The Challenger countertop trade stimulator

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Called a countertop trade stimulator, the Challenger was one of many small shooting galleries that accepted pennies.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • History
  • Money tight
  • Drop Coin into slot
  • The prize
  • The play
  • Shoot Hitler
  • On through the ‘40s

Now for something a little different. Instead of guns, let’s talk about trade stimulators today — shooting gallery trade stimulators, to be specific.


In the 1930s, the world was in the middle of a hard depression, one which many people were not prepared to weather. Lifestyles of the Roaring ’20s had to be revamped to survival in the ’30s. For store owners, the pinch of tight money was particularly defeating because money is the lifeblood of trade. read more

Using peep sights: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Adjustable-iris peeps — Merit
  • Gehmann adjustable peep
  • Tunnel sights
  • Front sight elements
  • Target post
  • Hunting inserts
  • Unusual front sight
  • Target aperture
  • Clear apertures
  • Last word on inserts
  • How do you hold over or under?
  • Peep sights on handguns
  • Summary

Normally I don’t do what I’m about to do, but the reader response to the first report on peep sights was overwhelming. We finished last Thursday with more than 150 comments, and as of this writing there are 248 comments. That propels it into the ranks of the all-time best reports! I had to put Part 1 in the title several days after publishing, because I knew there would be a Part 2.

Today I will address the discussion points and questions brought up by readers, and add a few point of my own. Sit back and enjoy!

Adjustable-iris peeps — Merit

There was some discussion about peeps that offer holes of different sizes. The most famous of these is the Merit Iris Shutter Click adjustable peep sight. This one has been around for at least 75 years and probably longer. I own one and it used to fascinate me. I will show you mine next to a dime, to illustrate the size. read more

Beeman QB Chief precharged pneumatic rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Beeman PCP
Beeman QB Chief precharged pneumatic air rifle.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Accuracy day
  • The test
  • Fill
  • H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm heads
  • Time for the trime!
  • JSB Exact Heavy
  • Crosman Premier heavies
  • Discussion
  • Oh, no!
  • Summary

Wow! How’s that for a blog opener? Are you curious?

Ever make a huge mistake in judgement? I think I made one in Part 2, when I said this air rifle is probably not for the first-time PCP user. Read on to discover why I say that.

Accuracy day

Today is accuracy day and I want to shoot the Beeman QB Chief precharged pneumatic air rifle with both the open sight it comes with and also with a scope. Since this is the first test I decided to go with open sights at 10 meters.

The test

I shot off a sandbag rest at 10 meters. The rifle was rested directly on the bag, which you can do with precharged pneumatics (PCP), because they don’t recoil. I decided to go with 5-shot groups and to just look for that special pellet or pellets that would be worthy of a 25 yard test. Boy — what I didn’t know and was about to find out! I also went with just 5 shots because we know from Part 2 that the Chief is short on breath. Ten shots are about all you get before the velocities drop way off the power curve. read more

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston Mark II pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Benjamin Train NP II
Benjamin Trail NP Mark II air pistol.

This report covers:

  • The detent and how I open the gun
  • Velocity
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • Discussion
  • Cocking effort
  • Discharge sound
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

The detent and how I open the gun

I’ll start today’s report by answering reader Siraniko’s questions from the last post. He asked me to show the locking detent and how I manage to open the gun for cocking. Here’s the detent.

Benjamin Trail detent
The chisel detent is long and narrow. It’s not under that much spring tension, so it opens easily, but the shallow angle of the slope ensures that it locks the beech securely.

That detent chisel face is long and shallow but the spring is not that strong. I can push it in with my finger. So the long shallow slope of the chisel on the detent is what’s keeping the breech locked so tight. read more

Chinese B3 underlever: Part 7

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The B3 underlever from China.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Refresher
  • The test
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • Sight adjustment
  • On a roll?
  • Air Arms Falcon
  • POI change
  • RWS R10
  • Best for last
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Summary

Today was day of learning, or perhaps I should say remembering, because today’s test of the Chinese B3 underlever took me back to my early days with spring-piston air rifles. I will explain as the report unfolds.


I found this tired old air rifle in a pawn shop many months ago. In this series I have replaced the breech seal with a faucet washer, opened up the powerplant, lubricated the moving parts with Tune in a Tube and shot the rifle for accuracy. That was when I discovered how accurate this old Chinese underlever is. So I vowed to shoot it for accuracy once more, now that the powerplant has been tamed. read more

The FP-45 Liberator pistol

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The Liberator pistol was a strange chapter of World War II.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The idea
  • Not well made
  • Actual use
  • How it works
  • Valuable
  • Buy one today
  • Why?

I have to punt today. A rifle I was trying to scope gave me fits for hours and I lost the window of opportunity for the test, the photos and the writeup. So I’m writing about a firearm that I have actually owned that many people don’t know about — the FP-45 Liberator pistol from World War II. The official title was “Flare Projector 45,” to disguise the real purpose of the gun. Bascially this is a zip gun for military use.

The Liberator is a single-shot pistol chambered in .45 ACP — the same cartridge that’s used in the M1911A1 pistol carried by many American forces during the war. It is a smoothbore, which raises a lot of questions that I will address in a moment. American troops were not issued this gun. A million of them were produced in 6 months, which tells you a lot about the lack of precision in the design. read more

Using peep sights: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Announcement
  • Bad eyes — can’t use ‘em
  • Have to sight-in!
  • History of peep sights
  • The message?
  • Not just for military use
  • The image
  • Don’t over-think it!
  • Using peep sights
  • The BIG deal!
  • The rest


The Vortek Center-Latching Air Piston that I have been testing in the Beeman R9 has leaked down all the way. This is what I was concerned about at the end of Part 4. The leakdown took two weeks. I’m sending it back to Vortek and they will be sending me another unit to continue the test, and I will test that one for its ability to hold over time.

Today’s report is for those readers who have asked about peep sights.

Bad eyes — can’t use ‘em

Many shooters think their eyes aren’t good enough to use peep sights, but they have it backwards. Peep sights improve your sighting precision, which is why many armies have used them for the past 140 years! read more