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Education / Training โ€บ Barra Cowboy Series 1866 BB and pellet rifle: Part One

Barra Cowboy Series 1866 BB and pellet rifle: Part One

Barra rifle silver
Barra Cowboy Series pellet and BB multi-pump pneumatic.

This report covers:

  • Rifle
  • Multi-pump
  • 1866 Winchester
  • Manual
  • Safety
  • Bolt
  • Loading
  • Sights
  • Summary

Today we start looking at something entirely new — at least for me — the Barra Cowboy Series pellet and BB multi-pump pneumatic rifle. I’ve been looking at this rifle for several years as I navigated around the Pyramyd AIR website and, as I did I thought, “Oh no, another CO2 BB gun.” Well, it’s not CO2, it’s not a BB gun and it’s not just another airgun. This one is completely different from what I thought.

Rifle

People use the term rifle for any gun that is long and meant to be fired from the shoulder. But we don’t. The Daisy Red Ryder is NOT an air rifle as many call it. It’s a BB gun because the barrel is not rifled. A gun has a smoothbore barrel. This Barra has a barrel that is rifled, hence it is a rifle.

Yes, it does shoot BBs, but because it has a rifled barrel it’s not correct to call it a BB gun. If anything It’s a BB rifle, but since it also shoots pellets I will call it a pellet rifle that also shoots BBs.

Multi-pump

The Barra Cowboy Series 1866 is also a multi-pump pneumatic. The manual says you can pump it from 2 to 10 times for each shot. Obviously 2 times is for close range and 10 is for the greatest power. The specs say 800 f.p.s. is the highest velocity you can expect and I would think that is either with a steel BB or a super-light lead pellet. I will test it for you on all numbers of pumps with both BBs and pellets. 

Barra rifle pump open
The Barra Cowboy Series 1866 is a multi-pump.

1866 Winchester

The Barra 1866 attempts to copy the Winchester 1866 lever action rifle that was the first rifle to carry the Winchester name.

Winchester 1866
1866 Winchester rifle.

Like that firearm the Barra has an octagonal outer sheath that encloses its inner rifled barrel. Also, like the 1866 Winchester, the Barra Cowboy does come with a gold-plated receiver that resembles the brass receiver of the Winchester. The test rifle is silver. It is the same air rifle as the one with the gold-plated receiver. Order it as a separate item — not as a choice of finishes on the Barra Cowboy Series 1866 web page.


Barra Cowboy Series 1866 gold.

Because this rifle is completely unknown to me I read the reviews — something I rarely do. The lowest-rated review of the rifle I am testing (the silver Cowboy Series rifle) was 4 out of 5 stars and said this, It is a nice air rifle. Very quiet and precise. But, have to pump 3-4 times for each fire is a bit tidious. It would be nice, if it is made: 1 pump for normal fps and 2-3 pumps for extra power. Perfect for backyard shooting practice and fun.” 

Excuse me? Having to pump 3-4 times for each shot is tedious? It’s a multi-pump. What did you expect? What this customer wanted is the Barra 1866 Rosie Air Rifle. That one is a single stroke pneumatic and shoots BBs and pellets with a top velocity of just 350 f.p.s.

Manual

I also read the manual because this Barra is so different from anything I have ever tested. For example, consider the safety

Build a Custom Airgun

Safety

The safety is the hammer. Pull it back and a red dot appears on its side, indicating the rifle is ready to fire. Push it forward and the dot disappears, meaning the rifle is on safe. Best of all. the safety is 100 percent manual, allowing the shooter to use his discretion whether to apply it or not. And what about the bolt?

Barra rifle safety
Pull the hammer back to make the rifle ready to fire.

Bolt

Unlike a true lever action, the Barra Cowboy is really a bolt-action rifle. The lever is just the user end of the pump handle. There is a bolt on the action that must be withdrawn to cock the rifle.

Barra rifle bolt
The Barra bolt action is really made to feed BBs and not pellets.

Loading

I plan to have a lot to say about loading this rifle. I find it quite difficult to load pellets. The first pellet I tried to load fell into the receiver and it still in there rattling around. I have to find a way to load the breech that doesn’t let that happen.

The loading makes me feel Barra intended the rifle to be a BB gun, but if so, why did they put on a rifled barrel?

Sights

I LOVE the sights! Barra did something so many other airgun manufacturers could do but miss! They used some though to make the sights! 

Barra rifle front sight
With folded sheet metal Barra made a front sight that has a bright spot without any plastic parts. 

The rear sight has a wide notch in which to center the front post. And it adjusts both ways with a minimum of cost. This is how it’s done!

Barra rifle rear sight
This is how an inexpensive rear sight is made adjustable!

Summary

It was obvious to me from reading the manual, and also from examining the rifle, itself, that Barra wants to sell a quality product. Do I expect it to be as easy to pump and as accurate as the Dragonfly Mark 2? Of course not! But for less than half the price, has Barra made a multi-pump they can be proud of? That’s what we shall see.

83 thoughts on “Barra Cowboy Series 1866 BB and pellet rifle: Part One”

  1. Tom,

    You read the manual? ๐Ÿ˜Ž

    The buyer complaining about the number of pumps is just the tip of the iceberg of the population that we all have to help pitch in and educate.

    Siraniko

    PS Section 1866 Winchester 4th paragraph 7th sentence: “That one is a sinbgle (single) stroke pneumatic and shoots BBs and pellets with a top velocity of just 350 f.p.s.”

  2. B.B.,

    In: last sentence in 1866 Winchester
    “That one is a

    sinbgle

    stroke pneumatic and shoots BBs and pellets with a top velocity of just 350 f.p.s.”

    REAL Gold plated or Silver like the Test Rifle!?!?
    or are they gold/Silver color anodized or electroplated?

    “Also, like the 1866 Winchester, the Barra Cowboy does come with a gold-plated receiver that resembles the brass receiver of the Winchester. The test rifle is silver. It is the same air rifle as the one with the gold-plated receiver.”

    shootski

  3. Donโ€™t know whether anyone checked out the PA website. They are asking 90$ for the rifle.
    It certainly is an amount of hard earned money, but compared to other airguns that doesnโ€™t seem very much at all.
    Canโ€™t wait for the reports to come.

  4. BB-

    I got one of these a few years ago for my wife. She had won a Henry Golden Boy 22 at a local Friends of NRA banquet, and I thought this would make a nice companion piece. Until I opened the package, that is. The Barra has the grace and feel of a 2×4. The wrist of the stock is square and then abruptly flares in width to the rear stock profile. Itโ€™s plastic for crying out loud. It could be any shape they wanted and this is what they chose? I honestly think the designers saw a gun on a video game and then designed this. Obviously, not created by someone who has actually held a gun before. The shiny plastic โ€˜receiverโ€™ doesnโ€™t inspire confidence for longevity. Barra is to be credited for including a metal pump handle. My disappointment was such that I repackaged the gun and it has been on the shelf ever since. My take- buy a Daisy 880 multipump. Itโ€™s been around for 50 plus years and it feels โ€˜rightโ€™ like a gun should.

  5. BB,

    Well, I cannot say that I am impressed so far. It does not look like something I could own. I would probably break it before the week was out. I bought my 101 and a rebuild kit for it for less.

    When you go to load pellets, sorta kinda try laying it over on the left side a bit. The pellet rattling around inside will remind you that quality is not always job one.

    P.S. Just because it has a rifled barrel does not mean it was really designed to shoot pellets. It is cheaper to have one stack of barrels than two.

  6. B.B.:
    “Sights
    I LOVE the sights! Barra did something so many other airgun manufacturers could do but miss! They used some though[t] to make the sights!”

    Looks like an interesting twist on the archetypal BB lever action. I’m interested to see how it compares to the Red Ryder. Can it reach out there to take out feral soda cans at range? Or will the extra velocity just scatter the BBs around?

  7. Hi everybody…

    this rif… err gun looks cool. If it does come to Germany at all, however, it might be double the price (as it is with many Crosman products).

    BTW, here’s a picture and a little update on my HW30S:

    Yes, it is probably too small for me. Yes, it looks funny when I shoot it. And still, I don’t have any issues with the stock (even when using the iron sights). I guess everybody’s facial structure is different or my technique is just weird ๐Ÿ™‚

    For me, the rifle points towards the target quite naturally. Also, the spring “twang”, that was mild to begin with seems to have disappeared. The trigger might be wearing in and getting even nicer than it was out of the box. Yes, I could install tuning parts and I might some day, but I feel very little urge to do so at the moment.

    I don’t have any issues with the automatic safety, either. It’s either in or out.

    Stephan

    • Stephan,
      I think it looks perfect, not too small at all. ๐Ÿ™‚
      I’m 6-foot tall, 185 pounds, and the rifle fits me perfectly.
      The HW30S is a rifle to love…and shoot often. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Blessings to you,
      dave

    • Stephan, my Haenel model 1 will be 85 years old next month; I guess she was just an “inexpensive youth rifle” when she was made, but she blows away many of the “high quality” airguns made today.
      She’s got a solid steel barrel latch and screws to retain the pivot screws.
      The trigger is non-adjustable, yet pretty light and quite predictable.
      It took me a while to get used to them, but now I can do good work with the rear v-notch and Perlkorn front.
      Those old German engineers in the 30s knew a thing or two about gun making.
      This little gem cocks with one finger and shoots like she just came from the factory. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Dave,

        cool gun. I think many people underestimate how smart and resourceful our ancestors were and that doesn’t only go for ancient philosophers.

        That barrel latch looks pretty similar to what is on the HW35. I like it, as it lets you break the barrel without force and locks it in place firmly after loading.

        I’ve never owned a Haenel gun, only shot one at a shooting gallery briefly and I don’t remember any specifics.

        But if one came my way for a reasonable price, I’d probably want to try it…

        Stephan

        • Stephan, yes, the barrel latch is similar to what is on the HW35; it’s a sweet little rifle.
          It’s not a powerhouse; it gets 525 fps for 4.4 fpe with Falcon 7.33-grain pellets (similar to JSB RS 7.33-grain).
          She shoots pretty flat out to 15 yards; and at that range, she can hit a 3/4″ diameter plastic bottles.
          Well, pretty much every time from a rest, not so often standing…but that’s my fault, not the gun’s!
          It can’t be scoped – no grooves – but I’m fine with that; the open sights are quite nice.
          If one comes your way, I think you’d enjoy one of these little gems. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Tom,

    My fingers are like fire hydrants, but I find fumbling can be avoided or at least minimized by using the Air Venturi pellet pen. I can’t get the pellet right into the breech, but I can get it right up to it and not drop it into the rifle. /product/pellet-pen-holds-20-177-cal-pellets?a=2934

    Michael

  9. Tom,

    On the subject of front sights, I received my Crosman Special Edition 362, and I like it very much. The problem is that the front sight’s diameter is so great it entirely blocks the bull and 9 ring on my targets. I found myself having to try a 6:00 hold on the bottom of the 8 ring and hope for the best.

    Has anyone changed out this front sight for something less huge?

    Michael

    • Michael,
      I plan to use something much bigger, some sort of scope or dot. Can’t use the peep myself. Bad eyes.
      The sight is thinner below the glowie thingie. Perhaps you can file it off and adjust the rear as needed or shim it up as required? Looks like it may come off with that small straight slot screw on top. Be careful picking the right screwdriver, looks very delicate.

    • Michael,
      Sweet on the rifle. With the front site, have you tried to “blacken” out the fiber optic? Can be done usually with a permanent marker (if you don’t like it the mark can be removed). Also does this Special Edition still “clack” when being pumped like the reg. 362 does? I didn’t know if they changed anything or maybe the wood stock helped.
      Again congrats on a nice gun.

      Doc

      • Doc,

        I don’t have a plastic 362, if I just compared my Special Edition to my Sheridan Blue Streak. Neither are loud when the pump lever closes. but the Special Edition is a little quieter and makes a lower pitch sound than the Blue Streak.

        I’m ready to say the Special Edition is the best air rifle Crosman has made since the last Blue Streak left the line at the Racine factory. It just needs something other than that huge front sight.

        Michael

      • Doc,

        The plastic one could be made significantly quieter by doing the old multipump shooter’s trick, strategically placed thin felt strips glued on the pump arm. Also, if there are “echo chambers” in the pump arm and/or forearm, a little modeling clay can deaden the sound somewhat.

        Those standard 362s long tempted me, being so nice-performing but affordable.

        Michael

    • Michael,
      I found even the front blade on the stock 362 to be too fat to use when trying to hit small targets.
      I spent a lot of time trimming it with files into a tapered “Perlkorn” pattern.
      It is now VERY thin (less than .050″) at the top, and works well for hitting small objects. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Blessings to you,
      dave

      • Dave,

        I suppose someone with a steady hand and a sharp X-Acto blade could carefully carve off two of the little pedestals that support the tube. Then shave the remaining one into a thin (and quite short) remaining pedestal .

        A red dot or scope would be a solution, as Bob M. suggested, but it seems sad to not use the nice peep it comes with.

        The front sight does appear to be removable with a screw on top. If a suitable replacement could be had . . .

        Michael

      • Dave,

        Just above I posted a picture of something that could replace the glow-worm with, it seems, no modifications. They also come ion black and brass. They are pricey at $34-36, but they might work

        Michael

  10. B.B.
    Wow. I’ve never looked at these because it looked like a plastic typical pump gun. Then I read where you said metal sights! So I stopped reading and hit to the like to PA’s site. Well I be. A metal (Cast) receiver! That right there trumps Daisy pumps and Crosman pumps (save for the $399 one). Also at the listed 5.88 lbs, has a non toy like heft to it. It’s not the Dragon. But is it as good as the Crosman 362? The 362 is more powerful, accurate and not much more money. Now I’m like hmmm. Do I need this. Can wait to see how this one pans out.
    Also I like single pumps. Even though this in the Jr version is a single pump, it’s a little too weak for me. Also I didn’t see where the Jr one is rifled. So I’d stick to the pumper.
    Thank You,
    Doc

    • I just went to Pyramid and looked. Looks like the receiver is plastic.
      โ€œ Every 1866 comes with a 20″ steel octagonal barrel, iron sights, cast iron pumping arm, manual safety, synthetic wood stock and foregrip, a user manual, and the plastic receiver and butt plate finished in golden electroplating so good it looks and feels like metal!โ€

  11. Had to deal with a sky full of smoke and no info on the source last night. Found out it was a 90 acre brush fire nearby.
    Border Fire #24. Too many to name these days. Drove all over, looking for signs of it. Decided to continue my comments here.
    The Ruger 1022 firearm will get dirty fast, well eventually, when you are shooting a brick (500 RDS) of ammo. Don’t know if it’s the bullet shape, coating, design or lubricant but Remington’s seem to feed and cycle better. Not sure about accuracy, I was usually plinking for fun. But with most plinkers, the brick with the lowest price, or the only one available at the time is the winner!

    I thought about getting this Cowboy for my collection, simply because it was different and looked nice. I already have more than a half dozen lever actions and some pumpers, but nothing clicked with me on this. Awkward comes to mind and plastic killed it for me.

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