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Air Guns How it’s done

How it’s done

This report covers:

  • The conventional way
  • Hunting
  • Today
  • Metal detecting
  • Departure
  • The deal
  • Another way
  • Buyers
  • Doing it
  • Doing it right
  • Educated buyers

Today I want to address a topic that concerns the newer airgunners — what airgun to get. But I’m not coming at this in the conventional way.

The conventional way

The way we always start with a new airgunner is to ask what sort of shooting he or she envisions doing. Now, if they plan to compete for a spot in the Olympics in a certain shooting sport, we can stop right there. They aren’t interested in airguns beyond using one as a tool. 

But for the remainder of the newbies, the question is good — except for one thing. If they are new to airguns they don’t know what’s possible. They actually don’t know what they don’t know. So talking to them about which airgun to consider is sort of a one-way conversation.


For example, the new airgunner may have been a varmint hunter with firearms. But hunting varmints with airguns is completely different. We might tell them that they have to get closer to the prairie dogs for a clean kill, only to discover that in the end they like shooting the heads off paper wasps at 20 yards. Who knew? You don’t need a .22-caliber AirForce Condor for that! A TalonSS or a Benjamin Marauder in .177 caliber might be their best bet. And spend the money for a really good scope!


What I plan to discuss today is not the conventional approach to someone who is new to airguns. Instead, I’m going to come from a standpoint of maturity. Not all new airgunners are also new to shooting. Some have been shooting for decades and just want to see what all the hoopla is about these new airguns. I will get back to this point, but allow me to depart for just a little bit.

Metal detecting

I have been metal detecting since the early 1960s. That’s almost when the hobby began. My first detector was a Metrotech 220, made in Mountain View, California. It was a marvelous bit of kit — able to find a shiny American silver quarter on a sunny day, so long as it was lying on top of the ground!

Metrotech 220
Metrotech 220.

Without getting too technical, the Metrotech was a beat frequency oscillator that transmitted a radio signal that metal objects below the coil reflected back to a receiver in the machine. It worked, but only just, when compared to where metal detectors were to go. However, it was perfect for my use. I hunted carnival sites around San Jose, California. These small seasonal carnivals would pull onto a piece of property and set up their rides and attractions in a horseshoe pattern. Then they dumped shake (wood bark) in the center of the area for people to walk on. When they left the site perhaps a couple weeks later, I moved in and, using the detector, I collected all the money they had dropped. I would pick up $7 to $10 in a few hours and I was done. All the coins were silver, because until 1965 all American coinage except pennies were silver.

The shake covering on the ground meant that I didn’t have to dig — just scrape the bark pieces away. Of course there was also a lot of trash in the form of aluminum foil from gum wrappers, plus the cheap metal giveaways from the carnival (badges and so on). Thankfully the pull tab on aluminum soda cans didn’t come out until the mid 1960s, so they weren’t a problem.

Fast-forward about 12 years and I had just returned from a 4-year tour in Germany. I bought a White’s metal detector and learned that the technology had advanced tremendously! This detector was able to discriminate (ignore) aluminum pull tabs that were now littering American soil by the billions. I got pretty good at finding stuff at that time.  And some of it was up to 9 inches deep!

Jump forward another ten years and I am remarried and living in Maryland. Metal detector technology has advanced even farther and I am finding real treasure! I hunted Maryland with my wife, Edith, for a decade and a half. I even published an article in the magazine, Western and Eastern Treasures, in January of 2001.

And now we come to today — April 8, 2022. I still have my detector from the late 1990s but it no longer works, and once again the technology has advanced. BB Pelletier wants to get back into the sport, but he doesn’t want to be limited by technology. So he is looking into what is out there. Okay, let’s get back to airguns.

Build a Custom Airgun


This is where I depart from the classic, “What do you want to do with your airgun?” approach. Instead I will talk about success that’s so big it causes companies to fail and go under. This is how it works. The marketeers in Company A learn that velocity sells airguns. So velocity is all they focus on. Whatever it takes, they want the highest f.p.s. That makes them do certain things.

1. They concentrate on .177 caliber guns because they get the highest velocity.
2. They put expensive lithographed covers on their boxes, proclaiming the high velocity of the product inside.
3. They test those airguns with super lightweight pellets that give the fastest velocities.

And they sell and sell! They sell so much that they put the company in dire jeopardy. Know why? Because they are selling to buyers who frequent the discount stores. That forces them to do one more thing:

4. They cut prices to the bone.

The deal

Here is the other side of the story — the side that the 30-year-old vice presidents of marketing will never admit to. Buyers of cut-price high velocity airguns don’t shoot them very much. They don’t because those guns are difficult to cock, harsh to shoot and not very accurate.

If those buyers do any research at all, it’s after they buy their gun. They read where some Bozo named BB Pelletier put five pellets from an air rifle into 0.030-inches at 33 feet. It isn’t the rifle they own — oh, no! His costs $700 and all they paid for theirs was $119. In fact they can’t find a test that this BB guy has done on their air rifle. So they reckon he’s either a liar or he has more money than they do. So they quit airguns altogether and take up building model rockets or collecting Redline Hot Wheels.

Multiply that scenario a hundred thousand times and that is the audience the marketeers in Company A are targeting. They come and they go because, as Phineas Taylor Barnum is alleged to have said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” But fewer and fewer new buyers are coming each year. It seems people are reading the honest blogs and forums and don’t want to throw their money away anymore. And the discount store has pallets of returns that Company A has to redistribute somehow.

By that time the Vice President of marketing is 33 and sees the train wreck that’s coming. He bails with a splendid resume and becomes the CEO of a sports footwear company.

Another way

Company B, on the other hand, is run by people who love airguns, or at least they like to shoot. They would never sell products like the ones Company A sold. Their airguns retail for many times more than the cheap ones from Company A, but they please their customers. Where Company A was taking orders for 20,000 guns every quarter, Company B doesn’t sell that half many guns in a year. But Company B’s airguns don’t come back. They don’t sell them in discount stores and they maintain their retail prices. Where Company A has pallets of returned guns to get rid of, Company B can’t keep up with the demand.

As a result, in five years Company A has posted huge losses, which gives their marketing team even more pressure to sell. That drives them to seek products that are even less expensive, which puts them into a tailspin they might not recover from. At this point some companies start buying other smaller successful companies like Company B to harvest whatever success they can, but they usually get rid of any of the people who made the little company successful. They do because those people talk too much and they don’t say the right things.


Are all customers like the ones I depicted earlier? Not at all. If you educate them you can grow a crop of customers that will provide a steady stream of income. If you then also grow this customer base you can create your own wave of success that can be carefully surfed for years.

Doing it

Let’s now take a look at how not to do it.

Metal detector manufacturing company C has a “blog” in which there are articles that educate the new buyer. What I am telling you now is a true story. Company C has a total of 4 “blog” articles that have been written over the past 4 years about general metal detecting subjects, and they also have what they call knowledge-based articles that are reviews of the models of detectors they make and sell. Pretty thin!

Sure, it’s nice to know how this and that works on a certain machine when you are considering buying one, but who will tell you how to notch-discriminate using sound and volume to hit the deep nickels and miss the pull tabs? This company won’t — that’s for sure. Maybe on You Tube, but that’s a risk as well.

Want to tell everyone about your metal detecting finds? Sure thing. Just fill out their submission form by entering the required data in all the fields and hit “send.” Maybe they will post it some day in the future.

Doing it right

Airgun online retail company D has a blog with 4,500 articles written on all sorts of airgun subjects. They also have videos on general shooting subjects as well as product reviews. In their blog they allow the writer to express his personal opinion, plus they encourage readers to submit their comments. There are more than 100,000 registered readers of this blog and hundreds of thousands more who are not registered.

In this blog the writer has permission to venture off-topic and he does from time to time. He might tell people how to shoot a .223 Remington accurately or how a Ballard single-shot rifle from the 1800s is built to get as much accuracy as possible. Then, in his airgun articles, he will reference things like follow-through and muzzle crowns and expect his readers to understand. He will expect his readers to understand why a .452 bullet is not accurate in a certain big bore airgun, but a .458 bullet is.

This writer will have some readers who complain when he gets off topic this way and they will leave. They say they are leaving forever, but he watches them sneak back in over the years. He also watches people who know about firearms get excited to see how far the airgun technology has advanced in recent years. They are the ones who join the blog as registered readers and they form the bulk of the educated customer base.

Oh, and this company’s blog allows the readers to submit their own personal stories with photos that the writer then edits and formats for them. The readers seem to like those stories best of all.

Educated buyers

An educated buyer can tell you why it’s worth spending so much money for airgun X. Airgun X is worth ten of airgun — well, there really is no comparison, is there? Airgun X is accurate, powerful, has a great trigger and can be rebuilt by anyone smart enough to change the batteries in a flashlight. If he can’t afford airgun X the educated reader knows he must wait, save his money and perhaps look at refurbished guns or even at used guns. 

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how it is done. And that, Company A, is the future of airguns for you.

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.

33 thoughts on “How it’s done”

  1. BB,

    Great article! If only the 32 year old president can read this article, revamp his Marketing Team (the original Marketing Team would probably hide this from him!) and pull his company out of a death spiral!


  2. BB,

    I really need to keep this in mind when I talk with newbies. I am one of those who will ask “What do you want to do with your airgun?” But this is why you are the “Godfather”.

    Buyer section:
    If you educate them, you can grow a crop of customers that will provide a steady steam (stream) of income.

  3. B.B.,

    A great essay! And for those who might complain that this one isn’t enough about air guns, perhaps they should consider that air guns can be used as a metaphor for many different things and vice versa.

    And for those too young to understand your reference to “pull tabs,” fiirst, B.B. doesn’t mean cards used in gaming. He is referring to something all old folks are familiar with: aluminum (and steel before those) can opening mechanisms. As much as I enjoy writing thousands of words, I’ve read a picture is worth a thusand of them, so I’ve provided one below. The one with triangular holes opposite each other required one to use a “church key” type can opener.


  4. Well said BB!

    My biggest peeve is companies that take advantage of newbies, sell them a crap product and (likely) drive them away from the hobby forever. Think that is unethical.

    Those companies are too stupid (greedy) to realize that they are killing the goose that layes the gold eggs!


    • You hit one or more nails on the head – the greed factor has made many a corporate type make short-run thinking based, flawed decisions about product development and placement not just with air guns but with many other products over the last 30-40 years. Unfortunately the buying public also has allowed themselves to be seduced by what FM calls “Walmart Syndrome” – “it’s cheap, it’s available, Made In China, we don’t need to manufacture it here, it will cost too much!”

      We need to overcome that way of thinking and stop being seduced by the lure of cheap/convenient/disposable/always available – the supply chain problems have shown that “always available” is not the case anymore…maybe this will encourage consumers to appreciate quality over price once again, more so if quality means the product will last and be enjoyed longer than the throwaway crap no longer stocked when you go looking for it again. End of rant.

  5. B.B. and Readership,
    Once upon a time (i was going to start this with sailor talk: ” This is NO Sh1P!”) but it is a family blog…so instead it is a fairy tale style. Certainly feels like those days were just a fairy tale or Sea Story! Now back to the tale:
    You would pull out your Yellow Pages book and look up a retailer that sold what you were looking for or asked relatives, friends, or other folks you trusted to recommend places to go to buy the thing. Sometimes they would even take you. Once you got there the salesperson showed you the thing and frequently would know at least something more about it than what the box description related. Most sporting goods (gun shops) had folks that frequently knew a bit more. There were places that had folks (Gunsmith) that repaired the things they sold (frequently right there on the premises) those shops were usually a cut above. As with all things the selection was usually somewhat limited but the folks usually knew what was needed locally and worked in the region. The retailer believed that repeat customers were their bread & butter so they usually avoided ripping you off. They would stock the things consumables (ammunition) your thing needed and know how or know where to get parts or repairs.

    Once upon a time…


  6. This is a good blog, you get variety, and its run by somebody who knows what they are talking about. One of the ones who doesn’t talk too much and says the right things? I needed parts for the Honda, the Napa guy couldn’t get them, because he didn’t have the right network. The website said they do have them, thats why I made the trip to the store, and the parts guy even knows how to do the repair in his sleep, but he couldn’t help me. I had to do all the research myself, using youtube. What do I need the guy at the Napa parts store for anyway? Waste of time. This is the problem big makers have when it comes to airgun nerds who don’t know what they dont know. Its also why I miss those glossy full colour catalogs that came in the mail, filled with airguns I knew nothing about, except I wanted one. You know the one. BB would be a great airgun dealer if he had a staff, but he has a busy life as it is, keep up the good work! You dont need to sand your fingertip down to be a good shot, but you can if you think it will help you be a better shot. I bet BB knows about that.

    • Rob,

      Funny story. A guy on my church watchman team is a type one diabetic like me. He tests his blood sugar in the same finger repeatedly until a callous forms. He is also a karate instructor, so they form fast. He them sands his finger until the callous is gone and starts all over.


  7. I’ve been using Garrett for years and he’s right in your neighborhood. Charles Garrett who has passed away now was an electrical engineer for NASA who designed his own detector because the one’s available back in the 60’s were not very good. Today, his son(s) run the company which happens to be in Garland. I believe they have bought out White’s Metal Detecting. Happy Searching!

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

    • Fred,

      I had a couple Garrett machines back in the 1980s, but I have been a Whites user since the ’70s. And I had a Daytona Rangar that I really loved.

      I just purchased a Minelab Equinox 800 after a lot of research online. I have to learn to use a digital machine instead of analog, and I hope I can make the switch.


      • You definitely made a good choice on that detector. Minelab is unbeatable in quality these days. I have the 600 the only thing I don’t like about it is the depth meter is not as accurate as I would like. Everything else is aces. It’s sad whites had to sell I had an mxt of theirs great machine. Also had a garrett at gold I used for coins with big coil did good for me. Good luck out there bb

        • Edward,

          A question please. I used to hunt athletic fields at schools where I found gold rings and silver religious medallions. Is that still the case? I will look for older places, but Texas isn’t as old as Maryland where I hunted.


          • I sent a reply straight from my email don’t know if that works or if I need to write it in here. Alot of folks around here hunt sports fields. I mostly hunt old parks and old schools. I have seen people detecting curb strips in front of homes. At these locations I mostly have found old coins boy scout neckerchief stuff silver and gold jewelry. As far as old coins go I don’t find all that many anymore but there is a lot of people who detect up here

  8. Dear New Airgunners,
    If you’ve managed to find this blog…Praise the Lord! You are in good company. I WISH there had been a resource like this back when I was starting out. Pour yourself a cup of caffeine, and sit back and look through the archives; there’s a tremendous wealth of information here…mostly in B.B.’s reports, and sometimes in comments that they generate.. Whether you are interested in air rifles or in air pistols, or in springers, CO2 guns, multi-pumps, or PCPs, there is someone here with some experience who shares your interest and will be happy to welcome you aboard when you chime in with a comment. So, don’t be shy; B.B. doesn’t bite, and this is a very friendly place he’s created here. Be happy for the existence of this blog, and make use of it to expand your knowledge. 🙂
    Peace, Blessings, and happy shooting to you,

  9. Gunfun1,

    Off topic here, but it never fails to amaze me the things that you personally wish would happen often need to. Was over at my neighbors place this morning showing him my 362. Said he needed a smaller gun for his younger boys to use. Something that could take some abuse, not break the bank, and was accurate enough for martin gourd protection duty. I let him shoot it awhile and he was ready to order one on the spot until he found out it didn’t come in 177 cal.. His reasoning was he wanted to have a rifle the same caliber as his Marauder and not have to keep two different caliber pellets on hand. As you predicted, a 367 is needed!

    Crosman, are you listening? Could have probably sold 02 367’s for you this morning.


    • BobF,

      Making a Crosman 362 into a 367 should be as easy as ordering a .177 barrel in the correct length (or close) from Crosman Parts a bolt and .177 bolt handle, remove .22 barrel and bolt (some very minor disassembly may be required) reassemble with .177 bolt and barrel pump and shoot. You will need to remove the front sight from the .22 barrel using a wood block and mallet to tap it off the end and install it on the .177 barrel if you plan on staying with the iron sights. If you want to get fancy order the metal breech for it
      Gunfun1 and I already covered that in comments IIRC.


      • Shootski,

        Explained to Harry that it really wouldn’t be that hard to put together a 177 if thats what he wanted but he wanted nothing to do with going that route. As for me, I’m happier than a pig in the proverbial slop pile with both of my 362’s!
        They are all I’ve been using for pesting around the farm so far this spring. 10 for 10 on starlings and house sparrows so far. Can’t ask for more than that. Will be waiting for the blueberries to start ripening and may have to test the 362 on a tree rat or two.


          • Shootski,

            Harry is a Mennonite farmer with too many young boys to supply with ” shootin irons “. I no longer. have any children living at home and I still can’t keep track of just my meager array of pellets. Throw 09 kids in the mix and I believe you are seeing an extreme example of the KISS theory being used to maintain ones sanity. Thats just my take on the situation.


    • Bob
      Yep there always seems to be a reason for another caliber.

      I bet even a .25 caliber 362 would sale if Crosman made one. First off if they hurry up and get it on the market there isn’t any production .25 caliber multi pump guns that I can think of right now. So who ever brings a .25 caliber pumper to market first will sale some guns.

      And though just to mention. As Shootski said. It would be very easy to convert a 362 to .177 caliber. I bet it would be a flat shooter out to 50 yards even if a .177 caliber 362/367 would be made.

      Maybe Crosman might just do it one day. You never know now days. It would be a welcomed surprise for me if they did.

  10. Off Topic:
    And, unthinkably stupid!
    “A Florida boy, 16, was killed this week after he and at least two others took turns shooting one another while wearing body armor, officials said.”
    I am rendered Speechless!


    • Shootski,

      And instead of blaming the boys’ irresponsible behavior they will place the blame of the maker of the body armor. What kind of parents are these?


      • Siraniko,

        I can only think that they are the type of parent(s) that meet only the minimum requirement of Parent: providers of a Zigote and Gamete.


        • Tragic as this is, it is yet another reminder FM’s beloved Sunshine State is overrun by Burmese pythons, iguanas, feral pigs, many others and, last but not least, Floridiots.

      • BobF,

        Darwinism assures that nothing is ever at the Apex for long.
        Only a system of belief in an ordered existence, typically found in a Religion based on The Good, The Light, The Rational, The Conservation of what is best known to be the Right Path does humankind find a way forward. To dash forward for the simple reward of thoughtless and permissive progress is to look into the Abyss that many Religion’s Scripture warn against.


  11. Shootski,

    ” To dash forward for the simple reward of thoughtless and permissive progress is to look into the abyss ” Better be careful with that statement! I think you just described the modus operandi of an awful lot of the politicians at work in this great country of ours.

    Sorry, couldn’t help myself.


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