This report covers:

  • What does it cost?
  • Just the box
  • More
  • Hypothetical Airguns, Inc.
  • You tell us…
  • A well-thought-out comment

Today I’m turning the tables on you. Today, you become “they” as in, “What they otta do…”

I had planned on testing the velocity of the Crosman Fire today, but I got a comment to Part 1 on the Fire that said, “He probably would have better results with the Shockwave. I am really curious about the Clean Break Trigger.” That came from reader RidgeRunner, and it started me thinking about what I’m going to write today. Then I published Part 3 of the Webley Mark VI CO2 Pellet Revolver with 2-1/2-inch barrel and the heat was turned up!


The short sight radius really puts a demand on the shooter to concentrate on his sight picture to achieve accuracy. I wonder if it would be practical to make a front sight extension to demonstrate how much easier it is to shoot with a long sight radius? Then again it would be simpler if there was a long barreled version to compare with.”


Mike in Atlanta responded to that by saying,


“There is the 6-inch version over here, and if I were interested in pistols that would be my choice.”

Mike in Atl

To which RidgeRunner responded,

“They also have the four-inch version

I myself would also prefer the six-inch. Hopefully they will get it back in stock soon and if I should win the lottery, which I never play, I will buy all three.”

Now all of this got my head spinning. And I hope to do the same for you today. You are now in the marketing department of a large airgun company. Let’s say that it costs your company one hundred thousand dollars (it’s probably more) to bring each of these models to market. It’s probably a sliding scale with the first gun costing the most and the last one costing the least. But however it breaks down, it’s an expense.

What does it cost?

Okay, some of you think that turning a BB pistol into a pellet pistol is a simple matter of parts swapping. It’s a lot more than that. Many parts that we don’t think about have to be changed or modified in some ways to accommodate the different ammunition. I will agree that starting from an existing design is easier than starting from a clean sheet of paper, but there are always things you don’t consider that have to be created. Take the box, for instance.

Just the box

The Webley Mark VI with a 2-1/2-inch barrel has a lithographed box that’s specific to it. It can cost many thousands of dollars when you have to create an entirely new box with lithographed graphics. I remember when I worked at AirForce Airguns, I got to watch them create a new box for several new models. The box salesman would come in and be met with dozens of questions about things you never consider. Things like the current boxes can’t be stacked higher than X many because then they start to break down and flop over. How can they be reinforced and not cost an arm and a leg for each one? Sure, everyone knows that folding the end flaps over strengthens the box, but it also adds cost to each box because it then has to be cut out of larger cardboard. That can drive the cost per box up by several dollars, depending on what you do.

Then there is the pick and pluck foam box liner. It has to be custom made for each airgun — UNLESS the guns were designed with that in mind and the foam can work for shorter guns as well as longer models.

If you buy the foam 500 pieces at a time the cost is $X. Buy 1,000 and the cost drops by 10 percent which is mostly the setup cost. There are more discounts beyond that but at our sales volume they aren’t worth it. Where do you store the extra foam pieces, since you only need 250 per month? This is where a single box liner for three different models really pays off. And it takes from 60 days up to 4 months from the time you order to get more foam pieces, so how many should you keep on hand? It won’t do to build airguns if there aren’t boxes to put them in!


We were just talking about the BOXES! If the box and the insert costs you 7 dollars, that’s $28 you have to add to the price of your airgun. Yep — you multiply each of your costs by 3-4 times to cover the cost of employees, which includes their health care plan plus any retirement and bonuses (plus holidays) they get, your equipment, your building, utilities, advertising (that alone can be one whole multiplier), what you hope to wholesale your products to retailers for and make any profit.

Hypothetical Airguns, Inc.

And then we come to the gun. Marketing Marty just joined your company, Hypothetical Airguns, Inc. this year. He used to work for a kitchen utensil manufacturer and let me tell you, a lot more people eat food than shoot airguns! The good old boys at Hypothetical told Marty that speed sells and the sales VP has a spreadsheet to prove it. Yessir, Bob’s Big Box Store buys several million dollars of our stuff each year and what sells to them is a nice lithoed box with a high velocity number printed on the outside. So spending money on a nice box is what generates the big sales. Who cares what’s inside?

Well, Ancient Annie cares. She’s worked for the firm for 25 years and worked her way up from assembly (when we used to build all the guns in-house), into the marketing department seven years ago. Annie reads this blog every day and she reads what you guys say you want. She knows that when BarrelBobberBlake says, “If only they would make…” she can disregard it entirely. He is the guy who stands on the sidelines and cheers people on. He doesn’t buy things. But readers Humpty Dumpty and Crosscut Carl do buy things. When THEY are interested, Annie takes notice!

So, at the next big Hypothetical Airguns budgeting meeting where marketing and sales are discussing the new models for the coming year, Marketing Marty proposes a new air rifle — the Hyper MashemFlat Magnum! Blue Sky enterprises, the manufacturer in Hong Kong, claims they are getting 1550 f.p.s.  in .177 caliber and the two samples we have are getting 1,520 and 1,495. Close enough.

Our company can buy these rifles from Blue Sky for $109 if we will commit to buy at least 2,000 guns in the next year with 1,000 up front. Our company will stick a 4-power scope and mounts in the box that will only cost us $5.00 because we have a warehouse full of those scopes left over from a big purchase made a few years back. The  new box will cost $25,000 to design and $6.00 per box if we buy 2,000 or more, so Marty proposes a retail price of $375 for the new rifle. The sales VP says it can’t sell it for more than $349, and Bobs Big Box will get a thousand of them at $261 right off the bat. That cuts our profit to the bone. But if the rifle is successful we will start making money after 2,000 have been sold. Heck, Pyramyd Air will buy 50 up front, you just know it!

Then Ancient Annie proposes a small breakbarrel springer that gets 850 f.p.s. in .177 and 700 f.p.s. in .22. It cocks with just 22 pounds of effort. Nobody but the chief executive officer listens to Annie because he knows she has been right every time over the past several years. Her stuff doesn’t bring in the big bucks, but for some reason Pyramyd Air sells the heck out of everything she recommends. Her new rifle with the plain cardboard box with one-color lithography that she is recommending will cost us just $129 and we can make money at a recommended retail price of just $229.00 He doesn’t know why but the CEO knows that backing Annie is a sure thing, and when he goes before the board in six months from now he is assured of some success.

Well, we do everything that was recommended and we continue to sell our Bandito repeater that’s in it’s 14th year of production. It was designed in-house and is now a world standard against which all other low-cost repeating airguns are compared. So the CEO keeps his job for another year.

Marketing Marty’s Hyper MashemFlat Magnum was a horrible flop. After the initial sales there were 40 percent returns, of which 27 percent were legitimate mechanical problems. The rest were mostly complaints that 54 pounds of cocking force is too much for an airgun. Oddly enough this rifle was/is very accurate, and Annie debated going to the CEO and recommending a detuned version that cocks at half that force. But when she saw what happened to Marketing Marty, she decided against it.

Marketing Marty was let go and now works for the manufacturer of a low-cost one-time-use defibrillator. He hopes to jumpstart his career in marketing again — pun intended.

Okay, guys — that’s what the “real world” looks like. It’s not a “borrow-from-this-to make-that” world. It’s a “you-bet-your-career” world.

Shop Benjamin Rifles

You tell us…

So guys, tell us — what would sell? What would sell big?

A well-thought-out comment

And then there was BobM, who said:

I would love the challenge of finding out why this pistol (the Webley Mark VI with 2-1/2-inch barrel) or any did not put 10 out of 10 in the bull.
I would check the barrel for any play, bore irregularities or its ability to rotate in the pistol. Need to correct that.

Use the same shell in every cylinder hole, shooting six pellets out of each of the six holes keeping track of which cylinder shot where on the target. Shoot slow enough to make sure the cylinder is seated on the barrel and not still in rotational movement or bouncing back and fourth from play. Do it again with 6 different shells, one at a time.

This would show if the barrel, one particular shell case or a cylinder play, bore alignment (with) the barrel is the problem. The pistol would have to be ridged in a vise, eliminating the shooter and every pellet would have to be exactly the same in size and weight and changed to find which type of pellet works best in the barrel. Also measure each pellet speed to see if the hammer, air valve is consistent. And obviously done in a controlled environment.

A lot of trouble. May be more than one item causing it and you would have to replace parts till you found perfection, if possible?

Worth the trouble? Not really, unless you had to or had good reason for doing so, but I think it is possible to identify the cause of inaccuracy…. Eventually!

Unless, one or more parts are simply not manufactured to a tolerance that permits it.”

Bob, your comments got my head spinning in a different direction. Some of what you say can be done. Other stuff is impossible, but I will address that in the next test of this air pistol.

Oh, and RidgeRunner, your chances of winning the lottery are about the same, whether or not you play!