Lookalike airguns: Part One

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

History of airguns

This report covers:

What is a lookalike?
A typical lookalike
Colt held back
They got better
Military or civilian?
I could go on

Today we begin a series on lookalike airguns. I don’t know exactly how long this could be, but I suspect it could be large. I also know that this subject is a favorite for many of you.

What is a lookalike?

A lookalike airgun is one that resembles an iconic firearm. It gives the owner the chance to experience the feeling of ownership and operation while remaining in the safer, less litigious world of airguns.

A typical lookalike

In a moment I will discuss the difference between a military lookalike and a purely civilian one, but let’s begin with a look at a gun that exists in both camps — the iconic Colt Single Action Army revolver! The SAA, as it is called, was brought out by Colt as the next step in revolvers from their famous black powder cap and ball handguns. While it wasn’t the last in the line, the Colt 1860 Army is perhaps the best example of an evolved single-action cap and ball revolver. It certainly is the best example of a Colt revolver from that time.

1860 Army
Colt’s 1860 Army revolver was highly advanced for a cap and ball black powder handgun.

When Smith & Wesson patented the revolver cylinder that was through-bored (open all the way through the cylinder) in the 1850s, they allowed the use of cartridge ammunition for the first time. Their first firearm on that patent was the model 1 that was initially chambered for .22 rimfire. It came to market in 1857 — just in time for the American Civil War. The cartridge it was chambered for was just called a .22 rimfire, but as that cartridge line evolved in the latter 1800s, it became known as the .22 short.

S&W mod 1
Smith & Wesson’s model 1 came out in 1857 and lasted until 1882. It was chambered for what we now call the .22 short cartridge.

The model 1 was very popular as a backup gun by Northern troops in the Civil War. It didn’t have much power — perhaps 25 foot-pounds or so, but it was better than nothing.

Colt held back

The bored-through cylinder was patented by a former Colt employee, Rollin White. Why he didn’t try to sell the idea to Colt first we may never know, and maybe he did. Smith & Wesson pounced on it and paid White a royalty of 25 cents per gun, which was a huge sum for the day. But they also agreed he would defend the patent and doing that eventually ruined him, financially.

Colt couldn’t make cartridge revolvers as a result of the S&W patent, so they made variations on their 1860 model until the patent on the bored-through cylinder ran out in 1872. Then they brought out their ubiquitous 1873 SAA that is still in production by many manufacturers today.

Colt SAA
Colt Single Action Army. This one was a gift to BB from the readers of this blog, following his 3.5-month hospital stay in 2010. It was not made by Colt, but it is a very accurate copy of that firearm and is chambered in .45 Colt. Reader Kevin was the focal point for this gift!

If you grew up in the 1950s and the early ’60s like BB, you watched westerns on television. Two of my cats were named Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, after two western stars of the time. Their real names were Leonard Franklin Slye and Frances Octavia Smith.

I idolized all things cowboy and so when Crosman brought out the .22-caliber  SA-6 (single action six) pellet revolver in 1959, I bought one with my paper route money. 

Crosman SA-6
Crosman-SA-6.

I didn’t have a holster for that revolver and, since holsters cost money, I carried the SA-6 in my right front pants pocket — a practice that was common in my day and also one that I do not recommend. I loved that .22 caliber pellet pistol. One day while “hunting” in the woods around the Cuyahoga River in Stow, Ohio, a rabbit jumped out of the weeds and frightened me. When my “cool” returned several seconds later I calmly drew my pellet pistol and fanned off 6 quick shots into the weeds where the rabbit had gone 5 seconds before, earning the nickname, “Fanner 50” from my friend who was with me. For readers less than 60 years old, a Fanner 50 was a very popular cap gun of the day.

They got better

So the SA-6 was an early attempt at a lookalike SAA. The CO2 cartridge hid beneath the barrel, covered by a black plastic sheath that camouflaged it very well. But things would get better.

In the late 1990s I was at the home of Wulf Pflaumer’s sister in Maryland. Wulf is one of the two founders of Umarex. We were discussing the lever action rifle he was about to bring out and I told him that a realistic SAA would also be a hit. He told me they wanted to make one but the revolver’s grip frame was too short to allow a 12-gram CO2 cartridge to fit inside. I told him to try the Colt 1860 Army grip frame. It is 1/2-inch longer and the outlaw, Dakota, at Frontier Village amusement park where I worked in college had put one on his SAA because the SAA grip was too short for him. The 1860 grip frame fit a 12-gram cartridge perfectly and almost no one notices the difference. The rest is history.

A couple years later Umarex brought out the Colt SAA in both pellet and BB gun versions and they have now produced almost every variation of that firearm except for some reason the 4-3/4-inch barrel version that many shooters have asked for. Bat Masterson carried a 4-3/4-inch SAA, as did many gunfighters, because it cleared the holster quicker and was therefore faster to draw.

Umarex SAA
The first Umarex SAA was very realistic, as have been all that followed.

Military or civilian?

I said I would return to this topic. The Colt SAA we have been discussing is both. It was first purchased by the military, but civilian sales soon surged past what the military bought. The SAA is so ergonomic that, until the German P08 Luger pistol came around, it was the long pole in the tent. And it’s still one of the most desired, and most recognized handguns of all time.

There are things about military firearms that make them attractive to shooters. Strength, design and robustness are all main factors, but history trumps everything. No one who has ever held and fired an M1 Garand would think of it as an attractive weapon, but Japan, who was an enemy of the US during WW II, thought enough of it to create 250 close copies for study. Called the Type 4 rifle (and sometimes the type 5), it was homage to the American rifle that so dominated our military campaigns in the latter half of the war.

That addresses why we have military lookalike airguns, though I probably have more than one more report to do on just them, but what about civilian firearm lookalikes? Are there any of them? There certainly are. I won’t get into them deeply this late in today’s report, but for starters, don’t forget the Crosman 38C and 38T revolvers.

And this I will also say, though I call them civilian firearms, the military buys oneseys and twoseys of just about anything. Just because Sergeant So-And-So carried one on the flight line at Da Nang doesn’t make it a military firearm. I’m talking about firearms the military officially adopted — not something Private Ryan carried in his combat boot.

38-T
Crosman’s 38-T from the 1970s was a replica of S&W’s purely civilian (and law enforcement) revolvers.

I could go on

And I plan to. The world of airgun lookalike/replica guns is both a hot topic at any time and red-hot today. Even though this report is in the history section, we are still living in the heyday of lookalike airguns.


Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges: Part 7

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 2 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 3 Bore size versus performance
Part 4 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 5 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges
Part 6 Reloading .22 rimfire cartridges

This report covers:

  • Bullets
  • Ton to the rescue
  • Sheathe the mold handles
  • Change gloves
  • Hotter lead pot temp for soft lead bullets
  • Better bullets
  • 38-grain bullets
  • Flashing
  • 25-grain bullets
  • Summary

Now that we know how to get positive ignition with a reloaded rimfire cartridge, it’s time to reload some more and get to testing.  In Part 6 we learned that both the primer powder that I bought commercially from Sharpshooter and the powder I removed from toy caps were successful to prime .22 rimfire cartridges, when used according to the directions that came from Sharpshooter. It’s time to move on and load more cartridges to test.

Bullets

If you recall, I was disappointed by the bullets I cast the first time around. The little mold I got from Sharpshooter is all-aluminum and also too small. The aluminum handles heat up so hot I cannot hold them, so I was casting from a relatively cold bullet mold last time. That’s never good. It was 300 to 400 degrees, which is too hot to hold and too cold to cast well.

On top of that I used up all the barely acceptable bullets when I reloaded the 28 unsuccessful cartridges. So I had to cast more bullets and they had to be better.

Ton to the rescue

Ton Jones was reading my report and called me over to AirForce. He gave me a pair of Ton Jones barbecue gloves to hold the hot handles of the bullet mold. What a great gift! Thank you, Ton!

Jones gloves
Ton Jones gave me a pair of his famous barbecue gloves to help me hold the small bullet mold.

Ton told me the amount of time and at what heat these gloves will work. They are effective for temperatures of up to 900 degrees F for 10 seconds, but at the estimated 400-degree heat of the mold handles they work for several minutes.

Sheathe the mold handles

Besides the gloves I decided to sheathe the mold handles with wood. My neighbor Denny had made a nice pair of wooden handle covers that I tried fastening with electrician’s tape last time. The tape melted from the heat, so it was ineffective, but these wood handles are now held to the mold handles by two bolts with nuts on each side. Some reader suggested to use epoxy, but there is no commercial epoxy including muffler cement that can withstand the intense heat for as long as it is needed.

mold handles
The wood handles Denny made are held on the aluminum mold handles with two bolts on each handle.

Using the wooden handles and the gloves I was able to get the mold up to a good casting temperature and cast enough bullets of both sizes for a really good test. The bolts that hold the wooden handles on do transmit the temperature, but the gloves allow me to hold the mold better. I hold the handles toward the rear where the bolts are not located, though I do come in contact with them. 

Change gloves

I found I only need one glove on my left hand, so the other one sits around until I need it. Every few minutes the glove I’m using gets too warm and I switch with the idle glove. This allows for an unlimited time of casting.

Hotter lead pot temp for soft lead bullets

I also discovered this time that I needed to set my Lyman lead furnace hotter because I was casting softer lead that has less tin. Pure lead flows at a higher temperature than lead alloyed with tin and antimony. There was some of each of those metals in the pot, but less than if I was casting bullets for a large caliber firearm pistol. As a note to myself I set the pot at 7.5 on the scale instead of the usual 6.5 for the harder alloys. And the bullets that came from the mold remained shiny, which indicates they were formed at a good casting temperature.

Better bullets

The worst of the bullets I retained from this casting session are better than the best bullets from the first cast. There are still some problems, but they look mold-related and are unlikely to improve.

38-grain bullets

Here are some of the 40 or so 38-grain round-nose bullets that I kept after inspection.

38-grain
The 38-grain round-nosed bullets cast cleaner this time.

38-grain flashing
Some 38-grain bullets had flashing that has to be removed before they can be used.

Flashing

The flashing occurs because the mold halves don’t come together tightly and the sprue plate doesn’t fit the top of the mold tightly. That is a function of the mold. A better mold would not have those problems, but the bullets I get from this mold are suitable for the current project. If I was going to cast thousands of bullets it would be worth spending the money on a better custom mold.

25-grain bullets

The first time I cast bullets the smaller pointed 25-grain bullets fell easily from the mold and the longer 38-grain bullets were harder to get out. This time that was reversed. I believe the hotter mold was the principal reason for this.

I did get about the same number of keeper bullets in the smaller size this time. But some of them also had some flashing on them. I will clean that off before loading the bullets, but I plan to use all of the keepers, or as many as possible.

25-grain flashing
Most of the 25-grain bullets have a little flashing on their base, but these two were the worst.

25-graion tweezers
The 25-grain bullets came from the mold cleaner than the 38-grain bullets. One of them is held in the cross-locking reverse tweezers I mentioned recently.

Summary

This casting session went better because I was better prepared for it. I am also better prepared to load the next set of cartridges for testing because of the experience I have gained from recent testing The next test will be the velocity of both types of bullets with smokeless powder and with Pyrodex, using both kinds of priming compound.

After that I will shoot the cartridges for accuracy, but I’m looking to pare down all the test variables, to keep this testing manageable. I think I will wait to see the results of the velocity test before I load for the accuracy test.


The lowly pellet

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

common pellets
The four common pellet types (shapes) — dome, pointed, wadcutter and hollowpoint. 

This report covers:

  • The common shapes
  • Wadcutter
  • Semi-wadcutter
  • Dome or round-nose
  • Domed differences
  • Pointed pellets
  • Hollowpoints
  • Trick pellets
  • Summary

Recently we looked at all four smallbore pellet calibers — .177. .20, .22 and .25. Today we look at the diabolo pellets that we shoot in them.

The common shapes

I pictured four common pellet shapes above, but there are really only three — the wadcutter, the dome and the pointed pellet. The hollowpoint is based on one of those three shapes and has been made on all three basic shapes. I will explain that in a bit, but for now let’s look at the three basic pellet shapes.

Wadcutter

The wadcutter pellet was perhaps the first shape of the smallbore diabolo (wasp waist and hollow tail) pellet to be created. I temporize with the word “perhaps” because there is still much to be learned about the dawn of the diabolo and we may never know everything. But we see the wadcutter or flat-nosed pellet at the very beginning, sometime just after the turn of the 20th century.

wadcutter pellet
Wadcutter pellet.


wadcutter bullet
Wadcutter bullets.

Wadcutter pellets do the same thing that wadcutter bullets do; they cut perfectly round holes in target paper, which make for easier scoring. As far as bullets go, that is the principal purpose of the wadcutter bullet.

Today there is some talk about using wadcutter bullets for defense because they are slow and won’t shoot through your opponent. And, like wadcutter pellets, they cut large wound channels that don’t close up after the bullet passes through.

Wadcutter pellets, however, do other things. We would never use them for defense, but they are effective on very small game like mice, rats and small pest birds. And, because they are so prevalent, they are perhaps the number one plinking pellet.

Semi-wadcutter

In the bullet world the semi wadcutter is perhaps the number one bullet used in all handguns except semiautomatics used for defense. In revolvers they reign supreme. This bullet retains velocity like a round-nose and cuts a wound channel like a wadcutter. It’s even good for shooting at paper.

semi-wadcutter bullet
Semi-wadcutter bullet.

It’s more difficult to define what a semi-wadcutter pellet is, or should be. Maybe the H&N Hollow Point shown on the right of the first picture of this report is one? It’s harder to say for sure because pellets have to be light enough to fly. Unlike the Keith semi-wadcutter bullet, a pellet can’t be that long and heavy.

Dome or round-nose

The domed pellet is the king of long-range shooting and also of penetration. People will argue that pointed pellets go deeper but testing disproves it. They go as deep but not deeper.

domed pellets
JSB Exact RS on the left and H&N Baracuda on the right. The Baracuda is almost pointed!

Domed pellets are synonymous with round-nosed bullets. They are the best pellet we have for supersonic flight, which, by the way, does not lessen accuracy, as I demonstrated back in 2011.

Domed differences

Domes are pellets with differences. There are tall domes and low domes. The H&N Baracuda has what I would call a tall dome. That gives it a lot of weight forward and also increases the weight of the entire pellet. The JSB Exact RS dome is a low dome that is lightweight but has the aerodynamic properties of the dome. It doesn’t fly true as far as the Baracuda, but it flies far enough to call it a long-range pellet.

Domes are great for hunting, plinking and many sports like field target. The thing they are not so good for is shooting at paper. They leave ragged holes that are difficult to see and score. Special things like taping the target paper is done to improve this, but domes are not for targets.

pointed pellet
The Daisy Pointed Field pellet is a pointed pellet.

The pointed pellet is the least popular of the three main types. Domes can do everything pointed pellets can, and they do much of it better, but pointed pellets do continue to sell. Perhaps their shape is a big reason?

Hollowpoints

I said in the beginning that hollowpoints can be based on any of the three main types. Here’s the proof.

three hollowpoints
These three hollowpoints are based, from left to right, on a wadcutter, a dome and a pointed pellet.

Trick pellets

I define trick pellets as pellets that are not conventional. That’s just my own definition and it is meaningless, but there is a category of pellets that are just a little different. Take the Gamo Rocket, as an example. It’s a semi-dome with a steel ball in the nose. What purpose does that ball serve?

I can see that I need to start testing all of the “trick” pellets for you. Some I know, like the Predator Polymag, are very accurate and consistent. Others with plastic points glued in their tips may not be as accurate. Until I test them I really can’t say. But in my world they are all trick pellets. Even the ultra light pellets that are used to substantiate velocity claims are trick pellets in my book.

trick pellets
Predator Polymags on the left, Gamo Luxor Cu with the pyramid tip in the center and the Tracer Pell that glows in the dark on the right. All trick pellets by my definition.

Summary

I thought this report was going one way, but it changed near the end and gave me several more reports to write. I see I need to test some of what I call trick pellets using an airgun or airguns of proven accuracy, to see what’s wheat and what’s chaff.


The Daisy 35: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 35
Daisy 35 multi-pump pneumatic.

This report covers:

  • What’s different?
  • Smoothbore
  • Lightweight and easy to pump
  • Third time with the 35
  • The gun
  • Sights
  • Synthetics
  • Solid
  • Summary

Today I have a different airgun to look at — the Daisy 35. It’s a .177-caliber smoothbore multi-pump pneumatic that sells at a very competitive price. It shoots both BBs and pellets and we are going to give it a thorough examination!

What’s different?

The model 35 came out in 2011. It coexists with Daisy’s iconic model 880. Yes, it is a few dollars cheaper, but that’s not what it has going for it. Today as we look at the airgun we will examine some of the reasons the 35 exists.

Smoothbore

For starters the 35 is not rifled. This is a real BB gun — not an air rifle. Now — does the lack of rifling also mean that it’s inaccurate? Not necessarily, at least not at close range. We have seen smoothbore airguns put ten pellets into very tight groups at 10 meters, and that’s the distance at which this little airgun thrives. Call it 25-35 feet. The box says it’s for older kids, 16 and up, but that is because of the power. The velocity puts the 35 in Daisy’s Powerline range, which is a range slated for older youth. The Pyramyd Air website says the Daisy 35 can push a 5.1-grain steel BB out at up to 625 f.p.s. but Daisy says 690 f.p.s. on the box.  Naturally I will test this for you.

Lightweight and easy to pump

The reviews say it’s good for younger kids, and I concur with that. The 35 weighs 2.25 lbs., according to the Pyramyd Air description.  I put the test gun on my kitchen scale and recorded 2 lbs. 7.8 oz, which is closer to 2.5 lbs. That’s still light, no matter how you look at it.

The pump handle and the pump rod are the short stroke kind, unlike those same parts on the Daisy 880. Yet as short as the pump linkage is, it’s also quite easy to pump. In fact that is one of the things most reviewers comment on.

Daisy 35 pump handle
The pump handle is short, but the gun pumps easily.

The 35 has a pump range of 3 to 10 strokes. Do not exceed 10 pumps as nothing is gained and parts of the pump linkage are strained by too much stress.

Naturally younger kids need adult supervision when shooting an airgun of any kind, but the Daisy 35 is one that’s made for them. Yet, with a pull of 13-inches, it’s not uncomfortable for an adult.

Third time with the 35

I tested the Daisy 35 back in 2011-2012, right after it first came out. I got lousy groups in that first 3-part test, but Daisy contacted me after one of our readers told them he was getting far better accuracy than I did in my test. In those days Daisy was quite proactive and I was contacted by their Vice President of marketing, Joe Murfin, who asked me to try the accuracy test again. I did test the 35 for accuracy again, in March of 2013, and I did get markedly better groups this time. I also learned what works best with the 35, and I will pass that along to you in this report.

Additionally in that second test, I learned that the 35’s ultra-small loading trough often causes pellets to flip around backwards as they are rolled in. That can be a source of accuracy problems. Fortunately one of our readers recently told me about cross-locking reverse tweezers that will hold pellets in tight places, so I am set up well for testing this 35.

Daisy 35 loading trough
The loading trough is very small. BBs load from the magazine via a magnet on the bolt, but pellets must be loaded singly, one at a time. I will use cross-locking tweezers for this.

And finally I discovered that a Daisy 35 does best with premium pellets, just like any other airgun. I had originally tested the first 35 with cheap pellets, but in the second test I selected premium pellets that reduced the group size by more than half. Based on all of this I would say that I am fully prepared to give this Daisy 35 a fair and honest test.

The gun

The Daisy 35 is a lightweight multi-pump pneumatic  that shoots either BBs or pellets. When shooting steel BBs the 35 is a 50-shot repeater. I emphasize steel BBs because there is a magnet on the bolt tip that pulls the next BB out of the magazine and holds it on the bolt tip for loading and firing. Obviously the BB has to be ferrous for this to work. I plan to test the gun with Smart Shot, but they will have to be loaded singly like lead pellets.

Sights

There are no fiberoptics on the sights! I believe this is a cost consideration but it does make for a nicer set of open sights.

And the sights are fully adjustable within a small range. Elevation is by a stepped ramp and windage is by a sliding rear notch.

Daisy 35 rear sight
The Daisy 35 rear sight adjusts in both directions. See what a little thought can do for very little money?

Synthetics

The airgun is largely synthetic on the outside. The barrel has a tapered outer steel shell wrapped around a synthetic interior, inside of which a thin soda-straw steel barrel rests.

Solid

I was surprised to see how many reviews of the gun said it is surprisingly solid and well-made. I have to agree with that assessment. As lightweight as it is you would think that it feels like a toy, but when it fires it seems quite substantial. I know this is just Part One and there’s still a lot of testing to go, but I have already pumped the gun and shot it several times.

Summary

What we have in the Daisy 35 is a solid little youth airgun that’s affordable and substantial. I plan to see just how great a value this little airgun is. Stay tuned!


Rebuilding a Crosman 101

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today we have a guest blog by reader Cloud9. He shows us his repair of a friend’s Crosman 101 last year. This was first posted on the GTA forum in April of 2020, at the start of the quarantine period.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me at [email protected].

Over to you, Cloud9.

This report covers:

  • Whose 101?
  • No-go
  • Valve tool
  • Be careful!
  • Get going
  • My big vise
  • Restoration
  • Paint
  • Stock
  • Assembly
  • The result
  • Thanks|


Whose 101?

Last year I restored a Crosman 101 for a friend. The rifle belonged at his father and he and his brothers shot it a lot when they were kids. He contacted me about fixing it and getting looking better. I like a challenge, so I agreed.

No-go

When I got the rifle it wouldn’t pump or fire. The trigger was loose and floppy. The pump arm was bent and it had a large crack in it.The metal was missing lots of black paint which is typical for these older Crosman rifles — especially when they’ve been well-loved and used. The steel parts had quite a bit of rust on them.

Valve tool

To remove the valve from a 101 requires a special valve tool. The valve in this one was so stubborn that I broke my tool trying to remove it! Now what?

Be careful!

When your wife asks for a new kitchen trash can you have to be careful. She wanted one that was white like the old refrigerator it stood next to, but you bought her a stainless one. That would never do!

Fortunately the fridge was old and you both knew it was on its last legs, so maybe it was time to replace it before it went out altogether. You went to the local appliance center and — WOAH! When did refrigerators start costing $2,500? You went there with $800 on the brain. But you went there to buy one and buy it you did. Installation wasn’t that much more and within a week you had a gleaming new stainless steel fridge keeping your food cold. This one was wider and lower than the old unit and it highlighted a large gap between the old cabinets and the top of the refrigerator. 

Back to the appliance/kitchen center you went and discovered that the custom bleached ash cabinets your wife really wanted, the ones with the glass in the doors, would cost $10,000 installed, but these would have the lights your wife always wanted, to see her work on the formica countertops.

Formica! You promised her when you bought the house 15 years ago that someday you’d get rid of those ugly countertops and install real granite. Now’s the time and you have to do the island, too. It’s only another $8,500 and the kitchen looks sharp — except for the floor. That green linoleum has to go! A bright hand-laid tile floor was only another $12,000 because the extra-large breakfast nook and walk-in pantry had to be done, too.

So — a new trash can for the kitchen only cost you, what — $33,360, plus about 40 meals out while the work was being done. A bargain at any price! Why do I tell you this? Just listen.

Get going

So I had to make a Crosman 101 valve tool. I first got my South Bend 10K lathe up and running. But to get it running required installing and programming a variable frequency drive (VFD) that I had purchased about a year before. And I had to level the lathe, plus clean and lubricate it. I also had to purchase a decent 3-jaw chuck, a quick change tool post and some cutting tools. Then I had to blow out all of the cobwebs from my head to remember how to use this stuff.

This all took me about 3 months to accomplish and COVID-19 gave me some spare time to tinker. I made two new Crosman valve tools out of O-1 steel — one for the small nut inside the hammer and a larger one for the big nut that retains the valve. I heat-treated both of them so they wouldn’t break.

My vise

I had to put the rifle’s receiver in my vise and use penetrating oil, my heat gun and a long lever arm on that new tool to get that big valve nut to break loose. And finally it did — hooray!

valve parts
Here’s the valve disassembled, the pump link and the pump rod.

Restoration

After getting the rifle apart I had to order seals. Then I started cleaning. I stripped the paint from the metal and the old varnish from the stock using aircraft stripper. I soaked the rusty metal parts and screws in rust remover, then polished them with Scotchbrite and steel wool. The metal still has some pits and dings that show it has been used but now it has a nice cold-blued finish from Brownells Oxpho-Blue to protect it going forward. A long-time member of the GTA forum sold me another 101 from which I cannibalized the pump arm.

painted parts
After they were stripped the large metal parts were painted.

painted detail
When the paint was sprayed on the cleaned metal parts, the result was smooth and even.

Paint

I used Brownells Dura-Coat two-part semi-gloss black paint. I sprayed it from a airbrush and painted the receiver, pump tube and barrel. I really like this paint because it goes on thin and dries hard, resulting in a durable top coat.

cleaned parts
The ferrous parts were cleaned of any rust and lightly sanded or rubbed with Scotchbrite, then given a cold blue.

Stock

I gently sanded the stock and forearm with 320- and 400-grit sandpaper. Then I applied 5 coats of Tru-Oil finish. The stock retains some of the bigger scratches and dents it acquired over its long lifetime, but the finish is much smoother and better-looking than it was.

Assembly

After all the pieces were refinished the next step was assembly. Fortunately I had new tools for this task!

The result

I must say, this rifle came out really nice. It now pumps and holds two pumps of air for two weeks. And of course it fires. 

I chronographed the rifle to ensure it really was healthy. Then I zeroed it at 20 yards. Finally I boxed it up for shipment back to its happy owner, who plans to share it with his brothers. Sometimes staying home in quarantine isn’t such a bad thing!

Thanks

I ran this report from Cloud9 today because I had difficulty replacing the parts in my Walther LP53 pistol. I have fitted a new Teflon piston seal, but some of the parts in the cocking mechanism that had to be removed to get the piston out are fighting me to go back in. That took up the morning of Friday, so I set that work aside and put wooden handles on the bullet mold for my rimfire cartridge reloading series in the afternoon. Now that I know how to prime the rimfire cartridge cases, that report can advance again.

I also wanted to run this report because reader RidgeRunner is in the middle of a 101 repair. I thought reading this might encourage him a little. Maybe some of the rest of you are in the same boat?

So, thanks, Cloud9 for saving the day! Oh, and I’m starting to think of things I need your fancy lathe to do!


Mondial Oklahoma spring-piston pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Oklahoma
The Mondial Oklahoma pistol.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Further tie-ins to the Roger CO2 pistol
  • Choose one
  • Performance
  • RWS Hobby
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • Loose breech
  • Discharge sound
  • Accuracy?
  • Summary

 Today I test the velocity of the Mondial Oklahoma air pistol we have started looking at. I was hoping so much that another owner would comment that he had a pistol with a rifled barrel because this one is smoothbore for sure. But no one has come forward yet. And no, the rifling hasn’t worn out of this one. This is a breakbarrel spring-piston air pistol that was made to sell at a low price, but as I noted in Part One, a lot of thought went into its design.

Further tie-ins to the Roger CO2 pistol

Reader Pacoinohio asked for more information about the tie-in between the Oklahoma and the Daisy 100. I have information that comes from two different sources and goes in two different directions. First, while researching Mondial I learned that they also made the Roger CO2 pistol that looks something like the Daisy 100. Many years ago an advanced Daisy collector at an airgun show showed me his Roger pistol in the box that he felt was extremely rare. He also told me that Daisy bought the plans for the Roger and that was what the Daisy 100 was based on. They are not exactly the same and I doubt that many parts interchange, if any, but any designer finds his work easier if he has something to go on. I think that was essentially what happened, if any of it is true.

The other direction I will come from is that I wrote the largest report that has ever been written on the .22 rimfire firearms made by the Wamo corporation. It was published in one of the Airgun Revue magazines. This company is known as Wham-O today and we know them for their Hula Hoops, Superballs and Frisbees. But Wamo also made at least three different .22 rimfire guns, though they claim they never did. The most popular one they made was called the Wamo Powermaster. It was a .22 long rifle single shot that ejected the empty cartridge case and the bolt remained back for loading.

Years ago Dennis Quackenbush, who many of you know as the builder of big bore airguns, told me that he can convert the Daisy 100 into a Powermaster. Yesterday morning Dennis told me that to him it appears that Daisy purchased the Powermaster design and tooling from Wamo and turned it into their model 100 CO2 pistol. That’s why Dennis says it is so easy to turn a 100 into a Powermaster. He says that because he sees little design details in the Daisy 100 that come from the Powermaster and are unnecessary for the air pistol, so it looks to him like Daisy used the Wamo tooling to make their airgun.

Powermaster 100
Here are the Wamo Powermaster (top) and Daisy 100 for comparison. Photo courtesy Dennis Quackenbush.

Roger
And here is a Roger. I have to say, it doesn’t look much like the Daisy.

Choose one

That’s two different stories of the relationship between the Daisy 100, the Wamo Powermaster and the Roger air pistol. You decide. I’ve told you all that I know.

Performance

So, how does the pistol I am testing perform? According to the Blue Book of Airguns I should expect about 200 f.p.s. I oiled the piston seal and the breech seal days before this test so this one will do as well as it possibly can. Let’s see.

RWS Hobby

First to be tested was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. They fit the breech very tight and wouldn’t even sit flush.

Hobby
That’s as deep as the RWS Hobby would go into the Oklahoma breech with finger pressure.

I knew when I saw how tight Hobbys were that they needed to be seated deep, so the head and skirt would be sized down by the barrel. Just for fun I shot one Hobby seated like you see in the picture. It went out at 175 f.p.s. Ten more when seated deep with a ballpoint pen averaged 244 f.p.s. That’s a gain of 69 f.p.s. from just deep seating. The low for the string was 231. The high was 253, so the difference was 22 f.p.s.

I’m guessing other pellets that are light but not so large as Hobbys will be faster. Let’s see.

Air Arms Falcons

At 7.33-grains the Falcons are heavier than the Hobbys, but they are also smaller, so there is less resistance. I deep-seated them, too.

Falcons averaged 236 f.p.s. over 10 shots. The velocity ranged from a low of 223 to a high of 246, so a 22 f.p.s. spread. Let’s try one more pellet.

RWS R10 Match Pistol

The RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet weighs 7 grains like the Hobby, but it fits the breech almost as well as the Falcon. It’s just a little tighter. Ten of them averaged 254 f.p.s. in this Oklahoma. The low was 251 and the high was 257, so the spread was 6 f.p.s. That’s not only very good, it’s also considerably faster than the Blue Book said, so I assume this pistol is performing well.

Loose breech

I noticed while shooting that the breech on the pistol is loose. However, it is the strangest loose breech I have ever seen. It’s loose when the pistol is cocked but not when it isn’t, which means when the piston is forward it’s somehow affecting the tightness of the breech.

Discharge sound

I tested the sound at discharge with the audiometer app on my smart phone. It’s very quiet when it fires.

discharge Oklahoma

Accuracy?

I don’t have very high hopes for this pistol to be accurate. The inexpensive construction plus the smooth barrel are two reasons why.

I think I will start my accuracy test at 20 feet, rather than 10 meters. And I will look for pellets that fit the breech loosely, or at least not overly tight. I really have no idea of what to expect with this one, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

Summary

The Oklahoma air pistol is an airgun I have long wanted to examine and test. Now I’m getting to. I hope you are finding this as fascinating as I am.


FX Radar Pocket Wireless Chronograph: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

FX chronograph
The FX Radar Pocket Wireless chronograph.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Something different
  • Working with the 397
  • Can’t restore lost pages
  • One path only
  • The deal
  • So — who is it for?
  • Sensitivity
  • Random recorded “shots”
  • Hostile software
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today will be one of discovery, as I try to find out how this FX Radar Pocket Wireless Chronograph works.

Something different

I had planned a much different report about the FX chrony, using it with the new Benjamin 397. Well that failed, and I will describe some of what happened in a little bit. 

Like I told you — there is no manual. So to find out anything about the unit I have to turn it on. And the radar has to be on for my smart phone app to work. That’s the first dilemma. I would like to study the pages of the app to discover what they do, and more importantly, what they don’t do. But the radar has to be turned on to do that.

Now there is something in the app that calls itself a “manual” but it’s not. It’s an FX advertising brochure like we saw with the FX Dreamlite rifle. It does give a little information in the form of  outdated videos of the chronograph app. Either they are outdated or the app I’m using is outdated because the information they show is different from what is on my screen. Or they are a European app and I’m using an American one.

Working with the 397

Now let me tell you a little of the saga of trying to record the velocity of the Benjamin 397. Several of you mentioned in Part 1 that when I used the FX chrony with the Benjamin 397 that I’m testing I used the wrong profile/velocity setting. You were right. I had left the chrony set up for the Air Arms S510XS that was shooting .22-caliber RWS Superdomes in the mid-to-high 900s. We know from the velocity test in Part 2 that the Benjamin shoots right in the 600s on 4 pumps. I tried several profiles whose velocity was okay, but only the UK airguns profile worked. The fastest velocity the FX Radar chronograph is set to record is found in a profile the app calls Airgun High Power. That’s a range of velocities from 590 to 1099 f.p.s. That is as fast as this chronograph can handle.

by Tom Gaylord Writing as B.B. Pelletier  02-10-21-01-FX-chronograph The FX Radar Pocket Wireless chronograph.  This report covers: Something different Working with the 397 Can't restore lost pages One path only The deal So — who is it for? Sensitivity Random recorded "shots" Hostile software Discussion Summary  Today will be one of discovery, as I try to find out how this FX Radar Pocket Wireless Chronograph works.  Something different  I had planned a much different report about the FX chrony, using it with the new Benjamin 397. Well that failed, and I will describe some of what happened in a little bit.   Like I told you — there is no manual. So to find out anything about the unit I have to turn it on. And the radar has to be on for my smart phone app to work. That's the first dilemma. I would like to study the pages of the app to discover what they do, and more importantly, what they don't do. But the radar has to be turned on to do that.  Now there is something in the app that calls itself a "manual" but it's not. It's an FX advertising brochure like we saw with the Dreamlite rifle. It does give a little information in the form of  outdated videos of the chronograph app. Either they are outdated or the app I'm using is outdated because the information they show is different from what is on my screen. Or they are a European app and I'm using an American one.  Working with the 397  Now let me tell you a little of the saga of trying to record the velocity of the Benjamin 397. Several of you mentioned in Part 1 that when I used the FX chrony with the Benjamin 397 that I'm testing I used the wrong profile/velocity setting. You were right. I had left the chrony set up for the Air Arms S510XS that was shooting .22-caliber RWS Superdomes in the mid-to-high 900s. We know from the velocity test in Part 2 that the Benjamin shoots light in the 600s on 4 pumps. I tried several profiles whose velocity was okay, but only the UK airguns profile worked. The fastest velocity the FX Radar chronograph is set to record is found in a profile the app calls Airgun High Power. That's a range of velocities from 590 to 1099 f.p.s. That is as fast as this chronograph can handle.  02-18-21-01-profile-1 Here are the profiles with their velocity ranges. The chronograph will not work well outside these ranges.  02-18-21-02-profile-2 This is most of the bottom  half of the profile page. I have not yet found any reference to what the "calibrate" means — but of course, there is no manual. Yeah — I see the word on the screen. It's a sales brochure.   Now there ARE some videos on the chronograph to watch. Naturally they all come with cutesy music. I watched one and got very little from it.  Can't restore lost pages  Each time you go from a recording screen back to the Profile page to change something you lose connectivity with the chronograph and have to reestablish it. All the information from your last string is not lost, but it is VERY difficult to retrieve, and there are no friendly prompts to help you. You are supposed to know this and to save each string before doing anything else, but when you save a string — well, I don't know what happens because every time I tried to save one I lost it. If I hadn't taken screen shots off the smart phone you wouldn't be able to see them, either.  Some of you are saying, "That's no problem." but it really is. Because if you get into some screens/pages in the app, the software will freeze up unless it sees the one or two responses it's looking for. There are no forward and backward (navigation) icons that I can find. It's like Facebook, when they REALLY want you to look at something. The only way out is to go back to the Home page and all your data will be terminated. Not lost, just terminated. Want a 10-shot string? Don't EVER leave the page while you are recording it! The data will still be there but you won't be able to see it in that format again.  One path only  What I discovered so far is when using the software with this chronograph there is one path to take and only one path. Deviate slightly and you have to do it all over. At least that's how it seems to me right now. There may be navigation tools but if so I haven't found them.  The deal  And here is what that matters. Some of you new readers don't know me that well, but the old-timers know that I'm not just testing the FX chronograph today — at least not how well it does what it was specifically designed to do. I am also testing as a new user, to learn how it looks to a new guy. There are folks who have worked with this chronograph for many years and they know everything I'm explaining and much more. They know it so well that they no longer make the mistakes I'm reporting.  Does the FX chronograph work? Yes, it does. Does it work like every other chronograph? Not really. For example — If I wanted to test the 397 with differing numbers of pump strokes like I did in Part 2 of the 397 test, I would have to stop after every few shots and change the profile of the software. And then I would loose that string. Look at this table from that report:   I'll start with the 7-grain RWS Hobby wadcutter.  Pumps……….Vel. 2……………..471 3……………..551 4……………..604 5……………..648 6……………..680 7……………..716 8……………..737 9……………..758 no air remaining in gun 10……………773 no air remaining in gun  To make that table I would have had to selected at least two different profiles and the software would have wiped out the string on information. The numbers would still be present, just not in the list they were in before — with no way to get that list back — that I know of at this time.  On this day, though,, the Benjamin 397 wouldn't work on the lowest profiles. I got it to work on the UK profile some of the time but not always.  Not only that, I would have to GUESS what the velocities would be for the number pumps I wanted to record, in order to select the right profile to even record a shot. If the rifle happened to shoot slow on that shot for some reason, I could be out of the velocity range for the profile I selected, even though most shots would be just in the range! Guys — this isn't how a chronograph should work!  So — who is it for?  The FX Radar chronograph works best for a shooter who has just one airgun to test. It's like a scope — useful on a single airgun or on multiple airguns that perform within a narrow band of velocities. The way reader Cloud9 is using it to test just one rifle, it's ideal. It may take him some time to get the settings correct, because besides the profile, he also needs to set the chronograph's sensitivity. But once he sets that, he's good to go.  Sensitivity  The instructions tell you that the "Lowest" setting is the most sensitive, but there may also be some random recordings that the chronograph generated all on its own.      Random recorded "shots"  I set the chronograph to the lowest setting (the most sensitive) for the 397 and it recorded the shots most of the time. But it also recorded shots that were never taken!   02-18-21-03-random-shot This "shot" occurred as I was pumping the 397 for the next shot. FX does warn that setting the sensitivity to the lowest setting can cause this. There is no way the 397 put out a Hobby pellet at 724 f.p.s. on just 4 pumps — even if I did shoot the rifle, which I didn't.  Then, at some time during the testing the chronograph reset the sensitivity to 30 percent and I had to start all over.  Hostile software  I was playing around in different screens and I came across a page that had an "add profile" button at the top. So I clicked it, to see what would happen. The only thing it did was create a button with "My gun" and the date. I was hoping I could somehow shape the velocities within a profile and there still may be a way, but as there is no manual, how would I know? So I decided to delete the two "My gun" buttons I had created. The first one was no trouble to delete but the second one is like a misspelled tattoo that refuses to go away. Let me share with you what the software said.  02-18-21-04-cannot-delete The meaningless "My gun" profile cannot be deleted! Oh, joy!  02-18-21-04-add-profile The software design committee decided that I was not permitted to undo my mistake!  Discussion  I'm bypassing a lot of things that happened during this test that were my own mistakes. I'm just mentioning the things I believe I did right and how they turned out.  But I tried it with an air pistol whose velocity I don't know and there was nothing. Did I have it set on the right profile? Who knows? I need a real chronograph to tell me.  In the beginning I couldn't even get the FX chronograph to work with the 397, so I dragged out my Air Arms S510XS that I know it likes. It took only one shot to prove the chronograph was working as it should.  Then I set the profile to the CO2 Air Pistol range and recorded a couple shots from a Winchester 423 (Diana 23). So the unit was working. But it didn't like the 397 for some reason.  Summary  BB — don't leave us hanging! Tell us how you fixed everything and got the FX Radar chronograph to work right again.  Sorry guys — that didn't happen. This thing is a complicated piece of equipment that doesn't work the way I think a chronograph should work. When it's working for you everything is wonderful and it's a lot of fun to use. But when you get out on the fringes like I did today with the 397, it starts coming apart.  If today's report seems a little confusing and disjointed it is because that's the way I felt when I tried to do the test.  Am I finished? Is this the final report? I really don't know. I want to continue to try to understand the FX Radar chronograph, but I'm not going to make it my life's work. I have used many different chronographs over the past 26 years and this one is the hardest one I have ever seen.
Here are the profiles with their velocity ranges. The chronograph will not work well outside these ranges.

Profile 2
This is most of the bottom  half of the profile page. I have not yet found any reference to what the “calibrate” means — but of course, there is no manual. Yeah — I see the word on the screen. It’s a sales brochure. 

Now there ARE some videos on the chronograph to watch. Naturally they all come with cutesy music. I watched one and got very little from it.

Can’t restore lost pages

Each time you go from a recording screen back to the Profile page to change something you lose connectivity with the chronograph and have to reestablish it. All the information from your last string is not lost, but it is VERY difficult to retrieve, and there are no friendly prompts to help you. You are supposed to know this and to save each string before doing anything else, but when you save a string — well, I don’t know what happens because every time I tried to save one I lost it. If I hadn’t taken screen shots off the smart phone you wouldn’t be able to see them, either.

Some of you are saying, “That’s no problem.” but it really is. Because if you get into some screens/pages in the app, the software will freeze up unless it sees the one or two responses it’s looking for. There are no forward and backward (navigation) icons that I can find. It’s like Facebook, when they REALLY want you to look at something. The only way out is to go back to the Home page and all your data will be terminated. Not lost, just terminated. Want a 10-shot string? Don’t EVER leave the page while you are recording it! The data will still be there but you won’t be able to see it in that format again.

One path only

What I discovered so far is when using the software with this chronograph there is one path to take and only one path. Deviate slightly and you have to do it all over. At least that’s how it seems to me right now. There may be navigation tools but if so I haven’t found them.

The deal

And here is what that matters. Some of you new readers don’t know me that well, but the old-timers know that I’m not just testing the FX chronograph today — at least not how well it does what it was specifically designed to do. I am also testing it as a new user, to learn how it looks to a guy who has never seen one before. There are folks who have worked with this chronograph for many years and they know everything I’m explaining and much more. They know it so well that they no longer make the mistakes I’m reporting.

Does the FX chronograph work? Yes, it does. Does it work like every other chronograph? Not really. For example — If I wanted to test the 397 with differing numbers of pump strokes like I did in Part 2 of the 397 test, I would have to stop after every few shots and change the profile of the software. And then I would loose that string. Look at this table from that report: 

I’ll start with the 7-grain RWS Hobby wadcutter.

Pumps……….Vel.
2……………..471
3……………..551
4……………..604
5……………..648
6……………..680
7……………..716
8……………..737
9……………..758 no air remaining in gun
10……………773 no air remaining in gun

To make that table withg the FX chronograph I would have had to have selected at least two different profiles and the software would have wiped out the first string of information. The numbers would still be present, just not in the list they were in before — with no way to get that list back — that I know of at this time.

On this day, though, the Benjamin 397 wouldn’t work on the lowest velocity profiles. I got it to work on the “UK airgun” profile some of the time, but not always.

Not only that, I would have to GUESS what the velocities would be for the number pumps I wanted to record, in order to select the right profile to even record a shot. If the rifle happened to shoot slow on that shot for some reason, I could be out of the velocity range for the profile I selected, even though most shots would be just inside the range! Guys — this isn’t how a chronograph should work!

So — who is it for?

The FX Radar chronograph works best for a shooter who has just one airgun to test. It’s like a scope — adjusted for and useful with a single airgun or on multiple airguns that perform within a narrow band of velocities. The way reader Cloud9 is using it to test just one rifle, it’s ideal. It may take him some time to get the settings correct, because besides the profile, he also needs to set the chronograph’s sensitivity. But once he sets that, he’s good to go.

Sensitivity

The instructions tell you that the “Lowest” setting is the most sensitive, but there may also be some random recordings that the chronograph generates all on its own.    

Random recorded “shots”

I set the chronograph to the lowest setting (the most sensitive) for the 397 and it recorded the shots most of the time. But it also recorded shots that were never taken! 

random shot
This “shot” occurred as I was pumping the 397 for the next shot. FX does warn that setting the sensitivity to the lowest setting can cause this. There is no way the 397 put out a Hobby pellet at 724 f.p.s. on just 4 pumps — even if I did shoot the rifle, which I didn’t.

Then, at some time during my testing the chronograph reset the sensitivity to 30 percent and I had to start all over.

Hostile software

I was playing around in different screens and I came across a page that had an “add profile” button at the top. So I clicked it twice, to see what would happen. The only thing it did was create two buttons with “My gun” and the date. I was hoping I could somehow shape the velocities within a profile and there still may be a way, but as there is no manual, how would I know? So I decided to delete the two “My gun” buttons I had created. The first one was no trouble to delete but the second one is like a misspelled tattoo that refuses to go away. Let me share with you what the software said.

add profile
This meaningless “My gun” profile that is highlighted cannot be deleted! Oh, joy!

Discussion

I’m bypassing a lot of things that happened during this test that were my own mistakes. I’m just mentioning the things I believe I did right and how they turned out.

But I tried it with an air pistol whose velocity I don’t know and there was nothing. Did I have it set on the right profile? Who knows? I need a real chronograph to tell me.

In the beginning I couldn’t even get the FX chronograph to work with the 397, so I dragged out my Air Arms S510XS that I know it likes. It took only one shot to prove the chronograph was working as it should.

Then I set the profile to the CO2 Air Pistol range and recorded a couple shots from a Winchester 423 (Diana 23). So the unit was working. But it didn’t like the 397 for some reason.

Summary

BB — don’t leave us hanging! Tell us how you fixed everything and got the FX Radar chronograph to work right again.

Sorry guys — that didn’t happen. This thing is a complicated piece of equipment that doesn’t work the way I think a chronograph should work. When it’s working for you everything is wonderful and it’s a lot of fun to use. But when you get out on the fringes like I did today with the 397, it starts coming apart.

If today’s report seems a little confusing and disjointed it is because that’s the way I felt when I tried to do the test.

Am I finished? Is this the final report? I really don’t know. I want to continue to try to understand the FX Radar chronograph, but I’m not going to make it my life’s work. I have used many different chronographs over the past 26 years and this one is the hardest one to use that I have ever seen.