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Education / Training They don’t make ’em like they used to

They don’t make ’em like they used to

This report covers:

  • They don’t build ’em…
  • They are better
  • What else?
  • Airguns
  • Leakers
  • Well, I like traditional spring guns!
  • BB’s feelings
  • Old guys hate change
  • So what?
  • Good news
  • Summary

I was in traffic this morning and a heard what sounded like a hot rod accelerating rapidly. It turned out to be a new Mustang with a loud exhaust and a 4-speed manual transmission. And it wasn’t going fast. We were in moderate traffic, yet this car sounded like he was flat-out and burning rubber. Except as slow as he was going (35-40 mph) it was impossible to burn much of anything except daylight.

Then it dawned on me. Ford made that car with a muffler that sounded like it was hell-bent for leather while the car was obeying the law. In other words, it was a wannabe car! Back in the 1960s cars that sounded like that were burning serious rubber and sliding all over the place because their rear ends had lost traction. Little Billy was playing hot rod in the GO-TO-WORK Grand Prix this morning!

They don’t build ’em…

That got me into a discussion with my neighbor, Denny, who was driving the truck I was riding in. He agreed that the new Mustang sounded bad, while it was still obeying the law. I said to him, “They don’t build ’em…” and the discussion was off and running.

They are better

Yessir — they sure don’t build them like they used to. Today they don’t burn oil, they don’t have to have their points set every 10K miles, their valves never need adjusting, valve guides don’t wear out, they always start (unless they don’t, and then you have a real problem!) and they don’t leak oil.

Sure they’re made from  thinner metal today, but unless you live in the rust belt they don’t rust out.

Yes there is a lot of plastic in them, but even the big cars (big for today, that is) get 20 miles per gallon or better — not the 10 mpg our land yachts got in the 1960s 

What else?

Ball joints and tie rod ends last without greasing. I can’t remember when I last saw a Zerk fitting. I don’t even own a creeper. Shock absorbers last past 100K miles. Upholstery doesn’t get torn up from sitting on it. I have lived through all of that in the 1950s and ’60s and we don’t have it today. Stuff lasts — until it doesn’t.


They don’t make airguns from wood and steel anymore. Nope, there is a lot of plastic being used these days. And precharged pneumatics don’t cost $600 and up these days. We have price point PCPs — something that didn’t exist 20 years ago.

Build a Custom Airgun


Some PCPs do leak today. Of course the number that do is far less than what used to be the case. Leaking PCPs are like cars that leak oil. They are not unheard of but the frequency is a lot lower in 2022.

Well, I like traditional spring guns!

Okay, Yogi, go ahead and like them. I do, too. But they aren’t traditional. Spring guns are a recent phenomenon compared to PCPs that have been around for five centuries. Maybe by the year 2400 sporingers will catch up with PCP technology.

BB’s feelings

I like traditional firearm rifles. You know — the ones that are no longer made? If they don’t look like an assault rifle or a modern sniper rifle in a plastic clamshell stock they don’t get made. Traditional walnut and steel has gone the way of the dodo. I bet that guy in that Mustang owns an AR or two.

Old guys hate change

Yepper — BB Pelletier hates change. He hates it when he has to invent a new ID and password for every website he frequents. Heck, I can’t even pay them money unless I remember my password — and it has to be unique. 

It’s as if when the Millennials all ran away from home at age 29 they were hired to make all the websites more secure. Every one of them types faster with their two thumbs than BB types with his two middle fingers, and BB writes a new blog almost five days a week.

Heck, that’s noting.  Millennials go to lunch and sit across from one another, texting instead of talking. BB can’t compete!

So what?

So, BB loves the 1911 platform, yet he grudgingly admits that the plastic fantastic Glock outlasted it by 6 times in longevity tests. Aside from making BB’s pants drop down at inopportune times there is little advantage to an all-steel handgun.

Good news

The good news is, since he is old, BB gets to be crotchety. It’s expected of him. And he is starting to get good at it. Pretty soon BB will get a call from ventriloquist Jeff Dunham who wants to make a BB doll to offset his puppet Walter who is becoming more likable! Achmed may be the dead terrorist but BB Pelletier is a living terror!

Walter is a puppet of ventriloquist, Jeff Dunham.


The times they are a’changin’ and that’s nothing new. Back in the 1960s the times were changing and people lamented the change from Tootsie Roll pump handles to handles with straight lines. In the 1970s we all loved the Mark I and II Crosman pistols but why did they have to have hollow plastic grips? And so on… ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

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.

42 thoughts on “They don’t make ’em like they used to”

  1. B.B.,

    “…turned out to be a new Mustang with a loud exhaust and a 4-speed manual transmission.” I have never owned an automatic and hope to never have too! But B.B. I believe it has been decades since the last 4 Speed rolled off an automobile production line!
    Mustang offers three available transmissions, the 10-speed automatic, TREMEC® six-speed manual, and the TREMEC seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, each designed to get the most out of your vehicle.

    I do however like the figured Walnut furniture on my DAQs, some other airguns and a few of my pistol and rifle firearms!


    PS: reminded me of this blog of yours /blog/2007/06/b-b-gets-disappointed/
    I hope you still love your Wilson Combat! My Tactical Kimber Custom ll has never failed to feed and I even run Chip McCormick 10 round bullet boxes.

    • I have to agree with this. What you heard was an idiot, not a loud Ford Mustang . . .

      Yes, the Mustang is loud when you are on the gas or really flying, otherwise they are just a low rumble.

      What was most likely going on was the car did have a manual transmission (with six speeds), but the driver was intentionally staying in a lower gear than any normal person would use in that situation, in order to keep the revs up and make more noise (and use more gas). I was once young and stupid enough to do the same thing . . . . but I grew up . . .

      If not that, then some idiot paid good money to have his car “tuned” – all to make it personalized, but way worse than the sweetness that Ford sets them up for right from the factory . . .

      But I don’t think it was the fault of Ford . . .


      • Alan: So right you are! I belong to a FaceBook F-150 group and time and time again guys will purchase a new F-150 and then want to get a tune and modify the suspension (usually testicular tires and lifts – short egos or something?). So…they take a truck north of $44K and want to screw up the careful Ford engineering that balances power, economy, durability and reliability for the sake of noise and a few horses.

        Guys just gotta tinker, I guess. Screw the science and decades of technology for a sound.

        I agree with Tom G, things are getting better. I remember the Rambler American that took two batteries and a can of spray de-hydrator in the distributor and secondary ignition wiring to start if a dog peed on the front tire. And the valve set intervals. And the 3K oil changes. And the leaks. And the pains-in-the asses…

        As Tom pointed out, it’s great until it isn’t. I just put a lot of money into my F-150 because its battery and starter died, and the rear brakes were gone BEFORE 24K miles. The engineered Traction Control and the Engine Start/Stop features are now being turned OFF as part of the start-up routine. I don’t need all that “Nanny Stuff” to go down a good road, and I’m not ensuring a higher CAFE rating (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) at the cost of a starter and battery every couple of dozen thousand miles!

        Despite the hard lesson on modern limitations, my NEW age vehicle just flat-out out-performs every vehicle I ever owned, and it does it without racer-boy noise and commotion. Ask the Chrysler product go-fast coupe driver who was humiliated by the 2.7 L six-banger in a momentary testosterone burst pay a purely stock full-size pick-up. I think the guy got seriously hurt getting out of his sporty go-fast coupe at 55 MPH thinking it had stopped when I blew by him.

        In short, “they” are building ’em better, until they aren’t!

        • My first car was a ’66 Mustang. I loved it. But I don’t miss having to work on it two hours, for every one hour I drove it.

          I enjoyed working on it. (And you CAN work on it, without all the electronics an crammed-in parts of modern cars). But it just isn’t as great for a daily driver as any modern day car.

          My 22 year old toyota is a better car to drive. They really have gotten better with time.

  2. Hi everybody,

    at 41 I can relate to many of the points BB is making 🙂

    I hate wannabe cars. Don’t put spoilers, loud pipes and plastic junk on your car unless it is *seriously* fast. I think most modern cars are terrible. Some of the EV and hydrogen stuff is very interesting, but in general, the design of new cars is ugly and they put too many unnecessary gimmicks in them.
    I’ll happily drive my 20-year-old Toyota station wagon which is cheap to run, has tons of space and does everything I need and not much that I don’t. I do believe the newer cars don’t have the same build quality as a Toyota designed in the 90s.
    As for Mustangs, if it doesn’t have a V8, it’s not really a Mustang, is it? I have nothing against economy cars at all, but a Mustang is not supposed to be one.

    When it comes to guns, I like traditional stuff, too. I prefer wood, metal and traditional stocks. I’m sure a Feinwerkbau 800X is a terrific rifle for a competing shooter. From a purely aesthetical point of view, I much prefer a 300S or the 60x with the laminate stock.

    I like 1911s for similar reasons. I have never shot a firearm so I can’t comment. But from a “heritage” and “looks” perspective, I think a 1911 is cool. I don’t really like the looks of Glocks.

    I can’t stand airguns that look like modern military equipment. I don’t want to pretend I’m going to war. I guess classics like a Kar98, M1 Garand or the 1911 are ok since they are now “historic” and they look good to me. But a cheap airgun that looks like an M16 or modern sniper rifle? Same thing as wannabe cars…


    • Stephan

      Since you are a veteran airgun guy you would absolutely love to shoot a firearm. I’ve had the pleasure for about 75 years and counting. If I was only allowed to shoot one firearm one more time in my life it would be a black powder cap and ball wheel gun revolver. I would do it at a gun range that allowed shooting when almost dark. Smoke and sheets of fire would be going down range and I would revel at the gawkers asking me “what the hell are you shootin?”

      I read your comments with interest. Thanks.


      • Decksniper,

        thanks for the compliment, but I would hardly consider myself a “veteran”. I’ve been playing around with airguns for maybe a little less than ten years on my little 10m home range. I think it’s fun, but I am not terribly good at it 🙂

        I live in Germany, so access to firearms is a a lot more restricted. Hunting is not my thing, but I could maybe visit a shooting club that shoots firearms. It would certainly be interesting (most technology is interesting to me…).


        • Stephan

          Do yourself a favor and visit a shooting club. Go there in advance or with a member so you will be comfortable with their protocol, safety rules, etc ahead of time.

          Being German you must shoot a Mauser action rifle because Mausers are the epitome of bolt action rifles in my opinion. Many fine custom built rifles are still built on the 1898 action. Both the Kar 98 and shorter 98 K military rifles have the safest forward dual locking lugs and gas vent design of all. You may know all this already but if not, you do now.


  3. B.B.

    I love your ruminations articles, but this one is dead WRONG.
    PCP’s were ancient civilisation 40 years ago. They only had interest from archaeologists!
    Then 2 nutters from over the pond started tinkering. Dave Theobald and Ben Taylor changed airguns!
    Pcp’s and Co2 guns work on the same basic principles. The Price Point PCP’s are like the Ford Model T. They brought expensive, bespoke technology to the masses.

    Springer are more like bicycles. No external inputs needed.

    Are you sure that the car you heard was not a modified car with an aftermarket exhaust system? One one that just had a hole in the tailpipe? Or was an E-Mustang with a loud speaker system?

    How about a seriers of articles on the contributions that Theoben made? If you are the Godfather of airguns, then they should be the Grandfather of PCP’s!


  4. Well, my pick’em up truck is over twelve years old. I cannot afford to replace it. I can rebuild it several times over for what the new trucks cost. The new cars and trucks are “throw aways” also. You don’t fix them. Even fixing my old truck is not that easy. The transfer case went out on mine. I have to replace the entire assembly because no one can fix them anymore. No one knows how.

    Many of the new airguns are that way. You toss them when they break. They use more plastic in them because steel and wood are more expensive, but the more desirable ones are priced beyond the reach of mere mortals. The more Mattelomatic parts on it, the more it will cost. The other parts are pretty much unavailable.

    Speaking of PPPCP’s, it is funny you should mention the dodo. PPPCP’s will soon become extinct also. All the airgun companies come out with such, and then they raise the prices up. The only reason I own a Maximus is Midway was practically giving them away. Now, you cannot even get one unless it is old stock. Soon airguns will once again be the domain of the “rich”.

    Many of the airgun companies have gone the way of the other manufacturers. If they do not come out with a new “flashy” each year, they go under because we are trained to buy new “flashies” every year. Many of them these days buy stuff from China and relabel it.

    I have to go to work now. I am tired of whining and fussing anyway.


    Well, I like traditional spring guns!
    Maybe by the year 2400 sporingers (sproingers) will catch up with PCP technology.

    Old guys hate change
    Heck, that’s noting (nothing).

  5. Thanks BB!

    I love these types of blogs… as much for the comments as the content. 🙂

    Yeah, old guys hate change (and young wipper-snappers driving wannabe cars) LOL!

    Have a good day eh!

  6. BB, guys,

    If you ask tomek about his age he will tell you:
    – I’m old, too old. – said watching something far far away.
    – But…but… but you just became 39yo you stubborn punk!
    – I meant I’m too old, not my body. – drinks slowly black coffee, as dark as deep space.

    There is something is gettin more and more clear for me: my denial to the trash. I like pragmatic robust things which are made for purpose and they do what they are made to do. For a long time. It is a trait of someone who does not fit in here.

    Talking about cars is a very good example. You know that the old good V8 has a totally different meaning in Europe? Few years ago I rent a ’68 V8 black Mustang for a weekend. I was driving a bit around. Big city, you are in the middle of it, good weather. There is nobody there who is not watching you when they hear the sound of a straight pipe exhaust (original one) attached to V8 old school engine when you hit it on green light.
    I was working for Ford in the acoustic department of Ford developement center in Cologne (Germany), I could and had to test all of them. This new Mustang… who the hell made it with 2.4L 4Cyl engine? (I tell you: some stupid “green guys” made them do it) It sounds like nothing, because it is not making any reliable noise at all.
    Focus ST (I call it Super Tomek = ST) or RS… Active noise control. Inside you hear 5Cyl engine or something which may be called sporty but outside?…
    Is shining bright even without ambient light.

    Remember my recent “I’m too old proof” picture? – I took a mlotek and destroyed the Norconia P1 aka Sharp Inova during the out of the box zero check, because I could not stand the trashity, it was broken before I did event the check… There is a saying in Germany: we are not too old for this shit! 🙂 But sometimes I’m not sure.

  7. I resemble your remark “crotchety”. And my kids don’t know it yet but it’s going to get worse. (Maybe they do but I don’t care!) Also should we refer to you as Lt BB from now on? (Living terror)

  8. Although I’m a geezer who drives a POS old Toyota (that won’t die!), I feel it only fair to mention that late model V-8 Mustangs are Amazingly better cars that the classics. The new ones are comfortably faster than ANY of the 1960’s or 1970’s Mustangs – including the big blocks. They also handle a zillion times better, get much better mileage, and are quieter, more reliable, require almost no maintenance, and have air conditioning, traction control, anti-lock brakes (plus a bunch of modern features that I’m not entirely convinced I need or want). -bes

      • Even in the 80’s when I was cutting class, the66/67 fastback as the best looking veehicle on the planet. The little 289 fit in a Sunbeam too, just to keep Maxwell Smart happy. Then came the Mach1, and who can forget the Mustang Mach2 subcompact from hell. The same company.
        Luckily, Lasagna smells good no matter what year it is.

  9. B.B.,

    You nailed it. The glittering gold in the golden-ager’s memory was in actuality a bit tarnished.

    As an old golden-ager I hate the look of today’s “black rifles.” When I first saw a photograph of Crosman’s AK1, I thought how if they had the classic AK wood buttstock, forearm, and hand shield (instead of that ugly black Erector Set brick-a-brack for hanging air freshners and mini disco balls), I’d like it enough to buy one. I especially dislike the clunky gas port fitting. It’s right-angle ugly instead of the graceful swoop of the classic AK. I’ve always considered the classic AK to be the most cool and fearsome looking rifle of all time, but for me, at least, the contemporary version ain’t it. But my preferences probably made for a heavier and less ergonomic AK. Function must rule.

    Beauty is in the eyes of the generation.


  10. IBM Selectrics! FM remembers when those first showed up. He was 23 and already grumpy/crotchety.

    This is a fun entry and believes it speaks to a lot of us regulars – and to constipated ones as well. Apologies, FM can’t help himself when it comes to word-and-meanings play. 😉 Don’t want to get going too much on the “they don’t make them like they used to and I hate change” because that would turn into a boring, stream-of-consciousness screed. When it comes to airguns, love the vintage look, feel and operation of the HW95 “sproinger” with its nice wood stock and quality “feel.” The Maximus kindly gifted by Gunfun is also a nice “looker,” enjoyable to shoot and forgiving of FM’s poor marksmanship. Yes there is plastic involved, but also a nice amount of metal and overall a nice balance of both; a pretty decent piece. Of course, Crosman would stop making it.

    When it comes to firearms, the collecting/historical/vintage look gene kicks in, which is why there are no Mattelomatics in FM Land; love working the bolt action on an ‘03 Springfield, or a K98, and the “knee” mechanism, looks and ergonomics of the P08. And for just plain whiz-bang smell-and-smoke fun there’s the .58 percussion 1863-model Zouave rifle.

    When it comes to cars, FM has been perhaps too much an ÜP (Über Purist), never owning anything that did not have a manual transmission, in one case a VW with a non-synchro “crashbox” and cable-operated brakes – which work well enough when properly adjusted. No air-conditioning systems to malfunction either! And yes, they don’t make them like they used to and not anymore. FM dreads the day he’ll be forced to “drive” a fully-autonomous electric wheeled appliance with no soul, no drama, no industrial feel/noise/smell and totally isolated from the outside environment. Before that happens, hopefully FM will be freely gliding through cloud formations.

    By the way B.B., these two still have grease zerks and require the occasional dose from a grease gun. Do Millennials know what a grease gun is?

    • FawltyManuel,

      I don’t know about the millennials but BobF thinks everyone should be issued 02 grease guns. One is full of wheel bearing grease, the other with Lucas red and tacky #2. Seems to keep everything rolling along quite nicely around the farm. The #2 also does a right nice job calming down the occasional unruly spring gun power plant.


    Congratulations Tomek.
    B.B. It could be a blog title.
    Couldn’t agree more. Recently I even started to take a turn myself from shiny, modern,useful only for guarantee period, airguns. After the HW30 series and everyone’s comments I got a (nickel) plated one and fitted a rear Williams peep sight. Suddenly I am a better shot with a gun I cannot let from my hands…
    R.R. no no no. I will put it to my inheritance.
    Yogi I am thinning the herd of pcps with plastic parts and power.
    Shootski special thanks for your comments on the peep sights.

  12. I love the traditional oldies whether guns or cars. Yes the old cars rust and break down but I was able to repair them. I do prefer their reliability but that does not stop me from lusting over an old Morris Minor or hoping to own a traditional muzzle loader lol! Plastic has advantages. I was appalled when I saw a wrecked new car with styrofoam absorbers in the front end – but it probably saved the driver’s life. I recently saw a new air rifle touting an all steal magazine. Is that a real advantage? A magazine made from strong polymer if it gets dinged may well have its shape spring back to form where a metal one would keep the deformation and jam the action. Nostalgia has its place. I would keep and love and play with the Morris Minor and the 1911 but where my life depended on it, I would be driving the new Toyota and packing the Glock!

    • Shootski,

      Yes I do have the right to repair, and the over-reaching arm of government will have nothing to say about it. THERE THAT SAYS IT

      Of course anything that the government can stick its grubby paws into it will.

      So far I have fixed many PC’s Laptops and phones, water heaters, dishwashers, refrigerators, washers, driers, cars, airguns and plumbing. Not going to stop fixing stuff till I die, then I will not need to.

      As long as you have the skill and access to parts you should most definitely be allowed to fix your stuff.


      • FM,

        iFixit.com and other sights are a big help getting accurate diagrams, removal of intentional booby traps, Manuals, Diagnostic Tools, Parts Lists, Specialty Tools, Independent Repair Shop Support, and how to information to consumers.
        Part of the Right to Repair Movement is about the attempts by some to change the basics of Ownership. We aren’t talking about Warranty rules but what you actually Own when you paid your money to buy something.
        The Tech World started this shift but the Business Model is spreading fast.


  13. I enjoy these off topic blogs. I’m guilty of going that way myself and have to watch out for it but it gives us the opportunity to get to know our fellow bloggers.
    For any new guys, I joined this blog 13 years or so ago, am the same age as BB except for a day or so once a year and collected more air guns then I want to admit. Been distracted lately.
    I like guns, real steel and air guns, ‘all types’ and really did not get too serious about air guns until I wanted to restore the Lever Action 1894 I had for decades. Still not too serious, tinker, fun and pest control.

    Years ago I jumped on people for ripping into a kids toy BB gun because it did not shoot like a 10 meter target gun. It was never intended to do that. Just a fun toy, I had just purchased by the way, Although I admit really poor accuracy should not be incorporated into any gun from the get go. Perhaps it was because they wanted to avoid BB jams from kids reusing BB’s ? Like I did .
    But when I was a kid we just tried to ‘Hit something’, never knowing why we did not always do so. Just not a good shot? But there certainly was a lot of satisfaction when we did.
    The diversity we have in air guns is a wonderful thing. If you have a preference for one type over another more power to you. It does not automatically make all the rest worthless and deserving of severe criticism. People have many reasons for wanting air guns.
    Now, if that air gun ‘totally fails’ to live up to it’s advertised or expected performance, have at it. The manufacturer deserves it but don’t lump all the rest in with it.
    Go ahead and voice your opinion. We all welcome it. Gives us food for thought, but belittling others for their choices helps nobody.
    Bob M

  14. Some things are better. Some things are definitely worse.

    I have a shear at work that is almost 100 years old. A toaster that is 50 at least, same with a waffle maker.

    Cars I think peaked in rhe late 90s as far as repairability goes. But my 25 year old miata and ranger feels old and slow compared to a new Corolla.

  15. Cars, in the beginning of smog control an added device to retarded the ignition timing of older cars to reduce it and when the engine overheated as a result they simply shut it off using a radiator hose temp sensor allowing it to return to normal temp and then it started all over again.
    Now there are sensors for everything that feed information to a programed computer that eventually determines the exact fuel air ratio and amount through fuel injector control for economy and performance.
    A simple code reader you plug in under the dash communicates with the computer to Identify faults in the system and some show more live information but a professional has a much better set up to read and modify the computer. Well beyond the backyard mechanics of the past.

    This makes life simple (Better) for the mechanic pros but impossible (Worse) for the driver in a lot of situations. Very close to systems used on modern day aircraft where computers sense and control almost everything and actually tell you what’s wrong and how things are performing.

    Always wanted a ‘stick shift’ but it never worked out till I got a 96 Hyundai Accent. Turns a little 4 banger into a little hot rod getting the most out of high RPM power. The same engine with an automatic is a total dog, always down shifting when you step on the gas. They go into the highest gear possible as soon as they can for better milage.
    They are all programed for fuel economy now and use everything they can to achieve it at the expense of horse power. It’s all a compromise between the two for a given car model.
    Just when I decide to never buy an automatic again they seem to be phasing stick shifts out. They don’t like people overriding the decisions of a computer. I like total control of the vehicle, all the time !
    Now the new clutchless manual shifters sound OK but they still control the RPM to permit the shift.
    Bob M

  16. Agree with you 100%.
    Cars (and pretty much everything else) has benefited from modern technology.
    Just last week the check engine light came on in my 2011 Acura MDX. Took it in and all it needed was plugs (and the prerequisite coils). At first I was stunned when I was presented with a $500 bill (yup, that’s what six plugs with coils cost).
    Then I remembered…this was the first time I’ve changed plugs since I’ve owned the car…ten years and 140000 miles.
    Sure…plus in the old days would have been $40…at least once, maybe twice a year.
    The only thing I don’t like…I joke that I had a 1970 Alfa Romeo Spider as my first car and I kept it running with a Swiss Army Knife and a pair of pliers. I look at the Acura and I’m not even sure how to get the big cover they have on the engine to keep me out of it 🙂
    Luckily I’m at a stage of life where I can say there are people I pay to fix the thing!!

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