This report covers:

  • This report
  • Beyond fiberoptics
  • Cody Thunderbird
  • Innovation
  • Crosman Town & Country
  • Too expensive
  • Last one
  • Summary

This report

Today BB looks at innovative front sights that we no longer see. It’s been a long time since I have done a report like this. This one is for the engineers and marketeers in the airgun companies around the world. I used to write reports for the industry and I know from feedback that they were read. You’ll also find a lot that’s interesting in today’s report, and maybe it will get your thinkers started.

Back at the beginning of April when I started the HW 30S series, we saw that Weihrauch sells the 30S with a globe front sight that accepts inserts. We all gushed over them, and airgun makers need to pay attention when we gush. Sure, many people will remove the sights and mount a scope, but that doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate the gift of nice sights, just the same. Don’t forget that not everybody who buys a Corvette wants to race it. Many just want to know that they can.

HW 30S front sight
The front sight accepts inserts.

HW 30S front sight inserts
A pouch that hangs from the triggerguard holds five of the six front sight inserts that come with HW 30S. The other one is in the sight.

Beyond fiberoptics

It seems like the only sights that most airgun companies know how to make or buy these days are the ones with red fiberoptics up front and green in the rear. I don’t know why this is so, but there must be a reason. 

Many years ago firearm companies, along with a few airgun companies like Crosman, were innovating with their front sights, even on bargain-basement rifles. I wonder why this isn’t happening today. Perhaps everyone has forgotten the past and what has been done. Let’s take a look.

Cody Thunderbird

The Cody Thunderbird revolver was an inexpensive 6-shot double-action revolver made in the 1950s. It was cheap, but it had a front sight that exuded innovation. Here is what my report in 2014 said:

Innovation

One of the interesting parts of the gun is a front sight that adjusts for elevation, not to mention the method of construction that allows disassembly for cleaning the cylinder and barrel in seconds without tools. This is also one of the world’s few revolvers with a safety! Let’s look at the sights first.

Build a Custom Airgun

Sights

The front sight blade is hinged on a pivot so it swings back to present a high blade for close work (gun will point down) and swings forward for distance shooting. But it doesn’t end there. There’s a slotted screw the size of an eyeglass frame screw in front of the front sight that allows fine adjustments up and down when the sight is swung forward.

Thunderbird revolver sight back
Front sight flipped back for close range.

Thunderbird revolver sight forward
Front sight flipped forward for long distance.

Thunderbird revolver sight screw
Turn that screw in to raise the front sight blade slightly when forward.

That is a front sight people will remember! And how great can the cost be when you plan for it up front? This is the kind of thing that drives people to buy and to keep airguns that have similar serious innovation. Wanna see one?

Crosman Town & Country

In November of 2017 I reported on Crosman’s elusive models 107 and 108 Town & Country multi-pumps. They were .177 and .22, respectively. These models were made for just one year — in 1949, and I wondered in my report if they were created because of the Sheridan Model A that we call the Supergrade. In 1949 no one knew what the future of the Supergrade would be, and it seemed like a good idea to jump on the bandwagon if there was going to be one. The Supergrade retailed for $56.50 and the model B that followed briefly was $35.

Town and Country
The Crosman Town & Country multi-pump pneumatic rifle.


Town and Country front sight1
The tall “Town” front sight is up. It is what you see when you sight the rifle.

Town and Country front sight2
The collar in front of the front sight assembly is unscrewed, freeing the tall front sight to rotate out of the way.

Town and Country front sight3
The tall sight is rotated to the right, down and out of the way of the shorter front sight that is now seen when the rifle is aimed.

The Town and Country was priced at $24.95 — a full ten dollars less than Sheridan’s model B and $31.55 less than the model A. While that sounds cheap to our inflation-deadened ears, consider that the still-impressive, if somewhat dated, Crosman model 101 multi-pump was selling for $19.80 at the same time. And when Crosman brought out the Town and Country, they also brought out the models 109 and 110 (.177 and .22) Town and Country Junior — a rifle with a similar appearance that was priced at just $14.95. Now you tell me — which will you buy — a new eco-friendly all-electric Tesla for $60,000, or that gasser econobox Fiat 500 for $25,000? If you are a celebrity you’ll get the Tesla to be seen in and you’ll keep a Roller as your go-to vehicle. But a working stiff usually has to make do with just one reliable car.

Too expensive

But BB — it’s too expensive to tool up for such things these days! Oh — whine, whine, cry, cry! Look at what Mossberg has done THIS YEAR!!!

Mossberg clip-on fiber
Mossberg has given shooters a choice to have fiberoptics or not! Why can’t airgun makers do the same?

Last one

There are dozens of clever front sights like the ones we are seeing, but one I want to focus on came from Mossberg in the 1940s. This one is found on the 46M (a) that was made 1945-1947.

Mossberg front sight
The Mossberg front sight from 1945-47 had a cassette with four sight element options — a thin post, a wide post, a post with a dot and an aperture. Why can’t something similar be done today?

Summary

Okay marketeers — it’s time to look at what has been done, rather than letting your offshore client/manufacturer tell you what they can do. Airgun makers — let your engineers innovate with front sights. Who knows what they will come up with? Remember that Sig Sauer, a firearm company, came up with the keystone breech for the now-obsolete ASP-20!