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Air Guns What they better do

What they better do

This report covers:

  • Background
  • Cars without chips?
  • Back to airguns
  • Better rifled barrels
  • Better triggers
  • Better sights
  • Multiple power levels for springers
  • Crosman listened
  • Summary

Today’s report will be enlightening for many. In the past I wrote a report titled, “What they oughta do” but today it’s more focused on the things airgun manufacturers had better be thinking about.


I recently read a report that said that American automobile manufacturers have lost 240 billion dollars from the lack of computer chips to build their cars. Well, that sounds like an opportunity to me — an opportunity to manufacture computer chips.

Now, the chip-making business isn’t one you start up quick. It takes specialized facilities, equipment and personnel. It’s a legacy business. Over the past 30-40 years the United States and many other nations have given away this legacy business to countries in Asia. It’s time to do something about it.

That’s easy to say for someone like me who is sitting on the sidelines. Making integrated circuits requires many specialized capabilities that would all have to be ramped up. It could take a decade if all the resources were put to the task. And where will the personnel come from, now that the majority of American children are no longer well-schooled in mathematics and the sciences?

The 240 billion dollars, which may be a fake news exaggeration, might not even be enough to fund the effort. But we’ll never know if nobody tries.

Cars without chips?

Here is another approach — build a car that doesn’t contain any computer chips. Or build one that uses chips from other devices — such as smart phones. I know things like emissions and fuel conservation require computer control — or at least they have until now. But do I need a car that starts by my pressing a button on a fob? No sir, I don’t! Do I need a car that beeps at me when I get too close to things? Nope. Do I need a car that has an entertainment center in back to keep the kids quiet? Again, nope. It is a time-honored tradition to have kids in the back seat ask, “Are we there, yet?” a thousand times on a longer trip. Carmakers have grown a bit too chip-hungry.

Back to airguns

But that’s not airguns, is it? BB Pelletier has no business spouting off about something of which he has no knowledge. But airguns he knows. So, let’s talk about them. Let’s talk about what airgun companies ought to be thinking about right now, if they want to remain competitive.

Better rifled barrels

The rifled barrel is most of what determines the accuracy of an airgun, and many companies have been complacent far too long. They either rifle barrels the time-honored way, by pushing or pulling a button through a seamless steel tube, or they buy barrels from a maker of known quality. Lothar Walther comes to mind when I say that, but they aren’t the only game in town.

A few years ago Crosman Corporation, who was already rifling their own barrels, started reaming the seamless hydraulic steel tubes before the barrels were rifled. That tubing is sold as precision-sized on the inside, but in truth it doesn’t hold much better than 0.005-inches over a 24-inch span. By reaming it the company could hold a much tighter tolerance, which meant that the rifling button encountered a more uniform resistance as it passed through.

The result of reaming before rifling was improved accuracy to the point that Crosman stopped buying barrels from their outside supplier who couldn’t make barrels that were any more accurate. Yes, better barrels is a technology to investigate.

Could even more be done? Sure. By hand-lapping (micro-polishing) the inside of the bore after rifling you get a smoother finish and that means more accuracy. However, if the person doing the lapping gets $20 an hour, their time has to be charged at the rate of around $80-$100 an hour to account for personnel costs, overhead and profit. So a hand-lapped barrel is going to be more costly.

The “trick” is to look at each process and find the best way to make it run as fast as possible while reducing personnel time and holding the line on quality. It’s the same game manufacturers play with everything they do, only if rifling is a new thing for them then there is a lot more to learn.

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Better triggers

Ten years ago I would have said that the Rekord trigger that was designed in the 1950s was the finest airgun trigger in existence and could not be improved. Air Arms makes a trigger that is a production example of improvements made to the Rekord by Ivan Hancock several decades ago. They make the trigger easier to adjust and fine-tune than the Rekord, but they don’t make the letoff any better. Yes, I would have said that the Rekord, was as far as they could go.

Then came Sig Sauer with the ASP20. Their Matchlite trigger shocked the knowledgeable airgun world, who saw a completely different design from a Rekord that had similar attributes, plus it solved the adjustment issue. An airgunner can get inside a Rekord and render it unsafe through adjustment. The same cannot be done to the Sig Matchlite.

Sig ASP20 trigger graphic
Sig’s Matchlite trigger was a brand-new design that worked very well! Graphic provided by Sig.

Sig ASP20 trigger box
The adjustments on Sig’s Matchlite trigger work inside the bounds of safety. You get a light trigger that the lawyers are okay with.

Unfortunately, Sig left the building and abandoned one of the finest breakbarrel designs created in the past half-century. If they were willing to sell their technology to someone else, another company could stand to benefit, but that company would have to rebuild the knowledge base that Sig once had. However you look at it, it would be a costly proposition.

Better sights

We have explored airgun sights a lot in the past several months, but there are things from the distant past that could be done and haven’t been — yet. For example, there was a .22 rimfire front sight that Mossberg offered in the 1940s and ’50s that had multiple inserts that could be raised as required. Mossberg hid them inside a hollow steel ramp beneath the sight, but today’s airguns have muzzle brakes that could do the same job.

Mossberg sight 1
Mossberg’s 1940’s front sight.

Mossberg sight 2
Now, why can’t this be done on an airgun today, using a muzzle brake?

For better rear sights we need go no farther than Crosman’s own 101 pneumatic. They gave you a peep sight that adjusted in both directions and couldn’t have cost much to produce. Sure it was tied to the design of the 101’s receiver, but some thought should be able to create a design that would work on a modern airgun.

rear sight detail
Crosman’s adjustable peep sight on the 100-series air rifle adjusted in both directions and was simple to make.

Multiple power levels for springers

This one isn’t a life-or-death deal like the others, but it would be wonderful. The basis for two-power levels in a springer has already been achieved in the Beeman P1/HW 45 pistol. Why not do the same thing in a rifle — with the goal of making the lower power level easier to cock than the higher level?

One way to achieve it would be a mainspring with a variable compression rate that would take 15 lbs. to cock to the first notch and 30 lbs. to notch two.

Crosman listened

Over the decades Crosman actually listened a couple times. And it paid off! They listened in 2006 when I took them the idea for the Benjamin Discovery. And they listened when I talked about the hundred-dollar PCP in this blog back in 2013 and 2014. In response to that they brought out the Benjamin Maximus in 2016.

I would like to tell you that Diana listened, and at one point in time I did have the ear of an influential person in the new company, but he is gone and the things we discussed mostly never happened. The 34 EMS was supposed to be one thing and transformed into another as it was launched.


These are some of the things manufacturers need to be looking at. I know that sales to the big box stores are what pay the bills, but these are the things that will keep the company in business so there will be bills to be paid.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

59 thoughts on “What they better do”

  1. B.B.

    Wonderful thoughts!
    Unfortunately, lowest cost ALWAYS wins with the customers.

    I would wager that for every springer that Air Arms sells, Weihrauch sells 10 of theirs.
    Any takers?

    How do you build an electric powered car without silicon chips?

    Do you know if, when Crossman went to reaming the barrels, did their rifling button machines last longer?


    • Yogi,

      Did they use Silicon Chips in 1900?


      “Those who do not know History are damned to repeat it.”
      Sir Edmund Burke. But Yogi that’s WRONG and misquoted!

      Spanish philosopher George Santayana is credited with the aphorism, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” Is the actual quote!

      Electric cares can be built without silicon chips and with todays batteries, Veractors, and much better brushless motors (regenerative braking capable) we might be surprised.


      • Actually, there is no need to abandon micro chips. What is needed is to heed the needs of a sound national defense policy with respect to manufacturing. Some things we need to REQUIRE to be produced domestically lest we get into a huge dust up and products get torpedoed. We are fools for allowing businesses to put our national preparedness at risk for the sake of their profits. We should use taxation and regulation to bring vital industries back to the USA. There are, believe it or not, things more important than CEOs buying more villas or having more accounts in the Caymans or a third personal pleasure ocean liner.

        • Agreed. Or imagine if there was a policy that said, “if you want our investment, your country’s laws have to treat our businesses and citizens as well as we would treat yours.” That would be a different world.

          P.S. A guy can still dream about a villa in the Caymans with an account and a yacht to go with it, though, right?

  2. BB,

    Crosman had better introduce a premium line of breakbarrels with better triggers and power adjusted for the backyard for discerning plinkers. How difficult could it be to create a shorter stroke version of their current sproingers to make a low and high power capable rifle? Although I could imagine that the resulting rifle could have a protruding shaft when fully cocked or a terrible trigger as a compromise.


    PS Section Crosman listened 1st paragraph last sentence: ” In respoonse (response) to that they brought out the Benjamin Maximus in 2016.” Yer Scottish genes are showing.

    • Siraniko ,

      Good morning. Crosman must first find enough, or personally educate enough, shooters to form a market for a “less than fastest” springer. They are guilty of pushing speed over everything else, just like their competitors, since fast is easy to do AND promote, so they would have to undo decades of brainwashing first. We see that marketing as stupid, they see it as stupid like a fox, ’cause it worked. The informed few simply aren’t their market.


      • Halfstep,

        Agree to that. Now where do we find that wily marketer that is capable of turning this market around? Until the market has been created the “low” power spring market will be greeted mainly by crickets. As I read in a book many years ago, business opportunity can be defined as “Find a need and fill it.”


      • Half and Siraniko,

        Once upon a time when Ed Schulz first worked for TCFKAC, they made a lower powered gas sproinger. It did not sell. Why? Because it could not compete. It had a lousy trigger and was as inaccurate as the other sproingers they made. Weihrauch is the company knowledgeable sproinger shooters turn to when they want lower power. Air Arms is where they go if they want fine shooting eye candy.

        These companies have taken the time to establish themselves in these markets. Sig stunned the airgun world with their creation, but did not realize that those who spend that kind of money on a sproinger do not get in a rush about spending it. We take a good look around first. Next thing we know, it is no more.

        Spreadsheet companies rarely go for the long haul. They are looking for the quick and easy kill. Why invest capital in something that may not come to fruition for several years?

        Educate the shooters? We are. Build better and be willing to invest for the long haul, not the quick and easy kill.

        • RR,

          First, Ed cSchultz is back at Crosman. Second, while the lower-powered air rifle Crosman made did not succeed, it had an average Crosman trigger and was very accurate.

          Read about the Crosman NPSS here:



          • BB Yes, I know Ed is back. I am hoping he will have some influence with the new company. I am looking forward to what may come out of Velocity Outdoors in the future.

            I know that the big box stores are their bread and butter, but they should also have a higher end line for the long haul.

        • Seems to me Sig squandered the good press that B.B. and others heaped upon the ASP20. If they believed in their product, it would have become an instant classic. I would definitely have bought one if it was still available. I would be interested to see if they license off their patents to other manufacturers or if you see similar features beginning to be offered by others.

          I don’t see why a dual power springer wouldn’t be a hit. Best of both worlds. You would have an edge over the competition. Sort of like, why buy a single pump pneumatic when you can adjust the power with a few extra pumps?

        • You know, when the ASP20 first came out I called Pyramyd about buying on, but I wanted it with the scope marked for ASP20 distances. It wasn’t available yet. By the time I checked on buying one with their scope they were gone. Botched product introduction.

          St. Louis, MO

      • BB,

        I wonder if TCFKAC will ever find a marketing genius that will create a market for the airguns we want. To turn the power and velocity crowd toward genteel and accurate airguns that are easy to shoot indoors and in the backyard. Umarex has the Embark and Hatsan has its Alpha but their market are not for adults. It wouldn’t make sense for TCFKAC to make their version of the HW30s if there is no active market. There must be a fun way to make it catch on and ignite the market.


        • Siraniko,

          That would indeed be a trick! Do you think it is possible? Perhaps, following the HW 30S route, though TCFKAC has polluted their reputation with dozens of buzzy Chinese breakbarrels. They would almost need a separate division to make and sell quality spring-piston guns.


          • The Company Formerly Known as Crosman.

            By the way, does anyone know the reason Sig stopped making the ASP20? Everytime I shoot it, I’m impressed with it.

            Fred formerly of the Demokratik Peeples Republik of NJ now happily in GA

          • I agree with your notion of a “separate division” to attract me to Crosman/TCFKAC again. I have a Benjamin Trail pistol that I will sell to the cops if there is another gun buy back (that would be the only use for it). It is poor. It is equalled by the UMAREX gas ram pistol that has a trigger measured in metric tons. These are both Chinese and poorly designed and made. I do have a Crosman Nitro Venom Dusk that has slowly self-polished into a somewhat decent shooter even if the screws work themselves loose at a phenomena rate (beyond what I am used to in my other springers).

            Crosman is not where I would currently go for a quality piece to add to the locker with RWS/Diana units. It is sad, really, because we can do quality work. The Chinese are also capable of it (think Ming vases!). The problem is the bean-counter mentality, I suspect.

        • The Embark comes with a stock spacer that adds an inch to the length of pull, but why not put the same action into an adult sized stock? Or a sturdy extendable stock. All it needs otherwise is a better trigger. Even after it breaks in and all the gritty creepiness smooths out, it’s such a looooonnnnng trigger pull. But it’s fun to put 100 shots through it.

  3. B.B.,

    You wrote, “At one point in time I did have the ear of an influential person in the new company, but he is gone and the things we discussed mostly never happened.”

    Right there is a major problem in all industries, air gun manufacturing especially, it seems. Companies lose most of their best employees regularly. It appears to be the rule rather than the exception. There is something wrong with a system that promotes turnover of the best and brightest instead of simply promotes them.


    • “HW30S…this is a genuine case of ‘less is more’ ”
      I am with you and this reviewer 100%. Power is nice when you need it, but less is more most of the time. I shoot my HW30S WAY more than all of my powder burners combined. In fact, thinking back to a comment you made long ago (firearms versus airguns), I’m starting to see that, except for a predator rifle and a couple of home defense guns, most of the firearms I have would be better off traded in on more airguns; the airguns would see a lot more use, especially when grandkids come to visit. =>
      Take care & be sure to keep that feral can population down,

      • Dave,

        Accuracy is paramount. 12 FPE is sufficient for killing small game and pests to around fifty yards with a well placed shot. Companies need to concentrate on building top rate sproingers in this power range.

  4. Speaking of new products, any update on a M1 Garand-replica PCP?

    I had thought Diana was working on one. Then the pandemic hit. And i haven’t heard a thing in at least 2 years.

    Hoping it will stlll be offered….


  5. You are on target with this post. What manufacturers have forgotten is the KISS principle of design to create products that deliver on promises, no unnecessary “bells and whistles” attached. The problem is consumers have fallen for the marketers’ “you need and want this!” siren song. On top of this, people have developed a “more for less” attitude which works against a sane manufacturer’s aim to make simple, quality products that work well and are marketed as such, no false promises that the item will do what it cannot. Oh, let’s not forget the impact of government regulation/intervention and of our torturous tort system in driving product design and manufacturing into mediocrity.

    Think Model T, VW Beetle and Benjamin Maximus. Those are not bad examples for companies striving to make things right and appealing to consumers in their right mind. 🙂

    • If I were a lawyer at an airgun manufacturer, I would advise against making an airgun for backyard plinking that could put a pellet through a fence. Give us accurate guns with decent triggers, and features that help kids and adults have a safe and fun time in the back yard. IMHO, if you try to approach firearm velocities in a backyard pinker, at something you will get regulated like a firearm.

  6. Dear Crosman,
    B.B. has some excellent points here,, and I would like to apply some to your long-awaited model 362, your new .22 caliber multi-pump air rifle. I really hope it is as modular, user-friendly, and upgradeable as your 1322 and 1377 models; those are fantastic guns for the home tinkerer.
    It would be great if, when the 362 hits the market, you had all the extras we want available: steel breech (looks like you have that covered), longer barrels, an all-metal barrel band and pivot for the pump arm, and some muzzle brakes to change the weight and balance at the front end…oh, and some optional stocks (as not all of us are as gifted in wood crafting skills as Hank [Vava2]).
    Looking forward to your new Crosman 362,

    • Dave
      Here is something I made and talked to Crosman about them making a couple or so years ago. They wanted me to send the part numbers and pictures of the gun which I did. I wanted a good solid wood stock and parts changeability with other gun’s they already made and accurate and light wieght. We talked back and forth a few times then all of a sudden nothing but chirp, chirp, chirp. Then all of a sudden there is talk of the 362.

      I mentioned this gun on the blog back when I made it long with some pictures of it.

      You know what two guns I used to make it?

      Oh and a little bit ago there was discussion about the 362 and it was mentioned by RidgeRunner they went with the 1377 type plastic breech with no dovetails. That was one of the things I highly went back and forth with them about. I wanted the steel breech that the Discovery and so on used so a scope or Williams type peep and so on could be mounted. I explanatory them this gun could be a good trainer gun or pesting gun and plinker or even target practice gun.

      Needless to say I was mad when Crosman said the 362 would have a plastic breech. My point about the gun was that I wanted a good old fasined solid wood and steel gun.

      Anyway did the 362 evolve from the gun I made. I don’t know but it’s at least a step towards it I suppose.

      • “Anyway did the 362 evolve from the gun I made.”
        Gunfun1, that could well be the case…but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a byline…or a check. LOL!
        But that is a really cool gun you’ve got there. What kind of velocity does she get?

        • Dave
          It gets around 625fps with 10.34 grain JSB pellets.

          And right I definitely don’t expect anything from Crosman.

          Oh and I did see the 362 listed for sale somewhere for $89.00. Which I was surprised at that price. And of course it wasn’t in stock yet but did give a in stock date of October in the middle of the month I think it was. We’ll see. But yep I’m definitely getting a 362 and especially if it’s that price.

        • Dave
          And for those that are wondering. The gun I started with is a Crosman 1377. Then I added a Discovery barrel and steel breech then the Discovery trigger assembly. Then I reworked the Discovery wood stock to fit. And just a note a Maximus could be used also if person would prefer the synthetic stock.

          And me too with the 362. At that price if it happens I can justify adding the steel breech after I got it. Just can’t deal with the plastic breech. The plastic breech is just so limiting.

          But still excited about the 362. 🙂

    • Dave,

      I thought of the 362 as I read this blog. I can’t wait to get one. I hope the pump tube is stiff enough. If the pump tube goes back to a full circle in front of the pump arm slot and a metal plug for the pivot pin anchor that should do it. The plug will be plastic I bet though. The plug can be replaced with a metal aftermarket one. If the pump tube slot continues through the muzzle end of the tube that can’t be fixed easily.

      Hopefully the 362 hits the market one day.


  7. BB

    Is it likely that Sig will bring back the ASP20 considering they already own the technology and machinery? Demand for their firearms is too great now but that could ease off. Those of us who bought one are happy happy. One feature it has that isn’t talked about much is the cocking effort seems much less than the measured pull weight.


    • Deck,

      When Sig broke up the airgun division, the tooling went elsewhere in the company and good luck trying to get it back. They have also lost the engineering knowledge they created as the ASP20 was being designed. It would be harder for them to build the rifle again than it would be for an airgun manufacturer.


  8. What we need is a blockbuster movie where the female heroine in a dystopian future uses an airgun to survive and win the day against all odds. Like “Hunger Games” did for archery and daughters, everywhere. I recently saw an ad for a credit card during the Olympics where Swimmer Katie Ledecky took up archery. Could have been airguns. Just sayin’. The more you get airgunning into mainstream media as an “acceptable” sport/hobby, the more folks may be interested to try it. Then you just have to win over the mothers. Can we invent a lead-free, reasonably priced, accurate pellet that won’t ricochet like pure tin? Is bismuth harder than lead? Cheap, accurate pellet guns with good triggers PLUS “safe,” accurate pellets PLUS social media heroine = the future of our sport. I know what you are going to say about lead, B.B., but the fact is, the mere mention of the word lead in the same sentence as children is enough to give any parent pause. Can we eliminate that pause?

    Then these young folks will grow up and go through the velocity stage, so the big boxes will get theirs, and perhaps eventually those folks settle into the finer airguns or specialty airgun stage. But hopefully there will be more of us. I think the future of the sport is media and appealing to kids and parents.

    Also, does anyone have any statistics associating the discipline of shooting sports with success in adulthood? No?Why not?

    Another idea: partner with the gun manufacturers that have been selling their guns like hotcakes for the last few years. Any better way to train than in your basement with a replica of your new defense weapon? B.B. I’m thinking of your Sig 365. That’s my same plan…. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a package deal or a coupon slipped into the owners manual of that shiny new [fill in the blank] that I bought to protect my family from the mobs? Now I’m an airgunner too.

    • Roamin
      Then will have those gun control activists wanting more laws put in effect if a movie was to be made like that.

      You know how all that political bull goes

      But yep know what you are saying. It would maybe help more people get into air guns.

  9. I would guess most integrated circuit boards, even the ones made in the US use transistors and capacitors and other components made in China and other countries, because the margins are slim. So it would be tough to incentivize a manufacturer to make this stuff here.

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