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Air Guns Barra Cowboy Series 1866 BB and pellet rifle: Part Two

Barra Cowboy Series 1866 BB and pellet rifle: Part Two

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

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Pumping
  • Loading
  • High velocity
  • Realistic velocity
  • BB velocity
  • Pump effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

Today we test the Barra Cowboy Series 1866 BB and pellet rifle for velocity. Since it shoots both BBs and pellet, we will test both. There is a lot to see so let’s get started.


This is a multi pump and what appears to be the lever is the pump handle.

Barra pump extended
The pump handle extends to here.


I found loading pellets to be a pain. I dropped them into the breech several times and once into the BB magazine. Yes, that was the second pellet I dropped in, but shaking the rifle got both of them out.

Barra loading
I dropped several pellets in the breech. This one is on top of the BB magazine. The rear of the barrel where they are supposed to go is that shiny silver place (arrow).

Barra loading 2
Loading with tweezers proved the safest, though the slowest as well. Grab the pellet by its edge and inside the skirt.

High velocity

This Barra is rated to 800 f.p.s. I assumed that is with the lightest pellets, so I tested it with Sig Match Ballistic Alloy wadcutters. Because loading was so slow I only shot 5 rounds and all were on 10 pumps.


The average for that string is 791 f.p.s. but it looks like the rifle is breaking in. I reckon it will shoot a little faster when it’s been shot more.

Realistic velocity

I next tested the rifle with an Air Arms 8.44-grain dome to see what the velocity is in the real world. I only shot three times at each pump level because of how long the rifle takes to load. Even with that the following test took 45 minutes.

2………………………………..342, 360, 362
3………………………………..443, 441, 450
4………………………………..499, 496, 495
5………………………………..546, 541, 544
6………………………………..578, 577, 554
7………………………………..595, 587, 595
8………………………………..622, 621, 623
9………………………………..623, 625, 636
10………………………………643, 643, 651

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BB velocity

I tested the velocity of the Barra with AGS Blaster BBs because I find them to weigh and to be sized like all other premium BBs. The magnetic bolt made it very quick and easy to load BBs — as long as they were steel. Given the pellet loading problem I declined to load lead BBs.


Pump effort

I measured the pump effort from pumps 2 to 10.

Pump……Effort (lbs.)

Trigger pull

The two-stage trigger is not adjustable. Stage one takes 3 pounds. 8 ounces and stops at stage two that beaks crisply at 6 pounds 8 ounces.


The Barra Cowboy Series 1866 BB and pellet rifle is interesting. It is both difficult to load pellets and easy to load BBs. The pump effort is light yet the trigger pull is heavy. The rifle is a study in contradictions, but let’s hope the accuracy is there.

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.

34 thoughts on “Barra Cowboy Series 1866 BB and pellet rifle: Part Two”

  1. Tom,

    Seems like the ability to shoot pellets was placed as an afterthought by the designers who were not “hands on” so to speak in the process of designing this rifle. The loading breech could have been opened up ever so slightly on top to make the loading process easier. And the BB feed opening could be a little smaller I think.


  2. B.B.,

    No link to Part 1?
    In the 2 to 10 pump velocity strings for both the pellets and bb are very INTERESTING at 8, 9, 10 clearly showing an anomalous increase in FPS on the 10 pump as well as a possible drop in pumping effort to boot?



  3. BB,
    Pellets look like too much work to be fun in this rifle.
    If BBs show decent accuracy, it might prove a nice long-range BB plinker…with just 5 or 6 pumps.
    Thank you for all time and hard work on this report!
    Blessings to you,

  4. Tom
    I hijack your today’s blog just to thank Val Gamerman for his attention to the pop up spin wheel not appearing when we sign in here. Please transfer this to him in case he doesn’t read all the comments. I could just reply to a conversation we had some time ago but I wanted this to be seen as publicly as possible.
    Thank you for your assistance.

  5. Without having to look at the spec sheet, Is the Barra 1866 a smooth bore or rifled like the Daisy 880?
    My 880 is also a pain to load the pellets I have dedicated to that air gun. (I use tweezers)
    Why can’t the engineers/manufacturers Listen and make the multipump easier to load pellets???

      • B.B.,

        I shoot air, mechanical, as well as pressure and heat producing propellant powered devices.
        I like all small as well as large arms; they are the bulwark against Tyranny.

        Is propellant burners acceptable?


          • B.B.,

            I’ll take a try.

            Perhaps because on the command: Ready, Aim, FIRE! We no longer contact a Touch Hole with a burning Fuse, Linstock mounted Slow Match, Lanyard pull Friction Primer, Matchlock or Wheellock Flash Pan ignitor.


          • BB,

            The Canadian government, police and natural resources people have classed airguns as firearms (probably because they are too lazy to write separate regulations).

            I’ve started to differentiate which “firearm” I’m referring to by using the terms “airgun” (AG) or
            “powderburner” (PB).

  6. I have a Crosman 760 multi-pump smooth-bore gun. Loading pellets is not too difficult as long as I am careful to orient them properly in the tray. The pellets are small but tweezers haven’t been necessary for me. It looks to me like a similar tray might help with loading pellets in the Barra 1866.
    On another note, I received my trigger pull scale yesterday and tested the Diana Two Forty trigger. I made five pulls with it and got the following readings:

    5lbs-11oz, 5lbs-12oz, 6lb-0oz, 5lb-9oz, and 6lb-5oz

    If my math is correct, these average to be 5lbs-14oz. This seems to me to be heavier than it should be and agrees with BB’s earlier assessment of his Diana Two Forty. I hope BB will soon continue testing and examination of the trigger on his Diana Two Forty (as he indicated he would do) in his last test a short while ago. If there is a reasonable way to improve the trigger pull I would be most interested.

    • As would I, EF, as I have had mine for about a month and have only shot it a few times (busy with building a garage/barn. I hope to be able to get back to it soon and would love to find a way to lighten the trigger a bit.


    • E.F.,
      “If there is a reasonable way to improve the trigger pull I would be most interested.” Me too!

      Beyond the weight, how does the trigger FEEL? Is there a distinct first and second stage? Is it creepy or gritty? Is there a lot of travel in stage 2? Is the moment of firing predictable? A heavier pull can sometimes be good for beginners, which is what the Two Forty is advertised for. But a predictable, crisp release is good for learning and accuracy.

      When I tested the Diana Model 24J for my guest blog, I set up my rubber mulch pellet trap 2 feet away from my shooting table. Then I could concentrate on the trigger without worrying about missing the box. I could look at the trigger over and over while the gun fired. I could measure how much travel in stage 1 and stage 2.

      As for improving the trigger, how many tins do you have through it? My Umarex Embark (a direct sear trigger) took several hundred pellets before the trigger smoothed out, but ironically, the tiny bit of creep just before the sear release smoothed out, and it became HARDER to shoot well because of the looong pull. Point is, sometimes a new gun need a LOT of shooting before it wears in. Also, trigger springs can relax and trigger parts can smooth out. All of the vintage Dianas I own all have smooth crisp triggers, even the direct sear ones.

      I am interested to know how things change over time.

      Keep on shootin!

      • I haven’t noticed any grittiness. Mostly just the amount of force required seems heavy. The predictability of when it will release is sometimes not there. However, some of that might be my lack of consistent good technique and smoothness. I need to work on that and figure out what I should be concentrating on and thinking about at various points in the process. Some of it needs to become more automatic so that I can focus better on just one thing at a time instead of trying to multitask. There seems to me to be a very short first stage with very little resistance. Then the second stage is very long and heavy. I have shot about 400 pellets so far. And it might have improved a very small amount over that time. Thanks for the reply, I will try your method and place the container of rubber mulch very close and concentrate on the trigger. If I notice any better details I will let you know. Thanks again!

  7. BB,
    One thing that I appreciate is your ability to shoot all the different guns that you test, and are not bothered much by any funky triggers that come along.
    My trigger control is not that good, and I found that out by using a pumper rifle with a stiffish trigger, as the only gun I had for a week while away. I shot outdoors into the woods at any practical distance and had a great time.
    While shooting standing, offhand, I have to intentionally pull the trigger while I rest the sights on the target as steadily as I can (snipe the shot). When I do this, I see that I tend to spastically twist the rifle clockwise, which places the shot off to the left (I could see the pellet fly).
    I can shoot so the rifle doesn’t twist, but it takes all my attention to do so. This wrist twist problem becomes more pronounced with stiffer triggers. I don’t know why this happens, but I know that I can cure it with the right training.
    The concept of letting the shot surprise you as you slowly squeeze the trigger is good for rested shots, but is not ideal for offhand shooting, in my experience. But that doesn’t mean I’m right.
    I’d like to improve my trigger control and think there is a more correct training path than the one I’m on. I’ll have to look among BB’s blogs to find this, I’m sure what I need can be found here.
    I want to thank you BB for all the work that you do for us readers. You make a difference.

    • Will,

      You just described how I have to shoot the HW 30S offhand. So you and I are on the same path. I even mentioned sniping the rifle in my last report, which was What a difference a stock makes: Part 4,



      • BB,
        I guess the trick is to consciously refine “my way” of intentionally pulling the trigger until we can train our muscles to perform a better technique. Of course it’s all in the doing that will force the change in the way we press the bang switch and it will be worth it. When that happens, then hitting while sniping could become reliable shooting! Good luck in the quest!

        • Will S.,

          Tom’s comment about the importance of the stock fit and grip shape are the place to start looking for improvement. A Custom made stock is certainly the way things were done in the past and still today with fine wood stocks. Today we have the option to add many accessories that allow us to perfect the fit especially with the metal or synthetic Platform rifle, pistol, revolver, crossbow, or any other small arm.
          But we can also work on us the shooter; especially our hand and trigger finger.

          I use Power Putty 3-4 times per week to increase/ maintain my left and right hand and finger strength.
          I also do exercises that help my trigger finger(s) function isolated from any other hand and arm motion.

          I once told a famous Airgun writer that i was not a Trigger Nazi and could learn to deal with the imperfections of most all triggers that couldn’t be smithed away or at least improved.
          Your comment: “I can shoot so the rifle doesn’t twist, but it takes all my attention to do so.” that is the basis of my next observation.

          Triggers are at the root of almost all the bad habits of shooters in my opinion.

          Strengthen and train those hand and trigger fingers for better function and results.


  8. Tom,

    I like that the Barra 1866 has the best pumping geometry of any multipumper I have ever seen. It pumps easier than even the Seneca Dragonfly Mk2, in my experience.

    Like you I initially found the pellet loading frustrating and slow. But over time I developed a technique of loading that works well and is simple and quick. I hold the rifle muzzle down at a 45 degree angle to the ground and loading gate faced up. I pinch the pellet between my thumb and index finger and get right up to the opening. Then I lightly squeeze/drop the pellet right into the little channel behind the breech. Usually that puts the head of the pellet into the breech. Then a very slight shake is usually enough to get the pellet into the breech a lttle more, and finally the bolt does the rest of the job well.

    My memory might be a little unreliable here, but it seemed to me the trigger lightened slightly after a couple hundred shots.


    • Michael,
      Wow, I didn’t catch that. Looking back at the Seneca Dragonfly review/report, you are correct. This thing is easier to pump than even the Dragonfly. Less powerful, but still the Dragonfly hits 16 lbs on pump three. This thing’s max is 16 lbs on pump #9, then goes back to 15 lbs on ten pumps. NICE Bonus.
      I did try and look back that bb’s review of the Daisy 880 as those seem to pump easy. I may have missed it, but I didn’t see the pump effort listed.


  9. BB
    I don’t know if it will work for that rifle, but on my Daisy and Crosman pumpers that also shoot bbs, I have a little trick that makes it much easier for me. I first cock the bolt back, then move the bolt forward just enough that the tip “blocks” the bb port. Works good on those guns, so maybe that one to. I got tired of digging out pellets out of mine. So far this report looks promising for a low priced rifle.


  10. B.B. and Readership,

    Let us all take a moment at days end to remember those lost on 9-11-2001
    As well as those who lost loved ones and have suffered ever since; pray that they find solace.

    One day the Golden Rule may come to be honored by all.


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