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Ammo The Morton Harris Marksman air pistol: Part Four

The Morton Harris Marksman air pistol: Part Four

Morton Harris Marksman

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Pellets
  • Velocity with unflared pellets
  • Flared pellet skirts
  • Discussion
  • Aiming
  • BBs
  • Velocity with BBs
  • Darts
  • Next

Today we look at the velocity of my Morton Harris Marksman air pistol. As a reminder, Ian McKee and I are “writing the book” on the Morton Harris Marksman pistol, since not much documentation exists. 

And know that I oiled the leather piston seal liberally several weeks ago. That oil is still showing, so today’s velocities should be as good as it gets.


I’ll start with pellets. I only tested one pellet because this air pistol isn’t one you will leave as a legacy, unless you don’t shoot it. The zinc metal parts and the hammering design of the piston conspire to beat the pistol apart over time.

I tested it with the H&N Excite Econ. I tested that pellet both as it comes straight from the tin and again with its skirts flared the way I explained in Part 1.

Mortom pellets flared and not
Pellet on the left was flared with the pin pinch I showed in Part 1. Pellet on the right is straight from the tin.

Morton unflared seated
A pellet that isn’t flared seats itself deep in the barrel.

Morton flared seated
The picture is blurry but you can see that the flared pellet didn’t drop into the barrel as deeply.

Velocity with unflared pellets

I shot a 13-shot string because the first three shots seemed to be needed to wake up the piston seal. 


Can you see that the pistol seems to need three shots before it is warmed up? I must remember that, but it is pretty common for a lower-velocity airgun that has a leather piston seal to need a few shots before it settles down.

The pistol seems to shoot this un-flared pellet at around 200 f.p.s. At this point I wondered if flaring the skirts would speed them up. I decided to shoot a string of five of the same pellets to find out.

Flared pellet skirts


That was a surprise. I expected the flared pellets to shoot faster than the un-flared ones but as you can see — they didn’t. So I shot two more un-flared pellets.


The pistol seems to be loosing velocity when the pellet fits the bore tighter. Or at the very least it doesn’t seem to benefit from flaring the pellet skirts. Also I noted that the slide catch on the left side of the pistol backs out of its notch every time the pistol is fired.

Morton cocked
The pistol is cocked and the side latch is as far up as it will go.

Morton fired
Just after the pistol was fired the side latch has slipped down.


It would seem that this pistol shoots this pellet around 200 f.p.s. or slightly faster when they are straight from the tin. It also seems that flaring the pellet skirts is a waste of time.

Stock Up on Shooting Gear


Remember how slanted down the barrel is? Look at the first picture if you can’t remember. Well, the pellet goes out the same way the barrel is looking. In other words, this pistol will shoot way low with the sights. And the design of the pistol leaves no option to correct it.

Like pellets I only tested the pistol with a single brand of BB. Since flaring isn’t possible with a steel BB, this is just a string of ten. I shot the ASG Blaster BB that I know to be on the larger side and also very uniform. As a bonus, they are also a bargain.

BBs aren’t loaded into the barrel. Do that and they roll straight through. Instead, press the BB into the rubber seal when the barrel is open.

Morton BB
Press BBs into the rubber seal behind the barrel.

Velocity with BBs

Since the pistol was already warmed up I just shot a 10-shot string.


I will accept this string as typical for this pistol. That means the average velocity of this BB is about 214 f.p.s. That seems okay to me. The aiming situation remains the same as for the pellet, of course. And the side latch doesn’t move when BBs are fired.


I only shot one dart for velocity and I’ll tell you why. Most of my .177-caliber darts have a very tiny ridge on the rear of their metal bodies and they will not enter the barrel of this pistol. If it turned out to be an accurate dart shooter I would go to the trouble of removing that ridge from several darts, but since the barrel slants down so severely I don’t think it’s worth the effort.

The one dart I shot went out at 76.7 f.p.s. and stuck in the cardboard rubber mulch box. I think that’s all I’ll do with darts in this pistol. The side latch remained where it should be.


I do plan on shooting the pistol for accuracy with BBs and pellets, but with the downward-slanting barrel it might prove to be a wasted effort. But since Ian McKee and I are writing the book on this little pistol I will at least try to shoot it for accuracy. Then we will all know.

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.

37 thoughts on “The Morton Harris Marksman air pistol: Part Four”

  1. Wow!

    For the age of the gun, the original price of the gun.
    And sitting in a box unused and unlubricated for who knows how many decades.

    That is amazingly consistent BB velocities.

    Velocity wise, it beats the Daisy 179. (But that’s a catapult gun.).

    I wonder how the accuracy will play out.
    We know we can’t hope for hitting the bull, but the group size wherever it lands will be interesting.


  2. Tom,

    I sort of wonder why it is so consistent in requiring three warm up shots before functioning so consistently? Then again, as long as it works why bother?


      • BB and Siraniko

        I have noticed that, when shooting my Challenger 2009, I needed a few “warm up ” shots before shooting for score. That was even when I had been shooting other rifles, so I don’t think it was just me. Having mentioned it to others,, they agreed that ‘warming up the barrel” was something they did, too.

        This had been mentioned, here, before and not just about older rifles, but I don’t remember if there was any chrony verification of the phenomena.

        I noticed that after the flared pellets were shot you fired two more. You have written that they were unflared, but their velocities were also low. Was that a typo about their flaring, or did the pistol lose a step?

        I know that ten or so fps isn’t much, but as a percentage of this low of a MV, it made me curious.


  3. Thanks for another interesting report. The five velocities of the flared-skirt pellets match exactly the velocities of the first five non-flared-skirt pellets. Either we have an amazing coincidence or a typographical error. I am looking forward to the accuracy report! But the expectations are not high.

  4. I think the Marksman I had for a brief period many years ago may have beaten itself to death.

    As Yogi has pointed out, I have known of droopers before, but do you not think this one deserves an award?

    • Easily. Are we really supposed to be entertained by a bunch of “celebrities” patting themselves on the back about a bunch of movies nobody would waste their time watching? Seriously folks. After the red carpet parade where the “celebrities” show off their bad taste in clothing, what is there?

  5. B.B. and Readership,

    Happy 1st day of Spring/Fall!

    The three or so wake-up shot phenomenon has been something that has crossed my path a few times during my adult Blower Gun days.
    It seems to me (anecdotally) that spring powerplant pneumatic (SP) guns are the most common examples of it, followed by single stroke pump (SSP), next come multi stoke pump (MSP), and lastly Pre Charged powerplants (PCP) airguns. I left out CO2 guns since they are effected by chilling of both State Change (liquid to gas) as well as adiabatic chilling of expansion/pressure drop in the shot cycle. PCPs can have some of the same heating and chilling before the shot cycle begins depending on powerplant design.
    All that said, the ambient/starting powerplant temperature seemingly plays a small additive part.
    I suppose a test that controlled for those variables could be designed; anybody want to bake & chill a few airguns?

    I say that because my Theory is that powerplant and barrel initial temperature could cause most of the EARLY SHOT EFFECT.
    I believe compression of air generates far more heat than the friction of Leather or Lead (Pb) sliding in metal compression chambers and barrels.

    Just my Opinion! What do you all think you have seen?

    Once again,
    HAPPY 1st day of SPRING/FALL


    • I think we have it backwards. This pistol, which obviously suffers from extreme droop should be called the Oscar award and the not so obvious droop we experience in many airguns should be called the Droopy award.

      PS: I like Snoopy’s impression of a vulture.

  6. B.B.,

    Had a HIIT workout to get to this morning so didn’t comment on your: “It also seems that flaring the pellet skirts is a waste of time.”

    WOW! Back to the Future all over again.

    I have a Beeman’s Pellet Flaring Tool as well as the Delux Beeman’s Sizing Tool on my workbench as a reminder of how to waste good money. Perhaps some day they will become collectables; should have bought the DeLorean DMC-12 … NOT!
    Maybe a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé.


      • B.B.,

        The production run model of the Gullwings was certainly special and spoiled most folks that just got to sit in one. I didn’t know that Herr Uhlenhaut got to commute from Munich to Stuttgart in the prototypes!
        I got to test drive a “used” Gullwing (regular production run car) that was for sale back in the early ’80s in Stuttgart. It needed a good deal of restoration work and more work to overcome the Gray Car DOT (US Department Of Transportation) Importation Bond. It did go FAST on the A-8. However, not as fast as our Auto Roth tuned SAAB 900 AERO Turbo 16i (SPG in the USA) with 215 BHP (160 kW) and proven 155 mph (250 kmh) no wind.

        Those were the days ;^)


        • One of FM’s uncles – by marriage – worked for a Cuban-owned life insurance company in the ’50s-early ’60s, until the company was nationalized by the commies there. One of the company owner’s sons owned a Gullwing and believe he raced it at the Grand Prix of Havana in 1957. It may be the car written up in this article, but not certain of that. What is certain is the car had to be left behind when the owning family went into exile. Hope it survives and did not wind up a pile of rust in a tropical junkyard.


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