Sharpshooter pistol resurrection: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sharpshooter pistols
The Bulls Eye pistol (left) came first. Manufacture started in 1924 in Rawlins, Wyoming. The smaller Sharpshooter pistols at the right were made in Rawlins until sometime in World War II and then manufacture moved to La Jolla, California in 1946.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Learned a lot!
  • Velocity
  • Three guns to test
  • Plain Blue pistol from La Jolla
  • Black DeLuxe pistol from Rawlins
  • Curses! — foiled by eBay
  • Summary

Here we go! This is probably the final installment of this series that started several weeks ago when the grand nephew of John Beckwith, George, sent me some carriers for Sharpshooter pistols that his grand uncle had given him. With one of them I was able to resurrect a Sharpshooter pistol I have owned for many years. Its plastic carrier broke and the gun has been silent for a long time, but thanks to George it’s up and running again!

Learned a lot!

While researching this series I learned a lot about these curious pistols. I finally read several of the manuals I have and learned things about maintaining the gun that I never knew. As a result I hope to see impressive performance today in my velocity tests. Let’s start there.

Velocity

Because they are powered by rubber bands these pistols get faster as stronger bands and more bands are added. But only to a point. Beyond that they start slowing down again as additional bands are added. Additional bands are difficult to attach, and they make the pistol harder to cock and the trigger harder to pull.

But in this series I learned that I should be oiling the carrier rails, both top and bottom, and greasing the pistol and bands with Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. When I did that the pistol started shooting number 6 shot through copier paper at 10 feet. So it’s obviously going faster! Today I learn how much faster.

Three guns to test

I have selected three of my 4 Sharpshooter pistols to test for you. I will describe each one and tell you about the rubber bands they have. First up is the plain blue (black) pistol that was probably sold by either Berry Brow Enterprises or Golden key Enterprises — the last two major retailers of the pistols. I am not sure that the manufacturing didn’t remain in California with John Beckwith, because there is no proof that either of those two companies ever made a gun.

This pistol is as plain as it gets. It has no grip panels — just the pressed steel of the gun that looks like grips to hold onto. This is the pistol that needed a carrier, and it went in easily. For a rubber band I used a thicker band that I got at my church. It’s both thicker and shorter, but not as wide, so I figured it would be a magnum band. We shall see!

Plain pistol
The plain pistol is as sparse as the title implies. Absolutely no finish work was done to the metal before bluing. This one has the donated carrier.

magnum band
The rubber band on this pistol is thicker and shorter than what is supposed to be there. The pistol cocks harder and I think it will shoot faster.

This pistol was also missing its front sight. I made a replacement from a small rubber pad that I had on hand. It fits well, does the job and the pistol is quite accurate with it.

front sight
I cut a small piece of a rubber pad to use as a front sight. It does the job well.

This “magnum” pistol shoots at 100 f.p.s. I told you these guns weren’t that fast. The stronger the rubber band the harder they are to cock and the harder the trigger pull becomes. This one with this rubber band has a single-stage trigger that breaks at 1 lb. 11 oz. The break is reasonably crisp.

Plain blue pistol from La Jolla

When John Beckwith made the Sharpshooter, he put more into them than either of the final two  retailers. His plain blue pistol has unfinished wooden grip panels and is a much more attractive pistol. It also cocks and fires much smoother.

I put a smaller rubber band on this pistol because I made it a birthday gift for my buddy, Otho. He has arthritis in his hands and I wanted to make his easier to cock, which it is. 

La Jolla pistol
The plain blue pistol from La Jolla is much prettier than the other one.

This pistol fired at 62 f.p.s. Yes, that’s slow but it’s what the smaller rubber band gets you.

The trigger pull was 2 lbs. 4 oz, which surprised me. Maybe the carrier has something to do with it because that is what the sear grabs when the gun is cocked.

Black DeLuxe pistol from Rawlins

This is the pistol with the French writing on it and its box. That places its manufacture in the mid-30s. This is my smoothest Sharpshooter pistol and I have it strung with a heavy-duty postal rubber band. Unfortunately those bands are old and they break in a few shots. But I have new ones coming.

Rawlins pistol
This Rawlins-made Black DeLuxe pistol is the nicest in my small collection.

I couldn’t record a velocity with this pistol. The skyscreens just wouldn’t trigger. But given how easily it cocks I believe it lies somewhere in between the two pistols I did chronograph — maybe 80 f.p.s. or so.

The trigger on this one breaks at 2 lbs. 3 oz. It feels lighter than the trigger on the first gun, but the test device doesn’t lie.

Curses! — foiled by eBay

I had hoped to acquire a rare Sharpshooter with a long grip, but the eBay auction was cancelled before it ended. I planned to show that pistol to you and test it and then get it back to George from whom it was stolen years ago. Unfortunately unscrupulous eBay sellers are selling their auction items and ending the auction early. Too bad for this one, because he had no idea of how high I was willing to go!

Summary

I have told you a large part of the story of the Sharpshooter rubber band pistol. There are more bits and pieces, but we have hit most of the high spot s in this series.

My thanks to George for sending me the carrier. It prompted this series and made me a lot smarter about this odd little pistol series.

Final note — I did email the Bug-A-Salt people and told them the Sharpshooter pistol would make an idea product for them. I gave them the links to these reports. I don’t know what their manufacturing capability is, but if they are able to make things this would be a natural for them!

61 thoughts on “Sharpshooter pistol resurrection: Part 4

  1. B.B.,

    Hmm. So #6 shot is actually in free flight while inside the barrel once it leaves the carrier. It’s unfortunate there seems to be no standard size of rubber band recommended for use. Hopefully when the maker of Bug-A-Salt decides to make this fun plinker they will settle on a common size for general use. I think I can tinker up one using scrap PVC pipe and wood. One of these days.

    Thanks for the prayers my father is for discharge today. Unfortunately my wife now has it but is fortunately not showing any symptoms.

    Siraniko


    • Siraniko,

      I’m glad to hear of your father’s recovery and hope your wife does not develop symptoms.

      I still have a slight cough. For just a few days recently I lost most of my sense of taste and developed a low-grade fever. I could taste only the dominant flavor of foods, such as salty, sour, sweet, probably bitter if I had tried a beer. For example, a cookie would taste sweet but only a generic sweet, no flavor of the cookie, so regardless of cookie variety, they all tasted the same. Savory foods tasted salty, just salty. Spicy foods tasted peppery but had no actual taste. Very strange. My taste seems to be returning quickly, however, just as it did before, in the Spring.

      Michael


      • Michael,

        Thanks a lot! She was initially depressed but got over it (I hope!) after some sleep. I hope and pray that she continues to be asymptomatic. One more week and she is free from isolation. Just in time to yield the room she is occupying to me when I get back from my work rotation in the hospital.

        Siraniko


        • Siraniko,

          There are people in the United States who believe this illness is not real (or at least not very serious), a political hoax of some sort, or that it is not very contagious or potentially deadly. Covid-19 is every bit as contagious as the common cold (a non-deadly coronavirus) but many times more deadly than a flu virus.

          I wish I could ask every one of those who think it is a political hoax to ask themselves how it is that over 700,00 people around the world have died from it. Is the entire world in on the hoax?

          Stay healthy,

          Michael


          • Michael,

            Nothing is real until it is experienced. Not much we can do for those who have chosen to place earplugs and blinders instead of facing the truth.

            Siraniko


            • Siraniko,

              I hope and offer a prayer that your wife has no issues that remain soon!

              But life on this Earth is known to be difficult on average; most of us live lives of ease compared to most all who came before our time and unfortunately all to many living in poor conditions to this day.

              Salud!

              shootski


              • Shootski,

                Thank You. “Life is nasty, brutish, and short” Thomas Hobbes said, but “Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits.” Robert Louis Stevenson. Looking up to God when we are down on our knees is the best view in life.

                Siraniko


                • Siraniko,

                  Christ said, “In this world you will have trouble.”

                  Paul in Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

                  shootski


                  • Shootski,

                    Matthew writes that Jesus said 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He never said that he would remove our burdens. We share it with Him making it lighter.

                    Siraniko


          • Michael,

            “There are people in the United States who believe this illness is not real (or at least not very serious), a political hoax of some sort, or that it is not very contagious or potentially deadly.”

            Obviously it isn’t just people in the USA who do not understand RISK.
            OTHERWISE it would only be the USA suffering from an Epidemic as opposed to the actual situation of a World PANDEMIC! I believe you know the meaning of the root word PAN?

            Your loathing of your birth Country is showing a tad.

            Take it from an immigrant; this is still one of the best countries based on extensive first hand observation of most of the countries on this Planet.

            shootski


            • shootski,

              I love my country. I do not loathe it. It saddens me to see my country in its current state. I can’t stand that nearly 170,000 of my countrymen have died, perhaps as many as tens of thousands unnecessarily. I love my countrymen so much I wear masks on the rare occasions I leave home so I am less likely to infect them if I am contagious. You?

              Do not question my patriotism again.

              Regarding the suffering of other countries and how they have responded to the risk posed by covid-19, the United States makes up roughly 5 percent of the world’s population, yet Americans make up more than 25% of those who have died worldwide. Apparently people in other countries do sometimes have something to teach us. And how many of them go around punching, kicking and shooting people who ask them to wear masks in indoor public places?

              But I confess you are impressive. You have visited (“extensive first hand observation”) “most of the countries on this Planet”? You have visited 98 or more of the world’s 195 countries? Perhaps that was during your extensive tours with Delta Force or assignments for MI6 and the CIA. (Let me guess; if you told me, you’d have to kill me.)

              “Take it from an immigrant. . .”? Sure, but you should take it from someone born here who’s lived his whole life here (but alas visited just 5 other countries), yes, this is still one of the best countries in the world, but it won’t be for much longer unless we have a sea change soon.

              Michael


              • Michael,

                You have every right to ask me to NOT question your patriotism! And, I have every right to question it; given that you have not provided me one iota of evidence outside of thinking that dutifully wearing a mask of unknown origen makes you a Patriot? Your statement about the state of the USA currently is a political misstep…perhaps but the Constitution is still working. The issue is not at hand that requires a “…sea change soon.” What we have is the messiness of a Republic based on democratic principals that can never make all members happy.

                It just can’t, by design, be to your or my liking at all times!

                What i see is a group that currently believes it is in the majority not understanding that consideration must be given to the minority.

                Security at the expense of Liberty is a fools gambol.

                shootski


                • shootski,

                  OK, last thing first. I don’t know what you’re discussing. I wasn’t discussing politics. I was discussing public health. Covid-19 is a disease, not a political party. Not everything’s political or a debate about the Constitution.

                  Regarding my love of country, I was brought up not to question certain things in another such as their faith, their personal sacrifices, their familial relationships and their patriotism. I do not need to provide evidence to you or anyone else of my love of country and how much I have sacrificed for it. And what you think of me is of no importance to me. What you write about me on a public forum is something I do care about; however, so once again, watch it.

                  Anyway I’ve no time at present to fuss with you. I have to get my mother’s living will and such together if her breathing gets much worse tonight and has to go to the ER. I”ve improved but her covids worse today

                  gotta go

                  Michael


                  • Michael,

                    First things first: I hope and Pray your mother’s condition gets much better not worse. I did not know you had more in your family sick with Sars-CoV-2 beside yourself.

                    Good luck on the GunBroker bid too!

                    Best wishes and Prayers!

                    shootski


                  • Michael,

                    My thoughts are with you and your family—I wish you all the best of luck in these trying times. Thank you for all you have sacrificed and thank you for your ongoing sacrifices.

                    WD


  2. B.B.,

    I saw that long-handled one with the other regular grip Sharpshooter on ebay and was going to bid on it, but then it occurred to me that you might be planning to bid on it, so I backed off and did not bid. If it had gone to you, I planned to make you an offer for the shorter grip one. So, perhaps we both missed out with the seller simply using ebay as a low-cost advertiser. :^( I thought it might be fun to shoot it from my sick-bed sofa at a trap similar to the one you fashioned. It is great that you intended to return the long grip one to its rightful owner!

    I’ve wondered how much revenue ebay loses in a year to that practice. I often have been left disappointed as you just have been.

    Michael


  3. B.B.,

    This has been a fascinating series. I wonder what the cause is of the diminishing marginal power returns you get from using more and more rubber bands beyond a certain threshold, and if there would be any benefit from using fewer, but far stronger, bands — perhaps like the sorts of heavy duty elastic bands that are commonly used in slingshots.

    WD


  4. To the speed and power freaks out there,

    Why not enjoy these for what they are? Take a look at the trigger. How much pressure do you think it can stand.

    Then you have the carrier slamming forward. What stops it? The rubber band slamming into the edge of the slot stops it. Sooner or later the band is going to get “cut” there. The more power, the sooner.

    Then you have the shot zinging around everywhere. The higher the initial velocity, the higher the ricochet velocity.

    Think of the general wear and tear on these poor things. Would you like your grandkids or great grandkids to come across one of these and enjoy it or not?

    If it does not suit you, get something else.


    • You’re absolutely right — it wasn’t designed for that kind of stress. It would be a shame to damage one of these. Though I imagine one could adapt the design for heavier use and greater band longevity with a few tweaks.


      • WD,

        RidgeRunner knows that I have: A Need for Speed!
        I also am a Power Freak since I own a number of Big Bore with over 200 FPE with some capable of 500+ with accuracy. The Physics of more power for the catapult pistol are surprisingly similar to the airgunner’s problem! As the Mass of gas behind the projectile increases more of the potential energy stored in the powerplant/rubberband is required to move (accelerate) the Mass of the gas/rubber and not the Mass of the bullet. Just as B.B. described in his actual observations of adding more/heavier bands!

        hth!

        shootski



          • ChrisUSA,

            Nope! I have seen pumkin chunkin written up in a magazine or two and covered on television. Never bothered to drive over to Delaware to see it. I understand it has moved to Illinois.

            I just can’t see hurling pumpkins! No real accuracy just how far done with some hinky high pressured equipment on a shoe string budget! Hopefully they have gotten better at not injuring people.

            I prefer my pumpkin in pies and as jack-o’-lanterns!

            shootski


            • Shootski,

              Ok. I thought that you might appreciate the (varied) launching platforms that they use. From what I have seen,.. when it was on TV,… “shoestring budget” did NOT enter my mind. Those things are some very well engineered GIANT PCP’s (for the pneumatic category).

              In fact,… it reminded me of some (what I would guess to be),.. some rather well funded people in the pulling tractor hobby. 4 V-8’s, fully blown? Jet engines?

              If that is “shoestring”,… I am hanging by a frayed thread! 😉 or 🙁

              Chris

              Edit: Added the word,.. NOT,…. duh! 🙁


              • ChrisUSA,

                Things must have changed since i saw the gear on television and in the magazines.
                People with money must be involved…paying people that know what they are doing.
                I guess it doesn’t Call to me.

                shootski


          • Chris,

            I have never been to one but much to my regret! I’ve twice been to a pumpkin FESTIVAL, in Sycamore, Illinois, but sadly, no shooting of “punkins” out of cannons or tossed by trebuchet. That would be a good time indeed.

            I did see Smashing Pumpkins perform once at Medusa’s (or maybe Tut’s, it was in the early ’90s and I was probably inebriated.)

            Good times,

            Michael


            • Michael,

              It is like the stuff we talk about here,… only on a massive scale. Granted, rifling may not do much for a pumpkin,… but I bet there is those that have tried. Should my transfer port be 8″ or 12″? 🙂 As for the catapults,.. that has to take some serious study of mid-evil weaponry and a lot of trial and error.

              Chris





  5. BB,

    Great set of reports. I enjoyed all of the back history on these little toy shooters.

    Hopefully Bug-A-Salt picks up on them with some version. Air soft bb’s. Sturdy plastic most likely, but a nice stamped steel version with fancy/antique-ish raised relief would be very cool too.

    Chris



  6. Everyone,

    I got hold of some more company literature that I hadn’t seen before. Apparently if you coat the ENTIRE rubber band in Petroeum Jelly it lasts twice as long. I did it this morning and the band now looks dry again.

    B.B.


    • B.B.,

      Get some pure Glycerin from a Pharmacist for your rubberbands; or 303 Protectant will work even better on natural rubber. I use it on the neck and wrist seals on my Drysuit as well as on my slingshot power bands.

      shootski



        • B.B.,

          Just keep writing great blogs like this one about the Sharpshooters and other interesting implements!
          One of these is on my RADAR but your blog seems to have lots of folks out hunting for them.
          I’ll still always owe you as many tips on things i have found that work to keep us going forever!

          Be well!

          shootski


          • I think all of us are indebted to the endless fountain of wisdom that is B.B.’s writing. I hope manufacturers offer him a cut whenever they incorporate one of his suggestions into their design! Seems only fair.


            • WD,

              “I hope manufacturers offer him a cut whenever they incorporate one of his suggestions into their design! Seems only fair.”

              Only speculation mind you,… but if that were the case,.. ol’ BB would be pretty well off right now! 🙂

              With this blog and the comments after,… ideas get kicked around and experience(s) shared. A feel for the market develops. Same with other forums. Then too, you have all the modders that improve and tweak on an existing platform. And then you have real engineers and machinist making money from aftermarket parts. Some even go on to develop their own line of air guns.

              So I guess the way I see it, a company might provide the basic platform,.. but it is the people that take it a step further that are the real hero’s. In many cases,… ((it is the air gun manufacturers that are riding OUR coat tails)),… stealing the best ideas and making a profit from them.

              So if any one tells you,.. “Fine job on that idea! The check will be in the mail very soon.”,… I would not be holding my breath. 😉

              Lucky for us, the air gun community is full of people that are willing to share ideas with no strings attached, in the spirit of simply furthering the future of the hobby/sport.

              Chris



                • BB,

                  Well,.. there is no shortage of people reviewing the latest offerings. While you do also,… your forte seems to be in the forgotten about, little known about and odd little ducks like this one. You often add things to the historical record that were not there before.

                  Not to mention the tear down and rebuild blogs of which good info. may not already exist.

                  Chris


                • BB,

                  Most have turned to YouTube rather than the written word. Also, as Chris has pointed out, most deal with what is, not what can be.

                  Very, very few deal with the internals, tweaking, tuning, fixing.

                  Even fewer allow us to have an open discussion as is here.

                  Your blog is unique. You have made it that way. Thank you.


              • Chris,

                Thanks for this insight. This is part of why I’ve fallen in love with the airgunning community. The collaboration, the creativity, the honesty, the lack of greed. It is truly refreshing and quite alien to me; I have a great deal to learn from it.

                WD


  7. ‘Way off topic here: I’m hoping to find the name of a British airgun parts supplier that B.B. has mentioned in the blog. They seem to be able to supply the difficult-to-find thing for airguns.

    I recently acquired a Crosman “22” at an estate sale. From the photos I thought that it was a much newer rifle, found that it wasn’t after a phone conversation agreeing to buy it. By God’s grace it’s a little rough but seems to hold air and shoot well. For a couple of days I no idea what I had but finally found that I had bought a Crosman 120. Who knew??

    I was able to find an owners manual at Crosman’s Library and the ‘Net provided an exploded view with part labels and numbers. The rear sight looks as if the rifle had been dropped on it. I can make it look like photos that I now have as long as metal fatigue doesn’t catch up with me. I see that the brass bead on the front sight is missing. While I’m sure that I’d never need the bead as a practical matter, my anal self would like the 120 to be complete. The bead looks like a short dressmakers pin with a brass head. On the exploded diagram it’s identified as “From Sight Bead 120-11”.

    If anyone know of a source for this kind of part, I will appreciate hearing from you.

    Dan


  8. And that “From Sight Bead 120-11” should be “Front Sight Bead 120-11”

    My dim memory thinks that the company name started with a “C”.

    I need to start a resource file. Names and contact info for parts and persons who know stuff and/or can do stuff.

    Dan


  9. Iain – UK

    Ah yes, Chambers it is. But they don’t list any 120 airgun parts. JG does list some more critical parts but not the shiny brass “jewelry” that I’m seeking.

    I think at this point, Google is my best bet.

    As a last resort I may try a drop of brazing rod on the head of one of my wife’s quilting pins.

    Many thanks for all of the suggestions.

    Dan


  10. Off-topic comment for those that might find it interesting. I don’t know if anyone’s mentioned this before and I have seen that readers here have various preferences to what they like or don’t like when it comes to sights.
    I was wondering what it would be like to put a peep sight on my rifles that have the fiber optic sights. So, I grabbed my tuned XS-25, removed the rear sight, and put on a Williams peep. I was thinking I would have to paint over the front sight to blacken it but was surprised when my sight picture turned out to be just like a dot sight. Being able to use the peep sight my offhand groups have been improving.
    I’ve played around with dot sights before but never cared for their looks and it didn’t seem to help me – I’ve been an iron and peep sight shooter almost my whole life. I’ll make the intermittent concession tho for something like my ASP20 because, well, I have to.
    This solves a problem for me. I have several Williams peep sights that I wanted to mount and most of my newer rifles that have the fiber optic sights like a Walther Terrus and an RWS Diana 34.

    2 cents from
    Larry in Algona


    • Larry,

      Superb! I do not own any airguns with “glowy thingy” sights, but should one decide to move into RRHFWA I will most definitely give it some serious consideration.

      I have thought of these before.

      https://www.natchezss.com/truglo-airgun-globe-front-sight-match-m18-22mm-housing-fiber-optic.html

      The 10 meter crowd should like these for quick shots at feral soda cans.

      This is an excellent solution for many rifles, not just air rifles. As a few may have noticed, I myself am not a big fan of “glowy thingy” sights. There are several reasons. With my modern airguns, I prefer to shoot long range. For that, decent scopes are needed.

      When I am just plinking, I am likely using one of the older ladies around here and many of them have truly awesome open sights. Also, since feral soda cans tend to move real slow, I do not need to make a real quick shot.

      I am not a hunter. I used to be and would again if my family was hungry, but we are not. This combination of a front “glowy thingy” and a rear peep would work well in the woods. I could even see a high scope mount that would allow me to use a front glowy and peep for the close shots.

      Another bonus to this set up is you do not need batteries.


      • RR
        Of course I thought about you – I almost referred to the sights as “glowy thingy”. In fact, that has gotten so ingrained that I almost forget these are properly referred to as fiber optic sights.
        Quite an interesting sight from Natchez but IMHO it would have very limited appeal to most shooters. They didn’t put any real information on it either. Guessing from your last sentence, it takes batteries?
        I did some further testing this morning and found out more, but first let me give you some background. I really can’t shoot outside in my neighborhood so I set up an indoor range. I shoot from my living room to my back bedroom and get about 15 yds. The bedroom has a halogen lamp (Lumiere) and I also put a work light on the target. I get daylight at my back in the living room and also have a Lumiere lamp. I stand unsupported and shoot offhand. So, the new info: This morning I picked up my rifle and saw I had good visibility so I didn’t bother turning on all the lighting fixtures. However, since I was shooting from a relatively darker room compared to other tests, the fiber optic sight wasn’t picking up that much light. Consequently, I just had a normal peep sight picture tho I could make out the red color on the front sight. Pretty much what I was looking for all along. I can now put off my search for front sight replacements on my rifles that have the glowy thingies, which includes the aforementioned RWS 34 and the Walther Terrus (shame on you, Walther). LMo


        • LOL! It is such a joy to know I have such a positive influence on others.

          As for the batteries, I was referring to dot sights. This sight is a glowy thingy sight also. Is will turn a 10 meter air rifle into what you are doing.

          I can see where your peep glowy combo would be great for quick shots, much better than the traditional glowy thingy sight. Maybe someone in the industry will read this and have a great idea for an air rifle in the future. Of course you will get no credit and the marketeer will get a promotion.


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