This report covers:
- My first airgun
- Keep it cheap
- Now to YOU
- Learn from my experience
- I think springers are best
- Why springers?
Because of the title you may think I’m going to talk about the first airgun I ever owned, but I’m really not. I will mention it, but for a completely different reason. Today’s report is for YOU.
My first airgun
The first airgun I ever owned was a Benjamin model 107 air pistol. Or at least that is the model number I remember. If that’s right, it had a rifled brass barrel. I now believe it could actually have been a model 100 Benjamin, which was a smoothbore. I say that because I remember loading BBs into the hollow bolt tip, which is the correct way to load BBs in those pistols. If you try to load them into the barrel breech, they will roll right through the barrel and drop out.
The front-pump Benjamin pistol I owned could have been rifled for .177-caliber lead pellets or it could have been smoothbored for BBs and darts. If rifled for .177 pellets, it would have been a model 107. If it was a smoothbore it would have been a model 100.
Most Benjamin airguns have their model numbers on the rear tube cover. This isn’t my first Benjamin, but one I owned several years ago.
The bolt on the Benjamin BB pistol is hollow, to accept one BB as well as to let the compressed air pass through. Note that the rear sight does not adjust.
The bolt for a pellet gun is a probe to push the pellet into the rifling. Note that the rifled pistol does have an adjustable rear sight.
That pistol was a front-pumper that I could only pump with difficulty. There were darts in the box along with a tin of Benjamin .177-caliber lead pellets. You could shoot all three types of ammo in those smoothbores — BBs, darts and pellets, but they weren’t as accurate as rifled guns that only shot lead pellets.
That was my first airgun, but it wasn’t the one that turned me into an airgunner. And THAT is the one I’m calling my first airgun. Let me tell you about my encounter with that one. I was living at Ft. Knox, KY in the late 1970s and had already hooked up with Beeman. I got their catalogs regularly, owned a copy of the first volume of the book Airgun Digest, written and edited by Dr. Beeman, and already owned a Diana model 10 target pistol, a Sheridan Blue Streak, a Webley Senior pistol and an FWB 124 that I bought in the Beeman store in Santa Rosa. I’m telling you that I was already a snooty airgunner who thought he knew it all.
Keep it cheap
I was also a family man with two children and didn’t have a lot of extra money to spend — not on an Army captain’s pay! So when I wandered into a pawn shop in the local town of Radcliff, KY, one day and happened to see an old weatherbeaten Diana 27 for sale, I had to think long and hard. They wanted $20 for it and I negotiated like a carpet salesman in a caravan to get the price down to $18 out the door. In other words, no tax (out of my pocket).
That pellet rifle was well-used, with no finish remaining on the wood stock and lots of rusty scale on the metal. The emblem in the stock said it was a Hy Score 807, but I was able to discover that it was really a Diana 27 in .22 caliber. The 27 also came in .177 and I have owned several of both in many different names over the years. For some reason I prefer the .22 — perhaps because it was my first.
For some reason I could not explain, I kept cocking and shooting that rifle just to feel the light cocking and smooth shot cycle. It was accurate enough at the 20 to 40 feet I was shooting, but could not compare with the accuracy of a 105mm cannon on an M60A1 tank (I was a tanker and Ft. Knox is the Armor Center — that’s tanks) that can put a round through a 24-inch circle at 1,200 yards when sighted-in, or even my .270 Weatherby Magnum that put five into an inch at 100 yards. Even so, I was intrigued. My FWB 124 was prettier, shot harder and was more accurate, but there was something undefinable about this Diana 27 that captivated me.
When I left the Army in 1981 following a divorce, I sold all of my firearms and airguns to pay bills, but I gave the model 27 to my closest friend. I hope he still has it. It would be 12 long years before I would get my next 27, another Hy Score 807, and that is the one I am picturing for you today. Uncharacteristically, I have kept this airgun since buying it for $110 at my first Winston-Salem airgun show in 1993.
My .22 caliber Diana 27 is actually a Hy Score 807. It’s not the first 27 I owned, but it is my favorite airgun and my recommendation for a first airgun.
Now to YOU
My, my, my, me, me, me, I, I, I. This report is supposed to be about you and yet I have dominated it up to this point. From this point on, it’s all about YOU. What should YOUR first airgun be?
Learn from my experience
I told you about my airgun past so you could learn. A Feinwerkbau 124 is a fine airgun, but unless you inherit one or luck into an unbelievable deal, it shouldn’t be your first. The same holds true for a Benjamin Marauder, an Air Venturi Avenger or even a TX200 Mark III. If you have been reading this blog for a while you know that I love each of these airguns, but they aren’t the ones to cut your teeth on. Get something simple for starters. Reader OhioPlinker said it best, “Keokuk Iowa, just buy a Crosman M4-177. Get good with it, then buy your one nice airgun.”
Crosman’s M4-177 retails for $65.
I don’t know that I agree with the “one nice airgun” advice. I can’t seem to stop acquiring them, but perhaps that’s just me. However, OhioPlinker is right. A Crosman M4-177 costs about the same as a nice meal for two at a sit-down restaurant, so it isn’t a life-altering investment. It’s just the cost of a nice meal plus tip.
I think springers are best
For first airguns I prefer springers. Even though my first was a multi-pump and my Sheridan Blue Streak that I really love is also a multi-pump, the gun that really captivated me was a breakbarrel springer that was rough as a cob.
When I look at the airguns I love the most, all of them are springers. Yes, Yogi, I agree with you. Now, shut your trap!
Spring-piston airguns are simple. And because of that the right ones are like potato chips. As I said about the rough Hy Score 807, “For some reason I could not explain, I kept cocking and shooting that rifle just to feel the light cocking and smooth shot cycle.”
THAT, my friends, is the experience you should be after — something you can’t put down! After that get the airgun(s) you think you want. That first experience will either captivate you or reveal that airgunning is not for you.
That’s what I want us to talk about this weekend. What should your first airgun be?
34 thoughts on “My first airgun”
The first airgun I shot was an old BSA in .177. I was 7 years old.
Then as a 22 year old recent collage grad, my brother talked me into buying an air gun. I bought a Diana 5G. I pinked in the basement for years.
Then about 10 years ago a fishing buddy of mine was going to try and get a group airgun buy together. He bought a Crossman?Benjamin NP rifle and I bought a Hatsan 95 Vortex. That got me hooked, line and sinker….lol
My first ever airgun was a .20 caliber Sheridan Blue Streak. That was my only airgun for many years, until someone offered me a used .177 caliber RWS model 45 (with a 4X scope), which was my first springer.
My .22 caliber HW30S is the equivalent of your .22 caliber Diana 27; it’s my favorite airgun, and it would be the one I’d recommend (in either caliber) to someone who was “pretty darn sure” they wanted to get into airguns.
But to the person who is “not too sure,” I’d recommend something closer to what OhioPlinker said.
I would tell them to get a Crosman 362, and to shoot it stock for a while, using the factory peep sight.
[Mine is actually still stock (though I did thin down the front sight), and it’s a fun plinker.]
This would only set the buyer back about $100, much less than it would take to get into other sports.
And if the new owner liked it so much that they found themselves buying a steel breech, throwing on a scope, and testing scads of pellets to see which ones shot the best…then I’d say they were well on the path of airgunning, and would be buying more airguns soon. 😉
Blessings to you,
Dave, I just ordered a 362 with the steel breech upgrade from Pyramyd. Though I probably should have recommended it (stock) for someone who needs to control pests bigger than rats and small birds.
Cool! I think you’ll really like it. 🙂
Yea, but if they did not like airguns and wanted to sell it they would get little. The HW 30 would hold much better value.
Buy once, cry once.
OR, i’m too cheap to buy disposable junk.
Yes, you’re right; the HW30 would hold its value much better if you wanted to sell it.
Personally, I don’t know of anyone silly enough to sell one…oh wait…yes I do…me!
That was one of the biggest mistakes of my life, now rectified with the second one I’ll never sell.
I just think many folk may not want to plunk down $300 for their first airgun.
If they DID, and bought an HW30, I’d be shocked if they were disappointed, more likely they’d be thrilled.
But the Crosman 362 is actually a pretty well-engineered little piece.
Like my Sheridan, 6 pumps puts you in the 12 fpe category, which would allow small game hunting.
(Our friends across the pond, in the UK, have been hunting with that power-level for years. =>)
Unlike my Sheridan, the 362 is easy to pump; not as easy as a Dragonfly Mark2, yet still easy.
I got the 362 (on recommendations here) to see what a “$100 air rifle” could do, box stock.
So far, I’m impressed; you can plink, pest, or hunt with it.
While it lacks the old school charm of my old Sheridan, it’s still a nice, well-balanced rifle.
It looks like the Crosman 362 was built to a price point, yet still built pretty well.
I’d likely only get $40 if I sold; but it’s a great little off-hand plinker, and I don’t want to sell it; I like it a lot. 🙂
And I really believe if most first-time buyers bought one they’d feel the same way.
Blessings and good shooting to you,
B.B. I only said “one nice airgun” because you said the guy was saving and scraping for one nice airgun. I don’t want to get a reputation as an enabler!
As for preferring .22, I am the same way. MOAH POWAH! And also, many report their .22 airguns have smoother shot cycles than their .177s.Then again, part of me wants to get a .20 so I can look down on people who shoot common calibers. Maybe a Crosman 620, folks from Velocity?
Or perhaps a Benjamin pump with the various powerplant upgrades, in .20 and (dare we hope it works) .25?
There is only one option lately. HW30S, because Diana 27 is no more.
Fish, did you see my comment on yesterday’s blog?
Also for Fish, but also for everyone, I have an update on my guest blog on the Diana 24 J here: https://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2023/04/roamin-grecos-wrestling-match-with-a-rws-diana-model-24-j/#comment-502801
I think a Diana 24 would make a fine addition to Fish’s collection. It seems to be slightly less powerful than a 27, but I think Fish is looking for something more suited to indoor shooting, anyway. And the stock is proportioned in a bit more refined way with more room for your fingers in the pistol grip. I also have a Winchester 425 (Diana 25) and it is also very mild-mannered.
Oh, Fish! Bill’s comment makes me think you should expand your search to Slavias, too. But if it is accuracy you are after, you may want to try the Daisy 853 and its relatives.
50+ years ago there was a boy who got an airgun that had the name Slavia on it.
As for guiding others BB said it best; the first airgun should be one that the new shooter doesn’t put down. Whatever the reason; fun, accuracy, soda can killing power? Whatever it takes to love the hobby.
More than one boy Bill, I still have my original Slavia 618 and shoot it regularly 🙂
You have heard me talk endlessly about my first airgun, the ubiquitous Crosman 760 multi pump. My Dad bought me that rifle when I was 8 or so along with a whole case (8 little plastic tubs) of Copperhead pellets. Back then, Crosman was “a Coleman company.” It said so, right on the side of the receiver. I learned how to shoot a rfle with that gun, even though at first I could only pump it 5 times out of the 10 permitted. Soon, very soon, my muscles had developed to where there seemed to be no other setting except 10 pumps.
My uncle from Greece (Dad’s older brother) taught me how to shoot it while vacationing here, God rest his soul. He nailed a 1 cup metal measuring cup to a tree, backed me up ten steps and then showed me how to hold and aim and squeeze and … miss! But then he taught me the secret: every time I missed, I was to take one step forward, and when I could hit the measuring cup with a satisfying ring 3 times in a row, I could take a step back. It wasn’t long until I was clanging away at that metal cup from about 15 yards away, off hand, standing. I wish now my Dad knew then about shooting competitions. I probably would have really done well. I was hell on anything I could get my sights on!
Later, I moved on to .22s and powder-burners and hunting with Dad (airguns were not permitted for hunting in Pennsylvania until more recently), and I only recently found my way back to airguns. Who knew that there was a whole multi-disciplinary world of science, math, and law, hiding behind all the fun you can have with airguns?
Still have the 760. She won’t hold air and the Coleman plastic body is too brittle to fix, but she holds a place of honor on the shelf and in my heart.
It has to be cool, easy to operate and fun to shoot.
The first airgun I shot was a Daisy model 25. Not mine, it belonged to a friend. No fumbling with ammo. Just pump it like a shotgun and fire away.
My first was a Daisy ‘Spiten Image’ 1894 lever action. It also met all three requirements above. and I was just as cool as ‘The Rifleman’ on TV with that rifle in my hands.
You just don’t want to stop shooting both. You did not have to fumble around cocking and
loading it every shot. One simple, remain in place cocking motion. Much simpler than a pumper or break barrel.
Move on to other airguns as desired … After, you have the most fun with one and enjoyed the experience of shooting it. KISS!
A Barra Cowboy or other lever action, 880? or a CO2 rifle. Or, OK a single pump.
Well, we are aware of the problems we could have with auto correct spelling. Now we have auto assumption advertisements. MSN — “Buy air at Pyramyd Air”
Let’s see. My first airgun.
Well, BB was there when I bought it. In fact, he was the one who “enabled” me to buy it. I had him take a picture of me holding it. It holds the place of honor over my fireplace. It is the 1906 Lincoln Jeffries model BSA. I have owned several airguns before. In fact I still have my Izzy which I bought several years before, but getting that BSA, fixing it up and shooting it is an experience that is magical and will be forever etched in my mind.
Acquiring that BSA was the start of RidgeRunner’s Home For Wayward Airguns. Every other airgun I “own” can move on to a new home. Many have. That BSA will be with me until I am gone.
BB, I understand.
As a kid Dad got me a Crosman 2100 and put me on garden patrol. Learned a lot from that. I’m reliving that fun with a Legacy 1000, a 362 and a Dragonfly M2….oh and a ‘few’ others! Best part today is competing with my son for best group when we break out the targets. 🙂
Off topic, but I just saw this:
Whiscombe JW80 Mk 2
Not my recommendation for a first airgun, but certainly one to dream about. This gun has a name too: “irreconcilable differences.” ;o)
Roamin Greco, emails from this site get squirrely sometimes; I got a notice in my inbox that you had replied to my comment about the Crosman 362 as follows:
“I bought one too. It is stock. If I ever get tired of it, I can use it for mods. A replacement barrel with an integral silencer would be nice. Or I can give it as a gift (I kept the box and all the literature). I am gradually learning all its little idiosyncrasies. I have a working theory about it liking different pellets at different pump levels. So if you want to practice with it in your basement on 3 pumps you use a certain pellet, or try for a squirrel with 7 or 8 pumps you might need a different pellet. Or I may install a steel breach and scope it and keep it as a back up pester. It has a lot of potential. Funny thing is, even when I get distracted by other airguns and projects, I always seem to come back to it. I’m even getting used to the clack-clack of pumping (although I just lucked into some foam rubber that I might try to fashion into a dampener). See? Oh, and I’m keeping my eye out for the wood stocked version. Much better looking IMHO. But if I get one of those, it will probably be left unmolested.”
Yet when I clicked the link to reply to that comment, it did not bring me to it.
Yeah, I’m with you on all that you said; I even bought the felt to quiet the pumping, but I haven’t put it on yet.
There could be a steel breech and scope added in the future.
But till that time, like you, I’m just learning the gun’s idiosyncrasies, and enjoying it. 🙂
Like others my airgun history comes at two separate times. My first air rifle was a Daisy No. 25 which made me the envy of the neighborhood. It was hotter than the other Daisy rifles (or so we thought). Wish I still had it but it fell out of use when my gun education moved on to firearms. I have talked about my military collection and black powder burners. I reload everything I own. The nuances of reloading variables made me a sucker for getting full bore into airguns 10 years ago. My first of way too many was a Benjamin Titan GP in .22 which remains in my shooting rotation. While hardly my most accurate it is a good first time airgun because it has a unique shooting cycle and no glowy thingy sights. It’s well suited for hunting squirrels and plinking.
BB and commenters on this blog have influenced me in every airgun purchase I have made whether from Pyramyd Air, other suppliers or the show in Hickory, NC.
I’ve always loved anything the shot, my first airgun was a Slavia 618 which brought me from toys and plastic bullets to the real world of accuracy – it actually shot where you pointed it!
Consistently and all that power (2 fpe LOL!) was awesome and I couldn’t stop shooting it – every penny I could earn went to buying pellets. By the end of the first summer my minute of a tin can accuracy had become minute of a bottle cap at 30 feet. Sniping grasshoppers became (and still is) a favorite discipline. …Sniping is a unique discipline isn’t it? 🙂
I have several very nice springers in my airsonal. My R7/HW30 is my favorite, probably because it reminds me of my youth and learning to shoot my Slavia 618.
FM thinks he knows what is going on here – Friday blog! Get the crowd warmed up and the comments flowing. TGIF!
Try and make it short, FM – after all, you are. First airgun: Daisy “Red Ryder,” because “all my friends have one!” But no BBs allowed in it by PD – Parental Decree. Next, Crosman 38T – thanks for that one, cousin. FM has had fun with it, quirky CO2 issues notwithstanding.
Third – HW95 .22 – no regrets there and yes, agree it was better to start the journey with a springer.
Fourth – Benjamin Maximus .177 – thanks for that one, Gunfun. You did succeed in getting FM hooked into PCP world as well, which resulted in the acquisition of the .22 Hunter version, scoped with a Whisky3, making it the go-to tool for pest control.
Finally – drum roll – the HW30S, which has met all expectations and is definitely a keeper. Well, at this point they’re all keepers. If it had not been for this blog allowing FM to remotely “pick” Tom’s brain and everyone else’s who comments here, FM would not have had any idea where to re-start the interrupted journey into this entertaining, satisfying hobby.
By the way, as Tom brought up purchasing his first airgun at a North Carolina airgun show, this year’s event in Newton will be held October 13-14. FM is determined to this time make at least the Friday – the 13th – not that it matters – show on the way to see the fall leaves. Sorry, just realized that, as usual, FM “spoke” too much and broke his word. Have a good weekend everyone and enjoy your airguns!
My first air gun purchase was a Crosman 2200 and I shot that pumper a lot. Eventually, I found out about Precision Airgun Sales & Service on the far east side of Cleveland and my son and I took a trip over there and met the owner, Charles Trepes. Charles took a good deal of time acquainting me with the vagaries of break barrel springers. Charles came up with the flex rod and felt pellet cleaning system that RWS now sells.
I surrendered to the urge and purchased an RWS/Diana Model 36 in .177 caliber along with pellets and a Beeman Pellset and some lube. Hence my addiction to airgunning was initiated by a very high quality air arm.
Being the kind father that I am, I introduced my son to air gun shooting and he worked enough jobs for me to earn an RWS/Diana 24J also in .177. We would then go shooting at a country place owned by a friend of mine. We shredded lots of tin cans at various distances. Charles Trepes gave him his initial instruction in the safe use of the 24J.
Curiosity soon had me making the trip to Cleveland, with my son in attendance (one of our father/son outings including Olive Garden feasts) to purchase a 5GTO1 break barrel pistol in .177. At this point my addiction to airgunning reached its critical stage. A number of air pistols followed with a couple of real clinkers bought in the process that shall remain nameless here.
Since those early days, I’ve added more air weapons and in my change of homes had me put in a 10 meter basement range with its own ballistic closet and an air gun locker that is full of long and hand air guns. This is the winter obsessive option with cycling the fair weather pursuit.
RWS/Diana remains my favorite line of air guns although I have a couple of Gamos and a number of Hatsan products. Perhaps the best of the fleet is a Beeman P-1 pistol, the “Holy Grail of Air Pistols” according to BB. That has been joined by an RWS Freuerkraft ProCompact 350 in .177; a RWS 340 Luxus in .22; Gamo Viper Express air shotgun; an Hatsan 135 in .25; and a RWS Model 34 in .22.; and a Benjamin 372. The pistols are similarly joined up to the Beeman P-1 but one list is enough!
Inevitably, however, I return again and again to the RWS Model 36, my first high quality air rifle. It is on its third mainspring and was rebuilt by UMAREX many months ago (and had its vigor restored). Its barrel is use polished by tens of thousands of shots. It is not pellet picky and is “just right” despite my ownership of air guns of equal or better quality and features. I did treat it to a barrel weight modified to accept the standard front sight and equipped it with a Williams Peep with a Merit Disc. It does not miss…
Hence it is the standard by which all that followed it are measured and probably ever will be.
LFranke, the 24J that I did my guest blog on was purchased from an auction house in Willoughby, east of Cleveland. No doubt that dealer sold several of them.
I am wondering if you or your son might still have the original instruction manual for it? If so, would you be willing to send a copy to me?
Roamin Greco: I will look in the arms locker downstairs. I should have the copy. I do think that the older RWS/Diana break barrel manuals were pretty much all the same, i.e., one size fits all.
However, Kevin’s manual should be in the second shelf on the left side of the cabinet and I will seek it out. If I have it, I will photocopy it and then PM you somehow for your mailing address.
Thank you for looking. You can use a new email I set up for that, it’s roamin greco the number one at g mail dot com.
B.B. and Readership,
I hav a Pet Peeve to air: It is the missspelling of Crosshair:
a pair of fine wires or lines crossing at right angles at the focus of an optical instrument or gun sight, for use in positioning, aiming, or measuring.
“I raised the rifle and got the deer in the crosshairs”
Okay most spell that correctly. This was just a lead in to writing about the term RETICLE. In the years that i have learned about telescopic sights i have observed any number of errors that are technical misunderstandings of a complex device but the most important part is most certainly NOT a reticule! This is what that is:
a woman’s small handbag, originally netted and typically having a drawstring and decorated with embroidery or beading.
Please note that every time i see some writing that uses the handbag term when discussing Scopes it is usually shot full of WRONG information.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the reticule carriers with children!
Shootski, I have been reading about hunting and fishing in Outdoor Life and Field and Stream since the 80s and due to some optical illusion, I always thought the crosshair was a RECTICLE. Only recently have I realized the correct spelling and pronunciation. If I ever mess it up in your presence, I apologize profusely, in advance.
Huh? You spelled it correctly.
Must have been a bad case of MIRAGE!
First air gun I shot was my grandfathers Benjamin 132. I inherited it 3 or so decades later. Had it re-sealed a decade ago and keep it in the safe.
Here’s a pic. I think he got it in the immediate post-WW2 era. Some receipts are dated to 1952.
Random, that’s a cool piece of history…treasure it! 🙂