shot after shot into the same place or very close to the same place.

Is five shots in one inch at 25 yards accurate? It’s okay but it’s not really what customers look for these days. What about five shots in a half-inch. Well, that can be considered accurate, but it all depends on what kind of airgun is doing it. If it’s a spring-piston air rifle that costs less than $300, then, yes, it’s quite accurate. If it’s a PCP that costs $1,000, then no, it’s not very impressive. HOWEVER, if it is a Olympic-grade PCP target rifle that costs $3,200, it doesn’t matter!!! Nobody cares what a rifle like that does at 25 yards, because that kind of air rifle lives and dies at 10 meters or 11 yards. Learn the expectations of your products, buyers, before you start purchasing them.

A good trigger

A good trigger is one that has a crisp release that is uniform and predictable, time after time. The weight of the pull or let-off doesn’t matter nearly as much as people think. A service rifle National Match trigger on an AR-15 must have a release of not less than 4.5 pounds. That number looks high to many shooters, but it is the standard by which triggers of this category are tested. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to the company’s description of a highly-regarded $279.00 Geissele High-Speed National Match trigger.

“Our Service Rifle Trigger includes our exclusive 5-Coil trigger spring which will give a nominal 4 lbs. on first stage. The Service trigger pull weights are biased with most of the pull weight on the first stage. This will allow a light second stage with an icicle-sharp break, effectively giving your weapon a match-grade trigger let-off.”

So the key is the crisp let-off and not the pull weight. Sig Sauer knows that and delivers it in their new ASP Super Target. Weihrauch knew it years ago and incorporated it into their HW 40, which is the basis for the Beeman P3. Reader Kevin once tried the trigger on my Wilson Combat CQB 1911 pistol and guessed the let-off at one pound. It is actually three pounds. 

One final thing about triggers. If you make them adjustable make certain they really do adjust! Everyone who has tried the Sig ASP20 adjustable trigger has nothing but praise for it because it really does adjust. Same for the trigger on the Benjamin Marauder. However I have tested hundreds of triggers that say they are adjustable but nothing changes when you adjust them. Adjustable triggers are not supposed to be placebos or busy boxes, and shooters resent it when they are.

Ease of cocking

This isn’t the same as light cocking. The ASP20 once again wins in this category because it cocks easier than it should for the power it develops. I have tested several other gas spring air rifles recently that also cock much easier than their power output level would suggest. 

And don’t think this is limited to spring-piston airguns. A number of bolt-action PCPs are harder to cock than they should be and I have seen their owners protest loudly. There have been some “Mark II” models come to market just to correct this fault, so be wise and don’t let it happen to begin with.

Innovation

Customers may not say much about it, but when a company innovates, they know it. And they often vote with their wallets.  I have given suggestions for several innovations in the past year, and I hope some companies took them to heart.

Remember the $100 PCP project? What did it spawn? The Benjamin Maximus, that for a time was priced under $200. It’s $30 more these days, but it’s still one of the best bargains on the market.

How about the Seneca Aspen multi-pump that’s also a PCP? People have been asking for that for more than a decade and now we have it. Yes, I am aware that FX did it first with their Independence, but that rifle cost over $1,600 and was not targeted toward the market that wanted it.

Seneca Aspen
The Seneca Aspen is both a multi-pump and a PCP.

What doesn’t sell?

I’m not going to explain this list, because it’s too controversial. 

  • Fiberoptic sights
  • Camouflage coverings
  • Scopes bundled with airguns — unless the scopes are exceptional
  • Automatic safeties
  • Using the word “target” in a product title for something that is clearly not for shooting targets

Price-point sales

As some companies grow they look for other markets they deem lucrative. Discount and big box stores seem to attract a lot of attention. To sell to them there is but one criterion — price. The product must have the same general set of features that it has for the open market, but since price is the most important factor, anything that can be done to lower it is considered. For this market a product doesn’t have to perform to the same standards as one that’s sold to the open market. Brand loyalty and repeat business are not hallmarks of this trade. Price is king, along with a willingness to accept a higher level of returns.

This market is not less complex than the open market. It’s just different. Some companies sell the same products in both markets and in the price-point market they accept a lower margin that is partly offset by higher volume of sales. Some companies build products to lower specifications for this market and some companies remove things from their standard product offerings — like one magazine instead of two or a cheaper scope and rings bundled with the price-point sales.

Other companies never sell to the price-point market. They realize they cannot maintain the same standards and control of their products, so they never opt in.

To sell John Brown
What John Brown buys
You have to see the world 
Through John Brown’s eyes.

Summary

I wrote this report after seeing many lists of the “best airguns of 2020.” The lists were obviously artificial. Some of the guns on the lists have not yet come to the market. How can they be the best? After examining several of the lists it became clear they were generated through the process of an extended and hopefully concealed marketing campaign. That’s not the way good airguns are made. 

79 thoughts on “What makes an airgun “good”?


    • Siraniko,

      Good links! Worth a quick re-read.

      What % of people will do that? Ask questions? Learn?, Listen?………. first. Not many I would bet. That is what perpetuates the “junk in—junk out” cycle of offerings.

      Thing is,… with the internet, there is no where to hide. There is little excuse for not doing the very least of homework on what you are buying first. (Many) will see the “2020 best of the best” and call it good on homework. Even for us more experienced souls,… that may well be all we have to go on,.. at the time. But, we are smart enough to wait a bit. Well,…. most of the time anyways,….. 😉 Hey,…. at least we try to wait for a good review from what we consider to be a trusted source.

      Chris


    • Siraniko,

      Thank you for these links. They need to be read over and over again, and not just by the newbies. Us old timers could stand a refresher course every now and then. 😉


  1. BB,

    Well,… since you are “preaching” from your soap box,…. I will give you an enthusiastic,… “AMEN”! 😉

    That said,.. the average (new) air gunner will never know the difference. Then there is those that are not so new (yet still don’t know the difference),… and some newest, bestest, greatest air gun will catch their eye,…. they buy it and the cycle continues. Sheep.

    Then, there is the new guy willing to learn a bit, ask some questions, listen and learn. He will be way ahead, right out the gate, as opposed to the “sheep”. Homework.

    Then,… there is the rest of us that have been around the block a time or two and just might??? know a thing or two. Not so easily fooled, know what we are looking for and have no tolerance for BS sales gimmicks.

    So,…. (if) air gun sales are on the rise and (if) air gunners are getting more educated,.. then yes,… the manufacturers had better listen up. If not,… well,…. there is always the “sheep” that will buy your junk.

    Yes BB,…. I can see why you got your hackles raised. Given your trade and vast experience,…. and seeing right through the “2020 best of the best” campaign,…. I guess I would get my feathers ruffled too.

    Chris


  2. BB,

    A very timely article. I have witnessed so many changes in the airgun world in recent years, as indeed you have. Many of those changes that I have seen have not really been for the good unless your market is for the top one percenters. When your lowest price PCP airgun is over one thousand dollars, you have left the unwashed masses behind and are dreaming of Mount Olympus.

    Yes, you will have sales as long as your quality warrants such, but sooner or later the market becomes saturated. Ask Harley Davidson. Now what? New models? Might work for a time.

    Some companies have started rebranding Chinese air rifles so they can sell products to the unwashed masses. A few years ago this would have been suicidal, most especially if you turn the marketeers loose before the product is ready for market. Ask Crosman about the Maverick.

    Now, it seems the Chinese are starting to learn quality control and are paying more attention to the unwashed masses than some of the competition. There is one Chinese air rifle out there that actually has my serious attention. It is all I can do to not buy it and I do not know how much longer I can hold on.

    I have been looking for a .22 PCP for over two years now. I have been reading and watching and studying and when possible shooting all of the latest and greatest and have come to my decision. I need to take a step backward. Just like every other kid, I get all excited about the new bright and shiny. Fortunately, most of them are way out of my price range. I have been fortunate enough to have shot some of the new bright and shinys and have come away unimpressed.

    The truth is, I think I have found what I have been looking for. Every time I sit down and give very serious thought to a .22 PCP, it keeps showing up at the forefront. What is really wild is it was designed and built for the unwashed masses, not for Mount Olympus.

    Well, what is it?! My choice. You have to figure out what you want. 😉



      • Chris,

        I do not need to get the hunter version. For one thing I do not want to buy a scope just to throw it in the trash. Another thing is I can buy the adapter from TCFKAC when I desire and install it myself.

        I keep coming back to the Maximus because over the years I have seen quite a few things you can do with a Disco and Maxi. I can start with the Maximus and build it into a Fortitude that will give the Marauder a serious run for its money. I could also leave it like it is and enjoy it for what it is. Well, I will get rid of the glowy thingy sights.


        • I’ve got a .22 Maximus that I bought when they were fairly new. It’s honestly one of my favorite guns, the crazy thing is accurate enough to plink the brass ends of 12 gauge shells at 100 yards consistently. The only gripe I have is that I wish I had a bullpup stock for hunting, but that’s just a preference. Have I mentioned its way easier to pump than my bulldog and .45 texan?



          • Auronotcs,

            I have a .22 Maximus. Hunter version. 100 yards? Consistently? What is that?,…. like 3/4″? Also, I did the trigger tune and have HUMA reg. in it.

            If interested?,…. punch some paper at 100 for 10 shots and get back with some pics. I would be VERY interested.

            Chris


            • You’ve done a few more tunes than me. I’ve got a over the muzzle LDC on mine, I dont remember the source of right now. I switched out the trigger as well… It’s been a long time though, it’s a machined brass trigger with an improved sear. I’ll see if I can shoot it soon.


              • Auronotcs,

                I am currently running a Hugget LDC from a Red Wolf on mine. TOOOOO,… many squirrels running up under the Rav4! Full on “fuzzy tail” war has been waged!!!!!! 😉

                Chris



          • Brent,

            There is a drop in sear that will make it 2stage. Add a couple of screws and it is adjustable. Add an adjustable striker spring, regulator, Prod action, barrel and shroud and you have a Fortitude, only better.

            There are geegobs of mods for the Disco \Maxi platform, only limited by imagination.


            • RR

              Dave Slade did the trigger and he is the trigger man but he still couldn’t get it as light as aGen 1 Marauder trigger. I live in northern TN and Dave lives in Southern TN so he does everything I can’t do, which is a lot.

              Brent


              • Brent,

                One of the mods I know of is the Gen 1 Marauder trigger. Myself, I would prefer not to go with it. I think what is there has its own potential. It does not need to be light, just crisp.

                Ask BB about the trigger on the Edge.



  3. BB
    And so it is that you and a few others are so important to airgunners for providing that ‘need to know’ information.

    Now I may not wait for all that information before I purchase an airgun. I will buy anything that strikes my fancy, for a verity of reasons, and then classify its category for use later. Often after reading this blog on it or internet hearsay.
    However, I have purchased airguns simply because you consider it an outstanding keeper. It will find a place for use eventually.

    We all know the saying “You get what you pay for” and I think an airgun that meets all the things on your list will probably not be cheap compared to others in its class.

    I think you should have asked ‘What makes an airgun great?’ I believe a lot of people with limited funds would consider an airgun “Good” if it has one or two features on the list that they really want and has a very attractive price. A major “Good’ in itself for some.
    New airgunners don’t expect to hit everything they aim at. They all know they need to practice to be good so they are not too disappointed by poor results. The ones that get serious will eventually figure it out and move on up and that cheap airgun got them started.
    Bob M.


    • Bob M,

      I must disagree with the statement that new airgunners don’t expect to hit everything they aim at. Many do. They will buy the cheapest .177 sproinger that Wally World has and go out and expect it to be able to hit a squirrel in the eyeball at 500 yards. It does not matter that they could not do that with anything else. I see it here all the time. What is (sad) funny is this very same person will go out and buy a top quality powder burner and not give the price second thought.

      The newbie you describe it not that common, almost a rarity. I was that newbie you describe.


      • RR
        Guess I am old and out of touch with kids today. That was me too. Didn’t have any experience before my first airgun (1894) or friends that did for that mater. Everything was illegal for us.
        Perhaps all those Play Station war games have something to do with it?
        Bob M


        • Bob,
          all those “Shooter” games on Play Station and Xbox are just not like the real thing. All these kids play them. I have played them. They all think I am a cool Dad/Grandpa because of it. When you shoot a gun on most of these games (Call of Duty for example) there is no wind to deal with. I’ve notice no matter the distance you shoot, there is no hold over. They all shoot like lasers LOL. Then I see them shoot a real gun and get flustered because they can’t hit much. It takes practice in the real world.

          Doc


          • Doc Holiday,

            You are spot on with Gramps getting big creds with the Grandsons punching electrons in both the ground pounder shoot ’em ups and in the air war games it feels so much like shooting fish in a barrel that it is embarrassing! I try to take them out into the real world as much as i can to take hikes, ski and kayak. The oldest was in the rear cockpit of our double kayak last Fall and i noticed it was getting harder to keep up some good speed when a voice from the back cockpit said, “I’m helping you get a real good workout Opa!” He had his arms buried straight down in the water almost to his shoulders…what fun! Next Summer their Mom has agreed it is time to get them shooting more than Nerf balls and arrows.

            shootski



      • BB
        May have something to do with the fact that it’s 6:30 AM here now and I have not sleep yet. Hard to shut it off sometimes and the Blog gives it direction 🙂
        Bob M


  4. B.B.

    On one of the forums somebody asked why Weihrauch did not “tune” their guns before they left the factory? Somebody else said because Weihrauch expects their guns to be shot about 100-250 times per year and they want to make sure that the lube lasts long enough….
    Good triggers and good barrels are what springers need. Parts that rattle when the gun is shaken and to many plastic parts are just future candidates for the landfill and just a waste of resources.

    -Y


    • Yogi,

      I do not know who the “somebody” is, but if you want a top shelf sproinger that will not break the bank, you want a Weihrauch. I bought an HW30S last year for my grandson for Christmas. It is the first one I have had actual experience with. When I buy another sproinger it will be a Weihrauch, very likely an HW50.


      • I have 3 HW 50’s, love them!
        Now all your other guns are candidates for the landfill.

        -Y

        PS Buy quality once, cry once. Or;
        I’m too poor NOT to buy quality the first and only time…




          • Doc,
            I second RidgeRunner’s opinion; the HW30S is an awesome rifle! I had a Beeman R7 in my younger days, but got stupid and sold it for a more powerful gun (in retrospect, I should have bought the more powerful gun AND kept the R7). That rifle was in .177; but due to B.B.’s love for his Diana model 27 in .22 caliber, I tracked down an HW30S in .22 caliber. Originally, I had a peep sight on it, and loved it; my yard was small, so no shots were over 15 yards. On the farm here, I have a bit more room, so I got a UTG Bugbuster fixed 6X scope; it is well suited to the HW30S. I get 485 fps with JSB RS pellets (13.43 g), and the accuracy is good, as you can see in the pic below. The target on the right has a 7/8″ group; “one dot” means I am holding up one doe in the mil dot scope, as I am shooting at 30 yards, and the gun is sighted in for 15 yards. In the target on the left, at 39 yards, the group is 1-1/8″ and I am holding up two dots. At 15 yards, the groups are just one ragged hole. If you get an HW30S you will not be sorry; I got stupid once, and once was enough; this gun will get handed down to one of my grandkids. =>
            Take care & happy shooting,
            dave


            • P.S. While those groups will not impress a good shooter with a PCP, bear in mind that I am not such a good shot, it was windy that day, and it was dusk by the time I got to those last two groups. Someone like B.B., using his artillery hold, would likely have cut those groups in half.





  5. Excellent post for which old newbies like this one thank you as well as everyone else who has commented sharing their valuable opinions and experiences. A big takeaway for FM is to do one’s homework and research – using trusted sources, such as this blog – before plunging into the unknown. Had I done that 40+ years ago before getting into the vintage vehicle hobby, my acquisition would not still be a work in progress. Advice from FM: temper your expectations of what constitutes perfection, and you will enjoy your interests fully, with less stress.

    Speaking of doing research and deciding what fits your expectations best, if FM were to win Pyramyd’s current sweepstakes, he’s gonna spend the prize gift card on that ASP20-Whiskey3 scope bundle, in .22. While he’s at it, he’ll make arrangements to get that hand-me-down 38T revolver fixed. It’s a nostalgia thing.


  6. I’m one of 150 members at a private fishing club in the Colorado Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 10,100 feet. This fishing club started in the 1890’s, is situated on 1200 acres and we have 26 private lakes for fishing. We have our own fish hatchery and a staff of 3 full time employees (two have fish biology degrees) that raise fish, stock fish, maintain our equipment, maintain our water flows, maintain our extensive road system, maintain the club buildings, etc., etc.

    All members have a home/cabin on the club. The majority of these are used as summer homes or a summer getaway. Many of these homes have been in the family for generations since it’s an idyllic setting that creates lasting memories.

    There are problems that we all share. Pests. In this wilderness setting we have multiple types of critters that will eat your home, reside on your property along with the diseases they carry, dig holes nearby that twist ankles, eat wires on your vehicles, etc. Because of the density of people our rules prohibit the discharge of firearms on club property. Enter airguns for dispatching pests and having fun with grandkids.

    Our club is the epitome of a small town. Early on everyone learned quickly that I liked and knew a little about airguns. Over the years other members would show up at my home carrying their airgun. It’s not working, it’s no longer powerful, it’s not accurate, etc., were some of the first words out of their mouths. What most were asking is, I’m not happy with what I have and “What Makes An Airgun Good?” and what do I have to spend.

    Most were cheap wally world specials. Several Diana 45’s showed up. Several MSP’s. A few CO2 guns that leaked and/or were not accurate (our temperatures vary greatly from hour to hour on most days). Most members purchased their airguns to eliminate pests. Their break barrel guns weren’t accurate. Their break barrel guns were weak at our 10,100 feet in elevation. Their break barrels and MSP’s only gave them one shot and they would like a quick follow up shot. These were some of their issues.

    Although many of these folks own arsenals of firearms and had owned their airgun for years they were airgunning newbies.

    I’ve constructed an airgun range out to 100 yards next to my cabin. Off we would go with their airgun. We practiced the artillery hold. We tested pellets. We shot their gun over a chrony. When they shot some of my airguns including pcp’s it was an eye opener for them. They could actually hit what they aimed at and have a follow up shot. “How much do I have to spend?” was their next question.

    Based on my experiences, today’s blog topic is relevant for many, many people.






        • Kevin,

          Your photos are from early last Fall?
          How could i tell? Too much wood on the wood pile and not enough SNOW on the ground! Are there folks that year-round? Looks like some great Back Country Skiing from your photos and that elevation.

          shootski


          • Shootski,

            Yes, the photo’s are from late summer/early fall. There are about a dozen people that live there year round plus our 3 employees are provided housing on site as part of their compensation package and they live there year round.

            It’s a terrific place for those that like the outdoors. Ski Cooper and Copper Mountain are two ski areas that are within a 30 minute drive from our front door. We cross country ski and snowmobile from our front door. The Arkansas river is our western boundary which provides great white water rafting especially during the spring runoff. We also have over 300 miles of connected dirt roads for exploring with our ATV’s. Just outside our living room window are the two tallest mountain peaks in Colorado for those that like to climb hills on foot (Mount Elbert, 14,439 feet and Mount Massive, 14,429 feet). Oh, almost forgot,….we have the best fishing in Colorado.

            Here’s a link to our website. If you scroll down to the bottom there are a few pictures.

            http://www.mountmassivelakes.org/guest-information.html


            • Kevin,

              It is fifty years since i have been in that specific area. I have been to the East, North and West often but my last Top of the Rockies Road trip was that long ago. My now wife and I overnighted in Leadville at a real hotel. I imagine we would not recognize the City of Leadville and surroundings! Have you been in the area long enough to see the changes? The membership limits, rules, and fees will certainly help to keep it better than Developers would treat it! We have land and the ski shed North of Morgan Utah still with single track dirt road (ski in or snowmachine in for the 5-6 month Winter) access only for the last 10 miles. I guess you could Fat Tire or helicopter in too ;^) We certainly don’t have the fishing setup you have…my favorite fish is fresh caught brook trout…it would take folks not to be so cheap near us, Lol! But that certainly has kept our little secret spot just that, a SECRET!
              Hope you get to enjoy your club for many, many years to come!

              shootski


              • Shootski,

                I’ve been in Colorado for over 60 years. Leadville has not changed much in the last 50 years. The town has preserved and reclaimed much of it’s history from 150 years ago but the growth has been slow and responsible.

                Glad to read that you have a similar getaway in Utah. A mental recharging station!

                Since brook trout naturally reproduce and enter our chain of lakes upstream they are considered an invasive species at our club and you are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to keep or kill every brook trout you catch under 12” since they over populate lakes and create significant pressure for forage.

                I ate my fill of trout when I was about 12 years old. I release every fish I catch for this reason.

                Hope you enjoy your spot for many years to come.


    • Yeah, It reminds me of my first springer in my older age. I had a choice of a Benjamin Titan and a Diana 34. I bought the Benjamin because it was $70 cheaper and I thought I would like the thumb hole stock, Picatinny rail and nitro piston better. Wish I knew what I know now

      Brent


  7. B.B.,
    This is a great read; I really enjoyed it. And under your list of “What doesn’t sell?,” I’ll defer to your superior level of experience and agree that list is accurate, while at the same time wondering about one item on the list, “Automatic safeties.” I LOVE the John Brown poem you stuck in there. So, if I’m John Brown, it’s not so much automatic safeties that bug me, it’s anti-beartrap safety devices…to say I don’t like them would be an understatement!
    My first air rifle was my Sheridan; it has a manual safety; I would pump it, load a pellet, put the safety on, and carry it around the woods; I was fine with it.
    My next air rifle was a .177 RWS 45, my first springer; it was powerful (for its time) and accurate; it had an automatic safety, but I got used to it; and the thing I liked about this rifle is that I could cock the gun, load a pellet, then push in the safety while holding the barrel and pull the trigger and de-cock the gun. Now I could walk the woods for hours while not stressing my spring, yet a quick pull of the barrel and I’m ready for a shot, with no need to load a pellet because it’s already there; this proved to be a great hunting rifle for me and for my son.
    My next airgun was my first Beeman Webley Tempest; it had a manual safety, and I was fine with that; the thing I liked about the gun was that I could cock the gun, load the gun, hold the barrel, pull the trigger, and de-cock the gun; now I could put it in my holster and walk around the woods, while not stressing my spring, having a gun that was quickly ready for a finishing shot without the need to fumble around for a pellet.
    Next, I got my first R7 in .177 caliber; it had an automatic safety, but it was easy to use, and I could use it in the same way (since it could be de-cocked) as my old RWS 45. While not as powerful, the R7 was super accurate, and accounted for many squirrels at close range (under 30 yards).
    The next acquisition was my HW97 for use in Field Target (hence, it was in .177); it was my first under-lever rifle. It had a safety just like my R7, so it was no big transition. The thing I liked about this gun was, it could be de-cocked at any time: just pull down on the under-lever, hold it back, push in the safety, pull the trigger, and ease the under-lever back to the barrel. Shooting this rifle was easy; loading it was simple: pull back on the under-lever, HOLD it back, keep on holding it (like why wouldn’t you?), load a pellet with the two fingers of your other hand, and then ease the under-lever back to the barrel. I NEVER had a problem with that rifle.
    Next I got a Beeman P1; it was a nice pistol, powerful and accurate. But once cocked, you had to shoot it; there was no provision to uncock it; it had an anti-beartrap safety device. I sold it.
    Automatic safeties? Yes, I find them a little bit offensive, as if the designer is saying, “Hey dave, we think you’re not too bright, so just to make sure you don’t forget to put the safety on, we’ll do it for you.”
    Anti-beartrap safety devices, however, offend me to a much higher extent (personally, as well as from an engineering point-of-view). To me, it’s as if the designer (to be fair to the designers, they could be driven by corporate lawyers) is saying, “Hey dave, we think you are SO darn stupid that we are going to have to TAKE AWAY from your control some aspects of shooting you’ve enjoyed for years…but we’re doing it for your own good, of course…you’ll thank us later.”
    Actually, no, I won’t, hahaha!
    OK, I’ll get down off my soapbox now.
    Anyone that wants to tell me why I’m wrong, and how anti-beartrap safety devices are a good thing, have at it.
    I will listen, truly.
    Anyway, sorry for such a long rant, B.B., and thanks to you for another great report,
    dave


    • Dave,

      Unless wrong,…. what if the cocking shoe failed mid cocking? The sliding port would come forwards and hopefully you finger is not in there loading a pellet. Holding the cocking lever will not help you there. Then, how about if it is cocked and only the sear is holding it back? I had the TX 200 and LGU. Yes, of course you should hold the cocking lever. If not mistaken, both the TX and LGU could be de-cocked. Both had automatic safeties and anti-bear traps.

      Anyone feel free to correct me as I have neither anymore.

      Chris


      • Chris,
        Thanks, man! As B.B. noted below, I was just on rant about something that bugged me; but I did note that there could be things I was not taking into consideration…and you just pointed out a good one. Thanks again.
        Take care & stay safe,
        dave


        • Dave,

          No problem. I was not really sure myself. But,… I figure the anti-bear traps were put there for some reason due to chopped fingers (on guns with the sliding port/breech like the TX and LGU). I seem to recall BB talking about bad things happening as well, in years past. On the safety… I like the manuals.

          Chris



      • Yes, B.B., I guess I “woke up on the wrong side of the bed” (as my Mom was prone to saying), and was off on a rant. But I knew that on this friendly blog, no one would jack me up, they would just politely point out things I had failed to consider (as Chris did above). And that’s yet another thing I love about this blog!
        Take care & keep up the great work,
        dave



  8. It is my opinion that what makes an air rifle good and sells well to the general public has little to do with what we would consider a good airgun. I occasionally see airguns tested for firearms magazines and the writers seldom seem to know anything about airguns or how to test them and do not know what they should even expect. The same is true every time I go to Walmart or a sporting good store and hear people talking about airguns. What makes and airgun “good” to most of these people is a plastic stock and the highest velocity they can get. A scope coming with a gun is a big deal to them. They also like fiber optic sights. So, for the general marketplace, I think Gamo, Crosman, and some others have it figured out.

    I think the quality airguns most of us are interested in and find “good” is a smaller market segment that is really hard to compete in. We want real accuracy, we want multi shot, we want regulators, we want gas rams, we want quiet guns, we want to buy from quality dealers, etc…. And, it only takes one or two bad experiences or reviews from influential airgunners to keep a lot of us from buying what may be a really good airgun.

    If you think about it from a manufacturer’s viewpoint, which market would you rather sell to?

    David Enoch


    • David Enoch,
      I hate to say it, but I mostly agree with you. If everyone expected what we expect, those airguns wouldn’t be on the shelves of big box stores. But they are. And they remain on the shelves for a reason. They sell. I have friends that work at a certain big box store. He said if it doesn’t sell, they won’t keep them. You have to earn the shelf space. That said, I don’t buy airguns from there. I buy very little ammo there. Just a few things here and there.
      All this is true with more products though. People think I’m crazy to buy a bike at a bike store when Wally has them for $100. If you ever rode several from both places, it’s not even close in the quality department.

      Doc



  9. B.B.
    I will say that a good airgun needs to be ergonomic. It needs to fit the user. I dont care if its an R7
    or a B3 or an ASP 20, if my eyeball doesn’t line up with the sights well, my shooting experience is lowered.
    It doesnt take many shots with an ill fitting gun before I get neck strain. I spent hours raising the comb on my injection moulded price point stock, but it would have been easy and cheap for that manufacturer to add value by designing good ergonomics into the stock in the first place. Its not bad cause its plastic, it’s just too generic.
    A simple, clean breaking trigger is not a bad thing,even if it s a few pounds( gasp!)Hair triggers are a can of worms. Can the gun be cleaned safely? I’ve lost count how many times I’ve pulled the trigger, only to remember the safety is still on. That’s a nuiscence. Revolvers don’t have saftys, I think there is less confusion with that approach, that a gun is always ready to fire. At least a pellet gun can be discharged into a trap to clear it.
    It would be nice if it looked good, but it doesnt need to look like a firearm to be good. I think we should honor the mechanics and constraints of the airgun and not try to make it look like an firearm, unless the marketing dept says so. I took the plastic handle end off of the Ssynergis cocking lever despite what they say. It’s a completetly useless geegaw.The user has to grab the lever all the way at the end, when the natural place to grab it is closer to the receiver. but you cant, because the lever is too close to the shroud to fit your hand through to get a good grasp, and the geegaw has a detent, which it doesn’t need, that prevents the user from cocking the gun in an ergonomic, intuitive manner. Instead, why they didnt just put a proper handel on it? Something that fits your hand better. If Millwaukee put handles on their hammer drills like I got on my gas piston rifle, they would get laughed out of business. But, the rifle shoots well enough that i think I can keep up with much more expensive rifles, so I persist, and I keep looking and reading this blog. Thanks for all the helpfull things i learn about here!
    Rob


  10. BB ,

    Good article , I always steer people to the Benjamin Marauder or Air Force TalonSS / CondorSS for first time buyers . These are rifles that can be counted on and will be reliable and accurate.

    In the springer world I push HW30 , R7 , R9 and Diana34 depending on the purpose and the budget they have to work with . If fun only, of course the HW30 and for Hunting the R9 or Diana34 . I see myself as a consultant / teacher and want people to enjoy their airguns , not return them !! This blog is invaluable for beginners and enthusiasts to get solid information. Great topic .

    Gene Salvino


  11. BB ,

    The big manufacturers need the Big Box stores to help budget production and hit good numbers with there suppliers, I assume . I Would like to see a little more effort in fit / finish and shoot-ability on the lower priced guns, it wouldn’t cost that much to put in a little effort. As We know these products can give someone a bad taste and swear off Airguns forever. We might never get those people back .

    Gene Salvino


  12. Davemyster ,

    I agree on the bear – trap safeties, it is nice to be able to decock a rifle without shooting it . Our society is so litigious that for a manufacturer to not use one is opening up the potential to be sued . This is why all airguns have safeties except the 10M guns . I think it is mostly guns for the US Market because Weihrauch and Diana guns can still be decocked and come without bear-trap safeties. The German philosophy is You should know what You are doing ! Different culture also as getting your hunting license over there is quite an endeavor with a written test and range qualification, would definitely weed out some slob hunters .

    Gene Salvino


    • Gene,

      Germany and many other countries also have shooting social clubs/societies that teach shooters and hunters how to shoot, how to care for a weapon, how be safe using one and how to hunt with the respect and dignity the living Prey deserves. I know there are legal and administrative reasons for that type of organized sport but it does seem to have raised the bar for the manufacturers and retailers at least a little bit.
      Doubt seriously that we will see that in the USA!
      It may soon be too late for even that kind of system to “safeguard” the shooting sports we love.

      shootski


  13. B.B.,

    Your comment: “Ease of cocking
    This isn’t the same as light cocking. The ASP20 once again wins in this category because it cocks easier than it should for the power it develops. I have tested several other gas spring air rifles recently that also cock much easier than their power output level would suggest.

    And don’t think this is limited to spring-piston airguns. A number of bolt-action PCPs are harder to cock than they should be and I have seen their owners protest loudly. There have been some “Mark II” models come to market just to correct this fault, so be wise and don’t let it happen to begin with.” Made me laugh!
    I have allowed folks on rare occasions to shoot my Quackenbush Big Bores and even the .25 pistol and had them howl when it came time to pull the cocking handle back…that even after explaining that the hammer spring was a stout piece of coiled metal. Dennis even started putting the soft cover on his cocking handles where originally there was just a bit of knurling to help with the purchase of two fingers. I know folks have come up with ways to ease cocking Big Bores but i still like the direct control and reliability of the KISS DAQ method…call me a Neanderthal!

    For your Readership that have not had the pleasure of shooting a Quackenbush…you have been given NOTICE!
    Now don’t go and embarrass yourselves.

    shootski


  14. Great blog today! I am in agreement with pretty much ALL of the rants as well. Even as a newbie to airguns, I knew that the big box stores were not the places to buy a quality airgun. My first airgun was a Crosman Nitro Venom .22. It had a horrid trigger which I quickly replaced with a GRT-III trigger. At this point, I was still unaware of the idiosyncrasies of spring / gas ram airguns and the special techniques required to shoot them accurately. I didn’t feel the Crosman had the needed accuracy so, after reading many reviews, I bought a Diana RWS 34P .22. Now, I definitely had a quality German made airgun which would be accurate enough to meet my needs. I struggled for five years attempting to shoot the Diana 34 accurately. Then I discovered this blog and my education began. Even then, after trying every suggestion and artillery hold, I still was not able to shoot groups at 25 yards of 1″. My groups were consistently 1.5″ to 2″, and occasionally .5″. B.B. took pity on me and offered to test my Diana for me. He demonstrated it’s capability to shoot 1″ groups at 25 yards with RWS Superdome pellets and then sent it back. I still was not able to shoot it accurately, and I had more misses than hits.
    ChrisUSA suggested that I give a PCP a try. I finally gave in and bought a Gamo Urban along with a cheap hand pump and a UTG 3-12x44SWAT scope with the etched glass reticle. Thanks to ChrisUSA and this blog, my accuracy problems were over. The Urban will shoot .5″ groups at 30 yards with JSB 18.13g pellets, consistently. No more harassing sparrows on my bluebird’s nesting boxes! The Urban is a great pesting tool.
    The “best” airgun will vary greatly depending on what one’s needs are, and what the rifle will be used for. There is no such thing as a best airgun because it is subjective. It’s like asking “What’s the best food on the menu?”, or “What’s the best vehicle to purchase?”. Everyone’s best will be different. We have to know how to recognize junk and avoid it though. This blog is a great source of education and help in that endeavor.
    End of my little rant. But here is some news that the community may not be aware of yet. Vortek has apparently perfected the CFL-GAS PISTON KIT for spring airguns. Right now it’s only being offered to customers and is a limited stock. This YouTube review by a creator living near me here in MI was posted today. I know many have been asking about this product.
    Geo
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C49cHtiJJuo&feature=em-uploademail
    http://vortekproducts.com/ourstore/Airgun_Kit


    • Geo,

      I just passed along what I learned right here and what I experienced first hand when moving from springers to PCP’s. I am glad it all worked out well in the end and the Bluebird boxes are now well defended!

      Chris

      42* F here now and snowing,………… go figure? 🙁 Another month or two and I will be griping about the heat! 😉


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