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Big Game Hunting Things we don’t think about

Things we don’t think about

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Today’s post
  • Why nobody makes muzzleloading big bores
  • Where is the muzzle?
  • Scoped
  • How fast does it close?
  • Summary

Yesterday’s report on reloading elicited a better response than I had hoped. Many of you don’t reload and never will but you are still curious. There is a lot more coming!

I write reports on subjects like that to attract readers from other disciplines. This blog is highly ranked in Google searches and usually goes straight to the top of most lists of whatever topic I write about. Reader Kevin joined us years ago because I mentioned Roy Weatherby as “the high priest of high velocity” in a report. Kevin was searching for Weatherby online and hit that blog. Then he looked around and found the blog to be interesting. Today he is an airgunner first class and you see his comments here all the time.

So, if many firearm shooters are now interested in reloading and they do a Google search, they will likely land on the blog, where I can show them a fascinating world of shooting that they may not know about. They discover they can still shoot all they want and more if they join us in the world of airguns.

Today’s post

Today I want to discuss a couple things that you may never have thought of. Don’t feel bad — I get surprised by these things all the time.

Why nobody makes muzzleloading big bores

Have you ever wondered why nobody makes muzzleloading big bores? Think about it.

What if a big bore muzzleloader had a slow leak in the firing valve? Pressure would build up behind the bullet until it couldn’t remain in the breech any longer. Then it would exit the muzzle at high velocity without the gun ever being cocked. Handling an airgun like that would be like handling nitroglycerin! There would be nowhere to safely store it, and you couldn’t handle it because you would always be afraid of a discharge. But, if you didn’t know about the leak it would be even more dangerous. Think about it.

Where is the muzzle?

When long-range rifle shooting was in vogue in the late 19th century, the Creedmore position was a favored one. In it the shooter laid on his back and rested the long barrel of his rifle either on his knees or his feet. It was a stable position and many matches were won that way. It works well with long-barreled rifles. But not with carbines!

Creedmore position
As long as the rifle has a long barrel, the Creedmore position works well. It’s not the best for a short-barreled carbine though

Imagine Hopalong on his second-story deck. He rests his feet up on the deck rail and sights through his scope at squirrels in the tree with his carbine. The scope is two inches above the boreline of the rifle, so he can see everything fine, but where is the muzzle? If it’s in the wrong place the shooter will be the first to know when the trigger is pulled.


Precharged pneumatics don’t recoil that much. Shooters get so used to them that they place their sighting eye next to the eyepiece. Then they gently squeeze the trigger — of their new .50-caliber AirForce Texan!

PCPs don’t recoil as a GENERAL rule, but big bore PCPs do it with a vengance! So much so that the shiner and the crescent cut over the eye is called getting “scoped.” When something gets a slang name you know it’s happening a lot!

How fast does it close?

He just got a new breakbarrel. Well, it’s new to him, it’s not that new. It’s an HW50S loaned to him by his older brother who just deployed to the middle east. He is fascinated by the strength of the mainspring and wonders if he pulls the trigger with the barrel open, will it close all the way?

It will. In fact it closes so fast that it pulls the stock screws through the forearm before cracking the wood. And the barrel now looks like a ski jump. He wonders if his brother will notice it.

He sights at a target about 25 feet away and the pellet hits 4 inches high. He starts to think what he will tell his brother but it’s waste of time. Any airgunner who sees the wreckage will know right away what happened.He will tell his brother that his hand slipped off the barrel just as thew rifle was about to be cocks. Do you know how many times I have heard that lie? Repeating it doesn’t make it true.

bent barrel
Yep! Pull the trigger of a breakbarrel with the barrel broken open and this is what you get every time.

Stock Up on Shooting Gear


What are some of the other things you have discovered in your journey through airguns?

67 thoughts on “Things we don’t think about”

  1. B.B.,

    My pet peeve with automatic safeties is that it creates a bad habit of taking the safety off immediately after cocking whether I’m going to shoot immediately or not. Many a time I’m all set up to shoot then struggling with a trigger that wouldn’t budge because the safety was on. I just wish there was an easy way to set the safety manually.


    • Siraniko,

      I too do not care for automatic safeties.

      With some airguns, like Gamo, the safety is manual and in front of the trigger. When I shot mine I taught myself to put the safety on after each shot as I removed it from my shoulder and cocked it. When I was ready to shoot, I had to push the safety forward to be able to put my finger on the trigger. This method worked great.

      My grandson is learning your habit of taking off the safety of his HW30S. I am trying to break him of that as I would rather he learned to check the auto safety each time, but I can see when hunting how aggravating that can be. On more than one occasion I have squeezed the trigger and it did not budge.

      My HM1000X has a similar manual safety to the Gamo. Most of my airguns do not have safeties at all. I am the safety.

      • Deck
        Oh absolutely true. Only one time.

        My oldest daughter when she was younger got it once from a nitro piston break barrel. I figured it was going to be a good gun for her. She could cock it. But just once she held the scope to close. I felt terrible when it happened. But I did warn her about it that it could happen.

        It took me or should I say her rather a while for her to shoot after that. I had to shoot a gun to show her how it recoiled before she would touch it.

        She does know now as well as her younger sister. Luckily they will both shoot anything I throw in front of them. Luckily.

        So yep definitely teach new shooters about those scopes if they get to close to them. It could make them not ever want to shoot again after it happens.

        • Gunfun1

          It thrills me when I here someone say they have daughters or granddaughters that enjoy shooting. None of mine care a lick about it. All the men and boys are gun enthusiasts except one 14 year old who lives in a no guns allowed California house. His dad was taught gun safety but hasn’t touched one in 25 years.


          • Deck
            Both of my girls are definitely tom boys. Heck they can shoot and ride 4 wheelers better than some of the guys they knew. Heck one of the guys had no idea what the clutch was or how to shift the 4 wheeler. And I’m talking he was probably 19 years old. My youngest daughter which was 19 also, taught him how to shift the 4 wheeler.

            Both of my daughters even like fishing and bait their own hooks and take the fish off theirselves. The oldest one even will clean and fillet the fish she catches. The younger one doesn’t like doing that but she did get taught how to clean them.

            And to top it off they both like working on cars and other things. So yep I made sure they got taught what was needed. I’m happy. Heck most the kids their age now days are always doing something on their phones. Half of them are white as a ghost because they never even go out in the sun. Pretty obvious now days to tell what kids are active and what ones are not.

  2. BB,
    I too came from the powder burner world thinking of the world of airguns was only made up of Daisy bb guns, Benji 397’s and Crosman 760’s or similar. Wow.

    When I started in this, there were muzzle loader big bores. That also was what I wanted. Gary would not make me one. It was also about that time he stopped making them altogether.

  3. BB

    Here is one for the new reloader. In rifle calibers most powders fill more than half the interior of a brass case thus avoiding the terrible error of filling the case twice. But with many pistol powders this is not so! This is just one example of why alcohol is a no no when reloading.


  4. BB ,

    We have straightened quite a few of those barrels that slipped out of there hands !! If the stock isn’t broken at the wrist they are lucky . Very expensive mistake ! a new stock and labor to remove/straighten the barrel .

    Gene Salvino

    • Hi Gene,

      This question is off topic but BB suggested that you may know the answer.

      On the .177 Benjamin Marauder Gen 1 (BP1763), when replacing the four big o-rings (1763-026) on the Valve Assy, Fill Adapter Assy and Gauge Port Assy, what material should they be made from? Buna-nitrile (also called Buna-N), Polyurethane or some other material? I don’t want to replace my Marauder o-rings with something that will not hold up.


  5. Ridgerunner ,

    That is my story also about only knowing the cheap Kmart and sporting good store guns . When I started working here in 2009 , I was amazed at the Air-Arms , Weihrauch and the Sam Yang Big Bores . My perception of Airguns were the 30 dollar B3 springers and 760 Crosmans. In the 11 years since I have been here at Air Venturi the amount of change has been brisk . The way I explain PCPs to people is they are like muzzzleloading , that tank is like your first accouterments set that lets you shoot most any rifle / pistol . After that it is pellets and some tank fills .

    Gene Salvino

    • Gene,

      That is a good way to look at PCPs.

      I remember when you started working there. I met you at the Roanoke Show in 2010. You OK’ed the price that Sandy sold me my Izzy for.

  6. I have been a powder burner my whole life, and still am.
    But I have also been an Airgunner my whole life, and always will be.

    I grew up shooting my older brothers Benjamin 312.

    I have had very few automatic safety airguns, since I have a heavy background in co2, and single and multi pump pneumatics, and migrating into pcp guns in just the last 10:years.

    I have owned springers in the past, just before they had automatic safeties.

    of the guns I own with automatic safeties, The Beeman P17 is one of them, and I have recently stepped over the high end springer line, and picked up a Air Arms Pro-Sport in .177 that also has an automatic safety.

    On the Pro-Sport, the safety is engaged at the very end of the cocking stroke with a very firm extra click.

    If you do not cock it all the way and hear/feel that click, the safety will not engage, and the cocking lever will not fully close to its rest position.
    So, I now feel to make sure the safety is set, before closing the cocking lever.
    And with the 1lb trigger on the Pro-Sport, you do not want to disengage the safety “automatically”.
    Once you take the safety off, the only way to re-engage the safety is to fully cycle the cocking lever again.

    Do I like the automatic safeties?
    Not really, like mentioned above, it is easy to get into the bad habit of automatically turning it off.
    Which is not really a problem, if you are on the range, plinking, in rapid succession, and not moving about with the airgun.

    But if you are out hunting or pesting it is a dangerous habit, and bad habits are hard to break.

    Personally, I have no problem with the auto safeties on the 2 guns of the many I own, as their method of operation is outside of my normal shooting.


  7. I skimmed the headings section of the blog, and the ‘Nobody makes muzzleloading big bores’ caught my eye. I regularly shoot a Short Land pattern ‘Brown Bess’ musket ( .75 cal, using a .735 round ball), sooooo……… What is BB talking about? Of course, a muzzleloading air gun. But then I had a couple more questions. What qualifies as a ‘big bore’ and are there muzzleloading ‘small bores’ that don’t suffer from valve leaks? Can a muzzleloader be designed that would be safe?

    Thank you.

    • Paco,

      As Ridgerunner pointed out, Gary Barnes did make a few muzzleloafing big bores before he learned what happens when they have slow leaks. I owned one of them.

      What constitutes a big bore? I look at it from the opposite side. The asmallbores are .177, .20 .22 and .25. Everything bigger is a big bore in my opinion.

      There could be muzzleloading small bores but I don’t think I’ve heard of one.

      I suppose a safe muzzleloader could be designed.


      • Thank you for clearing up small bore versus big bore. I’m still pondering on the other issue. Perhaps a rotating switch barrel like the double barrel flintlocks. Could then be rotated into alignment with reservoir/firing mechanism when muzzle is aligned with target and ready to shoot?

      • BB
        Am I wrong, that Daisy has one now? Their 499 is supposed to be the most accurate BB gun as discussed here before.
        How did a slow leak cause a shot to be fired? The same amount of force would be needed to push the bullet out of the bore as was needed to push it in, and a slow leak would only push it until the pressure was equalized. Unless there was something mechanical holding the bullet in place, but that doesn’t sound realistic. Am I even talking about the same thing? Perhaps I haven’t read the text in the way you intended. I do that occasionally. More so since I passed 70.

  8. My airgun experience started in the days when there was next to no choice in pellets (what ever fit was good enough) and putting a scope on an airgun was a total frustration and waste of time. Range and accuracy were very limited at best.

    Like many, I left airguns as soon as I could get a .22 rimfire. Always had a pellet rifle around for quiet plinking in the city but didn’t consider it to be a serious pesting or hunting gun.

    It was BB and this blog that brought me back to airguns. I was looking for information for my FWB 124 when I discovered this site and started reading – I couldn’t believe how much airguns had advanced!

    So the pendulum swung the other way and I have sold most of my powder burners to get airguns (not my fault – I was influenced by the “great enabler” LOL) 🙂

    Thank you very much BB for writing about the things we don’t think about! Hope many other people discover the joys of airgunning!


  9. Ridgerunner ,

    That’s great . That was the first Airgunshow I worked for Pyramyd . It is a shame that the embargo stopped the importing of the IZH46M . At least we are getting the seals manufactured over here and I can keep most of them going . The curse of that pistol is the quality ! I only have a few of them laying around to take parts off of !

    Gene Salvino

    • Gene,

      ROTFWL! This is one of the very few times I have heard of good quality being a curse, but I do understand.

      My question is, how many of them really do break versus needing seals replaced. These things are built like a T34.

      With the quality and inability to get them, I have seen the price more than double in the past ten years. This is why the price stays so high and why not many people get rid of them.

    • Gene

      Somehow that reminded me of a guy we had in the shop who was going to make some extra bucks by fixing computers.
      He bought up a bunch of broken Commodore 64s cheap to steal parts from so he could fix other ones.
      Problem was, the same parts always failed in all of them. So much for his spare parts stash.


  10. “Airgunner first class” is indeed high praise. Thank you. Not sure it’s deserved.

    What I do know is that my airgun experiences have traveled a long road and been frustrating but very fulfilling. With B.B. at the helm my frustrations have been minimized and with his encouragement I have enjoyed some magnificent airguns that 15 years ago I never even heard of. Approximately 10 years ago, with B.B.’s tutelage, I entered the world of pcp’s and have enjoyed that dimension of airguns immensely.

    I’ve lost count at the number of my powder burner friends that now have airguns because they shot some of mine and were hooked. This exponential growth of airgunners can be traced right back to B.B.

  11. Ridgerunner ,

    I would say at least 95% are repaired by resealing if not most of them . We get occasional pinched tank tubes from amatuer allen wrench take offs ( We use a 1″ brass dowel with cross pins ) , also some broken rear sights . Over 6 years time we only had 5 guns that were written off for parts . . I believe 2 of them had the barrels pressed in crooked . I know at least 3,000 or more were sold .In the last few years of production, Air Venturi was able to buy all the production of the pistol from Baikal before the sanctions. It is a shame we cannot re-import them , a great value .

    Gene Salvino

  12. I,too, have had my eye “scoped” by a big bore. In my case it was a Remington 870 shotgun firing slugs. Came as quite a surprise, as I recall.

    As for things not thought of, I didn’t think about what would happen when the thin sheet metal that lined the inside of my pellet trap didn’t stand up to my new .22 cal, 30 ft/lb PCP. The tin and thin layer of duct seal held up fine to my assortment of .177 springers and CO2 BB guns, didn’t it? I ended up with a 1/2″ diameter hole nearly 2 inches deep before I got wise to what was making the weird noise after each shot.


    • Halfstep,
      I still own a 12ga Remington 870 shotgun. It came with a 20″ slug barrel with very good rifle sites. This was before they began rifling the barrels for slugs. Mine has a smooth bore with an improved cylinder choke. It is really very accurate out to 75 yds. I killed a nice buck at about 110 yds with it. I gave up deer hunting shortly after that…but just could never part with the 870. One time a friend and I were sighting in our guns before deer season. He fastened a target to a tree with his jackknife in the bullseye at around 50 yds. My first shot with the 870 disintegrated his jackknife and all we found were bits and pieces of it.
      I experienced the same issues with my backstops using airguns. I started with a backstop using two pieces of 1/2″ OSB in the back. After a few shots I noticed that the pellets were exiting the back. I built a new backstop using OSB again but then used 3″ of duct seal in front. That held up for quite a while until I bought the Gamo Urban PCP. After a few shots with that the pellets began exiting the OSB again. Time for backstop 3.0. This time I used a 1″ thick piece of aluminum plate for the back and (4) pieces of 3/8″ thick rubber in front. The pellets will penetrate through (3) of the rubber sheets and half way through the 4th. Bugbuster sent me a box of 11″x11″x3/8″ rubber sheets and they hold up quite well. The power of these newer airguns is very impressive, and to be respected.

      • Geo,

        Still have my 870 along with a few different barrels. Also have a 1100 semi-auto. Wouldn’t part with either of them. Lots of waterfowling memories stored in them. Only deer hunted one season, with my brother at his place in Indiana. Slug only for deer. No other long guns. He had spotted deer in more places and built more tree stands than he could hunt from so I sprang for a non-resident tag and bought an attachment that would let me mount a scope on the 870. Had only fired .22LR guns with scopes, so I was unprepared when the recoil drove the scope into my brow. I was laying prone and sighting in the gun so all the movement was in the gun. After I bandaged my head and slid the scope forward I shot for groups and put 5 slugs into less than 3″ at 75 yards. I was hoping that that would be good enough at up to 100 yards. I ended up killing my deer about 45 min after climbing the tree. I was about 20 feet in the air and the deer was directly under me, about 3 feet out from the trunk of the tree. The hardest part of the shot was not blowin’ my toe off! LOL A nice, young, corn-feed 7 pointer.


        • Half
          Darn tree stands anyway.

          Amazing how much that is the “way” now.

          We hunted from the ground where I grew up at. But that was many, many moons ago. I had deer walk past me 2 feet away when I was a kid. No Hecks clothing or anything back then yet. Just good ole camouflage from the surroundings.

        • Half,
          Those Remingtons were great guns. I had a 20 gage Remington 11-48 auto as my first real shotgun after the .410 single shot, with which I wasn’t able to hit anything. I found that I usually shot too quickly with the first shot but then connected on the second. Brought home lots of food with that 11-48. The 1100 came along after and was a very good shotgun. I got stupid at some point and traded the 11-48 for a Winchester 1400 12 gage auto. What a piece of junk that was. Traded that one off rather quickly and bought a 12 gage double barrel with 3″ cambers and 26″ tubes. Still have that one too. It was my very favorite shotgun for hunting rabbits and partridge in heavy cover. It was light, at 6 1/2 lbs, and very short and easy to maneuver in the brush. I never shot a 3″ shell from it, but the 2 3/4″ high brass shells didn’t kick all that bad. Just loved the simplicity of that old double barrel.
          I bought an Ithaca Deerslayer once too. It had rifle sites and a short cylinder bore barrel. The shells ejected out of the bottom, instead of the side like most pump guns. It shot quite will, but not with the Brenneke slugs. I didn’t own that one long either after discovering the only way to disassemble it for cleaning was to remove the stock. I gave that one to my dad and then went to town and bought the Remington 870 Deluxe with the 20″ slug barrel.
          I don’t hunt deer, or anything for that matter, and more. I put shelled corn out in the back yard and my wife and I go out into the screen room and watch them. I still like venison but just don’t have the heart to shoot a deer anymore. They are beautiful animals and fun to watch.
          My only shooting these days is with my airguns to pest sparrows, startlings, gophers, and woodchucks. I can’t shoot chippies because my wife names them. LOL As long as critters don’t do damage, I will leave them alone. The rabbits like to make a meal on my wife’s flowers but I am not allowed to harm them either.
          Have a great Labor Day!

  13. I once loaded a T/C .50 cal Pennsylvania Hunter BP Rifle with a double charge. It sounds silly but I started loading it, got distracted doing something else when my Brother picked it and continued loading it (another load of powder). When it went off, it was louder than normal, like a cannon went off. We looked at each other and both said did you put powder in it? That was when I was young and dumb (now I’m old and dumb). Never made that mistake again. I’m just glad it was a well built TC and not some $100 junk gun.


  14. One more story, First time ever to work on a C02 pistol, a Crosman 357 revolver (yes I was young). I let the gas cartridge in it (why waste the gas right). When I took the last screw out, BOOM! Parts (springs and stuff) flew all over the kitchen. Scared me silly. I don’t know what I was thinking!


  15. B.B. and esteemed Readership,

    I’m going to Nit Pick!

    “Why nobody makes muzzleloading big bores”

    NOT even Gary L. barnes!!!!!

    As far as airguns it is impossible to build a TRUE Muzzleloader!

    A powder muzzleloader, by definition, has the powder instilled down the bore first and then the wadding is driven down the bore overtop the powder. Finally a patched ball (or other projectile) is rammed down the bore. The fuze is lighted, or the fag touches the touch hole, or the flint strikes the Frizzen, or the hammer strikes the cap, etc. IGNITION

    But in a BIG BORE airgun, most likely a PCP, the bore only contains the projectile and not the charge prior to the the shot cycle beginning!

    There actually is an exception which makes the rule!

    Does anyone know which airgun system it is?

    Does anyone know of another example?


  16. BB,
    I have a scar on my right hand, it’s a couple of years old. luckily it healed just fine. The .22 pellet
    went through the web of tissue between my first and bird finger,along the side of bone and out the top.
    I discharged into a balled towel on the end of the muzzle. I thought it was an empty bore.. Wrong! Always discharge into a trap weather you are sure or not. I had to learn the hard way. I also have a a .22lr cartridge on my dresser that failed to ignite when I was cleaning a tube fed rifle. I tipped the cartridges out of the tube, but one stayed in there.
    I checked the bolt, dropped the hammer, it was clear. At some point in the cleaning process, the .22 was put into battery without my awareness, I cycled the action on what I thought was an empty rifle and the trigger was pulled again. Here’s the thing, the muzzle was pointed at my torso, I’m getting ready to stuff a cleaning rod in the barrel.
    That cartridge, it has a triangle on the back, I think it’s a PMC, misfired. Yup. An act of pure dumb luck. I should have a hole in my chest too. I have only 100k rounds of shooting time. Life is dangerous and risky, no matter what. I was working alone. In the shop they dont want you to work alone, because on a table saw, a kick back can cause you to bleed out before help gets there. What about the guy on a jack hammer who gets the top of his head taken off by a loose HPA fitting on the compressor? Be carefull, and wear a mask.
    Still shooting, carefully.

    • 1stblue,

      I’m in total agreement on being safe out there. Just got done reading about an Archer in Oregon who was gored in the neck by an Elk that had bolted. He had started to track it again the next morning and it was obviously not dead!

      I will say that pneumatic jackhammer run on about 150psi. Our airgun fill hoses on PCP don’t have the Mass of the jackhammer’s hose but ours are real hpa at 10-30 times the pressure of what did the deed on that worker.

      Also, i have written about this before that a PCP is always to be considered as LOADED until it is degassed!
      A pencil in the bore or any other projectiles may prove deadly on a “BLANK” discharge. It can also inject fluids or gas into your body that can kill you!

      Be SAFE!


      • Shootski
        Just a little while back I had the female Foster fitting come disconnected when I was filling a gun. I was at about 3000 psi when it let go. Plus I had a 3″ long by 1-1/2″ diameter air dry on the end of the hose that the female Foster fitting was on.

        When it let go the hose and dryer hit the corner of a red brick wall that my HPA compressor was sitting by. It chipped out a 2″ piece of the brick wall. Probably wouldn’t kill you but I bet it would hurt real good if it knocked you upside your head.

        Now I always hold the hose and dryer on the gun when its filling till I’m done and the hose is depressurized.

        That’s the problem with some accidents. You never know when something could happen.

  17. With respect to your comments about scopes and recoil, what is the minimum eye relief distance you recommend for a spring piston or gas piston rifle to accommodate the recoil? I am particularly interested in the Umarex Synergis if you have any information on how much it recoils and how sensitivity it is to the artillery hold.

      • That’s good. Until recently when I purchased the Sig Sauer Super Target pistol, I had been shooting strictly CO2 pistols and rifles indoors at a maximum distance of 10 meters. I was thinking about adding a spring piston or gas piston to my collection, and I liked your write up of the Synergis. I would definitely replace the supplied scope with a UTG 4×32 AO because I really like those scopes for indoor 10 meter target shooting.

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