The “Dark Side” has never been brighter!

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • The “Dark Side”
  • Early problems
  • Modern precharged airguns
  • Benjamin Discovery
  • Slow conversion
  • The $100 PCP
  • Other changes in the PCP world
  • Fill coupling standardization
  • Price point PCP
  • It’s no longer the “Dark Side”

I know I said there are lots of backlogged tests, but sometimes I just have to write a report like this. Today is such a day.

The “Dark Side”

Back in the late 1990s, when precharged pneumatics were still relatively unknown to airgunners, someone took license from the movie series “Star Wars” and coined the phrase the“Dark Side” to represent involvement with PCPs. At the time most airgunners identified with spring-piston guns and regarded precharged pneumatics as odd, different and too difficult to understand. And at the time it looked as if that would be the case indefinitely.

Early problems

Precharged pneumatics are not a new technology. In fact, they are the oldest type of airguns, dating back to sometime in the 16th century! Those guns, however, were made by hand and were frighteningly expensive. They existed at a time when repeating firearms were also the stuff of dreams, so in 1780 it was the airgun and not the firearm that became the first successful repeater. There had been repeating firearms before then, but they tended to explode because of the dangers of loose gunpowder, which at that time meant black powder. Indeed Bartolemeo Girardoni’s son was killed when a repeating firearm he was experimenting with blew his arm off! Incidentally, the last name is spelled GiraRdoni — not GiraNdoni! Dr. Beeman has met with the Girardoni family and confirmed this. Unfortunately, the long article on the Beeman webpage still shows the old spelling. read more

2019 SHOT Show: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

This report covers:

  • Leapers crossbow sight reticle
  • Beeman Chief PCP repeaters
  • FX Dreamlite
  • 100-cubic-inch-carbon fiber tank
  • Another new compressor
  • This show was different
  • SHOT Summary

Today I will give you my final report on the 2019 SHOT Show. I always see more things than I can possibly report.

Leapers crossbow sight reticle

First up is the reticle for the crossbow scope that I said would make a fine new Bug Buster with very little alteration. Tom Zhu of Leapers took a picture of the prototype rifle through the scope for us. Remember that this is still a prototype for a crossbow and the design of the reticle could change, but you can see the bubble level in the bottom of the image.

King Bug Buster reticle
Leapers UTG crossbow scope prototype reticle is etched glass. The bubble of the level can be seen at the bottom of the image. read more

Air Venturi Nomad II air compressor: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Nomad II air compressor
Air Venturi Nomad II air compressor.

This report covers:

  • Air compressors for airguns
  • Fill levels
  • Compressors
  • The Nomad II
  • Operation
  • A valuable lesson!
  • Not made to fill tanks
  • BSA R10 Black Wrap
  • Discussion
  • Summary

“Tis the season!” Ho, ho, ho! Here comes Santa’s helper, The Great Enabler, with more goodies you can’t live without. Today we begin our look at the Air Venturi Nomad II air compressor.

Air compressors for airguns

Before I start looking at the Nomad, let us review the world of the high-pressure air compressors for airguns. Modern precharged pneumatic (PCP) airguns need a source of high pressure air to fill them. Of course there are all manner of air tanks, but there are also air compressors that can fill either the guns themselves or refill the tanks. And let’s not forget the hand pumps that exist — they are pretty special, too. Which you get — tank, hand pump, compressor or even a combination of them — depends on what you can afford to spend and also the air pressure(s) your gun(s) rquire for a full fill. read more

SHOT Show 2018: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • The big news
  • Benjamin Fortitude
  • Marauder Field and Target
  • Akura
  • Traveler
  • SigASP20
  • Tight breech and no droop
  • The trigger
  • AirForce E-Pump

I will start the third day on the SHOT Show floor with Crosman. They always have loads of new products and this year was no exception. I actually had to visit the booth two separate times to get what I am about to tell you.

The big news

So — what’s the big news at Crosman? I guess that depends on what interests you, but since I am defining this year’s show as the battle of the price-point PCPs (precharged pneumatic rifles with upscale features selling for under $300), let’s start with the Fortitude.

Benjamin Fortitude

Benjamin’s new Fortitude PCP is regulated, a repeater and has a shroud. It is positioned between the Discovery and the Marauder. read more

Media Day at the Range — SHOT Show 2018: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Media Day upper
The upper range at Media Day has about 50 ranges and vendors. Because of crossbows, the ranges go in both directions.

Media Day
On the lower range there are more ranges, also going both directions, with shotguns on the right.

This report covers:

  • SHOT Show
  • A great find!
  • My interest
  • My collection
  • This BB gun
  • Cocking
  • Takedown
  • Number 25?
  • Sights
  • Summary

Media Day at the Range is an event for gun writers and video makers, only. About 2,000 of us are taken to the Boulder City range where we are allowed to shoot and use some of the newest guns and accessories.

Umarex Hammer

We waited all last year for the Umarex Hammer to come out. From what I saw and sampled this year, I think we will see production guns by mid-2018.

The Hammer is a repeating .50-caliber big bore that gets 4 powerful shots on a fill ton 4,500 psi. The regulator drops the firing pressure to 3,000 psi, and the first 3 shots are all at the same pressure. Shot 4 drops below 3,000 slightly, but at 40 yards all the bullets should stay in a tight group. read more

AirForce TexanSS big bore air rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

TexanSS big bore air rifle from AirForce.

This report covers:

  • Background
  • Texan
  • TexanSS
  • Adjustability
  • The valve
  • Aftermarket striker springs
  • Infinite adjustments
  • Trigger
  • Reservoir
  • Documentation
  • Summary

Today’s report should get a rise out of you! We are starting our look at the TexanSS from AirForce Airguns. It’s a .45 caliber big bore air rifle with sound suppression (that’s what the SS stands for).


At the SHOT Show I get to listen to hundreds of airgunners and airgun dealers from all around the U.S., and when it comes to big bores here is what they all want — a shorter rifle that’s suppressed, lightweight, runs on 3,000 psi and is extremely powerful. I listen but seldom mention that some of their requests contradict one another.That should come out in this report. read more

Hatsan Hercules QE .45 caliber big bore air rifle: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Hatsan Hercules 45
Hatsan Hercules .45 caliber big bore rifle.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Magazine problem
  • Relative size
  • .Magazine works fine
  • Filling
  • Lots of shots
  • Hatsan bullets
  • Power
  • Cocking
  • Useful power?
  • Cowboy Action bullets
  • Use of air
  • Trigger pull
  • Evaluation so far

Today I will test the velocity and power of the new Hatsan Hercules .45 caliber big bore air rifle. Because this is a big bore, I have to take it to a range to test the velocity. No shooting big bores inside my office!

Magazine problem

I actually had the rifle out for testing a couple weeks ago, but at that time I was unable to load any of the bullets Hatsan provided into one of the 7-round circular magazines. That ended that test. I was actually testing three other things that day, so I didn’t spend any time looking into the problem, but after talking to Hatsan about it online I tried the other magazine that came with the rifle and it worked fine. Apparently I just got one bad magazine. read more