What you know

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Everybody’s a prepper — let’s get an airgun!
  • What you know
  • The BIG one!
  • Clean that barrel
  • You can shoot quietly at home with the right airgun
  • A powerful air pistol
  • Bullets have to fit the barrel
  • A cheaper way to shoot at home
  • How did you know that?
  • Summary

The current world situation in the year 2020 has caused many people to become preppers. People who are not mentally suited to preparedness are doing things these days that they have never done before. I saw the same thing happen in 1977, when I returned from Europe and watched the aftermath of the 1973-74 gas crisis. People were eschewing land yachts in favor of more economical automobiles that they could sustain in times when there wasn’t enough gas to go around.

Everybody’s a prepper — let’s get an airgun!

Now that ammunition and even reloading supplies are unavailable (in the United States) I hear people talking about getting an airgun. But what they don’t know, and you do, is going to hurt them!

What you know

You know instinctively that higher velocity is meaningless without accuracy. Those new to airguns are attracted to the velocity figures, and the highest one must be the best. You know that if your pellet doesn’t hit the target, all the velocity in the world is meaningless.

You know that breakbarrel springers can be extremely accurate. The uninitiated think that because the barrel moves when the rifle is cocked, it must be less accurate. And the kinds of breakbarrels they buy at the discount stores will only confirm their beliefs! You know that a SIG ASP20 can have the same high velocity they seek, yet also outshoot anything they can find in the big box store. See what you know?

The BIG one!

You know that ALL rifles, both air-powered and firearms, are very subject to barrel droop. These new guys don’t. They buy their $1,500 AR-15 and then go through scope after scope and mount after mount until they either give up, or resign themselves to the fact that an AR-15 isn’t accurate, or they blunder into one of the drooper scope mounts made for AR-15s and they correct the situation.

At present these “downward-angled” scope rings are being sold under the auspices of making rifles that are sighted for 300 yards suitable to shoot 1,000 yards — you know — macho stuff! The truth is, guys are using them to correct barrel drooping (and scopes not holding zero) issues a lot closer than that. They just don’t like to talk about it in public. But you guys know all this and don’t have to pay the price that the newbies pay! See what you know?

Clean that barrel

B.B. Pelletier is a proponent of never cleaning an airgun barrel — unless it needs it! When does BB say to clean a barrel? When accuracy drops off. Now, I would love to pretend I’m Mr Miyagi and that I was just testing my students, but the real truth is — reader Yogi recommended that I clean the barrel of the Beeman 900/Diana 10 target pistol with a brass brush and JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound! Good work, Yogi. I needed to be reminded of that. I will clean it before the next shooting session. See what you know?

You can shoot quietly at home with the right airgun

Think this is a well-known fact? Think again. The others go to the box store and choose a rifle from the three or four on the shelves. They choose it on power (velocity) and price. You know they do because that was once you and me. Then they discover that all that power brings on vibration, hard cocking, loud noise and horrible accuracy. Oh, you could teach them the artillery hold and cut the size of their groups dramatically, but even more so by showing them your Price-Point PCP. Your rifle is more powerful, more accurate and quieter than theirs. They complain that they don’t want to buy all the other stuff that your rifle needs to work and you teach them about 2,000 psi being just as capable as 3,000 psi, and what a hand pump can do. See what you know?

A powerful air pistol

“They” want an air pistol that’s just as powerful as their air rifle. All they know about are the few CO2 pistols they’ve seen at the discount store. You show them your TalonP pistol in .25 caliber and tell them that it’s 2-1/2 times more powerful than their .177 Gato Buzzalot breakbarrel. They say that’s fine, but can they get one that powerful that also fits in their pocket? Sure. Have them transport to Jupiter Station and the replicator there will build it for them.

You try to explain that with pneumatic and gas guns, the length of the barrel plays a huge factor in determining the velocity. They wonder why, because they have read that a Smith & Wesson .500 Magnum revolver produces the same energy as a 30-06 rifle (2,800 foot-pounds). And “they” can get one with a 3.5-inch barrel from the S&W Custom Shop. You ask if “they” have ever fired one of those revolvers and they start giggling. They haven’t, but they’ve watched several videos on You Tube of people shooting them.

Then you inform them that a 3.5-inch barreled revolver won’t get anywhere near the power that the standard 8.38-inch barrel will — probably less than half as much. They want to know how you know that and, because you are an airgunner, you can explain it to them in detail. See what you know?

Bullets have to fit the barrel

A buddy of yours just found an almost-full box of 130-grain .30-30 bullets. He sold his .30-30 ten years ago, but he has a 7.62X39 upper for his AR. He reloads for that caliber but these bullets turned out to be lousy in his gun. His five-shot groups at 100 yards are larger than 12 inches! You told him that the .308-caliber bullet for the .30-30 couldn’t possibly be accurate in the .310-inch bore of his upper. He asked why. Aren’t they both .308s? You explained that not all 7.62 mm cartridges are .308, just like a .38 Special is really smaller than .36 caliber and a .38-40 is really a .40 caliber.

You know this because you know all about the fit of the pellet to the bore. You even sort pellets by head size with the Pelletgage. See what you know?

A cheaper way to shoot at home

A guy at work told you he wants quieter .22 ammo so he can shoot his pistol in the basement without disturbing his family. You made him aware of the Beeman P17 and then turned him on to the 2-part resealing series for that pistol. He was able to buy a pistol and 500 pellets for less than what he would have to pay for a brick of .22 CB caps on Gun Broker. He’s shooting again very safely in his basement and having the time of his life! See what you know?

How did you know that?

Your brother-in-law showed you his aging Benjamin 392. He said it doesn’t work anymore and wondered if you would take a look at it. He said he has always pumped it 18-20 times for more power. The manual said to stop at 10 pumps, but that was just lawyer-talk to keep it safe. He knew what he was doing. The last time he pumped it he was watching TV and lost track of the count. But it had to be 25 pumps or more. When it didn’t fire he pumped it 10 more times, but nothing came out. So he brought it to you.

You asked him when was the last time he oiled it and he told you that nothing squeaks. The felt ring in front of the pump cup is bone dry. You partially disassembled the action and tapped the valve stem with a fat punch and a plastic hammer to release all the air. Then you oiled the pump cup and pumped the rifle 8 times and voila — it shot like new. All the while you did this you instructed your brother-in-law on the fine art of operating a multi-pump. See what you know?

Summary

You may not consider yourself to be an expert on airguns or on shooting in general, but through this blog and the comments we read every day, you really are!

59 thoughts on “What you know


    • Shootski,

      This link is awesome! Thanks for it!!

      I recently bought an Air Arms Alfa and am slowly working on my pistol shooting with it. I love it, but it is frustrating as I can put several in the 9/10 rings and then throw some as bad as a 1 or a 2. I think this is a big part of that, and will work on it – already I can see that without the gun, I can’t move my trigger finger without my thumb moving much of the time. Thanks again!

      We all know that dry firing works wonders, but this is a step even beyond that! See what you know?

      I sure didn’t . . .

      Alan


      • AlanMcd,

        Looks like you are well on your way! I will add a few personal observations.
        Don’t ever try for perfection; that truly doesn’t exist and just causes frustration. What you want is excellence which is unfortunately killed by frustration.
        I find my overall performance is improved more by shot’s not taken than anything else. It is hard to stop the shot on target sequence when we detect a fault…but trust me on this, it will improve your scores more than any other thing once you have the basics down good enough. I think pride keeps us from accepting faults, which leads to a habit of trying to salvage the shot. I’m still fighting that battle and probably always will!

        Flyers happen…Called shots are the path to excellence.

        shootski



      • Don425,

        “Thanks for giving me a reason to get an air pistol.”

        I will not take responsibility for you buying an air pistol!

        Although trigger control on a pistol is much more difficult than on a longgun it still results in deviation from POA. You don’t need to buy that air pistol that you lust for to practice trigger finger isolation.

        So your stuck Don! You want that air pistol its not my fault if you go and buy it! LOL

        Enjoy the pistol!!!!!

        shootski


      • Don,

        I was planning on working on 10M air pistol when I retire in a few more years, but the prospect of this COVID winter stuck at home prompted me to decide to pull it ahead . . .

        I have a LONG way to go (I joke that my pistol shooting sessions are mostly bad, but some are horrible 😉 ). But the progress in that past several weeks of this has been dramatic (even if I only get in the low to mid 400s over 60 shots so far). But I will tell you this – my rifle shooting is improving along with my pistol improvement, without even working on it.

        From what I see, if we make improvements while shooting a pistol one handed out at full arms length, the easily transfer over to a rifle held close to the body with two hands . . .

        So if Shootski won’t be your enabler, allow me! 😉

        Alan


    • Sharing day? I’d like to share this link. It’s a great vid for those new to handgunning and note the advocacy of air pistols. Even as experienced shooters, we can all use a “tune-up” occasionally, Sometimes it’s dry firing but I’ve also found that sometimes very patient practice in pulling (“pressing” for those who want to be semantically politically correct these days) the trigger as slowly as possible is of great benefit too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYzheuJE47E


      • Calinb,

        Almost anything, not a built in function of humans, requires much more mental than physical training. Habituation, what i call automatization, is the ingredient which separates the proficient shooter from the excellent shooter.

        Have you done any visualization training?

        The Silverado Shooting Academy looks like a great place for new shooters or ones taught by a Buba method to become proficient defensive Shooter.
        Trigger actuation needs to be trained for the kind of shooting called for; one type/method does not fit each scenario. Not every shot requires accurate placement. He said what!
        Fire for cover only requires SAFE shot placement.

        I certainly agree with training with other than live firearm ammunition for people having problems or new to shooting.

        shootski


        • >http://my.tbaytel.net/coopers/HW40Review/

          Yes. I was a ski racer in my youth. The great Jean-Claude Killy once gave me a tip during an interview. He said he had to drive a farm tractor during the summer months while other ski racers were training up on the glaciers or perhaps even in S. America. He said he spent many monotonous hours in the tractor but he was visualizing skiing in his head while he worked. Since then, I’ve read about studies that concluded mentally visualizing the execution of a physical task or skill correctly can be just as good as actual practice.




  1. B.B.,

    The simple act of researching by reading is getting supplanted by videos. Most people seem to get by with what is simply shown to them without looking at the source of what is presented. Nowadays it seems if you want to know about something it’s going to show up on YouTube as your first stop. Very few actually write down what knowledge they have gathered. Very rare is a YouTube presentation with citations at the end.

    Siraniko


  2. BB,

    All very good points. I for one am much smarter. One of my first questions was would a springer lose air if left cocked. 😉

    Siraniko has a good point on YouTube being the go-to for most people. Not for me, but for many it is. That can be a real crap shoot for getting accurate info.. It can be good, but it is not my go-to.

    People that (do know) I think are the type of people that get a taste of something and then pursue it further,.. at least in my opinion. Most want quick, down and dirty and walk away with enough to make them dangerous,.. if even that.

    Chris


  3. BB,

    I found this blog because I had a strong desire to learn of the world of airguns. The internet was still relatively new and I was looking for something pneumatic, I cannot even remember what now. There it was. Some company was selling BSA Super Tens. Wow! Until then the world of airguns consisted of Daisy or just maybe I might think of a 397.

    I have never stopped learning. Thank you.


  4. Hello BB.
    I guess I am your lost sheep that is trailing along behind. : – ) some more pics of the monstrosity over here: https://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2020/11/winchester-422-part-3/#comment-466362 there some fancy name for the offset between the bore and the scope line of sight? Just wondering. It did occur to me at some stage after I sawed the stock off that this offset is going to be a part of the show. I roughly estimate this at about 35mm if I mash my cheek onto the main tube. Tube to centre of eyeball…. Well anyway it’s a thing now. Still considering my Dioptre sights… they are just so cool. Robert.


  5. Errata-

    Section- ‘How did you know that?’ Last paragraph, fourth sentence-

    ‘pumped the rifle 8 times and viola (voila)…….’

    Unless you meant a stringed instrument, larger than a violin and tuned a fifth lower…..


  6. My exposure to and use of of airguns has been limited, but thankfully have learned much reading and following this blog. If nothing else, have learned how much there is to learn about the subject. So FM’s education must continue, with great pleasure; must also work on being patient because thanks to the Pandemic Panic, the guns and supplies one might want are in short supply, as the newbie “preppers” are finding out, to their dismay.

    Agree there is too much reliance on sometimes half-baked videos for learning “how to,” but, when used as an aid paired up with thorough and accurate written manuals/instructions, these can be very useful.


  7. When I shim the scope rings to eliminate droop, I place a shim on the bottom of the rear ring under the scope. Then I also place a shim on the top of the front ring. This works better for me than shimming the rear ring only. So, one is under the scope and the other is on top.

    Mike


    • Mike,

      That front shim is doing nothing at all. Think about it. The rear shims tips the scope and gets the desired results. The front shim only raises the (cap) and does nothing to move the scope.

      Chris


    • BI: I’m not sure that a shim on top does much. What I DO think is important is to be very, very careful (picky, even!) about how much force one applies to the four or eight cap screws on the caps. With the scope tube held at a “crooked attitude/angle” in the “tube” of the scope rings/one-piece mount, there is the real potential to crease the thin scope tube. One can’t simply crank down the cap screws without paying attention to the fact that there will be a wedge shape described by the edges of caps in relationship to the edges of the bases. That wedge is, of course, caused by the shim that ordinarily lifts the rear of the scope up above the engineered plane of the scope mount/s.

      I have found on my magnum springers, that it is good to have the mounts extended to the start of the flairs on the fore and aft len cones or to snug the scope center where the adjustment mechanism is. Thus, my thinking is, there is additional mechanical/physical support to prevent the scope from moving without using over much pressure on the cap screws. I do end up with some wearing of the flair through its paint where it hits the scope base. That tells me that it, the base/flair junction, is taking much of the energy of the double-recoil of my actions. In a few decades, they’ll probably be cut through, but I won’t care!

      That’s what I have learned by doing in dealing with hard hitting RWS springers and a beast of an Hatsan 135 .25 caliber rifle. The trail of broken parts, stripped screws, and the echo of long-forgotten swear words was the homework that attended my learning, including a few broken scopes which promised to be shock-proof but met the reality of my RWS 350 carbine in .177, probably my most violent spring gun.

      Finally, the best thing to come into my world view has been the one-piece quadruple screw drooper mount. Those usually solve my perennial battle with droop, but even some of them need an additional shim!



  8. BB, Thanks for indulging my lifelong fascination, and for helping to clear up myths and misconceptions and ideas I get sometimes about airguns, and guns in general. I tend to come at it from the sporting side, shooting is a way to put meat on the table and relax, a little.Maybe it’s more than that, like my cherished right. Luckily, there’s still some chicken and pork at the Safeway store, but some info on game prep and recipes. I just watched “The Revenant” Maybe that’s pushing it for a bachelor .
    Rob


    • Rob,

      A detail you might remember from The Revenant is when the main character is loading a muzzle loader and after seating the ball keeps giving the load a lot of small taps with the ramrod. It caught my attention because in one of the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder she describes her Pa using the exact same technique to load his gun. I think the specific book was “Little House in the Big Woods”. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that technique described or shown anywhere other than the movie and that book, but maybe somebody here has.


  9. B.B.
    Thanks BB for all you have done to generate ‘what we know’. In my life I have been learning (and occasionally forgetting) stuff since I remember and I hope I never lose my interest in learning something new – that day I will be officially OLD.
    Henry


  10. B.B.,
    Thanks to this blog, I know that when selecting an un-regulated pcp airgun, I want to look for one with a flat power curve.

    And, as a part of your airgun kit, you must get a chronograph. It is needed to determine the power curve and useable air pressure range for the pellet you are using. It is also needed when tuning and troubleshooting an airgun. – Don


  11. Thanks, B.B.,
    I’m late to the party today, but I needed a pick me up, and I got it here.
    You’re right; we have all picked up more here than we realize; when my scope was unable to hold a zero, I realized it was “floating,” it was adjusted way to high in elevation to have the needed spring pressure to hold a zero; but if not for this blog (which led me to shim it), I might have wasted an incredible amount of time for something that is an easy fix…if you are a reader of this blog. =>
    Take care & God bless,
    dave



      • BB,

        To ride on the back of Dave’s comment,… I learned about 99.9% of what I know right here. And, still learn more with every visit. Of course I have branched out and have learned more on my own,.. but I give you and this site all the credit.

        Luckily,.. I got in on the front end of things and saved myself a lot of typical newbie blunders,.. but still suffered more than my share. I will admit,.. most were self inflicted. 😉 More power? Yea,… I want me some of that! 🙂

        I will let you be the judge on how accurate that insight is based on my daily comments. I will say,.. I will never learn all that there is to be learned with regards to shooting and air guns. None the less,.. your stuck with me! 😉

        Chris (A big shout out to the regular crew here too!)


  12. Today I received a Daisy 853 from the CMP and was wondering if anyone had experience with these and know what it might prefer as fodder, or what was used for pellets in the program? So far I have inventoried what came with it, and checked that it pumps and pops, but haven’t installed the sight or put a pellet in it. Seems like the 853C would be fun, as it has a repeating feature with a 5 round magazine?



  13. I am not in favor of shimming scopes. It seems like it is impossible to avoid denting or at least distorting the scope.
    Just throw away the airgun and get another one !!
    All kidding aside, has anyone ever considered shimming the scope ring to Weaver/Dovetail rail instead. Assuming you have enough material left to get a secure grip on the rail.
    If you must shim the scope I would use something soft like a fat rubber band, or what have you, shim and use ‘two’ on the bottom and ‘one’ on top, as required, and one on the top and bottom of the forward ring so the scope never touches the ring edge.
    I remember mentioning that some pro race gun competition shooters will cut back on powder with reloads to reduce recoil and recovery time. But, I have also read that underloading ammo may result in totally complete combustion ‘within’ the cartridge, as opposed to continuing down and out the barrel following the bullet, resulting in an exploding gun. Always thought overloading was the danger. So I imagine a novice re-loader really needs to pay attention to the charts.
    I’m sure the risk increases with the use of larger ammo or it may be exclusive to it?


    • Bob,

      I have thought of that, but there is a problem. Under the scope mount base is the Weaver key that fits into the cross slot. It make shimming difficult.

      With 11mm dovetails its the jaws that make shimming underneath difficult. If the base rises too high the jaws can’t grip their dovetail.

      BB


Leave a Reply