Smell the roses!

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Price-Point PCP
  • Silencers
  • Lookalikes
  • More lookalikes
  • $100 PCP
  • More than just guns
  • Hand pumps
  • Compressors
  • Airgun technology
  • Big bores
  • There’s more

Today’s report came to me as I was planning to test the accuracy of the Umarex Legends Ace in the Hole revolver. I have so many tests waiting for my time, but today’s report had to come first.

Gentlemen — we are living in airgunning’s Golden Age. I know I have written that many times, but today I would like to reflect on all the good things that are happening in our world. Let me start with the Price-Point PCP.

Price-Point PCP

When I got into precharged pneumatics in 1995, I was dragged into it kicking and screaming. No PCP rifle cost less than $600 in that day (think $900 today) and the high-pressure hand pump had just been invented. I had to use a 3000 psi aluminum scuba tank that cost an additional $120 and I had to beg the local dive shop to fill it for me. I actually created a release form that I signed and left on file with them to absolve them from all risk of selling air to a non dive-certificated person! That might sound extreme in 2018, but in 1995 that was the way it was done, and plenty of dive shops refused to sell us air.

Today companies are tripping over one another to give you rifles with features we only dreamed about in 1995. The regulator that comes free in a Gauntlet cost me an additional $120 to have installed in my $600 Daystate Huntsman.

Silencers

You can forget silencers! We didn’t have them. My Career 707 was just as loud as a .22 rimfire, so shooting it indoors was impossible. Beside there were only 3 power levels — “powerful”, “more powerfuller” and “stand back”! I paid many hundreds of dollars to have 17 power levels put into the gun, the trigger taken from 9 pounds down to under 2 pounds and a Korick regulator installed. You get more in a Benjamin Marauder today than was available at any price in 1999.

Today it’s difficult to find a PCP that isn’t silenced in some way. You can thank AirForce Airguns founder John McCaslin for that, because he was the first to recognize a PCP could be designed from the ground up to be quiet and still remain within the law.

Lookalikes

We whine about the good old days when Crosman made the M1 Carbine and the Marks I and II pistols. Yes, but where in 1965 could you get a fully automatic BB submachine gun like the MP-40? We cry because we can’t find a VZ35 repeater, but where in the world could we ever buy a K98 Mauser?

MP-40
Umarex MP-40 is as real as it gets.
VZ35
The VZ35 was realistic for it’s day, which was before WW II.
K98 Mauser
Diana’s K98 Mauser is not only a realistic looking copy — it’s also a powerful and accurate .22 caliber air rifle!

More lookalikes

I haven’t even scratched the surface of the lookalikes! I bought an actual 9mm German Luger firearm to compliment the Legends P08 blowback pistol I have!

Legends P08 pistol
My Legends P08 pistol (bottom) is so realistic it prompted me to buy a 1914 Erfurt Luger to go with it!

I could go on and on in this category. Guns like the Colt Single Action Army, the Winchester 1894 lever action rifle and all the semiautomatic pistols that have come to market in the past decade are more realistic than we ever saw years ago. Even double action revolvers like the Dan Wesson and S&W 586 are astounding to an airgunner who grew up thinking the Crosman 38T was a big deal!

38T
In 1965 the 38T was a big deal. The pellets were loaded skirt-first from the front of the cylinder.

$100 PCP

Remember back in 2014 when I did a 6-part series on the hundred-dollar PCP? Most people were amused, but Crosman did something about it. They did because they remembered ten years earlier when I brought them the idea that became the Benjamin Discovery. That worked out fairly well, so they thought they would give this a try and the Benjamin Maximus resulted. Then they developed the Benjamin Wildfire on their own. Now, here is the interesting thing. The single-shot Maximus costs $100 more than the 12-shot Wildfire. So the $100 PCP is possible, but it isn’t a scaled down gun. It has to be scaled up.

If Crosman would just do a top-down Demming program they could own the airgun world! Even with something as simple as the Army’s Value Engineering could work wonders for them. Only the systems engineers will know what that means, but I know some of you readers will get it.

More than just guns

The airguns we have today are truly amazing, but there is so much more. We have pellets today that can outshoot target rimfire ammunition. Sure 500 of them are costly but have you ever paid $200 for 500 .22 long rifle target cartridges?

Not all the great pellets are that expensive, either. Some are very affordable if you will shop wisely. Get rid of those fishing sinker larvae you call pellets and step into the world of real performance!

Hand pumps

I remember 1995 when the Axxor hand pump first hit the market. I predicted it would open the world of PCP airguns. It’s didn’t, but that’s another story. Today we have many hand pumps to choose from and things like reliability and the ability for the owner to make repairs are becoming the big deals.

Compressors

When I was a kid back in 2000 (relatively speaking), wealthy airgunners were using military air compressors that were converted to our use. They were heavy, noisy and expensive. People were so pleased when a good high pressure compressor became available at only $3000. Today we shudder at that, but that’s the way things went until very recently. Now companies are fighting for their share of the under-$1000 sector for high pressure air compressors.

Airgun technology

Let’s talk about accuracy. Back in 1990 the sport of field target was just starting to heat up and accuracy was beginning to become an issue. Even today there are readers who still talk about hitting soup cans, when we know accurate airguns can put 5 shots under one inch — not at 50 yards but at 100!

The pellets are better. The barrels are better. Even the breech locking systems are better. This year both Crosman and Sig will bring to market breakbarrels that have positive breech centering and locking systems. As recently as three years ago were were discussing how a breakbarrel can wobble between the forks of the spring tube if it doesn’t have a bolt to tighten it. Well, not for long, I think!

Just yesterday I did the third report on a gas spring system (Vortek calls it the center latching air piston) that allows the user to tune his rifle from DC to daylight (a telecommunications term meaning a wide spectrum) himself! Folks, when I was a boy the Theoben Eliminator allowed some tuning of the gas spring within a narrow band, but that was it.

Big bores

I still remember attending the second Winston-Salem airgun show in 1993 (that became the Roanoke show that became the Moose Lodge show, and finally died) and seeing Dennis Quackenbush selling kits to make up .410-gauge Paul air shotguns. Not complete guns — kits! Two year later Dennis started selling the .375-caliber Brigand and the race was on. Today I can shoot five shots from a .45 caliber big bore into 1.5-inches at 100 yards — each shot powerful enough to drop a whitetail deer.

There’s more

Back in the olden days if you wanted to shoot arrows out of an airgun you had to pay $1,700 and put up with a 25-lb. pneumatic trigger that HAD to be jerked or it wouldn’t work! And we thought that was so special!

Today you buy a Seneca Wing Shot II and you get an air shotgun that really works, an arrow launcher and a big bore ball-shooter for a triple threat. That wasn’t available in the old days, but to buy all the capabilities took three separate airguns and enough money to buy a good used car. And none of it worked very well. Today it works fine.

And, it’s just going to get better…


SHOT Show 2018: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

  • AirForce Airguns
  • What’s next?
  • Hatsan USA
  • Hercules Bully
  • Price point Hatsan
  • Sortie Tact
  • Air Venturi
  • A new IZH 61?
  • Multi-pump
  • One last thing!

Here we go! I go to these shows thinking that nothing can get me excited anymore, and that ends at the first booth, Today that happened before the show opened. AirForce Airguns has been keeping a secret for many weeks that they promised to reveal just before the doors opened.

AirForce Airguns

A few minutes before the doors opened, AirForce revealed that they are incorporating the Theoben Rapid line of PCPs into their lineup. Formerly known as Rapid Air Weapons (RAW), the Rapid lineup is on the cutting edge of pneumatic quality. The only drawback they have is the long wait time when an order is placed. AirForce will bring their manufacturing prowess to bear on shortening the lead time between ordering and shipping, while maintaining the high level of quality the brand has become known for.

The four models they will begin selling are the Theoben Rapid Mark II Plus, the HM 1000X, The HM1000X LRT and the BM 500. The previous owner, Martin Rutterford, will assist AirForce for the next several years to ensure the transition goes smoothly and that quality doesn’t change.

Rapid rifles
These four Rapid PCPs were in the AirForce booth on opening day. They look to streamline the manufacturing process while maintaining the level of quality that made the brand famous.

What’s next?

This announcement will no doubt create a thousand questions like, will they bring back the Theoben gas spring rifles? I asked that and was told everything is still in flux. The most important thing right now is to streamline the manufacture of the current models to meet demands. But I am assured that everything will be considered.

The AirForce booth was crowded, so I will return to cover their other models.

Hatsan USA

Hatsan will be offering an air compressor that looks similar to one we have seen. But this one has a digital gauge for setting the fill pressure.

Hatsan compressor
Hatsan’s compressor looks familiar, but has some different features. The retail price will be around $1,300. In front is the Hatsan 3-stage hand pump that will be budget-priced.

Along with the compressor Hatsan will also be offering two new hand pumps. Their 3-stage pump has an MSRP of $120 and will realistically sell for around $100. The 4-stage pump has an MSRP of $150 and will sell for a little over a hundred. These should boost entries into the PCP world!

Hercules Bully

They have turned the Hercules big bore into a bullpup and given it a carbon fiber reservoir, shaving off 4 pounds of weight and considerable length.

Hatsan Bully
Hatsan rep. Daniel Settle holds the new Hercules Bully — a much smaller and lighter big bore.

Price point Hatsan

Hatsan has joined the race for a budget-priced PCP with their new Flash. It generates the same energy as their AT44 for a price of under $300. Best of all — this rifle is lightweight! It weighs about 6 pounds and feels like a feather in your hands. I predict hunters will love it.

Hatsan Flash
Settle holds the new Hatsan Flash — a price point ($300) PCP.

The Flash will also come in a bullpup configuration they call the Flashpup. The one I saw had a beech stock and weighed a little over 6 pounds, which is still quite light for a PCP.

Sortie Tact

You asked for a stock on the Sortie pistol and Hatsan listened. The Sortie Tact has a folding stock that can be detatched from the pistol. It won’t add much to the pistol’s price and it folds to the side when it’s not needed.

Hatsan Sortie Tact
Hatsan Sortie Tact has a folding stock.

Air Venturi

Over at the Air Venturi booth I saw several new things. First was a double-barreled air shotgun called the Double Shot. It gets 4 powerful shots on a fill and a patent-pending switch controls which barrel will fire. Like the Wing Shot, this one will shoot shot, arrows and slugs.

Double Shot
Two breeches and two shots. The Double Shot is the first double-barreled air shotgun — I think.

A new IZH 61?

I also saw what amounts to a new IZH 61. It’s called the TR5 and it looks just like the 61, except this one has some new things like a groove for a rail attachment under the forearm. The butt now adjusts, too. It accepts 5-shot magazines and works just like the old 61 that many of you remember.

TR5
The TR5 looks and functions a lot like the IZH 61.

Multi-pump

The Dragonfly multi-pump is another new product in the Air Venturi booth. It’s a wood and steel multi-pump that harkens back to years gone bye. And, to answer your question, it only gets one shot when it’s pumped.

Dragonfly
The Dragonfly is a retro-looking multi-pump.

One last thing!

You know how I said “they” are listening? Well, the last thing I will share with you is something I have asked for for many years. I will show you first.

M1 Carbine
Tyler holds an M1 Carbine. This one is airsoft, but I’m assured there will be a BB-shooter to follow.

Air Venturi has entered into a licensing agreement with Springfield Armory to produce replicas of their firearms. The first ones will be airsoft, but BB and pellet models will follow. The M1 Carbine shown here is extremely faithful to the firearm’s design and feel, and when it comes out as a BB gun, old BB will be right there.

That’s it for today. But tune in tomorrow. There will be more to see.


Niche market advancement

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Benjamin Discovery
  • Crosman
  • The $100 PCP
  • The bottom line
  • The legal silencer from AirForce
  • Air Venturi
  • Lloyd Sikes
  • This blog!
  • We are waiting for:

Reader William Schooley mentioned today’s topic in a comment last week. We were talking about how many airguns needed to be sold for a company to take a customer’s recommendation seriously. Here is what he said.

“I may be way over my head on this, but isn’t this just the type of situation which creates niche markets and micromarketing? It seems to me that where a small but specific group wants a product that’s not being addressed by other larger firms, smaller more specialized companies will develop products to fill the niche. What is your historical take on niche or micromarketing in the air gun community?”

Man, did that ever get my neurons firing! I immediately thought about the development of the Benjamin Discovery, and Chris USA seconded my thinking, so let’s begin with that.

Benjamin Discovery

I owned a USFT field target rifle and knew that an air rifle can shoot fast on low air pressure. My rifle used a fill of about 1,650 psi to get 55 consistent shots of Beeman Kodiaks at 915 f.p.s. At 51 yards 25 shots went into 0.663-inches.

I thought this was a wonderful idea for a new sporting PCP. It could top out at 2,000 psi and get a shots that went 1,000 f.p.s., or thereabouts. That would make it easy to fill from a hand pump! It wouldn’t need to huge diameter reservoir of the USFT to get a reasonable number of shots. So I explained the idea to one airgun company who told me it would never work. That got me motivated to not only make it work, but to do so in a big way!

Crosman

I knew that Crosman wanted to get into precharged airguns, but they were struggling with just how to do it. They had sold Logan PCPs for a couple years, but it didn’t work out. I thought they needed to make their own PCPs, right there in New York. So, over the Christmas holiday of 2005 I put together a proposal of not only what I thought they could make but also how they should market it — with a hand pump and some pellets all in the same box! I pitched it to them in February of 2006.

My idea was to modify the Benjamin 392AS (an obsolete CO2 rifle that used 88-gram cartridges), but after I pitched the idea they brought me back to meet with them a couple months later and had two prototypes to show me. Ed Schultz had built them from the 2260 that’s now sold under the Sheridan name.

The rest is history. Thousands of Discoverys sold in the first year. The next year the Marauder came out and sold even better. Then came the Maximus and the Wildfire. Crosman went from not knowing how to market precharged airguns to being one of the top precharged manufacturers in the span of just one decade.

That is the best example of what a niche market builder can do. If it hadn’t been for Tim McMurray and his USFT, none of this would have happened.

The $100 PCP

We are not finished with this story yet. The Discovery was a landmark airgun design, but I knew there had to be something more. Dennis Quackenbush and I discussed whether it was possible to build a PCP that could retail for a hundred dollars. Dennis knew immediately what to do and he did it. Then he sent it to me to test and blog. That was a project that played in the series, Building the $100 precharged pneumatic air rifle. Turns out it’s not only possible — it works better than expected! I know for a fact that that series gave Crosman the motivation to develop the Benjamin Maximus — because they told me.

But it didn’t stop there. Oh, no! Today there is a flood of low-cost PCPs coming to market. Manufacturers are rushing to bring out affordable PCPs because they have discovered there is a market for them. It’s a market they have to grow and nourish (that’s called marketing), but it’s very real and getting bigger every day.

The bottom line

Here’s the deal. Companies don’t make a lot of money selling precharged airguns for such a low price. But PCPs are the most attractive airguns for many reasons — no special hold is needed, no CO2 cartridges to buy, no recoil, very accurate, etc. Once you get people shooting them they tend to move up to the more expensive guns with more and better features and a small but reasonable profit. The low-cost PCP is a wonderful entry into airgunning. It’s way better than the mega-magnum 1,400 f.p.s. springer that cocks too had and feels painful every time you shoot it.

The legal silencer from AirForce

Little did John McCaslin realized in 2001 when he launched the AirForce Talon SS that he would change the airgun market forever. At the time AirForce was a new company that was very small, but eager to grow. The Talon SS provided the nourishment they needed for that growth, and McCaslin was very nimble to take advantage of all the opportunities it brought his way. Where some airgun companies acted like large D10 Caterpillar bulldozers, AirForce was more of a Bobcat — lightweight and easy to transport to the job site and able to work all day.

The biggies wouldn’t move unless they saw sales in the thousands; AirForce was quick on their feet and listened to their customers. As a result, just 16 years later AirForce is a major player in the precharged market. They gave us the shroud that is now mandatory for all PCPs (if you want sales) but they gave us so much more.

They gave us Lothar Walther barrels when other companies dragged their feet or made them an expensive upgrade. They gave us interchangable barrels that swap easily in minutes, turning your one rifle into a multi-caliber shooting system! Both calibers and barrel lengths that translate to power are at the owner’s discretion. They also gave us easily variable power.

They gave us the Condor that shot a 14.3-grain Crosman Premier .22 caliber pellet at over 1,200 f.p.s., and then they gave us the Escape smallbore that went up to 100 foot-pounds. They gave us the Texan — a true production 500+ foot-pound big bore when most others were either lying about the energy they could generate, showing prototypes they couldn’t produce or developing far less power. And again AirForce gave us a new kind of adjustable power that allows for tuning for a specific bullet.

The good news is — they aren’t done giving! I know some things they are bringing to market that will have you guys jumping for joy. Once a small company, they are now a light heavyweight with a punch that dominates their sector of the market. Does niche marketing work? You bet it does!

Air Venturi

Air Venturi also plays in the niche market. Who would think in the days of the 1,000 f.p.s. there would be any demand for a lightweight, accurate, breakbarrel that’s also easy to cock? Air Venturi did! They gave us the Bronco that sold well for many years and is now a classic in its own right. I guess people really do want to shoot lightweight pellet rifles that are fun. But they didn’t stop there.

They took the air shotgun concept that has never fully succeeded and they made one that really works. The Wing Shot air shotgun not only throws the largest shot charge ever at over 1,000 f.p.s., it also shoots balls and arrows! Arrows?

Yes, the Air Venturi Air Bolt gives you an arrow-launcher with unsurpassed power and great accuracy for just the price of the bolts! They fit in most big bore barrels of the appropriate caliber (they come in .357 and .50 caliber at present). They make your Wing Shot a triple threat airgun! That’s better than spending a bunch of money for a dedicated arrow launcher, isn’t it?

Lloyd Sikes

Lloyd Sikes is the man. He invented the electronic solenoid valve that made the Rogue big bore possible. That technology has so much more to offer than what’s been done so far! I will never forget seeing his spreadsheets of the performance of that valve at the Roanoke airgun show and challenging him to show me videos of the performance. I simply didn’t believe it! When I saw the videos I contacted Crosman immediately, because this was something they needed to see. Unfortunately as the development was happening I was in the hospital, and when I came out, the Rogue project was pretty far down the road. My ability to influence it was curtailed.

The thing is — the Rogue valve is not everything it can be or do. It can turn a powerful sporting smallbore air rifle into a quiet indoor plinker at the push of a button. It puts the shooter in complete control of the air rifle’s power!

Lloyd also makes the spacer that allows a Benjamin Discovery to work with a Benjamin Marauder trigger. And he makes parts for the Disco Double — a lightweight rifle based on a Discovery that gets twice the number of shots at great power. Lloyd now sells through a different company called Stalwart Arms, but his products are still available.

This blog!

William, I know this blog was not something you asked about, but it does work in similar ways to a niche dealer. The manufacturers read it all the time and they pick up on an idea when it gets enough attention here. The hundred dollar PCP is one example. Crosman picked up of that and gave us the Maximus.

Just look at all the effort Gamo has put into their triggers. I think they saw all the discussions of bad triggers and decided they were going to do something about it. So, where does that leave us?

We are waiting for:

 

An M1 Carbine BB gun or pellet rifle

A Garand BB gun or pellet rifle

A Marauder-type PCP that’s a multi-pump

A foot-powered manual high-pressure pump

And I am waiting for a pistol version of the Avanti 499 Champion so kids can learn to shoot an accurate handgun.

I bet you readers have a long list of your own. Today would be the day to post it.


Nothing new under the sun

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • You made me do it
  • Air shotguns
  • You don’t understand!
  • BUT — it’s been done
  • All-metal 760
  • Summary

You made me do it

I should give credit for today’s short blog to you readers, because if it weren’t for your investigations into a more efficient insect killer this past weekend, I never would have written this report.

Air shotguns

You talked about an air-powered shotgun all weekend. Veteran readers are aware I have written about air shotguns many times in the past.

/blog/2015/06/air-shotguns/

and

/blog/2005/12/air-shotguns-part-5-the-yewha/

and

/blog/2005/11/two-more-air-shotguns-paul-and-vincent/

and

/blog/2005/10/air-shotguns-part-3-the-crosman-trapmaster-1100/

and

/blog/2005/10/air-shotguns-part-2-the-fire-201/

and

/blog/2005/10/air-shotguns-part-1-the-farco/

and we can’t forget my 3-part test of the Gamo Viper Express

/blog/2006/11/gamos-new-viper-express-air-shotgun-part-3/

or the 2-parter on the Air Venturi Wing Shot

/blog/2015/10/shooting-the-air-venturi-wing-shot-air-shotgun-part-2/

You don’t understand!

No, BB — we mean an air-powered shotgun that WE invented!
And that gun was the Crosman 760, using either coarse salt or birdshot. You were trying to do the Bug-A-Salt one better.

/blog/2015/07/the-bug-a-salt-2-0/

BUT — it’s been done

This is where a good library comes in handy. All the while you were writing your various experiments and results, I was thinking of Airgun Digest, first edition, in which the Crosman 760 is shown to also be an effective air shotgun. In 1976 Robert Beeman wrote about Jim Dougherty shooting his 760 loaded with multiple BBs.

He started with plastic cups at 10 feet, then stretched the distance out to 20 yards. He shot at cups until he knew what he was doing, then graduated to mice on the run. After that a rock pigeon was taken in flight and finally several jackrabbits!

He discovered that 6 steel BBs was the best pattern and 20 pumps (!!!) were best for taking birds and other game out to 20 yards. While I can’t recommend that many pumps, I also don’t know how worn out his gun was.

All-metal 760

Because it was written in 1976 and because the work he did happened even earlier, the 760 airgun Dougherty used was all metal with a wood stock. But hey — the car he drive probably needed a tuneup every 10,000 miles, too! Times change, but the things people find as fun last longer.

Summary

This is why I read. And why I stress the importance of a library.

It’s true Dougherty never shot salt or birdshot, but our readers have yet to take a bird in flight. So wake up guys — there is still plenty of old road to travel!


2017 Findlay airgun show: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Here we go
  • Wire-stock Daisy
  • What is Findlay?
  • 10-meter airguns
  • Sold some stuff
  • What about a big bore?
  • Were modern airguns there?
  • Toys, too
  • The Larc
  • There is more

Here we go

Yesterday’s report was just a lead-in. Today I want to tell you about the show. First — it was large. It was held in two rooms, with hallways and out-of-the-way nooks also being used. And every table was filled! This was a show you could spend many happy hours seeing just one time. And the tables changed over time, so your second time through things were different. People bought stuff from the public that attended, plus they brought out some of the stuff they didn’t unpack in the beginning. It was an all-day affair!

Findlay crowd
This is a long shot of the main show room. The floor of this room is an indoor soccer field, and it was filled!

Wire-stock Daisy

I see wire-stock Daisy BB guns at most of the larger shows, but they are always later variations. There were probably 5 of those at this show. I think this second variation you are about to see is the first one I’ve ever seen that was offered for sale. It’s so old it doesn’t say Daisy. It says Plymouth Iron Windmill — the name of the company at that time. I show it to show the price tag.

wire stock
This is a real second variation wire stock Daisy BB gun for sale!

wire stock price
… and this is the price! Never saw one this old for sale before!

What is Findlay?

At this point, I stopped to reflect on the show. It has become the replacement for the old Winston-Salem show that Mike Ahuna started in 1993, and then transferred to Fred Liady in Roanoke. It attracts the top collectors and buyers. Many people who were well-known at those shows have now left the range, but their spirits live on in the guns and newer dealers that are filling in. Stop me now or I will start singing We’ll meet again!

10-meter airguns

A reader (Yogi, I believe) asked which show might have the best vintage 10-meter rifles. Well, Findlay, for starters. I had a Mauser 300SL on my table, and across the aisle, show promoter, Dan Lerma, had a nice FWB 300. I saw several nice FWB 300s on tables, Including a gem in the box. And across the aisle from that was an FWB either 600 or 601.

But there were also 10-meter pistols galore. Some were common ones like the Daisy (FEG) pistols that came in a neat lockable case. And I already showed you one of the many IZH 46Ms that were in the hall. But the gem of this show (and one I missed seeing until it was too late) was the FWB 103 SSP 10-meter pistol, one of our readers with sharper eyes snagged. He brought it by my table to boast and I took a picture for you.

FWB 103
An FWB 103 single stroke pneumatic target pistol was a fantastic find for one of our readers.

He tried to complain about what he had to pay for this find, but his complaint lacked sincerity. I wanted to tell him that in 23 years of attending airgun shows this is the first time a current model FWB target pistol has ever been offered, to my knowledge. And you buy them when you see them!

Sold some stuff

I had some luck selling at my table, too, so I was able to make a few unplanned purchases. One was a Diana model 50 underlever. I have owned these in the past, but this one is real old and not like the ones I’ve had. It’s somewhat slimmer, with better wood and deeper bluing. And it has the older Diana peep/sport rear sight that’s so unique! It will be a pleasure to test it for you!

And I mentioned to Don Raitzer that I was in the market for a pre-war Diana model 5V pistol, and of course he had one on his table. When I saw the price — $75 — I didn’t even bargain. Just stripped off the bills and bought it. Don said it was a .22, but it’s actually a .177 that is better because these oldies are none too powerful.

Diana 5V
I bought this pre-WW II Diana model 5V pistol from Don Raitzer.

We had a guest blog about the Diana 5V pistol back in 2010, and I put it on my bucket list then. When I got the post-war Diana 5 (Winchester 353) a month ago, it awakened my desire to find the older gun. And Findlay was where it happened!

What about a big bore?

You all know about the modern big bore airguns, and if you are faithful readers of this blog you have also been exposed to the big bores of the past. At my very first airgun show in 1993 I saw an original Paul .410 air shotgun on a table, and in the 24 years that have passed, I haven’t seen another. Until Findlay. There it was — laying on a table with no special signs or anything. Not a Paul, but its rival — the Vincent. It’s a multi-pump air shotgun that looks like a Benjamin pump on steroids.

Vincent
A .410 Vincent air shotgun from the 1920s was just laying on a table among the BB guns.

Were modern airguns there?

What about modern airguns? Many of you like looking at the older stuff (thank you, by the way) but your really wanting modern airguns. Well, they were there in force! I didn’t take a lot of pictures, because you can see them anytime on the websites of their dealers, but there were Daystates, BSAs and other well-known big bores.

What I thought was more interesting than the current models, though, were the guns that have recently become obsolete. Theobens, for example, are wonderful gas spring rifles that were sold until recent years. Kevin Hull had a table full of them! This is also where your Beeman Crow Magnums live.

Theobens
Whenever you are seeing beautiful wood stocks that look like highly figured walnut, but are African Heydua, and metal with deep gorgeous bluing, you know they are on Theobens. Kevin Hull’s table.

Toys, too

Findlay calls their show Toys That Shoot — a not-so-subtle reminder of what the rest of the world thinks of airguns. But there is more than just airguns, and at Findlay a great many dealers specialized in actual toys. There are roughly three themes to their toys — cowboys, space and war. Of these, cowboys rank highest.

lunchboxes
Lunchboxes for Gabby, Hoppy and all the gang!

figures
And there are the guys that go with them! They are action figures — never call them dolls!

The Larc

I’ll finish today with a Larc — a BB machine gun you readers were talking about a few days ago while I was looking at the real thing. The Larc was powered by a can of Freon refrigerant gas, which is about as politically correct today as the California state legislature sponsoring a youth marksmanship program! It works by blowing gas under pressure across the opening of a metal “straw” that siphons BBs from a bulk reservoir. When they pop up into the gas stream, they are blown out the barrel. It works like a machine gun with no moving parts!

Larc
The Larc BB machine gun was powered by Freon.

Larcs are frequently seen at the larger airgun shows, but as time passes the price for one rises. At one time these sold for under $20, but you can expect to pay many times that today.

There is more

I will have one more installment to the 2017 Findlay airgun show, but I think I will give you a break for a couple days.


Christmas gifts for the airgunner: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Gifts for $25 and under
  • Gifts for $100 and under
  • Gifts for $250 and under
  • Gifts with no price limit

This guide is to help those who must find Christmas gifts for airgunners. Of course you should check with your airgunner to make sure each gift you select is one they want or can use.

This is the second part of the 2016 gift guide. Be sure to click on the link to Part 1 to see additional gift suggestions.

Gifts for $25 and under


These are the stocking stuffer gifts. Some are considerably less than $25, so check them all.

1. The first recommendation is a jar of JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound. This is for cleaning airgun barrels, and your airgunner will need bore brushes to go with it. These are items he probably already has, but check with him before you buy this item. The bore brushes might give you a couple gifts that are related, and I will list them for you next.

2. Bore brushes. These are purchased by caliber, so I am giving you the links to each of the 4 smallbore calibers. Choose what your airgunner needs.

177 bore brushes

Pyramyd Air does not stock 20-caliber bore brushes. Buy them here.

22 bore brushes.

25 bore brushes.

I’ve recommended brass or bronze bristle brushes. If your airgunner tells you they will damage his bore, tell him that’s true only for barrels made of brass or bronze, and those never need to be cleaned. Steel barrels will not be damaged by these brushes, and they are perfect for use with JB Bore Paste.

If you are shocked that I sent you to Brownells for the .20 caliber brushes that Pyramyd Air does not stock, remember the movie, Miracle on 34th Street, and pretend I am Santa Claus.

3. Crosman Pellgunoil. This is another necessary product that your airgunner probably won’t buy for himself. It is used mainly for sealing CO2 airguns, but it’s also useful for lubricating/sealing multi-pumps and single-strokes.

4. An item I recommend every year is the Air Venturi Fly Shooter. So much fun for so little money! If Pyramyd Air carried the Bug-A-Salt, I would recommend that, too.

Gifts for $100 and under


1. I have to recommend a Daisy Red Ryder to keep my U.S. citizenship in order. But this year I’m recommending a special one — the Lasso Scoped BB Rifle. No, it’s not a rifle. I know it’s a BB gun. That’s just the name. You get a Red Ryder and a Lasso scope base with a Daisy 4X15 scope. That’s a lot of value for the price, plus you can remove the scope and have a standard Red Ryder anytime you want.

2. The MTM Predator shooting table is another great gift. Because it isn’t an airgun, your shooter probably won’t have one, though he needs one! End his days of balancing on your ironing board or that rickety card table and give him a shooting table that really works. BB uses one!

3. Okay, the Crosman 2100B air rifle IS an airgun, and if your shooter doesn’t have one already, it’s one he needs. This one shoots both BBs and pellets, and it was the base gun I used when I developed the $100 PCP with Dennis Quackenbush a few years back. Those who own them know this rifle is a great value!

4. I hadn’t planned to recommend the Umarex M712 Full-Auto BB Pistol in this category, but Pyramyd Air has a sale and it’s just under $100 right now. This one is fun! This is the kind of airgun you bring to a family outing and everybody is blown away by what it can do. If your shooter likes full auto guns, give him one of these.

Gifts for $250 and under


1. I mentioned the $100 PCP, so how about the Benjamin Maximus — the airgun Crosman made after they read that report? This is the least expensive precharged air rifle on the market, yet is has a lot of the accuracy and the quality shooters have come to expect. If you get one, you might consider getting a hand pump to go with it.

2. I recommend the Air Venturi G6 Hand Pump to go with the Maximus. Yes, it costs about the same as the rifle, but this is a tool that can be used with any and all PCP airguns. I’m recommending this one both because it is rugged and goes up to 4,500 psi, and also because it is rebuildable by the user.

Speaking of rebuilds, if you would like to save some money, there are a few refurbished G6 Hand Pumps available as this guide is written, Since the pump is rebuildable, they should be good as new.

3. If your shooter owns a .50 caliber big bore air rifle with a barrel that’s 21.5 inches long, or if he owns an Air Venturi Wing Shot air shotgun, I strongly recommend getting him the package of Air Venturi Air Bolts.

4. My last recommendation in this category is the Benjamin 392 air rifle. This is a multi-pump pneumatic that is descended from American airgun royalty. It’s still made of brass and wood the same way they were over a century ago. Who knows how much longer that will be true? If your shooter doesn’t want the .22 caliber model for some reason there is always the .177 caliber Benjamin 397. Same rifle; different caliber.

Gifts with no price limit


Now we come to the big toys. Here I suspend all the limits. These are the gifts shooters want when they win the lottery. If he has been a special good boy this year, these are his rewards.

1. I will start with an air rifle that is fast becoming a favorite of mine, Diana’s K98 air rifle. This one is large and in charge. It’s a lookalike, and an accurate spring rifle and it could also be considered a military trainer, though no military uses it that way. But a collector might like to have one, all the same.

2. It is a little pricy, but the Benjamin Woods Walker air pistol is a lot of value in an air pistol. You get the Marauder trigger and quiet performance in a powerful air pistol that can clip dandelion heads at 20 yards. If your shooter likes air pistols, this is probably on his short list.

3. Does your airgunner shoot precharged guns? If so he needs a 98 cubic foot carbon fiber air tank. Yes, this tank is 10 cubic feet larger than most carbon fiber tanks, so of course it holds more air. Make sure your airgunner can use this tank before you purchase one.

4. My final recommendation is an Air Arms Galahad Carbine FAC with walnut stock. I haven’t tested this one yet, but it’s on my to-do-soon list. Since this is made by Air Arms I have no qualms about recommending it. Yes, it’s very costly, but your airgunner will probably never stop thanking you for it! And the Galahad does come in rifle lengths, if he wants something slightly different.


Air Venturi Air Bolt: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Air Venturi Air Bolts
Air Venturi Air Bolts turn a .50 caliber big bore into an air bow.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Broadhead performance
  • How fast do broadheads fly?
  • Can a broadhead be stopped?
  • How to load broadheads
  • Robin Hood!
  • What about the Wing Shot?
  • Wing Shot accuracy
  • Summary

This is a continuation of the report I started last week. Although it’s titled Part 3, think of it as Part 2, because I’m finishing things I didn’t tell you last week.

Broadhead performance

We looked at the performance of the Air Bolt from Air Venturi with target points. Now let’s see what they do with broadheads. Last week I showed you those lethal points that open as they penetrate the target. When I was researching this report I heard all sorts of claims for them. First, that they penetrate so deeply that no arrow stop in the world can stop one — they will pass right through. Also, they are heavier and will drop a couple inches more as they fly. Also, they are less accurate because they have those razor blades hanging out in the breeze as they fly. And finally they are so sharp that there is no way to attach them to an arrow without a wrench.

How fast do broadheads fly?

I did chronograph one broadhead immediately following a fill. Where the target points flew 492 f.p.s. from the Dragon Claw following a fill, a broadhead went out at 445 f.p.s. Yes, they do fly slower.

Can a broadhead be stopped?

This was the one that really scared me, because everyone I polled said the same thing — arrows tipped with broadheads cannot be stopped by an arrow stop. I told you last time that I bought the best stop the archery store had, but it was only rated for target points at 400 f.p.s. But we have already seen that is stopped target points flying a good deal faster than that. How would a broadhead do?

Air Venturi Air Bolts stop
This is the arrow stop I used for this test. It has stopped hundreds of arrows so far and not one has passed through. All 6 sides are usable, and I imagine it’s good for several thousand shots.

Yes, a broadhead can be stopped by this bag. They do penetrate deeper but they are also easier to remove. I think the people telling me they can’t be stopped are using inferior bags.

Air Venturi Air Bolts broadhead stopped
The arrow on the left has the broadhead. It went much deeper than the arrows with the target points, but it was stopped and did come out of the bag easily.

Broadheads do drop a couple inches lower at 35 yards, but that’s because of their lower initial velocity. The little testing I’ve done shows them to be just as accurate as target points.

How to load broadheads

Loading broadheads from the muzzle is simple and safe. Just don’t attach them until after the bolt is loaded in the gun. They screw in, so after the bolt is in place, just screw one down into the tip. I wouldn’t say it is completely safe and a head wrench would be a good idea. I plan to get one! Buyt be careful and you’ll do fine. If you are accident prone, use a wrench at all times!

Air Venturi Air Bolts arrow loaded
Here is an arrow with a target tip loaded. In place of the target tip, screw in a broadhead. Remove the knurled cap for more access.

Rossi Morreale, the host of American Airgunner, showed me a neat trick about loading. Remove the knurled muzzle cap and get more access for loading. That will really help with broadheads!

Okay, that’s it for the broadheads. Let’s look at some other things about the Air Bolt.

Robin Hood!

I loaned the target and my arrows to Rossi Morreale at the Texas Airgun Show, so he could sight in his rifle for a pig he was going to the next day. I don’t know how many arrows he shot, but one of them was a Robin Hood. Naturally it was Rossi who did it and not me. Still, it does demonstrate the inherent accuracy of the Air Bolt.

Air Venturi Air Bolts Robin Hood
This arrow hit the base of another arrow, sliding the rubber o-ring of the first arrow all the way up the shaft of arrow number two! You can even see some of the base of the first arrow still caught under the o-ring. A perfect Robin Hood.

What about the Wing Shot?

In Part 1 I mentioned the Air Bolt also works in the Wing Shot air shotgun. So I also tried that. Since the wing Shot is a smoothbore, the Air Bolts go out even faster. Here are some shots wirh target points.

Shot…………………….Velocity
1………………………….520
2………………………….533
3………………………….584
4………………………….502

As you can see, the arrows do go faster from the Wing Shot, but there is also one less shot because the air reservoir is smaller. Still, no hunter should need more than 3 shots for one animal. But what about accuracy?

Wing Shot accuracy

Pyramyd Air tells me they are getting better accuracy at close ranges with the Wing Shot than with the Dragon Claw. But after 30 yards the Dragon Claw takes over.

The Wing Shot I was sent to test came without the dovetail base, so I wasn’t able to attach an optical sight. I could have removed the base from the Dragon Claw and probably made it work, but since I was still testing it, I left the Wing Shot without a rear sight. So I moved up to 25 yards and shot using the front bead, only.

The aluminum head of the Air Bolt does not fit into the muzzle of the Wing Shot, so I shot with it sticking out of the muzzle. Even then I was able to put four arrows into a handspan of about 5 inches at 25 yards.

Air Venturi Air Bolts shotgun target
The high arrow on the right was fired from 10 yards, to make sure the gun was on target. The 4 arrows below were shot on a fresh fill from 25 yards offhand with a monopod rest.

The arrows from the Wing Shot dropped a lot more than those shot from the Dragon Claw. An optical sight would correct that, plus tighten the group a lot!

Air Venturi Air Bolts Tom shooting
The UTG Monopod made offhand shooting a breeze!

Summary

The Air Venturi Air Bolt has no competition in the world of air bows. For no additional expense your big bore rifle or shotgun is turned into an accurate arrow launcher that is currently the most powerful one on the market.

In all my testing that included hundreds of shots, I never lost an arrow. One arrow was fired into a railroad tie at 100 yards by another shooter at the Texas Airgun Show and could not be pulled out! Rossi’s Robin Hood destroyed a second arrow and I lost one while pulling it too aggressively from the target bag. But I saw where each and every arrow went.

Would I buy a set of Air Bolts? Certainly — if I wanted an air bow and also a big bore air rifle or shotgun. This is a combination that has no rival. As an air bow it cannot be beat!