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Ammo Barra Cowboy Series 1866 BB and pellet rifle: Part Six

Barra Cowboy Series 1866 BB and pellet rifle: Part Six

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Air Arms Falcon pellets
  • Loading
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets
  • Discussion
  • Summary

I said I would shoot the Barra Cowboy Series 1866 BB and pellet rifle one more time while wearing my reading glasses to see the front sight clearly. This is that test. The question is, is the rifle any more accurate with pellets when I can see the front sight more clearly?

The test

The rifle was rested directly on a sandbag and shot from 10 meters. I shot ten shots with each of two pellets. The rifle was pumped five times for each shot.

This won’t be a big test. It’s just enough to show us whether seeing the front sight better makes any difference — and just with this rifle. We will also be better able to form a final opinion of this air rifle.

Air Arms Falcon pellets

First to be tested were Air Arms Falcon pellets. The first shot fired hit above the target I aimed at, so I held the tip of the front sight to the bottom of the deep rear sight notch and shot ten more times. Ten pellets made a group that measures 1.179-inches between centers at 10 meters. If you examine the target you will see that guessing the elevation was a big problem. Half the shots are in a 0.32-inch group at the lower left. From this target we can suppose all sorts of things, but my guess is this rifle is quite accurate and suffers from sights that don’t support its capability.

Barra Cowboy Falcon group
The Barra Cowboy put ten Air Arms Falcon pellets into a 1.179-inch group at 10 meters.

In part 3 of this report The Barra Cowboy put five of these same pellets into a 0.812-inch group. So the accuracy hasn’t improved from seeing the front sight more clearly.

Loading

I had more problems loading the pellet this time than ever before. I had to use long needle-nosed tweezers and wear a headlamp to see into the breech. I jammed two pellets out of a total of 24. One more was lost inside the receiver where it still lives.

RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets

The second pellet fired was the RWS R10 Match Pistol. In Part 3 five of them made a 0.56-inch group and 10 went into 0.917-inches. Today when I could see the front sight more clearly ten pellets went into 0.949-inches. That’s no change, whatsoever. Apparently I saw the front sight well enough to shoot my best with the Barra Cowboy last time.

Barra Cowboy R10 group
The Barra Cowboy put 10 RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets into a 10-meter group that measures 0.949-inches between centers.

Build a Custom Airgun

Discussion

After this test and the frustration with loading pellets I have to observe this rifle has superb accuracy but the wonky sights and difficult pellet loading process make it a BB gun for sure. Why didn’t I use the Vana2 single-shot loader? Because the breech cover also closes when the bolt goes forward and there is no way to use the loader that I can see. The same will be true for the Crosman Legacy 1000 whose breech cover also moves with the bolt. Those covers hide the pellet loader and can eventually cut it off.

Summary

I think we have gone about as far as we can go with the Barra Cowboy rifle. It has some good DNA, but a couple weird design things (the rear sight and the breech) make it best for BBs. It is quite accurate with them, as well as being quite easy to pump.

95 thoughts on “Barra Cowboy Series 1866 BB and pellet rifle: Part Six”

  1. B.B.,

    RWS R10 CAPTION Errata:
    Perhaps if you hadn’t chosen to shoot the Pictol pellet model of the R10s things might have gone differently…9.49-inches…put on your readers please.

    “The Barra Cowboy put 10 RWS R10 Match
    Pictol
    pellets into a 10-meter group that measures
    9.49-inches
    between centers.”

    Today is my seventy fifth birthday so i get to bust your chops today.

    Lol!

    shootski

  2. Tom,

    This is the kind of rifle that I have a hard time imagining the reason why they made it that way. A multi stroke pneumatic makes sense as a pellet gun, but I cannot stretch my imagination as to why they had to make the loading so inconvenient as to practically push the user into using BBs. I would like to think if they had somebody actually using it during the design phase (fat chance of this ever happening!) this could have been fixed before this was released to the market.

    Siraniko

    • Siraniko,

      TCFKAC has been doing the same thing for years. It just looks different. The only assumption I can come up with is that if you are too cheap to buy a regular pellet rifle, you are too cheap to buy pellets. This thing is for the kids to play cowboys and indigenous Americans with, not for serious plinkers.

  3. To Bill from Greece: Χρόνια πολλά, να είναι ευτιχησμένος ο νέος έτος και να χαιρόμαστε το ονομά μας!

    • Καλή Χρονιά Βασίλη
      I thought that everyone in US would go to bed early after New Year’s Eve celebration so I didn’t join here as early as usual, for me that is.
      Happy New Year Everyone

  4. Happy New Year BB!

    I wanted to thank you for keeping me company on your day off yesterday, even though you didn’t know that you did. I am home sick with bronchitis and spent the day napping and reading every blog you wrote over the years on the FWB 124 as I finally found one and it is on the way here. It’s a later sport deluxe with serial number in the 40k range described as great condition and shoots well. It’s missing the sights unfortunately but has a one piece mount and an AO scope and leather Beeman sling. This blog is a gift that keeps giving!

    Bob

  5. Grüß Gott Herr Schuss-Schi,

    Ich wünsche Ihnen und der guten Gesellschaft viel Spaß an diesem tollen Tortentag! 🙂

    (I wish you and your good company lots of fun on this great cake day!)

  6. BB,

    What a way to start the year off.

    I shot my Grandson’s friend’s Crosman 150 that I had resealed for him yesterday. It belonged to his Grandfather. Now I wish it was mine.

    • RidgeRunner,

      Those look sweet, don’t they? And one can purchase rifled barrels in .177 or .22 for them, too. Barra seems to read all of the air gun social media and put a lot of our spoken desires into their products. How many times has one of us written that a particular air gun should also come in .22? What manufacturer has then done it? I can think only of Barra for that one.

      Barra appears to be using all of us for market research! About time somebody did that, eh?

      Michael

      • Michael,

        They are not for me, but I can most definitely see where others would not mind picking up one of these.

        Other companies do pay close attention to what “we” think and say. It is just that some are a bit “quicker on the draw”. Let us see if they did this right or if it is just another POS.

        • RidgeRunner,

          thanks for your reply.
          I am happy that Bob M has both underlevers and in his comments has already given a good idea of their differences.
          I just hope he continues to post many comments because they can provide a picture each. 🙂

  7. Just read the reviews of this Barra Cowboy Series 1866 on the Pyramyd Air website.

    Among other reviews, “Very accurate and easy to load,” “Best gun I ever bought” and this one, “shoots beautifully, came with bullets to practice with.”

  8. B.B.,

    I’m again sorry to hear about your difficulties loading pellets with this one. I have developed a simple technique that works most of the time (maybe 85%) for me. But I am frustrated because I have now tried to describe it in writing for you four times and ended up erasing each draft. I can tell each time it didn’t make much sense.

    Nevertheless, key for me is pointing the muzzle towards the ground at about a 45 degree angle and pinching the pellet between the thumb and forefinger of my right hand with the head pointing in the same direction as the muzzle. Then I lightly press the tips of the thumb and forefinger against the open breach and leave the thumb behind, lightly pushing the pellet sideways into the opening with my forefinger. Sometimes I give the rifle a very a slight shake sideways to get the pellet started.

    I tried twice to take photos of me doing it, but my fingers are like fire hydrants and block the subject.

    Michael

  9. B.B.,

    Off-topic, but many of us like slingshots, so I thought I’d share this. NASA is looking very seriously at not allowing the International Space Station to re-enter the atmosphere and burn up. They might instead start using it as an anchor to “slingshot” spacecraft into the far reaches of the universe a la Apollo 13 slingshotting around the moon to be able to return to Earth.

    Michael

  10. Hey Shootski, happy birthday! A perfect excuse to purchase another air rifle.

    BB, as for losing that pellet in the Barra internals, I’ve sold more than one car and motorcycle with a 10mm socket hiding somewhere in the frame rails/engine compartment. Never hurt anything except my wallet in buying more 10mm sockets.

    Happy New New to the Blog!

    Fred formerly of the Demokratik Peeples Republik of NJ now happily in freezing GA!

  11. Hoppalong Doc,

    I totally respect my elders!

    Thank you for the B.D. wish, Sir.

    B.B. sees the pesky sights just fine. He corrected the PISTOL but 9.49“ group size is remains in the caption. So unless that target is a 1000 meter target sure looks like Tom shot a .949 inch group; or perhaps he owns a very large Dime.

    shootski

  12. May this new year be the best year ever.

    Best wishes to all.

    As Marie Antoinette would say
    Let them eat cake or brioche. I forget.
    I have one Daisy 1959 model 99 and two model 299s.

    All them loaded up and don’t have to reload till 2025.

    Have been resealed with Cobalt’s springs and air transfer tubes and are now my new can openers.

    Waiting for the next Feinwerkbau 127 episode.

    • Thanks Shootski! And Happy Birthday to you! Nice paddle there, I am find with my Werner Hooked carbon fiber paddle for my yak but that looks like top shelf stuff there. May it serve you well!

      I turned the corner on my illness when I woke up this morning. You know that feeling when you have been sick for a week and half and you wake up and something just feels different. I am not well, still weak as a kitten, but I can see and feel the light at the end of the tunnel. Great feeling! Makes you appreciate your health when it’s good. FWB shipped today so it should be here in 5 days or so, time enough to be in tip top shape if the Lord willing and the creek down rise with a setback.

      Be well!!

      Bob

  13. Believe me I feel bad about not getting to do a comparison between the CO2 Legends and Berra lever actions. I have them sitting on my coffee table now to remind me.
    Actually got another gold and the black version of the Barra 1866 without even ringing out the first one. They are that nice.
    This has been the worst year of my life, and I am depressed about all the things I have put off this last year. Spent the first half dealing with my friend with Alsheimer’s and driving hundreds of miles with many trips to deal with him and his possessions that still obstruct my sheds and garage. Then there was mother nature’s destruction and extraordinary vehicle issues in Dec. Got an SUV for almost nothing but it has been in storage for years and is not listed in the DMV records. No, it’s not stolen.

    This pump action seems to be designed by committee, trying to satisfy everyone but compromised in many ways.
    There is something enjoyable about replicating the lever action when shooting these rifles that is missing with the pump in this case.

    The CO2 Barra, Legends and A&K Airsoft are all different from each other, in many ways, but all are outstanding, well-made replica, fun guns. The Barra is more in line with a Yellow Boy. Especially in gold tone version.
    Top-Airsoft. Middle-Barra. Bottom-Legends

    • Bob M,

      wow, what a picture! If it’s true what they say, then you’re already over a thousand words into your comparison report. 🙂

      The barrels look very different but, the biggest surprise for me, is, how the replicated wood compares. I used to think that my Legends Cowboy had the most convincing plastic-wood butt, but now, I don’t know… 🙂

      I hope I’m not alone in looking forward to your next snippet of information, including more pictures?

      _________
      PS I guess you need a holiday, maybe a week or more to relax and reflect, eh, oh and, as they say, to recharge your batteries… 🙂

      • Hihihi,
        Aside from shooting specs do you have any specific questions I can answer now?

        Both the Legend and Barra1866 are made in Taiwan of the same material. Both rated at 600fps, operate in the same way and cost about the same, so I’m sure they will shoot the same. The parts are slightly different. The Barra is a bit larger in all dimensions with an octagon outer barrel, has a small removable weaver rail for a micro-dot and may have a caliber change and rifled barrel options. That may improve accuracy. Yet to see there.
        Neither has windage adjustment so extreme accuracy was not a high priority, Unless it’s already dead on?
        The Barra has a push button released hinged butt cap with an enclosed nicely leveraged Allen wrench. The Legends has the Allen wrench / Rotating locking cam as part of the removable cap.

        They both have a “Grip Safety” A small button that gets depressed when the lever is squeezed in a grip.
        The Legends is forward just behind the trigger and the Barra is at the rear depressed by the small tab protruding at the end.

      • hihihi,
        I’m going to assume the Barra 1866 shoots the same as the Legends Cowboy as BB discussed in his blog on it. He determined he was keeping it. Don’t think he ever finished it with light weight pellets and a certain BB and don’t know if he intends to do a report on the CO2 Barra 1866.
        If the Barra shoots about the same, I’ll just mention it. But I would like to do the rifled barrel swap and see how pellets do. Either way it won’t be as in-depth as BB would do and its cold outside and my skin is getting thin!

        • Bob M,

          thank you for so much more information! 🙂

          I like the comparison picture (!) and description. 🙂
          Do you have a preference of those design differences, you know, like I seem to think you prefer the separate hex key over the version with it being a part of the end cap?

          Oh yeah, very much a defining feature, has to be the use of the individual cartridges. I wonder if and what any differences might be and do the guns load-, cycle- and eject them differently?

          Facts are ok, pictured side-by-side differences are better. 🙂

          I am also interested in your biased and personal opinions. For example, how do you feel about your underlevers, maybe you even have a current favourite? 🙂

          ———
          PS I really, really like how Barra asked for your thoughts. And an early, pre-Peacemaker Colt style revolver without the top strap… ooh, yess please! 🙂

          • hihihi,
            Had to deal with the rain yesterday.
            Yes, the setup with the CO2 Barra hinged cap is a better way to go. Much easier to open and close. The Allen wrench is a bit awkward to use as part of the end cap on the Legends, but it probably won’t get misplaced or lost being there. The Barra is snap locked in the stock compartment.

            The Legends is balanced well, and the Barra feels a bit heavier in the grip area. It has more metal there. I can’t say I prefer one over the other, they are different rifles and have different sights. The short, removable, Weaver rail on the Barra is a big plus for me but you are restricted to a small dot sight being a top shell ejector. That will work better for me.

            To be honest, I don’t look forward to dealing with ejecting shells, especially metal ones (HINT-Hint) Cheap low-cost replaceable plastic would be nice for everyday use, if feasible.
            With that in mind I prefer the ‘Walther’ with the removable mag, and it is scoopable.

            It’s a tossup on which ‘looks’ better. The Barra Golden “Yellow Boy” or the Walther Wells Fargo. I don’t care for the bigger CO2 bottle version. The stock is distorted to accommodate it.

            I would take the golden Barra over the Legends just for looks but if they ever do a golden Legends. I would have to get it too.
            Under levers are fun to shoot, but not as a pumper. Co2 or spring, OK. Just like loading a Colt SAA cylinder, part nostalgia.
            Both rifles require a deliberate full forward action. Any casual lever swing may result in a jamb up. That may change some with break in? The Legends seems to cycle better.
            The shells of each are different in length. The longer Legends won’t work in the Barra, but the shorter Barra ones seem to cycle just fine in the Legends. Also, the Legends cartridges have a thicker rear seal and may work better? I would have to do a Chrony check to see but I don’t plan to switch or mix cartridges. They both damage the shells rim slightly and may need to be sanded smooth at some point.
            Probably the extractor although it does not extract a shell from the barrel, they butt up against it. It looks like it acts like an extractor, a spring-loaded claw gripping the shell rim, but it functions more in the ejecting of the cartridge as a pivot point on top of the bolt.

            The lever action and cartridges are not too practical these days for an airgun but make for a great replica shooting experience.

            • Bob M,

              what an information-rich reply, thanks!
              All that’s left to learn now, is, how their shooting actually compares.

              Personally, I am very happy that the ejecting shells for my Umarex Legends Cowboy are made of metal. Would you please help me understand why you would prefer plastic?

              By the way, what do you think of your A&K airsoft underlever?

              ———
              Pictured are my three lever action long arms. Well, at least the top two are, but the bottom one barely ejects bbs. 🙁
              Note: the Walther/ top rifle, has an adjustable wooden forearm! 🙂

              ( I’m joking, it’s just become slidey – one day I’ll glue it in place… )

  14. About Barra,
    Yes, they are actively listening to Air Gunners. Not only that, they sent me an email asking what kind of airguns I would like to see in the future, any suggestions?
    I mentioned that the black CO2 1866 lever action was missing the 10 cartridges in the box. I received more with the barrel conversion kits and was not hurting for them but without my even asking, they sent me replacements. Now that’s Customer Service. And I requested and got a nice discount on the ‘second’ Gold Tone 1866 I ordered, being a loyal customer. I have a few of their other airguns.

    I requested something like high powered select fire PCP BB M60 or SAW M249 but that’s just me and my expectations are not high there. But keeping with the Western theme, some older six shooters like a Colt Navy or Dragoon.

      • Shootski,
        Just now added your answer to my reply to 3hi. You can just see it in my first pic of the three together and perhaps on the Barra.
        The Legends button is in the trigger shadow.
        They are both about 1/16″ in diameter and protrusion. The lever does not really sit on them unless gripped and they may both act as a totally poor bumper. Both have no noticeable spring resistance.

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