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What’s good

TX200 Mark III
The TX200 Mark III is what’s good.

This report covers:

  • I like smooth
  • Respect
  • What do I like?
  • However
  • Others I have liked
  • But wait…
  • Diana 34 EMS
  • The moral
  • Bronco
  • BB’s dare to the airgun world

Today I want to talk about what is good and what makes it so. And you don’t have to agree with me. In fact, I think many of you should not agree. But ponder what I say and you may gain a deeper appreciation of why you like what you do in this hobby.

I like smooth

It was yesterday’s experience shooting the HW EL 54 Barakuda that prompted this report. And it was not the power of the ether injector that prompted it — it was the smoothness of the underlying HW 35 that I focused on. The day before that I had shot the Avenge-X precharged pneumatic that offered the same smoothness in different ways. And those two experiences started me thinking. They are completely different airguns, yet they both resonate with me in similar ways. Heck — Pyramyd AIR doesn’t even stock the HW 35, even though it is still being made and sold by Weihrauch.

HW 35
HW-35.

Respect

The Beeman R1 and the HW 80 that copied it were attempts to “magnumize” the HW 35 and get up to a respectable level of power. The only question is — who decides what’s respectable? Cocking a factory Beeman R1 is like bending the bow of Ulysses (or Odysseus for some folks). It’s hard. Cocking an HW 35 is MUCH easier.

Yeah, BB, but the R1 shoots faster! And this is where the rubber meets the road. Are we in a race to shoot faster or do we just like to shoot? The answer is yes for both approaches, but for BB Pelletier, the goal is to shoot and hit what he shoots at. If the airgun he shoots is also easy to shoot — so much the better.

What do I like?

I know what it is about airguns that I like. I like shooting and hitting my target. If the guns are also easy to shoot, then I’m really happy. Looking back over recent reports I discovered that I really like the HW 30S, once I tuned the powerplant with the Vortek PG3 SHO kit. It became smooth-shooting. But the final step was to get a stock that allowed me to shoot the rifle comfortably. The HW 30S stock that Weihrauch now ships with their rifle is shaped so I can’t acquire the rear sight easily.

The new stock was made by Steve Corcoran and fits me very well. It allows me to see the rear sight, which the new style factory stock does not.

HW 30S and new stock
Steve Corcoran stock made for my HW 30S

However, after I ordered the Steve Corcoran stock but before it was shipped to me, a reader told me about an old-style HW 30 factory stock that was being sold on the American Airguns classified ads page. I bought it and found it to work just fine. If I had not ordered the Corcoran stock, this one would have worked just fine.

HW 30S older stock mounted
The old-style HW 30 stock is mounted on the HW 30S barreled action. BB found that it worked fine as it was.

However

The stock made by Steve Corcoran worked better though. It fits me better because I was able to control the specifications and not just adapt to the one-size-fits-most stock that Weihrauch used to sell.

Stock Up on Shooting Gear

Others I have liked

There have been other air rifles and airguns that I have liked over the years. I won’t even touch on the Diana 27 that I like so much. Years ago I tuned a Diana 45 for a local friend. I buttoned the piston with Delrin buttons to eliminate all vibration and I dropped the velocity to make the rifle easier to cock. It wound up shooting so smoothly and was so accurate than I was delighted with it. I thought I would never like another air rifle as much as that one. Then I tuned my TX 200 Mark III with the 22mm kit from Tony Leach and things got even better! 

But wait…

Yep. After tuning reader RidgeRunner’s Diana 34 with the Vortek PG3 SHO kit, I was in love again. Apparently I like smooth-shooting air rifles that are accurate!

Diana 34 EMS

And just last week I tuned the Diana 34 Easy Modular System (EMS) with a Vortek Diana 34EMS gas spring conversion kit and discovered that the love never has to die. I don’t know about the velocity or accuracy of that one yet, but we are on the path to find it out!

Diana 34 EMS
The Diana 34 EMS is the perfect starting point for the Vortek gas spring conversion.

The moral

Okay, today I have told you my story. And I see something that I haven’t mentioned yet — money. Everything I have talked about is either custom or expensive to begin with. I have wanted to find a budget airgun for you guys, but in springers I haven’t succeeded yet. In PCPs I have found several, with the Avenger and the Avenge-X leading the pack. But springer guys will say there is an additional cost with a PCP that springers don’t have, and they are correct. However, there are no great cheap springers that I know of. And. when you compare prices, the Avenger and Avenge-X are not absolute bargain basement airguns, either. Apparently it takes some amount of money to make something that’s decently good.

Bronco

That was my hope for the Air Venturi Bronco — an affordable spring-piston airgun that was better than good. We did it for a few years, but the Bronco is history now.

Bronco
Air Venturi Bronco.

BB’s dare to the airgun world

I triple-dog-dare any airgun manufacturer to build and air rifle I design that will be beyond good and still be affordable. I define affordable as under $300 retail. I know I can do it; can one of you manufacturers build such a gun?

It has to be inexpensive, so we’re looking at offshore manufacturing. It has to be accurate, so we cannot compromise on the barrel. It has to be pleasant to shoot, so the trigger has to be very good and the power cannot be through the roof.

When I designed the Bronco all I did was put an existing airgun powerplant from Mendoza into an American-style stock. That was all!

When I took the idea of a low-pressure air fill to Crosman and they built the Discovery, I designed NOTHING! I simply demonstrated to Crosman that low air pressure works — a concept I learned from Tim McMurray and Larry Durham.

What I need to start with for this project is a spring-piston gun that works WELL and costs LITTLE.

56 thoughts on “What’s good”

  1. Tom,

    As in the Bronco first you have to find good bones to make good soup. Maybe something like the Hatsan Alpha or the Umarex Embark might be a good starting point.

    Siraniko

    PS: Section BB’s dare to the airgun world 3rd paragraph 1st sentence: “When I designed the Bronco all I did was put an existing airgun powerplant from Mendoza intro (into) an American-style stock.”

  2. The old-style HW 30 stock is mounted on the HW 30S barreled action. BB found that it worked fine as it was.

    BB,
    Yep; I concur with that assessment. I am so glad I bought my HW30S before they went to the new stock configuration. I like the looks of the old-style stock better, and it also fits me very well, AND makes the rifle shoot extremely well. Dave says, “When you have a winning formula, why not stick with it?” 😉
    Blessings to you,
    dave

      • Doc, roger that! I got my brother a Benjamin pumper with the old style stock, and he really likes it.
        I don’t think he’d be nearly as happy if it had the new style stock. 😉

      • Their new stock is perfect for scope use but not so good for the open sights. How about asking a wood stock for the Benjamin pumpers from the same guys who designed the 100yr 362 walnut stock? It could be made of walnut and in the same design shape as the old stocks of the Benjamin pumpers. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the front sight has to become fiber optic in between!?

    • HW30S Deluxe and Beeman R7 come with the older style stock. As long as they remain as they are, I am okay with the sporter stock on the new HW30S. There are different shapes of faces out there. Some might prefer the new sporter stock, you know.

      • “There are different shapes of faces out there.”

        Fish, I hear you, man!
        My old-style face needs the old-style stock, LOL!
        Yet it’s good to see that they do offer both options. 😉

  3. B.B.

    Here, across the pond, we still regret that CZ dropped production of slavia 630. After a bit of tunning, they get pretty dang close to hw 30s in terms of accuracy. Even with crude iron sights and trigger far behind REKORD they were most popular entry-level-but-stays-with-me-forever airgun, especially with the price 2/3 of weihrauch, yet still being wood and steel only rifle.

    But is there still place for this dream in the market? Those who knows, goes for weihrauch, those who don’t, takes tacticool supersonic velocity crap with glowy thingies attached. Of course there is some folks like readers of this blog, but is it enough to cover the cost of development and make some profit? Diana just gave up this segment of market some years ago.

    Perhaps I’m too pesimistic. I’m sure that Godfather of airguns knows better.

    -Rafał.

    • Rafał,

      You will not believe how popular Slavia was in Poland. There were many tuning kits, solutions to make it better. I once shoot a tuned 630 and the trigger was crisp and light, shot cycle great without vibrations. Customized stock – it looked just great. And it was affordable.

      Don’t be so pesimistic. My prediction is, that you will have to look for one special model, not for one and only maker. There will be always some great price-perfomance ones to find.

      • Tomek,

        I would. I am from Poland, and in Poland right now lol. I found my perfect airgun already- i am devoted to plain hw 30s with irons- thats all i need for serious airguning.

        -Rafał.

        • Witam Rafała! Milo spotkac Rodaka w tak abstrakcyjnym miejscu 🙂

          I have to pack whole family – tomorrow we will also go visit family and friends in Poland. Dilema: what to take with me for some shooting? Recently I took so many airguns and was able to shortly shoot two of them… Now I think I will reduce the list to 30s and 2240.

    • Greetings from Germany. I like my Slavia 631, and would never trade it for anything else.
      You may be happy to hear that a Slovak company resumed production of the Slavia. It is sold as “Perun” 630, 631,634.

  4. I wonder which manufacturer will be the first to accept B.B. Pelletier’s offer of powerful knowledge? 🙂

    ———
    As well as a more affordable quality springer, I would like to see some already good ones made even better:
    For example, today’s top airgun could be really easily improved by simply having it’s calibre printed on the action. I wonder if any Very Important People at Air Arms realise how significant that information is ?! 🙂

        • Exactly. Imagine you build up a good studio-quality speakers, and as usually you painted it with those profesional structured black paint. People will say mmhhh yeahh mmmhhh. Same boxes with a nice rosewood veneer will be like WOOOW. I experienced it many times.
          Nobody makes the profi speakers like this, with some golden connections and silver cables. They are tools for sound. People who knows hear them and not watch them. Like holding a rifle just to watch and shooting a rifle.

      • Tomek,

        Most people listen mostly with their eyes. A guitarist plays a gig with a Stratocaster and a Fender amp, and even if he is in a punk band, patrons will on the way home comment, “he was just another Stevie Ray Vaughan imitator.”

        Hi Fi manufacturers have long known that good looking gear sells well.

        The speakers I listen to the most, classic 1980s Shahinian Obelisks, are below (stock photo, but the same model). To me they look great, but some audiophiles think they’re ugly.

        Michael

  5. Just happened to be on eBay and found a bunch of really nice used custom? finished or tuned airguns.
    Look up – Airguns TX200 Mk I, tuned by Jan Kranner- other items for sale by seller.

    • Bob M,

      if I may assault with an off-topic question (or 2): how are you getting on with your Barra 9981?
      Oh, and when you get around to it, how does it compare to your Umarex Legends Cowboy please?
      Thanks. 🙂

      • hihihi,
        Barra 1866 / 9981, still in box, working on Mag-Fire Ultra, on and off for now. Working on getting two cars with suspended registrations transferred and registered to me now. May involve a few trips into town. Today is shot and rain in forecast.

        But that’s a good comparison check. They are not exactly the same. Like to know myself. Soon as I can,

  6. B.B., P.A. lists a Beeman R7 at $399.00. So your $300 threshold should not require total cheap-out manufacturing. The Diana Two Forty with a better trigger (T01) and upgraded sights should easily make your short list. Heck a used HW30S gets you there.

    Is there a market anymore for these gals? What if the competition forced Weiraurch to exit the field or go cheap like Diana? I notice from watching auction sites that folks sell off their Diana 34s and seem to be hanging onto their 24s. Sorry for the random thoughts.

    • Roamin Greco,

      In my personal opinion hw 30s is the very reason that there are no other little gals. Weihrauch just cut off the competitors, and completely fill the niche of low powered light and accurate springers. There is a cult following, and i’m pretty sure they will make it for next few decades with a little changes.

      -Rafał.

  7. BB,

    You really made me think about what attracts me to shooting.

    As many here know, I love anything that shoots a projectile and “anything” ranges from slingshots to centerfire rifles.

    For me the attraction is the challenge of hitting the target with whatever I’m using, to find my maximum effective range and that of the weapon. The maximum effective range might be 10 yards for a slingshot or 100 yards for an airgun. My preferred target is, as a constant, a 1 inch spinner.

    I’m getting into 100 yard bench shooting. A .25 or a .30 would be best, I chose a .22 because it’s more challenging.

    Things like accuracy/consistency, a good trigger, smooth operation, a quiet shooting cycle are all desirable and I naturally prefer weapons like that but I’m happy to work with whatever is available.

    It’s not always about performance or cost. I’m into archery and my favorite bow is homemade, cost under a dollar and has a maximum effective range of 20ish yards. It shoots beautifully and I wouldn’t trade it for the best compound bow available.

    I agree that a good quality reasonably priced springer could be well received. Something accurate in medium size and weight with moderate power and cocking force would be ideal.

    I think that the most difficult thing in marketing such an airgun would be reaching the intended customers (casual shooters and people new to airgunning) as they don’t know what they need and should want. They are overwhelmed with cheap, low quality airguns and sensational advertising claims that they see in the big-box stores. Don’t think that you can attract them to airgunning (even using a perfect $300 springer for bait), they have to be educated so that they understand what the trade-offs are and buy according to their needs.

    Interesting subject!

    Cheers!
    Hank

    • Hank,

      I totally agree that the education of new shooters has to well thought out to steer them away from faster velocity. I wonder if there is a clever marketing ploy being developed out there to attract them to accuracy and fun?

      Siraniko

      • Siraniko,

        Don’t know if that’s possible. The marketing people are payed big bucks to woo their target audiences and they are very good at it. Certainly much better than I could ever hope to come up with.

        Guess that the only hope is that potential new airgunners are not driven away by bad experiences with poor equipment sold by those only interested in making a quick buck.

        With any luck, they persevere, do some research and get good stuff.

        Fortunately, a great many people getting into airgunning have firearms experience and an idea of what to look for.

        A reasonably priced, accurate springer in medium size and weight with moderate power and cocking force would be ideal.

        Hank

    • “It’s not always about performance or cost. I’m into archery and my favorite bow is homemade, cost under a dollar and has a maximum effective range of 20ish yards. It shoots beautifully and I wouldn’t trade it for the best compound bow available.”

      Hank, he has gone on to his heavenly reward; but if he was still here, my wife’s granddad would be proud of you for that! He was quite upset when her brother went and bought a compound bow.
      granddad: “What’s wrong with the bow I made for you?” 😉

    • How about a COMPLETE starter kit or a coupon for a complete starter kit with a list of everything a new airgunner needs: Airgun, eyepro, ammo, targets, backstop, cleaning and maintenance starter kit, lifetime subscription to Pyramyd Air videos and of course, this blog, all for $300-400.

        • Right you are, but I am recalling the great amout of research and time that went into getting outfitted for my own airgun Renaissance. I ended up choosing an Umarex Embark but needed a can of Ballistol, some silicone chamber lube, a cleaning rod, tips, patches…maybe a guest blog is shaping up. But back to the original concept. How do you market a medium powered springer in a big box mega Magnum world? My idea is to give folks an easier path to the right equipment to get them started right.

      • Roamin Greco,

        you do know that many people will think, ‘How much cheaper would this airgun be without all those extras?’.
        Also, many sellers will compete by offering a ‘Beginner Starter Kit’ with poor quality items.

        I think the common denominator that so often spoils good ideas is: money! 🙁
        Can anybody even imagine their next acquisition without thinking about cost? 🙂

        • You are right, Hihihi, so everything can always be purchased separately.

          My idea is to give a discount for a basket of good quality items as a complete starter kit. I have seen the starter kits provided with some other guns. This is not what I am thinking.

          • Hopefully someone at PA or the airgun companies are paying attention? Diana Two-Fourty, eye pro, some paper targets and a package of silhouettes, a tin of Hobbys, and an RWS cleaning kit for $139.99, maybe?

  8. Economy can often come from large scale production. I wonder if adjustable gas pistons that would work in a variety of different guns might be a way to ramp up the quantity and thereby reduce the cost.

  9. FM thinks – don’t think too much FM, your head may detonate – he’s in the “less power, more accuracy, smooth shoot” school. Yeah, says the one who nevertheless could not resist acquiring an HW90. No regrets.
    When it comes to powder burners, the Ruger 10/22 meets B.B.’s criteria for a gun that works well but costs little. Note: this is only FM’s two-cents’ opinion. That’s a bargain!

  10. I was thinking about the Slavia 634 as a gun that fit BB’s criteria but it didn’t sell well.

    For me, I want a lightweight gun. I think that is why I have preferred the BSA Supersports over the HW95, R9, and RWS 34. I enjoy pistol carbines built on the PP700, the Crosman Mk1, Crosman 600, and the Crosman Marauder Pistol.

    I also like some guns that are hard to shoot well but so much fun when mastered. That makes lightweight powerful springers fun as well as pistols like the Webley Tempest. I would rather shoot my Webley Tempest than my FWB 65 or 90.

    I really like is adjustable power. I like the Crosman 180 with its 2 power settings, the P1 with two power settings, a FX Cyclone or Gladiator with 3 power settings, etc.

    I like guns that take several steps to shoot. It slows my down and I enjoy the slow rhythm.

    David Enoch

  11. BB,

    I’ve had one in my mind for a while. Hatsan Striker Wood Spring Combo, which is listed at $159.99 on Hatsan USA website. It comes with a scope – included in the price.

    My suggestions to improve:
    – First thing first, this springer should come without a scope – so now, it becomes even cheaper than the original price tag!
    – Replace the spring with a weaker one – detune it down to the same power level with the Diana 27. Or somewhere between the HW30S and HW50S power levels – definitely down to some power level a tad weaker than the 50S.
    – Recrown the barrel, a lot of room for accuracy improvement here. I’m hoping that I’ve used the term correctly.
    – Remove the recoil pad from the stock and shape the buttstock as the same way on the last Diana 27 that didn’t have such pad – those pads are useless on springers, in my opinion.
    – Replace the plastic trigger guard with some metal version. Plastic on steel / wood looks horrid.
    – Replace the sights with the similar sights on the HW30S. No need for interchangable front sight inserts; it could be like the latest Diana 27 globe sights. How much more expensive could such improvement be?
    – There are several YT videos on how to make the OEM trigger of this springer much better; one of the solutions could be applied.
    – Or the Woodfield Welsh Willy Hatsan Striker replacement trigger could be used as upgrade. I’ve read amazing reviews on that. Doesn’t have to be the same; some simple upgrade as such is what I am looking for. What I’m saying here is there are multiple ways to improve the OEM trigger on this springer.
    – The size must be kept as is. No need for ‘compact design ideas.’ The extra weight / size would absorb the recoil.

    That’s it. In the end the price will still be around $159.99. Perhaps a little higher due to some design changes / upgrades but still be way under $199.99 after all is said and done.

    This can also be implemented on the Striker Spring Combo, which is the synthetic stock version that is listed at $134.99 with scope on Hatsan USA website. Same improvement suggestions above, other than:
    – Keep the recoil pad.
    – Keep the plastic trigger guard as it is the part of the synthetic stock.
    – Keep the plastic OEM sights as is. Just get rid of the fiberoptics, and redesign the OEM front sight as squared block blade in the globe.

    This one could even end up cheaper than the wood stock version at the end of the day. I remember you were telling that you would be testing the ZADA some time. Would it be possible to ask for a Striker Springer with it from Hatsan for that test? I wonder if the ZADA is the same inside as the Striker. Also, this could give you a chance to test some of the suggestions above if you’re interested in the idea.

    Here are the YT videos that inspired this comment:
    https://youtu.be/Y-_8GFENqKc?si=yH-qzwYGn2mPMxDa
    https://youtu.be/Jv6pWeJp5xs?si=ihuFosfh1_hCbsDQ
    https://youtu.be/sjG5p_G3fC0?si=POQ-UT5eyIp7XoDD
    https://youtu.be/YYWFqNJgBoM?si=mpp6H74KfgFA16sr
    This last video is about the Edge, but I believe it is the same as the Striker other than the stock.

    You see BB, all I knew was how to shoot my Diana 27 accurately. That was all, really… If I’m able to come up with such a comment today, that’s all thanks to you. I’ve learned a lot reading your blog. Hopefully, I’ve made sense with my suggestions.

    Fish

  12. B.B.,

    “They are completely different airguns, yet they both resonate with me in similar ways.”

    Hmmm. If they are smooth, perhaps resonate is not quite the right word. Engage? Move? Connect?

    Michael

  13. Weihrauch has the tiny HW25L, which is almost unknown in the USA.
    This gun is pretty much what BB wanted to achieve with the Bronco: An affordable, nicely shooting youth airgun.
    (Ok, the Weihrauch is not that cheap..but it’s is really nice)

  14. I have to concur with the premise of BB at the head of this blog; I want an air gun that shoots well by way of a decent trigger, a smooth and consistent shot cycle, and a stock that fits with an well-made barrel.

    I recently purchased from P/A a Norica Dragon in .25 to shoot up a bunch of .25 pellets that will NEVER shoot straight in my far more powerful and expensive Hatsan 135 because the latter’s bore is annoyingly oversized.

    The Dragon has a very smooth shot cycle for a metal springer, after the administration of a few well-placed drops of RWS Spring Chamber oil. It is extremely consistent and the trigger is smooth enough to not affect the POA. It has a synthetic stock that fits me well.

    It is no jarring powerhouse but puts the .25 rounds down range very, very consistently. Only the glowy sights are my only negative. If I can get a high sight line Target Knob peep from Williams Gun Sight Company, it will be a real piece – particularly for pesting larger vermin in the yard as well as obliterating paper at 10M.

    I have a spread of air arms in the springer and gas ram venue save for one single-pump pneumatic pistol and a leaking Crosman .22 pumper. What keeps an air arm in the locker or disposes it to the trash is the quality of the trigger and the consistency of the shot cycle and ability to land a projectile where I aim it.

    I agree with Tom, one needs to hit what one aims at or there’s not much going for it. That is, after all, what marksmanship is about – hitting the target consistently and being able to do it again and again.

  15. B.B. and Readership,

    Good, what is it?
    What works for you.
    But the problem is actually; do you know what that is.
    The new airgun buyer typically goes to the Big Box Store or searches on-line. Do you find what works for you there? Probably not. So where can you go to find out?
    That is at the heart of the problem the adult airgun community has. Most adult airgun owners shoot alone or in very small groups in their basements or back yards.
    They don’t go to the range or are lucky enough to live near a club with an airgun range.
    Marketing types and the issues have been covered to death but the only tool we adult airgun shooters have is Word-Of-Mouth and that doesn’t work in the basement or backyard very well. We need clubs that are social and fun without the Field Target or Competition effect of driving all the fun out of airguns with HIGH COST and worse still ATTITUDES that scream you are not part of our clique and not welcomed here. Various reasons are the norm…You brought a PCP! WE only shoot Spring Piston, .177 under 12FPS, 10 Meter Target Guns, Marauders, AA, BSA, Weihrauch, SIG, DAQs, AirForce….

    Own worst enemies comes to mind.

    NOT Good…hmmmm!

    shootski

  16. “I triple-dog-dare any airgun manufacturer to build and air rifle I design that will be beyond good and still be affordable. I define affordable as under $300 retail. I know I can do it; can one of you manufacturers build such a gun?

    It has to be inexpensive, so we’re looking at offshore manufacturing. It has to be accurate, so we cannot compromise on the barrel. It has to be pleasant to shoot, so the trigger has to be very good and the power cannot be through the roof.”

    The HW30S is tantalizingly close already even after recent inflation. Airguns of Arizona has the synthetic stock listed at $340.

    Replace the fine blue with a cheaper finish and the fine sights with something more basic, and you should be close to the price point even without Crosman big box – like economies of scale.

    Cheers,
    Nathan

  17. There was one break barrel springer that has developed an almost cult like following and received near universal praise: the Sig Asp. Make as close a copy of that as you can legally get away with and if you do it well it won’t matter if you charge $400 for it.

  18. My vote is for the Slavia 630. Great gun, great trigger, great barrel. I picked one up at Findlay a couple years ago for $140. I knew what I was getting, didn’t even haggle. It shoots a very comfortable and smooth 610 fps with 7.9g pellets. A keeper for sure.

    I’m happy to hear they are being made again under a new license, under the name “Perun.”. Unfortunately only available in Europe.

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